Posts Tagged ‘filibuster

25
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

Sasha and the pardoned turkey, November 25, 2009

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)

11:50AM: Pres. Obama departs Seattle, Washington

1:30PM: Pres. Obama arrives in San Francisco, California

2:35PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks on immigration reform at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center

4:10PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at the San Francisco Jazz Center

5:00PM: Pres. Obama attends a DNC event at a private residence

6:30PM: Pres. Obama departs San Francisco, California

7:35PM: Pres. Obama arrives in Los Angeles, California

9:10PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks at a DCCC/DSCC joint event at a private residence in Beverly Hills

11:20PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks and answers questions at a DCCC/DSCC joint event at a private residence in Beverly Hills

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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.

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Fred Kaplan: We Have A Deal With Iran. A Good One.

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.

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Maryland Health Benefit Exchange: Maryland Health Connection Update

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.

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NYT: Getting To Yes With Iran

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Defense One: The Deal Is For Real

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.

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The Daily Banter: President Obama Ushering World Peace, Corporate Media Shrugs

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.

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Danny Westneat: Debunking Obamacare Sob Story

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?

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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.

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Going Nuclear

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Jim Stuart: A Team Effort In The Long Game

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!

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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?

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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.

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President Obama briefly glances up toward the sunset after arriving Sunday, Nov. 24, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

23
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

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

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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.

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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.

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Lori Greenstein Bremner: Cancer Survivor: Obamacare Got Me Covered

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.

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.

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.

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HHS.Gov: Progress On Capacity

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.

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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.”

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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.

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Ryan Cooper: Pundits Bemoan End Of Filibuster

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.

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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.”

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On This Day:

President Obama waves after greeting children at Sycamore Elementary in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden walk arm and arm before speaking at the Chrysler Transmission Plant in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama stops to buy treats at the Gingerbread House Bakery in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets people outside the Gingerbread House Bakery in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama pardons the 2011 Thanksgiving Turkey, Liberty, alongside his daughters Sasha and Malia on the North Portico of the White House, November 23

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22
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

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)

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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

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President Obama:

“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.”

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NYT Editorial: Democracy Returns to the Senate

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.

Full editorial here

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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…..

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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.”

Full post here

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Greatest opening paragraph ever?

Charles Pierce: And Boom Goes The Plutonium

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.

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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.

Full post here

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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.

More here

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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.”

More here

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Texas Observer: Texas’ Other Death Penalty

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.

More here

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On This Day:

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)

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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)

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President Obama at Manchester High School Central, N.H., Nov 22, 2011

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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)

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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)

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MoooOOOooorning!




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