President Obama has already started his holiday shopping and the First Family's official Christmas tree has arrived. Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia (and First Dog Bo), greeted the tree, which came to the White House in an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage. The tree is a 19-foot-high Fraser Fir from Jefferson, N.C.
(One urban legend that has circulated each holiday season for the past few years is that the Obamas call their tree a "holiday" tree. It wasn't true last year and it isn't true this year. The Obamas greeted a cart that was clearly labeled "Christmas Trees.")
While planning gifts for his family, President Obama had a little something for Congress, too: a warning. On Monday, the administration told Congress that failing to reach a budget deal could hurt Christmas retail sales. "The Holiday Season is No Time to Threaten Middle-Class Pocketbooks," the report by Obama's economists said:
"Consumer confidence over the next several weeks is particularly important: the National Retail Federation is forecasting that holiday sales will grow 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion. Last year, Americans spent around $50 billion on Black Friday weekend alone.""If Congress does not act on the President's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle-class, it will be risking one of the key contributors to growth and jobs in our economy at the most important time of the year for retail stores."