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16

May

Scenes from a demonstration outside the White House Wednesday commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe.  The day signifies the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians following Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.  (Nadya Faulx, Medill.)

30

Apr

Obama talks Syria, Boston bombings, Guantanamo Bay and upcoming trip to Mexico and Costa Rica

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President Barack Obama, marking the first 100 days of his second term,  answered questions Tuesday in his first press conference since March 1.

The highlights:

SYRIA AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS - Obama said if the U.S. establishes that Syria used chemical weapons, it would be a “game changer” and the U.S. would consider options that they might not otherwise have used.         

“Clearly that would be an escalation, in our view, and a threat to the security of the international community, our allies and the United States and that means that some options that we might otherwise not exercise but we would consider. “ - Obama on whether Syria is found to have used chemical weapons

BENGHAZI - Obama said he is unfamiliar with Benghazi survivors being blocked from telling their stories.

BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS - He said the FBI “performed its duties” and Homeland Security did what it was supposed to.  The investigation is still underway and Obama will look at the findings and then see if there are protocols that could be in place to avoid this happening again. 

On the suspects: “All of this has to be done in our context of our laws, due process.”

Obama spoke with Russian President Vladmir Putin who is committed to working with the administration to deal with counterterrorism issues.

Obama said one of the things he is most proud of is the American people’s “sense of resilience and toughness.” He added, ” we are not going to be intimidated, we are going to live our lives.”

SEQUESTER - Obama wants Congress to work with him on a “broader deal” than short-term fixes like the recent FAA bill that put air traffic controllers back to work after furloughs delayed travelers.

GUANTANAMO BAY - He will continue to push for the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison, saying it is “not in the best interest of the American people” to “keep 100 individuals in no man’s land.” He said the individuals must be allowed to be tried in court. His team is currently reviewing what is being done in Guantanamo Bay.

OBAMACARE - A huge chunk of Obamacare has already been implemented and 85 to 90 percent of Americans who have insurance are already experiencing the Affordable Care Act.

IMMIGRATION REFORM –Obama said he is “impressed” by the work done by the Senate Gang of Eight. It’s not the bill he would’ve written, but it does meet his basic criteria: border control, cracking down on employers who are trying to game the system, making legal immigration more effective and a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people. If the House bill does not meet those criteria, then he will not support it.

MEXICO & COSTA RICA TRIP - Obama said the trip will focus on economics and not just security.

"We spend so much time on security issues…that sometimes I think we forget that [Mexico] is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge amount of jobs on both sides of the border. "

Obama said he will speak to the Mexican president  on ways of continuing to crack down on transnational drug cartel and how Mexican authorities can effectively work with each other to control this issue. He also plans to meet with the president of Costa Rica and other Central American presidents.

JASON COLLINS ADMITTING HE IS GAY –Obama said Collins, the first NBA player to reveal he’s gay while still active, seems like a “terrific man” and he told him that he “couldn’t have been prouder of him” for coming out. He added that the LGBT community deserves “full equality not just partial equality.”

-Story and photo by Colette Luke, Medill News Service 

White House releases simplified insurance form, may make selling the law easier

The White House released a simplified insurance form, the Associated Press reported Tuesday morning. This is the latest development in efforts to ensure health care reform is on track.

Different reports have emerged detailing the shaky start that “Obamacare” might have, including articles from Politico and The New York Times. Medill News Service has taken a close look at the employer mandate for United Press International: Our first story looked at its effects on business, while the second examined proposed mechanics of the regulation. All have asserted that President Barack Obama’s administration faces a daunting task when it comes to implementing the mechanics of the law and changing public opinion.

Obama faces an electorate with a divided view of the new law. A poll on the Affordable Care Act released Tuesday showed more Americans view the law unfavorably than favorably, 40 percent to 35 percent. However, almost a quarter, 24 percent, of Americans did not know or refused to answer. Based on opinion polls, though, there is a chance that opposition to the law may soften.

This arises from the fact that Americans are ideologically conservative and operationally liberal, to put it in simple terms. Just before the president’s second inauguration, Gallup released a poll showing the federal budget deficit as the second-most important issue to the country, behind only the “economy in general.” A Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken shortly after the inauguration showed that a majority of Americans opposed major cuts to public education, Medicare and Social Security. Resistance to cutting Medicaid and health insurance subsidies were also opposed by a plurality of poll respondents. Four of the top five fall into the “entitlement” category. These are, by most accounts, the major drivers of the U.S.’s large budget deficits. Health insurance subsidies will only get more generous next year when the Affordable Care Act takes effect. Many Americans will qualify for them, some having health insurance for the first time.

The 2012 election may have been the best chance for Republicans to undue the law — because the major portions take effect in 2014, many Americans may see benefits before the mid-term election. Taking away benefits that are popular with the public may not not bode well at the polls.

Perhaps the two most important components of the law when it comes to shaping public opinion are the state-based exchanges where uninsured individuals or families can obtain coverage and the tax credits that they will get to pay for coverage. Each will be among the more high-profile elements of the law because they, arguably, place the integral roles in people getting health insurance. Thus, the simplified health insurance form for the exchange may be a simple step that pays large dividends with the public.

Josh Barro of Bloomberg makes an interesting case in a Tuesday column. His case can be summed up in a simple sentence:

Conservatives and Republicans are forecasting nightmare scenarios, helping to lower expectations for the initial effects of the law.

The rollout of the law will most likely be a mixed bag; it aims to insure just shy of 30 million Americans, a large sum by any calculation. Even if only 10 million people sign up, that still constitutes a huge number. That is the equivalent of signing up the entire population of New York City plus a few million more. The three-page health insurance has the potential to boost initial enrollment numbers, overcoming a frequent critique that the application for the exchange could be too onerous.

— Andrew Hedlund, Medill News Service

16

Apr

President Barack Obama meets with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to discuss immigration reform, in the Oval Office on Tuesday in Washington. Also attending, from left, are: Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Legislative Affairs. “I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality,” Obama said.
— Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama meets with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to discuss immigration reform, in the Oval Office on Tuesday in Washington. Also attending, from left, are: Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Legislative Affairs. “I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality,” Obama said.

— Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

15

Apr

Pennsylvania Avenue outside of the White House was closed to foot traffic following a series of explosions at the Boston Marathon.

- Photos by John V. Santore, Medill News Service

10

Apr

A PLEA TO KEEP BENEFITS IN THE BUDGET

Speculation that President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget will reduce benefit increases for a number of government programs led to a protest Tuesday outside the White House with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., and Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., speaking.

These representatives emphasized that the benefit reductions in question go against Obama’s campaign promises to shelter particular programs from budget cuts.

“I am proud to join over 20 members of Congress in saying that any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security would be against these promises,” Takano said.

Joining the lawmakers at the protest were a number of advocate groups, including: MoveOn.org, National Organization for Women, Social Security Works, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and AMVETS. The groups are all part of a larger coalition asking the administration to reject cuts to Social Security benefits. The coalition submitted a petition boasting more than 2.3 million signatures in support of the case for benefits.

Obama’s budget will be officially unveiled on Wednesday, but it  will likely take some time before the coalition, and its supporting representatives, can see if Tuesday’s protest made any difference.

  • (First and last photo in the series: John Santore/Medill News Service)
  • (All other photos: Lauren Cook/Medill News Service)

08

Apr

Peace House x White House

In the wake of shorter-lived protest movements and a generation that, at times, views the idea of demonstration as more rebellion than a First Amendment right, Washington’s own Peace House has headed up more than 20 years of a peaceful protest vigil across the street from the White House.  Here, Medill On the Hill talks to Casey Webber, a vigil volunteer, about the protest’s history, his involvement and how people can join the movement.

(Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory/MEDILL NEWS SERVICE)

06

Dec

The White House holiday card is pretty adorable. Details from the whitehouse.gov post … 




The 2012 White House Holiday card has arrived. And this year’s card spotlights the beloved First Family’s dog, Bo.
The card was designed by Larassa Kabel, a professional artist from Des Moines, Iowa. Ms. Kabel has been creating photorealistic prints, paintings and drawings for the past 8 years and was featured as a solo artist in the Des Moines Art Center’s Iowa Artist Show in 2009, the Iowa Artist 2010 group show and many other solo and group shows in Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Florida and New York. Her work is in several private and corporate collections including Aviva, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the World Food Prize headquarters. She also has a much-loved dog at home, which is why she chose to feature Bo in this year’s White House Holiday card.

The White House holiday card is pretty adorable.
Details from the whitehouse.gov post … 

The 2012 White House Holiday card has arrived. And this year’s card spotlights the beloved First Family’s dog, Bo.


The card was designed by Larassa Kabel, a professional artist from Des Moines, Iowa. Ms. Kabel has been creating photorealistic prints, paintings and drawings for the past 8 years and was featured as a solo artist in the Des Moines Art Center’s Iowa Artist Show in 2009, the Iowa Artist 2010 group show and many other solo and group shows in Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Florida and New York. Her work is in several private and corporate collections including Aviva, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the World Food Prize headquarters. She also has a much-loved dog at home, which is why she chose to feature Bo in this year’s White House Holiday card.

29

Nov

Obama and Romney are having lunch together

President Barack Obama and former opponent Mitt Romney will be having lunch 12:30 this afternoon at the White House. No word on what will be served. The meal is closed to the press, but Obama press secretary Jay Carney will be holding a press conference at 12:45 p.m.

23

Nov

THE WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS TREE ARRIVES

Michelle Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, greeted the official tree on Friday at the North Portico of the White House. The tree is a 19-foot Fraser Fir from Jefferson, N.C.

— Photos by Linyi Zhang, Medill News Service

16

Jul

PRESIDENTIAL WORKOUT:
TIPS FROM THE FIRST FAMILY’S PERSONAL TRAINER 

Cornell McClellan, a fitness consultant and personal trainer to the first family, talks with Medill reporter Matt Michaels about President Barack Obama’s workout regimen.

(Source: medilldc.net)

24

May

How many people visit the White House every month? Check out the chart for details.
You’ll notice there are spikes of visitors in January. 
Find details on the sunfoundation's post:

White House Visitors Database

The Obama administration releases a list of visitors who pass through the White House security gate every month. The database currently has more than 2.2 million entries for the period from January 2009 through Jan. 31, 2012.

How many people visit the White House every month? Check out the chart for details.

You’ll notice there are spikes of visitors in January.

Find details on the sunfoundation's post:

White House Visitors Database

The Obama administration releases a list of visitors who pass through the White House security gate every month. The database currently has more than 2.2 million entries for the period from January 2009 through Jan. 31, 2012.