President Obama

Capital Tonight: Obama, Bush draw parallels between their accomplishments and LBJ’s

The country’s first black president was a featured speaker on the final day of the LBJ Civil Rights Summit. President Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the three-day event, commemorating the signing of the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago.

The President spoke candidly about President Lyndon Johnson’s struggles to create change in the country, and he drew several comparisons between his presidency and the legacy of LBJ.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how President Obama and former President George W. Bush view their time in office in light of LBJ’s accomplishments.


Segregation may be over, but the income gap between whites and nonwhites is still largely in place. We sat down with economist James Galbraith for a discussion on what income inequality looks like today and the steps lawmakers are taking to curb it.


Voting laws in Texas were on the minds of many this week. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson joined us to give his take on that issue. And our political strategists, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, debated more of the political issues unique to Texas.

Wendy Davis to meet privately with President Obama

Sen. Wendy Davis will have a chance to speak one-on-one with the president today. Sources close to the campaign tell Capital Tonight Sen. Davis will meet privately with the president while he’s in Austin.

President Barack Obama is in town for the LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit, marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. He’s scheduled to arrive at the airport at 10:30 this morning, then head to the University of Texas campus, where the summit is being held.

Sen. Davis has been tapping into the Democratic donor network from all over the country in her bid to be the first Democratic governor elected in Texas since 1991. However, being linked too closely with President Obama in a red state, where he has consistently weak poll numbers since 2009, could hurt her efforts. Her opponent, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, has made suing the Obama administration over federal regulations a key part of his campaign speeches.

The Davis campaign is already connected to the Obama team in one sense: she has a joint fundraising effort with Battleground Texas, a group dedicated to turning Texas blue. The group is made up of several veterans of the president’s 2012 campaign team.


Perry blasts Obama over call for Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Perry had some harsh words for President Barack Obama Wednesday. Obama traveled to Dallas to promote his landmark health care law and to urge the state to consider expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to Obama, doing so would potentially cover more than a million Texans who are currently uninsured.

“One of the things that gets me a little frustrated,” Obama said, “are folks who are complaining about how the website’s not working, and why isn’t Obama fixing it. And yet they’re leaving more than a million people right now without health insurance that they could immediately fix.”

Gov. Perry has maintained that Texas will not expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Instead, he requested a federal block grant that would allow Texas to make changes to the program without having to follow federal guidelines. Gov. Perry did not mince words in his response to the President’s request, saying:

“President Obama deceived the American people by promising that anyone who liked their health care plan could keep it, but millions of Americans are now discovering that simply isn’t true. Now, he’s coming to Texas in a desperate attempt to salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program from a Titanic fate by preaching expansion of the same Medicaid system he himself admits is broken. In Texas, where Medicaid already consumes a quarter of the state budget, we simply need the flexibility to implement fundamental, state-specific reforms to our Medicaid program, instead of a one-size-fits-all Washington mandate, before it bankrupts our state. Mr. President, Texans aren’t the reason Obamacare is crumbling; Obamacare is the reason Obamacare is crumbling.”

Texas is one of 21 states that declined to expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare. There were several bipartisan attempts last legislative session to come up with a Texas-specific version of expansion. None of those bills gained enough support to move forward.

Abbott responds to Obama visit in new web ad

Attorney General Greg Abbott released a new online ad Wednesday to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Dallas. In his ad, Abbott criticizes the administration over the troubled roll out of the Affordable Care Act and highlights Obama’s losses in the Lone Star State.

In a statement to accompany the ad, Abbott said, “Texans don’t need a half-billion-dollar website to find out that they don’t support ObamaCare, and we are not going to let this abusive, overreaching program sink its teeth too deeply into Texas.”

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured citizens in the country. Obama spoke in Dallas to promote the positive points of the Affordable Care Act and to urge Gov. Rick Perry to expand Medicaid.

Obama administration criticized over surveillance techniques

President Obama is defending his administration’s use of a data collection program, known as PRISM. Leaked NSA documents show that the federal government has been monitoring phone calls made in the United States. The documents show intelligence agencies have also been tracking Internet activity.

News of the program was first reported by the British newspaper, The Guardian. According to the report, PRISM was used to extract audio, video, photos, and emails from some of the biggest Internet companies, including Google and Microsoft.

The Obama administration insists its actions are legal. Officials say the data isn’t reviewed unless investigators have reason to believe it’s tied to terrorism.

“I think it is important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.  You know, we are going to have to make some choices as a society,”  President Obama said Friday.

Word of the NSA surveillance techniques has outraged lawmakers in both parties. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul launched the first strike against the activity Friday. He is proposing a bill that requires a warrant before any government agency can search Americans’ phone records.

Sen. Ted Cruz has also been highly critical of the government’s tactics. Read his full statement, below the jump. More >

Capital Tonight: Budgets, demographics and DC scandals

The state’s top budget writers have been meeting behind closed doors, hammering out the final details on a two-year plan. Tuesday, we got word that lawmakers are tentatively set on $2 billion dollar water plan, but money for transportation and education remain up in the air.

MALC Turns 40

The country’s oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus is turning 40. The Mexican American Legislative Caucus celebrated Wednesday with a free concert at the Capitol, but a birthday wasn’t the only thing members celebrated. A new poll hints that the Latino vote could easily overcome the Republican margin of victory, but not every MALC member sees it that clearly.

IRS Scandal

President Barack Obama has announced that the head of the Internal Revenue Service will be resigning, in the wake of a scandal involving the specific targeting of Tea Party groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.

Sen. John Cornyn appeared on the show to talk about that and more.

Texas leaders encourage Obama to follow state business model

Texas’ top Republican officials are weighing in this morning on President Obama’s visit to Central Texas. Their message: President Obama should take a hard look at the Texas economy and use it as a model for the rest of the nation.

President Obama is in Central Texas today to kick off his “Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour.” The president will deliver remarks at Manor New Tech High School and Applied Materials. There is also speculation that he will make another private stop in Downtown Austin.

In an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, Gov. Rick Perry took the opportunity to tout Texas’ economy and job creation and took some jabs at the president’s policies.

“The secret to our success is actually pretty simple, and I’ve shared the message around the country and around the world,” Perry said. “We keep our taxes low, our regulations reasonable and effective; we’ve implemented lawsuit abuse reforms and cultivated a world-class workforce. Are these decisions always easy? No, but like every American family, we make the tough choices and balance our budget. Hardworking taxpayers should expect no less than a limited and accountable government.”

Senators Ted Cruz and Attorney General Greg Abbott weigh in, after the jump.

More >

President Obama returning to Austin

It’s becoming almost an annual tradition: President Obama is returning to Austin. The White House says Obama will be in town Thursday for “events on the economy.” Officials have not released any other details.

This is the second time President Obama will be in Texas in less than a month. He attended the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication on April 25th and then attended a memorial for the victims of the West Fertilizer Plant explosion.

President Obama is no stranger to the Capital City. He last visited Austin during the 2012 presidential campaign where he attended a sold-out fundraiser at The Austin Music Hall. He also made a swing through town in 2011 for a fundraiser at the Moody Theatre and a more exclusive private function at a West Lake home. And in 2010, President Obama delivered an education address at the University of Texas.

We’ll bring you more details of his visit as soon as we have them.

Capital Tonight: Boston blasts raise security concerns nationwide

Tragedy & National Security

As more details came to light about the Boston Marathon explosions Monday, politicians in DC and here in Texas made it clear that they would do whatever possible to find those responsible.

“We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this, we will find out why they did this,” President Barack Obama said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

While the president was careful not to refer to the explosions as an act of terrorism, Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, had no such reservations.

“I called this an act of terrorism the minute I saw it, based on the way it was perpetrated. It has all the hallmarks of the act of terrorism in terms of multiple, simultaneous casualties, spectacular events. So the Boston marathon, as runners are crossing the finish line, has all the hallmarks of an act of terrorism,” McCaul said. 


Texas Perspective

Rep. Allen Fletcher spoke to McCaul earlier in the day. He talked about that conversation and gave his perspective as vice-chairman of the Texas House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee. 


State Business Continues

Meanwhile, things elsewhere the Capitol continued as usual. Gov. Rick Perry chose tax day to unveil a tax-relief plan for Texas businesses.

Click the YNN logo below to hear more about that story, along with analysis from the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg.


Full text of President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Here’s the full text of President Obama’s address, Tuesday:


As Prepared for Delivery –

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, fellow citizens:

Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.”

Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report.  After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home.  After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs.  We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty.  Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before.

Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.

More >