Heads-UP: First Meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Starts at 1:45 EST.



“What President Obama has done in two years on gay rights and other issues is just breathtaking”

Hi guys,

1. Today’s schedule:

9:30 AM PBO receives the presidential daily briefing.
10:00 AM PBO meets with senior advisers.
10:45 AM VPB meets with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, President of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka and presidents of AFL-CIO labor organizations.
11:00 AM  
12:00 PM  
1:00 PM Carney briefs the press.
1:45 PM PBO holds a meeting with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
2:00 PM  
3:00 PM PBO meets with Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner.
4:00 PM VPB delivers remarks at an event honoring the life and legacy of Tom Lantos at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
5:00 PM  
6:00 PM  
7:00 PM  
7:15 PM Barack and Michelle Obama  host music legends and contemporary major artists for “The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House”; Joe and Jill Biden also attend.



2. Recovery!

Weekly jobless claims decline to 391,000

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits declined last week by 22,000 to 391,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims in the week ended Feb. 19 to drop to a seasonally adjusted 405,000 from a revised 413,000 the week before. In addition, the four-week average fell to a more than two-year low, down 16,500 at 402,000. Continuing claims, which reflect the number of people already receiving state unemployment compensation, dropped 145,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.79 million in the week of Feb. 12. About 9.16 million Americans were getting some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Feb. 5, down 89,782 from the prior week.



3. Recovery!

Jan. durable goods orders up 2.7%

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Orders for U.S.-made durable goods rose 2.7% in January on stronger demand for civilian aircraft, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The increase in total orders was very close to the 2.5% gain that was the consensus forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch. This is the first increase in durables in four months. Orders for December were revised up sharply to a decline of only 0.4% from the prior estimate of a 2.3% decline.


4.  Here’s Professor Tobias Wolff talking with Rachel Maddow about PBO’s, well, “breathtaking” gay rights record.


5. NYT Editorial:

Mr. Obama Moves Against Bias


The president’s decision is a major advancement for protecting the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. It firmly skewers what has been bad law and complements the recent Congressional repeal of the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” prejudice suffered by gay men and lesbians serving the nation in the military.


The reversal seems likely to redound into the next election cycle — a fight very much worth having. As a candidate three years ago, Mr. Obama opposed the defense of marriage law but would not endorse same-sex marriage, instead supporting civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. In December, Mr. Obama said his feelings on the subject were “constantly evolving.” Wednesday’s decision raises the hope that they are evolving in the right direction — equal rights for all Americans.

Meanwhile, it is stirring that the president has done the right thing on the marriage law. He has scored Congress’s shabby violation of constitutional rights that supposedly protect all Americans, not just a selected majority in an election year.


6. Recovery!

President Obama’s Economic Report Says 2010 Marked Year of U.S. Recovery

The U.S. economy last year continued to recover from the worst economic crisis in more than 70 years, according to an annual White House report to Congress.

Though the economy still faces obstacles of high unemployment and uneven global growth, the report said the current recovery is expected to continue and gain stronger footing after the loss of millions of jobs during the recession.

“The economy has shifted out of rescue mode into the growth phase where we’re trying to get the growth-rate up and hiring-rate up,” Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.


A major element of administration plans to ensure faster growth is Obama’s goal of doubling exports from $1.57 trillion in 2009 to $3.14 trillion a year by the end of 2014, the report said.

In the first three quarter of 2010, the report said, exports surged by 17 percent compared with the same year-ago period, representing “a significant step toward that goal,” according to the report.

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7. Recovery!

Trucking Stocks Signal U.S. Economic Recovery Entering New Expansion Phase

Companies that act as brokers for trucking services are gaining favor with investors as the 20- month-old rebound shifts into a new phase that’s less dependent on inventory restocking.

The so-called asset-lite truckers such as Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. lease vehicles for businesses that need to ship goods, so they have more cost flexibility than companies that own and operate most of their trucks. Shares of these brokers have risen 6.9 percent since July 30, 2010, compared with a 1.5 percent decline for operators including Celadon Group Inc. and Werner Enterprises Inc., according to two new Bloomberg indexes.

“We are way past the early cycle rally,” and now see “sustainable elements to the recovery,” said Benjamin Hartford, transportation analyst at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co., who co-wrote Baird’s 2011 freight-outlook report. As the rebound matures, investors will find “greater resiliency” in companies with flexible costs.


8. Dear Republicans, if you lost Goldman Sachs….

GOP spending cuts would hit economy hard

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The more federal spending Congress slashes this year, the greater the potential drag on economic growth, according to a new analysis from Goldman Sachs.

In a research note, economists at the Wall Street bank estimate that the House GOP’s spending bill — which would cut $61 billion between March and Sept. 30 — could reduce economic growth by 1.5 percentage points to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters.

Last week, the Federal Reserve forecast the economy would grow between 3.4% and 3.9% this year.

The drag would be less if lawmakers decide to cut only $25 billion, which Goldman believes is more likely.

Goldman estimates a 1 percentage point drop in growth in the second quarter but adds that “would quickly fade over the next two quarters as spending stabilizes at a lower level.” And by year-end, a $25 billion reduction would have “little effect … on the rate of real GDP growth,” Goldman economists concluded.

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9. Recovery!

 GM posts fourth-quarter profit

Culminating a year in which the venerable auto manufacturer launched an IPO, General Motors earns $500 million on revenue of nearly $37 billion for the fourth quarter, and sees 2011 off to a “strong start.”


10. Nothing can escape him:

President Obama calls for freeing Cuba political prisoners


11. Here’s something for all of us to spread:

President Obama’s budget priorities


12. Man, I love Joe Biden:

“You have a president who I admired before I took the job but I have come to admire in a way that is hard to even explain. I watched this guy make incredibly difficult decisions every single day.” Biden told the audience. “I think you are going to see not only the United States but him sort of sprout their wings a little bit.”