BREAKING: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Contemplates White House Run As An Independent
The former mayor of New York, known for his record as a staunch supporter of marriage equality, is planning to throw his hat in the ring for president.

Michael Bloomberg is reviewing a plan to run for president.

The former mayor of New York City, who was once elected to this position as a Republican, is testing the waters for an independent campaign for the White House, reports The New York Times.

Advisors are in the process of researching whether or not the billionnaire, who has supported gun control, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage, could possibly win in the 2016 election.

He has until March to decide whether or not he will run. Edward G. Rendell, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told The New York Times that this decision will rest on which candidates secure the Democratic and Republican nominations.

“Mike Bloomberg for president rests on the not-impossible but somewhat unlikely circumstance of either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz versus Bernie Sanders,” said Rendell, a friend of both Clinton and Bloomberg. “If Hillary wins the nomination, Hillary is mainstream enough that Mike would have no chance, and Mike’s not going to go on a suicide mission.”

The CEO of Bloomberg L.P., whose net worth is valued at around $41 billion, is reportedly willing to spend $1 billion to promote his campaign.

In the past, the 73-year-old mogul has invested both personal fortune and political clout in the fight for marriage equality. In 2012 he endorsed Barack Obama as president, citing same-sex marriage as one of the reasons for his decision.

“One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America’s march of freedom; one does not. I want our president to be on the right side of history,” Bloomberg wrote of Obama at the time.

That year, he launched and funded his own super PAC, called Independence USA PAC, which dedicated around $10 million that election cycle to advance causes including marriage equality. Shortly after its launch, the PAC donated $500,000 to campaigns for marriage equality in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington. That came on top of $250,000 he had already given to a campaign in Maryland.

As mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013, his administration was not always on “the right side of history.” It appealed a 2005 court ruling that said it was unconstitutional for New York City to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, Bloomberg delivered an impassioned speech to lawmakers in 2011. A critical turning point for LGBT rights in New York, the speech is credited with helping sway Senate Republicans in support of same-sex marriage in the Empire State.

“In our city, there is no shame in being true to yourself, there is only pride. We take you as you are — and we let you be who you wish to be,” he said in the speech.

He has also shown political support for the transgender community. In 2002, Bloomberg signed a trans civil rights bill, one of his first moves as mayor, that added gender identity to the ranks of the city’s protected classes. He did falter on other trans advancements, however, like overhauling gender guidelines on birth certificates.

But on the issue of LGBT rights, none of the current Republican candidates can hold a candle to Bloomberg, whose candidacy would be sure to throw a wrench in GOP plans for the presidency. As a 2013 profile of Bloomberg in The Advocate notes, “… Love him or hate him, having him on the side of marriage equality and LGBT rights, more generally, could be worth its weight in gold.”

Let Bartlet Be Bartlet is one of the most iconic episodes of the West Wing… I’m rewatching it and something strikes me as odd. We generally think of Danny as a rightly-guided, morally centered White House reporter (and of course, the perfect Mr. C.J. Cregg), but… does he steal this memo off Mandy’s hard disk? Or does someone give it to him? If it’s the former, that’s kind of strange. It doesn’t really seem like a Danny thing to do. Then again, the first season of West Wing has a lot of this sort of thing (I can’t see Dr. Bartlet having a ouija board, nor can I see Sam somehow thinking Leo has a 9 year old daughter when they’ve clearly known each other for a few years) so I guess I’ll just kinda forget about it…

Obama to host Italian, Colombian presidents in February

Washington, Jan 30 (IANS) US President Barack Obama will host his Italian and Colombian counterparts next month, the White House said on Friday.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella is scheduled to meet Obama on February 8 during his visit to the US on February 6-13.

“Italy is a valued NATO Ally and a close partner on a broad range of global challenges,” a White House press release said.

The two leaders will discuss efforts to counter the Islamic State group and the global refugee crisis, and “they will also exchange views on economic development in Europe, the importance of concluding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and other issues of mutual interest”, it said.

In a separate news briefing on Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama will host Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House next week, reports Xinhua.

During Santos’ official working visit on Thursday, the two presidents will “hold a bilateral meeting” and “mark 15 years of … cooperation through Plan Colombia”.

COLUMN-Obama's budget will not lead to $10 oil tax: Kemp

(Repeats with no changes. John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)
* History of the federal gasoline tax: http://tmsnrt.rs/1TIzcAP
By John Kemp
LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s final budget will propose a $10 per barrel oil tax, investing the proceeds in mass transit, high-speed rail, urban planning, highway upgrades and self-driving cars, among other programmes.
“President Obama’s 21st Century Clean Transportation System”, outlined by the White House to reporters on Thursday, drew predictable praise from environmental groups and howls of outrage from oil producers.
But the most important thing to remember about the clean transportation plan is that it stands no chance whatever of becoming law.
Raising revenue and spending money are powers reserved to Congress by the U.S. Constitution. The president can propose but Congress decides (“Constitution of the United States”, Article I, Sections 7 and 9).
The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires the president to submit a unified budget to Congress each year (“Preparation, Submission and Execution of the Budget”, Office of Management and Budget, 2015).
Before the Budget and Accounting Act, agencies sent requests for funding individually to the legislature without central coordination.
The budget last budget, for fiscal 2016, which extends through September 30, and was published in February 2015, ran to 150 pages, plus 364 pages of historical tables, and hundreds of pages more of supporting documents.
But while the president is required by law to submit a unified budget, Congress is under no obligation to enact it or even use it as a starting point for its own deliberations.
Congress jealously guards its control over taxation and expenditure and does not look to the president for leadership in this area.
The White House has difficulty getting Congress to follow its proposals even when both houses are controlled by the president’s own party let alone when they are controlled by his opponents.
The budget is therefore something of an ironic work of fiction, used by the administration to showcase ideas most of which have little prospect of becoming reality.
It sets out a vision of what the administration would like to do if Congress cooperated.
For example the table of contents from the fiscal 2016 version includes sections on “accelerating manufacturing industry growth,” “improving the farm safety net through common sense reforms,” “preparing all students for success in college and careers” and “ending homelessness”.
The budget routinely contains proposals which the administration understands have little or no chance of becoming law.
The special tax breaks available to oil and gas producers have been the subject of controversy since before World War Two (“Energy policy in America since 1945”, Vietor, 1984, pp 224-229).
The Obama administration’s first budget, published in February 2009, proposed to eliminate all the remaining tax breaks, raising an extra $31 billion in revenue between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2019.
Every year since then, the budget has proposed to repeal these tax breaks, but seven years later they are still there.
The fiscal 2016 budget again proposed eliminating them and in the process raise an extra $42 billion in revenue between fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2025 but was not enacted (“Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the U.S. Government, FY 2016”).
The fiscal 2017 budget will almost certainly include the same proposals, which are no more likely to be enacted than in the previous seven budget cycles.

The president’s proposal for a $10 per barrel tax on oil, which the administration calls a “fee”, has even less chance of being turned into law.
“The president is now apparently proposing yet another way of damage our nation’s oil industry,” Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, complained.
“Fortunately, with Republicans in charge of Congress, Alaskans need not worry about this becoming law,” she added.
The president’s proposal is in many ways an updated version of a very old idea to increase federal taxes on gasoline and diesel as a way to raise revenue, pay for transport infrastructure and promote energy efficiency.
The federal government began collecting taxes on gasoline sales at the rate of 1 cent per gallon in 1932, increased to 2 cents in 1951, 4 cents in 1959, 9 cents in 1983, 14 cents in 1990 and 18.4 cents in 1993 (http://tmsnrt.rs/1TIzcAP).
The government also collects taxes on diesel, as well as on gasohol, compressed natural gas and other special fuels (“Federal Tax Rates on Motor Fuels and Lubricating Oil”, Federal Highway Administration, 2014).
Revenues from fuel taxes are used to pay for maintenance and improvements of highways and bridges through the Highway Trust Fund.
In most cases the rates have remained essentially unchanged since 1993 even though inflation has eroded them in real terms because it has improved impossible to reach a political agreement within Congress to raise them.
The president’s proposal for a $10 per barrel fee on oil is equivalent to an increase in fuel taxes of 22-24 cents per gallon, on top of the existing tax rates.
The proposed raise would be unprecedented in terms of both the size of the increase and the end total tax rate.
There are good arguments in favour of increasing fuel taxes to promote energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions; the idea was supported by the former head of the International Energy Agency.
In theory, it is much easier to raise taxes when oil prices are low because the cost of fuel is less salient as a political issue.
But given that Congress has not managed to enact any increase in fuel taxes for two decades, it is very unlikely lawmakers would suddenly agree to an effective doubling of the tax rate on gasoline and diesel.
Even the administration does not appear to be taking the proposal seriously.
When asked how the tax would work, the director of the White House economic council said only that it would be paid by oil companies but not at the wellhead where oil is produced.
“We look forward to working through the details with Congress,” he said (“Obama proposes $10 per barrel oil tax”, Financial Times, Feb. 4).
The chances of a Republican-controlled Congress with close ties to oil and gas producers and an aversion to increasing taxes “working through the details” are not significantly different from zero.
The administration is well aware of all this. The president’s clean transportation plan and its $10 oil tax are a piece of political theatre rather than meant to be taken as a serious policy proposal.
Climate change is a legacy issue for the president, an area where the administration wants to show historians it made a real difference.
The clean transportation plan and oil tax are a way of burnishing that legacy and putting the media spotlight on to the administration’s climate policy.
In that sense, they succeeded. Most news outlets dutifully wrote it up and it will now be analysed in detail by policy analysts across Washington.
It could also create a marker for future discussions about increasing gasoline taxes or even introducing an economy-wide carbon tax.
But while the talk of a $10 oil tax may seize the headlines, it has virtually no chance of becoming law in the foreseeable future. (Editing by David Evans)

Obama to visit Baltimore mosque, plead for tolerance

External image

US News

Obama to visit Baltimore mosque, plead for tolerance

President Obama plans to visit a mosque near Baltimore on Wednesday to make a plea for tolerance and religious freedom, the White House said Sunday. It will be Obama’s first visit as president to an American mosque -though he visited a Jakarta mosque during a 2010 visit - and comes at a time when American Muslims have reported a surge of anti-Muslim sentiment, linked partly to comments from Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

The president will travel to Maryland to visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom.

White House statement

Obama will hold a roundtable with the community and deliver remarks, the White House said. Amid anecdotal reports of increased attacks on Muslims and mosques, US faith leaders called for Obama to visit a mosque and make a high-profile appeal for tolerance, much as President George W. Bush did when he visited the Islamic Cultural Center of Washington just days after the 2001 attacks and said, “Islam is peace.”

(The president will) reiterate the importance of staying true to our core values – welcoming our fellow Americans, speaking out against bigotry, rejecting indifference, and protecting our nation’s tradition of religious freedom.

White House official

White House refuses security clearance to tech researcher Ashkan Soltani over Snowden links

The White House has denied security clearance to a member of its technology team, Ashkan Soltani. Prior to his appointment at the White House, he had helped report on national security documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Soltani is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who until recently worked as the chief technology officer for the Federal Trade Commission, before moving on to the White House to work on privacy, data ethics and technical outreach.

This move caused many eyebrows to be raised as Soltani, in partnership with Barton Gellman at the Washington Post, was a key player in helping reveal, protect and analyse the Snowden documents. However, just a few weeks after he was appointed senior adviser to the technology team at the White House, Soltani has announced that he has stepped down. He said the decision to quit was made following the White House’s refusal to give him the security clearance.

Although Soltani has refused to speculate about the reason for the denial, the tech researcher’s departure from the White House indicates that despite the passage of time, the Snowden incident remains fresh in the memory of the Obama administration. Commenting on the government’s rebuff, Soltani said: “This is something that happens from time to time, and I won’t speculate on the reasons.” He added that he was proud of his work and at having passed the mandatory drug test. He also said that there was no indication that he was denied clearance “based on my integrity or the quality of my work”, according to a Guardian report.

When approached for comments, a spokesperson for the White House said: “Ashkan Soltani was on a detail to the Office of Science and Technology Policy from the Federal Trade Commission, and his detail has ended.”

Ironically, Soltani was originally hired in order to help the White House lure more hardcore techies to work for the government instead of moving on to greener pastures offered by a Silicon Valley-based tech giants.

Related Articles

White House says it is concerned by recent reports of escalating violence in Yemen; calls on all sides of conflict to avoid harming civilians and end attacks on Red Sea ports to enable food, medical supplies to reach Yemen - Reuters

White House says it is concerned by recent reports of escalating violence in Yemen; calls on all sides of conflict to avoid harming civilians and end attacks on Red Sea ports to enable food, medical supplies to reach Yemen - Reuters

President Obama will avoid contact with candidates Monday and Tuesday

President Obama will avoid contact with candidates Monday and Tuesday


The president has had a busy week attending fundraisers hosted at private residences while staying out of the way of increasingly desperate Democrat candidates who’d rather keep their distance (and refuse to admit voting for him). Politico senior White House reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere has announced that the president will be laying…

View On WordPress

The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: the 34 days that decided the election: Playbook 2012 (POLITICO Inside Election 2012)
Glenn Thrush & Jonathan Martin
Genre: Politics & Current Events
Price: $2.99
Publish Date: December 17, 2012

The fourth and final eBook in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012 series once again provides an unprecedented minute-by-minute account of the race for the presidency. The End of the Line follows President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney as their campaign teams go all-in to win in the critical final weeks of the 2012 election.   From Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” video to Clint Eastwood’s speech to an empty chair, the 2012 presidential campaign did not lack for memorable moments. In The End of the Line, POLITICO senior White House reporter Glenn Thrush and senior political reporter Jonathan Martin chronicle every hairpin turn in a race that defied the predictions of pundits and prognosticators.   While some political observers considered Barack Obama’s reelection far from a sure thing, the president and his team remained resolute in their belief that they would prevail. In Boston, Mitt Romney’s advisers were just as confident that their man was headed for a smashing victory. In the end, only one of those views would be validated by events. The outcome of this election was never foreordained, however, and would ultimately be determined by two candidates, three debates, and a thousand small but critical strategic decisions.   With an eye toward writing a “first draft of history,” Thrush and Martin report on the intense internal debates over ad strategy that defined the parameters of the fall campaign—including a crucial late-May decision by the Obama campaign that may have tipped the scales in the president’s favor. They provide a behind-the-scenes look at the candidates’ debate preparation sessions, and they reveal why Romney’s campaign was so confident they were going to win.   The action climaxes on election night, as the opposing camps huddle nervously in their hotel suites to await the verdict of the voters. The End of the Line reveals for the first time what the Obama brain trust really thought about the agonizingly long wait for Romney’s official concession—and what happened after Obama put the telephone to his ear and heard the words “Hello, Mr. President, it’s Mitt Romney.”   No one could have predicted all the twists and turns of the 2012 election—and no one was better equipped to chronicle them than the POLITICO team. The End of the Line is frontline campaign reporting at its finest, meticulously reported and compulsively readable.

How Obama's Oil Tax Would Cost Americans

As part of a budget proposal next week, President Barack Obama will push for a new $10-per-barrel tax on oil that would not only prove costly for struggling drillers; Drivers would likely bear the brunt of the tax.

The White House wants to implement the tax on domestic and imported oil to fund “clean transportation” projects such as mass transit and electric cars. The proposed tax would be phased in over five years, though the Republican-controlled Congress will undoubtedly reject the idea. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the tax “dead on arrival.”

In a conference call with reporters, White House economic adviser Jeff Zients said the administration recognizes that “oil companies will likely pass on some of these costs.” However, he declined to say whether the tax would lift retail prices for gasoline.

“It’s overly obvious to me that this is going to be a tax that’s going to be passed on to consumers, almost in its entirety. Especially today, when oil companies are losing billions of dollars,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, told FOXBusiness.com. “Americans love their cars. It’s almost like a sin tax.”

The American Petroleum Institute believes the Obama Administration’s tax proposal would add another 25 cents a gallon to pump prices. That means it would effectively double the federal gas tax, which is 18.4 cents a gallon. The current national average for a gallon of gas sits at $1.76.

“The White House thinks Americans are not paying enough for gasoline, so they have proposed a new tax that could raise the cost of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon, harm consumers that are enjoying low energy prices, destroy American jobs and reverse America’s emergence as a global energy leader,” API President and CEO Jack Gerard said in a statement.

American oil production is near record highs, but experts say the tax could benefit foreign producers like Saudi Arabia who would look to fill the void left by U.S. producers that cut back. Domestic producers could also look to ship more oil out of the U.S. A federal ban on exports was lifted before the end of 2015.

Oil companies have slowed production and reduced spending in response to a prolonged rout in the oil market. According to Graves & Co., the energy industry has shed more than 270,000 jobs globally. U.S. crude, which was trading near $31.50 a barrel on Friday, is down roughly 70% since its 2014 high of $108 a barrel.

A $10 tax on every barrel of oil would make drilling less feasible for many producers, especially those in shale plays where the more expensive process of hydraulic fracturing is prevalent. Companies have already slashed costs to account for weaker oil prices.

DeHaan noted that taxing oil in the U.S. would have far-reaching consequences beyond gasoline. It would affect prices for heating oil, jet fuel and even plastic bags.

Related Articles

U.S. House Republicans vow to kill Obama oil tax idea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. Congress on Thursday reacted swiftly to President Barack Obama’s call for a new, $10 per barrel tax on oil, promising to kill what they called an “absurd” idea.

“From day one of President Obama’s administration, he has waged open warfare on American energy,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third-ranking Republican.

Obama will propose the tax in his upcoming fiscal 2017 budget submission to Congress next week. He wants to use the revenues to increase investments in clean transportation projects, according to the White House.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Eric Walsh)