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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 15

In a July 20 interview with Jim Lehrer of PBS, the president was candid about his desire for new revenues for health:
Well, here's what I think -- that people like myself, who can afford to pay a little bit more in taxes, should do so in order to help people who are desperate for a little bit of security when it comes to their health care. Now, I actually think that the best way to do that is simply to cap deductions that wealthy people can take at a 35- or a 36-percent rate, compared to ordinary folks who are only taking a 28-percent rate.

He took a slightly different tack in a July 27 interview with Business Week:
So far my only tax policy has been to cut taxes for 95% of working people. I haven't signed a bill that's raised taxes yet.

And another angle in a July 28 interview with Time:
And it's very hard, particularly when the figures get thrown out there — "This is going to cost $1 trillion" — even though it's $1 trillion over 10 years, even though we've identified $600 billion of the trillion dollars so that we're really talking about raising somewhere between $300 and $400 billion over 10 years, or $30 or $40 billion a year, which with very modest changes to the tax code could be easily paid for and would pay significant dividends. It's still — in people's minds it's just a big expensive thing that may end up resulting in me paying more taxes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Census Data on Turnout

Some important data from the Census:

“The 2008 presidential election saw a significant increase in voter turnout among young people, blacks and Hispanics,” said Thom File, a voting analyst with the Census Bureau’s Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “But as turnout among some other demographic groups either decreased or remained unchanged, the overall 2008 voter turnout rate was not statistically different from 2004.” The table package released today, Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008, examines the levels of voting and registration in the November 2008 presidential election, the demographic characteristics of citizens who reported that they were registered for or voted in the election, and the reasons why registered voters did not vote.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 14

In an interview with Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC, the president offered some blunt talk about health care:

Snyderman: ... do you have people at the bargaining table, the pharmaceutical industry hospitals in there?

I haven't heard anyone ask just for the American public to pony up here, that this is going to require some give for all the stakeholders involved.

Obama: Well, let me — let me talk about what I think the American people are going to have to do.

First of all, the American people have to recognize that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Right? So, we can't just provide care to everybody that has no cost whatsoever, you don't end up having to make any decisions.

So, obviously, we've got to have a system that controls costs, gives people choices, but makes sure that we're getting a good bang for the buck. And we've got to have the American people doing something about their own care.

Snyderman: So, self-responsibility.

Obama: So, self-responsibility is going to be critical. This is probably not going to be something that's legislated. But I tell you what, every business out there is going to be looking at their health care bottom line. And increasingly what you're going to see is that businesses are going to incentivize their employees to stop smoking, lose weight, get exercise, get regular checkups.

What we can do is we can encourage those companies that have those sorts of wellness-prevention programs. We can make sure that it's easier to find a primary care physician to get a regular checkup, that everybody has basic insurance. But the American people are going to have to participate in their own health.

Mickey Kaus gives him a high grade for candor, a lower grade for salesmanship.

In an interview with Dr. Tim Johnson of ABC, the president hinted that he had seen The Matrix:

There's going to be some disagreement, but if there's broad agreement that, in this situation the blue pill works better than the red pill, and it turns out the blue pills are half as expensive as the red pill, then we want to make sure that doctors and patients have that information available to them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 13

Interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper:
COOPER: On the economy, Joseph Biden the other day, Vice President Biden, said that -- that you misread the economy. You have said: "No, no, no. We had incomplete information."

And, nevertheless, you said that you would not have done anything differently. How -- that seems contradictory. How can you say that? If you had known that unemployment was going to 9.5 percent, would you -- wouldn't you have asked for more money in the stimulus?

OBAMA: It is not contradictory.

Keep in mind that we got an $800 billion stimulus package, by far the largest stimulus package ever approved by a United States Congress. And the stimulus package is working exactly as we had anticipated.

We gave out tax cuts early, so that consumers could start spending, or at least pay down debt, so that they could, at a later date, start spending. We put in $144 billion to states, so that they wouldn't have to cut teachers and police officers and, you know, other social services that are vital, particularly at a time of recession.

And we always anticipated that a big chunk of that money then would be spent, not only in the second half of the year, but also next year. This was designed to be a two-year plan, and not a six-month plan.

Now, it may turn out that the enormous loss of wealth, the depth of the recession that's occurred, requires us to reevaluate and see what else we can do in combination with the...


COOPER: Possibly a second stimulus?

OBAMA: Well, it -- you know, there -- there are a whole range of things, Anderson, that we have done. The -- the banks have stabilized much more quickly than we had anticipated. They're not all the way to where we would like them to be, but we have seen significant process.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 12

An interview with Adam Boulton of Britain's Sky News:
AB: You mention colonialism. It's been alleged that you don't like the Brits because what they did to your grandfather.
OBAMA: Yeah, I've always been curious about this allegation. I love the Brits! And I think I've shown my affection every time I've travelled there but yeah, I think this is an example of Fleet Street trying to sell newspapers.
AB: But also, I mean, there must be some resentment in countries that were --
OBAMA: Well, no, I mean look, the notion that somehow I would judge countries at this point based on what happened a hundred years ago is not something that would make much sense.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Democratic Party continues to hold a solid advantage in party support over the Republican Party, as 49% of Americans interviewed in the second quarter of this year identified with or leaned to the Democratic Party, compared with 40% who did so for the Republican Party. However, that nine-point Democratic advantage is smaller than the 13-point edge Gallup measured in the first quarter of the year.
As for beliefs about the parties' ideological positions:
A Gallup Poll finds a statistically significant increase since last year in the percentage of Americans who describe the Democratic Party's views as being "too liberal," from 39% to 46%. This is the largest percentage saying so since November 1994, after the party's losses in that year's midterm elections. ... Notably, there has been no change over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say the Republican Party is "too conservative," though the 43% who say the party leans too far to the right matches the historical high mark set last year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 11

On "This Week," Vice President Biden made controversial remarks suggesting that the United States could not stop Israel from attacking Iran. He also spoke of economic forecasts:

BIDEN: The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy. The figures we worked off of in January were the consensus figures and most of the blue chip indexes out there.

Everyone thought at that stage -- everyone -- the bulk of...

STEPHANOPOULOS: CBO would say a little bit higher.

BIDEN: A little bit, but they're all in the same range. No one was talking about that we would be moving towards -- we're worried about 10.5 percent, it will be 9.5 percent at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But we're looking at 10 now, aren't we?

BIDEN: No. Well, look, we're much too high. We're at 9 -- what, 9.5 right now?


BIDEN: And so the truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited. Now, that doesn't -- I'm not -- it's now our responsibility. So the second question becomes, did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we're in? And we believe it is the right package given the circumstances we're in.

When Chuck Todd of NBC asked the president if he had "misread" the economy, the president replied:

No, no, no, well I would actually rather than say misread we had incomplete information. We came in January 20th. It was only after the first quarter numbers came in if you recall that suddenly everybody looked and said the economy shrank six percent. So it was happening much more rapidly at an accelerated pace than the projections out there at the time.

See similar comments to ABC's Jake Tapper.

Although the White House website includes recent interviews with foreign journalists, it includes none of these transcripts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gallup on Ideology

New Gallup data suggest that it is an oversimplification to speak of a rightward or leftward shift in public opinion:
Despite the results of the 2008 presidential election, Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, say their political views in recent years have become more conservative rather than more liberal, 39% to 18%, with 42% saying they have not changed. While independents and Democrats most often say their views haven't changed, more members of all three major partisan groups indicate that their views have shifted to the right rather than to the left.
Given the stark differences between the current political scene and the one surrounding the 2004 elections, 2004 represents a good comparison point for this analysis. Not only was there a five-point drop between 2004 and 2008 (from 51% to 46%) in the popular vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but there has been a similar drop (from 45% in 2004 to 40% in 2008 and 39% in 2009) in the percentage affiliating themselves with the Republican Party.

Have Americans' positions on major cultural, social, and policy issues shifted left accordingly? A broad review of the available trends suggests not. However, they have not shifted solidly right either, countering Americans' claims in the new poll that they have grown more conservative.

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 10

The White House website includes interviews with foreign journalists in the past week, but not domestic ones.

The president spoke with Major Garrett of Fox News:

And I always think that Abraham Lincoln described this best. And I'm paraphrasing a little bit here. But he basically said, look, I think anything that the individual can do well by him- or herself, he should do by him- or herself; then those things that we do better collectively, we should do together.

The actual text of the Lincoln quotation is:

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves -- in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, goverment ought not to interfere.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 9

Interview with Associated Press:
Q: News out this morning: unemployment rate up to 9.5 percent, and it's of course expected to go higher, as you've said that it probably would. What do you tell Americans who are worried that this really will be a jobless recovery, that they may not be able to find jobs, even if the economy gets better?
Obama: Well, obviously we are deeply concerned about the employment rate. It's one of the things that I am most focused on when I think about long-term economic policy. We have successfully stabilized the financial markets, and that's important, because that was a huge drag that helped precipitate the crisis. We've started to see some stabilization on housing. But what we're still seeing is too many jobs lost, too many families who are worried about whether they're going to be next in terms of job loss ...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


In Epic Journey, we write of pundits' reaction to Sarah Palin:
The condescension on display toward a mother of five, a former beauty queen, a moose hunter and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, a conservative Christian, and, to top it off, someone who attended school at the University of Idaho was palpable. Here was an alien. And when fighting aliens, no rules apply.
As if to prove our point, Vanity Fair gave the following title to Todd Purdum's attack on Palin: "It Came From Wasilla." The title is a play on the 1953 sci-fi movie, "It Came from Outer Space."

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 8

The New York Times recently interviewed the president on climate change. Although the paper credited the White House for providing the transcript (click here for full text), it did not appear on the White House website. At one point, the president expressed his reservations about the House bill's tariff provisions, but added:
So certainly it is a legitimate concern on the part of American businesses that they are not disadvantaged vis-a-vis their global competitors. Now, keep in mind, European industries are looking at an even more ambitious approach than we are. And they obviously have confidence that they can compete internationally under a regime that controls carbons. I think the Chinese are starting to move in the direction of recognizing that the future requires them to take a clean energy approach. In fact, in some ways they're already ahead of us -- on fuel efficiency standards, for example, they've moved beyond where we've moved on this.