Step aside Governor Andrew Cuomo, President Barack Obama has one-upped your minimum wage proposal.
In his State of the Union speech tonight, Mr. Obama unveiled a number of initiatives, including a new national minimum wage rate of $9.00 an hour, raised from the previous minimum of $7.25.
“We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages,” Mr. Obama says in his prepared remarks.
White House Well-Wishes
In 1981, when Ed Koch was mayor, President Barack Obama moved to New York City to study at Columbia University. Today, Mr. Obama joined New Yorkers in mourning Mr. Koch’s death.
“Ed Koch was an extraordinary Mayor, irrepressible character, and quintessential New Yorker,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people.”
The Fourth Estate
Beyoncé Knowles may or may not have sung the “Star Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, but the country’s executive branch seems disinclined to find out.
Ever since reports first accused Ms. Knowles of lip-syncing the patriotic anthem, inaugural news coverage has sharply focused on the issue, including front-page treatment from New York City’s two tabloid dailies. Yet asked about the ongoing controversy during today’s media briefing, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, had no significant comment on the matter.
This morning, the New York Post‘s cover featured the power couple of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration–Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z–under a headline accusing Washington pols of being more starstruck by the celebrity duo than by Mr. Obama himself. Not everyone agrees with that interpretation, however, including GOP Rep. Pete King, pictured snapping a photo of Ms. Knowles. In a CNN interview today, Mr. King said the Post actually had it backwards, and Ms. Knowles was the one basking in his presence.
“It’s a great moment for Beyoncé to be seen with me,” Mr. King joked. “I mean, her career is definitely going to take off. That’s what she was waiting for all these years.”
Cup of Joe
At the inaugural reception earlier this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden proved he still has the ability to go off script.
As various speakers–including President Barack Obama–stood behind the room’s podium to offer toasts, Mr. Biden offered a heap of praise on Mr. Obama before quickly announcing his toast would instead go to one of his former colleagues in the U.S. Senate, New York’s Chuck Schumer.
Earlier today, President Barack Obama took the oath of office in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands of individuals and the full attention of the country’s media. And, while touting the importance of the American democracy, Mr. Obama also used the occasion to promote some of his policy goals for next four years.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said, for example, according to his prepared remarks. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”
Moments before President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden put their hands on the Bible to take the oath of office, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander took the podium to introduce them by quoting Alex Haley, the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and co-author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the late Alex Haley, the author of Roots, lived his life by these six words: find the good and praise it,” Mr. Alexander, the-chair of the inaugural committee, said.
shutting it down
Earlier today, President Barack Obama announced his flagship campaign operation, Obama for America, will officially end this Sunday and become a political nonprofit known by the same acronym, “Organizing for Action.”
In an email to his supporters, Mr. Obama said the new organization will serve as “an unparalleled force in American politics” to achieve “legislative action” in Washington.
It’s not just Mayor Michael Bloomberg who’s offering effusive praise for President Barack Obama’s gun initiatives that the White House rolled out today. In a statement released this afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo noted he accomplished his own gun control legislation earlier this week and offered words of encouragement for Mr. Obama’s own efforts.
“We have done it here in New York, and Congress should stand with the President to make our nation a safer place for all,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind is not in the least bit pleased about President Barack Obama nominating former Senator Chuck Hagel to be his new Secretary of Defense.
Mr. Hikind, a prominent pol in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community and a Democrat known for breaking with his own party, is incensed over what he feels is Mr. Hagel’s insufficient support for Israel and a controversial comment he once made referring to the “Jewish lobby.”
“Hagel’s policy positions have been anti-Israel and pro-Iranian,” Mr. Hikind declared in a press release blasted out earlier this afternoon that compared Mr. Hagel with Neville Chamberlain, the former British Prime Minister famous for appeasing Adolf Hitler before World War Two.