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DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen states that, despite a difficult outlook for Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections, the Party will retain control of the House of Representatives. "Obviously it's a tough cycle," says Van Hollen, but "we will have the majority."
Ron Kirk comments on his future as United States Trade Representative and as a member of President Obama's Cabinet. "In my next life I would love to be the next [NBA Commissioner] David Stern," jokes Kirk. "But other than that, I don't think I'd trade this job for anything else."
At a Monitor Breakfast, Energy Secretary Steven Chu states that budget cuts to alternative energy research would take the United States "out of the race." Chu also discusses proposed cuts to low-income energy assistance programs.
At a Monitor Breakfast on April 5, Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer indicated that her movement has "not gotten there yet" in the potential targeting of Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2012 elections.
At a Monitor Breakfast on April 6, Senator John McCain spoke with reporters about the role of the United States in the Middle East. "We are the ones with the assets, we are the ones with the military capabilities, we are the one that should be leading," McCain said. "The United States of America is NATO," he told the group.
Business Roundtable President John Engler discusses his group’s proposal to eliminate tax breaks in order to lower the corporate tax rate to a flat 25%. “I think there is a willingness to be very creative and to be very courageous on this," he argues, "but the key is that the rate has to go low enough to justify it.”
RNC chairman Reince Priebus says he's not concerned with the "birther question" because he believes President Obama was born in the United States. "I don't think it's an issue that moves voters," says Priebus.
2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich offers his opinion on what he considers to be fair questions for reporters to ask about his personal life. "By definition, if you run for President, anything is on the table," says Gingrich. "But I don't have to participate in the conversation."
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz discusses the impact of women on the 2012 elections.
Rep. Steve Israel, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, discusses Democrats' plans to campaign against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) over his controversial budget plan.
Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, argues there is great uncertainty around government default, including potential views of debt holders. Elmendorf calls any government default a "dangerous gamble."
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy weighs in on the GOP presidential field thus far. "I think Republicans are in a good place," says McCarthy. "A longer primary is going to be better for Republicans."
President Obama’s chief economist says he is optimistic that the corporate executives who serve on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will actually be hiring workers in the U.S., rather than overseas.
Citing widespread disillusionment among Democratic voters on issues like Afghanistan, Republican pollster Bill McInturff speculates that President Obama could face a serious primary challenge in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election.
Political strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg weigh in on which candidate is the most viable contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Carville calls Republican Party politician Mitt Romney the "designated old white guy."
Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole says the new TSA security procedures, which require some passengers to either pass through a full-body scanner or submit to a patdown, have remained unaltered and are designed to be as less invasive as possible, while still providing ample security for American travelers.
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) praises President Barack Obama’s deficit-reduction panel for advancing the conversation to an "adult level," but says he will not be voting for the plan even though it contains some "really good policy."
"The reason I can't vote for the thing is because it not only didn't address the elephant in the room, healthcare, it made it fatter," he says.
Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean endorses Chicago business executive Bill Daley, who is rumored to be a key contender to replace Rahm Emanuel as President Barack Obama's chief of staff.
"There's a huge desire to change the way Washington does business," says Dean. "He [Daley] sees things the way people outside of Washington do -- it's not a left and right issue."
In response to China's test flight of a new stealth fighter jet during Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recent visit to Beijing, Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) explores the complex power dynamics between China's civilian government and the People's Liberation Army.
At a Monitor Breakfast on April 8, U.S. Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue told reporters that a potential government shutdown would not "upset economic growth that much." He also stated that Congress is in the midst of a “great sparring match” and that there is a lot of jousting for position on the budget issue.
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said the reason the Afghanistan War hasn't been mentioned much in the news lately is that the U.S. is "not doing that badly" in Afghanistan. He said two things are required for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan: an internal accommodation with the Taliban and involving other countries in the region.
Speaking at a Monitor Breakfast about the federal budget, Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew said that social security does not contribute to the deficit in the medium term and is in no imminent danger of collapsing. "There is no need to deal with social security and dealing with it would have, at best, negligible impact," said Lew.
Former Arkansas governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee discusses the factors he's weighing before deciding to throw his hat in the ring for the 2012 election.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likes the lay of the land for Republican Senate candidates in '12 much better than the prior two cycles. Recalling initial criticisms of Reagan in 1980, McConnell points out that Jimmy Carter's White House once succumbed to a faulty belief that the GOP field was too weak.
Speaking to reporters at a Monitor Breakfast, Resurgent Republic's John McLaughlin says America's "silent majority" is becoming an "angry silent majority, waiting for the next election."
After gaining experience in the 2010 election, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler believes incumbents will see more organized -- and effective -- challenges in their primaries in the next election cycle.
According to GOP pollster Neil Newhouse and Democratic pollster Margie Omero, "Wal-Mart Moms" -- women mostly under 45 with children under the age of 18 -- are focused on day-to-day life far more than issues like Wall Street regulation or the debt ceiling fight.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani pointed out that even if 1 percent of Pakistan's population favored terror groups, "that's 1.8 million people." Haqqani stressed Pakistan's need for social cohesion amid its fight against terrorism.
Former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), now the chairman of GOP Super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund, said that while he can't foresee the future of campaign finance both sides need to dive in to the Super PAC arms race in order to compete in the 2012 campaign.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chair of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that he wasn't yet ready to call for Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation in relation to the "fast and furious" gunwalking scandal - as more than 50 of his GOP colleagues have.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Turkish Ambassador to the United States Namik Tan stated that his country would continue oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions even if the US "comes to terms" with a nuclear Iran.
Responding to comments made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that the important point is that "Palestinians are a people today" and are a necessary part of the peace process.
Why can't Mitt Romney get traction with Republican primary voters? Because the GOP is a "cult" that drives away independents, argues Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, Antonio Villaraigosa, Conference of Mayors President and Mayor of Los Angeles, warned that fiscal and political realities could mean President Obama's coming budget will have "draconian" cuts to programs held dear by progressives.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) called on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his tax returns from before 2010, and chided the former governor of Massachusetts for dismissing a now-closed Swiss bank account as "ordinary."
House Budget Chair Paul Ryan discusses the recent agreement to extend payroll tax cuts without any corresponding cuts in spending. He argues that this compromise hurts the GOP, as it "muddles the differences" between the two parties.
Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, outlined his view of Palestine's move for statehood at the United Nations. Oren argued the move would lock the Palestine into a bad negotiating position with its own people and weaken its diplomatic efforts "for generations to come."
Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said conservation activities and economic development can go hand-in-hand.
Richard Trumka, the president of America's largest labor federation, says President Obama faces a key moment in the eyes of working Americans and that if he "nibbles" at big issues, then "working people will judge him that way."
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says the people criticizing preparations for hurricane Irene as being overly excessive are engaging in the "blinding clarity of hindsight."
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says that as union membership declines in the U.S., so does the number of people able to stay in the middle class.
John Brennan, President Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, told reporters at a Monitor Breakfast that some terrorist elements looked at Libya as an "arms bazaar" and the US was working with the new Libyan government to secure weapon stockpiles.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the time is now for Democrats and Republicans to transcend political differences in order to repair the economy. "There's been enough rancor, and, you know what, the stakes are high."
On "the day after" a United Nations measure elevating the status of Palestinian representatives at the United Nations, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that the impact on common Palestinians will be "nothing" but a bigger gap between expectations and reality.
On the 18th anniversary of the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, Palestinian Representative to the U.S. Maen Areikat talked with reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast about the failed promise of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and explained Palestine's recent moves at the UN as an attempt to achieve diplomatic "parity" with Israel.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Martin O'Malley, Maryland Governor and chair of the Democratic Governors Association, called on fellow Democrats to "fight like hell" for the President's proposed jobs plan.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul criticized a letter from top Congressional Republicans to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about avoiding further monetary stimulus as "far too little, and way too late."
After giving credit to President Obama for his work on education, foreign policy and devotion to his family, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels criticized the president for having "just the wrong set of biases" and "inhabits a different planet" on jobs and the economy.
After detailing the financial regulatory changes undertaken in the aftermath of the 2010 "flash crash," where equity markets collapsed with no provocation, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro discusses potential future changes to prevent such a crash from happening again.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine weighs in on a controversial campaign ad featuring West Virginia governor and Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin shooting a bullet through a mock version of the cap-and-trade bill. "I think he's going to be a fine U.S. senator," says Kaine, "but I'm not wild about the ad."
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says Palinism may become the new McCarthysim if the former Alaskan governor continues to use her position of power to incite anger and frustration in her followers. "She can't use loose language that foments that anger to hatred, or that action to violence," says Trumka.
Speaking at The Monitor Breakfast, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that his agency will re-allocate as much as $1 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization funds to those communities hit hardest by the housing crisis.
Donovan also announced that HUD will work with Congress to seek increased funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and for counseling services aimed at distressed homeowners.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says he opposes a small Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. "I do not think well of the idea of burning anybody's Koran, Bible, Book of Mormon or anything else," says Barbour. "Any issue that takes people's eye off of unemployment, job creation, economic growth, taxes, spending, deficits, debts, is taking your eye off the ball."
Though he's previously stated that education is not a partisan issue, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan defends his decision to campaign for several Democratic candidates in the upcoming November elections. "I'm going to support candidates that really care about education," says Duncan.
FreedomWorks president and CEO Matt Kibbe weighs in on Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell's chance of upsetting Representative Mike Castle in Delaware's upcoming Republican Senate primary. "We've stayed out of that race because we're not convinced that Christine O'Donnell can win," he says.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responds to foreign affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria's recent allegations that the United States overreacted to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
At The Monitor Breakfast, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, outlines a campaign strategy for the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterm elections.
Speaking at The Monitor Breakfast, Senator John Kerry responds to critics who say the Gulf oil spill reduces the chance for his climate bill since the legislation involves some additional offshore drilling. The Senator argues that the pending bill will help the U.S. become less dependent on offshore drilling and more reliant on domestic natural gas. "We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas," he says.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) responds to the Washington Post's "Top Secret America" series on the massive security buildup in the U.S. after 9/11. "I don't know that there's anything in those articles ... that have surprised me," says Boehner. "There needs to be better coordination."
Responding to Minority Leader John Boehner's call for President Obama to fire his economic team, Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com says Obama's stimulus package has been very helpful to the U.S. economy. "The stimulus did exactly what it was intended to do," says Zandi. "It was to end the recession and jump start a recovery, and it did that."
Speaking at The Monitor Breakfast, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)criticizes President Obama's handling of the Gulf oil spill and asks whether it poses a 'serious, long term problem' for Democrats.
Speaking at The Monitor Breakfast, US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, addresses liability legislation proposed in the wake of the BP Oil Spill. Mr. Donohue says money for clean-up will have to come from both the involved companies and from the government, but describes new "punitive" measures as "running out and changing the rules in the middle game."
The Tea Party's Dick Armey responds to Obama's handling of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The Constitution does not envision the President of the United States saying: 'I will decide what compensations, what redress will be elicited from a British-owned company,'" says Armey. "There are courts for this purpose."
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) weighs in on a recent survey distributed by the Pentagon to 400,000 active and reserve U.S. service members about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Levin says he believes it's "a very good idea" to survey the attitude of the troops, as long as the results are not made public. "It can be overdone," he cautions, "it's surely overdone with politicians."
Former Senator John Danforth discusses a newly released Pew Global Attitudes poll showing President Obama has retained his global popularity, though his numbers dip dramatically as the issues become more concrete.
"My reading of these numbers is that while President Obama retains much personal popularity," says Danforth, "world opinion likes the idea of Obama, more than the reality of Obama."
The Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said to reporters Wednesday that he will ask Charlie Crist for the $10,000 back that he donated to the Florida governor's campaign now that he has decided to run as an independent.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell weighs in on repealing the 14th Amendment provision for birthright citizenship, which he says has created a "burgeoning" and "unseemly" business of illegal immigrants coming to the United States with the sole intent of giving birth on American soil.
"I don't think having hearings on an obvious, unseemly business is a threat to the 14th Amendment," says McConnell. "What's wrong with looking into this?"
Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, warns the U.S. budget deficit is unsustainable and fundamental changes will need to be made to close the gap between revenue and spending.
At a Monitor Breakfast, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk discusses the President's trade policy agenda for 2010 and how he plans on achieving the President's ambitious goal of doubling exports in the next five years and creating two million trade-related jobs. The plan, he says, includes completing the Doha Round of global trade liberalization, pushing Congress to pass pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and dealing with China's currency manipulation policy and other trade related practices.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff argues Republicans should look for opportunities to partner with President Obama and Democrats on issues like Afghanistan and Race to the Top.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty addresses his intentions about running for President of the United States in 2012 and whether or not Sarah Palin and others will influence his decision.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the untold story of 2010 is not healthcare reform or the Tea Party, rather the effects that campaign finance reform has had on the state of the political system in the United States. "There is money flowing in unbelievable ways, and very anonymous," says Sebelius. "And I think that's pretty dangerous."
The Postal Service could face a $238 billion shortfall by the year 2010, if no action is taken. At a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters, Postmaster General John Potter discusses the challenges the Postal Service of the 21st century faces and a new business plan, which will turn it into a leaner and more flexible system.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says Elizabeth Warren would be a "very effective leader" of the consumer watchdog agency mandated by the financial reform bill President Obama recently signed into law. "She represents to a large part of the country, not just people caught up in the damage of the crisis, but people who view this system as being fundamentally broken," says Geithner.
Ahead of the November elections, Clinton advisor and CNN commentator James Carville says the Obama administration needs to repackage its message about the economy, not change its plan for recovery.
Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) Chairman Ed Gillespie says he feels very confident that the Republican Party will pick up a minimum of ten legislative chambers around the country during the midterm elections in November, the most for the GOP since 1994.
Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) argues that Obama's stimulus bill lessened the impact of the financial crisis on unemployment, and that the economy is set for a rebound that will serve the President well come the 2012 reelection campaign. "I think the economy is getting ready to take off," says Frank.
At a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored lunch for reporters in Washington, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine predicted his party would retain its majority in both houses of Congress.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen says he's realistic about the war in Afghanistan and doesn't expect any "massive changes" come December. "It's important to get to July 2011," says Mullen, "because I think then we will have very strong indicators as to whether this is working or not."
Responding to a question about his lack of media recognition, Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told reporters at a Monitor Breakfast that Jon Stewart had done a good job addressing his candidacy.
Responding to a question about Texas Governor Rick Perry's remarks on Social Security as a "monstrous lie," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tells reporters at a Monitor Breakfast that the "math" of the Social Security system "doesn't add up."
Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he feels "reasonably confident" General David Petraeus has given his support to President Obama's plan for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and that "most" Senate Republicans have supported the President's policies in the country so far.
The fact that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax rate is the same as many "police and firefighters" shows the need to close American tax loopholes, said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Tea Party Patriots co-founders Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin cite internal polls showing a vast majority of their members are dissatisfied with the performance of GOP leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to Meckler, members see “some concern” speaker John Boehner “can’t provide leadership” in a way consistent with Tea Party values.
United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner responds to a question about his feelings towards the family of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who recently avoided around $500 million in taxes due to the estate tax lapse. "I think it is a terribly troubling thing that the Unite States of America would let the estate tax lapse and leave the future of it so uncertain for such a long period of time," says Geithner.
U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan discusses information obtained from former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan, including that bin Laden was looking to "rebrand" or move the group's headquarters. Brennan also says he "hasn't seen" anything indicating Pakistani official "complicity" in bin Laden's operations.
Homeland Security head says Congress has been kept apprised of DHS’ budgetary needs and gridlock over disaster relief funding “should not be the first concern of the Congress.”
Speaking to reporters at a Monitor Breakfast, former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie says June's poor jobs report will be linked to May's poor performance as a "seminal moment" in the 2012 election cycle.
Cabinet officers ride massive Chevy Suburbans, but Labor Secretary Hilda Solis chose a smaller, more fuel-efficient model as more in tune with the new direction of American labor.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty believes the United States must not establish an arbitrary exit date from Afghanistan if the objectives have not been met.
Responding to a question about Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) Tea Party Caucus, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says although he declined to join the caucus, the political movement "should not be dismissed."
"These folks are the tip of the iceberg," says Boehner. "They represent the same values, concerns, frustration, anger and fear that you see from tens of millions of other Americas who aren't on the streets yet."
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright debates former Missouri Senator John Danforth on why a positive image of the United States abroad is important to national interests.
Albright argues the U.S. can't do everything on its own, no matter its might, while Danforth contends that unpopular policy may also be in the best interest of the nation.
Representative Paul Ryan lambasts President Obama's recent budget as "disappointing," arguing that "it's the fourth time he's decided to duck the issues."
After decrying Mitt Romney's analysis of the United States' defense situation as "political" and "not born out by the facts," Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor that the budget for the Department of Defense was sound -- but that if budget-reducing sequesters were to take hold, it would be a "totally different ballgame."
Noting that buzz behind Ross Perot's third-party presidential bid did not start building until March of 1992, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg argues that he is certain a major third-party candidate will enter the 2012 presidential race.
Saying he was "cautiously optimistic" about Iraq's future, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that the Iraq War was, in the final analysis, worth America's time and that it served as a positive symbol for Arab revolutionaries in the last year.
Weighing a Syrian military intervention is up to the United Nations, said Namik Tan, Turkey's Ambassador to the United States at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, while Turkey's sizable business interests in Syria are lower priority than human rights and democracy.
At a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored lunch for reporters in Washington, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said the 2010 Congressional election would be a choice between parties, not a referendum on President Obama's policies.
Organized labor leader Richard Trumka calls out Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry's economic record in Texas, saying informed observers don't see it as a miracle.
Asked about debate by GOP presidential hopefuls suggesting more stringent screening and security checks on Muslim Americans, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee who has roots in the Middle East, told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that "assuming you can pick out a Muslim is pretty far-fetched."
The tone of the GOP's debate on immigration is harming the party with Latinos, said Republican Super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund Chairman Norm Coleman at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
At a breakfast for reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani laid out why the U.S. and Pakistan need good relations -- even as public opinion in both countries continues to sour toward one another.
Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, GOP pollster Neil Newhouse stated that America's electoral map in 2012 will show significant changes from 2008. Citing "sustained pessimism" among voters, Newhouse predicted Obama will have a hard time rekindling enthusiasm among his base.
Regarding the Arab Spring, Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren said Israel, long proud of its democratic tradition, will be "prouder still" to be counted among a number of Middle Eastern democracies.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich calls Obama's healthcare reform bill "irrational," criticizing the legislation for being introduced and passed without proper governmental oversight and review.
The flawed paraphrase of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the civil rights leader's memorial is one of several issues (including a funding shortcoming) that need to be addressed, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told reporters at a Monitor Breakfast.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said a weak economy may make it possible for any Republican presidential nominee "who breathes and speaks English" to win the presidency, but that wouldn't be enough. The GOP needs a campaign platform that is bold, clear and unifying enough to enact "major changes" when they get to Washington.
Speaking to reporters at a Monitor Breakfast, Martin O'Malley, Maryland Governor and chair of the Democratic Governors Association, sharply criticized what he described as Republicans' "worship at the altar of tax cuts for the wealthy" and support of policies "unbecoming to the vast majority" of working Americans.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Palestinian Representative to the U.S. Maen Areikat explained Palestine's recent move for improved status at the United Nations as one designed to "keep hope alive" for the Palestinian people, and as a renewed opportunity for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro says the STOCK Act, laying more prohibitions on stock trading by members of Congress, is a positive development for the country. Schapiro also explains how social media has become a complicating factor in insider trading investigations.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she is "amused" by the "Big Sis" nickname that Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report news aggregation site, has given her. "I've made it," she says. "Drudge has a nickname for me."
Democratic pollster and political strategist Stanley Greenberg advises President Obama to acknowledge his mistakes and hit the reset button. "Voters actually are pretty forgiving on leaders who indicate that they've learned something," says Greenberg. "There is still a large majority here who want Obama to succeed."
The "feed and bleed" process being used to cool Japan's melted reactors is not the slow-motion equivalent of a classic nuclear meltdown, in which radiation is released quickly into the atmosphere says Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at a Monitor Breakfast. "It's not as though you're going through a slow meltdown," says Chu.
What if the GOP regains control of Congress in November? "Any chance of progress will be ended," says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "It will go back to the economy that we saw where corporate and Wall Street ran wild."
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy confirms the GOP is prepared to do another continuing resolution.
"Republicans will be prepared in the House to do another two-, three- or four-week CR," says McCarthy. "But each time, we're going to go at it taking more bites."
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk comments on the state of the trade deficit in 2011. "If you look back historically, our trade deficit sort of widens the better our economy is doing," says Kirk.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen responds to a question about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's "style." Mullen says Emanuel, who is rumored to announce a run for Chicago mayor, is "incisive, direct, engaged and often times ... undeterred."
TSA head John Pistole plays down the threat of body cavity bombs and says that the new full-body scanners would identify any anomaly outside the body, like an initiator used to trigger an explosive. "We're not going to get in the business of doing body cavities," says Pistole. "That's not where we are."
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says he doesn't believe there's a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to misrepresent President Barack Obama's past, but that there's simply little known about him. "This is a president that we know less about than any other president in history. But I have no idea why. I accept just totally at face value that he is a Christian. He said so throughout the time he has been in public life. That's good enough for me. Do I think there is a vast right-wing conspiracy? No ma'am."
White House economist Austan D. Goolsbe says the increase in oil prices caused by unrest in the Middle East won't drive the U.S. economy off a cliff.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius weighs in on working with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his influence on pushing through the healthcare reform bill. Sebelius insists that Emanuel did not play a key role in killing the public option.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says youth violence in Chicago and other parts of the country is "staggering" and "absolutely unacceptable." "We don't live in Iraq, our children have to be safe going to and from school," says Duncan. "There's clearly a huge amount of work to be done."
In response to a question on whether or not he believes key members of the Obama administration think the debt threat is overblown, Republican Paul Ryan says, "I don't know, they don't talk to us -- so I don't know what they think."
Potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee defends First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. "She's been criticized unfairly by a lot of my fellow conservatives," says Huckabee. "I think it's out of a reflex, rather than out of a thoughtful expression."
When asked about social issues, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey responds that a truce is not possible because these are "issues of the heart." "People are not going to turn their hearts and minds away from things that they have so heartfelt," he says. Though Armey does caution that mending the economy should take precedence over debating social issues.
Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean predicts the Tea Party will play an important role in the 2012 presidential election, but calls the political movement the "last gasp of the 55-year-old generation."
"Every morning when they see the president, they're reminded that things are totally different than they were when they were born," says Dean of Tea Party supporters. "It's not just the economy."
Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) responds to a question on the challenge he is facing from a Tea Party candidate in his bid for re-election in 2012. "I think there are a great number of Americans, not just in Indiana, who are genuinely angry about how things have turned out for them," says Lugar. "In essence, they are unhappy about life in America and they want to express themselves."
Speaking at a Monitor Breakfast about the federal budget, Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew addressed the bipartisan talks in the Senate on the federal budget, calling them "important" and "positive." The legislation, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, would trigger automatic tax hikes and spending cuts if Congress failed to live within mandatory spending targets.
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, states that while he is optimistic about the economy's long-term chances to rebound, the national unemployment rate is likely to rise before the November 2010 elections. "If it's 10 percent come Election Day, I’m not sure I'd be surprised," says Zandi. "It's going to be in that kind of ballpark."
At a Christian Science Monitor sponsored breakfast for reporters April 6, Senator John McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was reluctant to cut defense spending until the conflict in the Middle East is resolved. He also expressed frustration with what he views as a wasteful defense procurement process.
Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) Chairman Ed Gillespie responds to a plan recently rolled out by the Democratic Party to link the GOP to the Tea Party. "I think it's a pretty good sign of their desperation," says Gillespie. As for the Tea Party? "It's the right problem, and I'm happy to have it," he says.
2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich touches on his positions concerning a number of issues, including his takes on Medicare, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and his self-described status as an "outsider" to the Washington political scene. "If you look at my platform, I will clearly be the most change-oriented, the most fundamental reform, candidate in this race."
Rep. Steve Israel, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, ruminates on the Democrats' chances of reclaiming a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2012 elections.
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski knows and has worked with Egypt's presumed new leader, Omar Suleiman, and says he's "not a stupid guy." Furthermore, he added at a Monitor Breakfast today, the U.S. needs to be careful about overly inserting itself in the Egypt crisis, lest it stoke Egyptian resentment.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine calls the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling "radical" and suggests that anonymous contributions to conservative political groups may lead to a Watergate-sized scandal.
"We feel like anybody who's putting ads up on the air ought to disclose who's paying for them so that the American public can know," says Kaine.
DCCC Chair Chris van Hollen discusses the various challenges of dealing with a substantial Republican fundraising advantage in the 2010 midterm elections. Van Hollen claims the GOP is outspending the Democratic Party 5:1 across the board -- with much of it coming from a few anonymous donors.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus comments on the state of the Republican field for the 2012 presidential election. "I certainly think by the end of summer we're going to have a pretty solidified field," says Priebus.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz discusses the impact of Israel on the 2012 elections.
U.S. Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue stated at a Monitor sponsored Breakfast that President Obama is maturing and adapting to the global demands and challenges that face him. "He is accommodating himself to the most challenging job in the world," Donohue said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he hopes that Congress will be more balanced after the midterm elections in November, and that President Obama will become a "born again moderate."
"I'm not going to be very interested in doing things left of center," he adds. "It's going to have to be center right."
CBO chief Douglas Elmendorf argues that America can't keep revenues at their historical share of GDP, retain full entitlement programs for the elderly and keep the rest of the budget intact. Something's got to give.
Tea Party Express chair Amy Kremer stated that a government shutdown is not the right thing to do. She urged Republicans to find the political willpower to "make the hard decisions."
Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) suggests that the complete withdraw of American troops from Afghanistan may require enlisting the help of local Taliban militias, a compromise he predicts will be "disappointing" to many. "Withdrawal even partially or largely is going to mean acceptance of certain conditions that Afghans choose, and sometimes not by the ballot, but simply by the force of whoever happens to be in charge at that point," says Lugar. "And that's going to be disappointing to the world, to us, to many in Afghanistan."
In response to a question about the Wisconsin political climate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says the "Reagan Democrats are becoming Reagan Democrats again." Voter support of Republican candidates, he says, was Wisconsinites taking a stand against the current approach to fiscal issues, spending and taxes.
In response to a front-page story in today's Wall Street Journal about McDonald's potentially dropping health insurance for thousands of hourly workers unless regulators waived a new requirement of the U.S. health reform, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she was "sorry the Wall Street Journal was not more accurate in their reporting." She said they can't waive a regulation that doesn't yet exist.
Namik Tan, Turkey's Ambassador to the United States, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor that while Turkey has "concerns" about Iraq's trajectory, he trusts Vice President Biden's promises that the US will help assure a stable Iraq with a presence in Baghdad beyond the end of this year.
Congressional Leadership Fund President Brian Walsh said competitive House races in 2012 will predominate in "blue and purple states, not in red states" and Democrats have a tougher road to reclaiming the House than Republicans did in 2010.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro lays out her main concerns about the global financial system -- namely, weaknesses to money market funds and underlying structural problems with equity markets.
Representative Paul Ryan argues that the GOP would be ill-served to win the 2012 presidential election "by default," and instead needs a "positive agenda" for the country after taking back the White House. He suggests that GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney is doing just that, highlighting his recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chair of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that his focus is on figuring out what the Justice Department and others have done to assure problems like Operation Fast and Furious never happen again.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor that voters would be heavily interested in issues taxation and fairness in 2012 -- in part, because of issues raised by Mitt Romney's tax returns.
Getting away from partisan bickering, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said finding a fair tax system "shouldn't be that difficult" and called for a lower corporate tax rate alongside a higher capital gains rate.
Even if the Democrats can hold a majority in the House of Representatives in November, can Nancy Pelosi hold on to her job as Speaker? Absolutely, says DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen. "Nancy Pelosi has an enormous reservoir of goodwill within the Democratic Caucus," he asserts.
According to Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, American voters are generally in favor of economic measures calling for financial "sacrifice," but are skeptical the burden would be shared equally across income levels.
Imagine a United States with a GOP administration with "36 MSNBC's" or a Democratic one with "36 Fox News Channels," and you get a pretty good idea of the state of Pakistani politics, said Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
When asked if President Obama is being too hesitant about issues like taxes and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Democratic strategist James Carville ... wholeheartedly agrees.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that he had not seen evidence of insider trading by members of Congress or their staff, but that the public's perception of impropriety and potential legal loopholes for such activity should compel Congress to take new legal measures.
Transportations Security Administration head John Pistole references two Russian passenger aircraft suicide attacks believed to have been the work of Chechan "Black Widows," saying "that's the challenge we deal with" when asked to comment on controversial footage of women passenger patdowns.
Speaking at a Monitor Breakfast, Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew said it's encouraging that both Republican and Democratic leaders have "made it clear" that a government shutdown would "not [be] a good thing." Lew, who was on the negotiating team that helped reach a bi-partisan agreement to balance the budget under Clinton, said "that's very different from where we were in the 1990s."
Saying he didn't want to "annoy" Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, fellow Republican hopeful Ron Paul said Perry's comments about the Federal Reserve were not in his political playbook but that such barbs were "good politics" at the present moment.
Council of Economic Advisors Chair Austan Goolsbee discusses the government's involvement in the bailout of GM, which turned a profit in 2010. GM had a "series of really brutal, tough decision that they had to make to get costs down, to get competitive internationally and they did them," he says. Although not specific about the timing, Goolsbee says the government is trying to sell its GM holdings.
Speaking of his book, "Keeping the Republic," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said that in the face of the nation's massive political and economic challenges, the US' most pressing question is: "Is our democracy up to this?"
House Minority Leader John Boehner says the case of Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department employee who was fired for remarks about race, underscores the danger of making decisions on incomplete information.
"The one thing it does point to is when you only put a little piece of the story out there and people make judgments," says Boehner, "they make rash decisions."
Responding to a question about claims made by former Vice President Dick Cheney that the U.S. is not as safe as it could be due to the Obama administration's refusal to use so-called advanced interrogation techniques, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she had not read Cheney's book but that the U.S. was significantly safer today than before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says President Barack Obama made a strategic mistake by conflating the job crisis with the deficit crisis. "We do not have a short-term deficit crisis -- it does not exist," claims Trumka. "We have a short-term jobs crisis."
House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California explains using charts that entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- drive America's debt and that China owns 47 percent of our debt. He says that the ongoing budget battle "is for the direction the country is going to go in."
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says there's no reason to keep American beef out of Asian markets. "Our goal," says Kirk, "is to have our partners comply with the agreements we've all made to operate on sound science as it relates to sanitary standards."
Palestinian Representative to the U.S. Maen Areikat told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that Palestinians had "no immediate plans" to take Israel to the International Criminal Court -- but noted that Palestine's government reserves the right "to defend the rights of the Palestinian people" nonetheless.
Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf says the United States "can't afford to take the views of its creditors lightly" as it considers government default, which he calls a "dangerous gamble." "Leaders of both political parties have made clear that defaulting on government obligations is not acceptable, and will not be allowed to happen," says Elmendorf.
At a Christian Science Monitor sponsored breakfast for reporters April 6, Senator John McCain said social media and networking is fundamentally restructuring the whole nature of information and how it's dispensed. McCain also indicated that he thinks the surge in social networking has leveled the playing field in campaign spending.
Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar argued that there are safe ways to use the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing -- and that without it, the US will be unable to tap much of its vast natural gas reserves.
At a Monitor sponsored Breakfast on Friday, April 8, US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue spoke with reporters about federal spending and stated that the reactions from both parties and all persuasions on Capitol Hill are beginning to align. "There is a gradual recognition that we either deal with this matter in a relatively timely basis or sometime soon we will be in a position that the Greeks were," Donohue said.
Responding to a question about conservative political group American Crossroads, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he finds no problem with campaign spending by corporations.
Former National Security Adviser Zbignew Brzezinski warned today at a Monitor Breakfast that the U.S. needs to tread carefully in Egypt and avoid funding the leaderless opposition movement -- while still figuring out ways to support it. Over-exertion of U.S. influence, he said, risks creating a Pinochet-like regime in Cairo.
Minnesota Governor and presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty weighs in on the importance of running a Republican candidate that appeals to undecided voters. "That last 15 percent or so is what decides the election," say Pawlenty.
Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, Democratic pollster Margie Omero and Republican pollster Neil Newhouse disagreed over the relative enthusiasm among GOP voters heading into the 2012 election season.
Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast event, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus criticizes the Obama Administration's efforts to revitalize the economy. "We're not 'Winning the Future,'" says Priebus. "We're losing the future, and we need to get serious."
Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren described the prisoner swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as "redemption" for the state of Israel.
Possible GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee slams President Obama's decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage. "I'm deeply disappointed," says Huckabee. "They are clearly out of sync with the public."
Rep. Paul Ryan discusses the possibility of accepting a VP nomination for the 2012 election. "I'd cross that bridge when I got to it," he explains "if it ever came."
Noting a range of Congressional Republicans' opinions on foreign policy matters like Afghanistan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explains that, while many of these same debates were taking place within the GOP during the Bush administration, party members may feel more "free" to express those differences with a Democrat in the White House.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro explains why there is so much oversight and trading enforcement of the same big financial firms. "People have short memories," says Schapiro, "and that's why we have to continue to bring cases."
Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned today at a Monitor Breakfast that instability in Pakistan is "the big cloud on the horizon right now" and the recent shooting of two Pakistanis by a U.S. official brings to the surface the negative feelings between the two countries.
Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole says TSA attempts to identify lower-risk passengers, but it is not a "perfect science" and they must look at intelligence to "best inform (their) judgments."
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul stated "the issues have come our way" in the current election cycle, in a manner far beyond his previous runs for the presidency.
Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior and a former Senator from Colorado, describes his home state as a "tough state, a purple state" and key to a presidential campaign strategy. Salazar predicts that Obama will win Colorado in 2012, but warns the fight will be "harder" than in 2008.
According to research by pollsters Neil Newhouse and Margie Omero, "Wal-Mart Moms" blame George Bush more than Barack Obama for America's poor economy -- but neither as much as they blame themselves.
Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman said GOP presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has reaped the rewards of national political exposure, but remains unsure about her next moves if her presidential campaign is unsuccessful.
U.S. aid to Pakistan may not have significant short-term effects, argued Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani, but eliminating or reducing aid unnecessarily stresses a relationship already near the breaking point -- and forestalls long-term benefits.
Voters unhappy with President Obama and congressional Republicans are unlikely to vote out both, pollsters Neil Newhouse and Margie Omero said at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani explains how social media sites like Twitter help his job encouraging a productive relationship between the citizens of Pakistan and the United States.