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Meanwhile, in Chicago …. a girl is born.
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Meanwhile, in Chicago …. a girl is born.
On This Day: First Lady Michelle Obama salutes during the singing of the national anthem at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., July 31, 2009
10:55: The President meets with members of Congress on foreign policy, Cabinet Room
12:0: White House press briefing
1:20: The President delivers remarks and signs an executive order on workplace safety, South Court Auditorium
3:40: Delivers remarks, Department of Housing and Urban Development
7:25: The President and First Lady host ‘A Celebration of Special Olympics and A Unified Generation’, East Room
8:25: Attend a concert commemorating the Special Olympics, State Dining Room
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 30, 2014
President Barack Obama is preparing to sign an executive order cracking down on labour violations by companies that contract with the federal government, the White House said Wednesday. Obama’s order will require companies seeking federal contracts valued at more than $500,000 to make public any labour law violations in the last three years, a step the Obama administration hopes will incentivize companies to resolve labour disputes such as back wage claims.
Federal agencies will be given more guidance on how labour violations should factor into their decision-making as they award lucrative contracts, officials said, with an eye toward pushing the most egregious violators into remediation agreements before new contracts are granted. Under the order, workers will also be given information each pay period to allow them to determine whether their paychecks are accurate.
The economy grew at a strong 4% rate in the second quarter of 2014, outpacing analyst estimates by almost a full point. The news that is even more encouraging than the topline GDP growth number is where it came from: consumer spending, business investment, and exports. Consumer spending growth doubled since the first quarter, business investment growth grew by more than a factor of 3, and exports saw a near-20-point swing. The reason these particular numbers are so encouraging is that they all point to strong jobs growth.
In an economy that is 2/3rds consumer spending, growth in that area is the predominant factor in creating demand, and therefore, jobs. We have come here in less than six short years after the greatest economic calamity this country has ever seen, save for one. We have arrived here not only without creating a war bubble but while actually deflating the war bubble by ending wars. This is because while nearly everyone else has been busy trying to generate clicks, the President has worked day and night to generate jobs. This is because while the media has been busy looking for poutrage, this president has used his blood, sweat and tears to look for solutions.
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Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that “all available evidence” suggested that Israeli artillery had hit a United Nations school in Gaza full of civilians who thought they were in a safe zone. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” the secretary general told reporters in San Jose, Costa Rica, according to a transcript provided by his office.
It was Mr. Ban’s strongest comments to date on attacks on United Nations installations in Gaza, where Palestinians have been taking shelter. Six United Nations staff members have been killed in the current conflict so far. United Nations officials said that they had informed Israel 17 times of the precise location of the school and that there were civilians sheltering there, including once at 8:50 p.m., just hours before the attack on Wednesday.
— Patricia Linna (@patricia_linna) July 31, 2014
Oh…so I see that Chuck Todd is finally embarrassed by Washington because of all the impeachment talk. I have a few questions for Mr. Todd:
Were you embarrassed by the fact that our first African American President was required to produce a birth certificate?
Were you embarrassed when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” to President Obama during a SOTU speech?
You could see the last tiny wisp of John McCain’s soul escape from its withered husk and drift up towards the light. http://t.co/fg580zPjF7
— Jim Wright (@Stonekettle) July 31, 2014
Here’s a simple case study making the point that our political debates about economics have become largely unhinged from those among actual economists. Take the Obama stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. If you took your cues from the political rhetoric in Washington — or even from the occasional virulent debate in the economics blogosphere — you would think the whole question of fiscal stimulus is highly contested. But it’s not. There’s widespread agreement among economists that the stimulus act has helped boost the economy. The Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago — hardly a hotbed of liberal or Keynesian thought — regularly surveys a number of the leading American economists about a variety of policy issues.
Recently each of these eminent economists was asked whether the unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill. Of the 44 economists surveyed, 37 responded, yielding a healthy response rate of 84 percent. Among those who responded, 36 agreed that the stimulus bill had lowered the unemployment rate, while one disagreed. That lone disagreeing economist, Harvard’s Alberto Alesina (who was one of my thesis advisers), has been a virulent opponent of the stimulus, although the research that he’s based this upon has come under sustained criticism, particularly from the International Monetary Fund, which views the study as flawed.
House Republicans officially gave Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) their seal of approval on Wednesday to sue President Barack Obama, marking the first time in U.S. history that a chamber of Congress has endorsed a lawsuit against a president. The House adopted the resolution by a vote of 225-201. Five Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic conference to vote against the measure. They were Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Walter Jones (R-NC), Paul Broun (R-GA), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Scott Garrett (R-NJ). The resolution authorizes Boehner to challenge Obama in court for exceeding his authority by unilaterally delaying deadlines under Obamacare.
Although he has said he’ll target the one-year delay of the health care reform law’s employer mandate penalties, the text of the GOP resolution gives the Speaker room to legally challenge implementation tweaks to other provisions of the law. It’s a politically awkward one for his party given that Republicans despise the employer mandate, and have voted to eliminate and delay it. “Republicans want to sue the president for not enforcing a law they want to repeal,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “It is wrong. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money. It is a distraction from the important issues so important to our people. This lawsuit is nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base.”
— United Nations (@UN) July 30, 2014
Middle East politics are complex. This is simpler: Children should not be killed. Whatever will stop more children from dying, I’m for.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 31, 2014
The bombs continue falling, more and more people are running for their lives with fewer places to go and as the screams from beneath the wreckage of Israel’s assault become more frequent, a generation of Gaza’s children are being shaped by what they see. And yet, as kids often do, they can still surprise you. Inside a Gaza City UNRWA school that’s been turned into a shelter, children pack the courtyard. Ten-year-old Yasmine al Attar stares at me from under her dark curled bangs. Yasmine’s aunt, Hula al Attar, tells me her son can’t sleep amid the nightly air strikes. Instead he howls and shakes.
“My 11-year-old son saw bodies in the street in the  war and he still can’t forget those images,” says the veiled 29-year-old mother. Yasmine speaks up. She tells me she can’t sleep either, and waits out the attacks by clinging to her mother in a corner classroom. I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. “I don’t know if I will live,” she says flatly. When pressed for what she would like to be if she does survive, she becomes excited thinking about the possibilities. “I’ll be a doctor,” she says at first. Then she changes her mind. “I’ll be a journalist,” she says, pulling on her brown curls. “I just want to do something that helps people and tells the world what’s happening.”
The chart illustrates a pattern that most of us probably do not find surprising. But the sheer chasm separating single white men from Black and Hispanic single women is still shocking to see visualized so clearly. Single white men have 438 times the assets as single Black women and 365 times that of single Hispanic women. As we can see, marriage is a huge determinant of wealth – but mainly if you’re not white, and especially if you’re a woman.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 31, 2014
As the report notes, owning a car is an important way to access more employment opportunities among other things. But that wealth is not easily accessible in dollar terms, which is highly relevant for the following reason. Great disparities of wealth not only have a huge impact on life opportunities and the prospects for wealth accumulation. They are hugely important factor in the precariousness of economic life experienced by different demographic groups.
President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel outside of the Oval Office on July 31, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
On This Day: Senator Barack Obama leaves the stage after making a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin on July 24, 2008
9:50 PDT: The President attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, Los Angeles
1:25 PDT: Delivers remarks, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College
3:05 PDT: Departs Los Angeles
5:0 EDT The President’s interview with CNBC’s Steve Liesman is aired
10:50 EDT: Arrives White House
@petesouza: Pres Obama disembarks from AF1 in LA
President Obama delivered a tough-love talk to his biggest boosters Wednesday, telling Democratic donors gathered in Los Angeles that they need to step it up before November if he’s going to get much done in his last two years in office. “You thought, ‘OK, we elect Barack and that’s it,’” Obama told a crowd big-dollar donors gathered in the lush Hancock Park backyard of TV producer Shonda Rhimes. He reminded them that he’d warned that it wasn’t about electing him but about getting “our democracy to work.” “I have got to have a Congress that has some sense and is willing to work and is willing to compromise and is focused on the American people. And we don’t have that right now.” Obama is often candid about what he describes as Democrats’ chronic problem: low turnout in midterm elections. But his remarks Wednesday came with a sharper ribbing for a crowd he seemed to think could take it.
Democrats like the fun of a presidential campaign, Obama said. But “we’ve got to step it up in the midterms. Not when it’s easy, not when it’s sexy, not when there’s hope posters….” While Democrats “don’t even know there’s an election,” Obama said, Republicans get to the polls. “Lo and behold we’re surprised when John Boehner is speaker of the House! What happened to Nancy Pelosi? What happened is y’all didn’t vote. And that’s when all kinds of … stuff happened,” Obama said, pausing as if deliberating on whether to keep the rant clean. “That’s what it was — stuff.”
The number of unemployed workers applying for jobless benefits tumbled in the most recent weekly data to the lowest level in more than eight years, signaling that employers are letting go of very few workers.
Applicants for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits in the week that ended July 19 dropped by 19,000 to 284,000 — the lowest level since February 2006, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected initial claims of 310,000 in the most recent weekly data.
The last time the Labor Department published a report on initial unemployment claims this good, the Great Recession hadn’t even started yet:
The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits in the week that ended July 19 tumbled by 19,000 to 284,000 – the lowest level since February 2006 – signaling that companies have further slowed down the pace of layoffs and are letting go of few workers, according to government data released Thursday….
Regular readers know I run the above chart every Thursday morning, highlighting initial unemployment claims since January 2007, the year the Great Recession started. Look closely, however, and you’ll notice that today’s report is the best since before the chart began.
U.S. health insurers will send out about $330 million in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday.
The law, often called Obamacare, requires insurance companies to refund customers when they spend less than 80 percent or 85 percent of healthcare premiums they collect for medical care.
The rebates will go to about 6.8 million people and have a value of about $80 per family. They are to be sent by Aug. 1 either directly to consumers or to the employer providing the health coverage, who is required to pass the savings onto employees, the agency said in a report.
— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) July 24, 2014
New federal data, obtained by ProPublica under the Freedom of Information Act, shows nearly 1 million insurance transactions since mid-April.
For months, journalists and politicians fixated on the number of people signing up for health insurance through the federal exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. It turned out that more than 5 million people signed up using Healthcare.gov by April 19, the end of the open-enrollment period.
But perhaps more surprising is that, according to federal data released Wednesday to ProPublica, there have been nearly 1 million transactions on the exchange since then. People are allowed to sign up and switch plans after certain life events, such as job changes, moves, the birth of a baby, marriages and divorces.
The volume of these transactions was a jolt even for those who have watched the rollout of the ACA most closely.
— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) July 24, 2014
More than half the public says Obamacare has helped either their families or others across the country, although less than one in five Americans say they have personally benefited from the health care law, according to a new national poll. A CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but that some of that opposition is from people who don’t think the measure goes far enough.
The poll, conducted this past weekend, was released on Wednesday, one day after a federal appeals court upheld Obamacare tax subsidies. That ruling came just a couple of hours after a separate appeals court struck down such subsidies for the millions of Americans enrolled in the federal government’s HealthCare.gov exchange. 53% say that Obamacare has helped either their families or others across the country.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) July 24, 2014
Anti-Immigrants can’t even throw a good rally anymore.
Anti-immigrant groups have hit upon the issue of children fleeing violence who are arriving unaccompanied by adults at our southern border. These children are coming from three countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. All three countries have very serious problems with gang violence, murder and child trafficking into prostitution. Under current US federal law these children have the right to have their cases thoroughly evaluated to ensure that no child is returned to a country where they might be killed, injured or trafficked.
… To make their case that Americans are really upset about an increase in unaccompanied children at the border, anti-immigrant groups staged what was supposed to have been a massive number of protests around the country. They staged a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge”….
…. Despite this all in effort, the anti-immigrants failed miserably to turn people out to protest children. If these rallies around the country were meant to demonstrate the power of the anti-immigrant movement, they may instead signal its end. In many cases, no one showed up at all.
We now know that two conservative judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals have declared it illegal for the government to subsidize Obamacare health plans in states that didn’t set up their own insurance exchanges. In reaching that conclusion, Judge Thomas Griffith, who authored the opinion of the court, sought to rebut each of the Obama administration’s arguments to the contrary—that the law clearly contemplates subsidizing health plans in every state whether or not a state built its own marketplace. But in one instance he based his counterargument on information that became outdated less than one week ago.
And the recent development turns that counterargument on its head. One of the White House’s most straightforward arguments is that neither Congress nor the administration would have approved a punitive system so at odds with the ACA’s ultimate, stated goal of achieving near-universal insurance coverage. The law seeks to achieve near-universal coverage by mandating the purchase of guaranteed, subsidized (and thus affordable) health plans. Take away the subsidies, and the plans are no longer affordable. If the plans aren’t affordable, they’re no longer compulsory. And if they aren’t compulsory and affordable the coverage expansion goal will be unattainable.
we must seal our border to protect us from this little one’s adorable cheeks, right wingnuts? pic.twitter.com/hUW9bSAwZq
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) July 24, 2014
Senator Obama waves to the crowd after making a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin, July 24, 2008
Sen. Obama waves from his car on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany
President Obama shares a lighter moment with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office on July 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama meets with leaders from the disability community in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shakes the hand of a young military family member at the Marine Barracks evening parade in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the U.S. Marine Barracks evening parade in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2009 (All photos by Samantha Appleton)
First Lady Michelle Obama bids farewell to departing staff Eirene Busa, White House Stenographer, center left, and Holli Crawford, White House Communications Agency, center right, aboard Bright Star during a flight from Manchester, N.H., to Joint Base Andrews, Md., July 24, 2011 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Obama and Vice President Biden walk around the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 24, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets patrons and restaurant staff during a local stop at the Gateway Breakfast House in Portland, Ore., July 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama presents Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., with a birthday cupcake aboard Air Force One, July 24, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Vice President Biden calls Phyllis Gould, one of the original “Rosie the Riveters” at Kaiser Shipyard during WWII. The Vice President invites Phyllis to visit him at the White House and recalls a story from 1994 on the 50th anniversary of Normandy. Nov. 11, 2013 Photo Credit: US Senate Photo