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Igor Bobic

Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site's coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at igor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Igor

The GOP debate on NBC's 'Meet The Press' kicks off at 9am Eastern this morning. All eyes will be on Mitt Romney, to see if he can cement his lead over the other candidates. The latest ARG poll in New Hampshire gives him 40% of the vote, with his nearest rival, Jon Huntsman, coming in at 17%. Despite that, in Saturday night's debate the GOP field mostly attacked each other rather than the man who is now the clear frontrunner. Watch live below:

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The following remarks were made by President Barack Obama on the Defense Strategy Rollout on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at the Pentagon.

Good morning. The United States of America is the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known. In no small measure, that's because we've built the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history--and as Commander in Chief, I'm going to keep it that way. Indeed, all of us on this stage--all of us--have a profound responsibility to every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman who puts their life on the line for America. We owe them a strategy with well-defined goals; to only send them into harm's way when it's absolutely necessary; to give them the equipment and support they need to get the job done; and to care for them and their families when they come home. That's our solemn obligation. Over the past three years, that's what we've done. We've continued to make historic investments in our military--our troops and their capabilities, our military families and veterans. And thanks to their extraordinary sacrifices, we've ended our war in Iraq. We've decimated al Qaeda's leadership, delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, and put that terrorist network on the path to defeat. We've made important progress in Afghanistan, and begun a transition so Afghans can assume more responsibility. We joined with allies and partners to protect the Libyan people as they ended the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Now, we're turning the page on a decade of war. Three years ago, we had some 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, we've cut that number in half. And as the transition in Afghanistan continues, more of our troops will continue to come home. More broadly, around the globe we've strengthened alliances, forged new partnerships, and served as a force for universal rights and human dignity. In short, we've succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans serving in harm's way, and restoring America's global leadership. That makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that's an achievement that every American--and every man and woman in uniform--can be proud of. This success has brought our nation, once more, to a moment of transition. Even as our troops continue to fight in Afghanistan, the tide of war is receding. Even as our forces prevail in today's missions, we have the opportunity--and the responsibility--to look ahead to the force we need for the future. At the same time, we have to renew our economic strength here at home, which is the foundation of our strength in the world. That includes putting our fiscal house in order. To that end, the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year--with the support of Republicans and Democrats alike--mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending. I've insisted that we do this responsibly. The security of our nation, and the lives of our men and women in uniform, depend on it. That's why I called for this comprehensive defense review--to clarify our strategic interests in a fast-changing world, and to guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade. Because the size and structure of our military and defense budget have to be driven by a strategy--not the other way around. Moreover, we have to remember the lessons of history. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past--after World War II, after Vietnam--when our military was left ill-prepared for the future. As Commander in Chief, I will not let that happen again. Not on my watch. We need to be smart, strategic and set priorities. The new guidance that the Defense Department is releasing today does that. I want to thank Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey for their extraordinary leadership during this process. I want to thank the service secretaries and chiefs, combatant commanders and so many defense leaders--military and civilian; Active, Guard and Reserve--for their contributions. Many of us met repeatedly--asking tough questions; challenging our assumptions; making hard choices. And we've come together today around an approach that will keep our nation safe and our military the finest in the world. This review also benefited from the contributions of leaders from across my national security team--from the departments of State, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Intelligence Community. This is critical, because meeting the challenges of our time cannot be the work of our military alone--or the United States alone. It requires all elements of our national power, working together, and in concert with allies and partners. I'm going to let Leon and Marty go into the details. But I just want to say that that this effort reflects the guidance I gave throughout this process. Yes, the tide of war is receding. But the question that this strategy answers is what kind of military will we need after the long wars of the last decade are over. And today, we're moving forward, from a position of strength. As I made clear in Australia, we'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region. We're going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again - most recently in Libya - that it's a force multiplier. We're going to stay vigilant, especially in the Middle East. As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--and the end of long-term, nation-building with large military footprints--we'll be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces. We'll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; counterterrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction; and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access. So, yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know--the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with Armed Forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats. We're also going to keep faith with those who serve, by making sure our troops have the equipment and capabilities they need to succeed; and by prioritizing efforts that focus on wounded warriors, mental health and the well-being of military families. And as our newest veterans rejoin civilian life, we'll keep working to give our veterans the care, benefits and job opportunities they deserve. Finally, although today is about our defense strategy, I want to close with a word about the defense budget that will flow from this strategy. The details will be announced in the coming weeks. Some will no doubt say the spending reductions are too big; others will say they're too small. It will be easy to take issue with a particular change. But I would encourage all of us to remember what President Eisenhower once said--that "each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs." After a decade of war, and as we rebuild the sources of our strength--at home and abroad--it's time to restore that balance. Let's also remember--over the past ten years, since 9/11, our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace. Over the next ten years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this--it will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush Administration. And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong--and our nation secure--with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.

So, again, I want to thank Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey and all our defense leaders for their leadership and partnership throughout this process. Our men and women in uniform give their best to America every day, and in return they deserve the best from America. And I thank all of you for your commitment to the goal we share: keeping America strong and secure in the 21st century and keeping our Armed Forces the very best in the world. And with that, I'll turn it over to Leon and Marty, who can explain more and take your questions. Thank you all very much.



By John Voelcker

When the U.S. Congress adjourned for the holidays on Friday, December 23, its departure sealed the fate of subsidized ethanol production.

During its session, the Congress did not renew a tax break for U.S. production of corn-based ethanol that had become increasingly unpopular across a wide area of the political spectrum.

The tax credit amounted to 45 cents per gallon of ethanol that was blended into gasoline. It had been in place since 1980.


Corn lobby loses support

As The Detroit News reported the next day, by some estimates, total subsidies to the ethanol industry may have reached $45 billion over that period. That is several times the total loans, grants, and tax credits provided thus far to the U.S. electric-car industry.

In June, the Senate voted 73-27 to end the tax break. That vote, attached to an economic development bill that was stalled, was viewed as symbolic--letting Congressmembers go on record against continuing the subsidies without effectively ending them.

It proved to be a test case that demonstrated the waning support in Congress for the corn-based ethanol industry. Three weeks later, an agreement was reached to end the subsidies for real--and it held for the rest of the year.

Ending the ethanol tax breaks is projected  to save about $2 billion over several years. Of that total, two-thirds is to be applied to cutting the national debt, although it represents just one-tenth of 1 percent of the total national debt of $14.3 trillion.

Half as productive as Brazil

Using corn is the least productive way to make ethanol, at roughly 300 gallons per acre of feedstock. The Brazilian ethanol industry gets twice as many gallons per acre using sugar cane, and other feedstocks like switchgrass have been projected to produce up to 1,200 gallons per acre.

Development of cellulosic ethanol refineries that use non-corn feedstocks have lagged commercially, despite several pilot projects.

U.S. corn ethanol had further been protected by a 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imports of ethanol from other countries (meaning Brazil). That import duty was also ended by the departure of Congress for the year.

But with sugar prices high in Brazil, imports of ethanol aren't likely to spike in the short term.

Conflict with 2007 mandate

That leads to a longer-range question: Will there be sufficient ethanol produced and imported to meet the escalating ethanol-use requirements of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act passed by Congress?

That law requires that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into U.S. vehicle fuel by 2022--which is more than three times the 11.1 billion gallons used in 2010. The requirement rises to 15 billion gallons for 2015.

Congress has blocked the EPA's approval of E15 gasoline, which has up to 15 percent ethanol, largely at the request of automakers and others who fear damage to engines not designed to handle fuel with that volume of ethanol. The current standard, in places for decades, permits up to 10 percent ethanol in pump gasoline.

So while Congress has ended tax breaks, it may have set up the fuel industry for failure on the 2007 mandate by explicitly banning E15 gasoline.

Until that is resolved, the politics of ethanol are likely to remain fractious.

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This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports





The original version of the story appears here: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1071085_congress-actually-ends-taxpayer-funding-of-ethanol-subsidies

GreenCarReports is the source for news on the leaner, more efficient cars of tomorrow-and today. The site reports on what's coming in the auto industry's future, demonstrates how cars are moving beyond fossil fuels, and explains how the green movement matters to car shoppers today.

Well here's an unexpected Christmas present.

While you're waiting on Herman Cain's post-candidate solutions for the country, take a moment to celebrate the holiday season with a special message from Herman Cain, duly sent out by his campaign. The video - which you can watch below - begins with Cain, warmly hand-in-hand with his wife, Gloria, reading passages in front of a Christmas tree.

The video is accompanied with the following message:

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Yahoo News' Chris Moody knocks it out of the ball park with his latest report from Orlando, Florida, where the Republican Governors Association met with top GOP message-man-turned-Yoda Frank Luntz. The crux of their meeting? Learning how to wiggle out of uncomfortable moments whenever questioned about the politically inconvenient Occupy Wall Street movement.

Staring down a crazed youth angry about inequality? Don't panic, says Luntz. Instead, follow this handy-dandy guide guaranteed to help pacify your subject, explain that things actually aren't all that bad, and that Republican policies can make it better.

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Mitt Romney flubbed a bit on Tuesday by introducing himself to voters at the CNN national security debate with a falsehood.

Responding to Wolf Blitzer's own self-introduction -- in which Wolf said "and yes, that is my real name" -- Romney began: "I'm Mitt Romney -- and yes Wolf, that's also my first name."

Except Romney's first name is "Willard," and "Mitt" is his middle name.

Watch below:

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Transcript of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's remarks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner November 19, 2011, via the Iowa Democratic party.

Thank you Sue.

While we meet here tonight, the Republicans are having a debate across town.

I've watched a number of them, and I've got to be honest, I never thought I'd say this, (pause) I'm beginning to miss Sarah Palin's insights.

Their debate was called the Thanksgiving Family Forum -- which is fitting because I have never seen such a collection of turkeys.

Look at their top candidates: Take Mitt Romney. He said he would be in Iowa tonight. (pause) We should have known he would change his mind.

Newt was at the debate. I heard he had to leave early to spend the holiday with his loved ones ... the salespeople at Tiffanys.

And Herman Cain? I was actually hoping Herman would stop by today and see me before the debate, but he was at his tutorial on Libya. The scary part, his tutor was Rick Perry.

In truth, the Republicans do have an impressive field...

Governor Mitch Daniels, Governor Haley Barbour and former Governor Jeb Bush ...

The only problem, they're not on the field.

I just want you to think about this for a second. Think of our field in 2008. At our debates in Iowa, we had Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Senator Chris Dodd, and President Obama.

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The birther wars continue. Orly Taitz, birther queen of California, personally filed a complaint in New Hampshire on Saturday that challenged President Obama's U.S. citizenship and argued for his removal from the state's ballot, reports the Concord Monitor.

New Hampshire's electoral governing body, the Ballot Law Commission, turned down the complaint in a public hearing via 5-0 vote. It got pretty ugly shortly thereafter.

"Traitors!" screamed the members of the attending public. "Treason!"

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Speaking on Fox News on Monday morning, Herman Cain denied politically explosive sexual harassment charges stemming from a Politico story last night, but he did acknowledge that he was "falsely accused" during his 1990s tenure at the National Restaurant Association.

"It is totally baseless and totally false," Cain said.

Cain also declared that any other potential future charges against him and his campaign would be "trumped-up allegations" and "nothing else."

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Speaking with Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) defended his opposition to President Obama's now dead jobs bill, saying that the federal government should instead focus on decreasing regulations.

Senate Republicans, joined by three conservative members of the Democratic caucus, defeated that $35 billion package last week, which aimed to hire or retain teachers and emergency responders. And Democrats will surely trumpet their recalcitrance as we head into 2012.

Yet McConnell spun the issue in a different light, telling Crowley that saving emergency responders from unemployment shouldn't be a federal responsibility because we can't afford "to be bailing out states."

"I certainly do approve of firefighters and police," said McConnell. "The question is whether the federal government ought to be raising taxes on 300,000 small businesses in order to send money down to bail out states for whom firefighters and police work. They are local and state employees."

But, as Crowley pointed out (and as did Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate last week) polls show that 75 percent of the public supports raising some form of tax on millionaires to pay for aid to teachers, police, and firefighters.

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