Posts Tagged ‘farm

03
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

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Pete Souza: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice cleans a stain on VP Joe Biden’s suitcoat today

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Jonathan Bernstein: Hey Reporters! Do Health Insurance Boycott Organizers Carry Insurance Themselves?

conservative activists are organizing boycotts of health insurance within the exchanges. We’ve had great reporting by Sarah Kliff, and today by Christopher Flavelle, who interviewed Twila Brase, an Obamacare boycott organizer with something called the “Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.” What I really want to know, however, neither Flavelle nor Kliff asked: Are the people organizing these boycotts going without health insurance? Are they going without their own ACA-regulated, government-subsidized health insurance?

Flavelle gets Brase to talk about what a supposedly bad idea health insurance is for her target group. It really doesn’t seem far-fetched to ask whether she subjects herself to the horrors of insurance. Of course, if she does, and if employees of FreedomWorks and the other Obamacare boycott organizers also use health insurance themselves, then we might begin to suspect that this is just a fundraising scam by “political” activists who are willing to raise money off of their irresponsible rhetoric and are actually willing to destroy young conservatives’ lives by encouraging them to make stupid financial choices for the cause.

More here

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President Barack Obama and personal aide Reggie Love stand in a hallway of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House after dropping by an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) meeting, Aug. 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Mike Lillis: Pelosi Predicts No Farm Bill By October Deadline

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday she has little faith in Congress to pass a farm bill by the Oct. 1 deadline.”[I’m] not confident, unfortunately,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. The Democratic leader said the news that Republicans want $40 billion cut from the food stamp program would move the House bill so far to the right that a conference with the Senate bill could prove unworkable.

She urged GOP leaders to take the farm bill they passed earlier in the month, which extends current farm policy but doesn’t include food stamp provisions, and send that to the bargaining table with the Senate. “Let’s just go to the table,” she said. “Even with that bill, as horrible as it was, at least it’s a path to the conference table. But to put their members on record as supporting $40 billion in cuts really makes the path back even harder.”

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President Barack Obama talks with Members of Congress after signing the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office, Aug. 3, 2010. Participants include, from left, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Nicole Flatow: Slashing Racist Crack Sentences Has Already Saved 16K Prison Years And Half A Billion Dollars

In 2010, Congress mitigated a blight on the U.S. justice system by reducing a racist drug sentencing disparity. Before the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, crack offenses, which disproportionately ensnare African Americans, carried mandatory minimum sentences that were 100 times those for powder cocaine sentences, which are more often doled out to whites. In the compromise measure, Congress reduced that disparity to 18 to 1. While the law initially applied only to future sentences, the U.S. Sentencing Commission opted a year later to apply the new law to sentences retroactively.

Just two years later, the results of the Sentencing Commission’s action have been striking. More than 7,300 inmates convicted of crack offenses have received average 29-month sentence reductions, meaning a total of 16,000 years in prison saved, according to calculations on new U.S. Sentencing Commission data by sentencing expert Doug Berman. These reductions have already saved the Bureau of Prisons half a billion dollars by conservative estimates. That is a big chunk of change for an agency whose total budget is $7 billion, and already exceeds initial Bureau of Prison estimates

More here

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President Barack Obama talks with kids attending a Let’s Move! tennis clinic on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Tara Culp-Ressler: Plan B Finally Hit Pharmacy Shelves This Week

Women’s health advocates have fought for over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for more than a decade, and their efforts were finally realized this week. Thursday, August 1 marked the day that pharmacies and grocery stories across the country were supposed to begin stocking Plan B on their shelves, available for purchase without a prescription.

The “Healthcare In Our Hands” campaign is celebrating by encouraging Americans to submit photos of Plan B on pharmacy shelves. On the campaign’s Tumblr page, the photos from states around the country are accompanied by captions like, “Thumbs up for emergency contraception over the counter, and increased access!”

More here

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President Barack Obama waits with Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, outside the Oval Office, as they were about to walk to the State Dining Room on Aug. 3, 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Ian Millhiser: Senate Confirms Top Gun Cop For The First Time In American History

By the narrowest of margins — and after a lengthy vote held open due to one senator’s absence — the Senate voted Wednesday evening to break a Republican filibuster of B. Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) crossed over to vote with all 54 Democrats to break the filibuser. Shortly after this vote, Jones was confirmed 53-42 — the first time in American history that an ATF Director has been confirmed.

Prior to 2006, the ATF Director could be appointed directly by the president without going through the Senate confirmation process. That changed after theNational Rifle Association successfully lobbied to insert a provision into a law reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act requiring Senate approval of any such Director.

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President Barack Obama greets members of the delegation traveling with Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, during a lunch in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, on Aug. 3, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama has lunch at Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., with staff members who worked on the debt negotiations, Aug. 3, 2011. From left are: Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; and Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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12
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

12:45 Jay Carney briefs the press

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NYT Editorial: In the House, a Refusal to Govern

On two crucial issues this week, the extremists who dominate the Republican majority in the House of Representatives made it clear how little interest they have in the future prosperity of their country, or its reputation for fairness and decency.

The House will refuse to consider a comprehensive immigration bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of immigrants, Republican leaders said on Wednesday, and will slowly and casually consider a few border-security measures that have no chance of passing on their own.

And, on Thursday, the House passed a farm bill that stripped out the food stamp program, breaking a pact that for decades has protected the nutrition needs of low-income Americans. It was the first time since 1973 that food stamps haven’t been part of a farm bill, and it reflected the contempt of the far right for anyone desperate enough to rely on the government for help to buy groceries.

More here

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Robert Greenstein: For several decades, legislation to reauthorize farm programs and SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) have moved together. Now, the House Republican leadership is splitting the bills, moving a stand-alone farm bill today and planning to move a separate SNAP bill later.

The reason is clear. Even though the farm bill the House defeated a few weeks ago contained more than $20 billion in SNAP cuts (nearly all of them in food assistance benefits) as well as an unprecedented measure allowing states to cut families off SNAP if a parent wants to work but can’t find a job and letting state politicians take half of the resulting savings and use them for any purpose, that wasn’t enough for many of the most conservative House Republicans.  So the House leadership has dropped the SNAP provisions and plans to come back later with a still harsher SNAP bill designed to pass solely with Republican votes.

This turn of events is deeply disturbing….

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Andrew Rosenthal (NYT): Just because there is no sign of actual governing arising from Congress, it doesn’t mean that the right-wing dominated House Republican Caucus is just sitting around doing nothing. To the contrary, in addition to plotting the demise of the first real chance at immigration reform in decades, House G.O.P. leaders are thinking of new ways to continue their long-running show of trying to stop health care reform from taking effect.

…. Nothing is going to stop Congressional Republicans from this kind of outrageous behavior. It’s worth keeping an eye on, though, if for no other reason than to see your tax dollars at work.

Full post here

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Wendy Davis: It’s the real Texans who count

I stood up and began talking on the floor of the Texas State Senate not long ago because I hoped the Republicans in power would listen to how their latest cruel health care proposal would hurt the women of Texas.

Simply put, this bill would take away access to the most fundamental form of health care women need.

It would close down almost 90% of the women’s clinics in this state. This comes after more than 50 women’s health clinics providing cancer screening and family planning services were closed because the Republicans withdrew state-financed support from them. We now have 42. Under this draconian proposal, a state as expansive as Texas would have only five clinics remaining to serve thousands and thousands of women.

Real Texans don’t want any woman to die of cancer because she can’t get decent health care or medical advice. Real Texans don’t want any woman to lose control of her life because she can’t get birth control.

More here

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Texas Tribune: The abortion fight that has engulfed the Texas Capitol this summer appears headed toward a dramatic conclusion today.

At 2 p.m., the state Senate will take up the sweeping abortion legislation that late last month fell victim to a filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, giving rise to two weeks of fiery protests and sustained national media attention.

The House approved the legislation — which would ban abortion after 20 weeks and potentially close up to 90 percent of the state’s abortion clinics — on Wednesday, leaving only Senate approval standing between the bill and Gov. Rick Perry’s desk.

More here

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Steve Benen: Back in April, the federal government ran a surplus of $113 billion. In case anyone’s forgotten what a surplus is – the word largely disappeared from our vernacular after Bush/Cheney took office in 2001 – it’s the opposite of a deficit. In the month of April, the federal government took in $113 billion more than it spent.

And then in June, it happened again:

The U.S. government posted an unexpectedly large budget surplus in June, a further sign of the rapid improvement in public finances that has taken the heat off Congress to find savings and raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

Rising tax revenue, public spending cuts and big payments to the Treasury from government-backed mortgage companies helped the government take in $117 billion more last month than it paid out, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday.

It was the largest monthly surplus in the United States in over five years, and the largest June surplus in the nation’s history….

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Jon Favreau: The GOP Is Terrified Obamacare Could Be a Success

I know, we’re all supposed to think the End Is Nigh because the government has decided to give the 10 percent of large employers who don’t insure their workers another 365 days to do so before levying a small penalty. This could not possibly be a reasonable accommodation to protect jobs and businesses, because as everybody knows, this president hates jobs and businesses.

No, this brief delay must be a sign that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is destined to result in abject failure. After all, that’s what every Congressional Republican with the ability to hit send on a press release has told us, over and over again, hoping that repeating their prediction enough times will somehow make it true.

But here’s my question: if Republicans are so confident Obamacare will end badly, why not just shut up about it? It’s not like they have the votes to repeal the law — a math problem they still haven’t solved after 37 different tries. Their appeal to the Supreme Court ended in defeat at the hands of a conservative chief justice. And now the bulk of the plan will begin to take effect in just a few months.

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Arizona Daily Star: Less than five months before the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, hospitals are improving care and saving millions of dollars with one of the least touted but potentially most effective provisions of the law.

While much of the focus on the health law has been on the government rush to open insurance exchanges by Oct. 1, 252 hospitals and physician groups across the country have signed up to join the administration’s accountable-care program, in which they share the financial risk of keeping patients healthy.

…. The government expects the savings may be as much as $1.9 billion from 2012 to 2015. Early indications suggest they are starting to add up.

More here

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Jonathan Chait: Obamacare Haters Struggling to Understand What ‘Nonessential’ Means

Many of us have suggested that the employer mandate, which the Obama administration is delaying for a year, isn’t a crucial element to making the law work. Cato scholar Michael Tanner has a killer reply: “If the provision is so unimportant, one might wonder why it was included in the law in the first place, given its potential for reducing employment.” Well, then I guess Michael Tanner has proven that every single provision of the Affordable Care Act is essential to the entire thing. Why would it be in there if it wasn’t absolutely necessary?

It’s surprising to encounter such naïveté in a professional policy analyst, let alone one of staunch anti-government bent, but here goes: Sometimes laws contain provisions that are not essential to their central purpose. (I hope this revelation does not so sadden Tanner as to make him even more dogmatically anti-government than he already is.) Some of those extraneous provisions served useful ancillary purposes. For instance, Obamacare requires restaurant menus to label calories, a helpful health-related measure, but one that could be removed without harming the main functions of the law.

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Business Insider: Elizabeth Warren Introducing A Bill That Would Be Wall Street’s Worst Nightmare

Elizabeth Warren is making good on her promise to scare Wall Street. Today (Thursday), she’ll introduce a bill to reenact Glass-Steagall.

Glass-Steagall is the 1933 law that separated commercial and investment banking. Back in 1999 it was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act at the urging of Wall Street heavyweights like then-Citi CEO Sandy Weill.

Then the financial crisis happened. Many banks failed and others got swallowed up into larger banks.

…. Elizabeth Warren was elected to the Senate based in part on her crusade against Wall Street excess. For many, this is one massive way to do that….

More here

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Washington Post: Democrats offer new evidence that IRS targeted progressive groups

The House Oversight committee’s top Democrat on Friday will release new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service targeted both progressive and conservative groups for extra scrutiny during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a draft letter to committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that congressional investigators have discovered training materials from an July 2010 “Screening Workshop” that prove IRS agents were told to be on the lookout for groups from both sides of the political spectrum.

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Timothy Egan (NYT): The Charade of Darrell Issa

So, this guy who made a stink-pile of money in the car alarm business, and had some youthful trouble with the law over auto-related liberties, gets the break he’s been waiting for after Republicans win control of the House in 2010. He’s given the keys to the biggest Caddie in Congress: the main oversight committee. It’s loaded with everything — subpoena power, an overhead cam worth of auditors and investigators, a hyperkinetic staff devoted to keeping shine on the boss.

He’s got plans, lots of plans. He’s going to stage television-ready hearings and investigations of the White House. He will bring Barack Obama to his knees. “I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks,” he says. Don’t worry about substance, he says of one subject field, “it’ll be good theater.”

… But then, after millions of dollars in investigative forays, the wheels come off the ride. Fast and Furious … Move along …. Solyndra …. Next…. Internal Revenue Service …. D’oh!

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USA Today: PETA is especially happy with President Obama’s newly proclaimed love of broccoli.

So much so that the animal rights group is offering a special “Broccoli Obama” T-shirt, perhaps in an effort to discourage the president from future hamburgers, ribs or steaks.

“Now you can celebrate our veggie-loving commander-in-leaf,” PETA says on its website…..

More here

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On this day….

July 12, 2012: President Obama blows a kiss to Oren Baer, son of Ken Baer, the departing Associate Director for Communications and Strategic Planning at OMB, during a visit to the Oval Office (Photo: Lawrence Jackson)

July 12, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama with Nancy Reagan, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rosalynn Carter at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy)

July 12, 2011: President Obama talks with Andrew Kline, outgoing Chief of Staff, Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement, in the Oval Office. Kline’s daughter, Logan, sits atop the Resolute Desk (Photo: Pete Souza)

July 12; 2011: President Obama hugs Bertha Petry, the grandmother of Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, in the Blue Room of the White House. The President later awarded SFC Petry, left, the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan, in May 2008. (Photo: Pete Souza)

July 12, 2010: President Obama shakes hands with Cub Scout Raphael Cash from Bowie, Md., in the Oval Office (Photo: Pete Souza)

July 12, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama walks along the beach during her visit to Panama City Beach, Fla. (Photo: Samantha Appleton)

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MoooOOOooorning! 50 gazillion thank yous to UT, LP and LL for their posts yesterday, I wasn’t (unexpectedly) able to be around at all, so endless thanks for posting such brilliant stuff and keeping the ship sailing – legends!

11
Jul
13

And herein lieth the problem…

Cross posted on The People’s View.

Erstwhile journalist McKay Coppins had a HILARIOUS tweet regarding the Farm Bill passed by the GOP-led House:

The inside-the-beltway humor would be amusing save for one thing: the GOP bill excised all funding for food stamps from it, which normally makes up 80% of the spending in any agriculture bill. Families barely making it with that assistance are now facing a bleak summer. Will the House take up SNAP funding separately? Will Speaker John Boehner cobble together a coalition with Democrats to make sure that families aren’t starving on the streets of the world’s only superpower?

Oh, of course, these are rhetorical questions. Yet all the same, they are pertinent, and deserve some type of, if not answer, then an explanation.

Continue reading ‘And herein lieth the problem…’




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