Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Team Obama'12 Sent Out This Email

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Dear supporter--

First of all, we want to thank all our grass-root supporters who worked hard on behalf of our campaign. Now, more than ever, we need to your support -- not to win an election, but to get involved in our new administration.

This week campaign manager David Plouffe announced Organizing for America. You can be part of it, and host a house party discussing how the Obama Administration is helping you, your family and neighbors.

In addition to that, you can express your opinion through Obama'12 blog. Join Obama Bloggers and share your ideas. This is a great way of communicating with other people on President Obama's stance on the issues that matter to you. For example, you can blog about the Economic Recovery Package that passed through the Congress last week. Or you can write a post asking Republican Senators to vote for the bill next week in the senate.

Visit http://barackobama-2012.blogspot.com/2008/12/be-blogger-on-barackobama.html to learn more.

Thank You

Obama 2012 Blog
www.BarackObama-2012.blogspot.com


Please forward this email to your friends. If you have any questions, send them to TeamObama12@gmail.com

Weekly Radio Address - Moving forward

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In the weekly address, President Barack Obama addressed the latest economic news and urged the passing of an America Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

He also announced that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is preparing a new strategy for reviving our financial system -- which will not only ensure that CEOs aren't abusing taxpayer dollars, but also get credit flowing and lower mortgage costs.

Watch the address and read the full text below.




ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT
TO THE NATION
January 31, 2009

This morning I'd like to talk about some good news and some bad news as we confront our economic crisis.

The bad news is well known to Americans across our country as we continue to struggle through unprecedented economic turmoil. Yesterday we learned that our economy shrank by nearly 4 percent from October through December. That decline was the largest in over a quarter century, and it underscores the seriousness of the economic crisis that my administration found when we took office.

Already the slowdown has cost us tens of thousands of jobs in January alone. And the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Make no mistake, these are not just numbers. Behind every statistic there's a story. Many Americans have seen their lives turned upside down. Families have been forced to make painful choices. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Patients can't afford care. Students can't keep pace with tuition. And workers don't know whether their retirement will be dignified and secure.

The good news is that we are moving forward with a sense of urgency equal to the challenge. This week the House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next few years. It puts a tax cut into the pockets of working families, and places a down payment on America's future by investing in energy independence and education, affordable health care, and American infrastructure.

Now this recovery plan moves to the Senate. I will continue working with both parties so that the strongest possible bill gets to my desk. With the stakes so high we simply cannot afford the same old gridlock and partisan posturing in Washington. It's time to move in a new direction.

Americans know that our economic recovery will take years -- not months. But they will have little patience if we allow politics to get in the way of action, and our economy continues to slide. That's why I am calling on the Senate to pass this plan, so that we can put people back to work and begin the long, hard work of lifting our economy out of this crisis. No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy. So just as we jumpstart job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing, and families can stay in their homes.

Last year Congress passed a plan to rescue the financial system. While the package helped avoid a financial collapse, many are frustrated by the results -- and rightfully so. Too often taxpayer dollars have been spent without transparency or accountability. Banks have been extended a hand, but homeowners, students, and small businesses that need loans have been left to fend on their own.

And adding to this outrage, we learned this week that even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008. While I'm committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed. The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street.

Soon my Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, will announce a new strategy for reviving our financial system that gets credit flowing to businesses and families. We'll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs. We'll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery. And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight, and clear accountability -- so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results.

Rarely in history has our country faced economic problems as devastating as this crisis. But the strength of the American people compels us to come together. The road ahead will be long, but I promise you that every day that I go to work in the Oval Office I carry with me your stories, and my administration is dedicated to alleviating your struggles and advancing your dreams. You are calling for action. Now is the time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mitch Stewart Sent Out This Email on Organizing for America

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Organizing for America

Sign up to host a house meeting Last year, America lost 2.6 million jobs. This week, some of our biggest companies announced plans to cut tens of thousands more.

The economic crisis is deepening, but President Obama and members of Congress have proposed a recovery plan that will put more than 3 million Americans back to work.

You can learn more about how the plan will help your community by organizing an Economic Recovery House Meeting.

Join thousands of people across the country who are coming together to watch a special video about the recovery plan. Invite your friends and neighbors to watch the video with you and have a conversation about your community's economic situation.

The economic crisis can seem overwhelming and complex, but you can help the people you know connect the recovery plan to their lives and learn more about why it's so important.

Sign up to host an Economic Recovery House Meeting the weekend of Friday, February 6th.

The President's plan passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. But if it's going to move forward, we need to avoid the usual partisan games.

That's why supporters are opening their homes to talk with neighbors and friends about how the plan will work -- and what it means for their community.

The video will outline the basics of the plan and how it will impact working families. It will also include answers to questions from folks across the country. Invite your friends and family to watch the video, discuss the plan, and help build support for it.

Don't worry if you've never hosted a house meeting before -- we'll make sure you have everything you need to make it a success.

Take the first step right now by signing up to host an Economic Recovery House Meeting:

http://my.barackobama.com/recoveryhost

Time and again, you've demonstrated your commitment to change. Now you can help America move in an important new direction.

Please forward this email to your friends and family, and encourage them to get involved as well.

Thank you for your hard work,

Mitch

Mitch Stewart
Director
Organizing for America

MIDDLE CLASS Task Force

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http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/smc_images/smc_banner.jpg

Vice President Joe Biden announces he'll be leading the new Middle Class Task Force. So, how do we make sure the middle class benefits from our economic recovery?


Save the Date: First Meeting 2/27/2009

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The task force’s first focus will be green jobs as a pathway to a strong middle class.

Green jobs are jobs that provide products and services which use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources and reconstitute waste.

So what do green jobs mean for the middle class?

First, quite simply, it means more jobs. At a time when good jobs at good wages are harder and harder to come by, it is critical we find new and innovate ways to create more such jobs. Building a new power grid, manufacturing solar panels, weatherizing homes and office buildings, and renovating schools are just a few examples of ways to create new good quality jobs – green jobs – and strengthen the foundation of this country at the same time.

Second, more green jobs mean more money in your pocketbook at the end of the month. If we create jobs that aim to reduce your energy costs – like your electric bill and your home heating bill – that means you have more disposable income for other things.

Creating more green jobs has multiple benefits. It helps the economy as a whole; it helps our environment; and it will save you money.

Stay tuned for more information on green jobs following the Middle Class Task Force’s first meeting on February 27, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

About the Task Force

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About the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families: The Task Force is a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America. It is comprised of top-level administration policy makers, and in addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities. The Task Force will be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. The Vice President and members of the task force will work with a wide array of federal agencies that have responsibility for key issues facing the middle class and expedite administrative reforms, propose Executive orders, and develop legislative and policy proposals that can be of special importance to working families.

Members of the Middle Class Task Force include: Vice President Biden, Chair; the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

Goals of the task force:

  • Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities
  • Improving work and family balance
  • Restoring labor standards, including workplace safety
  • Helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes
  • Protecting retirement security

We’d like to hear from you. Over the upcoming months, we will focus on answering those concerns that matter most to families. What can we do to make retirement more secure? How can we make child and elder care more affordable? How do we improve workplace safety? How are we going to get the cost of college within reach? What can we do to help weary parents juggle work and family? What are the jobs of the future that we can begin to create? Please share your story with us and give us ideas for how to get the middle class going again.

Transparency: The Task Force will operate in a transparent fashion, in an open, two-way dialogue directly with the American people. Any materials from meetings or reports produced will be made available to the public at www.AStrongMiddleClass.gov.

Organizing For America

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We won the election because of the grass root support of our supporters. Now more than ever, we need your help, not to win an election, but to connect with President Obama in expressing your thoughts and ideas on policies and legislation.

Watch Barack's Personal Message Before He Became the President



Organizing for America will continue the work of the largest grassroots movement in history. Volunteers, grassroots leaders, and ordinary citizens will drive this organization and help bring about the changes we proposed during the presidential campaign.

Campaign manager David Plouffe announces Mitch Stewart as the executive director of Organizing for America project.



Go to http://my.barackobama.com/page/invite/neworganization invite your friends to join our grass root movement.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shameful - REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER MEETING WITH THE VICE PRESIDENT AND THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY

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$18 billion.

That’s what Wall Street bankers pulled down in bonuses over the past two months, according to a report from the New York State comptroller -- even as many of these institutions received billions in taxpayer dollars.

"That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful," President Obama said today, following a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and the rest of the economic team.

Read the President’s full remarks below.

The White House, Oval Office
January 29, 2009

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's good to see you guys. I just had a terrific conversation with my Secretary of the Treasury, the Vice President, as well as the rest of our economic team, about the steps that we need to move forward on -- not only on the economic recovery and reinvestment package, but also on making sure that we begin the process of regulating Wall Street so that we can improve the flow of credit, banks start lending again, so that businesses can reopen, and that we can create more jobs -- but also to make sure that we never find ourselves in the kind of crisis that we're in again, that we've seen over the last several months.

And Secretary Geithner is hard at work on this process. We expect that even as the reinvestment and recovery package moves forward -- as I said, that's only one leg of the stool, and that these other legs of the stool will be rolled out systematically in the coming weeks so that the American people will have a clear sense of a comprehensive strategy designed to put people back to work, reopen businesses and credit flowing again.

One point I want to make is that all of us are going to have responsibilities to get this economy moving again. And when I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers had given themselves $20 billion worth of bonuses -- the same amount of bonuses as they gave themselves in 2004 -- at a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don't provide help that the entire system could come down on top of our heads -- that is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful.

And part of what we're going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility. The American people understand that we've got a big hole that we've got to dig ourselves out of -- but they don't like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole even as they're being asked to fill it up.

And so we're going to be having conversations as this process moves forward directly with these folks on Wall Street to underscore that they have to start acting in a more responsible fashion if we are to together get this economy rolling again. There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses -- now is not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them, I expect Secretary Geithner to send to them -- and Secretary Geithner already had to pull back one institution that had gone forward with a multimillion dollar jet plane purchase at the same time as they're receiving TARP money. We shouldn't have to do that because they should know better. And we will continue to send that message loud and clear.

Having said that, I am confident that with the recovery package moving through the House and through the Senate, with the excellent work that's already been done by Secretary Geithner in consultation with Larry Summers and Paul Volcker and other individuals, that we are going to be able to set up a regulatory framework that rights the ship and that gets us moving again. And I know the American people are eager to get moving again -- they want to work. They are serious about their responsibilities; I am, too, in this White House and I hope that the folks on Wall Street are going to be thinking in the same way.

A Wonderful Day - The White House Blog

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President Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Barack Obama For President 2012 blog

It's about justice. It's about who we are. And on this "wonderful day," we're getting a step closer to both of those things.

That was President Obama's message as he signed his first piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which will make it easier for people to get the pay they deserve -- regardless of their gender, race, or age.

"Ultimately, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are -- and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals," President Obama said. "Whether we'll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something -- to breathe new life into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.

Surrounded by leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and with the new law's namesake, Lilly Ledbetter, at his side, President Obama signed into law a powerful tool to fight discrimination.

The law is now up on our website, where you can review its full text and and submit your thoughts, comments, and ideas.

And you can read the full remarks by the President, the First Lady, and Mrs. Ledbetter below.


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
UPON SIGNING THE LILLY LEDBETTER BILL
East Room
January 29, 2009
10:20 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: All right. Everybody please have a seat. Well, this is a wonderful day. (Applause.) First of all, it is fitting that the very first bill that I sign -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act -- (applause) -- that it is upholding one of this nation's founding principles: that we are all created equal, and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.

It's also fitting that we're joined today by the woman after whom this bill is named -- someone who Michelle and I have had the privilege to get to know ourselves. And it is fitting that we are joined this morning by the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) It's appropriate that this is the first bill we do together. We could not have done it without her. Madam Speaker, thank you for your extraordinary work. And to all the sponsors and members of Congress and leadership who helped to make this day possible.

Lilly Ledbetter did not set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job -- and she did it well -- for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits -- losses that she still feels today.

Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and the harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and lead to this day and this bill which will help others get the justice that she was denied.

Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows that this story isn't just about her. It's the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn -- women of color even less -- which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.

Equal pay is by no means just a women's issue -- it's a family issue. It's about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves; that's the difference between affording the mortgage -- or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor bills -- or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month's paycheck to simple and plain discrimination.

So signing this bill today is to send a clear message: that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody; that there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces; and that it's not just unfair and illegal, it's bad for business to pay somebody less because of their gender or their age or their race or their ethnicity, religion or disability; and that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook. It's about how our laws affect the daily lives and the daily realities of people: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are -- and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals; whether we'll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something -- to breathe new life into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.

That is what Lilly Ledbetter challenged us to do. And today, I sign this bill not just in her honor, but in the honor of those who came before -- women like my grandmother, who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up and giving her best every day, without complaint, because she wanted something better for me and my sister.

And I sign this bill for my daughters, and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

In the end, that's why Lilly stayed the course. She knew it was too late for her -- that this bill wouldn't undo the years of injustice she faced or restore the earnings she was denied. But this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting, because she was thinking about the next generation. It's what we've always done in America -- set our sights high for ourselves, but even higher for our children and our grandchildren.

And now it's up to us to continue this work. This bill is an important step -- a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness for American workers -- and I want to thank this remarkable and bipartisan group of legislators who worked so hard to get it passed. And I want to thank all the advocates who are in the audience who worked so hard to get it passed. This is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did -- and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did -- we will close that pay gap and we will make sure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedoms to pursue their dreams as our sons.

So thank you, Lilly Ledbetter. (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)


REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AND MRS. LILLY LEDBETTER
AT RECEPTION AFTER BILL SIGNING
State Dining Room, The White House
January 29, 2009

MRS. OBAMA: So thank you for joining us today for this important event, and welcome to the White House. (Applause.) As I told guests, feel free, walk around, touch some stuff. (Laughter.) Just don't break anything. (Laughter.) It's what I try to tell my kids. (Laughter.)

I had the opportunity to meet Lilly during the campaign and to hear her story. First of all, she is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Anyone who meets Lilly can't help but be impressed by her commitment, her dedication, her focus. She knew unfairness when she saw it, and was willing to do something about it because it was the right thing to do -- plain and simple.

In traveling across the country over the past two years, Lilly's story and the broader issue of equal pay was a concern voiced over and over and over again. It was a top and critical priority for women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds -- older women, younger women, women with disabilities, and their families. This legislation is an important step forward, particularly at a time when so many families are facing economic insecurity and instability. It's also one cornerstone of a broader commitment to address the needs of working women who are looking to us to not only ensure that they're treated fairly, but also to ensure that there are policies in place that help women and men balance their work and family obligations without putting their jobs or their economic stability at risk.

And it is my honor to introduce this extraordinary woman whose hard work has brought us here today for this very special occasion, and who has been an inspiration to women and men all across this country. Ladies and gentlemen, Lilly Ledbetter. (Applause.)

MRS. LEDBETTER: Thank you. And thank you, Mrs. Obama.

I fell in love with those people campaigning with them. I have to tell you that. And that's not on my prepared speech -- (laughter) -- but I have to tell you I love she and the President. And I just believe in them and their work so very much.

But thank you very much. Words cannot begin to describe how honored and humbled I feel today. When I filed my claim against Goodyear with the EEOC 10 years ago, never -- never -- did I imagine the path that it would lead me down. I have spent the past two years since the Supreme Court's decision in my case fighting for equal pay for this day. But to watch you sign a bill that bears my name, the bill that will help women and others fight pay discrimination in the workplace, is truly overwhelming.

Goodyear will never have to pay me what it cheated me out of. In fact, I will never see a cent from my case. But with the passage and President's signature today, I have an even richer reward. (Applause.) I know that my daughter and granddaughters, and your daughters and your granddaughters, will have a better deal. That's what makes this fight worth fighting. That's what made this fight one we had to win. And now with this win we will make a big difference in the real world.

On behalf of all the women in this country who will once again be able to fight pay discrimination, thank you. Thank you to all the senators and House members who fought for and supported this bill. Thank you to the many organizations and broad coalition that worked tirelessly for its passage. And thank you to the countless women around the country who rallied behind this legislation. It would never have happened without you.

With this bill in place, we now can move forward to where we all hope to be -- improving the law, not just restoring it. President Obama, I want him to know that we're very grateful for his support. And you can count on my continued commitment to fighting to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act -- (applause) -- and to make sure that women have equal pay for equal work, because that's what this country is all about.

And thank you very much. (Applause.)

Illinois senators Kick the Ass of Gov. Rod Blagojevich

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The Illinois Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to remove impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich delivers a closing argument at his impeachment trial Thursday.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich delivers a closing argument at his impeachment trial Thursday.

Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges in December. Federal authorities allege, among other things, that he was trying to sell or trade the Senate seat that became vacant after Barack Obama was elected president.

After the governor's arrest, the state House voted overwhelmingly to impeach him. The Senate vote was 59-0.

Moments after removing him from office, the Illinois Senate also voted unanimously to prevent Blagojevich from ever holding political office in the state again.

"I'm obviously sad and disappointed, but not at all surprised, by what the state senate did today," Blagojevich said during a free-for-all news conference outside his Chicago home during which he answered reporters' questions, hugged shouting supporters and even promised a neighbor's child he'll play basketball with him this summer.

"It's something I knew they would do a long time ago," he said. "The fix was in from the very beginning."

Shortly after the vote, newly minted U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Illinois, who was appointed to the seat by Blagojevich, issued a statement saying he stands behind the state Senate's decision to remove the governor from office.

"As I've repeatedly stated, the governor must be held accountable for his actions to the legislature, in a court of law and to the people of the state of Illinois. ... Today's conviction speaks loud and clear that there are serious issues preventing him from fulfilling his responsibilities and I support putting new leadership in place."

Earlier Thursday, Illinois state senators made final deliberations in Blagojevich's impeachment trial.

"Honest and competent governors don't act like Rod Blagojevich," Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard said. "Rod Blagojevich needs to be removed from office."

Sen. Kwame Raul, a Democrat, said the governor had not presented any evidence in his defense and had not called any witnesses.

"He had the opportunity, and it's a lie for him to say that he did not have an opportunity," he said. "The governor presented absolutely no evidence in this case. All of the House prosecutor's evidence went unrebutted."

Elected officials in Illinois, who were forced to deal with the ugliness of the Blagojevich affair while many would have preferred to be celebrating the inauguration of President Obama, were quick to praise the senate's actions.

"Good riddance," U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, a Democrat, said in a written statement. "The Blagojevich scandal has been a national embarrassment. I hope and pray that today's decision by the Illinois Senate will give our state the fresh start it so desperately needs."

The scene outside of the former-governor's Chicago home turned strange shortly after the vote.

Within minutes, a media throng outside watched as the governor's state security detail got into their vehicles and left.

A guard took a baby seat out of a van that had been used to carry the governor's family and left it outside of a garage.

At a free-for-all news conference, Blagojevich thanked Illinoisans, who elected him governor twice after terms as a U.S. representative and state lawmaker.

"I'm really here today to say how grateful Patti and I and our daughters ... are for the opportunity to be able to serve the people of Illinois as their governor for the past six years," he said. "How blessed I personally feel to get up every day to fight for the average people -- ordinary people who don't ordinarily have a voice."

The ex-governor finished his prepared comments and climbed the stairs to his home, then climbed back down to shake hands with neighbors. He then allowed reporters to crowd around and ask questions during an ad hoc news conference that lasted longer than his original statement.

At one point, he walked up to at least two neighbor children, hugging them and asking, "Do you want to be on TV?"

One of them asked, "Will you play hoops with me this summer?" Blagojevich answered, "Absolutely."

After the conference, he again went into a crowd of onlookers to hug several members as people shouted things like "We still support you" and "Forgive and forget."

During the trial's closing arguments Blagojevich appeared before the senators, saying he had done "absolutely nothing wrong."

"I'm here to appeal to you, to your sense of fairness, your sense of responsibility and to the truth," he said in a closing address that lasted less than an hour. It was the first time he had appeared at the impeachment trial, which began Monday.

The governor firmly denied wrongdoing Thursday, as he has all week on television talk shows.

"If I felt I did something wrong, I would have resigned in December," he said. "If I felt I violated a law, I would meet my responsibility, I would have resigned in December."

The governor, who did not use notes during his remarks, said the allegations against him were unproven.

"There hasn't been a single piece of information that proves any wrongdoing," he said. "You haven't proved a crime, and you can't, because it hasn't happened.

"How can you throw a governor out of office with insufficient and incomplete evidence?"

As he did in his television interviews, Blagojevich railed against Senate trial rules that he said unfairly prevented him from presenting witnesses or evidence.

After the governor's address, the Senate recessed for an hour before House prosecutor David Ellis gave a rebuttal to the governor's remarks.

"He could have put himself under oath and faced my questions," Ellis said. "More importantly, much more importantly, faced your questions. But he didn't do that, did he?"

"He talked more about the evidence with Barbara Walters on 'The View' than he did in this chamber today, where he's facing impeachment and removal from office," he said.

Earlier, in his closing argument, Ellis said the governor had demonstrated an "abuse of power" throughout his tenure as Illinois' chief executive.

Blagojevich railed against the trial on talk shows this week, calling it unfair and saying it sets a dangerous precedent. He has ignored trial deadlines and presented no evidence in his defense.

Reported by CNN Ed Hornick

President Obama, Michelle Visit Daughter's SchoolPresident Obama, Michelle Visit Daughter's School

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk after arriving at Sidwell Friends School, where their seven-year-old daughter Sasha is enrolled, in Bethesda, Md., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009.

A day after President Barack Obama publicly teased local school officials for canceling classes because of wintry weather, he and his wife visited their younger daughter's school on Thursday.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, left the White House around 8:15 a.m. for the ride to the Bethesda, Md., campus of the Sidwell Friends School, a private school where their 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, is in the second grade.

The Obamas spent a little more than an hour at the school attending a class presentation before they returned to the White House. Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, joined them.

Obama had ridiculed local officials for closing school Wednesday, saying "we're going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town."

Older daughter Malia, 10, is a fifth-grader at Sidwell's middle school in the District of Columbia.

From HuffingtonPost.com

Equal Pay for Equal Work -- It's About Time! - Huffingtonpost

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Nine years into the 21st Century -- and here we are -- FINALLY -- with a Congress and a president ready to put the final signature on legislation that will help ensure equal pay for equal work -- no matter what your gender, race, national origin or religion happens to be.

It's a new day in Washington. After years of Congressional Republicans holding up the equal pay provision, Democrats in the House and Senate swiftly passed the bill. Tomorrow, the first bill that our new president will sign into law will be equal pay for equal work. How proud President Obama must be.

More importantly, what a great moment this will be for the millions of women and minorities in our country who have worked just as hard as their counterparts, but paid substantially less because of their gender or color of skin. This critical moment should be celebrated in every community and in work places across our great country.

I've never understood why Republicans and some Democrats have opposed the equal pay provision. How could you? Don't pretend to be a leader and say that your represent the people when you stand in the way of simple fairness and equity. I know Senate Republicans are dominated and controlled by older white men who have stopped this provision from getting a vote over the years. What I don't understand is how female Republican Senators like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Elizabeth Dole couldn't show enough leadership to get this out of the Senate. Or why they would even stay in the Republican Party when their male counterparts continue to keep them down.

If anyone every asks you, "does it make a difference which political party controls Congress," I hope this is one clear and important example of what a difference it will make in the lives of millions of Americans who have suffered from discrimination in the workplace, that under Democratic control, equal pay for equal work will now be the law of the land.

I expect this is just the start of an important progressive agenda as change takes over Washington.

Obama signs fair pay legislation - CNN

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President Barack Obama signed a new pay-equity measure into law Thursday, effectively overturning a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it harder to sue for pay discrimination.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act is the first bill President Obama signed.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act is the first bill President Obama signed

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, named for a former Goodyear Tire employee who sued the company for gender discrimination in 1998, is the first bill signed by Obama.

"It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign ... we are upholding one of this nation's first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness," Obama said at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

"If we stay focused, as Lilly did, and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did, we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons."

The new law removes a provision requiring employees seeking equal pay to file a complaint within 180 days of receiving their first unfair paycheck.

Under the measure, employees instead have the right to file within 180 days of their most recent paycheck.

Supporters of the Ledbetter Act have argued that, under the old standard, an employer merely needed to hide unfair pay practices for three months before being able to continue them without penalty forever.

Lilly Ledbetter was awarded $360,000 in back pay by a federal judge in Alabama, but the verdict was overturned in a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in May 2007.

The court said that even though she filed her complaint within 180 days of when she first learned that she was getting paid less than comparable male employees, she had failed to file within 180 days of the first unequal paycheck.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Ledbetter Act proved to be a significant point of contention between Obama and Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. Obama heavily emphasized what he called the plan's benefits to working women, while McCain criticized it as a boon for trial lawyers.

Obama later danced with Ledbetter at one of his inaugural balls. She also spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

"My case is over. I will never receive the pay I deserve," Ledbetter said in that speech. "But there will be a far richer reward if we secure fair pay for our children and grandchildren, so that no one will ever again experience the discrimination that I did."

House of Representatives Passes American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan

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By a vote of 244-188, the House of Representatives has just passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The plan will now move to consideration by the Senate.

Following the vote, President Obama released the following statement:

Last year, America lost 2.6 million jobs. On Monday alone, we learned that some of our biggest employers plan to cut another 55,000. This is a wakeup call to Washington that the American people need us to act and act immediately.

That is why I am grateful to the House of Representatives for moving the American Recovery and Reinvestment plan forward today. There are many numbers in this plan. It will double our capacity to generate renewable energy. It will lower the cost of health care by billions and improve its quality. It will modernize thousands of classrooms and send more kids to college. And it will put billions of dollars in immediate tax relief into the pockets of working families.

But out of all these numbers, there is one that matters most to me: this recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years.

I can also promise that my administration will administer this recovery plan with a level of transparency and accountability never before seen in Washington. Once it is passed, every American will be able to go the website recovery.gov and see how and where their money is being spent.

The plan now moves to the Senate, and I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk. But what we can’t do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way. We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do.

UPDATED: The New York Times online has an interactive map of the vote. Eleven Democrats voted against the bill; no Republicans voted in favor of i

President Obama Meets with Business Leaders: "We cannot afford inaction or delay" - Obama HQ Blog

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President Obama held a meeting this morning with business leaders from across the country to discuss the impact of the weakening economy on businesses and workers. In addition, discussed their shared commitment to a plan that will both get the economy moving again and lay the ground work for the long-term strength of the economy. Following the meeting, President Obama made the following remarks:

A few moments ago, I met with some of America’s leading business executives. It was a sober meeting – because these companies, and the workers they employ, are going through times more trying than any we have seen in a long, long while. Just the other day, seven of our largest corporations announced they were making major job cuts. Some of the business leaders in this room have had to do the same. And yet, even as we discussed the seriousness of this challenge, we left our meeting confident that we can still turn our economy around.

But we must each do our share. Part of what led our economy to this perilous moment was a sense of irresponsibility that prevailed from Wall Street to Washington. That’s why I called for a new era of responsibility in my Inaugural Address last week – an era where each of us chips in so that we can climb our way out of this crisis – executives and factory floor workers, educators and engineers, health care professionals and elected officials.

As we discussed in our meeting a few minutes ago, corporate America will have to accept its own responsibilities to its workers and to the American public. But these executives also understand that without wise leadership in Washington, even the best-run businesses cannot do as well as they might. They understand that what makes an idea sound is not whether it’s Democratic or Republican, but whether it makes good economic sense for their workers and companies. And they understand that when it comes to rebuilding our economy, we don’t have a moment to spare.

The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat – they cannot afford inaction or delay. The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that theirs will be the next job cut – they need help now. They are looking to Washington for action – bold and swift. And that is why I hope to sign an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan into law in the next few weeks.

Most of the money we’re investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job-creation, generating or saving three to four million new jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs will be created in the private sector – because, as these CEOs well know, business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country. But even as this plan puts Americans back to work today, it will also make those critical investments in alternative energy and safer roads, better health care and modern schools that will lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity. And it will invest in broadband and emerging technologies, like the ones imagined and introduced to the world by people like Sam Palmisano and so many of the CEOs here today – because that is how America will retain and regain its competitive edge in the 21st century.

I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable. Instead of just throwing money at our problems, we’ll try something new in Washington – we’ll invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible.

And we will launch a sweeping effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov. Because I firmly believe with Justice Brandeis that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I know that restoring transparency is not only the surest way to achieve results, but also to earn back that trust in government without which we cannot deliver the changes the American people sent us here to make.

In the end, the answer to our economic troubles rests less in my hands, or in the hands of our legislators, than it does with America’s workers and the businesses that employ them. They are the ones whose efforts and ideas will determine our economic destiny, just as they always have. For in the end, it’s businesses – large and small – that generate the jobs, provide the salaries, and serve as the foundation on which the American people’s lives and dreams depend. All we can do, those of us in Washington, is help create a favorable climate in which workers can prosper, businesses can thrive, and our economy can grow. And that is exactly what the recovery plan I’ve proposed is intended to do. Thank you.

President Obama Signed the Lillie Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act

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On Thursday, January 29,2008 at 10:28 am Eastern Time, President Barack Obama signed the first bill titled "The Lillie Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act".

The signing took place today at the White House with Lillie Ledbetter present as a guest of honor for the signing. This marks the victorious end to a ten year journey that brought this grandmother from Gaston, Alabama all the way to the Supreme Court where she fought for the fair pay act so the next generation would not be cheated like she was. For twenty years, Lillie Ledbetter worked the same job but received pay that equaled less than her male counterparts.

When Lillie discovered this unfair practice, she decided to fight for change, not just for her, but for everyone who would come after her. This act will benefit women, races, and persons with disabilities. Lillie endured the struggles, hardship and harassment that she received while fighting for this important piece of legislation. President Obama noted that this bill would not have passed without the help of First Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Because Lillie Ledbetter cared about fair wages for everyone, she stood next to President Barack Obama at the White House while he signed the Fair Pay bill. Witnessed by the world as Fox News broadcast this historic event.

Cheryl Lynn Gardner
The Midnight Writer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My children's school was canceled today, because of what? Some ice - Barack Obama

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Despite ambitious post-9/11 security measures, Washington does remain alarmingly vulnerable to one recurring airborne threat: the humble snowflake.

DC residents are used to derision from chillier quarters of the country over their city’s occasional paralysis in the face of winter weather. After a few inches of snow and some early morning sleet in the first half of the week resulted in a wave of Washington-area shutdowns, the city’s most famous Midwestern transplant couldn’t resist a dig or two at his new hometown’s expense.

"My children's school was canceled today, because of what? Some ice," President Obama told a group of business leaders visiting the White House Wednesday, according to a pool report.

"As my children pointed out, in Chicago school is never canceled," he added, joking that he would have to instill some “flinty Chicago toughness” into his neighbors. "When it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things.”

That lesson may have to wait for the next winter storm: after a late-day wave of precipitation, DC's forecast for tomorrow is sunny, with highs in the upper 30s.

Sec. Geithner tightens the reins - WhiteHouse.gov

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In one of his first acts as Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner today announced new rules that will make it harder for banks to lobby for a share of money set aside by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

The new rules restrict the contact that bank lobbyists can have with Treasury officials, as well as what members of Congress can do to secure money on behalf of banks in their home districts.

"American taxpayers deserve to know that their money is spent in the most effective way to stabilize the financial system," Secretary Geithner said. "Today's actions reaffirm our commitment toward that goal."

Introducing him last night before he was sworn in, President Barack Obama spoke to the challenges Secretary Geithner faces, with a nod to the news that seven major American corporations -- including Caterpillar, Sprint/Nextel, and Home Depot -- announced they were cutting tens of thousands of jobs.

"It will take a Secretary of the Treasury who understands those challenges in all their complexities to help lead us forward," President Obama said. "You've got your work cut out for you, as I think everybody knows. But you also have my full confidence, my deepest trust, and my unyeilding belief that you can achieve what is required of us at this moment."

Vice President Biden administered the oath of office to Geithner, who had been confirmed that afternoon.

"We are at a moment of maximum challenge for our economy and our country," Secretary Geithner said in his remarks. "And our agenda, Mr. President, is to move quickly to help you do what the country asked you to do: to launch the programs that will bring economic recovery sooner; to make our economy more productive and more just in the opportunities it provides our citizens; to restore trust in our financial system with fundamental reform; to make our tax system better at rewarding work and investment; to restore confidence in America's economic leadership around the world. I pledge all of my ability to help you meet that challenge, and to restore to all Americans the promise of a better future."

As Secretary Geithner thanked his family for their support, he remarked that he was inspired to enter public service by childhood travels with his family.

"My parents gave me, among many wonderful things, they gave me the important gift of showing me the world as a child," he said. "They took us to live in Zambia and Rhodesia, and then to India and to Thailand. And from those places, I saw America through the eyes of others. And it was that experience seeing the extraordinary influence of America on the world that led me to work in government."

Read last night’s remarks from the President and Secretary Geithner below.


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT SWEARING IN OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER
U.S. Department of Treasury
Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2009

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, please have a seat. A short time ago, the United States Senate voted to confirm Timothy Geithner as our next Secretary of the Treasury. That deserves some applause. (Applause.) I want to thank Democratic and Republican senators for their show of confidence in Tim, and I want to thank Tim -- and Carole -- for their willingness to serve their country at a time when that service is desperately needed.

I came here tonight because, at this moment of challenge and crisis, Tim's work and the work of the entire Treasury Department must begin at once. We cannot lose a day, because every day the economic picture is darkening -- here and across the globe. Just today we learned that seven major corporations will be laying off thousands more workers. This comes on top of the 2.5 million jobs we lost last year. And it will take a Secretary of the Treasury who understands this challenge and all its complexities to help lead us forward.

When Alexander Hamilton was sworn in as our first Treasury Secretary, his task was to weave together the disparate debts and economies of various states into one American system of credit and capital markets. More than two centuries later, that system is now in serious jeopardy. It has been badly weakened by an era of irresponsibility; a series of imprudent and dangerous decisions on Wall Street; and an unrelenting quest for profit with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets, and our government. That era must end right now, and I believe it can.

The very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it is not beyond our ability to solve. Our problems are rooted in past mistakes, not our capacity for future greatness. It will take time, perhaps many years, but we can rebuild that lost trust and confidence. We can restore opportunity and prosperity. And I'm confident that Tim, along with Larry Summers and Peter Orszag and the rest of our economic team, can help us get there.

In the coming weeks and months, we will work together to stabilize our financial system and restart the flow of credit that families and businesses depend on to get a loan, make a payroll, or buy a home. But we'll do it in a way that protects the American taxpayer and includes the highest level of transparency and oversight so that the American people can hold us accountable for results.

Together, with both parties in Congress, we will launch a recovery and reinvestment plan that saves or creates more than 3 million jobs while investing in priorities like health care, education, and energy that will make us strong in the future. And I will be working with the entire economic team and Tim to reform and modernize our outdated financial regulations so that a crisis like this cannot happen again. We'll put in place new common-sense rules of the road and we will be vigilant in ensuring they are not bent or broken any longer.

So, congratulations, Tim. You've got your work cut out for you, as I think everybody knows, but you also have my full confidence, my deepest trust, my unyielding belief that we can rise to achieve what is required of us at this moment. Our work will not be easy and it will not be quick, but we will embrace it so that we can carry on the legacy of boundless opportunity and unmatched prosperity that has defined this nation since our earlier days.

And before I step aside from the podium, to all the wonderful staff at Treasury, who have been laboring long and hard over the last several months and years -- but particularly the last several months -- I want to thank you for your dedication and your service. You've been doing yeoman's work at a time when

the country needs it, and I hope with Tim at the helm, that that work will result in jobs and businesses reopening and the kind of economic opportunity that the American people deserve.

So, with that, let's get Tim sworn in.


REMARKS BY TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER
U.S. Department of Treasury
Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2009

SECRETARY GEITHNER: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Vice President. And thanks to my many friends and colleagues for being here tonight. My wife Carole stood beside me as I took this oath of office as she has twice before in this building. I want to thank her for her extraordinary grace and support. She has this remarkable capacity for calm wisdom and empathy.

Our children, Elise and Benjamin, are back at school in New York studying for their midterm exams -- I hope they're studying. (Laughter.) I miss them very much and I'm very proud of them.

My terrific family is represented here tonight by my father, Peter Geithner, and my brother, David. My parents gave me, among many wonderful things, they gave me the important gift of showing me the world as a child. They took us to live in Zambia and Rhodesia, and then to India and to Thailand. And from those places, I saw America through the eyes of others. And it was that experience seeing the extraordinary influence of America on the world that led me to work in government.

I first walked into this building about 20 years ago. And I had at Treasury the wonderful experience of working with smart and dedicated people serving their country with the shared goal of making government more effective, in an environment where our obligation was to debate the merits, to do what was right, not what was easy or expedient, drawing on the best ideas and expertise in the nation.

Treasury's tradition is to defend the integrity of policy, to respect the constraints imposed by limited resources, and to limit government intervention to where it is essential to protect our financial system and to improve the lives of the American people. That tradition is critically important today because it is the source of the credibility that makes it possible for governments to do what is necessary to resolve a crisis.

In the world we confront today, Treasury has to be, and Treasury will be, a source of bold initiative. We are at a moment of maximum challenge for our economy and for our country. And our agenda, Mr. President, is to move quickly to help you do what the country asked you to do: to launch the programs that will bring economic recovery sooner; to make our economy more productive and more just in the opportunities it provides our citizens; to restore trust in our financial system with fundamental reform; to make our tax system better at rewarding work and investment; to restore confidence in America's economic leadership around the world. I pledge all of my ability to help you meet that challenge, and to restore to all Americans the promise of a better future.

I want to thank Larry Summers, who has taught me so much about economic policy, a little bit about math, even some things about people. I am fortunate he is willing to work alongside me as we confront the nation's challenges.

Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your trust and confidence. We will work our hearts out for you. Thank you for giving me this great privilege of working for you. I am eager to get to work.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The First Week in Review

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A new President and his administration have been sworn into office. The excitement of the inauguration has not quite settled yet. President Barack Obama and his team have run full throttle into getting to work on the plans for changing America. This post will be dedicated to all the events of America's 44th President Barack Obama's first week in office.

This post is in progress, so please check back for the final publication.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary to President Obama and His Team

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Today marks the end of a first great week of Barack Obama being President of the United States and of Joe Biden being the Vice President. I wanted to say Congratulations on a week of excitement with lots of progress and action.

It is wonderful to see changes being immediately implemented. It is equally as wonderful to see the enthusiasm with which President Obama and his team are embracing the work before them. It is a week that has already made history.

I want to be one of the Americans to say how proud I am to see such a co-operative effort from an Administration in the White House. I do not know all your names, so please post a complete list of the team so the people can join in thanking each one of you.

May God bless and keep each of you in your work as leaders of a nation so great as America. May the Lord bless you with continued energy and inspiration to meet the challenges ahead. May the people that you need come forward to embrace this unique opportunity to work in an open government that is unprecedented in America.

I hope to post a Week in Review tomorrow, so check back to see what I compile. If you want to contribute to this week in review post, email themidnightwriter1@gmail.com and we'll write it together. It will be a nice part of the Barack Obama blog.

Thanks to all of you in the Administration in front of and behind the scenes. I am proud to be an American.

Cheryl Lynn Gardner
The Midnight Writer

Breaking News: Geithner confirmed as Treasury Secretary

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The Senate has confirmed Timothy Geithner as the Obama administration's treasury secretary on a 60-34 vote.

President Obama is heading over to the Treasury Department with Vice President Biden to immediately swear in the newest Cabinet member, according to two senior administration officials.

Senate lawmakers voted Monday to confirm Tim Geithner as the next Treasury secretary amid ongoing uncertainty about the nation's economic future.

Geithner, who will spearhead President Obama's response to the financial crisis that threatens to unravel economic growth around the globe, won approval by a vote of 60 to 34.

Following the vote, President Obama and Vice-President Biden went to the Treasury Department to immediately swear Geithner in.

The quick move is a sign that the President, who originally hoped Geithner would be sworn in on Inauguration Day, wants to get his entire team in place to help sell the $825 billion economic stimulus plan.

Democrats on Capitol Hill had been pushing for a quick confirmation of Geithner, arguing that the threats facing the economy required immediate action.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, cited that rationale in a statement on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

"I do not believe we have the luxury of leaving this nomination unfilled even another day," said Hatch, who was one of five Republicans to support Geithner's nomination last week when it came before the Senate Finance Committee. "You're not going to get a better person for this job."

Reid warned Friday that Republicans "would not be very wise politically" to try to hold up the nomination, which last week won the support of all the Democrats and half the Republicans on the finance committee. He added that Democrats could block any attempt to filibuster.

Despite Reid's comments, several Republican lawmakers made clear Monday that they had reservations about Geithner. Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Thune of South Dakota and James Inhofe of Oklahoma questioned Geithner's character in light of his failure to pay some taxes earlier this decade, and his handling of questions about those missteps.

"I don't believe he has been remotely forthcoming," said Inhofe.

Amid mounting Republican opposition to the plan, Obama is planning to ramp up his sales pitch Tuesday with a trip to Capitol Hill to meet with House and Senate Republicans in separate meetings.

Geithner will take over for Stuart A. Levey, the Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who has been serving as acting Treasury Secretary since the Obama administration took office last week.

Bank bailout, part 2

On Thursday, the committee recommended in an 18-5 vote that the full Senate confirm the appointment of Geithner, who was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to succeed Henry Paulson. Supporters spoke highly of Geithner's experience in managing financial emergencies.

The finance panel's recommendation came after two hearings last week that were dominated by questions about how President Obama and his top advisers plan to address the troubles in the financial sector.

Shares of big U.S. banks have plunged anew this month as investors struggle to come to grips with the risk that financial institutions will be overwhelmed by rising loan losses as the economy slows -- and the possibility that shareholders may be wiped out by a new round of government aid.

Congress has given Obama access to $350 billion of federal bailout funds. But congressional leaders, angered by the Bush administration's handling of the first slug of money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, have demanded that tough new terms be applied to bailout recipients -- and that the government give taxpayers a more complete account of how money is spent.

For his part, Geithner said in testimony last week that the administration is working on what he called a comprehensive response to the crisis. He said Obama would address the nation in coming weeks. Geithner also stressed the need for the government to act urgently and with great force.

"The tragic history of financial crises is a history of failures by governments to act with the speed and force commensurate with the severity of the crisis," Geithner said. "In a crisis of this magnitude, the most prudent course is the most forceful course."

Geithner also said he didn't yet see the need for more federal bailout funds, but stressed that the Treasury may have to "act flexibly" if conditions deteriorate further. The comments suggest the president may ask Congress for additional money beyond the $350 billion currently available under TARP.

Lawrence Summers, head of the National Economic Council, on Sunday wouldn't rule out the possibility that more money would be needed. "We can make important progress and get started with the support that has been provided," Summers said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked whether taxpayers should expect another request for funding to shore up the financial system. "What ultimately will be necessary is something that will play out over time."

Similarly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday said that "some increased investment" may be needed.

The five Republican committee members who opposed Geithner's nomination did so in part because of questions about Geithner's tax problems and whether he had candidly answered their inquiries about them.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., questioned Geithner extensively about the errors on his 2003 and 2004 tax returns and why Geithner didn't immediately pay back taxes due on his 2001 and 2002 returns.

Geithner acknowledged having made mistakes but insisted the errors were unintentional.

CNN's Ed Henry

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama Starts With 68% Job Approval -January 24 Gallup Poll

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n the first Gallup Poll job approval rating of his administration, President Barack Obama receives a 68% approval rating from Americans.

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The survey was conducted from Wednesday through Friday, Jan. 21-23, spanning Obama's first three full days on the job. Only 12% of Americans disapprove of how he has performed thus far, while 21% have no opinion.

Obama's 68% approval score is on the high end of the range of initial job approval ratings Gallup has recorded for the previous eight presidents who were elected to their first term. The low percentage of Americans disapproving of his performance is fairly typical for new presidents -- although Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both started with much higher public disapproval.

A more thorough discussion of Obama's initial job approval ratings and the historical context for them will be published on gallup.com on Monday, Jan. 26.

Gallup is tracking Obama's job approval rating daily, and will be reporting it daily on gallup.com on the basis of three-day rolling averages.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,591 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 21-23, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Poll shows high early approval rating for Obama

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More than two-thirds of Americans approve of President Obama's job performance during his initial days in the White House, an approval rating that significantly exceeds the early poll numbers of his two immediate predecessors.

The new survey by Gallup — the first conducted entirely after Obama took the oath of office Tuesday — found 68 percent of Americans approve of how the new president is handling the job. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's job performance so far.

It's not unusual for new presidents to enter the White House with a high approval rating, but Obama's is markedly higher than the initial approval number of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.


Obama is enjoying a high initial approval rating.

Obama is enjoying a high initial approval rating.

According to Gallup, Bush began his initial days as president with a 57 percent approval rating while Bill Clinton kicked off his first term with a 58 percent rating.

Meanwhile, Clinton faced an initial disapproval rating of 20 percent while Bush — who had only secured the presidency after a protracted and divisive recount in Florida — faced an initial disapproval rating of 25 percent.

But the percentage of Americans who approve of Obama's first days in office isn't unprecedented. John F. Kennedy began his term with a 72 percent approval rating while Jimmy Carter and Dwight Eisenhower had early approvals in the high sixties.

While it's unclear how Obama's approval ratings will change in the initial months of his presidency, history suggests they will likely go up. Of the last eight presidents, six saw their approval numbers increase during the first 100 days of their presidency.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,591 adults from Wednesday-Friday and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

McCain: I won't be a 'rubber stamp' for Obama - CNN

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Sen. John McCain, who faced a long, bruising campaign against President Obama, has taken on a new role in the Obama administration: "Loyal opposition."

McCain defined his role as, "[To] help and work together where I can, and stand up for the principles and the party and the philosophy that I campaigned on and have stood for for many years," to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.


McCain says his new role after a bruising election is that of loyal opposition.

McCain says his new role after a bruising election is that of loyal opposition.

McCain, who has long championed bipartisanship in Washington, said while it's important for Americans to come together, it doesn't mean "that as the loyal opposition that I or my party will be a rubber stamp."

But the former Republican presidential candidate said he can use his experience to help Obama with a long-standing problem besides the economy.

"I think I can help in devising a strategy for Afghanistan. The hard truth is that the Afghan war has deteriorated," he said.

McCain's comments come amid recent U.S. bombings targeting al Qaeda in the Waziristan area of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The rocky terrain has long been seen as a haven for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda operatives.

And by the way, what is a "rubber stamp"?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Blackberry You Won't Find in a Jam

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President Barack Obama has a sense of humor, you know. I have watched on television as he smiled and laughed, whether the joke was for him or about him. That is the sign of a true humble person, and the trait for a great leader. Laughter is essential to manage the stresses of the intense life that our President must now live.

So, pardon the pun about blackberries and jam, Mr. President. It will go down in history along with all the other terms being coined in your honor, President Barack Obama. I bet the creator of the Blackberry is extremely grateful to you for all the press.

If you have been watching the news, you know that even before the inauguration there was talk about whether or not President Obama would give up his phone, the infamous Blackberry. There was a debate over security issues and discussion about whether or not the President would be permitted to use the phone inside the White House.

Something about tracking his signal? Pardon me, Mr. President, but if you are using the phone at the White House, won't everyone know that you live there any way? So what's the problem according to the secret service, the CIA and all the agencies who keep you safe?

There, I did it again...I got off track. The original post started out being about blackberries and jam. My Grandmother made the best jam fresh with hand picked berries from the bushes near the farm in Pennsylvania where I grew up. Have you ever tasted Pennsylvania Dutch homemade blackberry jam, Mr. President? I would love to send you the recipe.

Blackberry Jam is a great idea for a fund raising item in your honor. It could be used for some special programs for the youth and for education. I would love your endorsement on that Mr. President. It will be my first contribution in helping rebuild America.

It would be a great contribution to boost the economy in parts of the country where it is needed. I know some great families in the Pennsylvania region of the Appalachians that would be uplifted by producing this fine blackberry jam. It would need an Obama label to sell. I would start the ball rolling. Who needs a tax break when blackberries and jam can boost the economy?

I am not being flippant, America. There is so much need for humor in the current state of our world. Laughter is healing. I am grateful to a President who knows how to laugh and who knows when to laugh. Hope is alive!

God Bless America and thank God for blackberries and jam.

Cheryl Lynn Gardner
The Midnight Writer

White House 101

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To learn more about the White House, please go to WhiteHouse.gov

WHITE HOUSE 101 - Did you know?

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  • Before he became president, Lyndon Johnson was a teacher at a small school in South Texas.
  • Before he became president, Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton University.
  • Only one president was a preacher -- James Garfield.
  • Did you know that William Howard Taft is the only President who served as both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
  • President John F. Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for his collection of essays, Profiles in Courage.
  • Both George Washington and Jimmy Carter were farmers before they became president -- President Washington was a planter and a farmer at his home in Mount Vernon, and Before he was President, Jimmy Carter ran his family's peanut farm in Plains, Georgia.
  • Before he became president, Barack Obama was a U.S. Senator. Before that, he was an Illinois State Senator, and before that he was a community organizer in Chicago.
  • The President's personal office is called the oval office. Any plane he flies on is called Air Force One, and any helicopter is called Marine One.
  • The "S" in Harry S. Truman's name isn't short for anything. The President was named after both of his grandfathers, Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young. The initial honors them both.
  • The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence took place in Philadelphia -- where the bell now-known as the Liberty Bell rang out to call the city's population together on July 8, 1776.
  • On July 9, 1776, General George Washington gave an order for the Declaration of Independence to be read to his army.
  • In the early part of the 19th century, a network called the Underground Railroad, which received its name in 1831, helped escaped slaves gain freedom. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman helped 300 slaves gain freedom during the 1800s.
  • The Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship resulting from the diplomatic relationship between the United States and France.
  • President Lincoln owned only one home during his lifetime -- in Springfield, Ill.
  • President Jefferson spent more than 40 years designing and building his home in Charlottesville, VA known as Monticello. The President admired classical architecture and incorporated this style into his home.
  • President Jackson's estate outside of Nashville, TN was known as the Hermitage.
  • President Richard M. Nixon was offered a position as a player's representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1965. He declined, stating that he was needed in politics. Nixon served as President from 1969 to 1974.
  • George H.W. Bush played first base on the Yale University team that twice reached the finals of the College World Series.
  • Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge, could often be found keeping a perfect scorecard while watching baseball games in the presidential box.
  • In 1915, Woodrow Wilson became the first President to attend the World Series, where he and his fiance, Edith Gault, made their first public appearance since announcing their engagement. The President insisted on paying for his own tickets.
  • In 1787, just four years after the end of war with Great Britain, 55 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to replace the Articles of Confederation. The Constitutional Convention led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution, which was signed on September 17, 1787.
  • On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution.
  • The first day Congress conducted business under the Constitution was April 6, 1789. On this day, members of Congress counted the votes of the electors, who unanimously elected George Washington as the nation's first president.
  • In order to amend the Constitution, three quarters of all states must vote in favor before the proposed amendment becomes law.
  • WHITE HOUSE 101 - ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE

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    WHITE HOUSE 101 - ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE

    WHITE HOUSE HISTORY

    For more than 200 years, the White House has been more than just the home of the Presidents and their families. Throughout the world, it is recognized as the symbol of the President, of the President's administration, and of the United States. Its location at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is often referred to as the most famous address in the country.

    In 1791, President George Washington and Pierre L’Enfant, an architect who helped plan the layout of Washington, D.C., chose the site of the "President’s House." (It would later be known as "President's Palace" and the "Executive Mansion," before President Theodore Roosevelt christened it the White House in 1901.) In a contest to choose the architect, Irish-born James Hoban beat out eight other proposals with his practical and handsome design, and the first cornerstone was laid in 1792.

    Though President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in.

    But the original building didn't last long. During the war of 1812, British forces set fire to the White House, destroying all but the exterior walls. It was rebuilt in 1817, and the new building has persisted through many revisions and crises, including another fire in 1929. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned a major expansion, including a new area for his staff to use as office space -- now known as the West Wing. Half a century later the White House underwent another extensive renovation, requiring Harry S. Truman to spend much of his second term living next door while the interior of the house was completely gutted.

    After several rounds of renovation and expansion, the White House is quite large. It contains 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. With five full-time chefs, the White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than a thousand. The building requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.

    In its 200 years, the White House has been home to a lot of history. President James Madison signed the nation's first declaration of war in the Green Room in 1812. The bodies of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy both lay in state in the East Room. And countless heads of state have been received in the Blue Room.

    In addition to all the hard work, many presidents also left a lighter touch on the White House. Dwight Eisenhower installed a putting green, Richard Nixon installed a bowling alley, and Bill Clinton installed a jogging track.

    OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

    The White House is the only private residence of a head of state that is open to the public, free of charge. Thomas Jefferson held the first Inaugural open house in 1805, and he welcomed visitors to annual receptions on New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. In 1829, a horde of 20,000 Inaugural callers forced President Andrew Jackson to flee to the safety of a hotel while, on the lawn, aides filled washtubs with orange juice and whiskey to lure the mob out of the mud-tracked White House.

    Inaugural crowds continued to attend receptions at the White House through much of the 19th century. But when Grover Cleveland was first sworn in as President in 1885, he held a presidential review of the troops from a flag-draped grandstand built in front of the White House -- an event that evolved into the official Inaugural parade we know today. Receptions on New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July continued to be held until the early 1930s.

    Statement released after the President rescinds "Mexico City Policy"

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    Yesterday, President Obama rescinded the "Mexico City Policy" and released the following statement:

    It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.

    For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.

    It is time that we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.

    I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls.

    In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

    President Obama delivers Your Weekly Address - WhiteHouse.gov

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    In his first weekly address since being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President Barack Obama discusses how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will jump-start the economy.

    "This is not just a short-term program to boost employment," he said. "It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century."

    The Administration is still working with Congress to refine the plan, but in the address, President Obama lays out the key priorities. He goes into detail, noting that the plan will update our electric grid by laying more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines; weatherize 2.5 million homes; protect health insurance for more than 8 million Americans in danger of losing their coverage; secure 90 major ports; renovate 10,000 schools; and triple the number of science fellowships.

    Watch the President's weekly address and read the full remarks below.


    Remarks of President Barack Obama

    Weekly Address

    Saturday, January 24th, 2009

    We begin this year and this Administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action. Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last twenty-six years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. And we could lose a generation of potential, as more young Americans are forced to forgo college dreams or the chance to train for the jobs of the future.

    In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.

    That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth. I am pleased to say that both parties in Congress are already hard at work on this plan, and I hope to sign it into law in less than a month.

    It’s a plan that will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years, and one that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment - the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there’s so much work to be done. That’s why this is not just a short-term program to boost employment. It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.

    Today I’d like to talk specifically about the progress we expect to make in each of these areas.

    To accelerate the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels over the next three years. We’ll begin to build a new electricity grid that lay down more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines to convey this new energy from coast to coast. We’ll save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75% of federal buildings more energy efficient, and save the average working family $350 on their energy bills by weatherizing 2.5 million homes.

    To lower health care cost, cut medical errors, and improve care, we’ll computerize the nation’s health record in five years, saving billions of dollars in health care costs and countless lives. And we’ll protect health insurance for more than 8 million Americans who are in danger of losing their coverage during this economic downturn.

    To ensure our children can compete and succeed in this new economy, we’ll renovate and modernize 10,000 schools, building state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries, and labs to improve learning for over five million students. We’ll invest more in Pell Grants to make college affordable for seven million more students, provide a $2,500 college tax credit to four million students, and triple the number of fellowships in science to help spur the next generation of innovation.

    Finally, we will rebuild and retrofit America to meet the demands of the 21st century. That means repairing and modernizing thousands of miles of America’s roadways and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans. It means protecting America by securing 90 major ports and creating a better communications network for local law enforcement and public safety officials in the event of an emergency. And it means expanding broadband access to millions of Americans, so business can compete on a level-playing field, wherever they’re located.

    I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable for these results. We won’t just throw money at our problems - we’ll invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible. We’ll launch an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov.

    No one policy or program will solve the challenges we face right now, nor will this crisis recede in a short period of time. But if we act now and act boldly; if we start rewarding hard work and responsibility once more; if we act as citizens and not partisans and begin again the work of remaking America, then I have faith that we will emerge from this trying time even stronger and more prosperous than we were before. Thanks for listening.
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