Posts Tagged ‘austin

10
Jul
14

Beautiful

@petesouza: President Obama on the rope line following his speech at the Paramount Theatre in Austin today

10
Jul
14

The President at the Paramount Theater, Austin

10
Jul
14

Austin ♥ President Obama

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Doug Mills: Obama gets a fist pump as he pays for his lunch during a surprise visit to Franklin Barbecue in Texas #obamaaustin

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Doug Mills: President Obama gestures as he arrives to make remarks at the The Paramount Theatre, Austin TX #longhorns #ObamaTX

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President Barack Obama meets with Kinsey Button at Magnolia Cafe in Austin, Texas. Kinsey, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote the President a letter in January explaining her family’s struggle to lead a middle class life when both of her parents lost their jobs in the wake of the Great Recession

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President Barack Obama waves prior to boarding Air Force One before his departure from Austin, Texas

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President Barack Obama jokes with patrons as he orders barbecue for himself and the people in the front of the line at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. At right is Kinsey Button, who introduced the President in his speech earlier that afternoon

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Dan Pfeiffer, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, and traveling aide Bobby Schmuck carry President Obama’s order from Franklin Barbecue onto Air Force One

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President Barack Obama fist bumps the cashier after paying for his order at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas

10
Jul
14

“I’m the guy doing his job. You must be the other guy”

@dougmillsnyt: President Obama gestures as he talks about the GOP during remarks at the The Paramount Theatre, Austin

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@dougmillsnyt: Obama talks with some locals during a surprise visit to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas

08
Jul
14

Worst President Ever? Yeah, Right.

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Jess Mitchell: Paramount Hands Out For Free Tickets For Obama Economy Talk

At 8:30 a.m., the Paramount Theatre began handing out free tickets for a chance to see President Barack Obama in Austin later this week. People spent the night outside the Paramount to make sure they would be the first in line for tickets to Thursdays’ event. The tickets are free but will be handed out on a first-come-first-served basis.

People we talked to who began waiting in line Wednesday night said it’s an opportunity they just couldn’t miss.

“I see it as kind of like putting in a long 12 hour shift at work for a really great reward,” Jeff Britt said. “He’s not only the president, he’s a very historical president and I don’t know, I’d love to see him.”

More here

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26
Apr
14

President Obama’s America

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Bloomberg: Consumer Sentiment In U.S. Rose In April To Nine-Month High

Consumer confidence rose in April to a nine-month high, showing Americans are growing more upbeat about the economy as the labor market gains traction. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of sentiment increased to 84.1 from a four-month low of 80 in March. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 83 after a preliminary April reading of 82.6. Consumers were more optimistic about current conditions than at any time since July 2007 as smaller ranks of the unemployed, near-record stock prices and higher property values help bolster household finances. Further strides in the labor market that generate bigger wage gains would provide additional impetus for the consumer spending that makes up almost 70 percent of the economy. “Consumer sentiment continues to chug higher,” said Brett Ryan, an economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. “It means people are getting jobs or incomes are increasing or they feel a little bit more stable about their situation.”

Gains in sentiment are translating into stronger sales. Cars and light trucks sold in March at a 16.3 million annualized rate, the fastest since May 2007, following a 15.3 million pace the prior month. Purchases at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC all topped analysts’ estimates. “The economy is entering the second quarter on an improved trend,” Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, chief economist at Ford, said on an April 1 conference call. There are “some signs of improving wage and income gains. Very steady consumer confidence is also helping to be a support.” More job opportunities are helping underpin sentiment. Payrolls climbed by 192,000 workers in March after a 197,000 increase the previous month that was larger than first estimated, the Labor Department said earlier this month. Private payrolls, which exclude those at government agencies, exceeded the pre-recession peak for the first time.

More here

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EIA: Solar-Electric Generating Capacity Increases Drastically In The Last Four Years

U.S. solar capacity increased significantly in the last 4 years. In 2010, the total solar capacity was 2,326 MW which accounted for a comparatively small fraction (0.22%) of the total U.S. electric generating. capacity. By February 2014, this capacity increased 418% to 12,057 MW, a 9,731 MW gain, and now accounts for almost 1.13% of total U.S. capacity. Net metered applications, which are generally intended to displace retail purchased power to lower the overall energy bill for a host site, have increased each year since 2010 at an annual rate of about 1,100 MW and now total 5,251 MW. Although sunny California has the largest net metered solar capacity (38% of the total), abundant sunshine is not the only growth factor for this sector. Net metered applications are typically incentivized through various state level programs. New Jersey and Massachusetts together represent an additional 21% of the total net metered solar capacity. Overall, nationally the growth in net metered photovoltaic capacity is fairly evenly split between residential and commercial applications.

Utility scale PV applications, which are 1 MW or greater, have also expanded significantly and currently account for 5,564 MW. In 2013 utility scale solar exceeded the capacity of net metered applications. Sunny states like California (2,702 MW, 49% of the total utility scale PV) and Arizona (960 MW, 17%) enjoy favorable siting conditions. However, North Carolina accounts for 340 MW or 6% of the total utility level solar capacity, and is the third leading state in this sector largely due to state incentives. In summary, the U.S. solar capacity has moved quickly from a relatively small contributor to the nation’s total electric capacity into a one of comparative significance. Much like the wind sector growth, which grew tremendously from 6,456 MW in January 2005 to 60,661 MW to January 2014, solar capacity is quite clearly up and coming.

More here

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Steve Benen: CFPB, Hard At Work

It doesn’t get enough attention, but I still consider the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) one of the more important breakthroughs for progressive governance in the Obama era. That its work on our behalf tends to happen far from the spotlight somehow makes it more impressive – the agency’s work isn’t showy, it’s just effective. It was the CFPB that recently announced multi-million dollar fines for four mortgage insurers for “doling out illegal kickbacks to mortgage lenders in exchange for business.” It was the CFPB that cracked down on a lender for allegedly “paying illegal bonuses to employees who steered home buyers toward higher-interest loans.” It was the CFPB that ended 2013 with “a string of enforcement cases … on lending discrimination, mortgage servicing, online lending and credit card products.”

And it’s the CFPB that keeps adding to its to-do list. Federal regulators are investigating reports that lenders are pressuring thousands of college graduates to immediately repay their full student loan debt when a relative who co-signed the loans dies or files for bankruptcy. So, the CFPB is intervening on consumers’ behalf. The young people are feeling pushed around by lenders, so now they’ll have a government agency doing what they can’t: push back. Remember, congressional Republicans fought tooth and nail to destroy the CFPB, even using unprecedented, legally dubious schemes to prevent the agency from even getting to work. Fortunately for consumers, Republicans failed.

More here

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21
Jul
13

Red and Blue United. No, Seriously.

I always thought it more likely that Republicans would cooperate with President Obama, for the good of the country, than it would be for Manchester United and Chelsea supporters to work together.

I was wrong.

Drum roll please:

As of today, UTAustinLiberal – also known as @NerdyWonka – is a completely and totally official TOD ‘Administrator’.

What does that snazzy WordPress term mean?

Well, the main thing is that she can now access all the inner workings of the blog, so she can actually edit my posts and insert Chelsea photos and similarly horrible things. :???:

But, other than that, nothing changes hugely around here because UT was already contributing so much, it just means that Chelsea Girl is now, officially, the joint runner of our teeny little corner of cyberspace.

And that’s ridiculously fabulous.

Her taste in soccer/football might be shocking….

…. but she has brought sooooooo much to this place with her posts and highlighting of issues, like women’s rights in Texas and the benefits of ‘ObamaCare’, so it’s a very, very lovely honor to have her team up in this way.

It also means that if I, say, disappear after kidnapping Wayne Rooney to stop him from signing for Chelsea, UT will be here to keep things going while international law enforcement agencies track me down.

So, that’s good.

Meanwhile, we’ll always be thrilled and hugely grateful to have the other blog tyrants contribute here, and any other regulars who have something they’d like to say – this place is, and will always be, open to you all.

We partied over our 20 million hits only a little while ago, and we’re already up to 20,311,000 – and that’s largely down to the contributions of UT, LL, LP and Zizi, whose posts have attracted huge traffic.

Together, we’ve created a really lovely community, with so many smart and powerful voices, and I’m thrilled beyond description that UT has agreed to team up and run it all.

So, say hello to your new half of TOD, the legend that is: UT Austin Chelsea Nerdy Liberal Wonka Girl.

Wayne sends his best:

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PS How lovely is this?

03
Jul
13

The Good That Is ObamaCare

Information is power. ObamaCare works and is here to stay, so go out into the world and educate people. 2014 is around the corner and we have to be our own news and become even more proactive. Don’t let the media, so called progressive experts or the GOP demoralize you. Even if you only inform one person about the fantastic awesomeness that is ObamaCare, you have created a ripple effect because that person will tell another and another and another. Nobody said implementation of ObamaCare would be easy; Medicare and Social Security had a rough ride initially, but now? Try to mess with them negatively and watch the backlash explode. I will keep on providing tools that will help you disseminate facts and stop the lies. :D

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RWJF: Traditionally, individuals considering leaving their job to strike out on their own have worried that they may be denied health insurance coverage because they have preexisting conditions, fear losing access to a trusted physician, or are unable to afford the premiums without an employer sharing the costs. The result is that some U.S. workers feel “job lock,” being tethered to their jobs and unable to leave, even if their skills and talents no longer match their position.

New research estimates that the number of self-employed Americans will be 1.5 million higher in 2014 because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Beginning next year, access to high-quality, subsidized health insurance coverage will no longer be exclusively tied to employment, which could lead people to pursue their own businesses as self-employed entrepreneurs.

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Denise Early: Around 900,000 people living in Arizona do not have health insurance. Over 90% of them will get help from Obamacare. 94% of uninsured people in Tucson will get help paying for their health insurance under Obamacare, according to Enroll America. Based on census data, 50%  of the uninsured in Tucson would qualify for expanded Medicaid. In Arizona, Medicaid is run by AHCCCS, pronounced “access” (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System). 44% of uninsured Tucsonans would qualify for help with their health insurance premium.

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The White House Blog: The Medicare Trustees reported some good news for seniors and taxpayers: The Medicare program will be solvent through 2026, nearly a decade longer than projected at the time of passage of the Affordable Care Act. This is 2 years longer than projected last year. Their annual report also shows that the long run actuarial deficit in the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund – a measure of its long-term fiscal health – has been cut by more than 70 percent since enactment of the health care law. The long-run Medicare deficit has fallen from 3.88 percent of taxable payroll in the 2009 Trustees Report to 1.11 percent in this report.

These long-run gains are matched by short-term relief: the Trustees also project that the Part B premium will not increase between 2013 and 2014, keeping out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries down. Medicare cost growth has remained at historically low levels over the past three years even as new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs have helped tens of millions of beneficiaries access care at lower cost. The law reduces prescription drug costs by closing the donut hole, a policy that has already saved more than 6 million seniors more than $700 each. And more than 32 million seniors have accessed a free preventive service under the law, helping them stay healthy and avoid future illness.

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Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas: In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that a medium-level “silver” plan — which covers 70 percent of a beneficiary’s expected health costs — on the California health exchange would cost $5,200 annually. More recently, a report from the consulting firm Milliman predicted it would carry a $450 monthly premium. Yesterday, we got the real numbers. And they’re lower than anyone thought.

The way this competition can drive down rates is already evident in Oregon. There, one insurer came in with monthly premium costs in the $169 range, while other insurers asked to charge more than $400. But then, seeing  what their competitors were charging, two insurers came back to the state’s regulators and asked if they could refile at lower rates. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be competitive in the exchange. The Obama administration was ecstatic to see this: It’s exactly what they’re hoping will happen across the country.

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USA TODAY: Market forces and an impetus to attract younger, healthier people into the insurance market will help keep health insurance premiums lower as the 2010 health care law takes effect on Jan. 1, industry analysts and insurance officials say.

“If they price too high, young people won’t buy insurance, and that’s going to hurt the companies,” said Jay Angoff, who led initial implementation of the law for HHS. “They need these people to come in. It’s an industry problem.”

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Ezra Klein: Last week, California released early information on the rates insurers intend to charge on the new insurance marketplaces — known as “exchanges” — that the state is setting up under Obamacare. They were far lower than anyone expected. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” crowed Peter Lee, director of the state’s exchanges. The Affordable Care Act’s critics saw it differently. Avik Roy, a conservative health writer at Forbes, said Lee was being “misleading” and that “Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.” Obamacare, he said, would trigger “rate shock,” the jolt people feel when they see higher rates.  Roy got his 146 percent by heading to eHealthInsurance.com, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

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Click to buy the plan and eventually you’ll have to answer pages and pages of questions about your health history. Ever had cancer? How about an ulcer? How about a headache? Do you feel sad when it rains?  Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu? The actual cost of the plan will depend on how you answer those questions. According to HealthCare.gov, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they’ll have to pay more than $109.

Comparing the pre-underwriting price of this plan to those in Obamacare’s exchanges is ridiculous. The plans in Obamacare’s exchanges have to include those people. They can’t turn anyone away or jack up rates because of a history of arthritis or heart disease. They also have to offer insurance that meets a certain minimum standard. Under Obamacare, for instance, the out-of-pocket limit for someone making 100 to 200 percent of the poverty line is $1,983. Under the Value 4500, you could spend up to $9,500 before the out-of-pocket limit kicked in. Obamacare also has subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty line. The poor pay next to nothing. The rich pay full freight.

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Sy Mukherjee: Golden State small businesses and their employees got some great news: two of the state’s largest insurers will have to give them over $36 million in insurance rebates because of an Obamacare consumer protection.

The health law forces insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on paying for actual medical services, rather than administrative overhead or profits. That means more money for ordinary consumers — and less for profitable insurance companies.

The so-called “80/20 rule” put $1.5 billion back into Americans’ pockets in 2011 alone. The average rebate was $151 per family across all insurance markets, and in states where insurers blatantly gouged prices, average rebates topped a whopping $500 per family.

Now, the benefits for Californians with small business health plans are beginning to materialize. Blue Shield of California will be forced to pay back $24.5 million in rebates. Anthem Blue Cross will have to pay back another $12 million.

More here

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Tara Culp-Ressler: A new study focusing on low-income women in St. Louis, MO concludes that expanding access to free contraception — just as the health care reform law does through its provision to provide birth control without a co-pay — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended teen pregnancy and abortion. Researchers found that when women weren’t prohibited by cost, they chose more effective, long-lasting forms of birth control and experienced many fewer unintended pregnancies as a result.

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ThinkProgress: Americans who bought individual health plans in 2012 saved $2.1 billion thanks to Obamacare consumer protections that limit how much insurers can profit off of Americans’ premiums, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The vast majority of those savings stem from individual health plan providers lowering the premiums they charge Americans in an effort to comply with the reform law.

The Kaiser study comes shortly after several major California insurers announced that they would have to pay back $36 million to small businesses and their employees after charging them too much. Obamacare mandates that insurers on the individual market spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on actual medical services, or reimburse the amount they overspent to their customers.

But insurers can avoid writing those checks after-the-fact if they just lower their premiums to begin with — and KFF’s study concludes that’s what many individual plan providers have been doing.

More here

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President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23rd, 2010.

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