Archives for White House

Obama huddles with Democrats on health care bill

With congressional negotiators starting to make decisions on a final health overhaul bill, top Democrats are hoping a White House session with President Barack Obama will narrow differences between the House and Senate.

Obama was to meet Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democratic leaders to discuss the massive legislation. Negotiators from the White House and the two chambers have begun closed-door meetings already and seem likely to abandon a House-approved surtax on the wealthy even as they consider extending the Medicare payroll tax to investment income of high earners, Democratic officials said.

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Labor leader to Obama: ‘Don’t be suicidal’

The leader of the biggest U.S. labor federation warned President Barack Obama on Monday that failure to act quickly on unemployment would be "suicidal" and would put the Democrats' control of Congress at risk.

In a strongly worded speech delivered hours before a White House meeting with labor leaders, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged Democrats to deliver "genuine healthcare reform" and job growth or risk a repeat of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.

Obama won strong backing from trade unions in his presidential campaign and it is crucial for him to retain the support of working class voters before mid-term Congressional elections in November

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Bush holdover Gates will stay on the job

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the most prominent Republican in President Barack Obama's inner circle plans to remain in his Cabinet post for at least another year.

Gates told Obama in December that he would stay on at least through the end of 2010, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday. The White House had no immediate comment.

Gates held the top defense job for two years under President George W. Bush. Obama had asked Gates to stay on shortly after Obama won the 2008 presidential election. The move was meant to maintain stability in a time of two wars and made good on an Obama promise to include Republicans among his close advisers.

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Obama beefs up airline security, intel sharing

Hundreds of law enforcement officers are being trained as federal air marshals to ramp up security as the Obama administration tries to prevent a repeat of the near-catastrophic attempt to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.

President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. intelligence agencies to do a better job of recognizing serious terror threats and sharing information with those who can disrupt a plot as quickly as possible.

The White House on Thursday released a declassified summary of a two-week review that began when a 23-year-old Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with an explosive hidden in his underwear.

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Obama’s plan: Tax rich to pay for health care

President Barack Obama signaled to House Democratic leaders Wednesday that they'll have to drop their opposition to taxing high-end health insurance plans to pay for health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.

In a meeting at the White House, Obama expressed his preference for the insurance tax contained in the Senate's health overhaul bill, but largely opposed by House Democrats and organized labor, Democratic aides said. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

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Angry Obama wants changes in security

President Barack Obama scolded 20 of his highest-level officials on Tuesday over the botched Christmas Day terror attack on an airliner bound for Detroit, taking them jointly to task for "a screw-up that could have been disastrous" and should have been avoided.

After that 90-minute private reckoning around a table in the super-secure White House Situation Room, a grim-faced Obama informed Americans that the government had enough information to thwart the attack ahead of time but that the intelligence community, though trained to do so, did not "connect those dots."

"That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it," he said, standing solo to address the issue publicly for the fifth time — and the first in Washington — since the Dec. 25 incident.

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Obama ties airliner attack to al-Qaida

President Barack Obama laid blame Saturday on an al-Qaida affiliate for a Christmas Day terrorist attack that has prompted a top-to-bottom review of how the nation's intelligence agencies failed to prevent the botched bombing aboard a Detroit-bound airliner.

In his most direct public language to date, the president described the path through Yemen of 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to destroy Northwest Flight 253. The president also emphasized that the United States would continue its partnerships with friendly countries — citing Yemen, in particular — to fight terrorists and extremist groups around the globe.

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White House defends tarnished TSA nominee

Acknowledging he has given inconsistent answers to Congress, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the Transportation Security Administration wrote to lawmakers to explain a reprimand he received for running background checks on his then-estranged wife's boyfriend two decades ago.

Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent whose nomination has been delayed by Republicans for unrelated concerns, sent a letter to senators in November to correct what he called a distortion of his record. As Democrats push for his speedy confirmation, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said he maintained faith in the nominee.

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Obama admits he is tired

After a sleepless, overnight flight to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, President Barack Obama made a not altogether surprising admission. He was tired.

Who could blame him? The president was on his ninth foreign trip to his 21st country; he added a 10th trip the following week. The year had been bookended by the two most intense periods of his young presidency — the early decisions to bail out the nation's banks and automobile industry, steps the president deemed unpopular but necessary, and his December orders to deploy 30,000 additional U.S. troops to fight the war in Afghanistan.

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Obama ‘entirely dissatisfied’ with high unemployment

President Barack Obama said Wednesday he is "entirely dissatisfied" with the level of US unemployment and cannot congratulate himself on his first year in office because the jobless rate is so high.

"I am entirely dissatisfied with where we are right now in terms of jobs, and the fact that families out there on the eve of Christmas are still really worried," Obama said in an interview with public television station PBS.

"And so I don't pat myself on the back at the end of this year," the US leader said after 11 months in office.

"But what I do have confidence in is that we've made good decisions, that we've applied sound judgment to some very difficult situations," added Obama.

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