Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama calls on Congress to extend unemployment benefits this holiday season for the 1.3 million Americans who will lose them at the end of 2013.
Obama asked Congress to help the economy and add jobs with the possible extension before their leave for vacation. In light of the strong jobs report recently released, the president emphasized the 8 million new jobs created in the last 45 months.
Temporary unemployment insurance helps millions of Americans, he said, and it is important for Congress to act before their leave.
"If Congress refuses to act, it won’t just hurt families already struggling – it will actually harm our economy," Obama said in his address.
Read the full transcript of the president's address:
"Hi, everybody. The holiday season is a time for remembering the bonds we share, and our obligations to one another as human beings.
"But right now, more than one million of our fellow Americans are poised to lose a vital economic lifeline just a few days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t do something about it.
"Our top priority as a country should be restoring opportunity and broad-based economic growth for all Americans. And yesterday, we learned that our businesses created about 200,000 jobs in the month of November. That’s more than 8 million new jobs in the last 45 months. And the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five years.
"But we need to do everything we can to help businesses create more good jobs that pay good wages even faster. Because the hole that we’re still digging out of means that there are still millions of Americans looking for work – often because they’ve been laid off through no fault of their own.
"We also have to look out for the Americans working hard to get those jobs. That’s why, as a country, we offer temporary unemployment insurance – so that job-seekers don’t fall into poverty, and so that when they get that job, they bounce back more quickly.
"For many families, it can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe. It makes a difference for a mother who suddenly doesn’t know if she’ll be able to put food on the table for her kids. It makes a difference for a father who lost his job and is looking for a new one. Last year alone, it lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, and cushioned the blow for many more.
"But here’s the thing: if Members of Congress don’t act before they leave on their vacations, 1.3 million Americans will lose this lifeline. These are people we know. They’re our friends and neighbors; they sit next to us in church and volunteer in our communities; their kids play with our kids. And they include 20,000 veterans who’ve served this country with honor.
"If Congress refuses to act, it won’t just hurt families already struggling – it will actually harm our economy. Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways there is to boost our economy. When people have money to spend on basic necessities, that means more customers for our businesses and, ultimately, more jobs. And the evidence shows that unemployment insurance doesn’t stop people from trying hard to find work.
"Just this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that allowing benefits to expire will be a drag on our economic growth next year. A report by the Department of Labor and my Council of Economic Advisors estimated that it could cost businesses 240,000 jobs. And without the ability to feed their families or pay the bills, many people currently looking for work could stop looking for good.
"So extending unemployment insurance isn’t just the right thing to do for our families – it’s the smart thing to do for our economy. And it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. For decades, Congress has voted to offer relief to job-seekers – including when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today.
"But now that economic lifeline is in jeopardy. All because Republicans in this Congress – which is on track to be the most unproductive in history – have so far refused to extend it.
"So this holiday season, let’s give our fellow Americans who are desperately looking for work the help they need to keep on looking. Let’s make it easier for businesses to attract more customers, and our economy to grow. And together, let’s keep doing everything we can to make this country a place where anyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.
"Thanks, and have a great weekend."
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
United States Congress(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, representing North Carolina's second district, discussed the House's focus on jobs and constituents' stories with President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
Ellmers expressed frustration with the health care law, saying it was an example of the "war on women."
Citing examples from voters' experiences with the Affordable Care Act, the congresswoman said the people would have to "spend the holiday season wondering 'what's next?'" and that the law relied too much on insurance companies and big businesses.
Ellmers called on the president to get rid of the law or at least delay it to help Americans.
Read the full transcript of the Republican address:
"Merry Christmas, everyone, and hello, my name is Renee Ellmers, and I represent North Carolina’s Second Congressional District.
"Like many of you, I’m frustrated with the president’s health care law, especially where jobs and working families are concerned. I say this not only as a congresswoman and chair of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee; I say it as a nurse and the mother of a son in college.
"After all, it’s often women who make the health care decisions for our families. We put a lot of time and thought into these choices and how they’ll affect our budgets.
"So by canceling your insurance – despite a promise to let you keep your plan – the Obama administration is essentially saying it knows what’s best for you and your family. Not only that, they are making you pay more – usually much more – and in many cases, taking away the doctors you've been seeing for years.
"If you want to talk about a ‘war on women,’ look no further than this health care law.
"Just consider some of the stories I’ve heard from folks in my district.
"Marian from Pittsboro told me that she and her husband received cancellation notices and that the replacement would double their premiums. When she called to ask for help, the insurance company told Marian that if she doesn’t sign up for a new plan, the law requires that they enroll her in the 'suggested policy.' This increase, she says, will consume their gas and grocery money for the month. She now sees no choice but to cancel their insurance altogether.
"Kent and Ulli from Cary are in their mid-50s and they report that their premiums are about to jump from $248 to $968 per month. That is nearly four times higher. Ken and Ulli have always preferred a high deductible policy because they work hard to stay in good health and when they do need care, they like to shop for the best value. But as we have seen, this administration thinks it knows better than they do.
"And then there’s Liz from Sanford. She’s a small business owner with only two employees: herself and her husband. Their premiums went up 127 percent on account of the new law. Liz told me that she and her husband are regular, hardworking, healthy Americans. She said “we are not wealthy. I really don’t know what will happen in the future.”
"Seeing so many hardworking people have to spend the holiday season wondering ‘what’s next?’ – it’s heartbreaking. And it’s wrong.
"These families wouldn’t be in this boat if those who wrote the law had listened to hardworking taxpayers instead of relying on insurance companies and big businesses. Even now, these same entities are the ones getting special delays, breaks, and workarounds from the White House.
"Families who work hard and play by the rules deserve some basic choices, fairness and relief.
"That’s why the House has passed legislation to delay the individual mandate for all Americans and let you keep the plan you like. These proposals are among the dozens of House-passed jobs bills awaiting action in the Democratic-run Senate. Leaders there, however, continue to stand in the way of the American people.
"For our part, Republicans will continue to listen, focus on jobs, and give this law the scrutiny it deserves. We’re also going to keep pressing the president to do the right thing. If the president won't scrap this law, isn't it time for him to delay it for all Americans before it does further harm?
"On behalf of all of us here, let me wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Thank you for listening. "
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama showed off his moves as he got into the holiday spirit Friday evening, grooving alongside a dancing elf at the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse.
After wishing the soaking wet crowd a merry Christmas and greeting the performers during the ceremony’s big finale, the president tried to keep up with a little girl who was a dancer in Mariah Carey’s troupe.
“This show is always a great way to get in the holiday spirit. Every year, I rehearse my own little act, just in case. But it seems like, yet again, they couldn’t find space to squeeze me into the program,” the president joked earlier in his remarks. “You are lucky I’m not singing.”
With the help of the first lady, daughters Malia and Sasha, and first grandmother Marian Robinson, the president officially lit the national Christmas tree, a massive 31-foot-tall Colorado Blue Spruce.
“For 91 years, the national Christmas tree has stood as a beacon of light and a promise during the holiday season. During times of peace and prosperity, challenge and change, Americans have gathered around our national tree to kick off the holiday season and give thanks for everything that makes this time of year so magical — spending time with friends and family, and spreading tidings of peace and goodwill here at home and around the world,” he said, as the rain poured down.
The president briefly mentioned the legacy of Nelson Mandela, noting “this year, we give a special measure of gratitude for … a man who championed that generosity of spirit. In his life, he blessed us with tremendous grace and unbelievable courage. And we are all privileged to live in a world touched by his goodness.”
The first lady also got in on the holiday fun, reading a spirited rendition of Twas The Night Before Christmas with the Muppets’ Abby Cadabby. The ceremony was filled with star power and included performances from Aretha Franklin, Janelle Monáe, Arturo Sandoval and Carey, among others.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Bill Clinton counts Nelson Mandela as a “true friend” during the six years of their concurrent presidencies and after.
Reflecting on Mandela’s life and presidency, Clinton told ABC News that Mandela disciplined himself to keep his anger toward the people who jailed him for 27 years private.
“He realized that if he brought his personal feelings into it, he couldn’t do what was right by the people that he had gone to prison for 27 years for,” Clinton told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on World News with Diane Sawyer. “He realized it wouldn’t work.”
“And he also realized that he personally and his country could never be free without forgiveness,” Clinton added.
That doesn’t mean he had no lingering feelings toward his jailers and the regime that enforced the brutal system of apartheid.
Clinton said that Mandela would on occasion reveal “flashes of anger” about the hard labor and his mistreatment in prison to his friends, but rarely would it come to the surface.
“He once told me that he lived on hatred when he went into prison because he was young and he was being abused and he was out there cracking those rocks all day and he said after about 11 years he realized that they’d already taken about everything they could take from him except his mind and his heart,” Clinton said.
“He said I realized that those are things you have to give away and I decided not to give them away.”
Mandela is known for having invited his jailers to his inauguration, a symbolic gesture that helped start the process of healing in South Africa. But he also urged reconciliation in the way he governed.
“[A]s a politician and a president, more important was the fact that he put the leaders of the parties who had imprisoned him in his cabinet,” Clinton said. “He left the structure of the government intact as long as people were willing to work with him to achieve the objectives of the country.”
Since leaving office, Clinton has traveled to South Africa nearly every year, often working with Mandela on AIDS programs, and spending time with Mandela around his birthday.
The two presidents shared a close bond during their presidencies, Clinton revealed. He would talk to Mandela late at night–when it was a reasonable hour in South Africa–to confer on policy and to draw personally on Mandela’s wisdom.
“He was always trying to help me deal with the challenges and always reminding me that it wasn’t just all those years he spent in prison where what went on in your mind and heart was the most important thing,” Clinton said. “Sort of a precondition for being able to do any good for anybody else.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mayor Vincent Gray compared the District of Columbia’s lack of autonomy and voting rights to the struggles Nelson Mandela endured, explaining Friday that residents connect so much with the South African leader because “we have not achieved full equality in this city.”
“When we can’t have the authority to be able to spend our own money, and all our local laws need to go to the national legislative body in order to be approved, when we experience taxation without representation every day, when we don’t have a voting member of the national legislative body, I think the people can relate first hand to Nelson Mandela, the leadership he provided and the experience in South Africa because there are so many similarities to the experiences right here in this that we continue to endure,” Gray said at a press conference at the South African Embassy.
Gray noted that people all over the country feel a deep connection with Mandela, despite most never laying their eyes on him in person, because “in this country we went through our own form of apartheid, the segregation, the racial segregation that we experienced in this nation that we endured.”
Gray, who announced this week he will seek another term, called Mandela “absolutely an inspiration” to him and said Mandela’s death “is truly a profound loss for our city and for the world.”
“Again as I look at the circumstances that we have to endure in this city every day, this is a man who spent many years in jail, this is a man who was sentenced to life in prison and he was able to overcome those circumstances and lead South Africa,” Gray said.
Gray added that he will launch a new effort in the Washington, D.C., public schools to include more education around the “life and work of Nelson Mandela and the parallels to our own life here in this country and in this city and how we can use his principals and the way he lived his life to continue to work on the injustices that we have in this city.”
Since Washington lacks the rights of a state, it does not have full control over their local affairs nor do they have a voting member in Congress.
The press conference Friday afternoon was called to announce that D.C. will be the site for the official U.S. celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela and the mayor said they “will do the best job we can leading the way as the whole country from the Atlantic to the Pacific celebrates this man and works to preserve his legacy.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 11 a.m., a national memorial service will be held at the National Cathedral. Gray said they are expecting people from all over the nation to attend the service and he hopes those attending represent a “microcosm of this country.”
In addition to the service, there will be books of condolences at both the John A. Wilson Building and the South African embassy for mourners to sign. The embassy will also hold prayer vigils in the evenings around the Mandela statue that graces the front of the building.
South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool thanked the country for their outpouring of grief and support since Mandela’s death was announced Thursday.
“This has been a traumatic 24 hours for South Africans and as we have discovered for people across the world, and so within that there has also been a sense that even though we anticipated that Nelson Mandela will not be with us forever, we cannot help, but be shocked at his passing,” said Rasool.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said Friday he intends to seek re-election in 2014, setting up one of the biggest Republican primaries pitting the establishment vs. the tea party in the country next year.
“Our nation and the State of Mississippi continue to face many challenges and opportunities. We must work to defend our national security interests, roll back burdensome policies like Obamacare, continue the fight to reduce our national debt and create opportunities for more jobs and economic growth,” Cochran said in a statement Friday. “I will run for re-election to the United States Senate. I will run hard and be successful so that I can continue to serve the people of Mississippi and our nation effectively.”
Cochran, who turns 76 this weekend, will run to secure his seventh term in the Senate, but he enters a race against Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who has picked up the endorsement of several national tea party-leaning groups.
Mississippi is a solidly red state, but the race between a nearly 36-year veteran of the Senate and the tea party-backed newcomer will become one of the most closely watched Republican races in the country.
McDaniel, 41, entered the race in October and quickly was endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, who reiterated its support for McDaniel on Friday.
“Throughout his over forty years in Washington, Senator Thad Cochran has done some good things for Mississippi, but he’s also done some bad things,” said Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth. “Fortunately, Republicans in Mississippi have a real choice for the United States Senate this year. They can vote for Senator Cochran, or they can vote for a more fiscally conservative alternative who is dedicated to limited government and passing policies that will increase economic growth.”
But Cochran, who has not faced a tough challenger since joining the Senate in 1978, has the support of much of the Republican establishment, who up until Friday were uncertain if he would seek a seventh term.
“I think people are relieved that he’s running,” Henry Barbour, a major state lobbyist and a national committeeman for the Republican National Committee, told ABC News. “I certainly will do all I can to help him. We need more people in Washington who understand how to work with people. They are just few and far between these days.”
Cochran is the second-longest serving Republican in the Senate today. He is also a top member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a powerful panel that allocates money to federal agencies and departments. Cochran chaired the committee between 2005 and 2007 when Mississippi was recovering from Hurricane Katrina and helped secure billions of dollars for coastal communities ravaged by the storm.
McDaniel’s campaign welcomed Cochran to the race Friday.
“Sen. Cochran has had a long and distinguished career representing the people of Mississippi,” McDaniel said in a statement. “I look forward to a positive campaign based on the future of our state, our country and the Republican Party. As a strong conservative, I will fight to bring those values to Washington.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More than 3.7 million people visited HealthCare.gov this week, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, despite lingering technical issues on the back-end of the government's exchange website.
There are still errors between the site and insurance providers, affecting as many as one-in-ten plans. However, officials insist that number is an improvement from the one-in-four error rate between October and November, prior to the technical overhaul made to address glitches.
More people are on the site than ever, said Julie Bataille, director of communications at CMS.
"The site remains stable and experienced no unscheduled downtime," Bataille said. "The average error rate was .77 percent, and response time averaged well under one second."
The front-end issues have been ironed out for users for the most part, she explained.
Still, as many as one in four people, who selected a plan on the site in October and November, may have their applications in limbo due to technical glitches with the 834 forms sent to insurers to complete the process, the Obama administration said Friday.
CMS outlined three distinct categories of trouble they are still trying to resolve: forms that may not be generated from the system, duplicate forms, and forms that may have passed technical data incorrectly.
"Our dedicated 834 team, operating with the speed and urgency of a high-performing private sector tech company, now being overseen by our general contractor, QSSI, is working directly with issuers to systematically go through this information to resolve any remaining issues," Bataille said. "Our clear priority is fixing any remaining bugs that are causing problems and working to make sure that every 834 form, past and present, is accurate."
The White House and CMS are urging anyone who signed up through the site to call their insurer to verify enrollment.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
DENIS FARRELL/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday called Nelson Mandela “a giant among us,” whose “unconquerable” soul “demonstrated unequivocally how each of us can choose how we will respond to those injustices and grievances, those sorrows and tragedies that afflict all of humankind.”
“Nelson Mandela will be remembered for many things,” Clinton began. “He will be certainly remembered for the way he led, his dignity, his extraordinary understanding not just of how to bring democracy and freedom to his beloved South Africa, but how important it was that he first brought freedom to himself.”
Clinton, who as first lady was in attendance at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994, recalled that during her encounters with Mandela, “I was always struck by the extraordinary depth of his self-knowledge, of his awareness about how hard it is to live a life of integrity, of service.”
“I only hope that as we both mourn and celebrate the passing of this universally recognized and beloved figure, that we remember he became that through an enormous amount of hard work on himself,” she said.
Clinton was speaking at the U.S. Capitol where she was honored with the Tom Lantos Prize for Human Rights. After she accepted the honor, she remarked how much Mandela was like Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who later served in Congress.
“Here were two men who had seen the worst that humanity can offer; who had been objectified, denied their right to be a Jew in Hungary during the Holocaust or a black man in South Africa during apartheid. They had every reason to come out, if not embittered, cynical; believing that for the rest of their lives, the only thing that would matter was acquiring power, being able to demonstrate their influence, especially as against those who had denied them the right to be who they were,” she said. “What always struck me about Nelson Mandela and Tom Lantos was the joy, the curiosity, the enthusiasm for life that they brought with them out of the depths of such suffering.”
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize is awarded annually to raise awareness about human rights “to bring to the attention of the world the brave individuals who are committed to fighting for justice across the globe,” according to the Lantos Foundation.
As she left the building, Clinton, the presumptive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, paid no attention to a question asking whether she is gearing up for another presidential campaign.
The former secretary of state also ignored a man who confronted her as she boarded an elevator who asked whether her response to the Benghazi terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2012, would have been different had her daughter Chelsea been the ambassador to Libya. An agent on Clinton’s security detail put her hand in front of the man’s cellphone camera until the elevator doors closed.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
US Senate(NEW YORK) -- While much of the world was eulogizing Nelson Mandela, some of Sen. Ted Cruz’s followers were fuming that the man who defeated South Africa’s apartheid and won the Nobel Peace Prize should be reviled as a communist and a terrorist.
They were also critical of Cruz, R-Texas, for praising Mandela.
The death of Mandela Thursday at age 95 prompted an outpouring of praise from around the world.
Cruz also eulogized Mandela on his Facebook page, writing, “Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe…Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free.”
The post still got over 5,000 likes.
But it also drew some fierce criticism and some of his followers were dismayed by the senator’s praise.
“Let’s not forget that Mandela called Castro’s Communist revolution ‘a source of inspiration to all freedom loving people,” wrote Mike Bates in the most liked comment on the post.
“Mandela was a white hating killer and his wife continued his tradition...including torture and immolation of enemies,” said Bob Ciuffa. “Honoring him is like honoring the prince of darkness.”
“Sad to see you feel this way Ted,” wrote Tom Griffin. “He was a terrorist. I guess you have only seen the Hollywood movies.”
“May he rest in peace. But I was afraid this day would come, when Ted Cruz would disappoint,” said Dan Knopp. “He might as well just let it all out know and let us know who he really is…Can’t support someone who doesn’t know history, accepts the rewritten version, or is willing to risk his base pandering to the politically correct crowd.”
“Um, yeah, Mandela was a communist and was involved in torture, terror and murder,” said David Frey. “Just lost a lot of respect, Senator Cruz. A whole lot.”
Cruz’s office did not return calls seeking comment on his followers’ posts.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It’s a question that President Obama may one day have to answer in earnest: Who would make a better president, his former secretary of state Hillary Clinton or his vice president, Joe Biden?
“Not a chance am I doing this,” the president said Thursday when MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked him to compare the two potential 2016 candidates.
“Both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents,” he said, before praising their work in his administration.
“I think Joe Biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever. And has been with me, at my side, in every tough decision that I’ve made from going after bin Laden to dealing with the health care issues to -- you name it; he’s been there,” he said. “Hillary, I think, will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve ever had, and helped to transition us away from a deep hole that we were in when I first came into office around the world, and to rebuild confidence and trust in the United States.”
“They’ve got different strengths, but both of them would be outstanding,” he added.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
United States Congress(LONDONBERRY, N.H.) -- Looks like old habits die hard for former senator Scott Brown.
The former Massachusetts Senator has been flirting with the idea of a Senate run in the neighboring state of New Hampshire, and on Thursday, he committed an “Oops!” when speaking to reporters in Londonderry, N.H., about his timetable for making a decision on a possible senate bid in the Granite State.
“What I’ve heard from the Republicans up here is they’re thankful that I’ve been around for a year, helping them raise money, helping them raise awareness as to the issues that are affecting not only people here in Massachusetts–uh, in New Hampshire, but also in Massachusetts, obviously, in Maine.” Brown continued, “I’ve been to Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, I’ve been all over the New England area, certainly, talking and helping people raise money.”
American Bridge 21st Century, a progressive research and communications organization, published a video of the exchange to YouTube Friday.
Brown owns a home in Rye, N.H., and is working on cutting ties to his former state of residence. He put his home in Massachusetts up for sale in September.
The former Bay State senator does have roots in New Hampshire, and in the past he noted that he has been a taxpayer in the state for 20 years, where he and his wife have owned a summer home.
“I was born at the Navy base in Kittery, my grandparents lived in Newington and they’re buried in Portsmouth,” Brown said in a 2011 interview with the Portsmouth Herald, “I was going to Hoyt’s Cabins in Rye with my grandmother from when I was 6 years old.”
State mix up or not, Brown continues to remain coy about whether he will enter the 2014 New Hampshire Senate race, and will continue to draw speculation because he has more upcoming appearances in the state. On Dec. 19 he will be the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s holiday luncheon.
Hopefully Brown is able to embed the correct state, New Hampshire, into his repertoire by then.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- John Quincy Adams once proclaimed: "There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president."
It may not be leader of the free world, but life after the U.S. presidency is hardly bleak. Many former commanders-in-chief have used their ample amount of free time to build up lucrative speaking careers, delve into philanthropic causes and even take up new hobbies -- like painting.
It's now that time in a president's second term when questions are being asked about what President Obama's second act will be. During a Nov. 26 visit to Jeffery Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale, Calif., Obama revealed he's set his sights on his dream job post-presidency.
"At least I know what I want to do when I retire...host ESPN's SportsCenter's Top 10 List," he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Obama also revealed he might stay in the nation's capital after moving out of the White House, telling ABC News' Barbara Walters in an interview that they want to give youngest daughter Sasha, who will still be in high school, a voice in the decision.
"We've got to make sure that she's doing well...until she goes off to college," the president said. "Sasha will have a big say in where we are."
One thing the Obamas told Walters they do know for sure: The president will not be seeking a future in politics.
Obama's decision is a common one. Returning to political office hasn't been a popular option -- only three former presidents have gained a seat in the House of Representatives, Senate or Supreme Court, and all did so before the Great Depression.
Adams, after being defeated in the general election for a second term, successfully won a seat in the House, where he served until his death.
Andrew Johnson, the first president to ever be impeached, gained a Senate seat after he was denied the nomination for a second presidential term by his party, and lost a bid to the House.
William Howard Taft became the only former president to serve on the Supreme Court when he was appointed chief justice by Warren G. Harding in 1921.
These men were the exception, not the norm, as many presidents, including George Washington and Harry Truman, returned to their hometowns and enjoyed a life of quiet retirement.
But there's been a major shift in that trend in the modern era, and it has changed the way we perceive our presidents. Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and author of the book Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House, told ABC News this change came with the end of Richard Nixon's presidency.
"Richard Nixon in some respects ushered in the modern age of the post-presidency. He used his status as a former president to make himself almost a self-appointed secretary of state and he traveled the world and talked to former and current leaders and got a sense of where America stood in the world," Updegrove said.
"He burnished his legacy so that when he was memorialized 20 years after leaving the presidency in disgrace, he was remembered more as a venerable elder statesman than a disgraced former president," he added.
Updegrove also cites Jimmy Carter as the perfect example of post-presidential success. After losing the general election for a second-term to Ronald Reagan, the 39th president went on to establish the Carter Center in 1982 for the advancement of human rights. The nonprofit has played a part in resolving major conflicts in Haiti and North Korea, and in 2002, Carter became the only president to receive the Nobel Prize after leaving office.
Post-presidential life also has promise of profit. Along with a yearly pension (around $200,000) established by the 1958 Former Presidents Act, a number of former presidents have built post-White House careers thanks to speaking tours and book deals.
Bill Clinton received a $15 million advance for his autobiography My Life, and, according to CNN, has made over $100 million on the lecture circuit since ending his term in 1999.
But it seems the biggest upside to a contemporary president's second act is not so much a growing bank account but a spike in approval ratings.
According to an April Gallup Poll, a president's retrospective approval ratings frequently exceed what they were during the president's term.
Updegrove credits this rise to the fact that it's easier for the public to see a president as a person once they leave office.
This seems to be the case with George W. Bush, who has enjoyed positive publicity as he focuses on his painting and philanthropic work since leaving the White House.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
UN Photo(WASHINGTON) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and whose defiance led to the dismantling of the country's apartheid system, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 95 years old.
President Obama on Thursday offered a personal reflection on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, a man he described as, "one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth." Click here for more on President Obama’s statement.
Here is additional reaction from former U.S. presidents, officials, and world leaders:
Vice President Joe Biden, via paper statement: Nelson Mandela once said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Mandela’s wisdom and compassion were formidable enough to change the world. First his courage and then his forgiveness inspired us all, and challenged us to do better. In the words of the South African poet Peter Horn, he “dreamed the world another way.” I saw his world the way it used to be when I visited South Africa as a 34 year old Senator. When I exited the plane I was directed to one side of the tarmac, while the African American congressmen traveling with me were sent to the other side. I refused to break off, and the officials finally relented. When I tried to enter Soweto township with Congressmen Andrew Young of Atlanta and Charles Diggs of Detroit, I remember their tears of anger and sadness. Because of Nelson Mandela’s courage, and compassion, that world has been transformed. One of my favorite Irish poets, Seamus Heaney once wrote: “History says, don’t hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope and history rhyme.” In the hands of Nelson Mandela, hope and history rhymed. This is a better world because Nelson Mandela was in it. He was a good man.
Former President George W. Bush, via paper statement: Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example. This great man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela’s family and to the citizens of the nation he loved.
Former President Bill Clinton, via paper statement: Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings. And Hillary, Chelsea and I have lost a true friend. History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation. We will remember him as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Graça and his family and to the people of South Africa. All of us are living in a better world because of the life that Madiba lived. He proved that there is freedom in forgiving, that a big heart is better than a closed mind, and that life’s real victories must be shared.
Former President George H.W. Bush, via paper statement: Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment -- setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen.
Former President Jimmy Carter, via paper statement: Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela. The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader. His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide, and because of him, South Africa is today one of the world’s leading democracies. In recent years, I was gratified to be able to work with him through The Elders to encourage resolution of conflicts and advance social justice and human rights in many nations. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family at this difficult time.
Secretary of State John Kerry, via paper statement: Madiba’s 'long walk to freedom' gave new meaning to courage, character, forgiveness, and human dignity. Now that his long walk has ended, the example he set for all humanity lives on. He will be remembered as a pioneer for peace. There are some truly brave people in this world whom you meet and you’re forever changed for the experience. Nelson Mandela remains Teresa’s hero, and a person who inspired her as a young woman to march with her classmates against apartheid. We had the honor of sitting with Mandela over the Thanksgiving holidays of 2007. I was struck by how warm, open, and serene he was. I stood in his tiny cell on Robben Island, a room with barely enough space to lie down or stand up, and I learned that the glare of the white rock quarry permanently damaged his eyesight. It hit home even more just how remarkable it was that after spending 27 years locked away, after having his own vision impaired by the conditions, that this man could still see the best interests of his country and even embrace the very guards who kept him prisoner. That is the story of a man whose ability to see resided not in his eyes but in his conscience. It is hard to imagine any of us could summon such strength of character. Nelson Mandela was a stranger to hate. He rejected recrimination in favor of reconciliation and knew the future demands we move beyond the past. He gave everything he had to heal his country and lead it back into the community of nations, including insisting on relinquishing his office and ensuring there would be a peaceful transfer of power. Today, people all around the world who yearn for democracy look to Mandela’s nation and its democratic Constitution as a hopeful example of what is possible. Teresa and I join those from around the world in honoring the life of this great man. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Graca, his family, all the people of South Africa and everyone who today enjoys the freedom Madiba fought for his entire life.
Attorney General Eric Holder, via paper statement: I join President Obama in expressing my heartfelt condolences to the people of South Africa, and the entire Mandela family, on the passing of Nelson Mandela. The world has lost an extraordinary pioneer and an unsurpassed champion for freedom and justice. As a lawyer and an activist, he inspired millions – not only in South Africa, but around the globe – to stand united against oppression and apartheid. As a statesman, he fought throughout his career to advance democratic values, working tirelessly to combat poverty, AIDS, and human rights abuses. As South Africa’s first democratically-elected president, he sought to bring healing to a torn and deeply divided country. And he became much more than the ‘father of a nation.’ Like so many – in every corner of the globe – I have regarded President Mandela as a personal hero for decades. I was inspired years ago by his courage and his devotion to improving the lives of those around him. And when I had the privilege of meeting with him, as Deputy Attorney General, I found him to be a remarkable man and a brilliant and principled leader. His legacy will endure, and his important work will go on, in the efforts of all who continue to speak out for peace, for freedom, for justice, and for the dignity to which every human being is entitled. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing today, and will hold his friends, loved ones, and countrymen and women in my thoughts and prayers.
Former Vice President Al Gore, via paper statement: Today marks the passing of one of the greatest leaders and visionaries in the history of our world, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela has already been immortalized as an enduring symbol of compassion and courage. I had the honor of working with Madiba often during my time as co-chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission. Each and every time I was with him, I was awed by his commanding yet graceful presence. Along with hundreds of millions, I still vividly remember the day Madiba was released from Pollsmoor Prison just outside of Cape Town. My son and I were home in Nashville; the only ones awake early on a Sunday morning. We sat on the couch and watched as Madiba was set free. I remember thinking that whatever important milestones my children and grandchildren witness in the coming century, few will rival this one. Madiba once wrote, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." We should take a moment today to bow our heads and pay our respects to an extraordinarily courageous man who truly changed the world for the better and, in the process, inspired us all.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, via paper statement: Nelson Mandela was a singular figure on the global stage -- a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration. I am profoundly saddened by his passing. On behalf of the United Nations, I extend my deepest condolences to the people of South Africa and especially to Nelson Mandela’s family and loved ones. Many around the world were greatly influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways. At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations. Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of his people and humanity, and he did so at great personal sacrifice. His principled stance and the moral force that underpinned it were decisive in dismantling the system of apartheid. Remarkably, he emerged from 27 years of detention without rancor, determined to build a new South Africa based on dialogue and understanding. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission established under his leadership remains a model for achieving justice in societies confronting a legacy of human rights abuses. In the decades-long fight against apartheid, the United Nations stood side-by-side with Nelson Mandela and all those in South Africa who faced unrelenting racism and discrimination. His 1994 address to the General Assembly as the first democratically elected President of a free South Africa was a defining moment. The Assembly has declared 18 July, his birthday, “Nelson Mandela International Day”, an annual observance on which we recognize and seek to build on his contributions to promoting a culture of peace and freedom around the world. I was privileged to meet Nelson Mandela in 2009. When I thanked him for his life’s work, he insisted the credit belonged to others. I was very moved by his selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose. Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us -- if we believe, dream and work together. Let us continue each day to be inspired by his lifelong example and his call to never cease working for a better and more just world.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, via paper statement: Throughout history, a few special people have been able to transcend differences and change the world for the better. Nelson Mandela was one of those people who had a vision for human rights and equality. Those beliefs made him the father of multi ethnic democracy in South Africa. All freedom loving people will miss him but we will never forget his sacrifice and his achievements. My prayers and my thoughts are with him and with the people of South Africa.
House Speaker John Boehner, via Twitter: Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity.
Sen. Harry Reid, via Twitter: In a way, Mandela was both the “George Washington” and “Abraham Lincoln” of his country. We're so fortunate to have lived in his time.
Sen. Cory Booker, via Twitter: Humanity has lost one of our greatest. RIP Nelson Mandela. Thank you for teaching us a deeper meaning of love, leadership & sacrifice.
Chelsea Clinton, via Twitter: My thoughts and prayers are with Graça Machel & the Mandela family. We are all the richer for Madiba's extraordinary life.
Former Presidential Candidate and Ambassador Jon Huntsman, via Twitter: Sad but not unexpected news out of South Africa. The human condition passes but Pres. Mandela’s soul lives on & the world is grateful.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, via Twitter: A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) – The White House and its Democratic allies are pushing to continue a jobless benefits program set to expire for over a million long-term unemployed without congressional intervention. And while whispers persisted this week that Congress could be close to a budget deal before their holiday break, Thursday Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said her party’s negotiators were insistent on an extension as a bargaining chip.
“Yes, indeed, we are making a very clear statement that we cannot, cannot support a budget agreement that does not include unemployment insurance in the budget or as a sidebar in order to move it all along,” she said at a Democrats-only hearing on the uninsured. “It would undermine who we are as a country.”
The congresswoman later indicated at a press conference that she could support a budget deal that doesn’t include continuation for the benefits, if they are extended separately on their own merit.
The measure, known as Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), is designed to step in with federal insurance after a person’s state benefits run out, usually after 26 weeks. It was enacted in 2008 by President Bush during the early stages of the economic recession; at the time unemployment hovered at 5.6 percent and jobless Americans could expect an average of five months searching for new employment. It has survived a number of renewals since, as millions have dropped out of the labor force since President Obama took office.
Without traction on Capitol Hill, it is likely 1.3 million will lose the insurance immediately after the program expires on Dec. 28, with an additional 3.6 million by the end of 2014, according to a report released Thursday by the Labor Department and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
“Despite ten consecutive quarters of GDP growth and 7.8 million private sector jobs added since early 2010, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high at 7.3 percent, and far too many families are still struggling to regain the foothold they had prior to the crisis,” the report reads, adding it now takes an average nine months to find work. The unemployment rates don't factor in the millions of Americans in this country who have given up looking for work.
The Obama administration argues failure to continue the program could lead to an additional 240,000 jobs cut in 2014, as job-seekers reduce their spending further to compensate for their thinner wallets. Citing estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and JP Morgan, the report suggests it would negatively affect GDP by .2 to .4 percent.
Congressional Republicans have resisted an extension against a backdrop of ongoing budget negotiations. If a deal was close, the EUC’s $25 billion price tag could worry some lawmakers over taking on the added cost. Similarly, $5 billion in expanded food stamps assistance was allowed to expire last week – a further indication of the climate surrounding the talks.
Responding to reporters Thursday, House Speaker Boehner told press he didn’t rule out an extension.
“If the president has a plan for extending unemployment benefits, I’d surely entertain taking a looking at it. But I would argue the president’s real focus ought to be creating a better environment for our economy and creating more jobs for the American people,” Boehner said. “That’s where the focus is, not more government programs.”
But on Tuesday one of the Republican negotiators working on a deal said he didn’t see movement coming from his party.
“These have been extraordinary extensions, and the Republican position all along has been, we need to get back to normal here at some point,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said that day, responding to reporters’ questions on the EUC.
“I don’t see much appetite from our side for an extension of benefits. I just don’t,” he said.
Republicans have previously challenged the program by saying the federal benefits extend the recession by forcing employers to raise wages to retain workers. The White House report counters employees who voluntarily quit would be ineligible for the program, so it would not be an incentive.
Pelosi’s hearing Thursday was only for members of her caucus and featured some witnesses who stand to lose their only source of income. They included 67-year-old Stan Osnowitz, a journeyman and electrician with four decades experience suffering through the slow months of winter. His voice choked as he told the committee, “My work is who I am” and “I hate being unemployed. It’s a waste of my time and my abilities.”
Lisa Floyd, a sales and services professional, told the members that after a seven-month hiatus she had found work with a significantly reduced salary.
“I’m smart enough to know that most likely I would be changing careers and taking a pay cut,” she said. “I applied for everything and anything. Eventually I began applying for entry-level call-center jobs. Jobs that would have resulted in a $30,000 a year paycut, or to put this another way: a 42 percent reduction in my pay.”
She said the unemployment insurance program “kept me in my home” during the search.
“We strongly believe that if every member of Congress would take even a few minutes to speak personally with unemployed workers, there would not be any question at all about the need to extend the federal UI program,” Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., said at the hearing. “More than anything else they want a job, but finding work remains very difficult in an economy that still has 1.5 million fewer jobs than before the recession started six years ago.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two days after an immigration judge ruled that President Obama’s Kenyan uncle could stay in the United States, the White House on Thursday acknowledged that the president lived briefly with Onyango “Omar” Obama, despite having previously claimed there was no record of them ever meeting.
“The President first met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school. The President did stay with him for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready. After that, they saw each other once every few months, but after law school they fell out of touch. The President has not seen him in 20 years, has not spoken with him in 10,” White House spokesman Eric Shultz told ABC News.
Last year, the White House claimed their records showed Omar Obama and the president had never met. At his deportation hearing in Boston earlier this week, however, Omar Obama, who has lived in the U.S. for 50 years, reportedly revealed that his nephew stayed with him in Cambridge for roughly three weeks.
It turns out, the White House never directly asked the president about his previous relationship with Omar Obama, who is his father’s half brother.
“Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the president's book, and there was no evidence that they had met…and that was what was conveyed,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday. “When Omar Obama said the other day…that President Obama, back when he was a law school student, had stayed with him in Cambridge, I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him. Nobody had asked him in the past, and the president said that he, in fact, had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school, and that he stayed with him for a brief period of time.”
The White House insists Omar Obama’s case was handled routinely and without any interference from the president.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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