Archives for White House

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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Americans fed up with Obama and his Democrats

President Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama's teflon is gone. The many problems affecting the nation have driven his job approval numbers below 50 percent and a plurality of Americans now view the party in a negative light.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll puts Obama's job approval rating at 47 percent with 55 percent of Americans believing the country is headed in the wrong direction.

And a "plurality" of Americans now lay the blame at the doorstep of the Democratic party.


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Can Obama shore up support for health care bill?

President Barack ObamaAfter months of turmoil, President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are reaching for the unity they need to pass health care legislation by Christmas, but without the government-run insurance program that liberals have long sought.

Even an expansion of Medicare, initially proposed as a backup to the government option, appeared unlikely to survive following a closed-door senators-only meeting called to consider trade-offs necessary to assure 60 votes for the bill.

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Obama to bankers: Time to pay up

President Barack Obama told top U.S. bankers on Monday they owed it to the country to help lift the economy out of crisis by lending more money to small businesses in need and embracing financial reforms.

"Given the difficulty that business people are having as lending has declined, and given the exceptional assistance banks received to get them through a difficult time, we expect them to explore every responsible way to help get our economy moving again," Obama said.

After speaking at the White House to executives of a dozen major financial firms, Obama said that, having benefited from taxpayer bailouts, they owed "an extraordinary commitment" to help rebuild the economy.

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Obama’s talking heads: More jobs by spring

Senior White House economists on Sunday predicted the U.S. economy will start creating jobs by spring and said that boosting employment will be at the top of President Barack Obama's agenda next year.

Growing public frustration with the still-sluggish economy and double-digit unemployment has weighed on Obama's popularity and may put his fellow Democrats at risk in the 2010 congressional elections.

But Obama's aides and many private economists were encouraged by a better-than-expected employment report for November that showed that the jobless rate inched down to 10 percent from October's 10.2 percent.

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Obama’s self-imposed grade: a ‘solid B-plus’

President Barack Obama, in an interview that aired Sunday, gave himself "a good solid B-plus" grade for his first year in office.

Speaking with fellow Chicagoan Oprah Winfrey, the president claimed progress on economic and international fronts.

Obamasaid the only thing that stands in the way of giving himself a better grade is the fact that some elements of his agenda — health care reform and putting more Americans to work — remain undone.

"The biggest burden on me right now is that economic growth has happened, but job growth has not happened," Obama told Winfrey on the ABC special.

On the plus side, Obama said, "We are on our way out of Iraq." And, he added, "I think we've got the best possible plan for Afghanistan."


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White House moves to close health care loophole

In a victory for people with cancer and other serious medical problems, the White House agreed Friday to help close a loophole in the Senate health care bill allowing annual dollar limits on their care.

"The president has made it clear that health insurance reform legislation should prevent insurance companies from placing annual limits on health expenditures that can force families into financial ruin," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. "We will continue to work with Congress on this policy."

"The bottom line is they are going to try to improve the Senate bill," said Stephen Finan, a policy expert with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which first called attention to the problem.

Tucked in a clause of the Senate bill captioned "No lifetime or annual limits" is a provision that would in fact permit such caps.
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