Obama will talk about income inequality today. He won’t call for new policy initiatives, but he will again stress the importance of raising the minimum wage – as there is a renewed fight going on about that in Congress – and he will again tout the economic benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
After his speech at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, the president holds another health-care event, what the White House is calling a “Youth Summit.” For the Affordable Care Act to work the way it is intended White House officials have said they need a ratio of one young and healthy person to sign up for every three older and sicker people.
Gallup: “Most Americans who currently lack insurance say they are likely to get it for next year, as required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act… But a substantial minority, currently 28%, say they are more likely to pay the government fine imposed for not having insurance.” Incredibly, the biggest difference isn’t by age, it’s by party: “45% of uninsured Republicans plan to pay the fine, compared with 31% of independents and 15% of Democrats.”
Bill Clinton explained his comments last month about President Obama and health care in an interview with CNN Espanol: “I was trying to be supportive of it. I don’t think you can find anybody in America who has worked harder for (Obama’s) re-election or supported this bill or went out of his way to explain the bill to the American people more than I did.” He added, “"I've got a lot at stake here personally. And the work I have done for health care and the work I've tried to support and the support I've tried to give the President - and Hillary does, too. We've been working on this health care thing for 20 years."
The L.A. Times after yesterday’s Obama health-care event: “The White House's renewed effort to tout the law has two aims: to encourage Americans to sign up for coverage and to reassure nervous Democratic lawmakers and other allies who have watched Obama's so-far unsuccessful efforts to contain the political damage.”
The New York Times notes the location Obama is doing his event today – Anacostia in Southeast DC, one of the most impoverished and hard-hit sections in America: “Mr. Obama chose an arts and education town-hall-style meeting in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington to lay out his proposals. The location symbolizes his message: Federal and local governments, corporations, foundations and philanthropists shared the $27 million cost of the community campus, which is intended to help residents seeking to escape poverty.” More: “The prospects for Mr. Obama’s aspirations in his final three years is hardly promising. His speech on Wednesday comes at the close of a year in which none of his other economic legislative initiatives have made it through Congress.”
Vice President Biden’s meeting with China’s Xi lasted an hour longer than scheduled, “but they've made no public comments about a new Chinese air defense zone that’s become a major friction point in Asia,” AP notes. Biden and Xi have another meeting and working dinner scheduled today.
As the U.S. deals with a growingly bold and confident China, Pew finds that Americans see the country’s power in decline: “For the first time in surveys dating back nearly 40 years, a majority (53%) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.” More: “An even larger majority says the U.S. is losing respect internationally. Fully 70% say the United States is less respected than in the past, which nearly matches the level reached late in former President George W. Bush’s second term (71% in May 2008). Early last year, fewer Americans (56%) thought that the U.S. had become less respected globally.”
And by a 56%-34% margin, Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of foreign policy. There’s also a growing isolationism, but not when it comes to economics: “Currently, 52% say the United States ‘should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.’ Just 38% disagree with the statement. This is the most lopsided balance in favor of the U.S. “minding its own business” in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.” But: “Fully 77% say that growing trade and business ties between the United States and other countries are either very good (23%) or somewhat good (54%) for the U.S. Just 18% have a negative view. Support for increased trade and business connections has increased 24 points since 2008, during the economic recession.”