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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: John Boehner

Oops, Obama touts his jobs plan today at an Ohio bridge that won't qualify

Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River at Covington and Cincinnati

You know all those rusting bridges that President Obama wants to spend billions more dollars repairing to allegedly stimulate the economy?

He's headed out to one today which he's described as a "bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that's on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America." It is on a busy trucking route, spanning the Ohio River between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati.

It's the Brent Spence Bridge. It doesn't really need repairs. It's got decades of good life left in its steel spans. It's just overloaded. The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day, which seemed like a lot back during construction in the Nixon era.

Today, the bridge sort of handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with frequent jam-ups.Obama speaks to the American Legion 8-30-11

So, plans are not to repair or replace the Brent Spence Bridge. But to build another bridge nearby to ease the loads.

But here's the problem, as John Merline graphically notes here, that could screw up all those envisioned photo op shots of the Democrat and the traffic:

The president's jobs bill is designed for "immediate" highway spending.

And the new $2.3 billion Cincy bridge is not scheduled to even start construction for probably four years, long after Republicans have scheduled the Obama presidency for completion.

And without delays, it wouldn't be finished until 2022, when no one will be counting Obama's rounds of golf.

Politicians hate these kinds of messy distractions when they pick a place to make a symbolic statement. But Brent Spence was so tempting linking, as it does, the home states of GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But there is some possible good news for President Obama: The $447-billion jobs bill that he wanted passed "right now" back in early September is stuck in a legislative traffic jam in the Senate.

Fellow Democrat Harry Reid, the majority leader who can run that place like a school principal whenever he wants, is aware of opposition to the measure among some of his own caucus members.

And, well, darn it, wouldn't you know, Reid just can't seem to find a place for Obama's jobs bill in the chamber's overloaded schedule. As a result, as of right now Obama's "right now" jobs bill won't come up until later in the fall, possibly much later.

In a way the scheduling doesn't matter. Since the Democrat in the White House would rather have Republican opposition to it than any of its job-creating provisions, so he can have obstructionist charges for next year's campaign.

But if Congress works the way it usually does, maybe the bridge-repair money will be delayed a few years until the president's photo op Brent Spence Bridge enhancement bridge project is actually shovel-ready.


Obama's jobs speech: The complete text

Obama's jobs speech: Right now actually means much later

961 days in, Obama sick and tired of his own delays on new jobs

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Al Behrman / Associated Press (Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River at Covington and Cincinnati); Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press (Obama during a recent speech).

Weekly remarks: Obama says Congress must pass his jobs bill; GOP's Roskam hits 'red tape factory'

Democrat president barack Obama enjoys an Oval Office phone call

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House

I’ve spent some time lately traveling the country and talking with folks outside of Washington.  And the number one issue for the people I meet is how we can get back to a place where we’re creating good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer some security.

That’s the idea behind the American Jobs Act. It’s a jobs bill that does two simple things: put more people back to work, and more money back in the pockets of people who are working.

This jobs bill puts construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and modernizing our schools.

This jobs bill puts teachers back in the classroom, and keeps cops and firefighters on our streets.

This jobs bill gives tax credits to companies that hire our veterans, because if you sign up to fight for our country, the last thing you should have to do is fight for a job when you come home. 

This jobs bill connects the long-term unemployed to temporary work to keep their skills sharp while they look for a job, and it gives hundreds of thousands of young people the hope of a job next summer.

This jobs bill cuts taxes for every small business owner in America. It cuts them even....

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How to retire Dennis Kucinich or Marcy Kaptur: Put both Dems in the same Ohio district

Ohio Democrat representatives Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich

Well, it looks like the new congressional redistricting will help Ohio get rid of at least one long-term Democratic representative in next year's House elections.

According to newly drawn district lines set to go to the Ohio Legislature any day, eight-term Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland and 15-term Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo are both in the same new narrow district running along the southern Lake Erie shoreline. Both have announced their candidacies.

The Buckeye state is home to House Speaker John Boehner and is losing two of its current 18 House seats.

But it will remain a key Midwestern battleground state on the presidential level. No Republican has won the presidency in more than a century without capturing Ohio.

After losing the state's Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton in 2008 (53-45), Obama beat John McCain (52-47) in the state where the Arizonan introduced his VP running mate, Sarah Palin, to the nation. Obama has visited Ohio frequently as presideOhio State Flag OhioHistoryCentraldotorgnt, most recently this week.

However, since 2008, Republicans have fed off dissatisfaction with Obama and the state's economy to hold the old George Voinivich U.S. Senate seat (Rob Portman), and win control of the state Legislature (which controls redistricting) and the governor's office (John Kasich).

They also tipped control of the congressional delegation from 10 Democrats and eight Republicans to 13 Republicans and five Democrats.

For next year the GOP is targeting first-term incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown, who easily won Mike DeWine's seat, 56-44, during the Democrats' congressional takeover of 2006. Next year, however, Democrats must defend 23 of the 33 Senate seats being contested nationally.

You could tell Kucinich was excited about the remapping. In an email fundraising appeal Wednesday, he used two exclamation marks in the first two sentences: "We have a district! The race is on!"

Without mentioning Kaptur, the House's longest-serving female Democrat, Kucinich celebrated the demise of his old Cleveland district and the slicing off of its Republican areas to buttress other GOP districts.

For her part, Kaptur said the pair shared no hard feelings over their upcoming struggle. "We are friends," she said. "This is hard for us."


Joe the Plumber ponders Ohio House race

Perry's debate debut gives MSNBC top ratings so far

The Reagan debate: The most awkward, unexpected and weirdest moments

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Rick Osentoski / Associated Press (Kaptur); Harry Hamburg / Associated Press (Kucinich); (state flag).

What, Obama worry? New York House district elects first Republican since 1920

Bob and Peggy Turner 9-14-11

President Obama is taking his big airplane out of Dodge today, down to North Carolina.

And who can blame him for going the opposite direction from Gotham after this morning's special election results in New York 9?

There, as forecast here last week, a 70-year-old Republican businessman and political novice named Bob Turner whacked veteran Democrat David Weprin, 53-47, in a special election to replace Rep. Anthony "Look at My Junk" Weiner.

This kind of stunning upset in that area of Brooklyn and Queens happens like clockwork every 91 years. Whenever the approval of a disinterested Democratic president hovers in the mid-30s on a stagnant economy and he looks wishy-washy on rigid support for Israel.

Weprin had everything going for him in Archie Bunker's boroughs:

He's an Orthodox Jew in a district that's 40% Jewish running against a Catholic. He's a well-known political name with state legislative experience. He has the backing of big-time Dems including Chuckie Schumer, who used to represent the district and bequeathed it to his aide Weiner. This Obama guy carried the area by 11 points back in 2008.Democrat David Weprin concedes 9-14-11 And Weprin's got a moustache.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, Weprin was off on the national debt by $10 trillion in one interview. But that presidential election win was 1,048 days ago. Obama's much better known now and that seems to work against him.

This White House has had its own agenda all along -- the healthcare heave, financial reforms. While all along polls told the Chicagoans that jobs and the economy are top priority.

If history repeats itself, this Obama crowd as it did after losing the Virginia governor's office and the New Jersey governor's office and Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, will find fault with someone else, likely the candidate.

The wise Marc Ambinder hears it already.

Remember all the White House whispers about lousy campaigner Martha Coakley when she lost to Scott Brown despite (or perhaps because of?) a last-minute campaign day with Obama?

And then there were last November's midterms when voters tossed all those House Pelosi people who obeyed Obama's pleas to pass healthcare.

Those dozens of Democrats going under the bus turned out great for the president, however. With a Republican House the Democratic president has someone else to blame now when his belated jobs bill goes nowhere.

That's what he'll be touting in Raleigh-Durham today, his doomed $447 billion jobs program.

Good thing that Air Force One, like Southwest, doesn't charge for baggage because along on Obama's Southern trip is a new Bloomberg News Poll. It shows, among other gloomy tidings, that 33% approve of his economy job, 39% like his healthcare handling and 30% are pleased with his deficit doings.

Oh, and a majority don't think his new jobs program will get the job done.


Nancy Pelosi bans the S-word from Democrats' lips

Obama vows to double the August job growth rate of zero

961 days in, Obama's steamed no one's been creating new jobs like he said he would

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press (Republicans Bob and Peggy Turner celebrate his election to the House from New York's Ninth District early Wednesday); Craig Ruttle / Associated Press (Defeated Democrat David Weprin concedes).

Obama jobs speech tops the NFL (but, then, it was only the Packers)


President Obama's speech Thursday on jobs to a joint session of Congress failed to outscore the TV ratings for his announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden in May but did improve on his recent speeches on Libya and Iraq.

And his 4,102 words also outpaced the NFL kickoff that came right after them.

The speech -- which included 17 variations on a demand that Congress pass a jobs bill that hasn't been rendered into legislative text yet -- was carried live from 5-6 p.m. Pacific time on 11 channels: ABC, AZA, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, FBN, FNC and MSNBC.

Among the cable newsers, Fox News did the best.

Here are the box scores from Nielsen Co. ...


Broken down by cable networks, Fox News came first with close to 3.4 million (826,000 in the target Adults 25-54 demographic); CNN second, with just north of 1.8 million (645,000 in A25-54); and MSNBC third, with just over 1.6 million (430,000 in the demo).

By way of contrast, the president's first address to a joint session of Congress on....

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Obama jobs speech to Congress: Providing 'a jolt to an economy that has stalled'

Capitol Bldg on a Rainy day 8-11


President Obama's remarks to a joint session of Congress, as provided by the White House

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse. 

This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President?  What will it mean for Congress?  How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now: They don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by -- giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage, postponing retirement to send a kid to college. 

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off.   They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share –- where....

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Last minute poll in New York City's special House election finds Republican leading

anthony Weiner

Remember New York's disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner, the representative who shared his junk online with too many people?

Well, forget him. He's gone now, resigned.

Next Tuesday is the special election in New York's reliably Democratic Ninth congressional district to replace him.

And, breaking news, the Ninth seems to be no longer reliably Democratic. Whether it's Weiner or Obama's fault or a combo, we don't know. And who cares?

If the latest poll numbers from Magellan Strategies hold up six more days, the new New York representative from Brooklyn/Queens will be Republican Bob Turner . And the GOP will have at least temporarily turned its tide of special election losses.

The news this week will be President Obama's meaningless jobs speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow evening. None of what he says he seeks will happen, which he knows and hopes. Because how's he going to run against a Republican House next year if he asked for something now he knew they'd give him?

It's Kabuki theatre at its most amateur. But that's where we all are right now because while Obama is still saying 'Yes, We Can,' he can't explain why we haven't these last 32 months. Obviously, it couldn't be his fault. Nothing ever is.

Anyway, Magellan surveyed 2,055 likely voters in the Ninth and found Turner leading Democrat David Weprin by four points, 44.6-40.4, with 36% firmly committed to Turner and only 28% firm for Weprin.

Interestingly, Obama's job approval there is 36%, compared with 52% disapprove.

If Turner wins, a Republican will soon sit in Weiner's presumably sanitized House seat. And a week from this morning the news will be all about what the latest defeat means for Obama.

Honestly, not much, just more bad PR to endure along with the sagging poll numbers. A loss won't change the balance in the House, which is overwhelmingly GOP now thanks to the historic voter turnaround in last November's midterms.

But the No. 9 would become the latest symbol of mounting political trouble for president No. 44.


Nancy Pelosi's vocabulary alert for Democrats in D.C.

77% now say Obama leads nation onto the wrong track

Obama White House downgrades its own economic forecasts

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the re-Tweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Meagan Broussard / ABC News (Weiner).

Minutes after his Sept. 8 address to Congress is set, Obama bashes both houses

Within minutes of agreeing with congressional leaders Wednesday night on an address to a joint session next week, President Obama flashed out an email to millions of supporters criticizing the chambers, their members and vowing to pressure them to enact his as yet unspecified job creation ideas.

"It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American peoplObama during his address to the American Legion 8-30-11e need them to be focused on," the Democrat charged in an email with the subject line: "Frustrated."

It's not exactly clear how long "a long time" Obama was thinking of. But until midterm voters produced a historic House turnover to Republicans last November, Obama's Democratic Party controlled both houses with substantial majorities and gave him vast spending, reform and healthcare programs.

It was, at least in part, voter reaction to such legislation that produced the divided government in D.C. now.

This evening's email is likely revealing of the strategy this White House intends to follow for the 2012 presidential election, blaming Congress for what hasn't happened in the economy and employment sectors.

Polls show approval of Obama's economic leadership now down around 1 in 3, with 2 out of 3 feeling the country is on the wrong track.

Speaking of his joint session address Sept. 8, Obama's email says:

Next week, I will deliver the details of the plan and call on lawmakers to pass it. Whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them. But both you and I can pressure them to do the right thing.

We can send the message that the American people are playing by the rules and meeting their responsibilities -- and it's time for our leaders in Congress to meet theirs. And we must hold them accountable if they don't.

Other than the chief executive's threats and the lousy job performance review of both parties, it looks like Obama and Congress are in for a really nice working relationship in coming months.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Obama addresses the American Legion this week. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Ron Paul's federal disaster relief plan: Kill FEMA

Ron Paul campaigns in Iowa 8-27-11

Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul is on his his third bid for the presidency.

A distinctive and refreshing trait of the libertarian's campaigns is that the retired doctor calmly provokes politicians and voters to talk about the political givens they otherwise would prefer to leave alone. Why is the Federal Reserve so powerful and secretive? What benefit do we really get out of foreign wars? Couldn't those billions be better spent at home?

Disturbing to some, who boo Paul at Republican debates.

But that's a healthy thing given the tendency of well-coiffed candidates to blather out their focus-grouped, well-rehearsed talking points at every opening. You don't get the impression that Ron Paul is ever saying what he thinks you want to hear, a sign of genuineness that attracts his devoted band of followers and sticks out in American politics, albeit often self-defeating

Also, honestly, Ron Paul's straight-faced ability to drive government-loving TV interviewers into incredulity is most entertaining.

The 76-year-old's latest willing victim is CNN's Anderson Cooper. And Paul's latest contribution ...

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With debt deal done, Obama sees need now for new spending on bridges, roads, unemployment

Obama walks away after Deficit Deal statement 8-2-11

President Obama reviewed the last few weeks for the nation today and shared his goals for the future. (Scroll down for full transcript.)

He said the debate over avoiding default was "long and contentious." He sees the deal as "an important first step" to getting the nation to "live within our means." But -- here it comes -- he said it also allows for more spending; he calls it "investments."

Back to young people, old people, sick people, unemployed, single moms, and the "balanced approach," the tax hikes he wants on those who already pay most of the taxes, which he didn't get this time but maybe next time. "That's the principle I’ll be fighting for during the next phase of this process."  

He wants to get back to creating jobs. But it won't come from easing life for business, rolling back regulations, stuff like that.

He said a lot of the nation's problems are beyond control: Japan's earthquake, the Arab spring, oil price hikes, those Europeans and their debts. He left out the Libyan war.

Obama said the different deadlines that his Treasury secretary set for default were just another Washington manufactured crisis. Oh, wait, no. He probably meant congressional disagreements over meeting his deadline.

He said the minute Congress returns from another vacation he'll be after....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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