Posts Tagged: Obama

Meanwhile, progress in cutting auto pollution

In the midst of the ruckus over the debt ceiling, Barack Obama announced strong new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. This is something of a “man bites dog” story at a time of major cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress’s apparent inability to avoid a federal default. TIME’s Michael Grunwald writes that the standards represent “a big victory in the fight to reduce our foreign oil addiction, our carbon emissions, and our gasoline costs.” The success in writing such an ambitious law — that cars must go 55 miles per gallon by 2025 – seems largely due to the fact that Detroit automakers are literally indebted to the Obama administration, not to mention efforts by California to up tailpipe emission standards.


President Obama prepares to storm another formidable fortress

Perry Bacon, Jr. of the Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is getting ready to try again with Congress to create a comprehensive new approach to immigration, focused on continued strong enforcement and deportation of illegal immigrants along with what Bacon calls “the creation of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”  As David Corn writes, President Obama doesn’t seem afraid to take on numerous complex issues at once, and he seems aware of the risks involved in taking on big problems.

By now, we shouldn’t be surprised if Obama is ready to tackle immigration — a fight that could be on par with the 2009 health care reform bill.

Wanting the president to act presidential

Ezra Klein’s appeal to President Obama to be a more visible presence in American life and politics makes sense in the short term.  Klein says, “Perhaps the question isn’t “Where is President Obama?” It’s “Where is candidate Obama?”.  But Obama’s presidential campaign showed a calculating strategist who happens to be a  strong orator, not a firebrand or even, necessarily, a fighter (and if he is a fighter, he’s definitely not a brawler).  We have to remember that throughout his campaign, Obama kept telling us that his campaign wasn’t “about him,” it was “about us.”  So if Obama is willing to let us (for example, our elected representatives in Congress) push an agenda, he is not backing away from a leadership role.  He is letting the agenda form before he weighs in, which is a form of leadership. (more…)

President Obama calls for human-scale benchmarks in government regulations

Most of President Obama’s call for a new approach to government regulation in today’s Wall Street Journal is predictable — it talks about saving money, eliminating conflicting regulations and unnecessary paperwork, and getting rid of “just plain dumb” rules on the books.  Every president I can remember has launched this kind of “common-sense” initiative.   But what’s remarkable about President Obama’s essay is the final sentence, in which the president talks about effective regulations being part of “meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.”  (more…)

State of the Union: It’s halftime and we’re down, but it ain’t over yet

Critiques of the State of the Union speech have become almost as clichéd as the speech itself.  The speech is a “grocery list” or a “laundry list” (does anyone really know what a laundry list is anymore?).   And the biggest question seems to be whether the president will come up with a  quotable phrase for the ages. But this year, President Obama has the chance to change the game and save us from another predictable State of the Union speech. (more…)

KISSing off the Bankers

The success of the financial reform package the Obama administration is pushing  will depend on one thing: simplicity.  As NPR’s Mara Liasson makes clear, passing financial reform passed is an Obama priority and the Democrats think they’ve got the votes.  But keeping the public behind this effort, and showing citizens that we’re reining in the banks for real this time is more important than the political calculus. (more…)

Seedy Practices: Obama Administration Antitrust Lawyers Investigate Monsanto

By Matthew Blake

The Obama administration is quietly making a big break from a Bush administration that turned a blind eye to antitrust enforcement – and its prime target could be agribusiness giant Monsanto.

From January 2001 to January 2009, the Justice Department Antitrust Division filed fewer lawsuits than previous administrations and did not file one case that claimed a dominant firm improperly obtained a monopoly. But in just one year, the Obama Antitrust Division, led by former Clinton administration official Christine Varney, has taken steps to scrutinize corporate giants. “They’ve ramped up investigations,” says Herbert Hovenkamp, a prominent antitrust law scholar who teaches at the University of Iowa. Hovenkamp said he believes the Obama administration is “looking for a major monopolization case.” (more…)

The Real Reason Financial Reform Won’t Happen

Joshua Green’s massive article about Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner in the latest Atlantic tells us more than we want to know — even more than the latest Vanity Fair, which covers the big bankers and investors who run our economy in alarming detail. (more…)

Back to Basics: Supporting Medicaid to Help the Poor

Only simple words are needed: government must help provide for the weakest and most vulnerable of its citizens. (more…)

He’s Not the Running Back, He’s the Quarterback

A recent profile of the White House’s beleaguered communications team by Ken Auletta in the New Yorker had one surprising quote from presidential adviser David Axelrod:

We’ve got the greatest running back of all time, so the tendency is to want to hand off to him on every play.

It’s followed by a sensible one:

We need to involve all the members of the team.  If I were to rethink last year, I’d like to spread the load around a little and use other members of the administration.

Obviously, if Obama’s not calling the plays and getting other people to run with the ball, we’ve got a problem at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  And although it’s true that Cabinet members are running major organizations, they’re also supposed to be point people for the administration — and that means they should have (or grow in a hurry) the charisma required to get media attention and support the president’s message.  We talked about this before the inauguration.  Seems like an absence of winning personalities around the president if all they are looking to do is hand him the ball.