Covering

Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

If It's Fall In Washington...

... then there's going to be some harvesting and healthy eating talk going on at the White House.

Just as in the Spring, the White House garden is a famed attraction. First Lady Michelle Obama brought several young people to the White House to participate in the Fall harvesting of the White House garden.

Students from Magnolia Elementary School (Maryland), North Elementary School(West Virginia), DC's Harriet Tubman Elementary and Bancroft schools also joined the occasion.



The First Lady was joined by Sesame Street's Elmo and Rosita in the White House to round off the day of talking to young people about the importance of healthy eating.

The Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for busy parents and families to make. The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to utilize the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee, using characters like Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables. Sesame Street characters may be on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.
 
The announcement comes on the heels of the first ever White House convening on food marketing to children, during which Mrs. Obama called on stakeholders to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthy products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids. 
 
“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said First Lady Michelle Obama today. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.”


President Obama to Announce First-Ever Federal Effort to Attract Job-Creating Foreign Investment to the United States

 
Expanding and Enhancing SelectUSA
 
President Obama is announcing the first-ever comprehensive, all hands on deck effort led by the federal government to bring jobs and investment from around the world to the U.S. through aggressive expansion and enhancement of SelectUSA. 
 
Ø  U.S. is becoming an increasingly more competitive location for investment: The U.S. is the top destination for foreign direct investment and is becoming increasingly more competitive in attracting investment due to rising productivity, abundant low-cost energy, and rising costs elsewhere – as analysis from the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, AT Kearney and others have underscored.
 
Ø  To date, however, the U.S. has never before coordinated efforts to attract job-creating foreign investment: Unlike export promotion, the U.S. has historically left states and cities to compete directly with foreign countries.  A coordinated federal effort would help our governors and mayors compete for job-creating foreign investment on a level playing field.
 
Ø  Today, the President is announcing the first-ever coordinated effort to actively recruit businesses to bring investment and jobs to the U.S.: To seize on America’s growing competitiveness, the Administration is creating the first-ever coordinated federal effort, hosted by the Department of Commilmerce, to attract foreign investment through enhancement and expansion of SelectUSA outlined below, while continuing to call on Congress to provide all necessary resources.
 
·         Making job-creating foreign investment a core priority: For the first time, domestic and overseas teams at Commerce and State will make recruiting business investment one of their core priorities, alongside their traditional focus on export promotion and commercial advocacy.  
 
·         First-ever coordinated, global teams led by Ambassadors to actively work to bring jobs to U.S.: For the first time, the U.S. will organize dedicated investment teams led by Ambassadors to actively encourage and track job-creating investment into the U.S. This will begin in 32 priority markets which represent over 90 percent of foreign direct investment into the U.S.
 
·         First coordinated advocacy process to include senior-most Administration officials, including all the way up to the President: Historically, on an ad hoc basis, senior government officials have been involved in advocacy for business investment in the U.S. But going forward, the Administration is creating the first-ever coordinated advocacy process to link international teams with senior government officials all the way up to the President to recruit businesses to bring jobs to the U.S.
 
·         For the first time, there will be a single point of contact for ready investors looking to bring jobs and production to the U.S.: For the first time, SelectUSA will create single points of contact for businesses looking to bring jobs and production to the U.S. This will include greater coordination between SelectUSA headquarters in Washington D.C., in-country resources at the Embassy, and state-based economic development organizations.
 
·         First ever effort to coordinate support for states and localities to attract investment: For the first time, we will help regional, state, and local economic development organizations attract investment, improving coordination to increase their success rate and connecting them with overseas markets and investors through our Missions. 


Expanding and Enhancing SelectUSA
 
On Thursday, October 31st President Obama will host and deliver remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., where he will announce aggressive expansion and enhancement of SelectUSA. Building on the progress-to-date with SelectUSA, which was launched in June 2011, the Commerce Department, State Department and White House, along with other federal agencies, are launching the first-ever fully coordinated effort at home and around the world to actively recruit businesses to bring investment to the U.S.  This announcement takes major strides forward, but the President will also continue to call on Congress to provide the necessary resources required to build the full suite of capabilities required to realize our shared ambition for SelectUSA.  Specific actions of the new and expanded initiative include:
 
·         SelectUSA will encourage job-creating foreign investment as a core priority in a coordinated, all hands on deck manner for the first time:  Historically, the federal government has not organized to encourage job-creating investment from around the world akin to how we have coordinated global efforts to promote U.S. exports.  Now, our domestic and overseas commercial teams at Commerce and State will make actively recruiting jobs and investment a top priority, ensuring that the entire team is consistently working to bring jobs to the U.S. and promote the U.S. as the premiere destination for global investment, while actively generating interested investors and working in partnership with U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) at the state, regional, and local levels.
 
·         SelectUSA will develop the first-ever coordinated, global team to actively work to bring jobs back to the U.S. led directly by our Ambassadors:  In 32 initial economies with substantial potential investments into the U.S., investment teams will develop country-specific strategies that make investment promotion a key priority, coordinated with efforts to promote U.S. exports and support U.S. businesses.  Investment teams will be created as part of a phased implementation to prioritize locations with the largest potential for U.S. investment.  Among other activities, Missions will expand outreach to prospective investors to consider investment to the U.S., host or participate in in-country or regional events to encourage investment, and leverage local business connections to promote U.S. investment.  The expanded effort will rely on leveraging existing resources and refocusing priorities, drawing on increased support from SelectUSA headquarters.  Investment metrics will be tracked globally with regular reporting to track progress and share best practices.
 
·         SelectUSA will for the first time include a seamless process to enlist top Administration officials all the way up to the President to actively advocate for high-priority investments into the U.S.: For the first time, the U.S. federal government will actively advocate with business leaders to locate production and investment in the U.S., a tactic often employed by competitor nations looking to attract investment.  Previously, a state like Pennsylvania would be left to compete head-to-head with othre major industrialized nations.  Now, our states, regions, and cities will have the full support of top federal officials, including the President, in advocating with businesses from around the world to select the U.S. as the location for new jobs and investment.  Advocacy will be both ‘generic’, encouraging the U.S. generally, and ‘specific’, advocating on behalf of a U.S. location when a decision is down to that specific location and non-U.S. options.
 
·         SelectUSA will create for the first time single points of contact for investors looking to locate in the U.S.: SelectUSA headquarters, located at the Department of Commerce, will assign a single point-of-contact for ready investors looking to locate and create jobs in the U.S.  In partnership with state and local economic development officials, SelectUSA will help investors gather the information needed to choose the U.S. as a location, navigate through federal agency processes, and provide general investment counseling support.  SelectUSA headquarters will increase support for the SelectUSA Investment Teams around the world, providing them with the information, analysis, services, and process coordination needed to engage with investors and promote the U.S.
 
·         SelectUSA will for the first time deeply support states and cities to attract and compete for job-creating investment into the U.S.: SelectUSA will help regional, state, and local economic development organizations attract investment, improving coordination to increase their success rate and connecting them with overseas markets and investors through our Missions.  Leveraging the federal government’s domestic networks, SelectUSA will provide new services to our domestic partners, including counseling on implementing best practice investment attraction strategies, data and analysis of investment trends to help better allocate resources in attracting job-creating investment.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ACA Health Care Operator Fired For Doing Her Job?

More woes for the Obama administration's roll out of HealthCare.gov
 
During the president's weekly address he urged Americans to call a toll-free number to get help enrolling in a health care plan as the website continues to be 'improved'.

Said the president, "But even as we improve the website, remember that the website isn’t the only way to apply for coverage under these new plans.  We’ve updated HealthCare.gov to offer more information about enrolling over the phone, by mail, or in person with a specially-trained navigator who can help answer your questions.  Just call 1-800-318-2596 or visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.   


 
No sooner than the president gives out the 800 number for Americans to speak to one of the 'specially-trained navigators', one of them  gets fired, perhaps loosing her own healthcare benefits.

Her malfeasance?  Talking to talk show host Sean Hannity.

Hannity called the 800 number with his usual conniving and cyncial analysis of the president with the intent to shine light on the issues the website and the call center is having - to 'convert' Ms. Davis, asking her, "Have you ever heard of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh?


Davis said she had not.

After Davis took his call, she was summoned to the H.R. office where she was given her pink slip.




Hannity apologetically reimbursed Ms. Davis, a mother of two, for the salary of $26,000 per year, he helped her lose. 

"We're going to make this right for you", the talk show host said.

Hannity chose to 'gift' the sum of Davis' salary so Davis would not have to pay income taxes.  He also established an email address, jobs@hannity.com, for those who can help Ms. Davis find work in her Panama City, Florida town.

Since Davis' firing, operators have been trained to respond to overzealous callers by asking for their name and phone number with the promise of having their call returned within one to three business days.

Audio of the original exchange between Davis and Hannity can be heard here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In The Case of Voter ID Laws, What You've Already Suspected Comes To Light

It would seem that (unfair) voter ID laws would be the next big thing President Obama tackles after the Affordable Care Act, instead of illegal immigration.

What's going on in North Carolina (and most likely other states around the country) compromises American citizens' natural right to vote.


Reports have surfaced that voting practices are being put into place to discourage certain voter populations from voting. For example, the right to vote on Sundays is being challenged in some states.  Having students register to vote in the state where they attend college is another tactic, as is requesting an ID or a voter's birth certificate. 

We know that young people came out in droves during the 2008 election. Making students register to vote where they attend college may discourage some young voters.

Many people vote on Sundays after church, the only day they have free to do so due to working during the week.  Closing polling places on Sunday may also discourage voters from voting.

Many say these practices is yet another attempt by Republicans to try to foil a Democratic victory in 2016. 

While there has been speculation, no one has been revealed the practices, until now.

Enter Buncombe County Republican precinct chair Don Yelton.  His state, North Carolina, is one of 'those' states that implement such tactics.  

In an interview with a reporter from The Daily Show, Yelton revealed his party's secret.

Writes a columnist for Gawker.com on Yelton's revelation,

"In a stunning acknowledgement of the law's true intention, the GOP leader admitted its main purpose was not to prevent alleged voter fraud, but "to kick Democrats in the butt."

On his Facebook page Yelton claims he" always tells the truth".

His 'truth' has caused him to resign from his post, but not before making even more claims.

Read what else he said here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Awards

On Wednesday, November 20, President Barack Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. 

Recipients include Ernie Banks, Bayard Rustin, Oprah Winfrey.
 
                                                                                                 

Friday, October 18, 2013

With the Government Re-open, Will There Be Another Shutdown?

After nearly a month of being completely shut down, the Federal government is back to work thanks to a bipartisan agreement between the House and Senate.

Furloughed workers will receive back pay for lost wages, food and water inspections have continued, and social services have resumed.


Faces of some of the players of  Washington's government crisis.
The two parties have dodged a government default by again raising the debt ceiling limit which will allow the government to operate and pay its bills, for at least another three-four months.  

A government default would have been the first in US history.  The government closure of parks and essential services seemingly for no good reason than yet another dog and pony show at the expense of America's workers is over for now - but will it last.

 "There's no guarantees of anything", said Vice President Joe Biden today at the offices of the EPA where he welcomed workers back to work.

"But I think what you saw last night is Democrats and a significant number of responsible Republicans saying 'enough'. There was no economic rationale for any of this. Budgets are supposed to be fought over economic issues. There was no economic rationale for this at all. And I hope, I hope everybody walks away with a lesson that this is unnecessary and I hope we can regain the trust of the American people."


In contrast, when President Obama was asked the same line of questioning, his reply was starkly different. 

[What they all agree on.  Watch WaPo vid below].


With his intentions now returning to immigration reform and strengthening the economy, the president answered, "No."

And he may be correct.

As House Speaker John Boehner and his team tried vehemently to block any measure to bring an end to the lunacy in Washington over the issues of the last month, he was met again with resistance --- from his own party.



Writes Time, "House Republican leaders canceled a planned Tuesday-night vote on a Boehner-backed proposal to resolve the debt and budget crises hanging over the U.S., but the dramatic news was met with shrugs and snorts. Facing a critical test, having brought the nation to the brink of default, the nation’s top Republican failed to rustle up the votes once again — and the humiliation took nobody by surprise."

With just one month away from his birthday (which falls on the same date as the thwarted near government default debacle) the 'evil political scientist' crawls back into his cave of Republic repute, until the next manufactured crisis that too, could quite possibly be avoided if his party wasn't so hell bent on American progress.

And with that, the U.S. government, looked at as 'fragile' by billions world wide, is now open for business - at least for now.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You'd Think After the First Four Years, We'd Have A Little More Togetherness

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama addressed the media, then took questions regarding the government shutdown, healthcare, the debt ceiling and other concerning issues he says the Republicans are being uncooperative about.




House Speaker John Boehner took to the podium moments later arguing the case that President Obama is unwilling to negotiate.




It's time both parties but an end this war of words and take action to put Americans back to work and on solid footing.

Thankfully, good Samaritans have come forward to assist Americans in their time of need where the shutdown has affected everyday Americans.  (See military | See education).

Related
On the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have fought the president tooth and nail.

Oct 2008: "You'll never get elected and pass healthcare."
Nov 2008: "We'll never let you pass healthcare."
Jan 2009: "We're gonna shout you down every time you try to pass healthcare."
July 2009: "We'll fight to death every attempt you make to pass healthcare."
Dec 2009: "We will destroy you if you even consider passing healthcare."
March 2010: "We can't believe you just passed healthcare."
April 2010: "We are going to overturn healthcare."
Sept 2010: "We are going to repeal healthcare."
Jan 2011: "We are going to destroy healthcare."
Feb 2012: "We're gonna elect a candidate who'll revoke healthcare NOW."
June 2012: "We'll go to the Supreme Court, and they will overturn healthcare."
June 2012: "We can't believe the Supreme Court just upheld healthcare."
Aug 2012: "American people'll never re-elect you-they don't want healthcare."
Oct 2012: "We can't wait to win the election and explode healthcare."
Nov 2012: "We can't believe you got re-elected & we can't repeal healthcare."
Feb 2013: "We're still going to vote to obliterate healthcare."
July 2013: "We're going to vote like 35 more times to erase healthcare."
Sept 2013: "We are going to leverage a government shutdown into defunding, destroying, obliterating, overturning, repealing, dismantling, erasing and ripping apart healthcare."

Oct 2013: "WHY AREN'T YOU NEGOTIATING???"

Dear Republicans, please stop warring with the president. He is the Commander-in-Chief.  You are not.   Work with him for the good of the American people, lest you will lose your position (and quite possibly your own jobs) in the next election.



Friday, October 4, 2013

He Said. He Said: Republicans vs Democratics On The Government Shutdown

GOP Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) posted the below photo on his Twitter account showing House GOP members sitting across the table from a row of empty seats, depicting them waiting to have a meeting with Democrats.  The crafty photo is the latest attempt in the war of the House v Senate to point fingers, and place blame, for why this government can't get anything done.

Cantor tweeted, “In divided government, the only way forward is to sit down at the table. The House awaits the Senate".

That's what the Republicans said.


House GOPs await Senate

Democrats, as you might imagine, have a different take. 

Democratic representative Tim Kaine (D-VA), speaking yesterday on Richmond, Virginia's Jack Gravely Show stated that it was after Republicans decided to shut down the government, they decided to reach out to Democrats for a meeting.  

This placard is placed on the White House web site, blaming Congress for shutting down the government.

Republicans want to defund The Affordable Care Act, (the law of the land) and take money from programs that benefit Americans like the Head Start program and other social programs. Democrats adamantly oppose these proposals.

Kaine, who stated his office is working at half the staff it usually does because of the government shutdown (now in its 5th day), spoke to Gravely on a host of issues to include government employee back pay and the debt ceiling. 

Said, Kaine, "There's not a single Democrat threatening to default on our debt."

Listen to the audio below.



While the government shutdown now nearing it's first week, representatives on both sides will still receive their paychecks - and their families are not likely affected.

Until this government is fixed, both sides are sad, and that's what we said.


Related
Who The Shutdown Affects
With Government Works Furloughed, Who's Picking Up The Trash?

Tweet from former DC Mayor, Marion Barry.  

"WHAT.THE.*. IS.GOING.ON? Lion on the loose. Congress out to lunch. Police shoot out at Capitol. Smh"

**Update**
Legislation for Retro Worker Pay

The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 3223, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act.  Once the Government is funded, the bill would retroactively compensate Federal employees furloughed as a result of any lapse in appropriations beginning on October 1, 2013, for the period of the lapse.  Federal workers keep the Nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families.  The Administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill's swift passage. 
 
This bill alone, however, will not address the serious consequences of the funding lapse, nor will a piecemeal approach to appropriations bills.  The House of Representatives should allow a straight up or down vote on Senate-passed H.J. Res. 59, to fund the Government and bring the Nation's dedicated civil servants back to work.