On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet guests at the Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern)
10:55: The President holds a bilateral meeting with President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti
1:0: Press Briefing by Jay Carney
2:0: Vice President Biden Speaks to the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting
5:50: The President hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception, Rose Garden
The Week Ahead
Tuesday: The President attends meetings at the White House.
Wednesday: Travels to Los Angeles to participate in a joint DSCC/DCCC event. In the evening, the President will be honored at a dinner hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation. He will remain overnight in Los Angeles.
Thursday: Participates in a DNC roundtable in Los Angeles before traveling to San Diego to participate in a DCCC event. The President will then travel to San Jose where he will participate in two DNC events and remain overnight.
Friday: Participates in an event on energy in the San Jose area. Following the event the President will return to Washington, DC.
Jonathan Cohn: Gallup: Number of Uninsured Lowest We’ve Ever Recorded
Obamacare is reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. And while nobody can say for sure exactly how many people are getting coverage, Gallup just provided a pretty big clue.
According to the organization, the proportion of adults without coverage last month fell to 13.4 percent. That’s lower than it was last yaer. That’s lower than it was when the Affordable Care Act became law—and when President Obama took office.
In fact, that’s lower than it’s ever been since the beginning of 2008, before the economic crisis, which is when Gallup started taking regular monthly polls on this question.
It probably didn’t get as much attention as it deserved, but something unusual happened last week: House Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) got caught telling a rather brazen lie.
GOP officials issued a “report” arguing that “only 67 percent” of consumers who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges paid their first month’s premiums. In this case, Republicans were lying – they deliberately published a document that included fraudulent claims, intended to deceive the public, and once caught, the officials made no real effort to deny what they’d done.
Paul Krugman took Republicans to task in his new column, condemning them for “spreading disinformation about health reform because it works, and because they can – there is no sign that they pay any political price when their accusations are proved false.”
But the GOP’s failed attempt at a con arguably looks even worse this morning, with new evidence of the Affordable Care Act’s success.
Eclectablog: Obamacare success stories keep coming, with a rosy forecast for 2015
Karen is just one of 272,500 Michiganders who signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov, where a strong finish to 2014 enrollment bodes well for next year.
So much good news, it’s hard to know where to begin.
On Thursday, Obama administration officials predicted health insurance premiums would be stable in 2015, thanks to a large and varied pool of insured Americans. This is according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which reported that about 28 percent of the 8 million Americans who enrolled in private health insurance through Healthcare.gov were in the 18-34-year-old age range needed to help keep the risk pool balanced and keep premiums down — the demographic naysayers predicted would not sign up. Yet another “horror story” debunked.
In Michigan, 272,539 people signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov, in addition to thousands more who have enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan, the state’s Medicaid expansion program that launched April 1.
Last week, House Republicans released a deliberately misleading report on the status of health reform, crudely rigging the numbers to sustain the illusion of failure in the face of unexpected success. Are you shocked?
You aren’t, but you should be. Mainstream politicians didn’t always try to advance their agenda through lies, damned lies and — in this case — bogus statistics. And the fact that this has become standard operating procedure for a major party bodes ill for America’s future.
About that report: The really big policy news of 2014, at least so far, is the spectacular recovery of the Affordable Care Act from its stumbling start, thanks to an extraordinary late surge that took enrollment beyond early projections….
This is a problem for Republicans, who have bet the ranch on the proposition that health reform is an unfixable failure … How can they respond to good news?
Well, they could graciously admit that they were wrong, and offer constructive suggestions about how to make the law work even better. Oh, sorry — I forgot that I wasn’t writing jokes for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Michael Hiltzik: Medicaid expansion is the final battle in war over Obamacare
The final battles of any war often are the bloodiest. They’re waged by the last holdouts, dead-enders desperate to prove to themselves and their dwindling followers that their efforts were not in vain.
The final battle of the war over the Affordable Care Act is being waged today over expanding Medicaid. As the act was originally conceived, Medicaid would provide healthcare for more than 10 million of the poorest uninsured Americans, most of them childless adults with earnings up to 138% of the federal poverty level. (This year, that income ceiling is about $16,000.)
Then the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Congress couldn’t impose the expansion on state governments, but had to make it voluntary. Republican legislators and governors in 28 states turned the expansion down. A handful later reversed themselves. These include four that, with federal permission, are temporarily trying out novel Medicaid formats.
The refusal of more than half the states to cover so many of their neediest citizens — the number who have fallen into the “coverage gap” is estimated at 5 million — amazes and frustrates health experts. That’s especially so because the federal government covers 100% of the cost of expansion through 2016. After that, the federal share will slowly decline to 90% in 2020 and beyond.
Salon: Diagnosing Paul Ryan’s psychopathy: Arrogant, manipulative, deceitful, remorseless
Paul Krugman revealed Ryan’s big con years ago. It’s gotten worse. Why does anyone take him seriously on policy?
If the GOP as a whole has pretty much given up on the whole “rebranding” thing, their 2012 vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, most definitely has not. In fact, rebranding is pretty much his thing, regardless of how credible — or incredible, actually — his efforts may be.
For years, Ryan touted himself as an avid Ayn Rand disciple, until he didn’t in early 2012, even calling it “an urban legend” that he had anything serious to do with Rand at all. He then tried to present the latest iteration of his draconian soak-the-poor/shower the rich budget proposal as grounded in Catholic social teaching, rather than Rand’s fiercely anti-Christian philosophy, a claim that the conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops soundly rejected, writing that his proposed budget failed to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”
Now, seeking to put all memory of the “47 percent” campaign behind him, Ryan’s trying to take that reinvention to a whole new level.
Senator Obama walks out to address supporters at a campaign stop at the American Legion Mall in Indianapolis, May 5, 2008
President Obama and Vice President Biden wait in line to place their orders during an unannounced lunch-time visit to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., May 5, 2009
President Obama, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, Members of Congress and guests, signs the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 5, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
May 5, 2010: “After doing a series of posed photos, the President started joking around with the First Lady in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House before a Cinco de Mayo event.” (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks along the South Lawn Drive of the White House with Sen. John Kerry, May 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
May 5, 2011: “A few days after the mission against bin Laden, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the “Pride of Midtown,” lost 15 firefighters on 9/11 — an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house.” (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama meets with firefighters and first responders at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9, before visiting the National Sept. 11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York, May 5, 2011
President Obama speaks with New York City Police Sergeant Stephanie Moses after laying a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan May 5, 2011
President Obama greets family members after laying a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial in New York on May 5, 2011
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at a Cinco de Mayo reception in the White House, May 5, 2011
Leaving the White House, May 5, 2012
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama embrace at Schottenstein Center, Columbus, May 5, 2012
Schottenstein Center, Columbus
First Lady Michelle Obama at Virginia Commonwealth University May 5, 2012 in Richmond
President Obama steps down from Air Force One with Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, en route to speak at the Ohio State University spring commencement, May 5, 2013
President Obama delivers the address during The Ohio State University commencement at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, May 5, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
On This Day: President Obama talks with Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, before the “42” movie screening with Robinson family members, cast, and crew in the Family Theater at the White House, April 2, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Let’s introduce a new category into the discussion. So far we’ve had two. The first is that Obamacare may make it by the skin of its teeth. The second is that’s it’s a total failure and the worst thing since unsliced bread. Time for a third: It’s a huge success and a triumph and a historic achievement and an immeasurable benefit to the American people.
I’ll stake out this lonely ground, because the allowed media narratives have other things to do….
The People’s View: President Obama Opens Can of Whoop-Ass on Opponents of Health Care as Exchanges Enroll 7.1 Million
Hours ago, a triumphant President Obama opened a can of whoop-ass on opponents of the Affordable Care Act as he announced 7.1 million Americans have already signed up for health insurance through the exchanges – beating even the best estimates of 7 million. The number is likely to inch even higher as individuals who began their application before yesterday’s deadline are allowed to finish their sign-ups. Just months ago, pundits were Very Seriously (TM) postulating that it won’t even cross 5 million.
The president openly called out Republican governors for obstructing the health care law and keeping millions more who could get health insurance today from getting it (5 million, to be exact, is the number of people GOP governors are denying health care to by refusing a fully federally funded expansion of Medicaid).
With the recent closure of the initial enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is enormous jockeying around interpreting the number of enrollees in state and federal exchanges. Proponents and opponents of the law are interpreting the preliminary numbers in the way that best makes their case. But what neither side is emphasizing enough is that enrollment in the ACA is far from over now that March 31st has passed. This is because millions of individuals will lose their insurance during 2014 – and Obamacare will be there to catch them.
When President Obama took a brief victory lap on the South Lawn yesterday afternoon, he included a specific taunt that, by my ear, seemed ad-libbed.
“[T]his law is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s working. It’s helping people from coast to coast, all of which makes the lengths to which critics have gone to scare people or undermine the law, or try to repeal the law without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand. I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance?”
Note how this turns the Republican line against them. Indeed, Obama’s questions need not be rhetorical — why are so many on the right working so hard to deny Americans access to affordable medical care? Why haven’t the ACA’s critics bothered to present a plausible alternative?
TPM: Conservatives Discover That Obamacare Will Help A Lot Of People
Obamacare crossed the 7 million sign-ups milestone before the midnight deadline Monday, sparking angst and introspection among conservative policy wonks about the future of their quest to wipe the health care law off the books.
Central to their dilemma is the emerging discovery that many people will end up benefiting from Obamacare. Despite the health care law’s problems, unanswered questions and unknown costs, it can hardly be denied that millions of American are slated to reap the benefits of its insurance subsidies, the Medicaid expansion and beefed-up consumer protections.
Politicususa: Stephen Colbert Flawlessly Mocks Republican Heartbreak In Wake Of Obamacare Success
On Tuesday night’s episode of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert began the show with a bang. The mock conservative host lampooned Republicans by lamenting the fact that millions of Americans now have health insurance. He then showed clips from earlier in the day revealing that due to Obamacare, 7.1 million people have been able to obtain a private health insurance plan in the marketplace.
After playing those clips, Colbert complained about how crowded his doctor’s office will be now that there will be 7.1 million other patients in line before him. He then pointed out that in recent weeks, conservatives had assured him that there was no way that the ACA would meet its goal. This was followed by clips from right-wing pundits, mostly on Fox News, stating with absolute certainty that Obamacare would fall far short of its intended target.
The clips Colbert played included some priceless statements from notable conservatives…
Greg Sargent: Obamacare is a disaster. But KyNect is awesome!
The office of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear just announced that more than 370,000 people have now signed up for Obamacare on KyNect, the state exchange. More than one out of every dozen Kentuckians — 8.6 percent of the state population — now has obtained coverage through the exchange, Beshear’s office said, claiming that a preliminary analysis has established that three out of four enrollees has reported that they were uninsured before signing up.
Beshear’s office adds that more than 21,000 signed up in the last three days alone.
But as recently as three days ago, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was denouncing Obamacare as “disastrous,” lamenting the “catastrophic effects” the law has had on Kentucky families, and insisting that “the pain caused by this terrible law is easy to see.”
Ugh, hate linking to anything by Zeke Miller, but this is a good read:
Time: All The President’s Celebrities: How The White House Used Stars To Sell Obamacare
The Obama administration turned to a powerful source to help persuade 7 million uninsured Americans to enroll in health care plans under the Affordable Care Act — a veritable army of celebrities
In the summer of 2013, when the White House was gearing up to sell the Affordable Care Act, senior aide Valerie Jarrett convened a meeting of some of the nation’s biggest celebrities to secure their advice and help sell the law to the American public.
The meeting brought together singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, actor and on-off White House staffer Kal Penn and comedienne Amy Poehler, as well as Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and YouTube Comedy’s Daniel Kellison, and representatives for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, and Bon Jovi. Nine months and hundreds of videos, tweets and media appearances later, the White House believes the meeting paid dividends, with the celebrities helping the administration enroll more than 7.04 million people in Obamacare through Monday night, the end of the open enrollment period in the healthcare exchanges.
Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, and most recent First Runner-Up in our national vice-presidential pageant, has released another “budget,” this one a sham even by his remarkable standards because this is an election year and nobody is going to vote for a budget, even a fake one, unless it includes free money, doughnuts, and oral sex for everyone in the country. Anyway, it’s pretty much what we have come to expect from Ryan. More money for the military, more granny-starving for the rest of us.
First Lady Michelle Obama poses with G-20 Summit Spouses at the Royal Opera House in London, April 2, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama is seen through an oval window as he meets with senior staff members Robert Gibbs, left, and David Axelrod following a press conference at the G-20 Summit at the ExCel Centre in London, England, April 2, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, left, and President Felipe Calderón of Mexico following their joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 2, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama looks out over the Rose Garden as he walks along the Colonnade of the White House, April 2, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with, from left, Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, April 2, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, during the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, April 2, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama, alongside Harrison Ford and Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, welcomes high school and college students from across the country for a workshop with the cast and crew of the film 42, April 2, 2013
I am going to be 64 years old in a few months and being self-employed for the last 33 years I have never had one of my medications covered by insurance. Never. Just to stay minimally healthy, my asthma, blood pressure meds and a few others are around $600/month.
We had awful insurance that never covered my asthma until there was no insurance at all for the last decade. I lived in constant fear.
I chose a Gold plan – for my last year and half until Medicare I wanted maximum flexibility and a low deductible: $500 and $3,500 out-of-pocket cap with a large network. I chose a co-op plan. These plans, with no profit incentive, were supposed to be a bridge to something akin to a public option. In the 2012 budget fight, the Republicans won the elimination of these plans from ACA but anyone who had a grant before then was grandfathered in. IL was able to establish an insurance plan/company that will run on overhead similar to Medicare and we all ‘own’ the company.
My premium, after some subsidy, is $558/month. Your age can still be a factor in premium cost, but with a cap. I do have co-pays on my medications – it will be about $140/month. But I’m still only out a little more for truly comprehensive health care than what I was paying retail for my meds before ACA.
To walk up to the CVS Pharmacy counter and give them my card was overwhelming. My $320 asthma med: $70 co-pay. My $160 nasal spray: $30. And so on.
I need to get my first mammogram. I need to go to the gynecologist for the first time in 10 years. When I was sick last week and even the meds from the doctor weren’t working, I knew if – God forbid – I needed the ER because I couldn’t breathe, I could go. I have insurance. I will not be denied, as I was in 1983 because ‘no one develops asthma as an adult’ sayeth BCBS and they wouldn’t pay for my hospital stay.
It Reversed America’s Layoff Crisis. What happened in mid-2009 that suddenly boosted America out of recession and reversed the escalating trend of layoffs, which is measured here with the four-week moving average of initial unemployment claims that simply averages the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits? Was it the uptick of people buying tricorn hats or purchasing signs to call Obama a socialist/fascist/corporate cronyist?
Or maybe it was the result of markets calmed by government intervention infused with the sudden burst of spending via the only place from which it could come in such a crisis, the federal government? It Led To The Creation Or Saving Of 9 Million Jobs. The most untold part of the untold story of the stimulus is the dramatic way it nearly conjured a vibrant green energy industry that barely existed five years ago.
Pete Danko: More Wind Power Equals Lower Electricity Prices
The price of electricity has dropped in states that have developed extensive wind power over the past five years. It’s just a slight drop, but here’s the kicker: the other states have seen a hefty rise. The AWEA pointed to 11 states that had produce more than 7 percent of their electricity from wind power – Texas, Wyoming, Oregon, Oklahoma, Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. In those states, the price of electricity fell 0.37 percent in the past five years. Meanwhile, in the rest of the states, electricity went up by 7.79 percent.
Igor Volsky: Republicans Slam Stimulus On Fifth Anniversary – But Most Took Credit For It Back Home
Monday marks the five-year anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery Act, President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus stimulus package that invested in everything from infrastructure projects to electronic medical health care records and alternative energy sources. Every single Republican in the House and almost every Republican in the Senate — with the exception of Former Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — voted against the measure and today the GOP continues to deride the law as wasteful an ineffective.
But as ThinkProgress reported throughout 2009, over half of the GOP caucus praised the effects of the stimulus or took credit for the federal dollars in their home districts and states — despite repeatedly voting against it in Washington D.C. The Wall Street Journal reported “Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who called the stimulus a ‘wasteful spending spree’ that ‘misses the mark on all counts,’ wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October in support of a grant application from a group in his district which, he said, ‘intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.’” Ryan also wrote letters to the Secretary of Energy requesting stimulus funds for a local energy company in 2009. Ryan repeatedly voted against the stimulus.
It seems like ages ago, but in late 2008 and early 2009, the global economic crisis had reached terrifying levels, and U.S. policymakers had to choose a direction for the nation’s future. Democrats rallied behind a stimulus package called the Recovery Act, while Republicans called for a five-year federal spending freeze. First, if the nation had followed the GOP’s preferred course at the height of the crisis – David Brooks described the Republican prescription at the time as “insane” – the Great Recession would have been far worse, making their complaints now rather laughable. Second, if GOP lawmakers are convinced the stimulus failed, why’d they take credit for its investments back home? And third, public relations notwithstanding, the Recovery Act was a great success.
Five years ago Monday, President Barack Obama visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, his $800 billion stimulus bill. At the time, the U.S. economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. In the fourth quarter of 2008, it had contracted at an 8% annual rate, a Depression-level free fall. “Today does not mark the end of our economic problems,” Obama said on Feb. 17, 2009. “But it does mark the beginning of the end.” And so it did. the Recovery Act increased U.S. GDP by roughly 2 to 2.5 percentage points from late 2009 through mid-2011, keeping us out of a double-dip recession. It added about 6 million “job years” (a full-time job for a full year) through the end of 2012. If you combine the Recovery Act with a series of follow-up measures, including unemployment-insurance extensions, small-business tax cuts and payroll tax cuts, the Administration’s fiscal stimulus produced a 2% to 3% increase in GDP in every quarter from late 2009 through 2012, and 9 million extra job years, according to the report.
The report also estimates that the Recovery Act’s aid to victims of the Great Recession — in the form of expanded food stamps, earned-income tax credits, unemployment benefits and much more — directly prevented 5.3 million people from slipping below the poverty line. It also improved nearly 42,000 miles of roads, repaired over 2,700 bridges, funded 12,220 transit vehicles, improved more than 3,000 water projects and provided tax cuts to 160 million American workers. The Recovery Act jump-started clean energy in America, financing unprecedented investments in wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources of electricity. It advanced biofuels, electric vehicles and energy efficiency in every imaginable form. It helped fund the factories to build all that green stuff in the U.S., and research into the green technologies of tomorrow. It’s the reason U.S. wind production has increased 145% since 2008 and solar installations have increased more than 1,200%. The stimulus is also the reason the use of electronic medical records has more than doubled in doctors’ offices and almost quintupled in hospitals. It improved more than 110,000 miles of broadband infrastructure. It launched Race to the Top, the most ambitious national education reform in decades.
David Danelski: MOJAVE DESERT: High-Profile Solar Plant Dedicated With Fanfare
Amid the glow of 173,000 mirrors capturing the sun’s power, more than 100 government officials and energy executives Thursday celebrated the opening of the Ivanpah solar plant in northeast San Bernardino County and declared their intention to build more of them to combat global warming. “We will continue to work across the board to advance these projects. So bring them on,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in his keynote. His address, given in a large tent next to the mirror fields, came during a luncheon that offered squash ravioli and a salad of baby greens. Moniz said Ivanpah is the world’s largest thermal solar project and part of a strategy to expand carbon-free sources of energy.
President Barack Obama: Making America the leader in clean energy, with the world's largest solar plant. pe.com/local-news/top…
The Obama administration is looking to provide as much as $40 billion in additional loan guarantees for energy projects, Moniz said. The plant is expected to provide enough electricity for as many as 140,000 homes through contracts with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric. It has been hailed by President Barack Obama, who said in his State of the Union address that America is a global leader in solar development. The government has backed such projects with investment tax credits that run through 2016, though it is not clear how much the Ivanpah investors have benefited. The tax breaks were part of Obama’s first-term economic stimulus package. Ivanpah is one of the first commercial-scale solar developments initiated during Obama’s recession-fighting stimulus effort. It is the first large-scale plant to use power-tower technology — at Ivanpah, the mirrors focus solar energy onto boilers mounted on three, 460-foot towers. Heat in the boilers creates steam, which powers turbines that generate electricity.
@FLOTUS: Today, the First Lady joined President Obama to meet with moms who are doing great work to help kids #GetCovered
Remarks by the President and First Lady after Meeting with Moms on the Affordable Care Act
THE PRESIDENT: Michelle and I just had a wonderful conversation with this group of moms and one aunt who have been working tirelessly out there on behalf of our mission, which is to make sure that everybody in America, regardless of where they live, their background, that they are able to get high-quality health care coverage that provides them with financial protection and looks after them when they get sick.
And obviously, over the last couple of months, we had a rocky start with the website and all this. Despite that, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people signing up, more and more every single day, in part because we’ve got these wonderful folks like the people we met with today who are out there telling their personal stories — what it’s like when a son gets sick and you have to make sure that not only are you providing the care that they need now, but also making sure that in the future they’re going to be able to get health care because they’ve got a preexisting condition; knowing what it’s like to be in a position where your child is transitioning from college to the workplace and maybe their first job is part-time or they’re working two part-time jobs, so they’re doing everything they can to be responsible but they still can’t get health care on the job.
And I think this conversation really drove home in a very personal way why this is important. Sometimes here in Washington, this is a very abstract conversation or an entirely political conversation. But when you boil it down to stories and people hear what it means to have the security of solid health insurance at an affordable price when you need it, it reminds me at least of why we’ve been fighting so hard to get this done.
And we anticipate that there’s still going to be challenges over the coming months and we’re going to continue to find ways to smooth out this transition and make sure that people know what the Affordable Care Act is actually about. But we’re absolutely confident that the demand is there, the need is there, and the more people learn about the fact that we’ve got 3 million young people who are able to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26, or the more they learn about the free preventive care that can avoid illness in the first place, or the more that they hear about the fact that there are no lifetime limits so if you end up having a really severe illness you’re not going to be hurt with a bunch of fine print — the more information they get I think the more satisfied they’re going to be that this was the right thing to do and that it’s been worth the fight.
And the last point I would just make — and I know, Michelle, you want to say a little bit — is what we communicated to the women here is there’s something about moms — (laughter) — that, number one, they’ve got credibility generally; number two, women oftentimes are the ones who are making the health care decisions of the family; number three, moms can tell young people who think they’re invincible that they’re not and prod them to at least get information.
So as much as here in the White House we’re going to continue to promote the Affordable Care Act, as much as we’re going to be working hard with other organizations like AARP and others around the country to make sure people are signing up, nothing can replace the story that Mary Todd is telling in the grocery store to somebody who may be skeptical. And that kind of face-to-face interaction makes this concrete and it describes exactly why this is so important.
So I just want to say to all the women here who have been telling their stories and working with others to make sure that people get good information, we are grateful. It’s a great gift, what you’re doing, and we’re really, really appreciative.
MRS. OBAMA: The words that come to mind for me are peace of mind. And what the Affordable Care Act provides and can provide for so many families out there is peace of mind. This isn’t about politics; it’s about making sure that every family has the peace of mind to know that if a child gets sick, or someone loses a job, or someone has an illness that requires hundreds of thousands of dollars in coverage, that they’re going to have the safety net that they need to make sure that they don’t lose their home, that they aren’t spending the rest of their lives paying off medical fees.
And as Barack said, your stories are powerful. And it’s our job as mothers to make sure that our young people are informed about their “invincibility,” to make sure that other moms and families out there really understand what this law provides and that they can take advantage of it. This is the beauty of it. People have choices. They can go on to the website; they can talk to a navigator; they can learn for themselves what the law means and what it doesn’t mean. And that’s really, really what we want people to do, is educate yourselves. Get that education. Make the choice that’s best for your family, because the options are there.
So we are, again, very grateful to you all. And we urge everyone out there who has a story to share it. And we urge people to reach out. And if they’ve signed up their child, then sign up their friends. If you’ve got grandkids, make it a Christmas treat around the table to talk about a little health care. (Laughter.) Ring in the New Year with new coverage. (Laughter.)
But we can really change the face of health care in this country. We can be a country that focuses on prevention. We can be a country where no one goes bankrupt because they get sick. And that is a worthwhile goal. So thank you all for being a part of this.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you guys.
Q Mrs. Obama, why did you want to be involved in the health care push?
MRS. OBAMA: Because I’m a mom.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you guys. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.
Letter From Governor Patrick to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation on the Affordable Care Act
Friday, November 15, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick today sent the following letter regarding the Affordable Care Act to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation:
As you consider current proposals to change the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I write to remind you about what we have learned from health care reform in Massachusetts, and to inform you of some of our experiences so far with implementing it.
We have seen firsthand the positive changes brought about by a strong individual insurance market with protections that ensure a basic level of care. Individuals are protected from being dropped from insurance when they need it most, or being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Benefits must meet minimum standards, and there are limits on individuals’ exposure to out-of-pocket costs for needed health care. And the rest of us are protected against having our premiums inflated or our taxes tapped to pick up the tab for the uninsured or underinsured. With these basic features in place, we have achieved near universal coverage, better health and slower growth in health costs. With the ACA, the same can and will happen for the country.
Much has been made of the fact that some Americans have had their current policies canceled by their insurers. Some of that, we know, is in the normal course of annual insurance renewals. Some is because the existing policies do not provide the minimum level of coverage required by the ACA. So long as the means for individuals to learn about and enroll in affordable alternatives is available, through an improved website, a call center or otherwise, the transition of people from non-compliant policies to compliant ones should proceed.
Nonetheless, the public has been poorly informed about this transition, and too many consumers are unable to enroll conveniently in compliant plans. For some, the temporary delay proposed yesterday by the President may be appropriate. Our experience in Massachusetts tells us that our health plans and their customers have prepared for the transition and are unlikely to need or to use the additional time.
However, any delay in requiring plans to meet the basic standards of the ACA must only be temporary. Leaving non-compliant plans to remain permanently in place means we revert to the status quo: a broken health care system where many people carry policies that don’t cover them when they get seriously ill, and where those with comprehensive coverage pay for those uninsured or underinsured in higher premiums and taxes. Permitting plans to be permanently non-compliant means the pool of individuals who do purchase plans through the marketplaces will likely be sicker on average, and their options will be more expensive and constrained. And it will disrupt the market-based model on which premiums and policy options hinge.
We benefit in Massachusetts from broad, bipartisan support for health reform and the willingness of our legislature — encouraged by business, labor, industry, patient advocates and others — to make refinements to our plan as we go. The President does not enjoy that collaboration with the Congress, and the American people suffer as a result. If you wish to take further legislative action to ensure the successful extension of the benefits of the ACA to all our citizens, I would humbly propose that you consider granting the administration broader authority to make adjustments to the ACA by regulation so long as such regulations advance the fundamental goal. That way any administration can make changes in the details of implementation quickly in response to lessons learned along the way.
The fundamental goal of the Affordable Care Act is to give all Americans access to reliable, quality health insurance at a reasonable cost. Guaranteeing a basic level of coverage for everyone is the first step towards fixing our broken health care system and promoting a healthier population. We have seen in Massachusetts how well it works and how important it is. While the transition is challenging for some, I urge you not to lose sight of the long-term good for all as you consider any changes or adjustments to the Affordable Care Act.
For these reasons, I urge you to oppose any bill that extends access to non-compliant plans beyond a short transition period.
1. Starting now and on October 1st you can go to healthcare.gov or call (1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to compare options and select health coverage.
2. Thanks to ObamaCare, insurance companies must cover mental health, substance-use disorder, alcohol misuse screening, domestic violence screening, depression screening, etc. under “essential health benefits.”
3. ObamaCare will increase the need for doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, health information specialists, medical billers, medical sonography, home-care aides, lab technicians, etc. Now, that’s job creation!
11. 8.5 million Americans from the 19 states already operating health insurance exchanges will use ObamaCare to purchase insurance. It far outstrips the government’s estimate of 7 million new customers in all 50 states.
12. CDC predicts that 200,000 heart disease related deaths per year could be prevented because of ObamaCare.
13. Thanks to ObamaCare, 6.4 million Americans will be able to purchase insurance for $100 a month or less.
14. A fun quiz that tests your ObamaCare knowledge and helps correct confusions and lies.
15. Five great ways ObamaCare helps small businesses.
Chuck Todd inspired me to contact all my local media about presenting the facts on Obamacare. I sent this to my local paper yesterday. The executive editor replied me.
This is my letter:
I wish to make a suggestion to the News Journal. Please bear me out and read this to the end.
On October 1, the Affordable Care Act will go into effect. This law will impact the lives of millions of Americans. However there is a lot that many residents may not know about the law. Once implemented, the law is expected to help some 30 million Americans.
Already it is making an impact:
– Medicare’s preventive benefits now come with a free visit with your primary care doctor every year to plan out your prevention services. And there are no more co-pays for preventative services in Medicare.
– Small businesses get big tax credits—up to 50 percent of premium costs—for offering health insurance to their workers.
– Insurers with unusually high administrative costs have to offer rebates to their customers, and every insurance company has to reveal how much it spends on overhead.
– Free birth control and other preventative services for women, unless you work for a faith based organization that opposes birth control.
– Seniors get $250 towards closing the “doughnut hole” in their prescription drug coverage.
And there is much, much more to come once the law is implemented.
I wonder if your newspaper would consider doing a town hall and inviting Pensacolans to hear about what the law offers. Many people do not know some of the simple, but major benefits in the law. For example, that no longer will people be denied service because of pre-existing conditions. Parents who wish to keep their children on their health insurance will be able to do so until the children turns 26. People suffering with substance abuse and mental health issues will no longer go uncovered. Under ACA, they will have insurance.
Just Wednesday, I was able to share this fact with the mother of a 22-year-old, who has a heart condition. While his condition is stable now, she wanted to make sure he had health insurance, in case he ever got sick again. I informed her about the pre-existing component. I also told her that her child could remain on her insurance until 26, if she so desired.
No longer will pregnancies be considered a pre-existing condition.
There are hundreds of thousands like this mom out there. A little bit of information will help residents. The goal is not to convince anyone, but present the facts about the law.
WTHR: …. Chelsea Wheeler takes nine different medications every day. Pointing to two bottles, she said, “For these alone, it would easily be $3,000 a month.” … she lives with chronic kidney disease …. “When I got sick, I was 13 and it was kidney failure.”
….. Her biggest concern now? Repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act …..
“….. if that goes away, then I’m in a world of hurt, literally”…..
While Chelsea has a good job, because she’s a contract employee she’s not eligible for insurance through the company. With the new law she can continue on her parents’ plan until she turns 26. It pays for all her meds, including those very expensive anti-rejection drugs.
…. “My entire life is based on getting medical care and without the Affordable Health Care Act I would not be able to do it,” she said. “I’d be drowning in debt trying to pay by myself ….. it’s a lifesaver.”
Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy
Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.
Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.
“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.
Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.
A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.
When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.
The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.
President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)
Powerful words from Sybrina Fulton: “No prom for Trayvon. No high school graduation for Trayvon. No college for Trayvon. No grandkids coming from Trayvon. All because of a law; a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for this awful crime.”
Washington Post: Maryland issues insurance rates that are among lowest in U.S.
Maryland insurance officials approved final rates Friday for health plans to be sold in the online marketplace for individuals beginning Oct. 1. The rates offered by nine carriers are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates for comparison and among the lowest in the D.C. area, according to an analysis by Maryland officials who will be operating the state’s marketplace.
“I didn’t want to be right,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says about her prediction that striking a key prong of the Voting Rights Act will lead to a wave of minority voter suppression, “but sadly I am.” In an interview with the Associated Press’ Mark Sherman, Ginsburg reiterated one of the core points of her dissent from the five Republican justices’ voting rights decision — “The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn’t make any sense to me,” Ginsburg said. “And one really could have predicted what was going to happen” once the law was struck down.
11:30: VP Biden meets with law enforcement officials to discuss common sense immigration reform
1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
5:0: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the Diplomatic Corps Reception (Closed press)
Occupy Democrats: Watch a Doctor Destroy a Koch Brother-Funded Anti-Obamacare Ad in 2 Minutes:
The Hill: The Obama administration on Thursday highlighted lower-than-expected premiums for healthcare plans sold through ObamaCare’s new insurance marketplaces.
In the 11 states that have released rates for next year, premiums for a middle-of-the-road plan are an average of 18 percent cheaper than the Congressional Budget Office had expected.
…. New York is the latest state to report that premiums for plans offered through its exchange would be cheaper than expected — and, on average, 50 percent cheaper than comparable policies available in the state today …. California also reported lower-than-expected premiums…
Six states have released rate filings for plans available to small businesses through a separate exchange. Those policies are also an average of 18 percent cheaper than existing coverage options, HHS said.
President Obama on Thursday touted some good news about Obamacare. And, lord knows, he’s earned the right. Republicans and conservative intellectuals keep seizing on setbacks — some real, some imagined — and predicting that Obamacare will be a catastrophe. They are almost certainly wrong.
Ironically, one of the best reasons to believe in Obamacare may be the very issue that has inspired so much chortling on the right: The insurance premiums for people who buy on their own, because they don’t get coverage from an employer or through a government program.
Insurers around the country have already submitted bids…. they are coming in lower than most experts had predicted….
…. it means the overall price of Obamacare — the amount of money the government must spend, in order to make the law function — is going to be even lower than predicted.
ThinkProgress: Most Media Coverage Ignores Premium Drop, Focuses On GOP Effort To Undermine Obamacare
Early on Wednesday, as House Republicans prepared to vote for a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer and individual mandates, New York state officials announced that health care premiums in the new exchange will plummet by at least 50 percent as a result of the law.
For reform advocates, the story represented a reprieve from the constant drum beat of media coverage about implementation delays, predictions of rate shock, and employers dropping coverage. But a ThinkProgress analysis of television reports about the health care law for Wednesday, July 18th, confirms that even with good news to report, bookers and segment producers are still far more interested in broadcasting stories about the political brinkmanship in Washington, DC than the actual, tangible progress of implementation.
Steve Benen: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act did not actually strike down the entire civil-rights law, but rather, gutted it by rejecting Section 4 of the VRA. The burden then shifted to Congress to find a remedy …. Yesterday, the House held its first hearing on the VRA since the court ruling, and if the public comments were any indication, the odds of success in the near future appear long…
Most of the Republican members of the panel apparently didn’t think the hearing was especially important – which is to say, they didn’t show up ….
… Anyone predicting congressional Republicans might do the right thing on voting rights should probably adjust their expectations accordingly. GOP policymakers at the state level are rushing to impose new restrictions to keep voters from participating in their own democracy, and GOP policymakers at the federal level appear content to do nothing to stop them.
As part of our Summer Of Fakery, the House allegedly has taken up the job of repairing the damage done to the Voting Rights Act that occurred when John Roberts declared the day of jubilee. One of the witnesses today was Hans von Spakovsky, who’s been scamming this particular scam for over a decade now. Anyway, this is what von Spakovsky was peddling today.
“[That section] was an unprecedented, extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty……..”
…. Not to bring that pesky Constitution into things again, but here’s an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty:
Amendment XIII: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…..
…. If you want to understand why modern conservatives seem so impatient with settled law, remember that they owe their modern ascendancy to the people who refused to accept any of these three Amendments because they didn’t believe the freaking Civil War changed anything.
ThinkProgress: On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.
10:50: The President delivers a statement on the confirmation of Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney
NYT: Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, state officials are to announce on Wednesday.
State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.
Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.
“Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president for health initiatives with the Community Service Society of New York. “It’s not bargain-basement prices, but we’re going from Bergdorf’s to Filene’s here.”
“The extraordinary decline in New York’s insurance rates for individual consumers demonstrates the profound promise of the Affordable Care Act,” she added.
AG Eric Holder: “So Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father, and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world that he must still confront. This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways.”
Full NAACP speech from yesterday (transcript here):
…. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell struck a deal, abetted apparently by John McCain, that averted the invocation of the nuclear option by Reid and the Democrats. Reid got just about everything he wanted. The Senate is going to pass through all seven nominees that Reid brought up in this skirmish….
…. About as clear a win for one party over another as we’ve seen in a long time. Why did it happen? Because everyone in the room knew that the Democrats had the 51 votes to change the rules. Stand together or fall apart, as the old cliche goes. It’s true. It’s still pathetic that it had to come to this for the president to fill his cabinet (and sub-cabinet), but it goes to show that holding the line as a group works.
Steve Benen: …. Will what transpired in the Senate yesterday actually, you know, matter? …. The cautious answer is that it’s evidence of incremental progress, the results of which will have a real-world impact on the lives of real people.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for example, looks out for consumers against predatory excesses from the financial industry. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Chris Hayes last night, in light of yesterday’s deal and Richard Cordray’s confirmation, “We know this agency is here to stay. No more clouds over what it legally is entitled to do. No more attacks that say maybe we’re going to be able to undercut it in this way or weaken it in that way. We’ve got a full-fledged watchdog. The one we fought for, and [Cordray] is going to be there to fight for us.”
…. I’ve heard plenty of criticisms of yesterday’s agreement, and detractors have raised fair concerns … But in today’s environment, incremental progress is still progress, and there’s ample reason to believe yesterday’s deal moves the ball forward.
Congress is taking the first steps toward bringing back pre-clearance of voting laws under the Voting Rights Act this week, as activists express tempered optimism in lawmakers’ willingness and ability to act.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month tossed out the Voting Rights Act’s formula that determined which jurisdictions must submit their voting law changes to the federal government before enacting them. The 5-4 ruling did not get rid of pre-clearance altogether but said Congress must come up with an updated standard to enforce it rather than the 1965 version that covered Georgia and other Deep South states with a history of overt discrimination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will kick off the congressional response with a hearing Wednesday featuring Congress’ civil rights conscience: Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Michael Tomasky: …. the narrative about the IRS targeting Obama’s enemies has been thoroughly debunked….
The IRS “scandal,” lately dormant, is returning soon to cable-news channel near you: Tomorrow, Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general who produced the original report at Darrell Issa’s request, is going back before Issa’s committee, and this time he’s in for some pretty serious grilling from Democrats. The evidence is now even more preponderant than it already was that there was absolutely no political agenda in the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) applications. In fact, evidence is mounting that if anyone was behaving politically here, it was George — and, of course, Issa and the other Republicans who launched into their baseless tirades about “enemies lists” and other such nonsense.
…. what about the mainstream media that swallowed whole from the Republican-conservative spoon, running huge headlines and ominous editorials, all those breathy stories that got nearly half the American public believing, on the basis of zero hard evidence, that the White House was involved here? It’s not in the nature of the beast to run huge headlines saying “No Scandal Here.” But it should be in the beast’s nature to take a much harder look at Issa, George, and the other perpetuators of this non-story. And it should start tomorrow, when George testifies.
Reuters: President Barack Obama on Tuesday for the first time admitted that it was unlikely that the Republican-led House of Representatives would pass sweeping immigration reforms before lawmakers left Washington for a month-long break in August.
In television interviews taped with four Spanish-language newscasts, Obama said he thinks many Republicans need more time to grapple with concerns about border security and the changing demographics of America.
…. Obama has insisted that reforms must include the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he told Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.
Many House Republicans oppose that measure, calling it “amnesty” for people who have broken existing immigration laws. But Obama said ignoring the problem would resign undocumented immigrants to “a lower status.” “I think that’s not who we are as Americans,” he said.
Democrats once ruled Texas. Then came five decades of steady decline. Can Wendy Davis, the Castro brothers, and Team Obama’s vaunted field operation return their party to power? And if they can’t, can anyone?
“Somebody has to step up,” Wendy Davis observed one evening in late May over drinks at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “As long as the Democrats continue to buy into the same bullshit that some of the Republicans are saying — ‘Oh no, it’s Texas, it’s hopeless’ — and continue to act like it won’t happen for six, eight, twelve, sixteen years from now, that perpetuates the problem.”
“So are you going to run for statewide office?” I asked.
Her green eyes sparkled. “One day, someday,” she said coyly.
One day, someday, about a month later, on the morning of June 25, the petite fifty-year-old Democratic state senator from Fort Worth fixed herself a single boiled egg for breakfast. It would be her only meal of the day. She slipped on a pair of pink tennis shoes, headed over to the Capitol, and stepped up……
President Obama hosted members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at the White House on Tuesday as the group gather in Washington for their annual convention. The Oval Office meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the African-American sorority and the 51st anniversary of its convention. Obama met with members including the sorority’s president, Cynthia Butler-McIntyre.
@petesouza: Pres Obama with make-a-wish visitor Suhail Zaveri, 14, and his family in the Oval Office
CBS: Cuban and U.S. officials will hold the first migration talks between the two nations since 2011 in Washington on Wednesday. Analysts believe both countries have a strong interest in getting them off the ground again.
…. The Bush Administration broke off these twice-yearly talks, along with taking other measures such as severely restricting the rights of Cuban Americans to travel back to the island – limiting them to only one visit every three years.
President Obama reestablished the rights of Cuban Americans to visit their homeland as much as they want and resumed the talks, only to break them off over the detention and jailing of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, which the State Department has repeatedly said remains a major obstacle to any improvement in relations between the two neighboring countries.
Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.
Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
Steve Benen: …. We’re left with a dynamic that the political establishment still finds difficult to fully grasp: GOP officials could make the federal health care system better and more to their liking, but they see no value in that. They’d rather sabotage it, regardless of the real-world consequences. They could help get rid of a mandate they oppose, but they’d rather keep the policy they hate in the hopes it won’t work, people will feel adverse consequences, and there will be new fodder for 30-second attack ads a year from now.
Some people pursue public service want to build things, and some pursue public service because they just want to watch things burn.
…. The most generous thing I can say about their approach is that it’s fundamentally unserious about helping anyone. The least generous thing I can say is probably inappropriate for a family-friendly blog.
Ezra Klein: Obamacare just got easier to implement, not harder
This hasn’t been a banner news week for Obamacare. But can it really be true, as my colleague Jennifer Rubin writes, that “Everyone now agrees: Obamacare can’t be implemented”?
I asked around …. Larry Levitt, vice president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation: “….. If anything the delay removes some potential administrative complexities from the plates of the implementers……” …. Timothy Jost, a health law expert at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law, was even blunter. “Implementation just got easier rather than harder,” he said.
Well, so much for “everyone.”
As those interviews indicate, the thinking among health-care experts is closer to the precise opposite of Rubin’s bombastic headline: The Obama administration has decided to accept some bad media coverage now, and some higher costs later, in order to make Obamacare much, much simpler to implement next year…..
Steve Benen: On Friday, when he hoped no one was looking, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) approved sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights, including a requirement that women receive a medically unnecessary ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, and regulatory measures that would close half of the state’s abortion clinics.
The law was supposed to go into effect statewide yesterday. A federal court had other ideas…..
ThinkProgress: Sorry, Republicans, Your Own Investigation Proves No Dead People Voted In South Carolina….
South Carolina never found a single dead voter in recent elections. At least, that is the final word from the State Election Commission investigation into whether 900 people voted using a dead person’s name….
…. When Attorney General Alan Wilson demanded the original investigation, he cited “an alarming number” of cases reported by the DMV that “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.” ….
…. [This] will not prevent state Republicans from redoubling strict voter ID efforts, invigorated by the recent Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act. In fact, Wilson celebrated the decision, calling the Voting Rights Act an “extraordinary intrusion” and pledging to implement voter ID ….
ThinkProgress: Bush-Appointed Judge Slams Decision Striking Voting Rights Act — Court’s Reasoning Was ‘Made Up’
If a leading conservative scholar and former judge were now on the Supreme Court instead of Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Alito, it is likely that the Voting Right Act would remain intact.
Judge Michael McConnell was a leading conservative law professor at the time President George W. Bush named him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 2002 …. McConnell was also widely viewed as a possible Supreme Court nominee during the Bush Administration.
In an interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg, McConnell has harsh words for the five conservative justices’ recent decision neutering much of the Voting Rights Act — labeling the reasoning that drove that decision “made up.”