White House

Transportation Nation

Reports: Obama to Reject Keystone Pipeline

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NPR's got the roundup of news stories on the pipeline's demise:

Several news outlets are reporting that the Obama administration will reject TransCanada's proposal to run an oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border.

The Washington Post reports the administration will make it official later today and will allow TransCanada to reapply once it has a proposal to reroute the pipeline to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska.

As we've reported, the Keystone XL pipeline has become a rallying point for environmentalists. The president first sought to put off a decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 elections, but he agreed to make a decision by Feb. 21 as part of the payroll tax cut negotiations.

Full post here.


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Frosting White-Out with White House Cake

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


My fellow Americans, I kept my campaign promise: I baked Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting using a recipe the White House press office recently stuffed into our Inboxes. Should I become your White House pastry chef, I will bring you less frosting on your country's annual Christmas bundt cake!



From the White House to Your House: Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Friday, December 02, 2011


Did you know that the White House selects a "theme" every Christmas for its holiday decor? 

I didn't either, until I got a hold of the press release announcing it.  This year it's "Shine, Give, Share." I'm guessing that the recipe for Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting included in a press release the White House sent out Wednesday (and found below) was part of the "sharing" initiative.

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It's A Free Country ®

The White House and The Root: Open for Questions

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The president is going to say, piece by piece, stand up and explain why you say we should preserve tax breaks for the very wealthy but we shouldn’t fund our nations schools.

—  Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor and assistant to President Obama for Public Engagement and Intergovernment Affairs, on The Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [31]

It's A Free Country ®

Ron Suskind on the Education of a President

Thursday, September 22, 2011

He has trouble having people think ill of him because he’s being decisive. He is an essential actor of this era in American history, and for better or for worse, his evolution as an individual will also mirror or carry forward… the evolution of the country. He is the main guy.

— Author Ron Suskind, on The Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [39]

The Takeaway

Ron Suskind on the 'Confidence Men' Controversy

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

White House officials are already criticizing journalist Ron Suskind's book "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President," which just came out this week, despite having cooperated with Suskind for years. Among the book's more controversial passages are depictions of the Obama White House as dysfunctional, with mean, misogynistic economic advisers undermining a clueless president at every turn. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, "I lived the original and the reality I lived, we all lived together, bears no relation to the sad little stories I heard reported from that book." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney went even further and accused Suskind of plagiarism, saying, "one passage seems to be lifted almost entirely from Wikipedia."


Transportation Nation

President Proposes $10 Billion Infrastructure Bank

Thursday, September 08, 2011

With one foot on the terra firma of national pride and another in his old familiar haunt of progressivism, President Barack Obama Thursday proposed a $10 billion infrastructure bank with $50 billion in expedited infrastructure spending to help stimulate the economy.

"Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country.  Our highways are clogged with traffic.  Our skies are the most congested in the world," said the President while a sour-faced Speaker John Boehner sat to his right.

"This is inexcusable.  Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower.  And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?  At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?"

In a speech that sounded at times feisty and at times impatient, the President repeatedly urged congress to pass a bill the administration put at $450 billion, which he said would be paid for by other cuts.

But still the speech sounded more like old-style Obama than the man who last month, back to the wall, agreed to $2.4 trillion in spending cuts, with no tax increases.   Thursday the President once again called on the rich to pay "their fair share," an idea that the public has embraced but that Congress has rejected.

"There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work.  There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.  A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country," the President said, pointedly picking a Texas city to highlight.  Texas is home to the Republican Presidential front-runner, Governor Rick Perry.

The President made his strongest pitch yet in favor of an infrastructure bank, a federally-backed bank that would leverage government funds to draw private capital for large projects like roads, transit, bridges, and dams.

The President said it would  issue loans "based on two criteria:  how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the economy."

"This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat. The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America’s largest business organization and America’s largest labor organization.  It’s the kind of proposal that’s been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike.  You should pass it right away."

In a fact sheet released by the White House, the administration said the National Infrastructure Bank would be capitalized with $10 billion "in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of national and regional significance, without earmarks or traditional political influence. The bank would be based on the model Senators Kerry and Hutchison have championed while building on legislation by Senators Rockefeller and Lautenberg and the work of long-time infrastructure bank champions like Rosa DeLauro and the input of the President’s Jobs Council."




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The Takeaway

America's Lost Decade

Friday, September 02, 2011

When America entered the new millennium, the Clinton Administration reported a budget surplus of around $559 billion and the world was in a state of relative peace. With dot-coms booming, real estate values rising and seemingly no end to the nation’s economic prosperity in sight, the American dream seemed to be a reality for more people. But in 2011 the picture is less rosy. What happened over the past ten years, and does it add up to a lost generation; one without hope of achieving the American Dream?

Comments [7]

The Takeaway

Who is Alan B. Krueger?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

President Obama announced his choice for the new head of the Council of Economic Advisers: Princeton University professor Alan B. Krueger. The 50-year-old most recently served as chief economist for the United States Treasury — those credentials might make for a quick Congressional approval.

Comments [1]

The Takeaway

Government Revises GDP Numbers for the Worse

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Last April the Federal Reserve said that Gross Domestic Product numbers had inched up a respectable 1.8 percent. It was a bright spot in the midst of a bleak economy. The White House touted the news as encouraging, and stocks went up. Now, after a dizzying few weeks of bad news about the economy, the government has revised its numbers, saying the economy really only expanded by 0.4 percent. What happened, and what does this say about the government's understanding of the economy?


Transportation Nation

TRANSCRIPT: President Says FAA Shutdown is "Lose-Lose-Lose," Expects Resolution by Week's End

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

White House File Photo

UPDATED WITH AUDIO President Barack Obama is calling the FAA shutdown a "lose-lose-lose situation."  And he added:  "My expectation and I think the American people’s expectation is this gets resolved before the end of this week."

The President said Congress wouldn't have to return to Washington to act, but could do it through the procedural agreement, unanimous consent.

The FAA has been shutdown for nearly two weeks after the GOP-led Congress added new cuts to a routine extension vote, and the Democratic Senate accused the House of trying to gain leverage in a dispute over labor laws.

The President  made his remarks before a White House meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Here's a full transcript. You can listen to his remarks here.

"A good example of how undone work here in Washington can have an adverse impact on that economy is what’s going on with the Federal Aviation Administration. And I’m going to be hearing from Ray LaHood about the situation that is looming as a consequence of Congress not acting.

Some of you may be aware of the fact that the FAA routinely gets its authorities extended through Congress.  It has happened 20 times since 2007.

This time Congress has decided to play some politics with it. And as a consequence they left town without getting this extension done.

Here is what this means:  Thousands of FAA workers being furloughed, including safety inspectors.  It also means projects all across the country involving tens of thousands of construction workers being suspended because congress didn’t get its work done.  And that means folks who are on construction sites doing work bringing home a paycheck now potentially find themselves going home without one. And important projects all across the country are left undone.

Here’s what also happens it turns out: This extension gives the authority to collect fees from airlines.  The airlines are still collecting these fees because it’s priced into their tickets but they are not turning them over to the federal government  and the federal government stands to lose $200 million a week.  That would be a billion dollars at a time when we are worrying about how we pay for things from education to head start. nd we don’t anticipate it would be easy to get that money back even though the airlines are collecting it.  Thy are keeping it .

This is a lose-lose-lose situation that can be easily solved if congress comes back into town and does its job. They don’t even have to come back into town.  The House and the Senate could through a procedural agreement basically do this through unanimous consent

They can have the fights they want to have when they get back don’t put people the livelihoods of thousand at people at a risk, don’t put projects at risk, and don’t let a billion dollars, at a time when we are scrambling for every dollar we can get, left on the table because Congress did not act .

I am urging the House and the Senate to care of this.

This is an example of a self inflicted wound that is unnecessary.

My expectation and I think the America people’s expectation is this gets resolved before the end of this week."

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The Takeaway

White House Lauds Debt Ceiling Compromise

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

After weeks of a bitter standoff, Congress and the White House have finally reached a deal on how to raise the debt ceiling in the 11th hour. The deal was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday evening and is expected to pass the Senate early Tuesday afternoon. But some question whether the President conceded too much in the debate, and if the administration is calling this compromise a victory. For a perspective from the White House, we talk with Jennifer Psaki, White House Deputy Communications Director.


Transportation Nation

White House Not Giving Up on Infrastructure Bank

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

White House Photo

The White House is stepping up talk of  enacting an infrastructure bank, and may even be considering making such a bank part of any deal it makes with Congress on the debt ceiling.

An infrastructure bank, using federal seed money and private capital, would invest in large infrastructure projects that could pay back over the years through tolls or other revenues--like sales taxes that back local transit projects.

Washington sources say an infrastructure bank could be part of a deficit deal or emerge as a free-standing piece of legislation.

In the last week, the President and administration officials keep slipping the concept into the public debate.  The most recent incarnation was Monday's White House press conference, when the President dropped the words "infrastructure bank"  at the end of a thought on economic growth.

"I mean, the infrastructure bank that we've proposed is relatively small. But could we imagine a project where we're rebuilding roads and bridges and ports and schools and broadband lines and smart grids, and taking all those construction workers and putting them to work right now?  I can imagine a very aggressive program like that that. I think the American people would rally around (it) and (it) would be good for the economy not just next year or the year after, but for the next 20 or 30 years."

The fact that the President even said the words "infrastructure bank" probably slipped by most folks, who were focusing on the President's vow not to have a short-term deal on debt. But it's a concept he's bringing to the forefront as other avenues for infrastructure spending are noticeably fading.

Stimulus spending, clearly, is out. And as we reported last week, Rep. John Mica, (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, last week introduced  a six-year, $230 billion surface transportation bill. The bill was a long way from the president's proposed $556 billion proposal, which Obama sent into the world on Valentine's Day. Even so, the Senate isn't expected to ask for much more than the House, and instead may be looking at a $109 billion, two-year bill.

Which may be why the White House is bring the infrastructure bank concept to the fore. Just a few days before the President mentioned it, Austan Goolsbee, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, pushed the concept in a television interview, as part of a number of other ideas to get the economy moving. "We ought to extend the payroll tax cut. We ought to create the infrastructure bank. We ought to pass the free trade agreements to get exports going..."

The president also talked about infrastructure in his weekly address:

"With a recovery that’s still fragile and isn’t producing all the jobs we need, the last thing we can afford is the usual partisan game-playing in Washington," President Obama said. "By getting our fiscal house in order, Congress will be in a stronger position to focus on some of the job-creating measures I’ve already proposed – like putting people to work rebuilding America’s infrastructure..."

The president has been nothing if not consistent on infrastructure. On Labor Day, he put forward a $50 billion infrastructure plan. On Columbus Day, he refined that plan after a White House meeting with mayors and governors.  In his State of the Union address, he pushed making high speed rail accessible to 80 percent of Americans by 2036.  On Valentines Day, his budget proposal included a $556 billion surface transportation bill.

But the administration has been noticeably lacking when it comes to ideas for financing infrastructure.  Called repeatedly before Congress, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood would only say that he "looks forward" to working with them to sort out financing details.

The infrastructure bank, by contrast, is a much easier sell. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who introduced a bill in the Senate earlier this year, said it would only need $10 billion of federal seed money to start. Kerry's bill has the support of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), and Mica has said he supports an infrastructure bank.

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Transportation Nation

White House: Auto Industry "Resurgent"

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

White House Chart of Auto Industry Jobs Growth

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  On the second anniversary of General Motors' declaration of bankruptcy, the White House is capping a weeks' worth of activities designed to tout that fact with a report documenting what it's calling "The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry."

As we've reported, the President has gotten little credit for Detroit's crawl out of its hole. Democrats took a bath in Michigan this December, in what was, in 2008, such a desperate situation for Republicans that John McCain never fought for the state.

But this week, beginning with a radio address last week by Vice President Joe Biden (while the President was in Europe), continuing with the report, and culminating Friday with a trip to a Jeep plant, the Obama administration is trying to claim credit for the jobs created in the auto industry.

The report says the industry has added 115,000 jobs, which it says is the fastest rate of growth in over a decade.

It's part of the administration's march out of its own hole .

You can read the full report here.


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The Takeaway

A 'Common' Misunderstanding

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Michelle Obama is hosting a poetry program tonight at the White House, and her guest will be hop-hop artist, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known as, Common. Many conservatives are outraged by this decision, Fox News called the rapper, "vile." Conservatives are pointing to a set of lyrics from Common's "A Letter to the Law," where he says:"With that happening, why they messing with Saddam? Burn a Bush cos' for peace he no push no button. Killing over oil and grease, no weapons of destruction."

Comments [2]

It's A Free Country ®

Obama to Push Immigration Reform in Texas Speech

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

President Obama first made his case for immigration reform on the national stage during the 2008 campaign. Many advocates say they have yet to see that fight play out, but on Tuesday, the president will give a speech to college students and faculty from the University of Texas in El Paso to talk about reform, once again.

Comments [4]

Transportation Nation

D.C. Bikeshare Gets Boost from Osama Rally

Monday, May 02, 2011

Capital Bikeshare bikes at White House rally. (Photo: Stephen Miller)

(David Schultz, WAMU, Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) D.C. bikeshare trips spiked more than five-fold last night as residents converged on the White House to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. Bikeshare helped swell the crowd size.

From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., riders took 558 trips on Capital Bikeshare. During a similar time period last week, they took only 105 trips.

John Lisle of the District Department Of Transportation tells Transportation Nation that, as of 1 p.m., fewer than a dozen bikes remained unreturned. Nothing to be alarmed or worried about, he says. Bikeshare members have up to 24 hours to return a bike before it is considered stolen.

Greater Greater Washington posted links to a few bike tracking apps that let you see from where the bikes were checked out and when.

Hat tip to Stephen Miller for the photo.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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The Takeaway

Obama Speaks About His U.S. Birth Certificate

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This morning, the White House released President Obama's U.S. birth certificate. Obama said in a statement that he hoped this would end any debate over his birthplace, and allow those questioning his country of origin to move on to more important issues. Todd Zwillich, the Takeaway's Washington correspondent, spoke about whether or not this will be the death of the birthers. 

Comments [5]

Transportation Nation

High Speed Rail Takes a Hit in Budget Deal

Monday, April 11, 2011

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Congress managed to avoid a government shutdown over the weekend. But guess who paid for it? Supporters of the Obama Administration's high-speed rail program.

Meanwhile, transportation projects are set to take another hit in the spending agreement that funds the government until September 30.

Lawmakers managed to avoid a shutdown by announcing a spending deal at about 10:30 pm on Friday. But it was too late to draft the deal into legislative text by the midnight deadline, so the House and Senate also quickly approved a one-week spending measure to bridge the gap. But with many lawmakers committed to vote only for budget bills that reduce spending, even the short-term "bridge" carried $2 billion in cuts. That's where rail comes in. The agreement took $1.5 billion from high-speed rail projects immediately, forming the lion's share of the total cuts.  However, that cut will not affect existing grants.

President Obama signed the measure on Saturday, making the cuts a done done deal. But for transportation watchers on Capitol Hill the fun isn't over yet.

"Now up on the Hill, the fine print is being worked out," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Details of the five-and-a-half month spending bill that avoided the shutdown are expected by tomorrow. But tucked inside is likely to be another big hit on transportation projects. In the high-stakes money hunt, Republican and Democratic negotiators sniffed out $2 billion to $2.5 billion in spending authority lurking on the books in the transportation committee.

That means that up to $2.5 billion in possible future spending for transportation projects got raided by leaders to help them reach their $38 billion spending cut deal.

"We basically took it," a Democratic negotiator said. "We're taking House transportation money away from them."

More details should emerge after Hill staff finish drafting the spending deal. But that won't be the last word in the budget frenzy going on on in the Capitol. President Obama will lay out his vision for deficit and debt reduction in a speech in Washington on Wednesday.

And debate has already begun on a budget plan for Fiscal 2012, where Republicans are demanding steep reductions in domestic spending. Before that, get ready for a fight on the federal debt limit. Republicans have said they won't vote to raise the limit without as-yet unspecified spending limits that could easily reach transportation programs.

Carney said Monday that the White House wants a "clean" vote on the debt limit without spending cuts attached. On that score, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has said, "Not a chance."

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Transportation Nation

Full Text of Obama's Clean Fleet Speech at UPS

Friday, April 01, 2011

Here's the full text of the President Barack Obama's remarks on clean fleet technology. -TN



Landover UPS Facility, Landover, Maryland

12:33 P.M. EDT, April 1, 2011

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Hello, everybody.  Thank you so much.  Everybody, please have a seat.

I am thrilled to be here, proud to be joined here today by two of our outstanding Cabinet Secretaries, Steven Chu and Ray LaHood.  Where are Steven Chu and Ray?  There they are over there.  We’re here today for a simple reason:  Ray wasn’t home when they tried to deliver a package yesterday -- (laughter) -- so we thought we’d just grab it and be on our way.  (Laughter.)  I’ve been working them too hard.

In addition to Steve and Ray, we also have the Attorney General of Maryland, Doug Gansler, is here.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got one of the finest senators in the United States Senate, from Maryland, Ben Cardin is in the house.  (Applause.)

We actually didn’t come here for -- to grab a package.  We’re actually here to announce an exciting new partnership between the federal government and some of America’s leading companies –- a partnership that will help reduce our dependence on oil, that will protect our planet, and will spur economic growth.

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