a new paper shows one place where the law has been a clear success: narrowing the race gap in health insurance. So why aren’t more Democrats shouting that from the rooftops. In 2013, the year before most of the law’s provisions for subsidized insurance took effect, non-elderly blacks were 47 percent more likely than whites to be uninsured.
For American Indians, that figure was 93 percent; for Hispanics, 120 percent. In 2014, not only did the share of whites without insurance fall; the share of blacks and Asian Americans fell by more. The difference between whites and Hispanics shrank, from 14 percentage points to 11.8 percentage points. What’s odd about the race gap isn’t its persistence, but that its narrowing isn’t more celebrated as one of the law’s accomplishments. Narrowing the race gap in health insurance counts unequivocally as progress.
Jason Furman: 5 Indicators That Show We Turned A Depression-Like Shock into A Six-Year Expansion
Seven years ago, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, setting in motion the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Over the course of just a few months after taking office, President Obama worked to shore up the U.S. financial system, rescue the auto industry, and pass a Recovery Act and more than a dozen subsequent fiscal measures that provided vital support to families and businesses. Since the crisis, the President has taken continued steps–including Wall Street reform–to strengthen our economy and protect against future downturns.
Our businesses have now created 13.1 million jobs over 66 straight months–the longest streak on record. The pace of job growth over the last three years has not been exceeded since 2000. The unemployment rate has fallen further and faster than economic forecasters predicted. Private domestic final purchases (a combination of the largest and most stable components of GDP) contracted as sharply at the start of the Great Recession as during the start of the Great Depression. But while economic output continued to contract for years into the 1930s, our economy returned to growth in 2009, as both personal consumption and business investment started to grow again.
Dylan Scott: This Chart: Uninsured Rate Drops Under Obamacare
The percentage of uninsured Americans has fallen from 13.9 percent to 10.2 percent since Obamacare coverage took effect, according to new data from the Urban Institute. The difference is even more pronounced in states that expanded Medicaid under the law. In those states, the uninsured rate dropped from 12.6 percent to 8.4 percent from the second quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014.
Michael Karpman: QuickTake: Uninsurance Rate Down 25 Percent For Working Adults And 31 Percent For Low-Income Workers Since September 2013
Recent HRMS data show an estimated 10.6 million adults ages 18 to 64 gained coverage between September 2013, just before the first open enrollment period for the ACA’s health insurance Marketplaces, and September 2014, just before the second open enrollment period (Long et al. 2014). Between September 2013 and September 2014, the uninsurance rate fell 3.4 percentage points (95% CI [2.0, 4.9]; figure 1) for working nonelderly adults. The share of working nonelderly adults without insurance declined from an estimated 13.6 percent just before the first open enrollment period to 10.2 percent in September 2014, a 25.3 percent decline.
Jeffrey Young: Conservatives Proven Utterly Wrong On Key Aspect Of Obamacare
Remember when Obamacare was a terrible deal for young adults, and how “young invincibles” didn’t even want health insurance? Conservative groups — acting, no doubt, out of deep concern for the well-being of the nation’s 20-somethings — even staged events where young people burned their “Obamacare cards” (there is no such thing). Instead, this is what happened:
Not so scary, after all. That’s right: The share of the population between 19 and 25 years old without health insurance has fallen since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. That year, the uninsured rate for that group was more than 30 percent. By the end of this March, it had fallen to 21 percent, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey data presented in a report the White House Council of Economic Advisors released Wednesday. In fact, the uninsured rate fell more for young adults than any other age group from the end of 2013 to the close of the first quarter of this year, the CDC survey found. And that doesn’t even account for a surge in Obamacare enrollments at the end of March and early April, especially among younger people, for insurance coverage that didn’t kick in until April or May. Turns out, people under 30 also think having health insurance is a good idea.
Bloomberg: Corporate U.S. Healthiest In Decades Under Obama With Lower Debt
Steve Wynn, founder of the Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) casino empire, once called President Barack Obama’s administration “the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.” Barry Sternlicht, chief executive officer of Starwood Property Trust Inc. (STWD), said Obamacare was driving down wage growth and “affecting spending and the desire to buy houses and everything else.” Corporate and economic statistics almost six years into his administration paint a different picture. Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (SPX) Index are the healthiest in decades, with the lowest net debt to earnings ratio in at least 24 years, $3.59 trillion in cash and marketable securities, and record earnings per share. They are headed this year toward the fastest average monthly job creation since 1999, manufacturing is recovering and the U.S. has returned as an engine for global growth. The recovery, which stands in contrast to weak growth in Europe and Asia, has underpinned an almost threefold gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since March 2009.
“The U.S. is leading the way — we’re the only major economy with accelerating growth,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Moody’s Analytics Inc. and a registered Democrat who has advised both the Obama administration and Senator John McCain, a Republican. “Obama deserves some credit for that, but he probably won’t get it.” Barring any major disruptions, the economy is setting up for Obama to leave office on a high note, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University in Houston. “History will eventually show that Obama inherited the Great Recession and resuscitated the economy,” Brinkley said in an interview. One example is General Motors Co. (GM), which last week regained its investment-grade debt rating from Standard & Poor’s only five years after the government-backed bankruptcy. Obama’s $49.5 billion bailout of the automaker in exchange for taxpayers owning 61 percent of the company kept it from being liquidated, an outcome that could have crippled parts suppliers and economies throughout most of 50 states, not just the Midwest. In the broader economy, consumers are buying again and homebuilding is increasing. The unemployment rate has declined to 6.1 percent, the lowest since 2008. The economy expanded at a 4.6 percent annualized rate in April through June. Obama’s 2010 health-care program will hold down consumer prices for years to come as millions of Americans obtain coverage, BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse Group AG said. The “Medicare cost miracle” resulted at least in part from Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman wrote in a Sept. 1 New York times article.
The preliminary figures on second-quarter GDP looked good; the revised tally looked better; and the final report looks even better still. The U.S. economy grew at a 4.6% annual pace in the second quarter, matching the best performance since the recession ended in mid-2009. The increase in real gross domestic product was revised up from 4.2%, mainly because of higher exports and business investment, the Commerce Department said Friday. Americans also spent more on health care, but the gain was offset by lower spending on other services. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted GDP would be revised up to a seasonally adjusted 4.7%. Consumer spending, the main source of economic activity, was unchanged at 2.5% growth. The biggest gains came in business investment, a good sign for the economy in the months ahead. To provide some additional context, 4.6% growth is tied for the best quarter since the start of the Great Recession.
Like a bad summer-pop earworm, some economic ideas get stuck in our heads for no good reason and refuse to go away. Take, for example, the remarkably durable myth that Obama has presided over a “part-time economy,” where full-time work has been devastated by his relentlessly anti-capitalist policies. The Atlantic has done our best to bust this myth, but there’s no killing some summer earworms, and so, like a particularly terrible Top 40 DJ, here comes Mort Zuckerman, spinning the old track on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. It’s impossible to briefly sum up Zuckerman’s argument—”The Full-Time Scandal of Part-Time America”—which is a collage of bad stats and randomly drawn lines of causality.
The gist is that the U.S. economy only makes part-time jobs now, and Obamacare is hastening the demise of full-time work. The easiest way to fact-check the claim that part-time work is rising is to measure Americans working part-time who want to work full time—i.e. “for economic reasons.” 1) Most people working part-time want to work part-time because they’re in school, or they’re raising kids, or they consider themselves mostly retired. Don’t pay attention to anybody who’s using the number of stay-at-home dads and moms to argue that Obamacare is destroying full-time work. The president’s critics love this talking point. But since 2010, full-time jobs are up 7.6 million, and part-time jobs have declined by more than 900,000.
The White House began installing solar panels on the First Family’s residence this week, a White House official confirmed Thursday. The Obama administration has already undertaken a number of measures to increase the federal government’s energy efficiency and use of renewable energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, a plan the president outlined in an executive order he signed in October 2009.
The administration has doubled the number of hybrid cars and truck in the federal fleet, increased the government’s use of renewable energy to 7 percent, cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent and committed $2 billion to upgrade federal buildings’ energy efficiency through contracting requirements at no up-front cost to taxpayers.
So far these measures have collectively saved 7 million gallons of gas and been equivalent to permanently removing 1.5 million cars from the road, according to the White House.
Heidi Mitchell: Stand And Deliver: After Her 12-Hour Filibuster, How Far Will Texas Senator Wendy Davis Run?
Just a week prior, the scene besieging the two-term senator was altogether less serene. On the final day of a special session of the Eighty-third Legislature, an omnibus antiabortion bill known as SB 5, which proposed new restrictions on family-planning clinics, was up for a vote in the Senate—and Davis arrived at the Capitol building in Austin prepared for a long fight.
Wearing pink Mizuno running shoes and a sky-blue Escada day coat concealing a back brace, the 50-year-old runner and cyclist held the floor for a twelve-hour filibuster that packed the rotunda with pro-choice defenders and had the nation biting its collective nails as coverage streamed online and the clock ticked down to midnight. In those hours, Davis’s Facebook likes spiked. The hashtag #StandWithWendy began trending as high as some 125,000 tweets per hour. Barack Obama used it. Lena Dunham tweeted her support. John Oliver made a joke about a new line of shoes, the Fila-busters, the next night on The Daily Show.
We’ve known for a few weeks now that conservative groups are attempting to sabotage Obamacare by planning and staging campaigns to dissuade young people and families from enrolling in state insurance exchanges. Via Greg Sargent, these efforts include a new radio spot from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, and the good news is that in addition to being heartless and cruel, it’s also incredibly stupid. “Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures … if we can’t pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?”
Set aside for a moment that the one factual claim about the law in that quote — “we can’t pick our own doctor” — is false, and will be false until the president of Kaiser Permanente hypnotizes all of Washington and persuades Congress to ban PPOs. Set aside too that the single most well known and well liked provision of the Affordable Care Act is the one banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. That’s the reason Caleb will never have to worry about being locked out of coverage for the rest of his life.
A spirited debate has unfolded within the Republican Party over the last several weeks about what the party intends to do to sabotage the federal health care system. A significant contingent within the GOP has demanded a hostage strategy: Republicans should tell Democrats that they’ll shut down the government unless Dems agree to deny health care benefits to millions of Americans. The strategy is, of course, destined to fail. Democrats will never agree to pay such a ransom, and Republicans don’t want to be on the hook for a shutdown that puts their control of Congress in jeopardy.
It seems increasingly obvious that congressional Republicans are less a governing party and more a group of intemperate children who like to play with matches — and it just so happens they’ve stumbled upon some explosives. To be sure, a government shutdown would be an awful development that would hurt the economy and severely undermine public services Americans rely on. But a debt-ceiling crisis is on a whole other level — it’s like comparing cutting your hand with a kitchen knife and needing stitches, and amputating your hand altogether. The former is serious; the latter is tough to recover from.
Maybe there’s something about presidential vacations that many folks find irksome on a reflexive level. Americans may think that presidents shouldn’t take off when there’s so much work to be done. But RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is taking these attitudes to a very silly level. First, President Obama is taking an eight-day break because, well, humans in stressful jobs occasionally need to take a breather. But for Republicans to make hay out of this is absurd — Obama has taken 87 days off since his first inauguration, and at the comparable point in George W. Bush’s presidency, Obama’s Republican predecessor had taken 399 days off. Remember this chart?
At this point, I imagine conservatives are asking, “Why is it Bush’s days off were fair game for criticism but Obama’s aren’t?” The answer is pretty straightforward: it’s because Bush’s time away from the office was extraordinary. No modern president ever took as much time off as he did. Bush’s vacation days, in other words, became noteworthy because they were record-breaking. For every day off Obama has taken, Bush took 4.5 days off over a comparable period of time.
CNBC: Housing Starts Up 5.9%; Q2 Productivity Beats Forecasts
The Commerce Department said on Friday that housing starts increased 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 units. June’s starts were revised up to show a 846,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 836,000 units.Permits to build homes rose 2.7 percent in July to a 943,000-unit pace. Meanwhile, productivity increased at a 0.9 percent annual rate, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had expected productivity to gain at a 0.6 percent rate.
Output rose at a 2.6 percent rate in the second quarter, while the number of hours worked increased at a 1.7 percent rate. Unit labor costs—a gauge of labor-related costs for any given unit of output—rose at 1.4 percent rate in the second quarter, slightly above forecasts of economists polled by Reuters. Builders have been complaining about a shortage of labor and materials. Still, residential construction remains on a firmer footing and should again contribute to economic growth this year.
President Barack Obama has breakfast with small business owners at Rausch’s Cafe in Guttenberg, Iowa, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest, Aug.16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama browses crafts and antiques at Grasshoppers store in LeClaire, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with people at Grasshoppers store in LeClaire, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
You might recall the genius that is Scout Tufankjian dropping in to TOD a while back to praise one of my horse poo pics from the 2009 inauguration parade? Well, she clearly was inspired – have a look at her completely and utterly majestic ‘Four More Years: Obama 2012’ here – thank you BWD!
Cape Cod Times: …. President Obama arrived at Nancy’s Restaurant and shook hands with a couple of dozen people waiting to place their order.
The presidential motorcade arrived at the Lake Avenue restaurant shortly after 1 p.m. and Obama hopped out of an SUV, undeterred by a steady rain. He was upbeat and made a point of chit-chatting with customers and restaurant employees as he made his way to the take-out counter.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” said Serena Creary of Natick. “I knew he was here (on the island), of course, but I never expected to see him.”
Milt Shook: Why Do We Allow So Many Ex-GOP to be “Authorities” on “Real Progressives”
Look, folks; I peg my progressive roots to the age of 14, when I worked for the McGovern Campaign, but my actual roots probably precede that. My father was a union steelworker, and my mom was the daughter of a union worker, as well. I was royally pissed off at the Kent State massacre. I thought Abbie Hoffman was amazing. Spiro Agnew’s and Richard Nixon’s names were said with derision in my house as early as 1968, and I cried, at the age of ten, when Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed. To this day, Bobby Kennedy is still my idol.
I am just as liberal as anyone out there who claims to speak for the progressive cause, and I have been for pretty much my entire life. So, it really pisses me off when someone comes along and insinuates or says that I’m not a “real” progressive, because I don’t think exactly the way they do. Being liberal or progressive is about being tolerant, and about understanding that not everyone sees every issue the same way. There are a lot of moderates out there who are actually progressive, but they don’t know it, in part because some of the loudest elements of the liberal media scream at the top of their lungs, telling us all what we should believe on every issue. Because they don’t believe exactly that, they figure they’re not very progressive. The problem with this is, they may hate the right wing, but they also come to hate us, even though they probably agree with us on most things.
3:45: President Obama delivers remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson (C-Span)
NYT: It happened a few minutes before the beginning of Jim Langevin’s junior cadet shift back in 1980 …. A bullet ricocheted off a locker and went right through the boy’s neck, severing his spinal cord.
At 16, he would never walk again and never fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
Now, three decades later and seven terms into his career as one of Rhode Island’s two members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Langevin, 48, is the only quadriplegic ever to serve in Congress….
For the past month, he has been on a quiet campaign to persuade his colleagues to give up their guest passes to next Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Obama so that victims of gun violence can attend.
That way, he said, when the nation’s highest officeholders look up from the floor of the House to those watching from the gallery, they will not be able to avoid seeing the human toll that guns can exact.
Upworthy: It’s a fact so jaw-dropping it’s unbelievable — people thought it was a crazy Internet rumor until Politifact verified it. But it’s true: More Americans have died just since 1960 from gun incidents — suicides, accidents, and homicides — than died in every war in U.S. history. The deadliest war the U.S. has ever had is the war we waged against ourselves.
Politifact: Politifact: Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, supporters and opponents of gun control have thrown out statistics to support their point of view.
Here’s one that caught our eye, offered by liberal commentator Mark Shields on the Dec. 21, 2012, edition of the PBS NewsHour.
Shields told host Judy Woodruff, “You know, Judy, the reality is – and it’s a terrible reality – since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years. … I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.”……
CNN: A group of four senators working behind the scenes on a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales is making significant progress, according to sources in both parties familiar with their work.
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN is told the legislation they are working on would effectively require background checks on private gun purchases made with non-licensed gun dealers, according to sources in both parties. That would include closing the so-called gun show loophole.
NYT: President Obama may have run his last political campaign, but that does not relieve him of his obligations to the Democratic Party.
The president, who has a vested interest in Democrats retaining their Senate majority and trying to narrow Republican control of the House, is already making plans to return to the campaign trail. He has agreed to hold at least 14 separate fund-raising events this year, a Democratic official familiar with the plans told The New York Times, characterizing it as an “aggressive schedule.”
…. Mr. Obama will appear at 10 events outside Washington: five for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and five for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will also host one event for each committee in Washington as well as appearing at two joint fund-raising galas for House and Senate candidates.
Reuters: A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
The country’s trade gap narrowed to $38.5 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $46 billion.
“Trade data for December paint a reassuring and encouraging picture of the US economy at the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
‘President Obama has outlined his plan for fixing our broken immigration system. Add your name to stand with the President’ – here
BuzzFeed: One of President Obama’s two nominees Thursday for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Todd M. Hughes, would become the first out gay appeals court judge in the country, if confirmed by Congress.
Hughes currently is the deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice….. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which runs the Presidential Appointments Project to support out LGBT candidates for appointments, praised the nomination.
NYT: Cardiss Collins, who reluctantly ran for a Chicago Congressional seat left vacant when her husband died in a plane crash and went on to become Illinois’s first black congresswoman, serving for nearly 25 years as a voice for racial and gender equality and expanded health care for the poor, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. She was 81.
….. She campaigned little but easily won the primary in April and cruised through the general election in June with 92 percent of the vote. Six years later, and after some early struggles in office — she had never considered a political career before she was thrust into one — she became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. For much of the 1980s, she was the only black woman in Congress.
TPM: Outgoing Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu, who announced his resignation last week, took to his Facebook page Thursday to make light of an article from parody news site “The Onion” alleging that he woke up next to a solar panel after a night of partying in D.C. As Chu wrote in a post on his Facebook page:
“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”
People: My song with my husband: Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”
Michelle Obama: Barack and I danced to “Let’s Stay Together” at this Inauguration, and it was such a special moment for us. We had spent all day together with our family and friends at different Inaugural events, and at the end of the day the dance was really our one-on-one moment with each other. Well, each other and everyone watching on TV!
NYT Editorial: … From the beginning of his run for the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney has offered to transfigure himself into any shape desired by an audience in order to achieve power. In front of massed crowds or on television, he can sound sunny and inclusive, radiating a feel-good centrism. His “severely conservative” policies and disdain for much of the country are reserved for partisans, donors and the harsh ideologues who clutter his party’s base. This polarity is often described as “flip-flopping,” but the word is too mild to describe opposing positions that are simultaneously held.
…. He hasn’t abandoned or flip-flopped from the severe positions that won him the Republican nomination; they remain at the core of his campaign … All he’s doing is slapping whitewash on his platform. The immoderation of his policies, used to win favor with a hard-right party, cannot be disguised.
…. There isn’t really a Moderate Mitt; what is on display now is better described as Convenient Mitt. Anyone willing to advocate extremism to raise money and win primaries is likely to do the same to stay in office.