Obama's College Conversation

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • OBAMA'S FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE IDEA MAY BE HARD SELL: Free community college for all. Conversation-starter? Definitely. Political possibility? Not any time soon, according to ABC's DEVIN DWYER. President Obama unveiled the idea in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday night. But administration officials provided no price tag, no legislation, and little evidence of Republican support on Capitol Hill. But the White House says that's beside the point at this stage. The president hopes "to start a conversation," Obama domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz told reporters. She couldn't estimate the cost for the proposal, though back of the envelope calculations suggest it would cost tens of billions of dollars a year. The Republican Congress would need to pass legislation to fund it. State governments would need to each act as well. http://abcn.ws/1xXbGqY
  • HAPPENING TODAY: Today's vote in the U.S. House of Representatives will mark the 10th time the lower chamber has voted on legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Thursday, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats urged President Obama to back down from the White House's veto threat, agreeing with the GOP that the measure is good for the U.S. economy, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Despite the bipartisan support, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says House Democrats have the votes to defend a potential veto and block an override vote.
  • GET TO KNOW 6 NEW FACES WHO COULD SHAKE UP CONGRESS. A new era is dawning in Congress, with Republicans settling into control of the House and Senate. There are dozens of new lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but here's a guide from ABC's JEFF ZELENY to six members of the freshman class who might shake things up. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1w44fqV
  • THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': On Sunday, "This Week" covers the latest on the terror attack in Paris. Check the "This Week" page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek



HOW BUYING YOUR FIRST HOME JUST GOT MORE AFFORDABLE. A new White House initiative could put hundreds of dollars back into the pockets of homeowners with mortgages through the Federal Housing Authority, President Obama told a packed gymnasium at Phoenix Central High School yesterday. Obama has directed the FHA to reduce the fees attached to government loans for home buyers by half a percent, from 1.35 to 0.85 percent. ABC's MATTHEW LAROTONDA notes it may seem like a paltry figure, but the White House estimates the lowered premium will put $900 back into the pockets of the average borrower, annually. The president came to Arizona as the second leg of a State of the Union preview tour, with this stop focusing on the housing market through a mortgage announcement the administration hopes will add a needed boost to new home sales. http://abcn.ws/1tRaW5p

MARYLAND GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY 'VERY SERIOUSLY' LOOKING AT 2016 PRESIDENTIAL BID. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, said last night at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago he is "very seriously considering running in 2016." "I am very seriously thinking about it, is what I would say," O'Malley said. "I've been very encouraged as I travel around the country by a number of people who repeat again and again and again their desire for getting things done again as a country and also for new leadership to get those things done." O'Malley added that "right now" his "primary responsibility is to move my family back to Baltimore," which he said he will do in the next two weeks when his term ends, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. http://abcn.ws/1BGuXfL

BOEHNER SAYS IT HURTS TO BE CALLED 'SPINELESS OR A SQUISH.' House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday that he found it painful to be described as "spineless or a squish," but said the worst comments about him was that he was "the establishment." ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports, Boehner's comments came during a news conference where he was touting his conservative credentials and rebutting criticism from the right that he has become too willing to work with President Obama. "Now, I'm the most anti-establishment speaker we've ever had. You know, who was the guy who got rid of earmarks? Me!" Boehner said to reporters. http://abcn.ws/1wyu97o

BARBARA BOXER PICKS A HILARIOUS WAY TO RETIRE - WITH A RHYME. When Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, steps down, here's hoping she'll spend a bit of her newfound free time writing verse. And if the rhyme she used in a video posted yesterday to announce her planned exit from the Senate in 2016 is any indication, she probably will. According to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY, Boxer's announcement caught even prominent Democrats by surprise like House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, also from California, who seemed startled. After 22 years in the Senate, Sen. Boxer will not run for a fifth term. In honor of Boxer's announcement, we wrote a poem of our own. http://abcn.ws/1wyAHTu

BEN CARSON ISSUES APOLOGY FOR PLAGIARISM IN HIS BOOK. Dr. Ben Carson apologized Thursday for plagiarizing parts of his 2012 book, "America the Beautiful," saying he is working with his editors to add attribution to text taken from other publications, writes ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. "I attempted to appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources in America the Beautiful, but inadvertently missed some. I apologize, and I am working with my editors to rectify the situation," Carson said in a statement provided to ABC News. http://abcn.ws/1AxmYCC


MEET THE CONGRESSMAN WHO'S WRITING NOVELS ABOUT 'FLESHY BREASTS'. While there may be little to laugh about when it comes to the gridlock and dysfunction of Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve Israel used the world in which he works as a source of comic inspiration for his new satirical novel "The Global War on Morris." But the book's humor doesn't just leave its readers laughing at the lunacy of Washington. It also leaves them blushing from the awkward sexual encounters - described at times in vivid detail by Israel - of the main character, Morris Feldstein. "There is flesh in the book, but at times I compare some of that flesh to walking beef jerkies," the New York Democrat told ABC's RICK KLEIN and Yahoo's OLIVIER KNOX, hosts of "Top Line," in an interview. "So, anybody who's ever been to a swimming pool at a hotel resort in Florida has seen all forms and all kinds of flesh." While Israel didn't let his standing as a member of Congress preclude him from broaching the topic of sex in his novel, he points out that it's not the main thrust of his book. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/14z9Fnx


@mkeneally: two hostage situations outside of Paris, one live blog: http://abcn.ws/1DFLXCe

@ThisIsFusion: WATCH: Twitter catches fire amid rumors of Fidel Castro's death: http://fus.in/14Co6HY

@margarettalev: How You Get Simultaneous Record High for #Liberals and Low for #Democrats http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-01-09/poll-finds-record-numbers-of-liberals … via @bpolitics

@tackettdc: Some truth-seeking about Keystone. Both sides have it wrong @coralmdavenport http://nyti.ms/1BLO9qf

@karentravers: Jobs report shows that 2.95 million jobs were added in 2014 - the best year for job growth since 1999 (via @ABC's @ZunairaZaki)