president

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Community College is about to undergo a $67 million renovation.

College president Brent Knight says many of the buildings on the downtown campus need significant upgrades and they will get those upgrades during the next 30 months.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

“This is a defining time for this country. That’s a place where the president and I agree,” the Republican Presidential candidate said in Holland Tuesday night. Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on the shore of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park.

Romney’s 20-minute long speech focused on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world.

“American strength is the best ally peace has ever known. We must strike for a strong America,” Romney said.

Romney says the president’s health care overhaul is hurting small businesses. He says the economy is being dragged down by uncertainty about the federal debt. He says he worries that the United States is headed on the same path as Greece.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several hundred people gathered at the state capitol today to protest the Obama Administration’s push to make all employer-provided health care plans carry contraception coverage.    Similar rallies took place in Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor and other Michigan cities.

The Catholic Church is a main opponent of the contraception mandate. Church leaders held rallies across the country today.

Michigan’s presidential primary may be over, but the political TV ads keep on coming.

President Obama and a pro-Obama Super Pac together spent about a three-quarters of million dollars to promote the president’s re-election during the recent primary campaign.  A primary in which the president wasn’t running.

Rich Robinson is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.    He says the pro-Obama ads were intended to counter, not just his Republican opponents, but non-profit groups attacking the president.

Robinson says two groups have spent more than $1 million attacking the president’s ties to Wall Street and a failed solar energy business.   

“These are not…electioneering communication," says Robinson,  "There will be no reporting of these particular ads to the federal election commission…because they fall outside the window of an election.”

Robinson expects third-party groups will outspend the candidates, by a wide margin, in this year’s TV ad war.

When President Obama talked to the nation this week, he pointed out a guy from Michigan in the audience.

“When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession the factory only made luxury yachts. Today it’s hiring workers like Bryan who said I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”

Last spring, Energetx Composites expected to increase its workforce from 40 employees to 300 sometime in 2012. We wanted to check in to see how things are going.

Chris Idema works in business development for the Holland-based company.

“You know, I can’t really comment on a specific number but we are definitely in growth mode right now, we are hiring and we expect to do so over the next several months.”

He says the biggest obstacle to his company’s growth is uncertainty in the market. Idema points to a federal tax credit that he says gives the wind industry some stability. That credit expires at the end of this year. It’s not clear what Congress will do about it.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 In southeast Michigan today, President Obama said free trade agreements passed this week by Congress will lead to more jobs and more economic opportunities.   

Obama and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak toured GM’s Orion assembly plant.   Obama says the new South Korea trade agreement should boost U.S. auto sales in Asia. 

White House

President Obama will be in southeast Michigan today to promote a new  free trade agreement with South Korea.  President Obama is scheduled to tour General Motor’s assembly plant in Lake Orion.   South Korea’s president will accompany Obama. 

Congress this week approved a new free trade agreement with South Korea.  South Korea is the world’s 13th largest economy.  

The free trade pact is the largest such deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in the mid-90’s. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Michigan today to tout the President’s Jobs Bill. But Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg says the $447 billion bill will hurt, not help the nation’s economy.    

Walberg is a Republican. He says the bill would increase spending and raise taxes. And he says that’s not what the economy needs to create jobs. Walberg says the nation may be better off  if Congress doesn’t pass a jobs bill this year.   

"At the very least, if we hold some things back that would be hurtful to our economy, that’s getting something done.  Maybe that’s the process right now…if there isn’t a willingness to negotiate," says Walberg.   

Walberg says he hopes a compromise can be reached which will reduce payroll taxes and spur job growth.

(Official portrait)

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Flint and Grand Rapids on Wednesday.   He’ll promote the Obama administration’s efforts to spur jobs growth.  

 The Vice President is scheduled to make two public stops on Wednesday.   Biden’s first stop will be in Flint, where he’ll talk about how the President’s jobs plan would spend $5  billion to hire and retain firefighters and police officers.   Flint’s police and fire departments have seen deep cuts as the city has struggled with a rising budget deficit.  

(Official White House photo)

 The nation’s home builders are one group expected to closely watch President Obama’s economic address to Congress this week.  Pulte Homes of Bloomfield Hills is the nation’s largest home builder.   

Pulte, like its competitors, has seen its sales plummet as the housing market crashed in recent years.    And past government efforts to prop up the housing market with tax breaks have failed to spur new home construction.      

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the events in Libya this weekend vindicate President Obama’s decision to support NATO’s involvement there.  

“I think it does indicate that the president was correct…well obviously…it was a very very difficult situation…a very difficult decision for him to make…but it was the right one.”

Initially, the U.S. supervised a “No Fly Zone”  which prevented Libyan government troops from attacking disorganized rebel forces.  Eventually, NATO took control of air operations over Libya. 

Cle0patra / Flickr

Michigan Republicans may try to boost their clout by holding a closed-party presidential primary a week before the Super Tuesday elections next year. The plan must still be formally approved by GOP leaders in August.

Michigan Republicans plan to hold their presidential primary either February 28th or March 6th of next year. Only people who declare themselves Republicans would be eligible to vote in it.

The state GOP's policy committee unanimously adopted the plan during a conference call.

Michigan Republicans risk losing half their national convention delegates if they hold a primary before Super Tuesday voting on March 6th, but some GOP leaders say the state could reap political rewards by going early.

The proposal must still be approved by the Michigan Republican State Central Committee at its August meeting, and then adopted by the Legislature and approved by Governor Rick Snyder.

Michigan Democrats plan to hold closed-party caucuses in May. President Barack Obama is expected to be the only contender for the Democratic nomination.

Felix de Cossio / White House

Betty Ford and her husband, the late President Gerald Ford, spent much of the past thirty years in Rancho Mirage, California. About a thousand people will attend an invitation-only funeral service today in nearby Palm Desert.

Wednesday, Mrs. Ford’s body will be flown to Michigan. A public viewing will take place tomorrow evening at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. 

A private funeral at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids is planned for Thursday. Afterward, she will be buried next to her husband on the grounds of the presidential museum.  

Betty Ford died last week.  She was 93.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she hopes President Obama and Congressional leaders can strike a ‘balance’ in Sunday’s planned talks on extending the debt ceiling.  Stabenow says the President and Republicans should prioritize the needs of middle class Americans. 

“Its very concerning to me that we not see the budget be balanced on the backs of middle class families and senior citizens.”

(official White House portrait)

Betty Ford said things that first ladies just don't say, even today. And 1970s America loved her for it.

According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she'd try it, too. She told "60 Minutes" she wouldn't be surprised to learn that her youngest, 18-year-old Susan, was in a sexual relationship (an embarrassed Susan issued a denial).

Joe Crimmings / Flickr

The legal battle over the Affordable Care Act continues today in an Atlanta courtroom.

The Washington Post reports:

The multi-pronged legal battle over President Obama’s health-care law moves to an Atlanta courtroom Wednesday, where a three-judge appellate court panel will hear oral arguments in a suit brought by Florida and 25 other states challenging its constitutionality.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan congressman Tim Walberg describes today’s meeting between Republican lawmakers and President Obama as ‘congenial’.   Walberg was among the GOP members of congress who outlined their concerns about the budget during the 90 minute meeting with the president at the White House. 

(courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library)

The Gerald R. Ford presidential museum and library would be among the first places people in Michigan would see affected by a possible federal government shutdown.  

On a normal Saturday in April, a few hundred people visit the Ford presidential museum in Grand Rapids.   But, if Congress can’t reach a budget deal by midnight tonight, the Ford museum’s doors will stay locked over the weekend.

Marion Doss / Flickr

The U.S. House of Representatives has authorized a plan to put a statue of President Gerald R. Ford in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C., according to Michigan Congressman Fred Upton. Rep. Upton says all 14 of his colleagues in Michigan’s Congressional delegation co-sponsored the resolution.

The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate for approval. The Associated Press reports:

The statue would replace a statue of Michigan abolitionist Zachariah Chandler. Federal law lets each state display two statues in the Capitol at one time.

Upton says a presentation ceremony for the new statue is planned May 3.

President Ford represented Michigan in the U.S. House of Representative before he became President Richard Nixon’s vice president. Ford succeeded Nixon in 1974. Ford passed away in 2006. Representative Upton released the following statement on his website:

“As one who has the honor and privilege of representing some of the very same people in southwest Michigan that President Ford did during his time in the House, it gives me great pleasure to witness this fitting tribute to Michigan’s native son,” said Upton.  “President Gerald Ford is a Michigan original and a model for all those called to public service.  A seemingly ordinary American who unexpectedly found himself in the presidency at one of our nation’s most tumultuous times, Gerald Ford led with honesty and integrity.  By standing above the political fray, President Ford allowed a wounded nation to heal.”

stabenow.senate.gov

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she's cosponsoring legislation that will stop member of Congress and the President from getting paid if there's a government shutdown.

The legislation was originally introduced last week by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Seantor Bob Casey (D-PA).

In a statement, the Senator said that under current law the salaries for members of Congress and the President are "held harmless" if a shutdown occurs - meaning they would continue to be paid.

Stabenow says the bill she's cosponsoring would put Congress and the President on "equal footing" with the Americans who would be affected by a shutdown:

"A shutdown could disrupt Social Security checks, veterans' benefits, hold up exports and cost private sector jobs, and will stop paychecks for hundreds of thousands of people.  It's only fair that Members of Congress' paychecks be stopped too."

The statement said the last time the government in 1995, "more than 400,000 veterans saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed," Social Security and Medicare requests were delayed, passports remained unprocessed, unemployment insurance funding ran out in some states, and "$3 billion in U.S. exports were delayed because export licenses could not be issued, negatively impacting economic growth."

The deadline for a deal is this Friday night. If a deal can't be reached, the government would be forced to shut down.

ABC News reports that Congress might postpone the deadline by "passing a two-week spending measure that would fund the government through March 18th."

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