Politics » OTUS http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics The latest Politics news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers including Jake Tapper, George Stephanopoulos and more. Fri, 30 Jan 2015 01:57:49 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 President Obama Praises Ukraine’s President-Elect, Offers US Support http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/obama-praises-ukraines-president-elect-offers-us-support/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/obama-praises-ukraines-president-elect-offers-us-support/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:44:12 +0000 Arlette Saenz http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=885705 WARSAW – President Obama met with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko Wednesday morning and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to ensuring Ukraine has the support and resources needed to succeed.

“Ukraine has gone through a very challenging time. And what we have seen has been an incredible outpouring of democracy in the face of actions by Russia, as well as armed militias in certain portions of the east who violate international law and international sovereignty,” Obama said at the end of the meeting. “Despite all that, what the Ukrainians said in the elections that resulted in the election of president elect Poroshenko … is that they reject violence, they reject corruption.”

“In my discussion with [Poroshenko] today, it’s clear that he understands the aspirations and the hopes of the Ukrainian people,” the president added.

The president said he and Poroshenko discussed economic plans for Ukraine, as well as how Ukraine could become more energy independent so that it could rely less on Russia.

Calling Poroshenko by his first name at times, Obama said he was impressed with Poroshenko’s vision for Ukraine stemming from his career as a businessman. Poroshenko gained the nickname of the “Chocolate King” because of a successful confectionery business he owned.

Obama said the U.S. was prepared to offer non-lethal aid, including night-vision goggles, to Ukraine.

Speaking in English, Poroshenko thanked President Obama for his continuous support of Ukraine.

Poroshenko will be inaugurated on Saturday in Kiev. Vice President Joe Biden is set to attend.

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Hillary Clinton Addresses ‘Unexpected’ Partnership With Obama in Book Excerpt http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/05/hillary-clinton-addresses-unexpected-partnership-with-obama-in-book-excerpt/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/05/hillary-clinton-addresses-unexpected-partnership-with-obama-in-book-excerpt/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 11:04:20 +0000 Dan Good http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=884780

Hillary Clinton is thankful that she followed her instincts throughout her career, rising above the doubts and negativity, she writes in a newly released excerpt from her book “Hard Choices.”

“I’m eternally grateful that I was born to loving and supportive parents in a country that offered me every opportunity and blessing – factors beyond my control that set the stage for the life I’ve led and the values and faith I’ve embraced,” Clinton wrote in the book’s author’s note, which publisher Simon & Schuster shared with ABC News.

“When I chose to leave a career as a young lawyer in Washington to move to Arkansas to marry Bill and start a family, my friends asked, ‘Are you out of your mind?’ I heard similar questions when I took on health care reform as first lady, ran for office myself, and accepted President Barack Obama’s offer to represent our country as Secretary of State.”

She acknowledges the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in the excerpt, calling efforts by a team of Navy SEALs “as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.”

Another topic is her 2008 presidential campaign. She faced Obama that campaign cycle, falling short of the party’s nomination. Obama later asked Clinton to become secretary of state, a partnership she calls “unexpected.”

“I’ve served our country in one way or another for decades,” she wrote. “Yet during my years as Secretary of State, I learned even more about our exceptional strengths and what it will take for us to compete and thrive at home and abroad.”

She also addressed America’s international standing, with Clinton identifying the United States as “the indispensable nation.”

“Talk of America’s decline has become commonplace, but my faith in our future has never been greater,” she wrote. “While there are few problems in today’s world that the United States can solve alone, there are even fewer that can be solved without the United States.”

While the book’s title is “Hard Choices,” she identifies one decision that wasn’t difficult, serving her country.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life,” Clinton, 66, wrote.

Clinton says she considered numerous titles for the book, with Washington Post reader suggestions giving her some ideas.

“My favorite was ‘The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About My Hair,’” she wrote.

The excerpt comes before the book’s June 10 release, as well as a sit-down interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, which will air in a one-hour ABC News primetime special on Monday, June 9 at 9 p.m. ET.

AP hillary clinton jt 140518 16x9 608 Hillary Clinton Addresses Unexpected Partnership With Obama in Book Excerpt

                     (Photo Credit: Cliff Owen/AP Photo)

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Belgium Gifts Obama Life-Size Gingerbread Man of Himself http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/belgium-gifts-obama-life-size-gingerbread-man-of-himself/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/belgium-gifts-obama-life-size-gingerbread-man-of-himself/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:41:30 +0000 Liz Fields http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=877838 In the same week that a Belgian newspaper was criticized for publishing a racist caricature of President Obama and the first lady as apes, Belgian officials presented the leader of the free world with a life-sized gingerbread version of himself wearing slouchy pants and playing basketball.

Belgian media reported that the gingerbread “biscuit” was the brainchild of Belgium’s Radio 1, which enlisted the skills of Essense baker Ronny Demedts to craft the welcome gift for the president, who made his first visit to Brussels on Tuesday.

“There’s been quite bit [sic] of Transatlantic dialogue on this cookie,” Radio 1 cryptically tweeted, along with a photo of the cookie being handed over to Mark Storella, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels (right).

The gingerbread episode comes after Belgian paper De Morgen issued a full-page apology for publishing a picture over the weekend labeling Obama as a drug addict and doctoring another photo of the president and First Lady Michelle Obama to make them look like chimps.

But it seems the president is unlikely to have his cookie and eat it too. As noted by Redditors, the Secret Service routinely destroys all food and drink gifts to protect the first family.

“So this is our welcome gift for Obama,” one Belgian national tweeted, according to a Bing translation. “I’m going to go be ashamed of me some in a corner.”

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Obama and Biden Film a ‘Workout’ Video Together http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/02/obama-and-biden-film-a-workout-video-together/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/02/obama-and-biden-film-a-workout-video-together/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 06:17:54 +0000 Dan Good http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=874889 President Barack Obama and Joe Biden are keeping in shape – and trying to stay out of trouble with their wives.

The president and vice president filmed a “workout” video together, part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” fitness campaign. The clip opens with Obama sitting in the Oval Office, checking his watch. Biden walks in.

“Mr. President, are you ready to move?” Biden asks.

Absolutely, Obama says. So the pair jog through the White House hallways, past dogs Sunny and Bo, and along the building’s exterior as workout music plays.

They stretch before walking back inside.

“Man, you’re hard to keep up with,” Biden says.

Obama and Biden embrace before sharing glasses of water. “After a good workout, gotta drink up,” Obama says, “otherwise we’re gonna get in trouble with Jill and Michelle.”

The video, posted on YouTube Thursday, marks the latest “Let’s Move” online effort. Previous videos show Mrs. Obama with “Sesame Street” characters and a videobomb segment featuring members of the Miami Heat basketball team.

Mrs. Obama also appeared at an event Thursday dancing with giant vegetable dancers.

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Washington Watchdog: Congress Takes Another Vacation While Nation’s Business Awaits http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/08/washington-watchdog-congress-takes-another-vacation-while-nations-business-awaits/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/08/washington-watchdog-congress-takes-another-vacation-while-nations-business-awaits/#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 21:50:40 +0000 David Kerley http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=854579

There was a mad dash in Washington today: members of Congress streaming out of the Capitol, grabbing their bags and heading to the airport for a five-week vacation.

They left without passing some big pieces of the country’s business, including a budget.

Some citizens vacationing in the nation’s capitol said they can’t believe it.

“When you are at work, you are working until you are all done, then you go on vacation,” Bernadette Simmons said.

“If I don’t have my budget together in my own household, I can’t go on vacation,” Wayne Valaris of San Francisco said.

“I think five weeks is a little excessive for them, with so much of what they have to do,” Caroline Eliss of Arizona said. “The average working man gets two weeks vacation. That’s more than enough.”

gty congress recess ll 130802 16x9 608 Washington Watchdog: Congress Takes Another Vacation While Nations Business Awaits

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Once they return, the House will have just nine working days before the end of the budget year, and the Senate, just a few more.

“Oh, my goodness, the amount of stuff, the list of important things that need to be done in this Congress, it is as long as my arm,” Vice President Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste said.

“You know, summer vacation is not their only vacation. They get Mondays and Fridays off, they get recess throughout the year.”

So far this year, the Senate has met only 96 working days. They were out of session for 53 days. The House worked 102 days and was out 47. The worry is that the United States is headed for another “fiscal cliff.”

“There should be no vacation for these guys,” Paige said. “For every day that they are on vacation this summer, $2.2 billion is being added to the national debt. I mean that is a crisis.”

ABC News tried to talk to talk to several members but none wanted to stop and talk about their paid five weeks away from Washington, which totals nearly $9 million in salary.

Even when their leaders talk, they can’t agree on their ability to get their work done after vacation.

“We disagree, we have nine days left,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said.

“We’ll have ample time to get our work down,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

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IRS Official: ‘I’m Not Good at Math’ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/irs-official-im-not-good-at-math/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/irs-official-im-not-good-at-math/#comments Fri, 10 May 2013 19:30:09 +0000 Abby D. Phillip http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=845868 Today has been a tough day for IRS official Lois Lerner.

In addition to touching off a political firestorm by admitting some conservative groups with the names “tea party” or “patriots” were singled out by her agency, she also admitted that she’s not a math whiz.

“That would be a quarter of the 300 then, so we’re talking 75 or so?” asked Tom Costello of NBC news, in an attempt to clarify how many groups had been affected.

“That’s correct. Is that a quarter?” Lerner asked hesitantly. “I’m not good at math.”

“You’re with the IRS,” Costello noted.

“But I’m a lawyer, not an accountant, sorry!” said Lerner, who is the director of the tax-exempt division of the IRS.

Her mea culpa conference call today became a feeding ground for dozens of political reporters from ABC News to the New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico who peppered Lerner with questions about who knew about the problems and when.

Lerner, who falls somewhere near the bottom of the IRS’s leadership organizational chart, made an effort to field the questions. But the entire event seemed to indicate that the depth of this potentially explosive political story hadn’t fully sunk in.

When asked why she waited so long to apologize, Lerner said she just hadn’t been asked.

“You know, somebody asked me a question today, so I answered it,” she said. “I don’t believe anybody ever asked me that question before.”

Asked why her superiors weren’t notified sooner, the answer was similarly unsatisfactory.

“Because I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I was seeing the same things in the press that you were,” she said.

After initially saying that no one had been disciplined in connection to the kerfuffle, Lerner then said that she couldn’t talk about it with the media.

But with Congressional Republicans already asking for further investigation, it’s doubtful that not talking about it will remain an option.

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McCain Wants You to Watch More ‘Game of Thrones’ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/mccain-wants-you-to-watch-more-game-of-thrones/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/mccain-wants-you-to-watch-more-game-of-thrones/#comments Fri, 10 May 2013 15:42:38 +0000 Abby D. Phillip http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=845817 gty john mccain wy 130510 wblog McCain Wants You to Watch More Game of Thrones

Image credit: Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

“The Maverick” is back. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)  has introduced a bill in the Senate that would let you get HBO without paying for the DFH Network, defying a powerful telecom industry that is vociferously opposed to allowing pay per channel options.

The “Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013″ would let consumers buy cable channels “a la carte,” something the Netflix and Hulu generation has been clamoring for to the trepidation of telecom giants.

“You want to watch one television program, you can watch it. If you don’t, you don’t have to. The situation today is obviously far different from that,” McCain said introducing the bill in the Senate Thursday.  “That’s unfair and wrong, especially when you consider how the regulatory deck is stacked in favor of industry against the consumer.”

For avid fans of “Girls,” “Homeland,” or “Game of Thrones,” McCain is speaking to their deepest desires. The ability to subscribe to HBO Go, without paying Comcast, Verizon, or the Dish Network nearly $100 a month has for a long time seemed like a fantasy.

And it may yet be.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which spent $200,000 on lobbying the federal government in 2013, is strongly opposed to the bill.

“In a thriving marketplace that is constantly providing consumers with new services and features, a government-mandated a la carte system is a lose – lose proposition,” they said in a statement. As countless studies have demonstrated, subscription bundles offer a wider array of viewing options, increased programming diversity and better value than per channel options. In today’s video marketplace, consumers enjoy more choice than ever before.”

And the NCTA’s lobbying pales in comparison to the $14.86 million that Comcast spent on lobbying in 2012.

McCain says that the cost of cable has spiraled out of control, which is only possible if large cable and satellite companies have a monopoly.

“People are on fixed incomes, people are hurting. Why on earth should they have a 100 percent price increase?” McCain said. “And the only way that could be done is through monopolies.”

McCain’s bill would tie the availability of copyright licenses that allow providers to protect their content to the voluntary offering of a la carte channels.

On the other side of the issue are smaller cable companies, represented by the American Cable Association, who support McCain’s efforts which may help open some room in the telecom marketplace for smaller carriers.

“Sen. McCain’s new bill highlights a point that many, including ACA, have been making for a long time, which is that programmers use their formidable market power to impose tying-and-bundling requirements on unwilling distributors.  The result is that consumers must subscribe to large pay-TV packages that are populated with dozens of unwanted channels.

McCain’s bill also deals with another vexing issue for television watchers: sports blackouts.

His bill would also prevent sports blackout for games broadcast from publicly funded stadium—which is to say a lot of stadiums.

According to Deadspin which compiled data on stadium construction, tax dollars financed more than 60 percent of the cost of building or renovating the 186 sports stadiums constructed between 2009 and 2012.


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House OKs GOP ‘Comp’ Time Bill in Time for Mother’s Day http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/house-oks-gop-comp-time-bill-in-time-for-mothers-day/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/house-oks-gop-comp-time-bill-in-time-for-mothers-day/#comments Thu, 09 May 2013 17:50:12 +0000 Abby D. Phillip http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=845605 AP eric cantor nt 130509 16x9 608 House OKs GOP Comp Time Bill in Time for Mothers Day

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., left, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks during a House Republican Leadership news conference, April 16, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Just in time for Mother’s Day, House Republicans today successfully pushed through a bill aimed at mending the party’s ailing standing with women voters.

The Working Families Flexibility Act, a bill that allowed employees to take time off instead of overtime pay, passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday night and was billed as a “straight-up answer to the problems that working moms and dads are facing,” according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Led by the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., a mother of two, the legislation aims to give private-sector employers the same ability that government workers have to take either comp time or overtime pay.

“This is about choice. This is about flexibility,” Roby said at a news conference Tuesday. “I guess my question would be, if it’s good enough for government employees, why isn’t it good enough for the private sector?”

Coming on the heels of a presidential election in which Republicans suffered the worst loss of women voters in the 60-year history of the Gallup survey, it’s clear why the Republican Party would see this as a chance to appeal to women voters and shore up their base.

And it comes at a time when there is more public debate, and little clarity, about what working women want and need: more money or time.

While Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has exhorted women to “lean in,” negotiate for higher salaries and push for fair pay, she has also called on employers to make workplace policies fairer for women who are also mothers by allowing flexible work options.

The problem, say labor and some family advocate groups like the National Partnership for Women and Families, is that this bill allows businesses to pay women less under the guise of giving them more flexible work options.

“What employers are trying to do here, and it’s not a great secret, is they want to get out of paying overtime for employees and work them more than 40 hours a week and then tell them you can take comp time that’s available to you,” Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., said during a conference call Monday. “Only the fact is that that comp time, that compensatory time, won’t be available to them at their leisure.”

Proponents of the legislation, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management, which represents employers, say it gives workers, especially parents, the ability to take time off to be at parent-teacher conferences or doctor’s appointments.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A person who works more than 40 hours a week can arrange with their employer to take that time in the form of compensatory (comp) time, instead of overtime pay. Each hour of extra work is worth an hour and a half of time off.

According to the bill, agreeing to time off instead of overtime pay can’t be a condition of employment, and the employee can also choose to take the money instead of time at any point.

Employers can deny requests for time off at any time, as long as they can show that it might “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer,” according to the bill.

And just as it is for the government, the bill would undoubtedly be a cost-saving measure for businesses as well.

Today’s came down along partisan lines with only three Democrats joining 220 Republicans in approving the measure, mirroring the fate of similar pieces of legislation that were taken up in the 199′s but failed to become law.

What’s next for the bill? Most likely nothing, if Democrats have anything to say about it.

The White House has said it would potentially veto the bill if it ever got to President Obama’s desk.

And there is no indication that it ever will, as long as Democrats remain in control of the Senate.

“This week we gave mothers not a very good gift: more work, less pay. Happy Mother’s Day? I don’t think so,”  said House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a press conference today. “The bill that gives less flexibility to working people, more discretion to their bosses.”

ABC News’ John Parkinson contributed to this report.

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Obama Does Not Foresee U.S. Boots On The Ground In Syria http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/obama-does-not-foresee-u-s-boots-on-the-ground-in-syria/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/obama-does-not-foresee-u-s-boots-on-the-ground-in-syria/#comments Sat, 04 May 2013 00:39:29 +0000 Mary Bruce http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=845111

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA — President Obama tonight said he does not foresee any scenario that would require U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, as he vowed to “apply every pressure point” to the Assad regime.

“As a general rule, I don’t rule things out as commander in chief because circumstances change and you want to make sure that I always have the full power of the United States at our disposal to meet American national security interests,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.

PHOTOS: Syrian War

“Having said that, I do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria, American boots on the ground in Syria, would not only be good for America, but also would be good for Syria,” he said.

ap obama syria lt 130503 wblog Obama Does Not Foresee U.S. Boots On The Ground In Syria

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The U.S. is continuing to investigate whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people.

“We will stay on this,” Obama said. “If in fact, there is a kind of systematic use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, we expect that we’re going to get additional further evidence and at that point absolutely, we will present that to the international community.”

RELATED: Defense Secretary Hagel Says Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons

Obama reiterated that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would be a “game-changer” and said that any additional steps will be taken based on information on the ground and in the best interest of U.S. security.

“When we leap before we look then, not only do we pay a price, but we often see unintended consequences on the ground,” he said. “It’s important for us to do it right.”

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New NRA President Jim Porter Knocked ‘Fake President’ Obama http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/new-nra-president-jim-porter-knocked-fake-president-obama/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/new-nra-president-jim-porter-knocked-fake-president-obama/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 19:41:26 +0000 Abby D. Phillip http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=845075 ht jim porter 01 mi 130503 wblog New NRA President Jim Porter Knocked Fake President Obama

                                                                                          (Image Credit: NRANews/YouTube)

The NRA has a new president, Birmingham, Ala., attorney Jim Porter, and he has a knack for firing up a crowd if his old stump speeches are any indication.

Porter, who until this week was first vice president at the NRA and chairman of the group’s Legal Affairs Committee, will officially take over for David Keene at the group’s annual convention this weekend in Houston. The NRA’s executive vice president and CEO, Wayne LaPierre, has headed the organization since 1991, and has become a somewhat controversial but public face of the organization in recent months.

It’s no surprise that Porter, whose father was an NRA president in the late 1950s, is well-versed in NRA doctrine, namely protecting 2nd Amendment rights at all costs.

And anyone expecting the NRA to soften on assault weapons would be, well, deeply disappointed.

Indeed, Porter, 64, has put it in crystal-clear terms: He believes the NRA was founded to teach civilians how to use military-style weapons in the Civil War era.

“That was the very reason they started the national rifle association, was to teach and train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm,” Porter said at the New York Rifle & Pistol Association’s Annual Meeting in 2012. “And I am one who still feels very strongly that that is our greatest charges that we could have today is to train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm, so when they have to fight for their country, they’re ready to do it.

“Also when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they’re ready to do it. Also when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they have the wherewithal and the weapons to do it,” Porter added.

The video of the meeting was first unearthed by the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

Speaking of a fight, Porter also noted that the Civil War is commonly mislabeled in the North.

“Y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it ‘the war of northern aggression’ down South,” Porter said.

In that same speech, Porter also made it clear that there’s no love lost between the NRA and President Obama, whom he called a “fake president.”

“His entire administration is anti-gun, anti-freedom anti-second amendment,” Porter said.

And that was before Obama backed a new background checks bill and pushed for an assault weapons ban in Congress.

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