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Posted on November 10th, 2010 by Daryl

 

 

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Notes from the Clinton White House

Posted on April 19th, 2014 by Daryl

The National Archives made public Friday 7,500 pages of previously unseen documents from former President Bill Clinton’s administration. Like earlier releases, the internal e-mails, speech drafts and memos provide interesting vignettes at a time when the Clintons may be hoping to return to the White House.

1. Hillary’s positive press strategy — “doing it all.”

Hillary Clinton press aide Lisa Caputo warned in a memo to the first lady that positive press would likely be met with media attempts to knock her down. Caputo proposed a lengthy ­media strategy for Clinton to “take steps to counter the knocks.”

Among a long list of interview ideas, Caputo suggested Clinton do a “television magazine” show and offered Maria Shriver as interviewer. She said the segment should show Clinton “doing it all” — working on health care, picking out flowers for a state dinner — and include film footage of “you attending one of Chelsea’s soccer games or making a run to the local supermarket.”


2. Ira Magaziner described delicacy of tasking Hillary with health care.

In interviews with The Washington Post’s Haynes Johnson and David Broder for their book about the Clinton health-care initiative, Magaziner, a top policy development adviser to the president, was asked how the first lady was put in charge of such a large domestic policy job. Magaziner said he didn’t know when the final decision was made but added, “Everyone wanted to use the tremendous talent she has. And yet, to have the public accept her policy role was very complex. And so there was a lot of debate about that.”

He said that for Clinton to take on the job was “a tremendously gutsy thing for her to do” because “traditional Washington” advisers didn’t think the Clintons should take on health-care reform all at once.

3. The Clintons needed Chelsea’s future mother-in-law on health care.

In 1993, the Clintons were analyzing the priority Democratic votes they needed to secure for health-care reform. These were people who were either on key committees, had a difficulty supporting the president on tough votes or were in tough districts. Included on that list was Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-Pa.), with whom they would — more than 20 years later — share some happy news about an expected grandchild.

The White House also counted then-Rep. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) as a possible get on health care because he is “occasionally independent but don’t hold your breath.” In a later document, Clinton identified Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) as a “possible but difficult” get. (Two decades later, Specter cast the 60th Senate vote for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.)

4. Clinton crime bill overshadowed by Whitewater and O.J. Simpson.

In August 1994, with the president’s popularity falling and the midterm elections approaching, political advisers prepared Clinton for a prime-time news conference. They urged him to highlight the House passage of a crime bill to show that “the Clinton agenda — the American people’s agenda — can work.”

But Clinton was frustrated over his political standing and the Whitewater scandal overshadowing his administration’s accomplishments.

“We assume people know about things,” Clinton said. “There’s been nowhere near the publicity of the crime bill there was on Whitewater, for example. You can see that . . .

“Or O.J.,” an aide interjected.

“Or O.J. Simpson,” Clinton responded.

5. Lee Iacocca “obligated” to Clinton over NAFTA push.

On Sept. 2, 1993, Trade Representative Michael Kantor wrote a memo to Clinton saying that he and Howard Paster, the White House’s chief liaison to Congress, believed Clinton should call Lee Iacocca about being a spokesman for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Iacocca had resigned from the Chrysler board earlier that day

“Iacocca has the time. I believe he is willing to give you the help and, given your phone conversation with him early in the Fall of 1992, he is somewhat obligated to help you win what he got you into,” Kantor wrote.

He also suggested that Clinton call former presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter and invite them to the NAFTA “roll-out.” “We believe Bush, Ford and Carter will accept. Nixon will probably send a statement of support.”

6. Gore sought a little White House love.

With Vice President Al Gore under a cloud of controversy in fall 1997, his chief of staff, Ron Klain, sought help to bolster the floundering veep’s public image. In a memo to White House aide Jonathan Prince, Klain suggested the administration portray Gore as “one of the guys” and rally behind him “at his time of need.”

“I am trying to knock down the idea that the Clinton White House’s support for Gore is based on legacy-notions, and build up the idea that it is based on respect, relationships, and in-the-foxhole commaradarie [sic],” Klain wrote.

Klain suggested highlighting Gore’s role in placing an anecdote about an Oklahoma City bombing victim in Clinton’s 1996 State of the Union address. Klain wrote, “This anecdote rebuts the charge that Gore lacks a Clinton-type of feel for political rhetoric.”

Katie Zezima contributed to this report.

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Obama to announce $600 million in grant programs to prepare workforce for jobs

Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Daryl

President Obama will announce Wednesday a pair of grant programs designed to bring academic institutions and businesses closer together in preparing the American workforce for jobs that may otherwise go unfilled.

The grant programs will total $ 600 million, money already in the federal budget. The decision to designate the money for these grant programs arose from a review of federal jobs programs by Vice President Biden, who will join Obama at a community college outside Pittsburgh to make the announcement.


“Given the pace of technology and education in the economy, the business workforce needs are constantly changing,” said a senior administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity in advance of the president’s announcement.

The challenge, the official said, is to train workers for the jobs of the moment and also for the jobs of the future in a shifting, globalized economy.

In his State of the Union address this year, Obama asked Biden to head an “across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.”

The announcement Wednesday emerged from the review. But several previous presidents, including Obama’s two immediate predecessors, proposed similar ideas to better adapt the workforce to the jobs that the economy is creating.

Senior administration officials said this initiative is attempting to be different, calling it “job-driven” rather than dictated by training that may not be best preparing the workforce for the skills needed in today’s economy.

Doing so requires far greater collaboration between business and community colleges — what one senior official described as a “collaborative ecosystem” — to design the right training, set standards recognized across an industry and not just by one company, and clearly outline the route from training to a job.

The grant programs Obama will announce at the Community College of Allegheny County in Oakdale, Pa., fall into two categories.

The first, to which $ 500 million is being dedicated, is a competitive process that seeks the best programs linking community colleges with businesses. The idea is to expand the programs nationally, in part by linking them with industry associations.

The other is also competitive and provides $ 100 million in grants to expand apprentice programs across the country. The United States has far fewer apprentice positions than European nations, which look to on-the-job training as vital to maintaining capable workforces.

“This is obviously an issue of America’s long-term competitiveness,” said a second senior administration official. “You have to break down silos.”

Because the money has already been allocated, the grant programs allow the president to bypass a divided Congress, as Obama has made clear he intends to do this year when he believes it is necessary.

The Republican-controlled House passed legislation last year designed to consolidate federal jobs programs, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said at the time that “having run a small business, I know how crucial it is to find the right candidates for the right positions, and this measure will go a long way towards making that connection easier.”

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