Archives for White House

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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Can Obama unify Democrats after health care fight?

President Barack Obama strongly backed the Senate's version of sweeping legislation to remake US health care, as the bill drew fire ahead of its all-but-certain passage on Christmas Eve.

Obama told the Washington Post in an interview he was "not just grudgingly supporting the bill" and that the measure achieved "95 percent" of the goals he laid out during his 2008 White House bid and a major speech in September.

"We don't feel that the core elements to help the American people have been compromised in any significant way," the US president said. "I am very enthusiastic about what we have achieved."

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Obama: No vacation until Senate passes health care bill

President Barack Obama won't leave Washington for his Hawaii vacation until the Senate finishes work on the health care overhaul, even if that means staying in town for Christmas Eve.

"My attitude is that if they're making these sacrifices to provide health care to all Americans then the least I can do is to be around and provide them any encouragement and last-minute help where necessary," Obama said Tuesday.

The Senate is on track to pass its version of the health care bill on Christmas Eve. The president and his family are expected to spend the holidays in Obama's native Hawaii, but the White House has not provided details of their final plans.

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Obama finally names a new cyber coordinator

The White House has tapped a corporate cyber security expert and former Bush administration official to lead the effort to shore up the country's computer networks and better coordinate with companies that operate 80 percent of those critical systems.

Howard A. Schmidt, a former eBay and Microsoft executive, will become the government's cyber security coordinator, weathering a rocky selection process that dragged on for months, as others turned the job down.

President Barack Obama is expected to make the announcement Tuesday, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public yet.

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Obama plan would limit hidden records

President Barack Obama plans to deal with a Dec. 31 deadline that automatically would declassify secrets in more than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents by ordering government-wide changes that could sharply curb the number of new and old government records hidden from the public.

In an executive order the president is likely to sign before year's end, Obama will create a National Declassification Center to clear up the backlog of Cold War documents. But the order also will give everyone more time to process the 400 million pages rather than flinging them open at year's end without a second glance.

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