WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration next week will release a new budget forecast projecting the deficit over the next ten years will reach approximately $9 trillion – a significant jump from the $7 trillion deficit that officials had projected at the beginning of the year.
Obama officials pin most of the blame for the projected deficit spike on the bleak financial picture: The government is not taking in as much tax revenue, while it continues to spend to try and stimulate the economy out of recession.
The new projection is likely to fan the flames of the already-heated health care debate, with Republicans charging the new projections show the President is spending too much money and can not afford a vast health reform bill.
But administration officials are already making the opposite case: that the forecast shows that exploding health care costs need to be reigned in for the budget to be brought into balance.
(CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is giving few specifics on how President Obama will spend his week-long vacation on Martha's Vineyard.
But one thing seems certain: Obama will likely sneak in several rounds of golf, just as former President Bill Clinton did when he vacationed on the island in the 1990's.
"There are no official events scheduled in the weeks ahead," Gibbs said Friday. "I anticipate he'll play golf a number of times."
According to the Boston Herald, rumored to be among his partners on the course is Tiger Woods, who is coming off a disappointing loss in the PGA championship last weekend. Woods is already set to be in the Boston area for the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But Gibbs said Friday he has no idea if the golfing legend will actually tee it up with Obama, who is estimated to be between a 16 and 24 handicap and has golfed several weekends in the Washington area over the summer.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Americans are gripped by "an awful lot of concern, fear, anxiety" and "frustration" in the health-care debate, a key Senate Democrat warned Friday.
The description of an increasingly nervous national mood illustrates the growing challenge facing President Barack Obama and supporters of health-care reform as Congress prepares to return in less than three weeks.
"I think America has been traumatized by the debate," Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a moderate Democrat, said on the CNN Radio show "44" with Ed Henry.
Nelson, considered a critical swing vote in the Senate, bemoaned what he called the "misinformation" and "misunderstanding" that has characterized so much of the debate. He highlighted the confusion over a provision in the House version of the health-care bill that includes coverage of end-of-life counseling for Medicare beneficiaries who want it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the sometimes contentious debate over how to overhaul America's health care system continues, Democrats in the House of Representatives appear to be sending out mixed messages over their commitment to the so-called public option. Just one day after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi strongly endorsed a government-run plan to cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans, the number two Democrat in the House seemed a lot less definitive.
House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters Friday on a conference call, "As I've said in the past, I'm for a public option but I'm also for passing a bill...but you know we'll have to see because there are many other aspects of the bill as well."
That's a lot less definitive than what Speaker Pelosi told reporters in San Francisco Thursday: "There's no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option."
After Hoyer's conference call, an aide told CNN the Majority Leader is in full agreement with the Speaker over the need for a public option, and that it will be hard to pass the House without one, but that he was acknowledging the reality that it will be hard to pass that in the Senate and therefore the Congress as a whole.
The Statement: A citizen asked U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas, at an August 14 town meeting in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, "How soon can you do something about our health care that has to be fixed? ... When will this take place? When will this reform take place? Do you have a goal in mind?"
(Get the facts and the verdict after the jump)
(CNN) - If President Obama wants to catch the White Sox-Red Sox games next week while he vacations in Martha's Vineyard, he'll probably see the latest ad to attack his health care reform proposals.
Conservatives for Patient's Rights, a group founded earlier this year by former health insurance executive Rick Scott, says it will spend close to $150,000 next week to air a 30-second television spot in the Boston media market coinciding with Obama's vacation in the area.
Among the stations the group plans to air the ad on is NESN, the network that will broadcast the four-game series next week between Obama's Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox.
Called "Surf's Up," the ad's narrator appears to mock Obama's beach vacation "while concerns mount about his health care plan."
"The beach is nice this time of year," says the female narrator. "But while president Obama vacations, concerns mount about his health care plan. Mr. President, when you go back to D.C., drop your government-run public option plan."
The group has spent upwards of $4 million on combating the Democrats health care proposals this year.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs brushed aside the ad at Friday's daily briefing.
"I don't think the American people begrudge the president taking some time with his family that's well earned and well deserved for a few days to see and spend time with them," said Gibbs.
(Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET with Gibbs response)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama offered strong praise Friday for this week's election in Afghanistan, calling it "an important step forward" in that nation's struggle for democracy and against ideological extremists.
"The future belongs to those who want to build, not ... destroy," Obama said at the White House.
The president said he was struck by the "courage in the face of intimidation" demonstrated by the millions of Afghans who went to the polls. He also emphasized that the United States does not favor any particular candidate.
"Our goal is clear: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and their extremist allies," he said.
NEW YORK (CNN) - Embattled New York Gov. David Paterson lashed out at critics and at the media Friday, telling an interviewer that race has played a role in his recent political woes.
"This state is not in the trouble that Michigan is in Pennsylvania is in and Massachusetts is in, but you don't see in those other states this crescendo about getting rid of the governor just because we're in a recession," Paterson, who is African-American, said Friday in a radio interview with Errol Louis of the New York Daily News.
He added that he wasn't the only black politician facing a double standard. "And I submit that the same kind of treatment that Deval Patrick is receiving right now in Massachusetts, and I'm receiving - the way in which the New York State Senate was written about, calling them a bunch of people with thick necks, they're talking about Malcolm Smith and John Sampson - that we're not in the post-racial period."
"…And the reality is that the next victim on the list - and you see it coming - is President Barack Obama… only because he's trying to make change" in the nation's health care system.
The most recent available figures show Paterson trailing state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by 2-to-1 margin in polls of a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup for the party's 2010 gubernatorial nod – and by a similar margin in the campaign money chase for the first half of the year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrat Creigh Deeds looked to shake up the Virginia governor's race Friday with a new television advertisement and a speech aimed at rallying independents and Democrats who have so far been less than enthusiastic about the campaign.
A Washington Post poll released last weekend showed Deeds trailing Republican Bob McDonnell by 15 points among likely voters. While the poll showed independents leaning heavily towards McDonnell, it also showed that relatively few voters are familiar with the candidates and their positions at this point in the race.
In an address at George Mason University in Fairfax County - the most populous county in the commonwealth - Deeds tried to define McDonnell as a divisive social conservative who supported the economic policies of former President George W. Bush.