Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Legislation

New gaffe: Obama confuses Jews with janitors

President Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus awards banquet over the weekend.

Those folks will stick with him in 2012, of course.

But they've been somewhat miffed in recent months that the first post-partisan president is doing too many deals with those Republicans and seeming to give in.

So, Obama needed to give the crowd some presidential love. He even brought his wife along. As with virtually all of Obama's speeches recently, the Democrat's remarks dealt with selling his jobs legislation, as if it wasn't DOA on Capitol Hill.Obama speaks to the congressional black caucus awards banquet 9-24-11

The first black president got to reminiscing about some other struggles in the past familiar to African Americans.

His 28 minutes of remarks had a strange tone to them, as if somehow Obama was equating support for his jobs program legislation with the far more important and historic civil rights movement.

He got into the usual yada-yada about rich people paying their fair share of taxes.

And then, deep into the speech, according to the White House transcript, the president said:

When you start saying, at a time when the top one-tenth of 1 percent has seen their incomes go up four or five times over the last 20 years, and folks at the bottom have seen their incomes decline -- and your response is that you want poor folks to pay more? 

Give me a break. 

If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that.

That's what the transcript says he said.

Now, watch the C-SPAN video below, and listen especially to the phrase "the same tax rate as a janitor..."

Here is what the president actually said, catching himself almost in time but not quite:

If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a Jew, uh, as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that.

The president has been muffing lines all over the place recently. Last week, also peddling his jobs plan at a bridge that won't qualify, he hailed America's building of "the Intercontinental Railroad." You don't seem to hear much about these gaffes in the media for some reason.

Maybe in Saturday night's speech Obama was thinking about all those talks on Israel in New York.

Video of the president's full CBC speech, via C-SPAN, of course, is available right here.

Obama is on the West Coast now, harvesting money again and closing roads in Los Angeles after doing the same in Seattle and San Jose Sunday.

RELATED:

How many Obama gaffes can the media ignore?

Obama touts jobs plan at Ohio bridge that won't qualify

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

-- 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.

Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press (Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus awards banquet, Sept. 24).              Video: Courtesy of C-SPAN.

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.

RELATED:

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

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.

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).

A plaintive Obama on his job: 'I can’t do it alone'

The Obamas arrive in NYC 9-19-11 for the UN and fundraisers

An enormous gap has opened in the economic reality that most Americans inhabit and the one that their perpetually campaigning president perceives.

According to the RealClearPolitics average, nearly three-out-of-four Americans believe Barack Obama has lead the nation down the wrong track; barely one-in-five disagree.

Their gloomy perception has something to do with at least 9% unemployment for 26 of the last 28 months, with the 14 million unemployed and the 18.5 million underemployed and with the White House's own economic growth predictions revised downward.a happy Obama in NYC 9-19-11

According to the Gallup Poll, Democrat Obama's job approval is at its lowest 40% now, with a majority (52%) disapproving.

But the president sees himself as having made "a bunch of tough choices" since taking office. And as a result of his leadership, he says, "We were able to pull this economy out of a Great Depression."

Obama spoke to about five dozen supporters Monday evening. Each had paid more than $35,000 to gather with him in an eighth floor apartment on New York's Park Avenue.

The week after his party endured an embarrassing special House election loss just across the East River, Obama is in Manhattan again ostensibly to attend the United Nations General Assembly session.

But he and wife Michelle will each also squeeze Democratic fundraising into their otherwise impossible schedules.

"I could not be prouder of the choices we made," the president proclaimed about his tenure so far.

However, perhaps inadvertently, Obama also uttered a backhanded admission of failure. "Although we stabilized the economy," he said, "we’ve stabilized it at a level that’s just too high, in terms of unemployment and in terms of hardship all across America."

Shunning the role of assertive chief executive, the former state senator sounded a complaint about politics in Washington: "What has been clear over the last two and a half years is that we have not had a willing partner."

Obama said he and Republicans have "a fundamentally different vision about where America needs to go," vowing to put teachers and construction crews back to work on rebuilding America.

Predictably, Obama said, "You’re already hearing the moans and groans from the other side about how we are engaging in class warfare and we’re being too populist and this and that and the other -- all the usual scripts. I mean, it’s predictable, the news releases that come out from the other side."

But then in a plaintive closing moment, the 44th president told the group, "I can’t do it alone."

RELATED:

National debt grows now at $3 million per minute

Day No. 972: Obama unveils a deficit reduction plan

Obama's penchant for speeches sounding hollower by the word

-- 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.

Photos: David Karp / Associated Press (the Obamas arrive in New York City for fundraisers and the UN session and a happy Obama).

Obama's urgent jobs plan: Right now, 'right now' means sometime next month maybe

Podium Empty at the White House

Everybody remembers the urgency of President Obama's attitude toward the awful jobs situation.

Back in early August, Obama said the jobs situation was so urgent that he was going to give another speech about it -- in a month or so, in September after his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

And then in September the president announced he would give his major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7. But he neglected to check with congressional leaders first. And they suggested the 8th. So, since it was their House, the 8th it was.

"Tonight," the president said in the first 34 of his 4,021 words to a national television audience that night, "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."

The speech got panned as another political campaign one with Obama announcing, in effect, that....

Continue reading »

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....

Continue reading »

961 days in, Obama becomes sick and tired of someone dawdling about jobs

Obama Jobs address to Congress 9-8-11

Speaking on behalf of millions of Americans who've grown angry and frustrated over the president's 32-month ineffective inactivity on the job creation front, President Obama on Thursday told members of Congress they really have to do something about the crummy employment situation -- and do it quickly.

Citing the plight of millions of struggling Americans whose wishes for jobs Obama ignored for most of the 961 days he's been in office while chasing shinier healthcare and financial reforms, Obama said it was time that Congress stop blaming others. He said it was time members take responsibility for their inaction and halt their phony partisan games and political circus acts that pervade Washington culture.

Because the Americans Obama hasn't been listening to are really hurting now. And -- who's....

Continue reading »

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....

Continue reading »

Tonight's Republican debate may really be between 2 Texans, Rick Perry and Ron Paul

Republicans Governor Rick Perry and Representative Ron Paul of Texas

Eight Republicans will line up for the debate in the shadow of Ronald Reagan's Air Force One in his presidential library this evening.

But the most interesting debate dynamic will likely be between the two Texans onstage with the same pair of initials -- Rick Perry, the governor, and Ron Paul, the representative.

This was supposed to be the second GOP panel for Perry, the late-comer and new front-runner. But he pulled out of Sen. Jim DeMint's values forum in South Carolina Monday to fly home and be governor during the giant state's wild wildfires.

Tonight, everyone will pay verbal tribute to Ronald Reagan, who might have some trouble winning the presidential nomination of the new Grand Old Party these days. The debate will be carried live on MSNBC at 5 p.m. Pacific.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman will be asked about their jobs plans. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich will chime in. For an interesting look at the surviving GOP field, check out Chris Stirewalt's perceptive rundown here.

Obama will be a certain target but less so because Republican House Speaker John Boehner saved the Democrat from himself. Obama wanted to talk jobs tonight too to a joint session of Congress. Boehner suggested Thursday was better and the president acquiesced.

Cross-state rivals Perry and Paul have already been sniping at each other. The 11-term congressman has criticized the nation's longest-serving governor as not a real conservative and dismissing him as more of the status quo.Texas Republican governor Rick Perry listens to wildfire victim Cindy Cruz in Bastrop 9-5-11

Tuesday Perry's surprisingly well-organized camp fired a salvo at Paul, citing his 1987 resignation letter from the Republican Party in which he criticized the president now entombed just steps from tonight's debate site.

"There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government," Paul wrote near the end of Reagan's second term before Paul ran for president on the Libertarian ticket. "That is the message of the Reagan years."

“It will be interesting," a Perry spokesman suggestively suggested, "to hear Rep. Paul explain why Reagan drove him from the party at tomorrow’s debate on the grounds of the Reagan Library."

Recent polls have confirmed Perry's rapid surge to the front of the Republican field. He appears to have most hurt Bachmann, another tea party favorite who can be expected to attack. A Gallup Poll this week found Perry and Romney to be about equally well-liked among Republicans (seven-out-of-ten).

But Gallup's intensity score gives Perry twice the rating of Romney, 25-12.

A larger question many ask is how good is Perry at debating? Put another way, how bad can he be? He's never lost an election.

It's still almost a year out from the GOP convention in Tampa. Ahh, Florida in August. Who wouldn't want to wear funny hats in that weather?

But this month is already crucial. It's the last in the second quarter of campaign fundraising. We'll soon see how big a money bump Bachmann got for winning the Ames Straw Poll. If Paul's $1.6 money-bomb was a one-day explosion?

And how big are the bundles being assembled by Perry's reputed hundreds of newly-recruited, enthusiastic bundlers, including some well-connected folks in California, where Perry will forage for cash all day Thursday.

RELATED:

Here's how President Obama wants 9/11 observed

77% of Americans say Obama leads nation down wrong track

Obama's approval now lower than his uncle's blood-alcohol level

-- 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 ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: David J. Phillip / Associated Press (Perry, left); Mary Ann Chastain / Associated Press (Paul); Alberto Martinez / Associated Press (Perry listens to wildfire victim Cindy Cruz in Bastrop, Sept. 5).

Urgent Democratic vocab alert: Pelosi bans the S-word (stimulus)

Democrat Nancy Pelosi Grabs the microphone 8-30-11

Actually, it's understandable. And actually surprising that ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) took this long. She must not be getting out much.

Remember way back in 2009 when D.C. Democrats were promising that the $787-billion you-know-what program was going to start you-know-whating the economy almost immediately with those shovel-ready projects that were going to keep unemployment below 8%?

President Obama even flew Air Force One almost four hours round-trip one day for a 10-minute speech to point out how well the you-know-whating was working in Ohio. The rate there is 9% now and, nationally, 9.1% with no new jobs created last month.

Other than that, all of Joe Biden's hundreds-of-thousands-of-new-jobs-any-month-now promises came true.

Fact is, utter the S-word in political conversation these days and chuckles are the most likely response -- if you're not among the 14-plus million officially unemployed. And the many millions of others who've given up.

Which Pelosi hasn't.

The S-plan didn't really S-anything sufficiently. But that's not stopping Pelosi et al from pushing yet another S-plan, this one maybe even bigger than the other one that didn't work. Can you say $1 trillion?

The unions would love it. And although their membership is only 11% of U.S. workers now, they make up a much higher percentage of the crumbling political base Obama needs to win reelection.

So, Pelosi has launched a campaign to pressure Obama to include some kind of gigantic "job creation" package in his grand Thursday night jobs address to Congress that will finally surely fix the nation's troubled economy once and for all.

He's had -- what? -- 961 days to get his economy act together and chew through all those economic advisors. Obama won't be calling his plans S-plans either. They'll be investments, which sound less lethal than another dying S-word, "spending."

Also, FYI, "Recovery Act" is also gone the way of the Obama administration's "man-caused disaster." Now, it'll be something about Made in America. Make It in America. That sort of thing. Which will make all the difference in the world.

RELATED:

Here's how Obama wants 9/11 observed

Obama downgrades his own economic forecast

77% say Obama has nation on the wrong track

-- 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: Pelosi on Aug. 30. Credit: Ed Andrieski / Associated Press

Obama White House downgrades its own economic forecasts

Who knows why we should believe the Obama-Biden White House now? They've been so flat-out wrong about the improving economy almost every single one of the 955 days they've been in the White House.

But now they're saying the economic outlook is going to get worse. Apparently, that's still possible.

So, hmmm.Obama and Biden having a good Laugh at someone's expense, file

Is this some kind of "Princess Bride" trick to make us think that because we haven't believed them when they said things were improving, when they say things are worsening we won't believe them again?

And we'll fall into their Chicago trap of thinking the economy really is getting better and reelect the guy whose economic advisors can't run a taco stand, let alone anything more complex than a lecture hall?

Here's the latest from the president, who is "fully confident" of everything he says, even when it's proved wrong:

Early this year the White House said 3.1% looked like a good gross domestic product growth rate this year, jumping to 4% next year.

Now, they say maybe as little as 1.6% this year and somewhere between 3.2% and 2.9% next year.

You may remember that national unemployment rate that was going to stay under 8% if only we hurried and spent the $787 billion tossed onto the national debt pile?

Well, back seven months ago, the Obama crowd figured unemployment would average 9.3% this year and 8.6% in 2012.

Now, they think it'll average 8.8% to 9.1% this year and next year 8.3% to 9%.

Right now, among those bothering to continue looking for work, the rate is 9.1%. August's numbers are due out Friday.

Here's an intriguing little piece of history to put these percentages in perspective for Chicagoans: The last president to win reelection while unemployment was above 7.2% was 75 years ago, Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.

And, Mr. President, you're no Franklin Roosevelt.

RELATED:

Ron Paul's federal disaster relief plan: Kill FEMA

Obama agrees with Congress on Sept. 8 speech, then bashes both houses

Bachmann on Obama: He 'keeps giving speeches to announce he's going to give another speech'

 -- 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 and Vice President Joe Biden. Credit: Larry Downing / Reuters

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

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


Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: