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Successful elsewhere, 'tea party' fails to find traction in California
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Newspaper Article

Successful elsewhere, 'tea party' fails to find traction in California

BY Maeve Reston

At the election night party of "tea party" favorite Chuck DeVore in Tustin, Carole Mullner and her daughter Stephanie Perez were among the first to arrive. Outfitted in red T-shirts branding them as "insurgents" for DeVore, they enjoyed a rare moment of calm after months of campaigning for the Republican Senate candidate.

06/15/2010
Obama mixes optimism and hard truths
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Newspaper Article

Obama mixes optimism and hard truths

BY Janet Hook

Reporting from Washington — When Herbert Hoover said on the eve of the Great Depression that "prosperity is around the corner," he was ridiculed as blindly optimistic, and shantytowns were mockingly named "Hoovervilles." When Jimmy Carter said a "national malaise" was behind U.S. economic woes in the 1970s, he was panned for being too grim and demoralizing.With his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, President Obama tried to navigate shoals that have challenged other presidents serving during times of economic crisis: how to balance warnings of dire circumstances against the need to inspire confidence.Obama was elected president as an agent of hope. But he has spent the first month of his presidency promoting a fearsome message: The recession will be long and deep, and possibly as bad as the Great Depression.His first speech before a joint session of Congress gave the president an opportunity to counter critics who say he has been too downbeat. Even former President Clinton has been telling Obama to lighten up to boost the nation's morale.In his speech, Obama brought in more of the optimism that was his campaign trademark. "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," he said.But he did not downplay the peril faced by a nation where the banking system is in shambles, the stock market is on the ropes and workers across the country have lost their jobs, or think they soon may."It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights," he said.His address was aimed at two crucial audiences: consumers and Wall Street.So far Obama has managed to keep the public onboard: A New York Times/CBS poll this week found that 77% of people were optimistic about the next four years under Obama, even if they were skeptical that his economic recovery plan would be enough.Despite a market rally Tuesday, Obama has been far less successful in reassuring Wall Street. The two economic milestones of his new administration -- congressional approval of the $787-billion economic stimulus bill and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner's speech on stabilizing the financial sector -- both sent the stock market tumbling.Mark Zandi, an economist with Moody's Economy.com, said consumers were the most important audience."Consumer confidence has been completely shattered," Zandi said. "His policies won't be effective unless confidence is restored. It's hard to know what the markets want. They don't know what they want."Obama tried to strike a balance that escaped Hoover and Carter, while also capturing some of the inspirational oratory typical of Ronald Reagan.As the nation wallowed in a severe recession in April 1981, Reagan emphasized solutions -- tax and spending cuts -- rather than problems in a speech to a joint session of Congress. "Our government is too big and it spends too much," he said in an appearance that was swathed in emotion because it was his first after he recovered from an assassination attempt."He was tough in explaining what our problems were, but there was a calm confidence about it," said Matt Kibbe, president of the conservative FreedomWorks Foundation. "The theme of every speech Reagan gave was: Our best years are ahead of us."Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, acknowledged the gravity of the Great Depression, but offered one of history's best-known exhortations to optimism: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."Roosevelt also tried to put the economic problems in perspective: "They concern, thank God, only material things," he said in a lesser-known passage of the same speech. "We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for."Roosevelt went on to preside over a depression that lasted a decade -- and he was still reelected.A key question is whether voters will be as patient with Obama. Roosevelt was president at a time when the pace of politics was not measured in 24/7 news cycles, and expectations of government intervention were not high."Now, people look to the president as chief problem solver," said Michael Genovese, director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University. "The question is, how patient will the American public be? If it takes five years to turn the economy around, he might not be in for the fifth year."

02/25/2009
Fear and Caution Rule in Congress' Bailout Vote
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Newspaper Article

Fear and Caution Rule in Congress' Bailout Vote

BY Doyle McManus

President Bush lobbied. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson pleaded. Vice President Dick Cheney worked on conservative Republicans; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi coaxed liberal Democrats. Barack Obama lobbied gently. John McCain worked the phones and boasted about how effective he was. But all that leadership failed to command much loyalty in either party Monday. When the financial rescue plan came to a vote, two-thirds of the House's Republicans and two-fifths of its Democrats ignored their leaders' pleas and voted no.

09/30/2008
After dramatic detour, John McCain's task is to get back on track
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Newspaper Article

After dramatic detour, John McCain's task is to get back on track

BY Bob Drogin

Republican presidential nominee John McCain returns to the trail today after a dramatic but rocky four-day detour that upended his campaign, upset supporters and gave new ammunition to critics who question his judgment. McCain will appear at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, in hopes of regaining the momentum he lost when he abruptly canceled campaign events and returned here Thursday to try to broker a $700-billion bailout of the crippled financial industry.

09/29/2008
Bailout Plan Makes Strange Bedfellows
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Newspaper Article

Bailout Plan Makes Strange Bedfellows

BY Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten

At almost the same moment, two unusual scenes were playing out on the House side of the Capitol last Tuesday. Beneath the ornate ceiling of a House caucus room, angry conservative Republicans were confronting Vice President Dick Cheney over the Bush administration's $700-billion financial bailout plan.

09/28/2008
Bush Puts Social Security on Summer Break
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Newspaper Article

Bush Puts Social Security on Summer Break

BY Joel Havemann and Warren Vieth

CRAWFORD, Texas -- For presidents, the dog days of summer offer an opportunity to escape the Washington, D.C., pressure cooker for some real vacation. The summer lull, when Congress slows down and then goes into recess, also allows a president to grab the spotlight and pitch favored proposals with less than the usual flack from political opponents.

08/29/2005
Bush Tries to Ease Seniors' Fears
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Bush Tries to Ease Seniors' Fears

BY Peter Wallsten and Warren Vieth

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — President Bush sought to assure seniors Thursday that their Social Security benefits were safe, part of an effort to stem growing opposition among older Americans to his plans to overhaul the retirement program. "I don't care what the TV ads say. I don't care what the pamphlets say," Bush said during a visit to Auburn University's Montgomery campus. "If you are retired or near retirement, the government will pay you what we said we'd pay you."

03/11/2005
Real Bonds, and Worries, Draw Interest
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Real Bonds, and Worries, Draw Interest

BY Joel Havemann

WASHINGTON — Yes, Mary Platz, there really is a Social Security trust fund. You can find it — about $1.7-trillion worth of special-issue Treasury bonds — in a Bureau of the Public Debt safe in Parkersburg, W.Va. Platz, 78, of Mableton, Ga., was one of many people who complained to their representative in Congress at meetings around the country in recent weeks, that the government was squandering its surplus Social Security funds on other federal programs.

03/06/2005
Campaign-Like Attacks Turn Up Volume on Social Security Debate
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Campaign-Like Attacks Turn Up Volume on Social Security Debate

BY Warren Vieth

WASHINGTON — After several months of relatively civil debate over President Bush's proposal to restructure Social Security, the gloves are coming off. This weekend, newspaper readers in Shreveport, La., will find a full-page ad placed by a liberal advocacy group questioning the political integrity and financial ties of Rep. Jim McCrery, the hometown Republican who heads the House Social Security subcommittee. "Who does this man work for?" the ad asks. "Not you."

02/26/2005
Social Security Goals May Clash
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Social Security Goals May Clash

BY Ronald Brownstein

WASHINGTON — In restructuring Social Security, President Bush has not one goal, but two. And as the debate begins over transforming the giant public pension program for the elderly, one of the critical questions facing the White House is whether the two goals will complement or undermine each other. So far, most of the attention has focused on the president's push to divert part of the Social Security payroll tax into private accounts that individuals could invest in stocks or bonds — a plan Bush is expected to promote today.

01/11/2005

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