President Barack Obama

Politics
2:34 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Congressman John Yarmuth Praises Obama's Gun Violence Task Force

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

In reaction to President Obama launching a task force to address gun violence, Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth is praising the effort to tackle the issue in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

The president pledged at a press conference Wednesday that the group—led by Vice President Joe Biden—will work swiftly to present recommendations for Congress to act on. It is the most forceful push by the administration to tackle gun control, and supporters say they are eager to see specific proposals.

Earlier this week, Yarmuth called for comprehensive regulations for firearms in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and plans to co-sponsor legislation to ban on assault weapons.

"I share the president’s commitment to strengthening our nation’s gun laws, and I thank him for approaching the complex problem of gun violence in a comprehensive way," Yarmuth said in a statement. "Whether it is reinstating the ban on assault weapons and getting high-capacity ammunition magazines off our streets, expanding background checks to help ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, addressing gaps in our mental health care system, or other failures, we must address all the factors that contribute to gun violence in our society. This task force will help in those efforts."

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Politics
1:00 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Occupy Louisville, Justice Resource Center Rally Against Domestic Spending Cuts

Occupy Louisville and the Justice Resource Center are holding a demonstration at Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's office to protest against any domestic spending cuts as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.

The negotiations in Washington to avoid the $607 billion combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases continue with the end of the year deadline approaching.

This week the White House threatened to veto Speak John Boehner’s "plan B," which includes raising tax rates on Americans making over $1 million annually. House Republicans argue their plan avoids tax hikes on most income earners, but the Obama administration says it doesn't raise enough revenue and burdens the middle-class.

Ike Thacker is an Occupy Louisville spokesman. He says the groups oppose any cuts to social programs that help the poor and would prefer cuts to the defense department.

"The things that need to be cut are not social programs. We spend in the neighborhood of $20 to $30 billion on welfare and around $70 billion on food stamps, which means roughly speaking $100 billion. While we spend well over $1 trillion every year in one form or another on our military," he says. "If we want to go where the spending is to do the spending cuts it does not need to be in social programs, but in the military."

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Politics
5:22 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Mitch McConnell: President Obama is Asking for Too Much in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell
Credit File photo

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said he hopes a deal can be reached to avoid the fiscal cliff,  but so far the talks have not gone well.

McConnell said President Barack Obama is asking for a new stimulus package -- the unlimited ability to raise the debt ceiling and more than $1 trillion in new tax revenues.

(The New York Times recently published a handy graphic outlining where the sides stand.)

And those proposals are not something Republicans want to concede, McConnell said.

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Local News
5:00 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Report: Matthew Barzun to Co-Chair Obama's Inaugural Committee

Matthew Barzun
Credit U.S. State Department

Kentuckian Matthew Barzun has enjoyed a star-studded week.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Barzun and American Vogue Editor Anna Wintour were under consideration to be the next U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.

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Politics
4:28 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Kentucky Social Justice Groups Join White House to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

A delegation of activists representing several social justice groups in Kentucky visited the White House on Wednesday for a meeting on how to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The discussion was hosted by President Obama’s director of public engagement, and was organized to build support for his plan that includes raising taxes on the wealthy. Leaders from the Louisville NAACP, Fairness Campaign and Planned Parenthood of Kentucky attended the session, along with a delegation from Tennessee.

ACLU of Kentucky Executive Director Michael Aldridge also attended the meeting. He says going over the fiscal cliff will not only hurt the economy, but would set back civil liberties issues as well.

"When Congress is preoccupied with having to tend these budgetary concerns they’re not taking up a lot of civil liberties issues that we would like them to be focusing on such as immigration reform, which the Obama administration has stressed they’re going to be taking up in the second term," he says. "They’re not going to be able to move forward until they get their fiscal house in order."

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Politics
11:04 am
Thu November 29, 2012

McConnell to Obama: Remember, You Lost Kentucky

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Credit File photo

Leading up to the fiscal cliff negotiations, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly reminded President Obama about his 24-point thumping in Kentucky in a private phone call.

The conversation typifies the icy relationship between McConnell and the president—the two have rarely met, spoken or been seen in public together.

As Politico reports, the GOP leader was warning Mr. Obama early to cool on the campaigning if he wants to make progress with lawmakers.

From Politico:

Don Stewart, McConnell’s chief spokesman, said McConnell’s comments to Obama “were in the context of trying to find a solution” to the budget crisis. The GOP leader told the president that continuing to engage in a public-relations blitz against Republicans “could have the opposite effect of what he was trying to accomplish,” the spokesman said.

Stewart added: "This, by the way, is sound advice."

The White House declined to comment.

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Politics
12:49 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Yarmuth: No Time for Entitlement Reform Before 'Fiscal Cliff'

Credit U.S. Congress

Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth told MSNBC Monday that Democrats are willing to extend the Bush-era tax cut to help avoid the "fiscal cliff" but that Republicans are "dreaming" if they push for entitlement reforms before the new year.

President Obama and congressional leaders are in the midst of negotiating a new budget deal to avoid the $607 billion combination of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to take effect in January.

Mr. Obama has proposed an immediate extension of the Bush-era tax rates for incomes at $250,000 or less, but GOP lawmakers want the cuts to remain across-the-board. If a deal cannot be reached then all Americans will see their taxes go up, but the president has stressed that Congress can help 98 percent of Americans avoid an increase while his economic team forecasts going over the cliff would hurt the recovery overall.

Yarmuth says Congress can avoid the burden on middle-class Americans if a small number of the House GOP caucus vote with Democrats and accept a tax increase on wealthier Americans.

"That’s a real easy one if Speaker Boehner can deliver maybe 30 or 35 votes. I’d think we’d be happy to pass that and we’d avert that huge tax increase at the beginning of next year," he says. "And then we can extend the spending limits and delay the across the board cuts until a more comprehensive, balanced approach is negotiated."

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Environment
2:53 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Obama Addresses Climate Change in First Post-Election Press Conference

During the presidential campaign, both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney seemed to be avoiding any comment on climate change, and what policies either would pursue if elected. Now that Mr. Obama has been elected to a second term, he still won't say what he'll do about the issue in the next four years.

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Politics
10:07 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Obama-Romney, Round 3: What National Commentators Think

The third and final presidential debate of the 2012 election featured President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney arguing foreign policy. At least it was supposed to -- the candidates agreed on many goals and approaches, and the discussion often turned back to domestic issues. National commentators have weighed in. Here's a sampling:

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Politics
10:30 pm
Sat October 6, 2012

Noise and Notes: Presidential Debate Afterthoughts and Norris Shelton's Pitch for Frankfort

Louisville Public Media

The first presidential debate is behind us, and observers are still digesting how President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney performed.

It was a much anticipated discussion that about 67 million Americans watched, but surprisingly both Mr. Obama's critics and supporters agreed that the president gave a lackluster performance.

Romney was more aggressive and forceful, and this could be the turning point his campaign needs less than five weeks until Election Day. For many, this puts added pressure on Vice President Joe Biden in his debate against Congressman Paul Ryan on Thursday in Danville, Ky.

But the president's supporters point out that while Romney may have won the style of the debate his facts do not add up on a number of his assertions.

I talked to political commentator Stacy Brooks and Louisville Young Republicans Chairman James Young about the debate, Mr. Obama's performance and where the election is headed.

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