President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in the Oval Office, Saturday, July 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Nedra Pickler: President Barack Obama is enrolling some star power to promote health care. Obama stopped by a private White House meeting Monday with celebrities including singer Jennifer Hudson and actors Amy Poehler, Michael Cera and Kal Penn. The White House says the artists expressed interest in helping spread the word about the health insurance marketplaces opening Oct. 1.
The White House says Obama told the artists they could help reach young uninsured Americans who will be vital to his signature law’s success. Insurers need healthy young customers to help offset the costs of older, sicker consumers. The group also included representatives for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys and Bon Jovi. Also in attendance were officials with internet video makers YouTube and Funny or Die, which are teaming up on promotions featuring comedians.
Washington Post: Oprah, Funny or Die and the Grammys want to promote Obamacare
What do Oprah, Funny or Die and the Grammys have in common? All three, it turns out, have volunteered to promote Obamacare.
Senior advisor Valerie Jarrett hosted a meeting Monday with a star-studded group of actors, musicians, writers and producers who have “expressed a personal interest in educating young people about the Affordable Care Act,” according to a White House official.
Young people are crucial to the Affordable Care Act’s success, and the White House estimates it needs 2.7 million of them to sign up for health coverage in 2014. With typically low health costs, it’s this demographic that Obama administration is relying on to keep premiums low on the new marketplaces.
Steve Benen: High court largely sidesteps affirmative action case in 7-1 ruling
One of the four biggest cases of the current Supreme Court term deals with the constitutionality of affirmative action in a case called Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The ruling came down this morning, and in a 7-1 decision, the high court majority sent the case back to the lower court to be heard again.
NBC: Supreme Court raises bar for affirmative action in college admissions
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed affirmative action to survive in college admissions but imposed a tough legal standard, ruling that schools must prove there are “no workable race-neutral alternatives” to achieve diversity on campus.
While the ruling was not a sweeping pronouncement on the future of affirmative action, it amounts to a warning to colleges nationwide that the courts will treat race-conscious admissions policies with a high degree of skepticism.
Random Pic: President Obama talks with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew outside the Oval Office, May 1, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
11:45: The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Lew
12:0: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
2:0: The President meets with CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs to discuss the importance of commonsense immigration reform
NYT: Within days, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a series of decisions that could transform three fundamental social institutions: marriage, education and voting.
The extraordinary run of blockbuster rulings due in the space of a single week will also reshape the meaning of legal equality and help define for decades to come one of the Constitution’s grandest commands: “the equal protection of the laws.”
If those words require only equal treatment from the government, the rulings are likely to be a mixed bag that will delight and disappoint liberals and conservatives in equal measure. Under that approach, same-sex couples who want to marry would be better off at the end of the term, while blacks and Hispanics could find it harder to get into college and to vote.
SCOTUS Blog: On Monday, June 24, we will begin live blogging at 9 a.m. ET.
Michael Tomasky: Today begins one of the biggest weeks in the Supreme Court’s recent history. Certainly the biggest since it decided on Obamacare almost exactly a year ago, and I would say even bigger, because while that was a huge deal in a news sense, these decisions will drill right into the muscle and bone of our competing constitutional theories in this country—whether the Constitution is a living document that permits judges to use it to reach conclusions about changing social morality (the liberal view), or whether it should do no such thing and judges should never think about “outcomes” (the conservative one). The decisions should certainly focus liberals’ minds on what a crucial role the Court plays in shaping our lives, and the fact that we have four justices, two on each side, age 75 or older is a reminder of how the next president may well shape the nature and size of the Court’s majority for at least a generation to come, maybe two.
Time: Republicans used their majority to cut short debate and give preliminary approval early Monday to some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country as time was running out on the Texas Legislature’s special session.
Many members of the conservative majority had flyers on their desks that read “Psalm 139:13-14,” which reads in part, “You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Democrats gained strength from more than 800 demonstrators who packed the hallways of the Capitol carrying signs reading, “Stop the War on Women” to oppose Senate Bill 5. The measure would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and limit abortions to surgical centers.
Steve Benen: Where in the world is Edward Snowden?” is proving to be a rather complicated question.
….. there was apparently some drama in Moscow’s airport this morning, when there was heavy security surrounding a flight to Havana. Journalists tracking Snowden’s whereabouts quickly bought tickets on the flight, only to discover once they were on board and the doors were shut that he would not be on the plane.
It is, incidentally, a 12-hour flight from Moscow to Havana, which those journalists are apparently taking for no reason. On the other hand, it’ll be a whole lot of frequent-flier miles for them.
….. All of this, by the way, is turning into quite an international media spectacle. The New York Times front-page report on Snowden’s whereabouts this morning featured reporting from ten journalists in five cities on two continents…. Who knew the Snowden story would become a full-employment initiative for reporters?
Jim Messina (Op-ed at CNN) You can’t change Washington from the inside. President Obama was criticized for stating that simple truth during the campaign, but without Americans organizing in support of the issues they believe in, lobbyists and special interests will drive the agenda in Washington.
At this crossroads for our economy, we can’t afford business as usual. That’s why we’ve formed Organizing for Action, to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who voted for policies that will strengthen the middle class will be heard.
As we worked for change during the president’s first term, we saw special interests spend unprecedented amounts in an attempt to persuade Congress to vote against policies the American people voted for.
Jamelle Bouie: Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza chides President Obama for “crying wolf” on sequestration…. There’s no doubt the White House indulged in hyperbole during the debate over sequestration. But Cillizza is exaggerating the degree to which Obama’s rhetoric was overheated or overhyped…..
…. Sequester furloughs have already begun for some federal workers, and communities that rely on military bases and federal spending will see real hardship. Over time, if sequestration is allowed to run its course, more and more Americans will feel the consequences of sudden austerity.
Private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates “sequestration would cost roughly 700,000 jobs …. Did Obama cry wolf on the sequester? No. And besides, it’s only been five days. We’ll see the effects of sequestration as time passes, and they won’t be good.
NYT Editorial: Unable to stop the sequester’s job-killing spending cuts, President Obama now says he wants to move past the endless wars of budget attrition. Though he still wants a long-term deficit deal, he said last week, it is time to turn to immigration, gun control, universal preschool, a higher minimum wage and voting reform.
But Republicans are not going to allow that pivot. Most are unalterably opposed to all of those initiatives, and want to keep their focus on cutting domestic programs and fighting off tax increases…. Paul Ryan will soon unveil his caucus’s 2014 budget, which will start to make good on the party’s ruinous plan to balance the budget in 10 years…..
Republicans are hoping to wear down their opposition with these eternal battles. But their proposals are too dangerous to allow that to happen.
Steve Benen: Maybe you agree with Sen. Rand Paul’s civil liberties arguments; maybe you don’t. Perhaps you see him as an ideal messenger for his message; perhaps you notice that he’s a strange conspiracy theorist who talks a little too often about Hitler and believes civil liberties end when a woman wants control of her own reproductive freedoms.
….. as Paul’s allies grew throughout the day, it was hard not to wonder whether at least some of his new-found friends endorsed him on the substance or whether “Stand with Rand” had become a temporary fad on the right, driven by Republicans who were simply happy to see President Obama’s national security agenda facing criticism, even if they happen to agree with President Obama’s national security agenda.
…. There’s room for a real debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security, and if Paul helps spark that conversation, I’d be delighted. But I’ll be eager to know just how much yesterday’s spectacle changed minds and how much of it was about putting on a show.
Will Femia (Maddow Blog): While Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks during oral arguments in the Voting Rights Act case left some of us scratching our heads about where he came up with the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” argument, Chad Flanders, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University School of Law, has an idea, tracing the phrase to a 1979 paper by then-professor Scalia…..
ThinkProgress: Meet 34 Corporations That Help Inflate The NRA’s Membership
….. A recent NRA promotion invited people to join at a discounted $25 rate. In addition to receiving an official membership card, a subscription to an association magazine, and free gun insurance, new members received a $25 gift card for Bass Pro Shops, making the membership essentially free.
In addition to those incentives, members of the NRA and its business alliance receive a bevy of other discounts courtesy of the Association’s corporate affiliates. National and local companies provide discounts on everything from car rentals to identity theft protection. The companies get listed on the NRA’s site as corporate partners and can promote themselves as “NRA endorsed.” And, in some cases, the NRA gets a percentage of the profits.
ThinkProgress: As the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq approaches, the body charged with overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction has issued its final report, capping a tale of spending far too much money for very little results.
Appointed in Oct. 2004, over a year into War in Iraq, the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) was charged with being a watchdog over the use of funds provided for rebuilding the Iraqi state after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Those reconstruction and stabilization efforts wound up costing nearly $60 billion — or about $15 million per day — with up to $10 billion of that amount wasted, according to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
The examples provided of fraud and abuse of the system are staggering both in number and nature….