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Monday, January 31, 2011

Young Making Her Mark As Alderwoman

George Wenschhof

Karen Young is one of four members of the Young family serving in elected office in Frederick County, Maryland. She preceded the election of her husband Ron and two of his sons; Blaine and Brad, who all won election last year.

The year before, Karen was the top vote getter in the City of Frederick alderperson race, earning the mostly ceremonial nod, as Mayor Pro-Tem.

During that 2009 city campaign, she earned my respect as she tirelessly campaigned, taking nothing for granted.

She exhibited her private sector experience during that campaign, when she utilized online surveys to help her see what were some of the issues important to voters.

She has continued using surveys to reach out to voters over the first fourteen months in office.

In a recent sit down conversation over coffee, Karen shared some thoughts with me about her short time as alderperson.

I had asked for the meeting as I was interested in hearing her thoughts on her first year in office.

She was particularly enthusiastic about her experience serving as a member of the legislative committee with the Maryland Municipal League.

The committee was focusing on trying to recapture their share of the state highway user funds. The drastic reduction of funds a result of the tough state budget balancing act of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's (D) administration.

She had set up a meeting with the Frederick News Post Editorial Board in hopes of receiving media attention and hopefully their support.

She was successful on both counts, receiving a nice write up on January 26, which highlighted the three million in reduction of funds the City of Frederick had received from the state from FY 2007 to FY 2011.

The Frederick News Post followed up with an editorial on January 30, which threw their support behind her efforts and those of the Maryland Municipal League to restore highway user funding to municipalities in Maryland.

She has my support as well. However, with the state facing tough choices in balancing the budget, I am not overly optimistic municipalities across the state will have highway user funds restored to anywhere near FY 2007 levels.

During our conversation, I informed Karen she had caught my attention when I read how she objected to the attempted sole source lease of city space at a sweetheart deal.

This has been an issue with city owned properties for quite some time as set procedures on selling/leasing have not consistently been in place.

She agreed a procedure should be in place and followed by city staff. As a result of her intervention in this case, a notice of thirty days for interested parties to submit a proposal was advertised by the city.

A move in the right direction. However, the individuals negotiating terms previously had much longer than thirty days to discuss with city staff acceptable terms of a lease.

Discussion of the erection of a fence along the once "golden mile" came up in passing, with Karen commenting it looked better than she would have thought and with some landscaping, could look even better.

She acknowledged, without much prodding on my part, it did not address the need for improved safety for pedestrian crossing or the larger need of redevelopment of the area.

As time was winding down and Karen needing to head off to her editorial board meeting, I let her know I was interested in meeting again to discuss her priorities for the next year.

In the meantime, I asked if she would email me a list. Following is the list I received from her:

My 2011 priorities (fiscal 2011/2012):

1. Balanced Budget

2.Road and Bridge maintenance

3.Comply with state waste water management requirements in a fiscally responsible manner

4.Pension and benefit reform

5.FOP contract

6.Harry Grove Stadium contract

7.Road improvements and expansions (other than maintenance issues)

8.Create more structured debt policy

9.Create a leasing policy for city properties

10.Implement Containment Laboratory Community Advisory Committee

11.Next phase of Carroll Creek Park

12.Develop a Sustainability Plan

13.Other (charter review, reduce trash increase re-cycling, revisit rental registration/licensing, revisit land value tax, implement revised employee policies and procedures manual)

14.Develop a long-term plan for Hargett Farm.

An ambitious list and one I look forward to discussing with her when we meet next.

Keep an eye on Ms. Young, as I suspect she will continue to exhibit her strong work ethic and desire to address the concerns of voters.

It also may not be too early to consider the thought of Karen Young running for Mayor in 2013. A question I did not have the time to ask her during this meeting.


Editor's Note:
In response to reader requests, this is the first of what will be a series of columns based on interviews with city elected officials.


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Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Turmoil Continues in Egypt -
Day seven of wide spread protests has led to police being ordered back to the streets and the U.S. evacuating citizens. Demonstrators continue to call for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. In addition to the political questions as to what type of government will emerge from this crisis, huge sums of money is leaving Egypt as a result of the unrest.


U.s. Ambassador To China Expected to Resign -
Jon Huntsman is expected to resign soon to explore a run for president. The former Utah Governor will join a long list of those vying for the Republican nomination. has more here.


U.S. Home Prices Continue Downward Trend -
in a major sign the economy continues to struggle, a Wall Street Journal survey showed home prices declined in the fourth quarter in all 28 major urban cities across the country from the previous year. In addition, unsold inventory is piling up, further pushing home prices down. You can read more here.


House Democrats Begin "Drive for 25" to Recapture Majority -
didn't we just have an election? It is not stopping the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee (DCCC) from beginning their effort to regain the majority in the House. They are already targeting 19 Republican House seats in Democratic leaning districts. They also adopted the slogan "Drive for 25" which highlights the number of seats they need to gain to recapture the majority. The Washington Post has more here.


Politico's Top Ten Senate Races to Watch in 2012 -
In Virginia, it is Democrat incumbent Jim Webb (if he decides to run - strong rumors indicate he will not) against Republican George Allen. republicans could win this seat in 2012. You can read the rest of the top ten here.


Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Highlights -
In case you missed them, below CNN's Candy Crowley give a quick rundown on what was sais yesterday.


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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Clinton to Appear On All Sunday Morning Shows -
as the events in Egypt are unfolding, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give the U.S. position on the issue. The U.S. has been an ally of Egypt and President Mubarak for thirty years, so it will be a delicate dance for Clinton as she explains the U.S. position. The NY Times has a good read here on how President Obama is pressing for change in Egypt, but not a new face, here.


Mubarak Meets With Military Leaders -
as the crisis in Egypt enters the sixth day, President Hosni Mubarak met with military leaders. The army is in Cairo, replacing police who were trying to handle the mass demonstrations against the rule of Mubarak. The U.S. has urged Americans to leave Egypt and has warned against travel to the country. has an update here.


It's Michele Bachmann's Turn on SNL -
the Minnesota Republican Representative, who is a tea party darling, gets spoofed by Saturday Night Live. She is currently vying for who is the biggest air head, with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Bachmann's response to President Obama's State of The Union Address was widely mocked for her looking into the wrong camera.


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Crisis in Cairo Continues -
all eyes are on Egypt as demonstrations continue. Yesterday, President Mubarak allowed communication by ordering phone to be turned back on, after blocking it for two days. Internet communication continues to be disrupted. The action to restore phone service came after a conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Egyptian Cabinet has been disbanded with promises from Mubarak for more democracy. Demonstrators are calling for Mubarak to resign. The NY Times has more here.

Long an ally to America, how these actions unfold will be critical to the region.

Today, peaceful demonstrations are taking place with no riot police on site. The Egyptian army is on the scene, but no forceful action has taken place.

Stay Tuned...


Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Lineup -
below, has a preview. New White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is on CBS "Face The Nation" and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is on GOP friendly Fox News.


Obama to Release Budget on February 14 -
hardly a Valentine's gift for Americans. The 2012 fiscal year budget will face intense scrutiny as the current CBO estimate for Fy 2011 is 1.5 Trillion. The 14.3 Triliion debt ceiling for the U.s. is also expected to be reached in March so expect lots of political rhetoric following the release of the budget. You can read more here.


Romney To Host Fund Raising Call -
the former Massachusetts Governor is edging closer to announcing his bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. Next week he will have a conference call with top donors of his campaign in 2008. has more here.

In the sixties, a term to describe Romney would have been "plastic" - looks good, but no substance. Whatever, the term is today for having "it", Romney doesn't have it. He highlights the problems Republicans have in fielding a competitive presidential candidate to go up against Obama.


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Obama Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

President Obama continues with his "Winning The Future" theme of his State of the Union Address from earlier in the week. He discusses his recent trip to a business in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and how it exemplifies his agenda for America.


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Republican Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) continues the Republican mantra of big government is the problem.


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Jay Carney Named as White House Press Secretary -
he will replace Robert Gibbs who announced he was leaving a month ago. Carney was the communications director for Vice President Joe Biden. Previously, he was the Washington bureau chief for Time. His wife is Claire Shipman; a news correspondent with ABC News. You can read more here.


Senate Reaches Agreement on Rules Changes -
no changes in the current 60 vote requirement to break a filibuster. However, agreement was reached to eliminate Senate confirmation on about one-third of the current 1400 presidential appointment position. Senators will also no longer be able to place secret holds on legislation or appointments. has more here.


Pence Not Running for President -
Representative Mike Pence (R-In.) announced yesterday he will not be running for president in 2012. This move was widely anticipated by political insiders, who believe he will instead run for Governor of Indiana. The Indianapolis Star has more here.


Illinois Supreme Court Clears Way for Emanuel on Ballot -
the unanimous decision came quickly after a previous decision by an Illinois Appellate court has ruled Rahm Emanuel ineligible to run for mayor of Chicago. Early voting begin Monday. The NY Times has more here.


Medvedev Signs START Treaty -
the treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear weapons and provide for verification was approved by the U.S. Senate during the lame duck session of congress last month. The Washington Post has more here.


Demonstrations Continue in Egypt -
crowds continue to show dissatisfaction with President Mubarak and his 30 year rule. The government has cut off Internet and cell phone services. You can read more here.


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

President Obama Takes You Tube Questions Today -
at 2:30 PM ET, the president will take your questions and answer them on You Tube. You can watch here.
Earlier, in the day, Obama will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for an update on Afghanistan/Pakistan.

While, the state of the union address was well received, some have pointed out the absence of any mention of Afghanistan, gun control - in light of the Tucson Tragedy, and the breakdown in the Middle East peace process.

Rumors say the president will address gun control in an separate upcoming speech.

Perhaps, on the agenda when the president meets with Clinton is the current situation in Egypt where demonstrators have openly displayed their dissatisfaction of the 30 year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.


Palin Further Displays Why She will Never be President -
appearing on her employer Fox News last night, she made fun of the use of the "Winning The Future" phrase by President Obama repestedly in his State of The Union address. Palin made fun of it by referring to the crude acronym WTF, saying "there were a lot of WTF moments in the speech". has more here.


CBO Says Deficit will be 1.5 Trillion for FY 2011 -
a staggering figure which highlights the enormity of the problem the nation faces in balancing the budget. the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office has more here.


House Votes to End Publicly Funded Presidential Campaigns -
by a vote of 239-160. This would do away with the $3.00 option taxpayers have to contribute to publicly financing presidential campaigns. The Republican sponsored bill would save an estimated 617 million over ten years which could be directed to the general fund. Only ten Democrats voted in favor of the bill. has more


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

State of The Union Speech Well Received -
in total, it was a very good speech, but fell short of a "Sputnik moment". The president delivered a bipartisan speech which flowed with mentions of issues important to both Republicans and Democrats.

The overall theme of the need to innovate and educate was solid and one most Americans could relate to.

The Washington Post has a section devoted to reviewing the speech here.

The NY Times has their take here. has more here.

... and the Wall Street Journal adds their thoughts here.

Quick polls following the speech indicated an overwhelming percentage of viewers approved what President Obama mentioned.

CNN/Opinion Research had 52% of viewers had a very positive reaction and another 32% has a somewhat positive rating.

CBS News/Knowledge showed 92% approved of the president's proposals.

Look to see the overall approval ratings for President Obama to receive a 3-5 point bump following this speech. This will continue the upward trend he has received since his success in the lame duck session of Congress and his excellent speech delivered at the Tucson memorial.


Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Gives GOP Response -
having to follow a speech by President Obama is not an easy task and Ryan was hardly up to it. He basically stuck to Republican themes of less spending and less government. has more here.


Tea party Favorite Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) Gives her Two Cents -
in an odd moment, Representative Bachmann felt the need to deliver her own response. You can read it here.

Long an odd duck in Minnesota politics, she has elevated herself to further silliness with this speech. MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews described her best when he referred to her as a "balloon head" - a comment I felt was being kind.


Rahm Emanuel Stays on Ballot -
thanks to the Illinois Supreme Court issuing a Stay on the Illinois Appellate Court decision to remove him from the ballot. A pivotal decision as ballots were just sent to the printer. The Illinois Supreme Court will hear the case quickly as the primary election is nearing. You can read more here.


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Text of Obama State of The Union Address

President Obama's State of the Union speech, as prepared for delivery, and released by the White House:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.

It's no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that's a good thing. That's what a robust democracy demands. That's what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there's a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

Now, by itself, this simple recognition won't usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

I believe we can. I believe we must. That's what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they've determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.

At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.

We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.

But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.

That's the project the American people want us to work on. Together.

We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans' paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.

But we have more work to do. The steps we've taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession – but to win the future, we'll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.

Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn't always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.

That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I've seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I've heard it in the frustrations of Americans who've seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.

They're right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there's an internet connection.

Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.

So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember – for all the hits we've taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world's best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.

What's more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like "What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?"

The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can't just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, "The future is not a gift. It is an achievement." Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.

Now it's our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit, and reform our government. That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the future. And tonight, I'd like to talk about how we get there.

The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.

None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It's how we make a living.

Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS.

Just think of all the good jobs – from manufacturing to retail – that have come from those breakthroughs.

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.

Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."

That's what Americans have done for over two hundred years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo Projects of our time.

At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us – as citizens, and as parents – are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.

That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, "If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we'll show you the money."

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.

You see, we know what's possible for our children when reform isn't just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.

Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school's transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said "Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing… that we are smart and we can make it."

Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Of course, the education race doesn't end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That's why we've ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.

Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today's fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America's community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, "I hope it tells them to never give up."

If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they're born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.

Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation's infrastructure, they gave us a "D."

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn't just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town's new train station or the new off-ramp.

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I'm proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

All these investments – in innovation, education, and infrastructure – will make America a better place to do business and create jobs. But to help our companies compete, we also have to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their success.

Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.

So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.

To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 – because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.

Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That's what we've done in this country for more than a century. It's why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It's why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It's why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it's why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.

Now, I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I'm not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I'm not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents' coverage. So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Now, the final step – a critical step – in winning the future is to make sure we aren't buried under a mountain of debt.

We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people's pockets.

But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I've proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.

I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I'm willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let's make sure that we're not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let's make sure what we're cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact.

Now, most of the cuts and savings I've proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won't.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don't agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

It's not a matter of punishing their success. It's about promoting America's success.

In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.

So now is the time to act. Now is the time for both sides and both houses of Congress – Democrats and Republicans – to forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments we need to win the future.

Let me take this one step further. We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.

We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked.

Now, we have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We're selling acres of federal office space that hasn't been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote – and we will push to get it passed.

In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people's faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online. And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.

A 21st century government that's open and competent. A government that lives within its means. An economy that's driven by new skills and ideas. Our success in this new and changing world will require reform, responsibility, and innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs.

Just as jobs and businesses can now race across borders, so can new threats and new challenges. No single wall separates East and West; no one rival superpower is aligned against us.

And so we must defeat determined enemies wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. America's moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity. And because we have begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America's standing has been restored.

Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America's commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end.

Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we are disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.

We have also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is clear – by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

In Pakistan, al Qaeda's leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.

American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START Treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.

This is just a part of how we are shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity. With our European allies, we revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism to missile defense. We have reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas. Around the globe, we are standing with those who take responsibility – helping farmers grow more food; supporting doctors who care for the sick; and combating the corruption that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity.

Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power – it must be the purpose behind it. In South Sudan – with our assistance – the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: "This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be free."

We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

We must never forget that the things we've struggled for, and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country.

Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing our deficit – none of this is easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The cost. The details. The letter of every law.

Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad – no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written.

And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything's possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.

That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.

That dream – that American Dream – is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It's what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work towards the future. And that dream is the story of a small business owner named Brandon Fisher.

Brandon started a company in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. One day last summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save them.

But Brandon thought his company could help. And so he designed a rescue that would come to be known as Plan B. His employees worked around the clock to manufacture the necessary drilling equipment. And Brandon left for Chile.

Along with others, he began drilling a 2,000 foot hole into the ground, working three or four days at a time with no sleep. Thirty-seven days later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were rescued. But because he didn't want all of the attention, Brandon wasn't there when the miners emerged. He had already gone home, back to work on his next project.

Later, one of his employees said of the rescue, "We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things."

We do big things.

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future.

We are a nation that says, "I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will."

We do big things.

The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama Delivers State of The Union Tonight -
in a pivotal speech to the nation, the president will address issues such as making American competitive in the global economic environment and creating jobs now and for the future, Obama will also build on the unity theme he was successful in creating during the lame duck session of Congress and the inspiring speech he gave in the wake of the Tucson tragedy.

Obama will speak of the importance of educating our youth, the need to modernizing our infrastructure and increasing the global marketplace for American goods, using China as the country the U.S. must not allow to move ahead of the United States.

The president will also provide a preview of his fiscal 2012 budget which will be released next week.

On the foreign policy front, Obama will mention this summer will mark the beginning of U.S. troop withdraw from Iraq. The Washington Post has more on the SOTU here.

The speech is televised at 9:00 PM ET with 50 million viewers expected to tune in. Make sure you have some snacks as the speech is expected to last one hour.


Rahm Emanuel Appeals to Illinois Supreme Court -
after an appellate court ruled he did not meet the Chicago one year residency requirement for the office of mayor. The NY Times has more here.

The hearing will be expedited due to the upcoming primary. Residency requirements have been struck down in many cases on the first amendment argument.


White House Climate Adviser Carol Browner to Resign -
the much anticipated cap-and-trade bill never materialized in spite of the heavy build up by supporters such as Al Gore. has more here.


Olbermann to Run for Senate? -
some netroots are urging recently fired MSNBC political commentator Keith Olbermann to run for the Joe Lieberman Senate seat in Connecticut. A Facebook page is already active with over 2,000 fans in less than one day. Olbermann lived in Connecticut previously and could moved there and establish residency prior to the 2012 election.


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Court Rules Against Eligibility for Rahm Emanuel

George Wenschhof

Former White House chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's bid to be mayor of Chicago was dealt a potential fatal blow.

The Illinois Appellate Court, on a 2-1 vote, overturned a recent decision made by the Chicago Board of Elections who had decided Emanuel did meet residency requirements.

At question is did he give up his residency when he moved to Washington D.C. to assume the White House Chief of Staff position.

Former President Bill Clinton was in Chicago just last week, campaigning for Emanuel.

Stay Tuned....


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Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

GOP to Oppose New Spending Proposed By Obama -
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will oppose any new spending proposed by the president in his state of the union address.

President Obama has indicated he will be proposing investment in education, research and technological innovation. The NY Times has more here.


Israeli-Palestine Papers Released -
secret papers detailing the long and difficult peace process threatens to derail the latest U.S. backed peace plan. The Guardian has more here.


Allen To Run for Senate -
Republican George Allen will announce today he is running to reclaim his Virginia Senate seat. Democrat Jim Webb beat him in the 2006 election. It was during that election campaign Allen used the word "macaca" to describe an outspoken person who had attended one of his political rallies. A reference that would go on to ensure his defeat. Webb has not announce if he will run for reelection. The Washington Post has more here.


Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to MSNBC -
the term limited governor will join a growing list of former politicians who enter the news broadcasting industry. He never shied away from the media and is known for his blunt statements on issues. He was also included in rumors as a contender for the White House Chief of Staff position filled by Bill Daley. Now, he will be paid for his opinion of the 2012 elections. has more here.


Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Highlights -
in case you missed them, CNN's Candy Crowley provides a quick summary below.


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

President Obama Gives Preview of State of The Union -
yesterday, the president sent a video to supporters from his campaign organization; Organizing For America, highlighting his intention to focus on job creation and the economy.


Bachmann to Duel Palin for Tea Party Bragging Rights? -
Representative Michele Bachmann is off to New Hampshire, the site of the beginning of the 2012 primaries. She is even planning to give her own response to President Obama's State of the Union address. has more here.


House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to Give GOP response to State of The Union -
while, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will give her own response, Representative Ryan will give the official Republican response. has more here.

This GOP response is given media prime time and is highly coveted by politicians longing for exposure. But then, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal flopped in his prime time moment and fell from being a rising star in the Republican Party.


Will Senate 60 Vote Filibuster Survive? -
the short answer is yes. After enduring two years of just say "No" by Republicans in the senate, Democratic Senator Tom Udall (N.M.) may try to force a vote using a parliamentary procedure which would require only a simple majority at the opening of the Senate. However, it is unlikely to receive support from enough Democrats, who recognize the worth of keeping a 60 vote threshold to end debate.

The last time Senate filibuster rules were changed was in 1975 when it was changed from 67 votes to the current 6o votes. More likely changes are an end to "secret holds" placed on presidential appointments. The Washington Post has more here.


Bill to Allow States to File for Bankruptcy to be Introduced -
Individuals and businesses can file for bankruptcy, why not states? Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich says a bill will be introduced in Congress to allow states who have long term debt problems to file for bankruptcy. has more here.


Romney Wins New Hampshire Straw Poll -
the former Massachusetts Governor won the Republican straw poll with 35% of the vote. Texas Rep. Rand Paul had 11%, and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty had 8%. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin received only 7% and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) had 5% of the vote. has more here.


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Lineup

George Wenschhof

This Sunday, look to see the discussion focus on the upcoming State of The Union speech to be delivered by President Obama on Tuesday. The "Tucson Tragedy" and the continued recovery of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), the health care repeal vote by the House last week, along with the trip by Chinese President Hu Jintao and recent moves by President Obama pertaining to his White House staff will also be discussed.

Below, has a preview of what to expect.


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Obama Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

Today, in his weekly address, President Obama continues to pivot the national focus on job creation and the economy. He talks about how to make the country economically competitive and the steps he has taken to increase U.S. jobs with trade deals with India and China.


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Republican Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

Today, Senator John Barrassco (R-Wy.) delivers the Republican weekly address and talks about how the House Republicans kept their campaign promise by voting to repeal the health care law.


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Friday, January 21, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama to Highlight Economy in Visit To New York -
he will visit Schenectady, the birthplace of GE. GE CEO Jeffery Immelt will be named to chair of the Council of Jobs and Competitiveness. has more here.

President Obama will need unemployment to drop closer to 8% from the current 9.6% rate by November 2012 or his reelection will be difficult.


Obama Reelection campaign To begin in March or April -
staffing changes have now been completed for the White House Staff and the committee to reelect the president. The campaign headquarters will be in Chicago, Illinois and the president is expected to file official paperwork in March or April. The Washington Post has a rundown of the personnel moves here.


Two Democrats Announce they will Run for Lieberman Senate seat -
it didn't take long for Democratic candidates to announce they will be campaigning for the open Senate seat of retiring Independent Senator Joe Lieberman. So far, former state Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and Representative Chris Murphy. has more here.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai Continues to Make it difficult To Support Him -
he latest lamebrain move is to delay the opening of Parliament as a unconstitutional court he appointed investigates vote fraud in last years election. The NY Times has a good read here.


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Hu State Dinner Marked By Absense of Congressional Leaders -
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were notable no-shows last night. All three will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao today on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post has more here.


Only 3 Democrats Vote to Repeal Health Care -
out of the 193 Democrats in the House, with Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D- Ariz.) unable to cast her vote. Now, House Republicans will create subcommittees to work on what to replace. The symbolic vote will go nowhere as there is little to no chance of a vote for repeal in the Senate. has more here.


South and North Korea Agree To Talks -
after heightened tensions took on the appearance of warfare, the two countries have now agreed to high level military talks. The talks will include the North's sinking of a South Korean's ship and their recent shelling of an island. has more here.


Obama to Attend House Democratic Caucus Retreat -
he will work the room Friday as the weekend retreat gets underway in Cambridge, Maryland. Many House Democrats remain unhappy with the tax cut compromise brokered by the president during the lame duck session of Congress. has more here.


Martin O'Malley Becomes last Governor to Be Sworn In -
Maryland had the latest date for swearing in ceremonies for Governors elected in November 2012. Below, is the Governor's Inaugural speech. Maryland is term limited and this will be O'Malley's second and last term as Governor. The speech was heavy on appeals for unity and the desire to continue moving forward - both national Democratic themes. O'Malley was recently elected chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Speculation is the Governor has national aspirations, but the question remains as to what as his term expires in 2014. Senator Barbara Mikulski, who just won reelection to become the longest serving woman in the Senate may choose to retire, making this an attractive seat for O'Malley to pursue in 2016. Below is his Inaugural Speech from yesterday.


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Lieberman Makes Third Senator Not To Run in 2012 -
Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will announce today he is not running for reelection. The NY Times has more here. The former Democratic Vice President candidate was forced to run as an Independent when he was defeated in the Democratic primary.

He joins Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Tex.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) as Senators who have already announced they are not running in 2012.

Republicans need to have a net gain of 4 to gain a majority in the Senate. Democrats have 23 seats up for reelection in 2012 and Republicans have 10.


What's Up Doc? -
is the question many are asking after the surprise return to Haiti by former dictator Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Devalier. He had been in exile in France. No explanation has been given for his return and he has since been charged with corruption, theft and abuses of power. Although, he was not incarcerated, he will not be allowed to leave the country until a judge makes a decision on the charges. has more here.


Hu Arrives in Washington -
Chines President Hu Jintao will join President Obama for a news conference at 1:05 PM ET today after the two have held meetings earlier this morning. Tonight, Obama holds a state dinner for Hu Jintao at the White House. has more here.


Hillary Clinton May Not Stay as Secretary of State After One Term -
much speculation surrounds Clinton as the reelection campaign nears for President Obama. Some have said she may replace Joe Biden as Vice President, a rumor that has been beaten back by President Obama. She has indicate it is unlikely she will serve as Secretary of State longer than one term and would return to private life.

A more likely scenario is for her to replace defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring this year. has more here.


House to Vote on Health Care Repeal Today -
both sides of the debate have been hitting the airways promoting their position as the vote nears. The mostly symbolic vote will most likely take place early evening. While, the repeal is expected to pass easily in the House, it is not expected to receive a vote in the Senate. has more here.

recent polls show the public remains split on full repeal, with a majority supporting fine tuning the bill. The Washington Post has more here.


Palin's Unfavorable Rating Hits 56% -
in a poll conducted by CNN following the tragedy in Tucson. has more here.

Only 38% of the respondents had a favorable opinion of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin who has been widely rumored to be a Republican presidential candidate for the 2012 election.


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