President Obama joins in singing “Sweet Home Chicago” during the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern):
10:0: President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama
11:15: Attends the Democratic Governors Association Meeting, State Dining Room
If Republicans can keep discussion around the Affordable Care Act vague, they’ll win in the midterms. The party of health care should collect stories of success and confront the party of no.
The big electoral question hanging over Democrats, of course, is what to do about Obamacare this fall. The pundits say: It’s death! The Democrats are gonna get killed. The Democratic consultants advise their candidates to be as mealy-mouthed as they can possibly get away with being and change the topic as quickly as possible.
The pundits might end up being right after all the votes are counted. But I say the quickest way for Democrats to guarantee that the pundits end up being right is to take their consultants’ advice and pussy-foot around the issue. Democrats who do that will be hoping they sound “reasonable,” but what they’ll really be sounding, and everyone will hear it, is timorous, callow, and totally without conviction. If Democrats are going to say they support the ACA at all—and most of them are going to have to—they might as well do it in a full-throttle and in-your-face way. And they can. The material is there if they just have the onions to use it.
Steve Benen: A closer look at latest ACA ‘horror story’
It’s hard to miss the pattern: the right identifies an “Obamacare victim,” who receives a fair amount of attention and finds themselves featured in a misleading attack ad. Soon after, reality sets in – the ACA “horror story” draws closer scrutiny and the story turns out to be quite different than the one first presented to the public.
I tried to keep up with all of them for a while, but I’ve literally lost count of how many times this has happened.
The new one is an attack ad in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race, sponsored by the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, featuring a woman named Julia Boonstra….
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones asks the obvious question about yet another overinflated or inaccurate Obamacare sob story from Republicans, in this case, from an advertisement produced by Americans for Prosperity:
So here’s my question: if this is the best AFP can do, does that mean that no one is truly being harmed by Obamacare? … If this is happening to a lot of people, finding a dozen or so of them shouldn’t be hard. But apparently it is. So maybe it’s not actually happening to very many people at all?
…. It’s not as if the occasional Obamacare horror story turns out to be exaggerated; every single one propagated by Republicans has fallen apart under scrutiny.
…. The lesson for the press? If you want a nice, easy, debunking story, focus on Republican claims about Obamacare.
Last spring, President Obama signaled to congressional Republicans that he was serious about a long-term debt-reduction deal. GOP leaders made it explicitly clear: if the White House really wants a deal, Obama will have to accept a change to how Social Security benefits are calculated – a policy called “chained CPI,” in reference to the Consumer Price Index.
To the severe disappointment of his progressive allies and Democratic base, the president agreed, including chained CPI in his budget as a demonstration of his commitment…
In theory, this was poised to be a breakthrough moment for a bipartisan debt-reduction agreement. But in practice, the president’s effort was for naught …. A year later, the president has decided there’s no point in offering Republicans what they want if they’re not prepared to take “yes” for an answer – Obama’s new budget plan drops chained CPI.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama cheer during their daughter Sasha Obama’s basketball game, Feb. 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama smile as they walk through the crowd at the Governors Ball in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “The President and First Lady were dancing along to the music of the Harry Connick, Jr., Big Band at the Governors Ball. Mrs. Obama turned towards me and, for one split second, looked right at me. Usually I strive to capture moments when the subjects are unaware of the camera. But this an exception where I actually liked that she was looking at me.” Feb. 21, 2010
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama applaud the performance of Harry Connick Jr. and the Big Band during the Governors Ball in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama gestures during a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama reads a document in the Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and VP Biden following remarks on the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Feb 21 2012
Mick Jagger performs “I Can’t Turn You Loose” during the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
MoooOOOooorning everyone, I ran out of news-gathering time again, will catch up later. Happy Friday!
Steve Benen: ….. I’d like the folks holding Obama responsible [for gun reform] to consider a look at the recent past. In 2009 and 2010, the White House and Congress successfully approved the Recovery Act, a health care reform law 100 years in the making, Wall Street reform, DADT repeal, student loan reform, New START ratification, credit card reforms, and food-safety reforms. Are those inclined to blame Obama for gun reform’s failure prepared to argue that the president simply forgot how to twist arms in 2011? That he knew how to persuade lawmakers before, but the skill suddenly vanished?
Or is it more likely that congressional Republicans changed the game after the 2010 midterms?
I also believe there’s an ongoing reluctance among many to appreciate the scope of Republican radicalization. For many, especially in media, there’s an assumption that there are two major, mainstream political parties — one center-left, the other center-right — and an effective president can govern through competent bipartisan outreach.
Steve Benen: Since I raised some concerns about David Brooks’ column, it’s only fair that I note there’s been some follow-up on the story.
To briefly recap, Brooks built his entire column around a falsehood: the bogus claim that President Obama “hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration,” despite the detailed, already published plan, built on mutual concessions from both sides, the White House already released.
…. Though the walk-back is welcome, Greg Sargent helps highlight why Brooks still has some room to improve his argument …. And then Brooks made one more mistake: he argued with Ezra Klein. This interview is an absolute must-read – really, it is….
Jonathan Cohn: I have a big scoop, straight from an extremely reliable White House source: The Obama Administration has endorsed means-testing of Medicare.
For some time now, Republicans have been saying that wealthy seniors should pay more for Medicare …. New York Times columnist David Brooks seconded the plea in the New York Times. Apparently Obama has been listening. According to my administration source, the president would support means-testing.
Huge news! And who was my reliable source? The White House website. See, this isn’t a new proposal. It’s part of last year’s budget….
… the failure to recognize, or at least acknowledge, that the administration has already proposed serious means-testing is widespread in Washington — and emblematic of a broader truth in the budget debate….
Read Charles Pierce on David Brooks here – nooooooooo extract would do it justice.
TPM: Top Senate Democrats excoriated the competing House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act hours after it was unveiled Friday.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the author of VAWA, derided the legislation as “partisan” and said it omits critical measures designed to protect vulnerable populations like Native Americans, immigrants and the gay and lesbian community.
“Next week, the House of Representatives plans to revert back to its partisan version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act,” Leahy said in a statement. “The Republican House leadership has decided to replace the Senate-passed version with a substitute that will not provide critical protections for rape victims, domestic violence victims, human trafficking victims, students on campuses, or stalking victims. This is simply unacceptable …..”
Washington Post: The number of double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers has plummeted over the past four years, according to a Friday report from the Obama administration.
Researchers combed through data available from the 15 states that publicly post all requests for rate increases in the individual market. They found that, in 2009, 74 percent of all requests came in above 10 percent. By 2012, that number had fallen to 35 percent. Preliminary data for 2013, which only cover a handful of states, shows 14 percent of rate increases asking for a double-digit bump….
TPM: A few weeks ago, Tom Teves, of Phoenix, sent his senators a letter. His 24-year-old son, Alex, was killed last year in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater massacre, and he wanted to tell them Alex’s story and encourage them to take action on guns.
What he got in response, he said, were cold, impersonal form letters from Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans. Neither of the letters even addressed the Colorado massacre. In fact, they brought up an entirely different shooting, the schoolhouse killings in Newtown, Conn., and mentioned each senator’s ongoing support of the Second Amendment. It was like Alex Teves’ death hadn’t gotten through to the senators or their staffs.
Now, Tom Teves has shared the letters he received with TPM. He did so after his wife confronted McCain in-person Wednesday with her son’s story and a question about guns at a town hall event in Phoenix. McCain’s response included the remark that Caren Teves needed “some straight talk” on the issue of assault weapons.
Michael Tomasky: Deluded Republican Reformers – Conservative pundits’ ideas about fixing the GOP are totally meaningless, says Michael Tomasky, until they deal with the problem of their party’s rage-driven fanaticism.
Conservative pundits and intellectuals have spent the past week or two ….. talking about how to save the Republican Party. They have lots of ideas — some good, some not so good, most very sober-minded policy prescriptions …. The party they purport to support and care about has been engaged in burning down the house of American politics for three or four years now, and they are saying nothing about it; and until they say something about it, everything else they say is close to meaningless.
President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan as they stand in the West Wing Lobby of the White House, Feb. 22 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, Michelle Obama, VP Biden and Dr Jill Biden will host the 2013 Governors’ Dinner at the White House on Sunday
First lady Michelle Obama and host Dr. Mehmet Oz dancing with third graders from the Terence C. Reilly #7 School in Elizabeth, N.J. during a taping of “The Dr. Oz Show,” on Friday, Feb. 22 in New York. The episode will air on Thursday Feb. 28
And, one more time (that’s a lie: I’ll probably post it every day for the next four years):