We will be live blogging the SOTU tonight at 9 pm EST. Look for Live Updates and more as we get closer to the time!!!
President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour in the future, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.
The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increased willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress despite a lack of cooperation on Capitol Hill.
The minimum wage plan provides an example of what he has in mind. Mr. Obama called on Congress during last year’s State of the Union address to raise the minimum wage for workers across the board, only to watch the proposal languish on Capitol Hill, where opponents argued it would hurt businesses and stifle job creation. With prospects for congressional action still slim, Mr. Obama is using the executive order covering federal contractors to go as far as he can on his own.
In recent weeks, some Democratic lawmakers and strategists have urged the White House to focus less on academic-sounding discussions of income inequality and to simplify Obama’s message to reflect the everyday concerns of Americans. White House officials say they have long planned to emphasize such issues.
The approach is notable because raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for domestic initiatives was a centerpiece of Obama’s first-term economic agenda — a move aimed squarely at shrinking income inequality. In speeches over the past year, the president has bounced between wonky discussions about inequality and practical speeches on helping the middle class.
“My view is that the party that taps into the decline in middle-class incomes and the lack of good jobs and figures out a satisfying answer will dominate the 2014 election,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
But, he added, “the American people are more concerned about how they are doing as opposed to how someone else is doing. So simply saying ‘We’re going to raise taxes on the wealthy’ is not going to be the kind of answer that satisfies the middle class.”
“Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson was a ubiquitous presence Tuesday night in Republican lawmakers’ pre-State of the Union photos.
Robertson, the son of controversial “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, was invited to the address by Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA). Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) tweeted that he gave his spare ticket to Robertson’s wife, Korie.
At least four lawmakers snapped a photo with Robertson
Duck Duck ASSSSSShat!!!!
Members of Congress are given one seat to fill with an invited guest – and nearly everyone uses the coveted invitation to help make a political point.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has invited Catholic school children and a business owner from his Ohio district. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has asked an immigration reform activist to attend. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) found a St. Cloud, Minn., physician who reached out with concerns about the new Affordable Care Act. (Departing from the political theme, aides said that Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) is giving his extra seat to his wife, Mikey.)
Several members greeted their invited guests Tuesday, and some even attended news conferences with their “plus one” in tow. But what they probably failed to mention is that several guests are enjoying a trip to Washington paid for with campaign cash.
Tonight’s State of the Union address is Obama’s first of his second and last term in office. Speculation is rampant about the focus and tone of the speech given the changes apparent in the inauguration address to the nation. We’ve already seen that many of the invited guests tonight will victims of gun violence. Another guest of FLOTUS will be the 102 year old woman who represents voting rights in America. Ensuring the right to vote may be central a central them in tonight’s address to the nation.
President Barack Obama will announce a bipartisan presidential voting commission to focus on improving the Election Day experience, The Huffington Post has learned from two sources outside the White House with knowledge of the plans.
The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.
The White House announced Tuesday that 102-year-old Miami resident Desiline Victor will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama during the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, during which Obama is expected to discuss voting reforms. Victor is a naturalized U.S. citizen who stood in line for three hours at a local library on the first Sunday of early voting until workers told her to come back later that evening. A crowd of thousands of people erupted in applause when she emerged with an “I Voted” sticker, the White House said.
The FLOTUS guest list may hint at other themes. It includes many women including soliders, pay discrimination activists, and teachers. It also includes scientists.
- Dr. Jill Biden
- Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
- Sergeant Sheena Adams (Vista, CA) – Team Advisor & Lead Instructor, Female Engagement Team
- Alan Aleman (Las Vegas, NV) – DREAM Student
- Jack Andraka (Crownsville, MD) – Winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
- Susan Bumgarner (Norman, OK) – Early Childhood Educator
- Deb Carey (New Glarus, WI) – Small Business Owner, New Glarus Brewing Company
- Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC (Cameron, NC) – Wounded Warrior
- Tim Cook (Cupertino, CA) – CEO of Apple
- Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. (Chicago, IL)
- Menchu de Luna Sanchez (Secaucus, NJ) – Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center
- Bobak Ferdowsi (Pasadena, CA) – Flight Director, Mars Curiosity Rover
- Bradley Henning (Louisville, KY) – Machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply
- Tracey Hepner (Arlington, VA) – Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition
- Peter Hudson (Evergreen, CO) – Co-Founder and CEO, iTriage
- Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR)
- Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers (Avondale, AZ)
- Amanda E. McMillan (Jackson, MS) – Pay Discrimination Victim
- Lee Maxwell (Wilton, IA) – Graduate, Kirkwood Community College Wind Technician Program
- Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Oak Creek, WI)
- Lisa Richards (Arlington, VA) – #My2K Participant
- Kaitlin Roig (Greenwich, CT) – 1st Grade Teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary School
- Abby Schanfield (Minneapolis, MN) – ACA Beneficiary
- Haile Thomas (Tucson, AZ) – Let’s Move! Champion
- Desiline Victor (Miami, FL)
Draft dodger and confessed pedophile gun nut Ted Nugent is coming as a guest of nutty Texas Rep Steve Stockman. The Nuge is well known for threatening the president and calling women leaders misogynistic slurs.
NUGENT: I was in Chicago last week. I was in Chicago and said, “Hey, Obama you might want to suck on one of these you punk.” Obama, he’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let’s hear it for him. And then I was in New York. I said, “Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about [Senator] Barbara Boxer [D-CA], she might want to suck on my machine gun. And [Senator] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? [Ted Nugent via LiveLeak.com, accessed 10/1/12]
Our hope is that some one will come to their senses and disinvite him. You’ll probably see him surrounded by the Capitol Police and the Secret Service. Here’s hoping he’s ignored by the press.
An enhanced version of the SOTU is available from the White House and will include stats and charts. The channel is on now with a lot of interesting historical background on the address, on previous presidents, and on the event itself. There’s also a chance to get on a mail list plus an after speech chat with a group of white house policy experts. You should look at it just because it’s really interesting and has some interesting background on the speech writing process too.
So, the speech starts tonight and can also be watched at the C-SPAN site.
Tonight, C-SPAN brings you President Obama’s fourth State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress. Our coverage begins at 8pm ET with comments from Frank Newport of Gallup and reporters from National Review and Huffington Post.
At 9pm ET, C-SPAN & C-SPAN Radio broadcast President Obama’s address and the GOP response from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). (Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at 10pm, C-SPAN.org). Then, viewer reactions via calls, Twitter & Facebook.
This post kicks off the first part of our live blogging sessions. Please join us through out the night!
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally got its chance at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We didn’t learn much other than Rand Paul is more crazy than his father and probably has delusions of presidential runs and even the senate has its group of Tea Party nuts.
As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.Taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis and further protect our people and posts in highthreat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement. And it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.
Let me share some of the lessons we have learned, the steps we have taken, and the work we continue to do.
Clinton had several fierce exchanges with some of the committee’s more right wing members who seem to embrace conspiracy theory more than truth. This exchange was captured by TPM.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday fired back at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) over accusations that the Obama Administration misled the public by claiming the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous protest. Johnson pressed Clinton on why the State Department didn’t talk to the U.S. diplomatic staff evacuated after the attack, to get clear information about what happened.
“Senator, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on,” Clinton said, adding that the State Department was waiting for the FBI to finish conducting interviews.
“I realize that’s a good excuse,” Johnson responded.
“Well, no, it’s the fact,” Clinton said. “Even today, there are questions being raised. We have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on, and why they were doing what they were doing, is still, is still unknown.”
Clinton forcefully insisted neither UN Ambassador Susan Rice nor the Obama Administration misled the public. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she said. “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information.”
RAND PAUL: One of the things that disappointed me most about the original 9/11 was no one was fired. We spent trillions of dollars, but there were a lot of human errors, these are judgment errors, and the people who make judgment errors need to be replaced/fired no longer in charge of making these judgment calls. So we have a review board. The review board finds 64 different things we can change, a lot of them are commonsense and should be done, but the question is it’s a failure of leadership that they were not done in advance and four lives were [lost] because of this. I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think that ultimately with your leaving you accept responsibility for the worst culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable. The thing is that, we can understand that you’re not reading every cable. I can understand that maybe you’re not aware of the cable from the ambassador in Vienna that asked for $100,000 for an electrical charging station. I can understand that maybe you’re not aware that your department spent $100,000 on three comedians who went to India on a promotional tour called “Make Chi Not War,” but I think you might be able to understand and might be aware of the $80 million spent on a consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif that will never be built. I think it’s inexcusable that you did not know about this and did not read these cables.
Clinton tried to explain to the committee that their reckless budgets cuts undermine security in the region for our diplomats and facilities.
Citing a report by the department’s Accountability Review Board on the security failures that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, during an attack last year, Clinton said the board is pushing for an increase in funding to facilities of more than $2 billion per year.
“Consistent shortfalls have required the department to prioritize available funding out of security accounts,” Clinton told the Senate this morning, while again taking responsibility for the Benghazi attack. “And I will be the first to say that the prioritization process was at times imperfect, but as the ARB said, the funds provided were inadequate. So we need to work together to overcome that.”
Clinton, showing little effect from her recent illnesses, choked up earlier in discussing the Benghazi attack.
“I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews,” Clinton said this morning, her voice growing hoarse with emotion. “I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.”
John Kerry was not present at the hearing to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. The hearing was run by Bob Mendez instead.
Now, watch her face the really crazy in the house.
We’re all Marines today. We don’t leave Gay People behind or Women or Rape Victims or Hispanic Americans or Black Americans or Muppets or people with Pre-existing conditions or Union workers or Teachers or Firefighters or Students that need loans for College or even MUPPETS!
I am so looking forward to Mittens’ speech that says “I’m a loser”.
And now for a musical interlude….
Mitt: 1965 is calling and this is you!!!
You should’ve never lie or cross the American People!!!
The polls are still open until 8 pm in Wisconsin but exit polls and extraordinary turnout show the race is very close. We’ll be updating this thread as the evening progresses so stay tuned.
Early exit polling of voters in the Wisconsin recall election showed a close contest, with a clear majority of voters having made up their minds well before the final weeks which saw intense campaigning on both sides of the aisle. The CNN exit polls showed that nearly nine of ten voters made their decisions prior to May, when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary to challenge Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Petitions for the recall election circulated after Walker signed a bill last spring which cut collective bargaining rights for many state employees, prompting massive protests at the state house.
Voters in line before 8 pm must be allowed to vote. This could be a late night in precincts where turn out is at historic levels.
First, exits show President Obama with a 6 point margin over Romney among this special election electorate. Big deal? Not necessarily. Most polls with showed Walker with a margin over Barrett showed Obama with an even bigger margin over Romney. Judged in partisan terms, voters were inconsistent, which they often are. No surprise there. So we shouldn’t be surprised by this finding.
Second and more significant, the percentage of union households in the electorate jumped 6 points since 2010. That’s significant and very welcome news for the Dems and for the Barrett campaign. Whether it’s enough is a whole different questions. But that’s significant.
Voters in this electorate also have a very narrowly positive take on unions. Again, encouraging for the Dems. But you need to see big numbers to think there’s a good chance of overcoming the advantage Walker had in the polls.
Next, absentee ballots. Chuck Todd says between 10% and 12% of the electorate voted absentee. What does that tell us? No idea. Only another big unpredictable and wild card.
Preliminary exit poll results indicate an uptick in turnout among voters from union households – something Democrats were hoping for in their effort to oust Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday.
But whether that holds as voters continue to head to the polls, and whether it is enough to give Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee the edge, are open questions at this point.
About a third of voters in preliminary exit poll results say they or someone in their household belong to a labor union. That is an increase from 2010 and 2008, when 26 percent of voters in each of those elections were from a union household.
High union turnout is crucial for the Democrats. In 2010, 63 percent of voters in union households supported Mr. Barrett, compared with 37 percent for Mr. Walker.
New Hampshire’s primary voting began with the nine voters in Dixville Notch cast their votes today.
The polls opened here at midnight and closed less than a minute later, and the tally was final by 12:05 a.m. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman tied, with two votes each. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul each got one vote. President Obama received his very first live votes of confidence — three of them.
The New Hampshire primary, the nation’s first of the 2012 presidential campaign, is Tuesday. That means the tiny village of Dixville Notch casts the first ballots of the contest just after midnight, a tradition since 1960. (Jan. 10)
In Hart’s Location, another village that traditionally votes minutes after Dixville Notch, Romney was a clear winner. There, the former Massachusetts governor took five votes to four votes for Paul. Huntsman took two votes, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took one and Gingrich took one.
New Hampshire election law permits unincorporated towns of fewer than 100 residents to open for polling at midnight, and Dixville Notch has done so since 1960, at The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel high in the North Country, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border. There were nine votes cast that year, too, all for Richard Nixon.
Most of the polls will close at 7 pm eastern. A few close at 8 pm. CNN is reporting that early exit polling show that most voters have at least a $50k a year salary. Of those voting, 69 percent are concerned about the economy. CNN breaking news also sent this interesting tidbit to its subscribers.
One in four said the deficit was the most important issue. Also, more than three-quarters of respondents said the series of Republican debates was important to their final decision, while less than half said television ads were important.
CNN also reports they are expecting a record turnout in the Republican votes. New Hampshire is having ‘unseasonably’ warm weather and that should improve turnout. That makes me wonder if New Hampshire Republicans are climate change deniers. Probably not. New Hampshire is it’s own little state. John Avalon tells us that New Hampshire is all about the independents.
While Iowa’s caucuses are disproportionately dominated by social conservatives, in New Hampshire’s open primary, independents can vote — and they make up more than 40% of the local electorate.
That’s right — in New Hampshire, registered independents outnumber Republicans or Democrats.
It’s a libertarian instinct reflected in the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die.” It’s captured in the wonderful fact that in the northern town named “Freedom,” independents make up the bulk of the 1,000-plus voters.
It’s also reflected in the fact that New Hampshire is one of the least religious states in the nation.
Likewise, a Pew Research Center poll conducted before the 2008 primary found that 55% of New Hampshire Republican primary voters believed that abortion should be always or mostly legal, while just 13% of New Hampshire GOP primary voters said abortion should be always illegal — posing a problem for fundamentalists like Rick Santorum who support a constitutional ban on abortion.
Fiscal conservatives rule the roost in the New Hampshire Republican Party, which is committed to the state’s anti-income tax tradition with a focus on balanced budgets and a concurrent aversion to deficit spending.
Events surrounding the Democratic primary in New Hampshire made me very fond of the state four years ago. This youtube shows them moment that really drove me to firmly support Hillary. Well, that and her heartfelt speech about why she was really running.
“Some people think elections are a game: who’s up or who’s down,” Clinton said, her voice breaking and tears welling. “It’s about our country. It’s about our kids’ future. It’s about all of us together. Some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some difficult odds.”
I doubt we’ll have any sincere, heartfelt moments tonight, but we’ll be watching!!! What’s it look like from where you’re at?
I am absolutely thrilled to be preparing to bring my live blog of former FRB SF President Jane Yellen who is one of the most significant women leaders in economics and finance of our time. Dr. Yellen was the Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton. She is currently the Vice Chairman of the Fed system.
She’s speaking at the Financial Management Association conference today in Denver. She is receiving the outstanding Financial Executive Award.
She notes that the recovery is disappointing. She plans to discuss monetary and fiscal policies that can help the US economy. She is mentioning that the recovery has improved things since the worst of the recession. But, she still says the economy is less vigorous than desirable. Recent data says the recession was deeper than thought.
She believes that the temporary factors from the Japanese tsunami that disrupted the auto industry and high gas prices have moderated. She believes that the restricted access to credit, consumer sentiment, and weak consumer spending is creating concern among business people. This has made businesses reluctant to expand their operations. The housing sector continues to depress the economy. The housing sector has historically played an important role in improving economic conditions. This is not happening this time. There are a lot of factors causing this.
Yellen believes that states are also playing a role in restraining the pace of recovery. She’s believes that the path of fiscal policy is weighing on both household and business confidence. The one bright sector in the US economy has been exports but this is not going to continue. She believes this is due to both the EU situation and the slow down in developing nations’ economies.
She says that financial markets are experiencing unusual volatility which is putting pressure on financial institutions and investors. The US economy as well as slow growth abroad is part of this. Also, the EU situation is troubling markets. She believes that the political considerations in trying to develop and implement solutions to the EU problem is creating stress. She thinks this could cause a retightening of credit conditions and could impact US financial institutions. She believes that also the deterioration of the US economic outlook could put stress on banks too.
Yellen is now talking about the outlook for inflation. She believes that any recent inflation was due to oil and other commodity prices being volatile, and also due to the Japanese earthquake and that inflation will moderate. She believes that the target inflation rate will be attained. She believes also that long term inflation expectations remain stable and is more concerned with disinflation or deflation. She thinks that the risk of that is much higher.
Yellen is speaking now to the dual mandate of the Fed and monetary policy. She is giving some background on the zero bound policy. (She’s on the FOMC, btw.) She’s also speaking to the importance of fomc clarification on monetary policy and the role they have reassuring the market they will keep interest rates low given the current conditions of subdued output. She is also talking about how a communicated target rate based on employment or inflation might give the market more confidence on the stability of the low targeted fed funds rate.
She expects that unemployment and the economy will improve even though there are significant downside risks. She says the FOMC is watching things carefully and will use tools as appropriate.
She is now taking questions from the floor. The first one is basically about the give and take between signals to and from the market and the FOMC on setting market expectations for inflation.
Okay, I need to go prepare to present something so I’m leaving you with this now. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into the FOMC.