Obama strikes defiant tone with Republicans in big speech

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

Republicans pretty much hated the president’s State of the Union address. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama struck a defiant tone for his dealings with the new Republican-led Congress on Tuesday, calling on his opponents to raise taxes on the rich and threatening to veto legislation that would challenge his key decisions.If President Obama’s SOTU speech last night and the chatter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which opened today, are any indication, inequality will be the hot economic topic for another year running.

The president seized on the fact that the country’s mood has changed, that the public is open to new ideas—and hit hard on the need to expand prosperity downward. The president’s proposals for changes to parts of the US tax code that mainly benefit the wealthy revives the conversation Warren Buffett started a few years back with his op-ed about why his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does. (Answer: She works for wages, whereas the Oracle of Omaha earns money on money itself, in the form of capital gains, interest income, etc.) At the WEF in Davos, where world leaders meet every year to hash out the big geopolitical and economic issues of the day, one of the most talked about reports is Oxfam’s new brief looking at how the 85 richest people on the planet have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50%, a huge jump from last year when it took a full 388 plutocrats to equal that wealth.

Thanks to smartphones (or staff tucked away in offices with the passwords to official Twitter accounts), senators and representatives can now comment in real time to every word a president speaks. In his first six years in office, Obama has been dogged by criticism over the economy, with Republicans and even some centrist Democrats suggesting his policies were ineffective in helping the country recover from the recession. It is now time, he told lawmakers and millions watching on television, to “turn the page” from recession and war and work together to boost those middle-class Americans who have been left behind.

Now with the federal deficit dropping and huge job growth over the last year, Obama is articulating proposals that reflect a country no longer in an economic crisis. Tuesday’s speech capped a remarkably activist 11 weeks since Obama suffered the humiliation of Democratic losses that gave Republicans control of both chambers of Congress. But there are some issues the president identified that Republicans have said they could work with him on: authorizing military force in Iraq and Syria, new cybersecurity legislation, tax reform; and approving new free trade agreements. And $550 million of it was spent lobbying policy makers in places like Washington, something Oxfam believes has been a major barrier to tax and intellectual property reform that creates a fairer economic system.

While some Democrats and Republicans may have been sitting next to one another as a bipartisan act, members on Twitter continued to talk past each other during the speech on a partisan basis. The president also ruled out a few areas of negotiation: He said that attempts to roll back Obamacare, or reduce regulations on Wall Street or new sanctions against Iran would earn his veto. He now feels free to say that “the shadow of crisis has passed,” and to take credit for it – at least with those Americans willing to allow him some. Any attempt to increase sanctions on Iran while negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program are still under way would also be rejected, he said.

I expect that we’ll hear lots more in Davos this week about how to restructure tax codes for the 21st century, mainly because the nature of wealth and how it gets created has changed so dramatically. Obama would not have dared make such a speech a few months ago, when the country was panicking over Ebola and transfixed by the sudden rise of the Islamic State also known as ISIS. House Republicans in particular reserved their strongest disagreement with the president over his veto threats as well as aspects of his economic vision, like the proposal for free community college tuition and his ideas for reforming taxation.

With a stronger economy, Republican candidates will now have to grapple with Obama’s notion of “middle class economics,” and they will no longer be able to dismiss all of his ideas as emanating from a job-killing administration. And while he offered a nod to bipartisanship on issues such as trade, he pushed a traditional Democratic economic agenda of tax increases for the rich, expanded paid leave for workers and increased aid for education.

In sum, Obama appeared liberated: no longer having to face American voters again after his election victories in 2008 and 2012, a point that he reminded Republicans about. “I have no more campaigns to run,” Obama said. Today, more than ever since the Gilded Age, money begets money; income earned from wages has been stagnating for years, or decades even, depending on which type of workers you tally. Instead, he brashly wagged his finger at his critics. “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” he said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.” The White House is betting that by promoting the economic successes, Obama can boost his governing credibility. Many of the proposals he outlined, while popular with many Americans, are unlikely to become reality, given Republican opposition and the fact Obama will soon become a lame duck as the county turns its attention to the 2016 campaign to succeed him.

Indeed, financial assets (stocks, bonds, and such) are the dominant form of wealth for the top 0.1 %, which actually creates a snowball effect of inequality. Seven years after that severe downturn began, household income hasn’t recovered and healthy job growth is complicated by the poor quality, and pay, of many of those jobs. By laying credit at the doorstep of his own administration, Obama is looking to gain leverage over Republicans and weaken their resolve to undo his go-it-alone initiatives on Cuba, immigration and climate change.

But even if Obama’s wealth redistribution proposals are anathema to Republicans, they could be forced to consider alternative ways to tackle income inequality and prove they can govern, which could be a factor for Americans as they consider whether to elect a Republican as president in 2016. And his moves could give an assist to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination if she decides to run. Even when you consider the salaries of the modern economy’s super-managers—the CEOs, bankers, accountants, agents, consultants and lawyers that groups like Occupy Wall Street railed against—it’s important to remember that somewhere between 30% to 80 % of their incomes are awarded not in cash but in stock options and stock equity. Potential Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, who Obama defeated in 2012, and Jeb Bush responded quickly to the speech in Facebook postings, saying Obama was trying to use the tax code to divide people. Although members of Congress on both sides of the aisle sought to formalize and restrict the president’s authority to use American military might abroad and several proposals were brought forward, Congress was unable to agree on legislation by the end of 2014.

He defended his decision in December to seek to normalize relations with Communist-ruled Cuba and urged Congress to lift the more than 50-year-old U.S. economic embargo against Havana. That means the composition of super-manager pay has the booster-rocket effect of lowering taxes (and thus governments’ ability to provide support for the poor and middle classes) while increasing inequality in the economy as a whole.

For the past four years, hobbled by the loss of the House in 2010, Obama has restrained and even contorted himself to protect a slim Democratic majority in the Senate. In the new Congress, key Republicans have called on the president to propose legislation as a framework for negotiations, arguing that previous bills were created in that way. He called on lawmakers to pass a new authorization of military force against Islamic State militants to replace powers that were given to President George W.

It’s a cycle that spins faster and faster as executives paid in stock make short-term business decisions that might undermine long-term growth in their companies even as they raise the value of their own options in the near. Launching the website for his new political action committee, likely 2016 GOP candidate Jeb Bush sounded like liberal Democrat Elizabeth Warren, writing, “while the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America.” In a speech on Friday, Romney, considering a 2016 run, spoke of “helping lift people out of poverty” as one of his main policy goals, a phrase he rarely used in 2012.

The president agreed to their request Tuesday evening, telling assembled lawmakers: “I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against [ISIS].” The devil is in the details: Should Congress authorize force targeted just at ISIS or broaden it to include other terrorist groups? Incumbent Democratic senators in Republican-leaning states often complained of Obama as a burden to their re-election, but worrying about their re-election was at least as hobbling for Obama. Her husband distanced himself from Democrats of the past by declaring “the era of big government is over” and looking to find solutions in the political middle on many issues. A convoy carrying a Japanese envoy, Vice-Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, left the Japanese embassy in Jordan’s capital Amman on Wednesday for an unknown location in the city.

Obama reprised a promise he made when he first took office and vowed an unrelenting effort to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where foreign terrorism suspects have been held since 2002. A similar dynamic is at work in the House, where the steady dwindling of white Southern Democrats has diminished the Democratic Caucus but also unified it. Abe and other Japanese officials have declined to discuss whether Japan will pay the ransom for the captives, 47-year-old freelance journalist Kenji Goto and 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa, the founder of a private security company. While Piketty argues for a global wealth tax, something that will likely never happen, President Obama’s stab at capital gains taxes and trust taxes is probably just the opening round in a tax debate that will go on throughout this year, and into the 2016 presidential race. And embracing some ideas in Obama’s agenda — such as his sick leave proposal, which would require businesses to change their practices — could make it harder for Clinton to run as a less partisan Democrat than Obama, as she has hinted she would like to do.

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian man stabbed nine people on a bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding four of them seriously before he was chased down, shot and arrested by Israeli police in an attack praised by the Islamic militant Hamas group. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday showed Obama with an approval rating of 50 percent, the poll’s highest rating for the president in more than 18 months.

The assault, described by police as a “terror attack,” was the latest in a spate of attacks in which Palestinians have used knives, acid and vehicles as weapons in recent months, leaving dead and injured. Warning that China wants to “write the rules for the world’s fastest growing region,” Obama said both parties should give him the trade authority as a way of protecting American workers, “with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.” It’s a little more complicated than this, because thrown into these cycles we have the scandals and the social changes that all have some impact on how people think about things, but basically, this is how American politics rolls: We go through these eras, and the eras make the majority of people decide that one party or the other is better equipped to do something about the challenges. But the Post-ABC poll shows that Obama’s better standing is largely the result of support coalescing among the groups that backed his presidential campaigns in the first place — Democrats, moderates, Hispanics and younger people.

When the tan suit made an appearance last year, social media users and politicians slammed the President’s color choice for its discord with the seriousness of his press briefing’s topic: the threat of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. While he developed the theme of “a better politics,” Democrats amplified his message vigorously, posting nearly twice as many tweets in the last 10 minutes as Republicans sent. The man, who was on the bus himself, travelling with the other passengers, began stabbing people, including the driver, then managed to get out of the bus and started fleeing the scene.

John McCain (R-AZ), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters earlier this month that while members had really hoped for cybersecurity reform, little progress has been made on a bill. “Previous attempts by Republicans to pass such a bill ended in failure—in part due to the president’s unwillingness to sign legislation proposed by the House GOP,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Tuesday evening. As the speech ended, it was time for some members to move on to their next thing — TV cameras that waited to record things they may or may not have already said on Twitter. Having begun his political life in Arkansas, with a legislature nominally Democratic but decidedly conservative, Clinton operated this way out of both inclination and instinct At one point in Clinton’s presidency, he foresaw a budget surplus in the offing and wanted to claim it (and forestall a wave of tax cuts).

And now, we seem to be—seem to be—entering an era in which the chief debate is going to be about expanding prosperity downward from the people who’ve enjoyed the lion’s share of the prosperity of the last 30 years. PARIS (AP) — French security forces will get better weapons and protection to fight terror and the country will hire 2,600 new counter-terrorism officers, the prime minister announced Wednesday. The president is seeking “trade promotion authority,” or the ability to negotiate trade deals that Congress can either approve or reject but not change.

Still, they have held out some hope of getting tax reform done this year—if the president’s messages of tax hikes for the wealthy is merely a starting point for negotiations rather than his end goal. “There’s great interest, among out members, on tax reform,” Sen. And now, confronting a Republican Congress very much on the march, his instinct is not to clothe liberal ideas in centrist language but to pitch them with a populist edge. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the government will spend 425 million euros ($490 million) on counter-terrorism over three years in response to the Paris attacks.

Obama has helped turn it—with a few speeches over the years, and certainly with some of his policies, like health care, which he defended in an impressively in-your-face way in this speech. Outlining a web of phone calls, shared keys and prison friendships, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said the four suspects — all in their 20s, all arrested in the Paris region — were handed preliminary charges overnight and will be jailed until a further investigation. Republicans began the year by seeking to undo Obama’s immigration initiative, weaken provisions in the 2010 financial regulations law, and force approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. This tension between the speech and the highest court in the land came to a head in 2010, when President Obama directly criticized a conservative Supreme Court decision. “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections,” he said of the Citizens United v. In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Haider al-Abadi said the coalition has stalled on key issues, particularly commitments on training Iraqi forces and weapons deliveries.

They naturally feel that their triumphs last November put them in the driver’s seat for good in Washington (not to mention roughly two-thirds of the states). His comments came as he was leaving for London to take part in a one-day meeting Thursday on the anti-Islamic State war effort with foreign ministers from about 20 countries, including Arab states.

It is even worse during the last two years of a presidency. “You’re really a double lame duck.” Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. Justice Samuel Alito then shook his head and whispered, “not true.” This was a clear breaking point in the years of simmering discontent between the justices and the annual speech. To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here. Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal, is the only justice that attends every year (in fact, three times in recent history he has been the only justice in attendance), but his defense was hardly inspiring: “People attend if they wish to attend.

In June, the extremists captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, then swept south toward Baghdad in a march that put almost all the Sunni-majority regions of northern and western Iraq into its hands. Tonight there probably won’t be any public controversy between between the President and the justices in the vein of 2010’s “not true.” But the grim faces of the six in attendance speak volumes. But Democrats believe they can beat that tradition if they get the working family vote to swing back in their favor from the defeat of 2014 to victory in 2016. In the weeks since then, Sirat, an editor at Afghanistan’s biggest daily newspaper 8AM who also works for Deutsche Welle, has been attacked in the street and received death threats in text messages that accuse him of being an “infidel” — which he assumes is related to his work for the German broadcaster. “I don’t feel safe,” he said.

Joni Ernst of Iowa will be giving the official Republican one, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a “perfect choice.” Ernst’s message will then be largely mirrored by Rep. Keynes, see, has taught us the concept of counter-cyclical investment: That when the economy is in dire straits, that is exactly when the government should be spending a boatload of money. Eight journalists were killed in Afghanistan in 2014, making it the deadliest year for the media since 2001, when the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban, rights groups say. Curt Clawson, since Clawson was “the first Tea Party Express victory for the 2014 cycle” according to a statement by the group’s executive director.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Staying hidden behind sea ice and large waves, sailors aboard a navy patrol boat from New Zealand sneaked up on three suspected poaching ships, then took photos and video of the fishermen hauling in prized fish in banned nets from the ocean near Antarctica. He gave these speeches—what, 2010, maybe—when he likened the government to a family sitting around the kitchen table deciding what expenses it needed to cut out.

It is a huge illegal business: Each of the ships could hold more than $1 million worth of Antarctic toothfish, marketed in North America as Chilean sea bass. This proliferation of responses is a sign of in-fighting among the Republican Party, which previously set aside its differences to offer a single unified message. But in real-life political terms, he was right at least insofar as you can’t get people to think about longer-term economic goals when they’re out of a job, or underemployed.

Actually, they do have something to say, and it’s “No!” They looked ridiculous, sitting on their hands, refusing to applaud simple and obvious things that have 60, 65 percent public support. House Speaker John Boehner, McConnell’s partner atop the leadership of the new, Republican-controlled Congress, agreed. “Finding common ground is what the American people sent us here to do, but you wouldn’t know it from the president’s speech tonight,” he said. He unfurled an agenda on taxes, spending, social programs, energy and foreign policy notably at odds with Republican priorities, although he ended with a plea for the two parties to “debate without demonizing one another” and find compromise where possible. The 27-year-old, studying for her master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington and hoping to someday become Saudi Arabia’s first female labor minister, is part of a growing number of Saudi women choosing to remain single through their 20s and into their 30s as they pursue other ambitions.

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