Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • White House, Obama camp, blast Romney’s ‘blatantly dishonest’ welfare charge

    (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)The White House denounced Mitt Romney's "blatantly dishonest" charge that President Barack Obama is looking to "gut welfare reform" enacted under Bill Clinton by erasing a requirement that recipients actively seek work.

    "This advertisement is categorically false, and it is blatantly dishonest," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

    A new Romney ad seizes on a mid-July memo from the Department of Health and Human Services that signals the administration is open to waiving certain work requirements. "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job," the ad says. "They just send you your welfare check." (The ad opens with a photo of Clinton, who worked with a Republican Congress to impose the work requirement, over the objections of liberal allies.)

    But the memo says "HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF" and requires states seeking waivers to submit to a "federally-approved evaluation plan."

    "This administration's policy will strengthen the program by giving states the opportunity to employ more effective ways to help people get off welfare and into a job," Carney said. 

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  • White House on Syria: We learned from Iraq

    Majed Aldin Ghazal of the Syria Olympic athletics team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games (Lars Baron/Getty Images)The White House urged Syrian rebels on Tuesday to leave key governmental institutions "intact' when they topple President Bashar al-Assad. Press secretary Jay Carney said the plea was partly rooted in what is widely considered one of the worst errors of the Iraq War.

    Amid high-level defections from Assad's regime and opposition forces seemingly gaining ground, "it is certainly the case that contingency planning is the responsible thing to do," Carney told reporters at his daily briefing. The spokesman declined to discuss "specifics" like possible aid.

    "We have to think about what we can do to support a Syrian-led democratic transition that protects the rights of all Syrians," he said. "We have to figure out how to support the return of security and public safety and how to get the Syrian economy up and going.

    "I can say that in this transition we think it's essential to make sure that the state's institutions stay intact and that we send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare," he said.

    After the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Coalition Provisional Authority administrator L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer banned members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from holding influential government posts and disbanded Iraq's military—a pair of decisions widely blamed for fueling what became a bloody insurgency.

    Asked whether that example had shaped the message to Syria's rebels, Carney replied: "That precedent is useful to look at."

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  • Obama never said Romney wants Petraeus for VP: Carney

    David Petraeus, seen here with Republican strategist Karl Rove, attends the unveiling of former President George W. Bush’s official portrait at the White House in May. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    With the verbal version of an eye-roll, the White House scoffed Tuesday at the Drudge Report's claim that President Barack Obama thinks Mitt Romney may be trying to snag CIA chief David Petraeus as his vice presidential pick. The report, sourced only to an anonymous "insider," said Obama had told a top fundraiser he thought Romney aimed to make Petraeus his running mate.

    "Be mindful of your sources," press secretary Jay Carney said as a reporter started to ask him about the report. "I can say with absolute confidence that such an assertion has never been uttered by the president."

    "And, again, be mindful of your sources," said Carney.

    Asked whether the former general, the architect of America's "counterinsurgency" strategy in Iraq, would make a good running mate, the spokesman replied: "Gen. Petraeus was an excellent general and is currently serving very well at the Central Intelligence Agency."

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  • Pro-Obama ad ties Romney to woman’s death from cancer

    A pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, unleashed what may be the most vicious and personal attack ad of the 2012 election cycle to date, effectively blaming Mitt Romney for the death of a laid-off steelworker's wife from cancer. The Romney campaign hit back hard, calling the charge "dishonest" and "contemptible." And the facts of the case undermine the shocking link (See update below).

    The stark, minute-long commercial, entitled "Understands," features Joe Soptic, who lost his job and his health benefits after Romney's Bain Capital closed the GST Steel plant in Kansas City, Kan.—a move that has been the subject of pro-Obama ads before.

    "I don't think Mitt Romney understands what he's done to people's lives by closing the plant," says Soptic, echoing recurring Democratic attacks on the former Massachusetts governor's tenure at Bain.

    But here is the rest of the script:

    "When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care, and my family lost their health care. And a short time after that, my wife became ill. I don't know how long she was sick and I think maybe she didn't say anything because she knew that we couldn't afford the insurance. And then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia, and that's when they found the cancer and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her. And she passed away in 22 days. I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."

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  • Obama campaign: Romney fundraising edge means ‘we’re in trouble’

    President Barack Obama speaks at a July 24 campaign fundraiser in Portland, Oregon (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

    President Barack Obama's re-election campaign warned supporters in an email plea for cash on Monday that Mitt Romney's vast fundraising edge means "we're in trouble" with scarcely three months to go before Election Day.

    "We got beat three months in a row," the campaign said in the unsigned message. "If we don't step it up, we're in trouble."

    The appeal came hours after the two sides released their July fundraising totals, revealing that Romney and the Republican Party scooped up $101 million against the $75 million hauled in by Obama and the Democrats.

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  • Obama warns ‘Romney Hood’ will take from poor, give to rich

    President Barack Obama told cheering supporters at a fundraiser in Connecticut on Monday that Mitt Romney's tax plan would raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for a tax cut benefiting the very rich: "It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood." His remarks drew laughter and applause.

    Obama pointed to a recent study of Romney's approach by the independent Tax Policy Center that speculated that, to pay for his proposed tax cut on the wealthiest Americans, the former Massachusetts governor would have to end popular measures like the mortgage and child deductions and the Earned Income Tax Credit—which chiefly benefit middle-class and poor Americans.

    "He'd ask the middle class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year," Obama said.

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  • White House: Harry Reid ‘speaks for himself’ on Romney’s taxes

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to the media after a weekly policy meeting at the Capitol in March 2012 (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

    The White House declined to criticize Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over his unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney may not have paid taxes at all for a decade.

    "I would simply say that you all probably know Sen. Reid well and, you know, he speaks for himself," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

    Romney has denied the allegation, and top Republicans have branded Reid a liar —but some Democrats have said the former Massachusetts governor could banish any doubts by releasing his income tax returns for that period, something he has steadfastly refused to do.

    "I think it is a fair point to make that this is an issue that was not originated during the general election campaign, did not start with the president's campaign or with Sen. Reid. It started in the Republican primary when Gov. Romney's opponents brought up this issue," Carney said.

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  • White House: No new gun laws push after Wisconsin rampage

    Members of the Sikh community attend a press conference on the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. (Darren Hauck/Getty Images)The White House on Monday all but ruled out the possibility that President Barack Obama would make a push for new gun control laws in the aftermath of the shooting rampage in Oak Creek, Wis. Press secretary Jay Carney noted that Obama had called for better enforcement of existing laws in the wake of the massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last month.

    "I have nothing new to announce," Carney said at his daily briefing.

    His comments came as police identified the man suspected of killing six people at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old former member of the U.S. Army. The six victims identified by police—five men and one woman—ranged in age from 39 to 84. The suspect died in a shootout with police.

    "Incidents like this are horrific, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families and to the Sikh community in Wisconsin," said Carney. "But we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is violence all the time in America and that we need to take concerted action to deal with it."

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  • Obama raises $75 million in July-compared to Romney’s $101 million

    President Barack Obama at a July 24 fundraising in Portland, Oregon (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

    President Barack Obama raised $75 million in July, falling well short of Mitt Romney for the third straight month with barely 90 days left before Election Day. The Republican standard-bearer scooped up $101 million.

    The Obama campaign announced its haul on Twitter, saying it had 761,000 donors, including 201,000 who had not given before, either in his election cycle or in 2008. "Every bit helps," it said, underlining that 98% of contributions in July were $250 or less, with the average gift $53.49.

    Obama and top campaign officials have been warning in increasingly worried tones that Romney will outraise them and, with the help of super PACs, will flood the airwaves in a potentially decisive ad blitz. The campaign sent a wave of email appeals for cash ahead of the president's 51st birthday on Saturday, and he himself has been on a breakneck fundraising pace, but still fell short.

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  • Obama backs Olympic medal tax cut

    Gold medalists Brendan Hansen, Matthew Grevers, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian of the United States pose following the medal ceremony for the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay Final (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    Good news for American athletes on a gold rush in London: President Barack Obama backs legislation that would scrap federal taxes on Olympic Games medals and prize money, the White House said Monday.

    "The president believes that we should support efforts—like, I think, the bill you are referencing—to ensure that we are doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic Games," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

    Carney was referring to legislation offered by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to exempt American winners from federal taxes on their gold, silver or bronze—and the cash prizes that come with the medals.

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