Archives for White House

Obama admits failure to bring country together

President Barack Obama says he has not succeeded in bringing the country together, acknowledging an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.

"That's what's been lost this year ... that whole sense of changing how Washington works," Obama said in an interview with People magazine.

The president said his second-year agenda will be refocused on uniting the country around common values, "whether we're Democrats or Republicans."

"We all want work that's satisfying, pays the bills and gives children a better future and security," Obama said in the interview, which the magazine conducted with the president and his wife, Michelle Obama, at the White House last Friday.

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White House claim: Obama made America stronger

The White House Tuesday argued President Barack Obama's "steady diplomacy" had made America stronger and renewed its moral authority despite "unprecedented challenges" in his first year in office.

But the assessment, posted on the White House website, did not dwell on the lack of success garnered by one of Obama's top priority foreign policy drives, peace moves in the Middle East, and reflected a tougher tone on Iran.

"A year later, America is stronger because of the president's leadership," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, in a White House blog post.

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White House claims stimulus helped 2 million jobs

President Barack Obama is trumpeting a new White House estimate that his top economist calls "stunning": His stimulus plan has already created or saved up to 2 million jobs.

The analysis is part of the administration's quarterly report to Congress on the controversial $787 billion package of spending and tax cuts he signed weeks after taking office.

Obama planned to highlight the report Wednesday during a visit to a Lanham, Md., training center for union electricians that specializes in "green" technology.

Republicans have denounced the stimulus plan as an expensive flop, pointing to a national unemployment rate stuck at 10 percent and December figures showing the economy shed 85,000 more jobs.

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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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