Promise Kept – Ending the Combat Mission in Iraq

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

My Plan for Iraq

July 14, 2008 By BARACK OBAMA – nytimes.com

(Excerpts)

CHICAGO — The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States….

I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.

In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.

But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country…

Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later…

Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq…

It’s time to end this war.

Barack Obama, a United States senator from Illinois, is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

For the entire article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14obama.html

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60 Responses to Promise Kept – Ending the Combat Mission in Iraq

  1. CR says:

    WH

    Sunday, December 18 , 2011

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

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  2. CR says:

    Ending the Iraq war

    Promise Kept – Ending the Combat Mission in Iraq

    • CR says:

      OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
      My Plan for Iraq

      July 14, 2008 By BARACK OBAMA – nytimes

      CHICAGO — The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

      The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.

      In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.

      But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

      The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.

      For the entire article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14obama.html

    • CR says:

      October 21, 2011

      Remarks by the President on Ending the War in Iraq

      James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

      12:49 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.

      As Commander-in-Chief, ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities. Last year, I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq. And to date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops. Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security.

      A few hours ago I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments. He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future. We are in full agreement about how to move forward.

      So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.

      Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq — tens of thousands of them — will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.

      But even as we mark this important milestone, we’re also moving into a new phase in the relationship between the United States and Iraq. As of January 1st, and in keeping with our Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, it will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/21/remarks-president-ending-war-iraq

    • CR says:

      August 02, 2010

      Facts and Figures on Drawdown in Iraq

      “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

      – President Barack Obama, Camp Lejeune, February 27, 2009

      Troops and Change of Mission

      When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. At his Camp Lejeune speech on February 27, 2009, President Obama announced that the United States would end its combat mission on August 31, 2010, and retain a transitional force of up to 50,000 U.S. troops to train and advise Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered and targeted counter-terrorism operations; and protect ongoing U.S. civilian and military efforts.

      – By January 2010, there were 112,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. By the end of May 2010, that number had been reduced to 88,000. General Odierno made the decision in May 2010 that positive developments in the security sector permitted the drawdown to go forward as planned. The final tranche of the drawdown to reach the President’s commitment to end combat operations began in earnest in June 2010. By the end of August 2010, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be further reduced to 50,000. On August 31, Operation Iraqi Freedom will end. The transitional mission will be called Operation New Dawn. Consistent with our agreements with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

      – There are currently 665,000 Iraqi Security Forces who have been leading the effort to secure Iraq since June 2009, when U.S. troops repositioned outside of Iraqi cities. Even as terrorists have sought to exploit the period of government formation that has followed Iraq’s successful election, security incidents remain near the lowest level since we’ve been keeping records. Since the beginning of this year, the U.S. and Iraqi military partnership has resulted in the death or arrest of more than 30 members of the top leadership of al-Qai’da in Iraq.

      – The reduction in troops does not mean a reduction in the U.S. commitment to Iraq – it means a change in the nature of our commitment from one led by the military to one that is civilian-led. The transitional force that we will have in place can continue to support Iraqi Security Forces. And we will strengthen the U.S. and Iraqi partnership in fields such as education, the rule of law, trade and technology. To guide the expansion of our relationship, the United States and Iraq signed a Strategic Framework Agreement, which specifies areas for dialogue, exchanges, links, and the transfer of expertise.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/facts-and-figures-drawdown-iraq

    • CR says:

      $1Trillion Cost of Iraq War<br />

      By the Numbers: $1 Trillion

      Posted by Megan Slack on December 12, 2011

      In the coming days, the final troops will cross the border out of Iraq and America’s war there will end. Over nearly nine years of fighting, tens of thousands of American troops who were wounded, and 4,500 lost their life in service to our country. The war cost $1 trillion.

      American is safer and stronger because we ended the Iraq War, as President Obama promised to do. But now it’s time to invest in the American people. We must work on creating jobs, rebuilding our strong middle class, and sustaining the growth that supports our prosperity and leadership around the world.

      Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it and providing all who served with the care and benefits they have earned. And, President Obama is enlisting our veterans in the mission of rebuilding America by funding a post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue a college education, and creating jobs for our veterans so they can become the backbone of the middle class.

      If we come together to tackle the big challenges that we face with the same sense of common purpose that our troops showed in Iraq, there’s nothing we can’t do as a country.

    • CR says:

      AP Interview: Iraq PM confident in post-US future

      Dec 4, 2011 By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and REBECCA SANTANA | AP

      BAGHDAD (AP) — Weeks before the U.S. pullout, Iraq’s prime minister confidently predicts that his country will achieve stability and remain independent of its giant neighbor Iran even without an American troop presence.

      Nouri al-Maliki also warned on Saturday of civil war in Iran’s ally Syria if Bashar Assad falls — a view that puts him closer to Tehran’s position and at odds with Washington. The foreign policy pronouncement indicates that Iraq is emerging from the shadows of U.S. influence in a way unforeseen when U.S.-led forces invaded eight years ago to topple Saddam Hussein.

      “The situation in Syria is dangerous,” al-Maliki told The Associated Press during an interview at his office in a former Saddam-era palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone. “Things should be dealt with appropriately so that the spring in Syria does not turn into a winter.”

      The Obama administration has been outspoken in its criticism of Assad’s bloody crackdown on protests that the U.N. says has killed more than 4,000 people so far, the bloodiest in a wave of uprisings that have been dubbed the Arab Spring.

      Iraq has been much more circumspect and abstained from key Arab League votes suspending Syria’s membership and imposing sanctions on the country. That has raised concern that Baghdad is succumbing to Iranian pressure to protect Assad’s regime. Tehran is Syria’s main backer.

      Al-Maliki insisted that Iraq will chart its own policies in the future according to national interests, not the dictates of Iran or any other country.

      For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-interview-iraq-pm-confident-post-us-future-195754620.html

      • CR says:

        Iraqis React to US Troop Departure

        Uploaded by VOAvideo on Dec 16, 2011

        The U.S. military is officially ending its mission in Iraq and will withdraw its forces by the end of December. VOA’s Sharon Behn talked to a sampling of Iraqis in Baghdad about their nation’s future.

    • CR says:

      U.S. Forces Have Met All Obligations in Iraq, General Says

      Oct. 12, 2011 By Lisa Daniel – American Forces Press Service

      WASHINGTON, – U.S. forces are “completely on track” to make a total military withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year, even while U.S. and Iraqi officials discuss the possibility of some staying longer, U.S. Forces Iraq’s spokesman and director of strategic effects said today.

      U.S. forces “have met all our obligations” in Iraq, and are repositioning troops and equipment in line with the 2008 bilateral agreement that says the U.S. military mission there will end Dec. 31, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan said during a briefing for Pentagon reporters delivered from Baghdad.

      U.S. Forces Iraq has redeployed 1.6 million pieces of equipment, Buchanan said, with 800,000 left to go. Just last week, he said, 13,900 trucks in 399 convoys moved equipment, fuel and food in and out of Iraq. The military had 505 bases in Iraq in 2008, and now is down to 23, he said.

      U.S. Forces Iraq has roughly 43,500 troops in the country — down about 100,000 from January 2009 — and has maintained roughly that number since Operation New Dawn began in September 2010 to allow for flexibility in the mission, Buchanan said. Cutting too many troops too early would have significantly limited the military’s New Dawn mission to advise, train and assist Iraqi security forces, and “to deal with the unknown,” he said.

      As part of the plan for a long-term partnership with Iraq, the military has transitioned most ongoing support for Iraq to the State Department, including opening State’s Office of International Security, with employs about 200 military and civilian workers who oversee foreign military sales, Buchanan said.

      For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=65633

    • CR says:

      1.5 Million served in Iraq
      By the Numbers: 1.5 Million

      Posted by Megan Slack on December 14, 2011

      More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq between 2003 and 2011. More than 30,000 troops were wounded in the fighting, and 4,500 lost their lives. As the war draws to a close in the coming days, we thank every one of them for their service, their sacrifice, and everything they’ve done to help end the war.

      Today at Fort Bragg, President Obama said that these numbers don’t come close to telling the full story of the Iraq war.

      Our civilians have represented our country with skill and bravery. Our troops have served tour after tour of duty, with precious little dwell time in between. Our Guard and Reserve units stepped up with unprecedented service. You’ve endured dangerous foot patrols and you’ve endured the pain of seeing your friends and comrades fall. You’ve had to be more than soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen –- you’ve also had to be diplomats and development workers and trainers and peacemakers. Through all this, you have shown why the United States military is the finest fighting force in the history of the world.

      The President has pledged to stand by the service members that have fought so hard once they come home, and will make sure they get all the care and benefits they’ve earned.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/14/numbers-15-million

    • CR says:

      December 16, 2011

      Readout of Vice President Biden’s Calls to Iraqi Leaders

      Vice President Biden spoke on the phone today with Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani and Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi to mark the historic end of the U.S. war in Iraq and to discuss the recent visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Washington. The leaders discussed the current political climate in Baghdad, and the Vice President reiterated the United States’ longstanding support for an inclusive partnership government in Iraq and for a long-term strategic partnership between our nations under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. The Vice President and President Barzani reaffirmed the longstanding friendship between the American and Kurdish people and discussed the Vice President’s recent visit to Turkey. The Vice President praised Speaker Nujaifi’s responsible stewardship of the Iraqi Council of Representatives.

    • CR says:

      Last U.S. Troops Leave Iraq

      12/18/11 by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

      
The last U.S. soldiers rolled out of Iraq across the border to neighboring Kuwait at daybreak Sunday, whooping, fist bumping and hugging each other in a burst of joy and relief. Their exit marked the end of a bitterly divisive war that raged for nearly nine years and left Iraq shattered, with troubling questions lingering over whether the Arab nation will remain a steadfast U.S. ally.

      The mission cost nearly 4,500 American and well more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered.

      Capt. Mark Askew, a 28-year-old from Tampa, Florida who was among the last soldiers to leave, said the answer to that question will depend on what type of country and government Iraq ends up with years from now, whether they are democratic, respect human rights and are considered an American ally.

      “It depends on what Iraq does after we leave,” he said, speaking ahead of the exit. “I don’t expect them to turn into South Korea or Japan overnight.”

      The war that began in a blaze of aerial bombardment meant to shock and awe the dictator Saddam Hussein and his loyalists ended quietly and with minimal fanfare.

      For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/18/143906090/last-u-s-troops-leave-iraq

      • CR says:

        The US army leaves Iraq

        Uploaded by telegraphtv on Dec 18, 2011

        Trucks carrying soldiers and weaponry finished streaming over the border into Kuwait after they had handed over the last American base to the Iraqis.

    • CR says:

      With a signature, US war in Iraq is over

      12/18/11 08:03 AM ET By John T. Bennett – TheHill

      There was no ceremony this time, only Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and a piece of paper.

      Just before 7 a.m. Sunday, Panetta signed the official order that ended the nearly decade-old — and highly controversial — Iraq war.

      “At 6:59 A.M., Secretary Panetta approved the order officially ending the Iraq war,” Pentagon press secretary George Little tweeted shortly after.

      The order is called “EXORD 1003 Victor, Mod 9,” Little noted.
      The last American troops have left Iraq, meaning for the first time since early 2003 no U.S. soldiers or Marines are conducting patrols, storming suspected insurgent safe houses or hunting for improvised bombs.

      The White House puts the cost of the conflict at nearly $1 trillion, and the Congressional Research Service puts the tab at nearly $900 billion.

    • CR says:

      Iraq celebrates U.S. withdrawal

      12/31/11 By Ahmed Rasheed | Reuters – 4 hrs ago

      BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared a new dawn on Saturday as Iraq celebrated the departure of American troops at a ceremony held amid tight security and without Maliki’s key political rivals.

      Iraq was engulfed in its worst political crisis in a year after the last U.S. troops left on December 18 when Maliki sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, threatening a frail coalition government of Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds.

      Saturday marked the end of the 2008 security pact agreed by then-President George W. Bush and was the last day for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and allowed the Shi’ite majority to take power.

      Except for a small military contingent attached to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the last of the American troops departed nearly two weeks ago.

      “I declare this day, the 31st of December, on which the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq is complete, as a national day,” said Maliki in a televised ceremony, surrounded by security officials in dress uniforms.

      “It is Iraq’s day. It is a feast for all Iraqis. It is the dawn of a new day in Mesopotamia … Your country is free.”

      For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-celebrates-u-withdrawal-144918117.html

    • CR says:

      Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Sifting Fact from Fiction

      MARCH 16, 2012 David Stone BY THE WORLD ⋅

      Summary: One of the most misunderstood aspects of homecoming is post-traumatic stress disorder.
      Anchor Marco Werman asks David Stone to separate fact from fiction.
      Stone is a veteran himself and a counselor at the Boston Vets Center.

      For the audio interview: http://www.theworld.org/2012/03/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-sifting-fact-from-fiction/

      • CR says:

        NATIONAL CENTER for PTSD Home

        Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like war, assault, or disaster.

        To learn more: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

    • CR says:

      Sharon Potter, Iraq War Veteran: “The President delivered on his promise to end the war in Iraq.”

      Uploaded by BarackObamadotcom on Mar 18, 2012

      Leave a note for the troops: https://my.barackobama.com/sharonpottervid

      Sharon Potter is the first female in the state of Nevada to receive a purple heart by way of serving in Iraq. She stands with President Obama because of his continuing fight to ensure that our nation’s veterans and military families are taken care of.

    • CR says:

      Welcoming Home Our Veterans

      Published on Jul 23, 2012 by BarackObamadotcom
      Learn more: http://OFA.BO/ooJZtN

      Since day one, President Obama has made it a priority to keep the sacred trust we hold with those who wear the uniform of the United States and their families.

      In advance of the President’s remarks at the VFW Convention in Reno, Obama for America released this video that discusses the President’s commitment to keeping our nation’s sacred promise to our veterans. This video highlights a St. Louis parade organized to welcome our servicemembers home from Iraq.

      Learn how President Obama continues to better serve those who have served this nation and how you can get involved with Veterans and Military Familes for Obama: http://OFA.BO/ooJZtN

  3. CR says:

    Good Sunday morning everyone! Thank you President Obama for keeping your promise! I HOPE that everyone has a good day! :)

  4. CR says:

    Sunday talk show tip sheet

    12/17/11 POLITICO

    (Democratic excerpts only)

    ABC’s “This Week,” kicks off its “Great American Debate” series — six shows between now and Election Day, focusing on major issues of the presidential race. The inaugural debate pits House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and columnist George Will against Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. The two sides will spar over entitlements, taxes and regulations before a live studio audience at the Newseum in Washington.

    Christiane Amanpour is the moderator — in one of her final stints as the show’s anchor. She’s being replaced next month by “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos, ABC announced on Monday…

    And TV One’s “Washington Watch” interviews Melody Barnes, the outgoing director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

    For the entire article: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70578.html

  5. CR says:

    December 18, 2011

    Statement of President Obama on the death of Vaclav Havel

    I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing today of Vaclav Havel, a playwright and prisoner of conscience who became President of Czechoslovakia and of the Czech Republic. Having encountered many setbacks, Havel lived with a spirit of hope, which he defined as “the ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world. He also embodied the aspirations of half a continent that had been cut off by the Iron Curtain, and helped unleash tides of history that led to a united and democratic Europe.

    Like millions around the world, I was inspired by his words and leadership, and was humbled to stand with the Czech people in a free and vibrant Hradcany Square as President. We extend our condolences to President Havel’s family and all those in the Czech Republic and around the world who remain inspired by his example. Vaclav Havel was a friend to America and to all who strive for freedom and dignity, and his words will echo through the ages.

  6. CR says:

    Voting Rights: What’s A Reasonable Requirement?

    December 18, 2011 by NPR STAFF

    Summary: The Obama administration has taken aim at a wave of new laws and policies they say will make it harder for some people to vote on Election Day. Host Audie Cornish talks with two people who hold opposing views on the issue: NAACP president Ben Jealous and Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush.

    For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/18/143916145/voting-rights-whats-a-reasonable-requirement

  7. CR says:

    Please join me in lighting a candle for President Obama, the First Family and the Nation.

    http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/candles.cfm?l=eng&gi=PBO

  8. CR says:

    Sperling on TV

    12/18/11 11:05 AM POLITICO44

    National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, the first guest Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said he was convinced that Republicans in the House were unlikely to reject legislation approved by the Senate that called for a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

    “I really think,” he said, “that is very unlikely that the House would disrupt this compromise, overwhelming compromise, six days before Christmas.”

    He also said given only 60 days to make a decision on the project, it was unlikely President Obama would chose to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. More time, he said, was needed to evaluate “alternative routes in Nebraska and do the serious environmental and health reviews.”

  9. CR says:

    December 18, 2011

    Statement by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer

    The bipartisan compromise passed in the Senate yesterday received 89 votes, including 39 Republican votes, and Speaker Boehner himself just yesterday called it a “good deal” and a “victory.” The near 90 percent approval by the Senate reflected the view by the overwhelming number of Senate Republicans – as well as Democrats – that the best way to achieve the President’s goal of ensuring that taxes were not increased on 160 million Americans as we enter the New Year was to support this bipartisan compromise. If House Republicans refuse to pass this bipartisan bill to extend the payroll tax cut, there will be a significant tax increase on 160 million hardworking Americans in 13 days that would damage the economy and job growth. After months of opposition, we are glad that Republicans were finally showing a willingness to not raise taxes on middle class families. As the President said yesterday, it is inexcusable to do anything less than extend this tax cut for the entire year, and Congress must work on a one year deal. But they should pass the two month extension now to avoid a devastating tax hike from hitting the middle class in just 13 days. It’s time House Republicans stop playing politics and get the job done for the American people.

  10. CR says:

    Reid aide: Senate will not return if House kills payroll tax compromise

    12/18/11 By Alexander Bolton – TheHill

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) does not plan to bring the Senate back in session next week, even if the House rejects a compromise bill to extend the payroll tax holiday, said his spokesman.

    When asked whether Reid would call senators back to town next week if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) refuses to schedule a vote or the House defeats a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Adam Jentleson, Reid’s spokesman, said: “No.”

    “There is absolutely no reason the House should not pass the overwhelming bipartisan compromise passed by the Senate,” said Jentleson.

    The Senate approved the legislation, which includes a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and a two-month freeze of scheduled cuts to Medicare payments to doctors, by a vote of 89-10 on Saturday.

    The Senate is not scheduled to return to regular session until Monday Jan. 23 although it has planned cursory pro-forma sessions before then to stop President Obama from making recess appointments.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remained silent Sunday morning about the prospect of senators returning to Washington next week.

    Reid on Sunday morning called on Boehner to bring the payroll holiday extension to the House floor for an immediate vote.

    “Instead of threatening middle-class families with a thousand-dollar tax hike, Speaker Boehner should bring up the bipartisan compromise that Senator McConnell and I negotiated, and which passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority of Democratic and Republican votes,” Reid said in a statement.

    “I would hate to think that Speaker Boehner is refusing to act on this bipartisan compromise because he is afraid it will actually pass, but I cannot imagine any other reason why he would not bring it up for a vote,” he added.

    Reid noted that he and McConnell negotiated the compromise at Boehner’s request.

    For the entire article: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/200155-reid-spokesman-says-senate-wont-return-if-house-kills-payroll-tax-compromise

  11. CR says:

    US online holiday sales climb 15 percent to $30.9B

    12/18/11 By The Associated Press | AP – 2 hrs 31 mins ago

    U.S. online sales this holiday shopping season are up 15 percent compared to last year, after what may have been the busiest week of the season, said research firm comScore on Sunday.

    Shoppers have spent $30.9 billion online from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, up from $26.9 billion at the same point last year, said the Reston, Va., company, which tracks Web use.

    Online sales surpassed $1 billion on four days last week. Total sales for the week climbed 15 percent to $6.31 billion compared to last year.

    The five days that ended on Friday “will almost certainly be the heaviest week of the online holiday shopping season,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. Online spending will begin to slow as Christmas draws closer, he said.

    But “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after Thanksgiving, is still the largest online shopping day ever, according to comScore. Sales for that day rose 22 percent from last year to $1.25 billion. Cyber Monday sales topped $1 billion for the first time last year.

    The holiday shopping season can make up to 40 percent of retailers’ annual revenue. The online sales data point to Americans’ growing comfort with using their personal computers, tablets and smartphones to shop for the holidays.

    Discounting and promotions have also boosted shopping this year. ComScore said on Sunday that shoppers have received free shipping on at least half of all their purchases in each week of this year’s holiday shopping season.

  12. CR says:

    WH

    Monday, December 19 , 2011

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:15 AM
    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing.

    10:45 AM
    President Obama meets with senior advisers.

    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    1:45 PM
    Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
    The White House

    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  13. CR says:

    House sets Monday votes on payroll tax cut bill

    12/18/11 By Richard Cowan and Rachelle Younglai | Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The fate of legislation in the Congress to extend a payroll tax cut for two months was uncertain on Saturday as the measure appeared to face strong opposition in the House of Representatives.

    House leaders announced they have scheduled votes on the Senate-passed bill for Monday night. But as has been the case throughout 2011, Congress was now girding for yet another fight over major legislation – even as lawmakers were clamoring to quit for the year and start a long winter break.

    Just hours after President Barack Obama praised the Senate for passing the temporary tax cut extension for 160 million workers during a rare Saturday session, aides to House Republican leaders were indicating trouble rounding up support for passing the measure in their chamber.

    “Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to the Senate bill,” one House Republican aide said, adding that the measure was “offensive to the middle class” because of the uncertainty such a short, two-month extension would bring.

    Another House Republican aide said members were disappointed in the Senate bill, which also extends long-term unemployment benefits. This aide said several options were being weighed, including amending the bill and sending it back to the Senate.

    Obama had sought a one-year extension of the tax cut, arguing it will put about $1,000 in additional cash in the hands of the average worker and help the struggling U.S. economy.

    For the entire article: http://goo.gl/PYdyt

  14. CR says:

    U.S., India, Japan Meeting To Be Held In Washington

    12/ 5/11 huffingtonpost

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States, India and Japan will hold their first trilateral meeting this month as Washington pushes ahead with its “pivot” toward Asia, where China’s growing power has raised concern.

    The State Department said the three countries would meet in Washington on Dec. 19, represented by senior diplomats.

    “This meeting is going to be an opportunity to hold comprehensive discussion on a range of Asia-Pacific regional issues,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news briefing.

    “As the three leading Pacific democracies, we look forward to productive exchanges with India and Japan.”

    The meeting is the latest sign of the Obama administration’s drive to push back against Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region and strengthen existing alliances.

    President Barack Obama recently returned from an Asian tour that stressed U.S. interests in the region. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week visited Myanmar, offering the prospect of improved ties with a resource-rich country that analysts said had been seen as an economic and political satellite of Beijing.

    For the entire article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/us-india-japan-meeting_n_1130343.html

    • CR says:

      India, Japan and US discuss ‘wide range’ of regional, global issues

      12/20/11 By ANI | ANI – 4 hours ago

      Washington, Dec 20 (ANI): India, Japan and the United States held their first trilateral dialogue in Washington on Monday over a “wide range” of regional and global issues of common interest.

      The State Department said in a statement that these discussions marked the beginning of a series of consultations among our three governments, who share common values and interests across the Asia-Pacific and the globe.
      Responding to the prevailing assumption that the meeting was aimed at containing China, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell dismissed the idea as “preposterous.”

      Campbell said they would discuss at the event a number of issues, including “larger and strategic development in Asia,” related to economy and military, Xinhua reports.

      Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who is on a three-day visit in the United States, said his meeting with his US counterpart Hillary Clinton has affirmed that “Japan and the United States are deepening a strategic relationship with India.”

      He called the trilateral dialogue “a specific example of collaboration.”

      According to the report, the three nations agreed to meet again in Tokyo in 2012 to continue their deliberations. (ANI)

  15. CR says:

    Will House Republicans Allow Taxes To Go Up On 160 Million Americans?

    Posted by Jennifer Palmieri on December 18, 2011

    The President believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class, and that’s why he is determined to protect the payroll tax cut for millions of American families.

    Yesterday, after some tough negotiations and months of Republican opposition, the Senate came to a bipartisan compromise that extends the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits. This bill received 89 votes, including 39 Republican votes. We’re pleased that Republicans were finally showing a willingness to not raise taxes on middle class families.

    The near 90 percent approval by the Senate demonstrates the view by the overwhelming number of Senate Republicans – as well as Democrats – that the best way to achieve the President’s goal of ensuring that taxes were not increased on 160 million working Americans and protecting unemployment insurance benefits for 2.5 million people was to support this bipartisan compromise.

    Speaker Boehner himself yesterday called it a “good deal” and a “victory.” After it passed, Senator Hatch said, “This is probably a done deal in the House; it should be.” Well, we couldn’t agree more.

    Yesterday Senator McConnell said, “in order to achieve something around here, you’ve got to compromise… What we’ve done here is crafted a bill not designed to fail but designed to pass.”

    On CNN Sen. Blunt said, “I think the House has to deal with it and look at the fact that it was paid for, it extends not just the payroll tax but also the unemployment insurance.”

    It’s time for House Republicans to listen to the American people, and their colleagues in the Senate. It’s time for them too stop playing politics and get the job done. If they refuse to pass this bipartisan bill to extend the payroll tax cut, there will be a significant tax increase on 160 million hardworking Americans in 13 days that would damage the economy and job growth. That’s unacceptable. They need to get to work and finish the job.

  16. CR says:

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, 69, has died

    12/18/11 By JEAN H. LEE | AP – 2 mins 44 secs ago

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69.

    Kim’s death 17 years after he inherited power from his father was announced Monday by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. The country’s “Dear Leader” — reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine — was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

    North Korea has been grooming Kim’s third son to take over power from his father in the impoverished nation that celebrates the ruling family with an intense cult of personality.

    South Korea put its military on “high alert” and President Lee Myung-bak convened a national security council meeting after the news of Kim’s death.

    In a “special broadcast” Monday, state media said Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a “great mental and physical strain” on Saturday during a “high intensity field inspection.”

    Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but he had appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.

    Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. He had been groomed for 20 years to lead the communist nation founded by his guerrilla fighter-turned-politician father and built according to the principle of “juche,” or self-reliance.

    In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.

    For the entire article: http://goo.gl/Z93u0

    • Wow. Kim Jong Il was only 69?

    • CR says:

      December 19, 2011

      Readout of the President’s Call with President Lee of the Republic of Korea

      At midnight tonight, President Obama spoke with Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong Il. The President reaffirmed the United States’ strong commitment to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops and agreed they would direct their national security teams to continue close coordination.

  17. CR says:

    2011 is turning out to be quite a year for surprises!

    Arab Spring uprisings
    Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear melt down
    Occupy Protest
    Russia’s Protests
    Navy Seals killing Osama Bin Laden
    Italy’s Berlusconi’ outster
    Ending of the Iraq War
    now Kim Jong Ill’s death
    and 12 days more to go!

  18. CR says:

    Exclusive: Secret U.S., Taliban talks reach turning point

    12/18/11 By Missy Ryan, Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball | Reuters – 2 hrs 54 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents, senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war.

    As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.

    It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    The officials acknowledged that the Afghanistan diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, remains a long shot. Among the complications: U.S. troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate.

    Still, the senior officials, all of whom insisted on anonymity to share new details of the mostly secret effort, suggested it has been a much larger piece of President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan policy than is publicly known.

    U.S. officials have held about half a dozen meetings with their insurgent contacts, mostly in Germany and Doha with representatives of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura, the officials said.

    The stakes in the diplomatic effort could not be higher. Failure would likely condemn Afghanistan to continued conflict, perhaps even civil war, after NATO troops finish turning security over to Karzai’s weak government by the end of 2014.

    Success would mean a political end to the war and the possibility that parts of the Taliban – some hardliners seem likely to reject the talks – could be reconciled.

    The effort is now at a pivot point.

    “We imagine that we’re on the edge of passing into the next phase. Which is actually deciding that we’ve got a viable channel and being in a position to deliver” on mutual confidence-building measures, said a senior U.S. official.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-secret-u-taliban-talks-reach-turning-point-013710323.htmlhttp://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-secret-u-taliban-talks-reach-turning-point-013710323.html

    • CR says:

      Monday, December 19
      Gulf leaders summit

      Leaders of the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council begin their two-day annual summit in Riyadh. The turmoil of the Arab spring and strained relations with Iran are expected to be on the agenda. The member states are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.

      • CR says:

        Gulf Arabs back unity after hinting at Iran threat

        12/20/11 By Angus McDowall | Reuters – 1 hr 59 mins ago

        RIYADH (Reuters) – Gulf Arab leaders on Tuesday endorsed Saudi King Abdullah’s call to form a “single entity” after hinting at Iranian threats, and demanded Syria immediately implement an Arab peace plan to defuse months of violence over anti-government protests.

        The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, which dominates the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said Syria must embrace all of the Arab league plan it has signed, which calls for pulling troops from population centers, releasing prisoners and dialogue with opposition forces.

        “If the intentions are pure, these steps must be taken immediately,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in response to a question about Syria’s signing of the plan from the Arab League, which has also imposed sanctions on Damascus.

        His remarks came as the energy-exporting six-member GCC concluded its highest-level meeting since a wave of protests swept the Arab world earlier this year, and pledged closer military and security integration in a final statement read out on Saudi state television.

        But the statement made no specific reference to non-Arab Iran, which Gulf leaders have accused of fomenting unrest in Bahrain in the wave of mass uprisings that have redrawn the political landscape of the Middle East.

        Gulf leaders agreed on “…adopting king Abdullah’s suggestion of moving from cooperation to unity that would support our people overcome the challenges faced by the GCC,” the statement said.

        King Abdullah on Monday said the security of Saudi Arabia and its Arab neighbors was being targeted, in an apparent reference to regional rival Iran, and called on Gulf Arab states to “move beyond the stage of cooperation and into the stage of unity in a single entity.”

        For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/gulf-arabs-back-unity-hinting-iran-threat-141434408.html

  19. Good moring CR and everyone. HOPE you all have a terrific Monday.

    Please join me in lighting a candle for our President, First Family and the Nation.

    http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/candles.cfm?l=eng&gi=PBO

  20. CR says:

    Good Monday morning everyone! I HOPE that you have a good day! :)

  21. CR says:

    Payroll tax cut bill expected to fail today

    12/19/11 6:25 AM POLITICO44

    Driving the day: “The House will vote Monday on a Senate-passed payroll tax holiday bill, adding a new twist to a dramatic year-end confrontation with the Senate and President Barack Obama. The bill is expected to fail, according to a House GOP leadership aide.”

    • CR says:

      House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he opposed the Senate-passed payroll tax compromise; he will introduce the Republican’s version of a new payroll tax bil

  22. CR says:

    After Kim Jong Il’s death, Obama and South Korea huddle

    12/19/11 By JENNIFER EPSTEIN – POLITICO44

    President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak spoke late Sunday following the announcement of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the White House said in a brief readout of their call.

    “At midnight tonight, President Obama spoke with Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong Il,” the White House said. “The president reaffirmed the United States’ strong commitment to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops and agreed they would direct their national security teams to continue close coordination.”

    Meanwhile, North Korea’s state-run news agency declared that Kim’s son, Kim Jong Un, is “the great successor to the revolutionary cause … and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.” The younger Kim, believed to be in his mid-twenties, is said to have been groomed to succeed his father.

    The North Korean government announced Kim’s death on state television at noon Monday local time. He was 69 and is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008.

    Soon after reports of Kim’s death emerged late Sunday in Washington, White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that the administration was monitoring reports and had been in touch with South Korea and Japan. “We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies,” Carney said.

  23. CR says:

    Home builder sentiment rises for third month: NAHB

    12/19/11 Leah Schnurr – Reuters – 9 mins ago

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Homebuilder sentiment perked up in December for the third month in a row to its highest level in a year and a half, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday.

    The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 21 from a downwardly revised 19 the previous month, the group said in a statement. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted a reading of 20.

    The index was at its highest level since May 2010.

    After stagnating in a tight range for about a year, the index has been improving since October, giving weight to analysts’ views that the housing market is finding a bottom.

    Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.

    “While builder confidence remains low, the consistent gains registered over the past several months are an indication that pockets of recovery are slowly starting to emerge in scattered housing markets,” NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement.
    The current sales component rose to 22 from 20, while the gauge of sales expectations for the next six months rose to 26 from 25.

  24. CR says:

    December 19, 2011

    Readout of the President’s Call with Tunisian Interim Prime Minister Jebali

    President Obama called Tunisia’s interim Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali today to congratulate him on his appointment and to underscore America’s strong support for Tunisia’s democratic transition. The President and the Prime Minister discussed the importance of continued progress on meeting the democratic aspirations of all Tunisians. The President praised Tunisia for its inclusive transition, which presents an historic chance for greater political and economic opportunity for all Tunisians. The President reaffirmed America’s deep friendship with and support for the Tunisian people as they continue to press ahead with this new chapter in their country’s history.

  25. CR says:

    Michelle Obama and daughters on low-key Kailua getaway
    The president is not expected before Tuesday

    12/181/11 By Star-Advertiser staff

    First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha seem to have been enjoying a respite from the television cameras since arriving at their Kailua vacation home on Saturday, according to area residents.

    Scott Miscovich, who lives down the street from the now-famous five-bedroom rental home on Kailuana Place, said media and security presence in the area has so far been “very subtle.”

    “My wife saw Michelle and the kids passing by and we’ve seen Bo (the Obamas’ dog) walking,” Miscovich said. “There hasn’t been much going on so far. It’s been very low-key compared to when the president is here.”

    President Barack Obama was originally to have accompanied his family on vacation on Friday evening but stayed in Washington, D.C., to push for passage of a short-term spending bill and the extension of the payroll tax cut.

    “From our standpoint, it’s not a headache,” Miscovich said. “We’re glad he gets to come home and glad he’s spending his vacation in Kailua.”

    • CR says:

      Hawaii Vacation: Michelle Obama Brings Daughters, Sam Kass To MA’O Organic Farms

      First Lady has pizza party reunion with Honolulu chef Ed Kenney, hails his cooking as “perfect” and “delicious”…

      DECEMBER 20, 2011 obamafoodorama

      While President Obama was stuck in Washington on Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama was in Hawaii introducing daughters Malia and Sasha to the wonders of organic farming, Aloha style. Joined by Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, Mrs. Obama took her girls for a visit to MA’O Organic Farms in the Waianae area, according to Honolulu chef Ed Kenney, a board member for the community farm. Using fresh produce, Kenney and Kass cooked veggie-laden pizzas in a fire oven. Mrs. Obama first visited the farm in November, when she hosted a Let’s Move! event there as President Obama hosted the APEC Leaders Meeting in Honolulu.

      “Beautiful morning @maoorganicfarms w/ the FLOTUS & her girls. Kiawe-fired pizza w/ White House chef Sam Kass,” Kenney tweeted about the First Lady’s visit.

      The First Lady arrived on island with her daughters, Kass and other aides last Friday night for a 17-day vacation. In November, Kass and Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10, were at home in Washington when Kenney joined Mrs. Obama at the 24-acre, student-run certified organic MA’O for a tour of the crop rows and the Let’s Move! round table. The chef/owner of Town and Downtown restaurants, Kenney, 43, also cooked the First Lady’s special farm-to-table APEC Spouses Luncheon the next day at Kualoa Ranch, which starred produce from MA’O.

      Kass routinely accompanies the First Family on their winter vacations in Hawaii and summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard. The First Family, including First Dog Bo, is staying in the town of Kailua, in a rented compound along the pristine beaches of Kaneohe Bay, up the street from the house they stayed in last Christmas. Extended family and Chicago friends are reported to be on island for the vacation, too. President Obama’s arrival date on island has not yet been announced by the White House.

      For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/12/hawaii-vacation-michelle-obama-brings.html

  26. CR says:

    $40/wk less if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cuts

    By the Numbers: $40

    Posted by Megan Slack on December 19, 2011

    If Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut, the typical family making $50,000 a year will have about $40 less to spend or save each week. Over the year, that adds up to about $1,000.

    Opponents of the payroll tax cut dismiss its impact by insisting $40 a week isn’t a lot of money, but that’s not the case for many families who are already working hard to make ends meet. Forty dollars buys a tank of gas or a fridge and pantry full of groceries. It covers a water bill or the cost of a prescription.

    The payroll tax cut doesn’t just benefit the 160 million American workers who receive it, however. It also helps the economy as a whole. People spending money on goods and services generate business for stores and companies, who can then hire more workers, creating more jobs across the country.

    President Obama says that this is a make or break moment for the middle class, and those trying to reach it. The defining issue of our time is whether we can build an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. And the President will continue to fight to make sure that working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.

  27. CR says:

    Announcing the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security

    Posted by Valerie Jarrett on December 19, 2011

    Today, President Obama issued an executive order directing the implementation of the United States’ first-ever National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. The plan was developed with collaboration across the U.S. government, and with the help of NGOs and civil society groups that support women and girls every day. It is a historic step toward a future where all men and women can reach their full potential.

    The tangible commitments our government is making as part of the National Action Plan will weave perspectives of women and girls into the DNA of our foreign policy. These commitments include helping women engage in peace processes; providing assistance to NGOs focused on women’s participation; helping to integrate women into the security sectors of our partner nations; improving the UN’s capacity to combat sexual violence; holding development personnel and contractors to the highest standards for preventing human trafficking; and helping to ensure that humanitarian assistance is distributed equally to women as well as men.

    These steps, and the others outlined in the plan and executive order, are part of President Obama’s broader commitment to promoting equal rights and opportunities for women and girls. Across the Middle East and North Africa, we’re helping women realize the political gains and the rights they fought for so inspiringly over the past year. In Afghanistan, we continue to push the government to include women and civil society in all aspects of the reconciliation process. We’re dedicating tens of millions of dollars around the world to combat violence against women. We’re addressing the root causes of conflict by investing in women’s economic empowerment, health, and education.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/19/announcing-us-national-action-plan-women-peace-and-security

  28. CR says:

    *********************
    THIS POST IS NOW CLOSED

    NBLB Come on over to my newest post

    titled: “ GOP Scrooge”
    **********************

    To get to newest post click on “HOME” at the top of the page and click on the title of the newest post

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