Posts Tagged ‘J Scott’

Pentagon still determined to cut GE’s $3 billion redundant fighter jet engine, despite Immelt’s new administration post

by Jon Ward on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

President Barack Obama and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt visit the birthplace of the General Electric Co., to showcase a new GE deal with India and to announce a restructured presidential advisory board , Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, in Schenectady, N.Y. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Pentagon’s top spokesman on Friday said that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates remains determined to eliminate funding for a $3 billion project contracted to GE, as the White House faced questions on the matter the day that President Obama named the company’s CEO to an uncompensated advisory post on economic affairs.

Critics of the administration raised questions Friday about the timing of a continuation of funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Extra Engine, implying that GE CEO Jeff Immelt may have been named chair of the president’s new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness only after the White House agreed to extend funding for the project through March.

The administration dismissed this, saying that a December 21 letter from White House budget chief Jack Lew to Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, was not an intervention that changed policy, but rather an explanation of existing policy.

And Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an interview that the Defense Department was as intent as ever on eliminating the program in the next several months.

“We’re still wrestling with how to proceed with the extra engine in this [continuing resolution] environment. But we are still committed to ultimately killing it,” Morrell said.

The CR is the means by which Congress has continued to fund government operations since last fall, when the Democratic-controlled House failed to pass any of the annual spending bills it is required to. The current CR expires in March, and Congress will have to decide whether to pass another one for the remainder of the fiscal year through September, or to go another route.

Morrell said that the Pentagon is able to strike the F-35 funding if the government is funded for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year with a CR.

“We don’t believe our hands are tied. We believe we have the latitude to fund or not fund. We are trying to make a decision in the short term how to deal with it,” he said. “Ultimately we are as determined as ever to kill it.”

Morrell pointed out that C-17 cargo planes were bought in past budgets, and could be purchased under the CR, but have not been.

Spending is being done on a “case by case basis,” he said. He said he could not comment on why the Pentagon had not just eliminated the program from the current CR.

But Morrell’s description of the administration having discretion to change and redirect spending under the CR runs counter to the line from the administration, that Lew’s December letter to Brown was simply stating the existing policy, and that all spending continued essentially unchanged from past appropriations.

And ABC News reported Friday that Lew’s letter was a “green light” for the spending project on the heels of a $9 million “lobbying push” from the influential corporation.

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House GOP leaders mum on whether they’ll stand behind Paul Ryan’s ‘Road Map’

by Jon Ward on Thursday, December 30th, 2010

This is article 8 of 8 in the topic Entitlement Programs

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, talks about an alternative Republican budget plan he is pushing in the House, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

For years, House Republicans have held Paul Ryan’s plan to revamp Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security at arm’s length, deeming it politically unwise to embrace it.

Now that the GOP controls the House, however, John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the incoming speaker of the House and majority leader, face a choice: Do they keep Ryan’s “Road Map” plan in the background, or embrace it and use it to present the country with a clear contrast to President Obama?

Ryan has said he wants to include his plan – which would move entitlements and health care in a more free market direction than Obama’s health plan, seeking to lower prices through consumer purchasing power – in the budget that comes out of his committee in April, but that he does not know if leadership will support him.

“I know what I want to do but I don’t know what I can do,” he said earlier this month.

Passing the Road Map as part of the House budget would likely go nowhere in the Senate and would undoubtedly draw the president’s veto even if it made it to his desk. But it would be a conscious decision by Republicans to do more than say no to Obama’s plan, moving beyond mere opposition to advocating a vision of their own.

“We will be choosing what kind of future we want to have for the rest of this century in the very near future in this country, probably in 2012. So I believe we owe it to the country to give them an alternative choice than the path we’re on right now,” Ryan said.

One week before the 112th Congress begins, Boehner and Cantor have kept mum about their intentions. They declined to answer questions from The Daily Caller on the matter.

A survey of Republican and Tea Party leaders found some support for the idea of embedding the Road Map in the budget, though there was also some at the grassroots level who demonstrated a lack of familiarity with the plan.

Doug Mainwaring, a Tea Party activist in the Maryland suburbs north of Washington, was unequivocal about his desire to see the Road Map banner picked up by Republican leaders in Congress.

“If the Republican leadership doesn’t get behind Mr. Ryan and actively promote the Road Map, I predict that Tea Partiers will be looking for a new crop of congressmen in 2012,” Mainwaring, a real estate agent, told TheDC.

Mainwaring said that the Road Map is “the only sincere attempt to deal with serious structural and systemic problems our nation now faces,” and said Tea Party activists are “suspicious” about why Ryan’s plan has not been put “front and center” by House GOP leaders.

Bob MacGuffie, a grassroots Tea Party activist in Connecticut, said the grassroots conservatives in his state would support the Ryan plan “100 percent” if it was introduced in the House budget.

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Obama approval rating falls into new danger zone, weighed down by growing economic fears

by Jon Ward on Thursday, August 12th, 2010

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010, where he signed the Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010, a bill to help U.S. manufacturers by reducing and suspending some tariffs on certain materials they must import to make their products. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Obama’s approval rating has crossed into a new danger zone over the last month, as fresh concerns over the economy have pushed his positives and negatives into upside down territory, a development that will cause political winds to blow even harder against Democrats this fall.

One month ago on July 12, Obama’s approval and disapproval both stood at 47 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average. On Tuesday, the president’s approval had fallen to 44.4 percent. Disapproval had jumped to 50.4 percent.

The graph illustrating the movement is stark. After muddling through the past year in parallel lines, the black line for approval has taken a nose dive and the red line for disapproval has shot up.

This movement coincides with growing fears that the economic recovery hoped for and heralded by Obama and Democrats has fallen far short of expectations and may be dissolving in the face of another downturn. The Federal Reserve’s signal of reduced confidence in the economy on Tuesday caused anxiety on Wall Street Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 265 points.

“Malaise and stagnation are the best case and a second collapse is the worst case. You can’t take a second collapse off the table,” said market and financial analyst Jim Rickards, of Omnis.

“Those numbers are going to get worse for Obama because the economy is going to get worse,” Rickards said. “This is a depression. It’s a depression that began in 2007, and it will probably run until at least 2012, maybe 2013.”

Gallup’s daily tracking poll, which formulates its numbers differently than Real Clear Politics, shows less fluctuation. But even there, Obama has gone from 47 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval a month ago to a 45/48 spread.

“It’s clearly not where the president hoped he’d be — or thought he’d be — after passing the stimulus, health care reform, and Wall Street reform,” said Dee Dee Myers, former White House press secretary to President Bill Clinton. “And it just confirms what presidents who govern in bad economic times all know (or learn): they’re lashed to those job numbers like Ahab to Moby Dick.”

“Obama’s job approval might bounce around a bit in the coming months, but it won’t improve substantially until the economy shows more sustained growth — and people who want jobs can find them,” Myers said. “To his credit, I think the president understands that, and the daily ebb and flow (or ebb, in his case) doesn’t seem to rattle him too much.”

Obama did not appear concerned in comments at the White House Wednesday.

“We knew from the beginning that reversing the damage done by the worst financial crisis and the deepest recession in generations would take some time — more time than anyone would like,” he said.

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Oil spill drags down Obama as voters shift away from president’s policy positions, new poll shows

by Jon Ward on Thursday, June 24th, 2010

President Barack Obama, flaked by Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. David Petraeus, concludes his statement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2010, where he announced that Petraeus would replace Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The two-month-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is taking a major toll on President Obama’s presidency, according to a new poll released Wednesday evening.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey of 1,000 adults also shows that Obama is suffering from a backlash against his policies, and that the nation remains generally conservative on issues of government spending and the size of government.

The number of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track is the highest of Obama’s presidency in this particular poll, at 62 percent. And disapproval of Obama’s job performance has also climbed to an all-time high in these polls, at 48 percent, while approval is at an all-time low, at 45 percent.

The number of people who are “not at all confident” that Obama has the right “goals and policies to be president of the United States” – 37 percent – has also spiked up significantly since January, when that number was 29 percent.

Attitudes about the future of the U.S. economy were also more pessimistic in the poll than of any during Obama’s time in office, with only 33 percent saying they think it will get better, down from 40 percent in May.

President Barack Obama speaks about the new patient bill of rights and the health care reform act, Tuesday, June 22, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))

Americans’ faith in Obama’s ability to handle a crisis has slipped significantly since January. Specifically on the oil spill, 42 percent said they approved of Obama’s handling of the ongoing disaster, while 50 percent said they disapproved. However, more people blamed the Interior Department – headed by Secretary Ken Salazar – the Environmental Protection Agency, and oil giant BP for not doing enough about the problem than those who blamed Obama or Congress.

As for Congress, the survey showed Republicans with a major edge going into this fall’s midterm elections, but not without weak points of their own.

More are now in favor of a GOP-controlled Congress than those who favor Democratic control, by a 45 to 43 percent margin. However, only 31 percent said they themselves would vote for a Republican, while 34 percent said they would vote Democratic and 25 percent said they’d cast a ballot for an Independent.

Anti-incumbent sentiment is high: 57 percent said it is time to give someone new a chance, up from 49 percent in January.

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McChrystal flap moves Afghanistan to spotlight at bad time for Obama

by Jon Ward on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

President Barack Obama, joined by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at right, tells reporters during a Cabinet meeting that he thinks Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, used "poor judgement" in speaking candidly during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Gen. McChrystal has been summoned to Washington to answer for the unflattering remarks about senior Obama Administration officials. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Whether Gen. Stanley McChrystal stays or goes Wednesday, the uproar over his comments in a Rolling Stone article has moved the Afghanistan war back to front burner status at a time when it is unlikely to help President Obama politically.

U.S. forces are having trouble accomplishing their mission. The conflict has now dragged on longer than the Vietnam War. Over 1,000 U.S. soldiers have now died there. And public support for the war has been declining.

In recent months, bad news from Afghanistan has slowly bubbled up into the American consciousness. A poll in May showed that 52 percent of Americans said the war was not worth fighting, up eight points from a December survey.

The public is likely to pay even closer attention now to the war, and will not like what it sees.

The Rolling Stone article which became a must read Tuesday detailed how McChrystal and U.S. forces are struggling to secure the southern Afghan city of Marja and have had to postpone their offensive in the much larger city in the south, Kandahar.

Even House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said Tuesday that he has “reticence on the probability of success.”

If Afghanistan were to remain front and center in the national news here at home for any prolonged period, it would only exacerbate what has already become a troubled and exasperating stretch for Obama and national Democrats. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has dominated Obama’s presidency for the last two months, rendering him unable to do much else.

Spending bills are bogged down in Congress, as Democrats and Republicans fight over whether to pass unemployment insurance and Medicaid assistance without paying for them. The prospects for an energy bill with a climate component, or for immigration reform, are being crowded out.

Tony Cordesman, an expert on Afghanistan who has traveled to the region to consult with McChrystal, said the next few months of fighting and attempting to establish a presence in the South will be crucial, both for the overall war effort and for maintaining public support.

“Americans need to see evidence that we have a working approach to the war and that it is making real progress. That is what counts,” Cordesman said in an interview.

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