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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unemployment Benefits: Round 4

The Senate votes on unemployment benefits for millions of Americans today - an issue that has become a political football in this election year.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with three citizens who are having trouble finding work, President Obama points out that the Senate has tried three times in recent weeks to extend jobless benefits - and come up short each time.

"Each time, a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote, denying millions of people who are out of work much-needed relief. These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks," he said.

Obama calls this misguided, but Republicans say it's a matter of dollars and cents. Their view: the cost of extending those benefits - about $35 billion - must be offset with spending cuts. Democrats call that hypocrisy, because Republicans also want to spend much more - $650 billion - to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the rich without any offsets.

Republicans say the tax cuts are needed to get the economy moving; Democrats say you had thse tax cuts for nearly a decade and there was a recession anyway.

But today's vote - the fourth attempt - is expected to pass - as is a package of tax cuts and small business lending.

BP - and the Pan Am 103 Bombing

On the President's schedule today: British Prime Minister David Cameron visits. They'll hold a news conference. Near the top of their agenda: Afghanistan, BP - and what role the British energy company played in helping free a Libyan man convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland - most of the victims in that that attack were Americans and the White House last year was outraged at the release.

BP claims it was not involved in discussions with the British government or Scottish government about the case (it was the latter which held and ultimately freed the Libyan convict, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi). But BP admits it was concerned "with the slow progress" being made with al-Megrahi's release, which it said could have a "negative impact" on business. Within weeks after the 2007 transfer agreement's signing, the Libyan government formally ratified a $900 million with BP to drill deep water wells off the Libyan coast. But BP experienced what the Wall Street Journal reports as "bureaucratic hurdles" until Megrahi was finally released in August 2009.

Of the 270 victims of Pan Am flight 103, 190 were Americans. It was the second worst terror attack on Americans prior to Sept. 11.


President's Schedule


9:30AM Pool Call Time

9:45AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:15AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom
Oval Office
Pool spray at the top for still photographers (Gather Time 10:50AM – Brady Press Briefing Room)

12:20PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT host a working lunch with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom
State Dining Room
Closed Press

2:00PM THE PRESIDENT holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom
East Room
Open Press (Pre-set 1:00PM – Final Gather 1:30PM – North Doors of the Palm Room)

- Paul Brandus at the White House

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