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Obama pushes childcare initiatives in Kansas after defiant State of the Union speech

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President Barack Obama finished up a two-day tour of the U.S. heartland on Thursday with a stop in a Democratic-leaning enclave of conservative Kansas to tout proposals to make childcare more affordable for those in need.

Hoping to build momentum for social policies he laid out in a defiant State of the Union speech, the Democratic president went to two politically conservative states to try to show his policies appeal to Americans from both main parties.

In Kansas, where Obama’s mother was born, the president joked that his roots in the state did not help him in his two campaigns for the White House. Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas, is a rare Democratic-leaning part of the state.

“I lost two straight here. But that’s OK,” he said to an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 people at a university athletic facility.

“I might’ve won sections of Lawrence,” he said to applause.

The White House is hoping some of that enthusiasm could be telegraphed to Washington, where a Republican-controlled Congress is lukewarm to many of Obama’s policy ideas.

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His childcare proposals include investing in a fund to help families afford care, raising the maximum childcare tax credit to $3,000 per young child, and starting a new “innovation fund” to help jumpstart childcare programs for parents who live in rural areas or who work odd hours.

“It is time that we stop treating childcare as a side issue or a ‘women’s issue,'” Obama said. “This is a family issue. This is a national economic priority for all of us. We can do better than we’re doing right now.”

In Washington, a spokesman for House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner criticized Obama’s State of the Union plans for social programs that include making two years of community college free and universally available.

“Republicans are all for increasing access to quality, affordable education, but we don’t need more top-down policies from Washington or new tax hikes on middle-income families saving for their children’s college education,” spokesman Cory Fritz said.

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The White House often sets up events on Obama’s trips to illustrate his policy priorities, and Thursday’s was at a school in Lawrence that was one of the first recipients of funding for the government’s Head Start early education program.

“What’s your name,” one youngster asked the president after he entered the classroom. “I’m Barack!” he responded.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by John Whitesides and Howard Goller)

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John Dean explains the big mistake Hope Hicks made by stonewalling Congress

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Former White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, said Wednesday on CNN that there was a serious flaw in the attempt to prevent longtime Trump confidant Hope Hicks from testifying to Congress.

White House lawyers have asserted that Hicks has absolute immunity and is not legally required to testify about her time as Trump's director of communications. Hicks testified Wednesday during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee — where she reportedly refused to answer questions about her White House job.

"Privilege is not being asserted here. Instead, the White House says that Hicks has absolute immunity regarding the time that she spent at 1600 Pennsylvania. Does absolute immunity even exist? And if so, can you explain to me the difference between the two?" CNN host Brooke Baldwin asked Dean.

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GOP gangs up on AOC: Top Republican demands Ocasio-Cortez apologize to the entire world – she refuses

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The Republican machine is in fifth gear right now, speeding to attack one of their top Democratic targets: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

At issue, a video the New York Democrat recorded in which she calls the migrant detention camps on the U.S. Southern border "concentration camps."

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Economist mocks GOP for trying to pin racism on Democrats — after telling a harrowing story about anti-black economic envy

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Economist Julianne Malveaux explained to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that there was a time in the United States where black Americans were actually closing the wealth gap with white Americans -- until white Americans rioted and burned their property.

During her testimony at a hearing on reparations, Malveaux recounted the horrific story of the destruction of "Black Wall Street," which was a location in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was known for its high concentration of black-owned businesses and black wealth.

The area's prosperity came to an end in 1921 when white Tulsa residents used baseless accusation of a black man sexually assaulting a white woman as a justification to chase out all black residents and set fire to their neighborhoods. Hundreds of black residents were killed in the riots and the majority fled the city.

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