Pete Souza: President Obama hugs Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell after viewing his statue in Boston earlier this week
The Week Ahead:
Monday: The President will welcome the five-time Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 Stanley Cup victory. Following the visit, he will deliver remarks at an Organizing for Action event.
Tuesday: The President will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded warriors who are being treated at the hospital and with their families. He will also visit the Fisher House, a program that supports military families by welcoming them to stay at the house while their loved ones receive specialized medical care.
Wednesday: The President will travel to Dallas to participate in DSCC events.
Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Friday: The President will travel to the New Orleans area for an event on the economy. Later that day, he will travel to Miami, Florida to participate in DNC and DSCC events.
Our reproductive rights are essentially in the hands of one white dude: Anthony Kennedy. If that doesn't scare you, what is wrong with you?
TPM: Obamacare Birth Control Mandate Struck Down By Appeals Court
A divided appeals court panel is siding with Ohio business owners who challenged the birth control mandate under the new federal health care law. The business owners are two brothers who say the mandate to provide contraceptive coverage would make them violate their Roman Catholic beliefs.
The ruling Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is one of many on the birth control issue, which likely will be resolved by the Supreme Court. The appeals court panel says the mandate limits the right of free exercise of religion. The brothers are Francis and Philip M. Gilardi. They say they don’t want to provide contraceptives like the Plan B pill for their employees. The Gilardis own Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics of Sidney, Ohio.
AP: US Manufacturing Expands At Best Pace In 2½ Years
U.S. factory activity expanded in October at the fastest pace in 2½ years, suggesting that the 16-day partial shutdown of the government had little effect on manufacturers. Instead, overseas demand and healthy U.S. auto sales appear to be supporting factory output. The housing recovery is also lifting the furniture and wood products industry despite a recent slowing in home sales.
“We’ve become accustomed to the way Washington operates in the past couple of years and assume that it will get resolved eventually, however painfully,” said Bradley Holcomb, head of the survey committee of the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers that on Friday reported a solid manufacturing figure for October. The ISM’s manufacturing index rose to 56.4 from 56.2 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth. U.S. factory activity has now risen at an increasingly fast pace for five straight months, according to the ISM’s index.
USA Today: Health Website Load Times Improve By 80%
During the first few weeks of Healthcare.gov’s launch, people waited an average of eight seconds for each page to load. As of yesterday, they’re waiting less than one second, the Obama administration reported Friday.
“This is more than an 80% improvement,” said Jeffrey Zients, the former Office of Management and Budget deputy director brought in to manage the site’s upgrades. ”We’re on a path to improve Healthcare.gov each week and to meet our target by the end of November,” he said in a briefing with reporters.
Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that it might be a good idea to change the rules of the Senate for nominee confirmations, known as the “nuclear option,” according to the Huffington Post. ”I think it’s worth considering,” Biden told reporters after he was asked if nominations should only need a simple majority, as opposed to requiring 60 votes.
On Thursday Republicans blocked two of President Obama’s nominations by voting against cloture. Patricia Millett was nominated to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court and Rep. Mel Watt’s(D-NC) was nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Biden told reporters that Watt is completely qualified to become chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. ”Mel Watt is absolutely, totally, thoroughly qualified and it’s a gigantic disappointment,” Biden said.
Bloomberg: Google, Oracle Workers Enlisted For Obamacare ‘Tech Surge’
Google Inc., Red Hat Inc., Oracle Corp. and other technology companies are contributing dozens of computer engineers and programmers to help the Obama administration fix the U.S. health-insurance exchange website. Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, and Greg Gershman, innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo, are among those helping, the Obama administration said yesterday.
“They are working through the analytics of what happens on the site to prioritize what needs to be fixed,” Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters on a conference call. Dickerson is working to improve the stability of the website, while Gershman is “helping the development process be more agile.”
Dylan Scott: What Really Happens To People Whose Insurance Is ‘Canceled’ Because Of ObamaCare
About 80 percent of people, those who receive insurance through their employer or are already enrolled in a government program, won’t experience any change at all, Gruber said. (The Kaiser Family Foundation puts the number at 79 percent). Another 14 percent are currently uninsured people who will now be able to get covered because of the Affordable Care Act, Gruber said. (Kaiser pegs it at 16 percent uninsured). How many of those actually get covered depends on a few variables — like whether Republicans states come around and expand Medicaid — but that’s the share that stands to gain.
So then you have 6 percent who might receive a cancelation letter (Kaiser says the individual market is 5 percent). Of those, Gruber argued, about half aren’t really going to see a change: They’ll technically enroll in a new plan, but it’ll be very similar to what they already had. That leaves 3 percent who will have to buy significantly different plans, some of whom might have to pay more for them (at least before the law’s tax credits and other financial assistance kick in).
TPM: Everything That’s Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled On Voting Rights Act
NORTH CAROLINA: Two months after the Supreme Court decision, North Carolina passed a number of measures, including strict new photo ID requirements. The law also eliminates same-day voter registration, shortens the early voting period by seven days, and specifies that ballots cast at the wrong polling station will be thrown out.
Some changes will be phased in starting in 2014, and the photo ID provision goes into effect in 2016. The North Carolina NAACP and a civil rights group called the Advancement Project have filed a lawsuit challenging the changes. The Justice Department also filed a suit of its own. But the suits venture into some new legal territory.
AP: Still All Smiles: Newly Insured Who Became Latest Faces Of Health Overhaul Defend Their Choice
The Obama administration is now asking people who have successfully purchased health insurance to let their pictures be used. Two of them told The Associated Press they found the site easy to navigate, were happy with the plans they purchased and were eager to share their stories in any format, including becoming the new face of the health care overhaul.
Not long after she enrolled on Oct. 3, Deborah Lielasus of Portsmouth was contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services ”I think it’s important to show them that you shouldn’t hide from being honest and being sincere and talking about something that you believe in,” she said. In Orlando, Fla., 22-year-old Daniel McNaughton said his experience was similar.
McNaughton, a student at Valencia College, said he will be paying $70 per month for a plan that covers “anything I could possibly need.” That’s about what he’s paying now for a catastrophic plan that covers only three doctor visits per year. “I won’t have to ration my doctor’s visits,” he said. “It gives me good peace of mind.” He told administration officials it was “more than OK” with him if they wanted to use his picture on HealthCare.gov.
LA Times: Interior Chief Emphasizes Conservation In First Major Speech
She called out Congress for failing to add a single acre of public land to the park or wilderness systems in three years, saying that the country needs a comprehensive public lands package. “We cannot and will not hold our breath forever,” Jewell said.
She also announced an initiative to help young people connect to public lands, laying out a plan that by 2017 will: create outdoor recreational opportunities for 10 million youths in 50 cities, provide educational opportunities for 10 million elementary students, add 1 million volunteers to parks and refuges, and offer work and training opportunities for 100,000 young people.
Media Matters: The D.C. Press Yawns While Republicans Return To Radically Obstructionist Ways
The historic element of the Watt rejection was that throughout American history it has been virtually unheard for a sitting member of Congress to be filibustered — to be denied the courtesy of a final vote — when selected by the president to fill an administration position. Prior to this week’s partisan blockade of Watt, a Congressional rejection like his hadn’t happened since before the Civil War, in 1843.
That important historical context should have been included in every story about the Watt filibuster, but it wasn’t. That’s not surprising considering the Beltway press corps seems to have made a conscious decision during the Obama presidency to omit virtually all context with regards to the Republicans’ continued radical behavior as they cling to filibusters to methodically block, stall and reject most White House policy proposals, as well as countless nominations.