With Senator Maria Cantwell becoming the 42nd Senate Democrat to come out in favor of the nuclear deal agreed to between Iran and the P5+1, President Obama not only has a veto-proof majority in the Senate and House, but also a bloc which can filibuster the bill of disapproval from even coming to a vote. In chess this is known as “checkmate”. The GOP has no moves left.
Except, of course, this is the GOP.
“Checkmate,” says Pres. Obama.
“Checkmate?” asks some elephantine GOPer. “Look, over there!” And then he proceeds to turn over the game board.
Yahoo: Obama, At Fundraiser, Calls GOP An ‘Impediment’
Obama told donors the sight of Mt. Rainier illuminated by a setting sun was particularly special because it reminded him of his mother, who attended high school in the Seattle area. “I feel the spirit of my mom,” he said. “I’m not a particularly ideological person,” he said, adding he still is passionate about giving people a fair shake, about the environment, and working for peace and national security. “But I’m pretty pragmatic about how we get there.”
High-profile events on the schedule include a reception at the home of retired basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, Cookie, in Beverly Hills, Calif., and one at the house of Marta Kauffman, co-creator of television’s “Friends.” Accompanied by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Obama attended a reception and dinner Sunday at the home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.
In addition to a half-dozen fundraisers, Obama intended to use the trip to keep the heat on Congress to pass an overhaul of immigration laws. He planned to address that issue during a stop Monday at a Chinese recreation center in San Francisco, and to promote his economic agenda Tuesday at the DreamWorks Animation studio in Glendale, Calif.
The Iranian nuclear deal struck Saturday night is a triumph. It contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest. Had George W. Bush negotiated this deal, Republicans would be hailing his diplomatic prowess, and rightly so. A few weeks ago, a “senior administration official” outlined the agreement that President Obama hoped to achieve in Geneva. Some reporters who heard the briefing (including me) thought that the terms were way too one-sided, that the Iranians would never accept them. Here’s the thing: The deal just signed by Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany) is precisely the hoped-for deal laid out at that briefing.
It is an interim agreement, not a treaty (which means, among other things, that it doesn’t require Senate ratification). It is meant as a first step toward a comprehensive treaty to be negotiated in the next six months. More than that, it expires in six months. In other words, if Iran and the other powers can’t agree on a follow-on accord in six months, nobody is stuck with a deal that was never meant to be permanent. There is no opportunity for traps and trickery.
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange announced today that consumers who require health coverage effective January 1, 2014 can now enroll through December 23. This extension will allow consumers more time to review plan options, talk with their families, providers or enrollment assisters, and enroll in a plan. After enrollment in plans through Maryland Health Connection, consumers will receive their initial invoice for premiums from their insurance company. Carriers will accept payment from consumers through January 15, 2014.
Interest in Maryland Health Connection continues to be strong. Highlights from today’s report include that, as of November 16: More than 59,000 Marylanders have created identity-verified accounts, and there have been more than 450,000 unique visitors to the website; Enrollments in qualified health plans increased by more than 500 during the week ending November 16 to a total of 2,253 individuals, reflecting the most enrollments in a week to date; and Counting Medicaid pre-enrollments, new Medicaid eligibles, and individuals who have selected qualified health plans for enrollment, more than 90,000 Marylanders are on track for coverage beginning January 1, 2014, under the Affordable Care Act.
The interim nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers is an important step toward resolving the increasingly dangerous dispute over Iran’s progress on production of a nuclear weapon. President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran deserve credit for resisting fierce domestic opposition and a 30-year history of animosity between the two countries to get to this point.
Even though the temporary agreement does not achieve permanent and total dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program, no one can seriously argue that it doesn’t make the world safer. It would freeze key aspects of Iran’s program for six months and lay the ground for negotiating a comprehensive, permanent deal. The alternatives are ratcheting up sanctions and possible military action, with no assurance that those steps would stop Iran’s nuclear advances. A negotiated solution is unquestionably better; it is alarming to hear Israeli politicians reject it in extremist terms and threaten unspecified unilateral action.
Sahil Kapur: Why The Filibuster Change Is Fantastic News For Obama
The Senate’s historic “nuclear option” vote Thursday to end the filibuster for executive nominees and most judicial nominees is excellent news for President Barack Obama. Obama’s second-term agenda largely runs through the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which often has the final word on matters of White House and executive branch authority. That’s the strongest tool Obama has to still get things done, because as long as Republicans control the House, his legislative agenda isn’t going anywhere. The Senate rules change clears a path for the president to confirm his three stalled nominees to vacancies on the conservative-leaning court, and make it less hostile to his executive actions.
The D.C. Circuit has been the GOP’s most potent weapon against Obama’s use of executive power, as it has overturned a slew of his regulations on health care, financial reform, environmental protection, labor rules and recess appointments. Most recently, a three-judge panel on the court struck down Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Once Obama nominees Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins become judges, the D.C Circuit’s active bench will have a 7-4 split of Democratic appointees.
Kathleen O’Brien: Two-Thirds Of Jerseyans At Risk Of Losing Their Health Policies Will Get Subsidies, Study Says
A crunch of the numbers by Families USA, a Washington-based non-profit, shows that two-thirds of New Jersey residents at risk for losing their existing health insurance have low enough incomes to get a subsidy.
Nationwide, 71 percent will be able to get a subsidy; the New Jersey figure is 67 percent.The study goes on to say only 4.8 percent of N.J. residents under the age of 65, or 361,000 people, have private, individual plans. That’s slightly lower than the national rate of 5.7 percent.
Susan K. Livio: Medicaid Applications Up 35 Percent Since Obamacare Exchange Opened
The opening of the Obamacare health exchange last month drove a 35 percent surge in new applications for Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people, the state Department of Human Services confirmed. The number of applicants to the State’s Medicaid program — known as New Jersey FamilyCare — during October totaled 21,946, an increase of 35 percent from September when 16,339 applicants were reported, according to NJ Citizen Action Health Policy Advocate Maura Collinsgru.
New Jersey is one of 26 states that agreed to accept billions of federal dollars to expand the income eligibility limits in the Medicaid program. Doing so is expected to net the state $227 million in higher reimbursements while also enrolling 104,000 new people next year.
Every president since Jimmy Carter has tried to make a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. None have succeeded. President Barack Obama just did. It starts with a single step, and it is an important one. The first phase of the agreement just reached in Geneva makes it much more difficult for Iran to dash for a bomb. It also begins to lock down the nuclear program that has plagued United States officials for over ten years.
The deal Secretary John Kerry masterfully crafted in Geneva eliminates the threat Mr. Netanyahu said was his most serious concern. It completely stops the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent. It gets rid of all the uranium Iran had already enriched to this level. As a result, it doubles the time it would take Iran to dash to a bomb, plus it adds tough new daily inspections of the nuclear facilities that could spot any such dash, giving nations ample time to take appropriate actions. Coupled with the success of the agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, the negotiations are a dramatic example of the efficacy of diplomacy in resolving the most difficult of security problems. It’s the real deal.
When reached for comment, Republicans, bona fide warmongers and their useful idiots in the eye-rolling mainstream press determined that this is already just another failure of leadership and desperation by a lame-duck president still trying to distance himself from hisonly real achievement: Landmark healthcare insurance reform– which has since been forever and ever deemed a colossal failure because the American media, still obsessed with pretending that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush weren’t paranoid, smiling psychopathic mass-murderers and race-baiters-at-heart say so.
But make no mistake. This is another win and another huge “first” in a long line of firsts for the Obama administration which just keeps moving us forward despite the nagging fat asses of soft-racism slowing us up to complain the whole way about the alleged lies and tyrannical policies that brought them better health insurance, record DOW and S&P, reduced deficit, stable gas prices, less nukes, financial sector accountability, saved the U.S. auto industry, blah, blah, blah. The president earned every bit of his Nobel Peace Prize this weekend, which should drive his buffoonish critics to new lows to explain away his mastery of presidential politics on the world stage.
Another day, another Obamacare horror story. Only this one was different, because it came from right here in Washington state. One of the few places Obamacare was supposedly working. “Obamacare Under Fire: EXCLUSIVE,” blared CNN last Monday morning. A reporter did a live stand-up in front of the White House. “Single Mom Touted by President Loses Insurance,” read the crawl.
Except there’s a key detail none of these media outlets mentioned. Which is: Sanford’s son was discovered to qualify for Medicaid coverage at a cost of just $30 a month. He has ADHD and, according to Sanford, it costs them $250 a month for prescription drugs alone. Which will now all be covered. It’s true the rest of her insurance won’t get a big discount, as she had first thought. “That mistake is totally on us,” said Bethany Frey of the Washington state health exchange.
But a bronze-level policy for a 48-year-old woman making $49,000 can be had on the state exchange for $237 a month, and a silver-level policy for $313. So here’s a family that was totally uninsured for 15 years because it had always cost at least $500 to $600 a month for skimpy policies to cover them both. And what they can get now is full coverage for $30 a month for the son and scantier coverage in the $250 to $300 a month range for the mom. How is that a horror story?
Reuters: ‘Great Satan’ Meets ‘Axis Of Evil’ And Strikes A Deal
Saturday night had turned into Sunday morning and four days of talks over Iran’s nuclear program had already gone so far over schedule that the Geneva Intercontinental Hotel had been given over to another event. At around 2:00 a.m., U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and counterparts from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia were brought to a conference room to approve a final text of the agreement which would provide limited relief of sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear program.
At the last minute, with the ministers already gathered in the room, an Iranian official called seeking changes. Negotiators for the global powers refused. Finally the ministers were given the all clear. The deal, a decade in the making, would be done at last. Now that the interim deal is signed, talks are far from over as the parties work towards a final accord that would lay to rest all doubts about Iran’s nuclear program.
According to a senior U.S. State Department official, Kerry told Zarif there could be no more delay. President Barack Obama’s administration would call for even tighter sanctions on Iran unless a deal was reached now. Congress members were demanding new sanctions and the White House would join them. Kerry made the case that “there would be no way to hold back new sanctions to give room for (a) new round and we would lead the charge for more sanctions if we did not come to agreement,” the State Department official said. By Saturday evening, the final language was personally approved by Obama in Washington.
What an exciting moment this is: a first stage, six month deal with Iran has been inked by the P5+1. The Supreme Leader in Iran has sent President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a letter of congratulations. Iranian social media is happily abuzz on both sides of the political divide – reformers and pro-regime supporters. Israel and Saudi Arabia are negative, as are many US conservatives – which to my mind is predictable and makes our getting the deal done even more admirable.
Strategic patience is what Stratfor’s George Friedman has called it. That, and both the willingness and the capacity to play the long game – to have a crystal clear picture of what you would like to see happen, and to wait, and to take the hits, and to wait some more until the moment of possibility arrives. Clear vision. A strong team. A deep and quiet space within you that allows you to take the hits without flinching or flailing about. And patience. And if the other side really does have shred interests, a deal that is good for both sides can happen. And it just did! Bravo, Mr. President and Mr. Secretary! Bravo!
Brian Beutler: Whoops! Obamacare Turns Out To Be Great Deal Personally For Boehner
Poor John Boehner. Thanks to a Republican amendment to the Affordable Care Act, most members of Congress will see their government-provided health insurance lapse at the end of the year, leaving many of them no other choice but to enroll in dreaded Obamacare. As speaker of the House, Boehner is technically exempt from the requirement, but in order to avoid accusations of special treatment (i.e., because of politics) he decided to take the plunge, too. And he wants you to know how difficult it was. He even wrote a blog post about it.
t’s a bummer Boehner got that error message. Tyranny almost. But if he’d reached the point at which he was signing up for coverage, it means he’d already had a chance to shop around and pick a plan. His post is oddly quiet about that part of the experience. Which is curious. As a 64-year-old heavy smoker, it’s a marvel Boehner will be able to purchase individual market coverage at all. I wonder what crazy law guarantees that he can?
NYT: California Encouraged By Health Plan Enrollment
Nearly 80,000 people have enrolled in health plans through California’s online marketplace, at a rate of several thousand a day in November — a sizable increase over a month ago, state officials said. Especially encouraging, officials said, was the enrollment of young people, who are considered essential to the success of the Obama administration’s health care law.
Officials said 18- to 34-year-olds made up 22.5 percent of the nearly 31,000 Californians who selected a private health plan in October. The same age group makes up 21 percent of the state’s population. The enrollment of young people is important to insurers because their relative good health offsets the costs for people with serious medical conditions.
Officials said that over 10,000 applications for coverage were now being completed each day, with more than 360,000 applications having been completed through Tuesday. Those numbers include people who are also eligible for Medi-Cal, California’s no-cost health insurance program for the poor.
On This Day – Pete Souza: “Late at night in the Treaty Room office in the White House Residence, the President speaks on the phone to President Lee of South Korea after North Korea had conducted an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.” Nov. 23, 2010
AP: Obama Officials Upbeat About Health Site Fixes
There won’t be a magic moment, but the Obama administration’s much-maligned health insurance website should be able to weather an expected year-end crush of customers, officials asserted Friday.
A combination of software fixes, design changes, added hardware and newly announced wiggle room should provide the right combination to finally deliver a workable website, White House troubleshooter Jeffrey Zients said in an upbeat assessment.
The added leeway comes in the form of an extra eight days this year for consumers nationwide to sign up and still get insurance by Jan. 1. A previous Dec. 15 deadline was stretched to Dec. 23. Policyholders must pay their premiums by Dec. 31.
Arun Chaudhary: I Was With President Obama When He First Visited George W. Bush
I was surprised by my first reaction to George W. Bush in person. “Oh wow, look at how gray he’s gotten!” It was 2008, and I was in the Oval Office as President-elect Obama’s official photographer, which was my position during the presidential transition. President Bush was giving Obama a tour of his soon-to-be home. The president was showing the president-elect a few of his favorite things. “See this room?” he said, sounding astonishingly like Will Ferrell doing his best “W” impression. “This is a good room for sittin’, Barack. I like to do a lot of sittin’ right here.”
That the presidency is taxing, grueling, and aging is cliché, but I think one of the most underappreciated parts—and tricky to observe in the veritable flipbook of pool photos of the graying President—is the vast emotional intelligence required to shift between different frequencies for different events, day out and day in. One minute, I’d be filming a tearful embrace between POTUS and a shooting victim’s family member in the oval office; the next I’d be helping Samantha Tubman, deputy Social Secretary, pep up a drooping sports team unused to standing for hours in suits.
As a 36-year cancer survivor, I am watching with great interest as the debate rages over whether the Affordable Care Act strengthens the individual insurance market, as the law’s supporters contend, or dismantles it, as critics say. Having been repeatedly denied health coverage I needed and wanted to buy because of my pre-existing condition, I know that provisions of the law can dramatically improve the quality and cost of insurance for people shopping for coverage on their own. I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia as a college student. After nearly five years of aggressive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow harvests and more, I was cancer-free. My cancer has never returned, but since then I have waged a battle of a different kind — a three-decade struggle to obtain quality, affordable coverage.
This year I had a no cost mammo. biopsy and follow up mammo thank you ACA #TBT
After months of searching, I found an expensive plan with limited benefits through a professional association, and ever since I have paid to be a member of the organization just so I can maintain coverage. For 15 years my sons and I have struggled to afford the plan’s annual deductibles of up to $3,000 per person and monthly premiums that have risen about 30% each year. Every couple of years I reduced our coverage and gave up our trusted providers to avoid yet another premium increase, until we reached the plan’s minimum coverage level. Now a single mom with three sons to put through college, I’ve had to make some very tough choices.
@BarackObama @WAplanfinder Thank you. I bought insurance that is better and costs 1/3 less (and less with the tax credit). Worth the effort.
I visited California’s marketplace, CoveredCA.com, on October 1 — the day it went live. At first I encountered technical problems, as so many others have, that were caused in part by the large number of people trying to find coverage. But I knew I had until December 15 to enroll for coverage to begin January 1. Recently I tried again and enrolled in my chosen plan in about 15 minutes. In January, for the first time since my diagnosis 36 years ago, I will have an individual health plan that offers quality coverage for me and my family. I will save $628 every month on premiums. Best of all — I wasn’t even asked if I’ve ever had cancer.
Jeff Zients offered an update on our efforts to improve HealthCare.gov; data on key metrics on site performance, the progress made this week and the view looking forward. In late October, we appointed QSSI as the general contractor to deploy their expertise in technology and program management to lead this project forward.
The team from QSSI continues to work with people from CMS and other contractors around the clock to troubleshoot the system, prioritize fixes, and provide real-time management decision making. Thanks to this team effort, we have made measurable progress.
TPM: Admin To Launch ‘Direct Enrollment’ Obamacare Pilots In Three States
The Obama administration is launching a pilot program in Florida, Ohio, and Texas that will allow insurance companies to sign people up for coverage under Obamacare directly and forgo HealthCare.gov. The administration has been considering the process, known as “direct enrollment,” for some time.
“This is one more way we are working to offer consumers a variety of ways to enroll in affordable coverage. Direct enrollment is one more option,” Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, wrote in a blog post Friday announcing the program. “By strengthening the multiple channels to enroll in quality, affordable coverage through the Marketplace, we are ensuring that every American who wants it can gain access to these new coverage options.”
Desert News: Hospital Association Supports Medicaid Expansion For Low-Income Utahns
As the governor and state Legislature continue to mull over the decision to expand Medicaid in Utah, the Utah Hospital Association has come out with a position to do it — but only for a portion of the state’s low-income population. The health care policy and advocacy group believes it is important for the state of Utah to “take care of its own,” but to also thoughtfully develop a unique solution to insure individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the association’s new president, former Lt. Gov. Greg Bell.
Others throughout the state chimed in Wednesday as well, rallying at the Capitol rotunda to ask the governor to adopt Medicaid expansion, albeit a full and wide-sweeping model. “I think the whole reason for us here on the Earth is to learn to be compassionate,” said Nelda Bishop, one of roughly 150 who gathered in support of expansion. “We’re the richest nation in the world. Surely we can find a way to get basic health care to our poor,” Dr. Ray Ward, a family physician and expansion supporter, told the Deseret News.
The partial end of the filibuster has inspired a good deal of wailing and garment rending among Washington establishmentarians, who see it as only the latest sign of the demise of bipartisanship and comity in the Senate. Putting aside that there hasn’t been a scrap of bipartisanship in Washington since January 2009, criticism of the Dem decision to go nuclear is, in effect, tantamount to legitimizing, or at least accepting, the Republican position. The choice Dems faced was very simple: Either they accept the blanket GOP filibuster designed to block Obama from filling any vacancies on the second most important court in the country — one pivotal to the success of his agenda – or they change the rules. What’s the argument in defense of the GOP power grab?
Notably, pundits who are bemoaning the Dem decision to go nuclear haven’t been offering one. Instead, they admit that Republican obstruction was unjustified, but still blame the Democrats simply because they supposedly worsened D.C partisanship by doing something in response to that unjustified GOP obstruction. Both sides should have come to a compromise, they say. But what is to be done when one side’s position is that important judicial vacancies shall remain empty simply because filling them would help advance Obama’s regulatory agenda? They don’t say. Establishment pundits seem destined ever to pine for a mythical Golden Age of Congress when Senators hashed out deals over steak and cigars. But insofar as those days ever existed at all, it hasn’t been for thirty years or more. So let’s not shed any tears about the partial end of the filibuster. This is about giving the American government an angioplasty.
Washington Post: State-Run Health Insurance Exchanges Report November ‘Enrollment Surge’
After anemic enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace, several states running their own online exchanges are reporting a rapid increase in the number of people signing up for coverage, a trend officials say is encouraging for President Obama’s health-care law. By mid-November, the 14 state-based marketplaces reported data showing enrollment has nearly doubled from last month, jumping to about 150,000 from 79,000, according to state and federal statistics.
The nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, which has been tracking the data, called the most recent numbers “a November enrollment surge.”
Health policy experts said the momentum from state exchanges is encouraging. California, which has had about 80,000 sign-ups, is now reporting about 2,000 enrollments per day. New York and Washington state reported enrollment numbers in the tens of thousands as of this week. “It’s not all doom and gloom,” Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman said. “What this says is that the problems are system problems, not problems with demand or interest.”
On This Day: Members of the audience cheer as President Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Manchester Central High School in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern)
12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
12:45: VP Biden meets with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc of Turkey at the White House
1:45: President Obama commemorates the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination with an event devoted to an institution created by JFK: The Peace Corps. He will participate in a video conference with Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania
2:15: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) National Arts and Humanities Youth Program
2:40: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with King Mohammed VI of Morocco
“A half century ago, America mourned the loss of an extraordinary public servant.
“With broad vision and soaring but sober idealism, President John F. Kennedy had called a generation to service and summoned a Nation to greatness. Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.
“In his 3 years as President of the United States, John F. Kennedy weathered some of the most perilous tests of the Cold War and led America to the cusp of a bright new age.
“His leadership through the Cuban Missile Crisis remains the standard for American diplomacy at its finest. In a divided Berlin, he delivered a stirring defense of freedom that would echo through the ages, yet he also knew that we must advance human rights here at home.
“During his final year in office, he proposed a civil rights bill that called for an end to segregation in America. And recognizing women’s basic right to earn a living equal to their efforts, he signed the Equal Pay Act into law.
“While President Kennedy’s life was tragically cut short, his vision lives on in the generations he inspired — volunteers who serve as ambassadors for peace in distant corners of the globe, scientists and engineers who reach for new heights in the face of impossible odds, innovators who set their sights on the new frontiers of our time.
“Today and in the decades to come, let us carry his legacy forward. Let us face today’s tests by beckoning the spirit he embodied — that fearless, resilient, uniquely American character that has always driven our Nation to defy the odds, write our own destiny, and make the world anew.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 22, 2013, as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy.”
For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.
… Given the extreme degree of Republican obstruction during the Obama administration, the Democrats had little choice but to change the filibuster rule. As Mr. Reid noted on the floor, half of all filibusters waged against nominations in Senate history have occurred since Mr. Obama was elected….
…. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.
ThinkProgress: Why Senate Democrats Had To Invoke The ‘Nuclear Option’
Well, it finally happened.
After five years of filibusters, obstruction, lengthy waits for confirmation and arguments over whether the party that failed to win either the White House or the Senate nonetheless has the power to hold top government jobs open for as long as Barack Obama is president, Senate Democrats finally decided that enough is enough. On Thursday, nearly every member of the Democratic caucus invoked a procedural maneuver that will allow the Senate to confirm several blocked nominees by a majority vote. The era of minority rule is over, at least where it comes to almost every confirmation…..
Greg Sargent: For liberals, a long crusade finally pays off in reform
In 2007, when Jeff Merkley was considering a run for the Senate from Oregon, he met privately with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. Merkley suggested to the two Dem leaders that the Senate needed to reform the filibuster — having watched both parties, including Dems in 2005, abuse it so badly that it was rendering the Upper Chamber dysfunctional.
…. That meeting may have been the genesis of a long tale that culminated this afternoon, six years later, when Reid finally went nuclear and changed the rules by simple majority — after a years-long campaign in which Merkley and other Senate liberals were instrumental.
…. Dem leaders had to be pushed to this point, but from the point of view of liberals, they did the right thing. “The filibuster has been used to wage continuous warfare on the presidency,” Merkley said. “The Senate said today that’s not acceptable. A huge thank you to the leadership team.”
I have no doubt that the civility crowd will scream bloody murder now that Harry Reid has dropped the big one in the Senate. They may need the Jaws of Life to pry Ruth Marcus off the fainting couch. As I said before. I was nervous about this prospect for years, but recently passed over the International Fk You Line. The country has a right to be governed by the president and the philosophy for which the country voted. Vandalism is not debate. It is not governing. It is long past time for Barack Obama actually to be allowed to be president.
Milt Shook: Once Again, Progressives Should be Thanking Harry Reid
What every progressive needs to learn is that political things don’t just happen because someone wants them to. They happen when a majority is ready to vote to make them happen.
Back in January, as many of you will recall, I took a lot of heat because I stood up for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his valiant attempt to change filibuster rules. The man worked his ass off to make changes, and he actually got quite a few of them, despite the fact that he didn’t have 51 votes to make them happen. He was able to change the rules, so that Senators could no longer put a blind hold on a nomination – they had to make themselves known – and he also got an agreement from Republicans to stop holding up nominations. This was a crucial deal. He did all of this, despite the fact that he had between 45 and 47 votes, because he was able to convince the Republican leadership that he had 51, which scared them silly.
…. Progressives underestimate Harry Reid at our peril. This guy is tougher than he looks.
Reuters: Nearly 80,000 Californians sign up for Obamacare plans
Nearly 80,000 Californians have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the state’s exchange marketplace created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the Covered California exchange said on Thursday.
The latest data, which charts enrollment from the October 1 start through November 19, means that about 20,000 more people signed up for plans since the exchange’s initial update on its enrollment released November 13.
California, which is the most populous U.S. state and embraced the Affordable Care Act early on, is considered a crucial region for the administration’s enrollment effort. The state is one of 14 operating their own exchanges, as opposed to relying on the federal government.
ThinkProgress: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Americans With Individual Plans Qualify For Obamacare Subsidies
Over 70 percent of Americans under age 65 who buy insurance through the individual market will either qualify for Obamacare subsidies or the health law’s expansion of Medicaid in the states that accept it, according to a new study by Families USA.
…. Researchers also noted that ….“[U]nder the ACA, only 0.6 percent of Americans under age 65 will be at risk of losing their current individual market plan and will not be income-eligible for financial assistance that will make their new insurance plan more affordable. Even among this 0.6 percent, some have insurers who will not or cannot cancel their plans. Others will decide that they are better off with higher-value plans in the new insurance marketplaces.”
A Galveston medical student describes life and death in the so-called safety net.
… There’s a popular myth that the uninsured — in Texas, that’s 25 percent of us — can always get medical care through emergency rooms … The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word “stabilize” is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. Also, hospitals charge for ER care, and usually send patients to collections when they cannot pay.
…. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, could have been a huge relief. However, Gov. Rick Perry rejected billions of dollars in federal funding to expand Medicaid, funding that should have brought access to more than a million Texans, including many St. Vincent’s patients.
Perry’s refusal is catastrophic health policy. For patients, it means that seeking medical care will still require risking bankruptcy, and may lead nowhere. For doctors, the message was not only that our patients’ lives don’t matter, but also that medicine—our old profession, so full of people who genuinely want to help others—will continue to be part of the economic machine that entrenches poverty. When the poor seek our help, they often wind up with crippling debt.
First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a “Let’s Move!” Salad Bars to Schools launch event at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, Fla., Nov. 22, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama shares a lighter moment during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Nov. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama at Manchester High School Central, N.H., Nov 22, 2011
President Obama jokes with players from the Oregon State University basketball team in the Oval Office on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012. The team’s head coach is Craig Robinson, brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
(Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama visits with the Corkery family during a stop at Julien’s Corner Kitchen in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks about the U.S. Senate’s efforts to confirm his Administration’s nominees
President Barack Obama signs S. 330, the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, in the Oval Office of the White House
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2747: Streamlining Claims Processing for Federal Contractor Employees Act, and S. 893: Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2013,
President Barack Obama speaks to a group of educators being honored as ConnectED Champions of Change for taking creative approaches in using technology to enhance learning for students in communities across the country
President Barack Obama checks hands with kids after speaking to a group of educators being honored as ConnectED Champions of Change
On This Day: First Lady Michelle Obama at a ‘Joining Forces’ event before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway, November 20, 2011
Today (all times Eastern):
11:05: President Obama honors recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony; VP Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr Jill Biden also attend
1:0: President Obama participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery; First Lady Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton also attend
4:05: President Obama meets with representatives from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
7:10: President Obama Speaks at a Dinner in Honor of Medal of Freedom Awardees
8:40: President Obama Attends a Performance by Arturo Sandoval in Honor of Medal of Freedom Awardees at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History
New Yorker: Americans Like Obamacare Where They Can Get It
As the Washington press corps reports that the Obama Administration is failing — and threatening to take down with it the entire philosophy of liberalism — a funny thing is happening out there across the country. In a number of states that have working online health-care exchanges, more and more people are signing up for the insurance coverage that is available under the Affordable Care Act.
….. During the first two weeks of November, almost sixty thousand people signed up for private insurance policies or for Medi-Cal in California, the local version of Medicaid. That’s more than twice the figure for all of October. “What we are seeing is incredible momentum,” Peter Lee, the director of Covered California, said at a press conference on Monday.
Similar things are happening in other states across the country …. Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington are on track to exceed their enrollment targets. Here in New York, too, there are positive signs….
What these states have in common are state-run Web sites that are working pretty well; they are also all controlled by Democrats who are pushing the new reform. This progress points to something that has been absent in much of the reporting about the troubled rollout of healthcare.gov and the cancellation of individual policies: in places where Americans know about the comprehensive and heavily subsidized health coverage available under the Affordable Care Act and can easily access it, they are doing so in substantial numbers.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who’s never been the Affordable Care Act’s biggest fan, appeared on MSNBC yesterday to join the critical chorus. In reference to the Obama administration, the conservative Democrat said, “The bottom line is that they messed up, they messed up royally. There’s no excuse for this.”
The administration’s missteps have been well documented, and officials have earned much of the criticism they’ve received. But to say there’ “no excuse” is to overlook Republican sabotage efforts that have made a real difference.
Todd Purdum recently made the case, for example, that “calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step” is a “less acknowledged cause” of the rollout’s troubles. Jamelle Bouie added this week, “If Republicans have shown anything over the last four years, it’s that they’ll do anything to stop the Affordable Care Act, even if it amounts to legislative sabotage.”
You mean, if you commit to making something work, instead of deliberately conspiring to make something not work – like if you put gas in your car and not hydrochloric acid – that thing is more likely to, you know, work?
…. However, I’m not sure I follow this bit of logic.
LA Times: “The growing enrollment in those states is a rare bit of good news for backers of the Affordable Care Act ….”
The Affordable Care Act is working the way it is supposed to work in those states in which officials have decided that it should work. How is that “bit of good news” “rare,” exactly, except when compared to the constant, fact-free and plan-free harping of the Republicans in the House and their pundit enablers? …..
…It’s worth noting that Fox isn’t the only one raising a fuss – conservative outlets have been complaining about Obama “snubbing” Gettysburg for months.
There are, however, some angles to this the right has overlooked. First, there have been 28 presidents since Lincoln, and 27 of them did not commemorate the anniversaries of the Gettysburg Address – and this includes Reagan, who did nothing on the 125th anniversary, and never visited Gettysburg as president. (The exception was William Howard Taft.) Obama, in other words, is doing largely what nearly all of his predecessors have done without controversy.
Second, I’m trying to imagine the uproar from some of these same conservative critics if Obama did go to Gettysburg to mark the occasion today. We can all probably imagine the predictable rhetoric: Obama thinks he’s Lincoln! The arrogance! Why is he trying to politicize a cemetery? ….
Media Matters: Right-Wing Noise Machine Fabricates Gettysburg Address Omission To Attack Obama
President Obama’s recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is sparking hysteria from the right-wing media who slammed the president for omitting the phrase “under God.” But ironically, in their hurry to attack the president, they omitted the fact that Obama was reading the first draft of the speech — a draft that did not include “under God” — at the request of filmmaker Ken Burns.
Charles Pierce: A Call To Democrats To Stop Sitting Back On This Business With Judges
It seems that the Republicans are bound and determined not to allow the president to fill the empty seats on the D.C. Court of Appeals. It also seems that the Democratic leadership in the Senate is bound and determined to be very publicly vexed about the whole business. If this seems to you to be something of a mismatch as regards to who really holds power in that august body, you are not alone.
This time, it’s Robert Wilkins, an enormously qualified federal judge who happens to be African American. The previous three nominees whom the Republicans denied confirmation were women. Have I mentioned recently that I despair of The Rebranding?
It’s time, Harry. Really, it is. I was on the other side of this issue for a very long time because I didn’t want to confront the possibility of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with the unlimited power to do anything that President Scott Walker wanted. That kind of thing still gives me pause. But this business with the judges has long passed over the International Fk You Line.
….. Do it, Harry. Drop the big one. This is getting ridiculous.
Senator Harry Reid appears set to go nuclear — before Thanksgiving.
With Senate Republicans blocking a third Obama nomination to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells me Reid is now all but certain to move to change the Senate rules by simple majority — doing away with the filibuster on executive and judicial nominations, with the exception of the Supreme Court – as early as this week.
… As Jonathan Chait argues, Republicans may not have even thought through the full implications of the position they’ve adopted. But Dems have, and taking it to its logical conclusion, they believe Republicans have presented them with a simple choice: Either they change the rules, or they accept those limits on Obama’s power. And that really leaves only one option.
Steve Benen: A step forward, a step back for reproductive rights
Over the summer, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed severe new restrictions on women’s health choices, which carried sweeping consequences statewide. Reproductive rights proponents hoped to prevail in the courts, and scored a partial legal victory in late October.
It didn’t last. Far-right jurists on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Perry a few weeks ago, and last night, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block implementation of the law came up one justice short … It’s worth emphasizing that this is not the final word on the subject….
… the news for reproductive rights supporters wasn’t all bad last night.
Voters in Albuquerque defeated a historic ballot measure that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, dealing the anti-abortion movement a blow….
I knew Michelle Obama was going to be the first lady when I met her in 2005 at Oprah’s big shindig she threw to honor African-American women. We were both youngins’ … It’s not that I’m telepathic, but like my mama always used to say: “Some folks just got it.”
That entire weekend I couldn’t help but notice how regal and poised she was. At almost 6 feet tall, she floated through the crowd in much the same manner Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy did. The way she held out her hand and really shook yours. I believe she used both to squeeze. Michelle gave me her business card and I emailed to tell her about my premonition. I didn’t hear back until I saw her at the first presidential debate in Washington in 2007. She apologized for not getting back to me. I just pointed to the acrylic podium where her husband would soon be standing and smiled.
And then history was made.
Millions of us couldn’t stop crying out of sheer amazement. I am thankful to have been alive to witness it all. Now, twice! That my son has grown up knowing he could in fact be president one day. For real.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Tokyo as the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy headed off to the Imperial palace to present her credentials to the Emperor Akihito (Thank you LP!)
Better bring some identification — and not just any identification, official though it may be — if you plan to vote in Republican-controlled states. However, if you contribute tens of millions of dollars to sway an election on Republicans’ behalf, the party will fight to keep your identity a secret.
Consider, for instance, what happened to some attempting to participate in this month’s elections in Texas. The New York Times reported that “Judge Sandra Watts was stopped while trying to vote because the name on her photo ID, the same one she had used for voter registration and identification of 52 years, did not exactly match her name in the official voter rolls.”
Both Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis and Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott — the front-runners in next year’s gubernatorial contest — encountered the same obstacle. As did Jim Wright, the 90-year-old former speaker of the U.S. House. Wright, who represented his Fort Worth district in Congress for 34 years, told the local paper that he had voted in every election since 1944 and that he had realized shortly before Election Day that his identification — a driver’s license that expired in 2010 and a university faculty ID — would not suffice under the state’s 2011 voter ID law. Indeed, officials required Wright to produce a certified copy of his birth certificate to procure a personal identification card that would allow him to vote.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has set a record for its largest haul in October of a non-election year, bringing in $7.1 million in the month.
The big haul came during Democratic base fury over the government shutdown and was boosted by two events held with President Obama. The committee has $25.3 million in the bank and no debt.
“House Republicans’ reckless and irresponsible agenda is not only driving their approval ratings to record lows — it’s rallying our support to record highs,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) says in a statement. “The American people believe enough is enough — and they’ve had enough with the dysfunction of this Republican Congress and the pain they’ve caused America’s middle class.”
Heather Gerken (Slate): Goodbye to the Crown Jewel of the Civil Rights Movement – People died to pass Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but that didn’t save it at the Supreme Court.
…. To understand why Section 5 was special, you have to know a bit about its history. The brutal attacks on civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge provided the push needed to pass the Voting Rights Act. When the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, almost no African-Americans were registered to vote in the Deep South due to brutal repression and sickening legal chicanery.
Civil rights litigators and the Department of Justice were doing their best to help. They filed lawsuit after lawsuit to make it possible for blacks to register. But every time a court deemed one discriminatory practice illegal, local officials would switch to another. Literacy tests, poll taxes, burdensome registration requirements – these techniques were all used to prevent African-Americans from voting. Southern voting registrars would even resign from their positions as soon as a lawsuit was on the cusp of succeeding, thereby sending the case back to square one. The Voting Rights Act aimed to change all of this.
Section 5 was the most important and imaginative provision in the law….
Sahil Kapur: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned the fierce dissent against the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Tuesday to invalidate a key section of the Voting Rights Act, accusing the conservative justices of displaying “hubris” and a lack of sound reasoning. “[T]he Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making,” wrote the leader of the court’s liberal wing. “Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA.”
Joined by the three other liberal-leaning justices, Ginsburg scolded the conservative majority and its rationale for throwing out Section 4 of the law — which contains the formula Congress has used to determine which states and local governments must receive federal pre-approval before changing their voting laws. “Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today,” she wrote. “The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.” “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” Ginsburg wrote.
Texas Tribune: The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight.
“I am overwhelmed, honestly,” Davis said after standing for nearly 13 hours to filibuster Senate Bill 5, the abortion legislation. The outpouring of support from protesters at the Capitol and across the nation, she said, “shows the determination and spirit of Texas women and people who care about Texas women.”
…. Republican senators made a last-ditch effort to approve SB 5, voting 19-10, but by then the clock had ticked past midnight. Under the terms of the state Constitution, the special session had ended, and the bill could not be signed, enrolled or sent to the governor.
… Conservative lawmakers tried every tool in the Senate rulebook to derail the filibuster. A “three strikes, you’re out” precedent in the Senate grants lawmakers two warnings about staying germane to the bill topic … Davis received the three strikes: two were on the germaneness of the discussion and one was related to Davis receiving assistance from another senator to put on a back brace….
President Obama talks with PM Tusk of Poland in the private residence of the White House, Sept. 17, 2009. NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is in the background (Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post: President Obama will name deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough, a longtime trusted aide, as his new White House chief of staff Friday, officials said.
McDonough, 43, has spent the past two years as the No. 2 official in the National Security Council, helping guide some of the administration’s most high-profile decisions, including the military drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the response to earthquakes in Haiti and Japan and the aftermath of the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya last fall.
Obama considers McDonough one of his “closest and most trusted advisors for nearly a decade,” a White House official said.
11:0: V.P. Biden Speaks on the Administration’s Efforts to Reduce Gun Violence (Richmond, Virginia) – White House live (audio only), CNN
12:10: President Obama makes a personnel announcement
GOPolitico: The White House will also announce several other promotions Friday, including moving communications director Dan Pfeiffer to the job of senior adviser, and shifting deputy communications director Jennifer Palmieri into Pfeiffer’s old job. Pfeiffer’s move comes as David Plouffe, a longtime Obama political adviser, plans to leave the White House this month.
Other senior-level moves include:
Rob Nabors – Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy
Tony Blinken – Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor
Danielle Gray – Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary
Katy Kale – Assistant to the President for Management and Administration
Lisa Monaco – Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (upon confirmation of John Brennan as DCIA)
Miguel Rodriguez –Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs
David Simas – Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor for Communications and Strategy
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give a joint interview at the White House on Friday afternoon to CBS News’ Steve Kroft, for broadcast Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
Steve Benen: We don’t yet know exactly why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave up on ambitious reforms of filibuster rules. After months of voicing support for sweeping changes, it’s possible Reid just didn’t have the votes from his own caucus to pursue bold reforms through the “constitutional option.”
Whatever the reasoning, however, it’s important that folks understand that when Reid says protecting the filibuster is necessary to keep the Senate from being like the House, he’s wrong…..
Greg Sargent: Now that the smoke has cleared from the wreckage of yesterday’s filibuster reform debacle, what’s next for those who want to fix our broken Senate? There is no denying that yesterday’s outcome was a terrible disappoint for those who still hold out hope for functional government. At the same time, there are some silver linings…..
President Obama attends a Sandy Hook interfaith vigil at Newtown High School, Dec. 16, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
NYT: The White House has decided to circumvent Capitol Hill as it concentrates its gun-control efforts on speeches and other public appearances by President Obama and Vice President Biden outside of Washington, according to officials with knowledge of the plans.
With Obama’s gun agenda dependent on centrist Democratic senators who are nervous about their reelection prospects, the administration has calculated that the president is better off helping to build a groundswell of popular support within the lawmakers’ states rather than negotiating directly with them, officials said.
NYT: The White House delivered a strong message to Wall Street on Thursday, taking the unusual step of choosing two former prosecutors as top financial regulators.
But translating that message into action will not be easy, given the complexities of the market and Wall Street’s aggressive nature.
At a short White House ceremony, President Obama named Mary Jo White, the first female United States attorney in Manhattan, to run the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Obama also renominated Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position he has held for the last year under a temporary recess appointment without Senate approval.
With the appointments, the president showed a renewed resolve to hold Wall Street accountable for wrongdoing, extolling his candidates’ records as prosecutors.
President Obama greets a local resident on Main Street in Moneygall, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Irish Examiner: The US President is to be immortalised in the birthplace of his ancestors with the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Co Offaly.
Around €6m is being invested in the plaza by Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh, to commemorate the visit by the President and his wife Michelle in 2011.
It will also see the establishment of the Barack Obama Community Facility, where exhibitions of historic and current material marking the relationship between Moneygall and the United States will go on display.
This is the single biggest investment on the Offaly/Tipperary border region in decades and will bring 60 new jobs to the area, as well as 75 jobs during the construction phase.