Economy Gives Obama Slight Lift Ahead of Sixth State of the Union

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP News in Brief at 5:58 p.m. EST.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight enjoying rising approval ratings that have been strengthened by rapidly improving perceptions of the economy and increased optimism about the nation’s overall direction, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers are already signaling they will do what they can to block President Barack Obama’s pitch for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.President Obama will lay out an ambitious vision Tuesday for government’s role in American life, from such everyday concerns as how to pay for mortgages, tuition and doctors’ bills to broader issues including the climate and national security.

Obama is making that pitch to a huge television audience in hopes of putting the new Republican Congress in the position of defending top income earners over the middle class. President Obama’s aides have drafted a team of Internet-savvy staff members to produce a series of videos, digital op-eds, Facebook and Twitter posts, and six-second animated GIFs to capture a larger audience than the mainstream media’s shrinking number of viewers and readers. Chapman/Sun-Times Her only son, the 13-year-old Englewood boy who became known to the world after the Chicago Sun-Times ran a story on him that went viral, was headed to the White House and into history. It is meant to give Obama a chance to claim credit for the rebounding economy. “We’ve seen manufacturing come back, we have cut our deficits, gas prices have dropped,” Obama said in a video sent to supporters Monday. “Now that we have fought our way through the crisis, how do we make sure that everybody in this country is sharing in this growing economy?” That implicitly victorious message sets up another question, though, and a debate that will probably flourish for the remainder of Obama’s time in office: Are his policies working, or is it too soon to brag? Other guests will include a wounded Afghanistan war veteran, a doctor fighting Ebola in Africa, the chief executive of CVS Health, a young immigrant allowed to stay in the country under an order by Mr.

In recent announcements on college affordability, immigration and net neutrality, the president has relied on social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Medium, Vine, LinkedIn and Twitter. That’s what his mother has asked herself many times since Dec. 28, when Malik’s poignant letter to Santa — asking only for safety — was answered by the president of the United States. Tax increases are rarely welcomed by congressional Republicans, who now hold majorities in the House and the Senate for the first time in Obama’s presidency. Obama previewed his plan for broadband access in a three-and-a-half-minute video posted on the viral content website Upworthy. “It’s still true that most people still get their news from television and big newspapers,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the president’s communications director. “But if that’s all you’re talking to, you’re missing big parts of the population.

Despite the partisan divisions on most issues, a substantial majority of Americans continue to see political dysfunction in Washington as a big problem. Ever since Ronald Reagan, presidents have invited guests to sit in the first lady’s box at the Capitol, with an eye to making symbolic points during their speeches. After years of political standoffs, there is considerable skepticism about whether the two sides can overcome their political differences to ease what has become a chronic problem. His standing is 9 points higher than in December and 7 points higher than in October, just before Republicans captured control of the Senate, increased their House majority to its highest level in eight decades and recorded advances in the states. But now some are questioning whether to use the congressional budget process to derail the 2010 law or save the special step for more traditional purposes like cutting spending or overhauling the tax code.

With wages stagnating and many Americans still out of work, he instead spoke of solutions rather than suggesting that the economy had mended completely. Their journey started in early December, when Malik was among 8,500 Chicago Public Schools students who wrote to DirectEffect’s Letters to Santa program. His and other letters from students at 12 schools this year were distributed to big-hearted folks across the city and suburbs who annually fulfill students’ wishes. The Post-ABC poll was conducted Jan. 12 to 15 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults interviewed by phone, including 311 cellphone-only respondents.

It’s the only filibuster-proof option available to Republicans, who control the Senate with 54 seats but must still muster 60 votes to pass other legislation. Kelly, an astronaut since 1996 who has spent a total of more than 180 days at the space station, will head back up in March, this time to stay for a year, the first American astronaut to do so.

Senate precedents limit the number of reconciliation bills — one for taxes, one for spending and one to raise the government’s borrowing cap — and so a major debate has begun among Republicans over what to put in it. Scientists will compare his medical status over that year with that of his twin brother, Mark Kelly, another astronaut, who will remain on the ground.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s U.S.-backed leadership came under serious threat Monday as government troops clashed with Shiite rebels near the presidential palace and a key military base in what one official called “a step toward a coup.” The militants seized control of state media in fierce fighting that marked the biggest challenge yet to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi by the rebels, known as Houthis, who swept down from their northern strongholds last year and captured the capital in September. DiGiacomo decided the president needed to see the poignant letter from a kid in this impoverished, high-crime neighborhood in the president’s hometown. The violence threatened to undermine efforts by the U.S. and its allies to battle al-Qaida’s Yemeni affiliate, which claimed responsibility for the attack on a Paris satirical magazine this month and which Washington has long viewed as the global network’s most dangerous branch. And when the president points to his rescue of the auto industry and gains in manufacturing, the Alliance for American Manufacturing warns of going too far too soon. “It is indeed the strongest period of manufacturing job growth since the early 1990s,” said the group’s president, Scott Gold. “But the administration fails to mention that we’ve only recovered one-third of the good-paying manufacturing jobs that were destroyed in the recession.

We still have a long way to go.” Although Obama’s statistics show a recovery is underway, said Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he deserves the credit. “Certainly, the stimulus prevented the unemployment rate from going higher than it would have,” Strain said. “But that’s very different from arguing what it would have looked like under better policies.” If Obama hadn’t burned so much political capital on passing his landmark healthcare law, Strain said, he might have been able to do more when it became clear the stimulus was insufficient. “Both parties didn’t pay nearly enough attention to unemployment and jobs, so I don’t want to suggest that Republicans were great,” he said. “But we have a system built on the concept of presidential leadership, so more of the blame goes to him.” In their previews of the policies to come, White House aides have talked about eliminating tax loopholes that benefit wealthy individuals and big corporations and using the savings to invest in such areas as child care and assistance for college costs. Two days after Christmas, Malik received Obama’s letter, saying, “Please know your security is a priority for me … and I will be rooting for you.” The Sun-Times story was picked up by news entities around the country and around the world — as far away as the Netherlands, Paris and Vietnam. A Washington Post analysis estimates that those plummeting prices put an extra $7.50 into the wallets of average Americans during the first week of this year, compared with the same week last year. Greenstein says he sees the country moving out of a period of total focus on economic trouble to one in which Washington contemplates how to heal systemic problems. “It’s very useful and bold — and took some guts — to put that proposal on the table,” Greenstein said. Malik’s been a bit of a celebrity at school, and just last Monday, DirectEffect arranged for him and his family to attend the Chicago Bulls game against the Orlando Magic.

Hadi, whose government has ceded control over nearly the entire capital, doesn’t live at the palace, and extra soldiers and tanks deployed around his private residence, which is nearby. The president will use his guests to highlight a push for better policing after last year’s tumult in Ferguson, Mo., following a white police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed young black man.

In his first extended remarks after becoming Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the first priority of a new GOP-led Congress would be pursuing “common-sense jobs ideas.” Asked which way the country should head, 35% said the U.S. should follow Obama’s lead, and 34% said it should follow the lead of the GOP in Congress. On Saturday, as DiGiacomo took his mother shopping to purchase for her a black, two-piece skirt suit, Malik also was shopping with his father, who bought a blue, two-piece suit for him. And as they prepared for their trip, they weren’t sure if they were more nervous about meeting the president; about Malik joining the first lady in her private box (his mother will sit in a different section); or about the airplane flight.

Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department, who leads a program that has helped Watts fight crime and promote better relations between officers and the community. The results have caught the attention of the president’s most senior advisers, who are increasingly turning to the digital team for guidance on how technology can help Mr. ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis is firmly upholding church teaching banning contraception, but said Monday that Catholics don’t have to breed “like rabbits” and should instead practice “responsible parenting.” Speaking to reporters en route home from the Philippines, Francis said there are plenty of church-approved ways to regulate births. Obama better connect with the public, officials said. “Not only have the digital tools become more important in communications generally, but the people in the building want it more and are asking for it,” said Kori Schulman, the director of online engagement. One guest, Prophet Walker, who served a six-year sentence for robbery, helped found a program to help inmates get an education to avoid the revolving door of prison.

But he said most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on regulating family size, blasting what he called the “ideological colonization” of the developing world. Another guest, Anthony Mendez, who grew up in the South Bronx in a family that was homeless for a time and whose best friend was murdered, managed to finish high school and attend to college. Reporters traveling that day with the president peppered Josh Earnest, the press secretary, with questions about what they expected to be an official announcement in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 9.

His comments, taken together with his defense of the Catholic Church’s ban on artificial contraception during the trip, signal that he is increasingly showing his more conservative bent, which has largely been ignored by public opinion or obscured by a media narrative that has tended to highlight his populist persona. He had recorded it on Air Force One a day earlier, and it quickly became the most viewed video the Obama White House has ever produced, officials said.

And he said he wanted his encyclical out in plenty of time to be absorbed before the next round of U.N. climate change talks in Paris in November after the last round in Lima, Peru, failed to reach an agreement. “I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” Francis said. “We have in a sense taken over nature.” Even before these remarks, several conservative U.S. commentators had been pre-emptively attacking the encyclical. Pfeiffer said he was not yet ready to give up on the traditional news media, which still reaches many millions of people. “We also have to be in The New York Times and the evening news,” he said. “Our view is not an either-or strategy. Congressional Republicans favor legislation that would change the new health care law to say companies with 50 or more employees must provide health insurance to anyone who works 40 hours or more, rather than the 30-hour threshold that currently exists.

Pfeiffer, who recently wrote two articles for the blogging platform Medium, said he sensed that a tipping point had already been reached where digital tools were no longer optional but necessary. PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The drama surrounding two teenage sweethearts on the run from the law ended quietly and unceremoniously in a Florida beach town. Americans are almost evenly divided over who is taking a stronger leadership role in Washington, with 42 percent saying the president and 40 percent citing congressional Republicans. Dalton Hayes, an 18-year-old suspected of committing a string of crimes with his 13-year-old girlfriend, agreed during a quick Monday morning court hearing to return to his home state of Kentucky to face charges. Those closely divided results, however, are starkly different from those recorded eight years ago, after Democrats took full control of Congress heading into the final two years of former President George W.

The dispute between Heather Hironimus, the mother opposing circumcision, and Dennis Nebus, the father favoring it, has sparked a prolonged court battle, protests and the rapt attention of a movement of self-proclaimed “intactivists.” Judges have ruled in favor of the father, meaning the surgery is likely to happen, but the possible closure of the legal chapter has done little to mute the case’s most passionate followers. Though many still choose to remove their sons’ foreskins at the suggestion of a doctor, for religious or cultural reasons, or out of habit, opponents have been bolstered by the overall waning popularity of circumcision, and the fact this fight has gone on so long the boy at its center is now 4 years old. “I couldn’t speak when I was cut, but I can speak now,” said Thomas Frederiksen, a 39-year-old machinist who traveled from Orlando to protest, wearing a red beret and “I (Heart) My Foreskin” T-shirt and speaking breathlessly about the issue.

By narrow margins, Americans say both that the president is justified in taking executive action to achieve his goals if Congress doesn’t act and that congressional Republicans are justified in trying to block those actions in court or through legislation. Volumes of court filings tell the story: Hironimus and Nebus had a six-month relationship that resulted in a pregnancy, the birth of a boy named Chase, and a fight over nearly everything since. Nebus sued to prove his paternity and to get partial custody of the boy and the couple whittled out a parenting plan outlining everything from his surname to his legal address, to whom he calls mommy or daddy and, notably, what becomes of his penis.

The 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner will become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in major league history after agreeing to a $210 million, seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals that includes a record $50 million signing bonus. A person familiar with the negotiations outlined the terms to The Associated Press on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been announced. Almost half say things will stay about the same in the next year, with about 3 in 10 saying things will get worse and 1 in 4 saying they will get better.

Since December, his numbers have increased by 10 points among Democrats and moderates, by 22 points among Hispanics and by 19 points among those ages 18 to 29. Through most of last year, Obama’s approval ratings hovered in the mid-to-low 40s, with suggestions that he was following a downward trajectory similar to that of Mr.

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