President Obama acknowledges the crowd during an event at McArthur High School in Hollywood, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The President will welcome the five-time Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 Stanley Cup victory. Following the visit, he will deliver remarks at an Organizing for Action event.
The Week Ahead:
Tuesday: The President will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded warriors who are being treated at the hospital and with their families. He will also visit the Fisher House, a program that supports military families by welcoming them to stay at the house while their loved ones receive specialized medical care.
Wednesday: The President will travel to Dallas to participate in DSCC events.
Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Friday: The President will travel to the New Orleans area for an event on the economy. Later that day, he will travel to Miami, Florida to participate in DNC and DSCC events.
Here in the United States, we’re united by a fundamental principle: we’re all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That’s America’s promise.
That’s why, for instance, Americans can’t be fired from their jobs just because of the color of their skin or for being Christian or Jewish or a woman or an individual with a disability. That kind of discrimination has no place in our nation. And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. As a result, millions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs — not because of anything they’ve done, but simply because of who they are.
It’s offensive. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense. That’s why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. It ought to be the law of the land.
Mother Jones: Economists To Congress: It’s Time For A “Robin Hood Tax” On The Rich
Congress resolved the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis (for now) by agreeing to hash out a budget agreement by mid-December. Already, hopes are dim. Budget experts say that if any deal at all is worked out to replace the deep budget cuts that went into effect in March, the most likely outcome will be a short-term plan involving slightly less severe spending cuts—but with no new revenue, a big Democratic priority. Now, several prominent economists, along with a coalition of labor, health, and community groups are pushing progressive lawmakers to aim higher, calling for what they term a “Robin Hood tax” on the rich.
Igor Volsky: The Next Attack Against Obamacare: If You Like Your Doctors, You Won’t Be Able To Keep Them
Opponents of the law have begun advancing another related argument against reform: if you like the doctor or hospital you have, you may not be able to keep them. Remember that while the Affordable Care Act does establish some network adequacy standards — insurers are required to ensure a sufficient choice of providers (including providers that specialize in mental health and substance abuse services) and offer essential community providers to serve predominately low-income and medically underserved populations. Big provider networks aren’t necessarily better, however.
Industry surveys show that premiums are “the most important factor in consumers’ choices” and that more than half of those surveyed would opt for “a narrow-network product if it cost them at least 10 percent less than an equivalent with broader choice.” That was certainly the experience in Massachusetts, where a 2010 law actually required health plans to offer tiered-or limited-network products “priced 12 percent below their broad network product.” Three years later, a state’s attorney general report found that membership in these limited networks grew by almost 50 percent.
Zack Ford: Defense Secretary Orders States To Provide Same-Sex Benefits To National Guard Servicemembers
After the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon ordered that the same-sex spouses of servicemembers be entitled to the same benefits as other spouses. Several states, however, used their own constitutional bans on same-sex marriage to justify denying such benefits to National Guard servicemembers at their state offices and facilities.
Speaking to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel condemned this discrimination as “wrong” and ordered the Pentagon to take immediate action to resolve the discrepancy:
Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being declined and denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.
Approximately 46 percent of single, uninsured young adults living in 34 of the states with a federal Obamacare marketplace will be able to purchase basic health coverage — a bare-bones “Bronze” level plan — for less than $50 per month after factoring in federal tax subsidies. An even greater number of young and uninsured single adults between the ages of 18 and 34 will be able to get coverage for less than $100 per month, according to government data.
An additional one million young adults will also now qualify for Medicaid coverage under Obamacare’s expansion of the program. All told, the report finds that 40 percent of the 7.2 million young, uninsured adults living in the 34 states will be able to get coverage for $100 per month or less thanks to the health law. That works out to be 2.9 million people. If all of the 34 states had chosen to expand Medicaid, however, that number would actually spike to 6.2 million people.
1. Americans will be forced to buy health insurance: The health-care law’s individual mandate, despite its name, isn’t meant to force Americans into health plans. Instead, it is supposed to encourage people to purchase coverage by giving them two options: Buy insurance or pay a fine. In 2014, that fine is $95 or 1 percent of an individual’s income, whichever is higher.
The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for collecting this penalty from individuals who indicate on their annual tax filings that they have not purchased coverage. The agency can take the penalty out of a filer’s refund, but beyond that, its ability to recoup those dollars is extremely limited. The IRS cannot, for example, send agents to people’s homes or put liens on their houses. In the health-care law, Congress specifically curtailed the ability to enforce this penalty, giving the IRS fewer ways to collect it than there are for other tax fines.
Erik Wasson: CBO: Ending Obamacare ‘Exemption’ Adds To Deficit
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Friday that a Republican-backed plan to force more high-level officials and staffers to obtain their insurance through ObamaCare would add nearly $1 billion to the deficit. The CBO estimates that ending the so-called ObamaCare exemption for members of Congress and staff and forcing officials like President Obama to enroll in an ObamaCare exchange would add $978 million to the deficit over 10 years.
The plan would deny the office-holders and staff the premium support they now get from the government. Under current law, members of Congress and staff will have to obtain their health coverage from ObamaCare in 2014 rather than through the federal government’s health plan. Under a ruling from the Office of Personnel Management, the members and staff have been granted an exemption to receive premium support from their employer, the federal government.
NYT: Under Health Care Act, Millions Eligible For Free Policies
Millions of people could qualify for federal subsidies that will pay the entire monthly cost of some health care plans being offered in the online marketplaces set up under President Obama’s health care law. The analysis found that five million to six million people who are uninsured will qualify for subsidies that will be greater than the cost of the cheapest bronze or silver plan. A million more people with individual insurance could also be eligible, according to McKinsey, although estimates of the size of the market for private individual insurance vary widely. None of the people in the analysis qualify for Medicaid.
Although they vary in their design, bronze plans generally cover about 60 percent of a person’s medical costs. All plans, including bronze, must cover standard benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care and mental health treatment. Not everyone selects the cheapest option. Dante Olivia Smith, a lighting designer from Manhattan, learned that federal subsidies would allow her to buy a bronze plan for $24 a month.
“It was astounding,” she said. “I almost started crying, and called my mom.” In the end, however, she went with a silver plan for $91 a month that included dental and vision coverage. Ms. Smith, who is 30, said she opted for the more comprehensive plan because of her work, which requires her to climb ladders and use power tools.
Washington Post: Obama Asks Federal Agencies To ‘Prepare’ For Climate Change. Here’s What That Means.
The White House underscored that point on Friday when it issued a new executive order directing federal agencies to help states and communities prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, storms, and droughts.
The Obama administration is still focused on cutting U.S. greenhouse gases — the official goal is to get carbon-dioxide emissions down 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. That’s why regulators have set stricter fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks — reaching 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — and are planning carbon rules for coal- and gas-fired power plants. To that end, there are a few key aspects of the White House memo
Tara Culp-Ressler: The Abortion Case Making Its Way To The Supreme Court Is A Stealth Attack On Your Reproductive Rights
Oklahoma’s highest court has set the stage for a potential Supreme Court showdown over abortion; specifically, over the abortion pill, which allows women to terminate an early pregnancy without having a surgical procedure. The complicated case, Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, could come before the Roberts court this term. But you’ve probably never heard of it — and that’s exactly how the anti-choice community wants to keep it.
The case in question concerns a 2011 Oklahoma state law restricting the way that doctors are allowed to administer abortion-inducing medication. That law forces doctors to follow the FDA’s outdated protocol for the abortion pill, ignoring the fact that medical standards have evolved and doctors don’t think that’s the best practice for their patients anymore. After reproductive rights groups sued to overturn the medically unnecessary policy, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled in their favor, deciding that the restriction on medication abortion was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court asked Oklahoma’s court to provide more details about why exactly it chose to strike down the law.
Some elements of this this fight are well-covered and understood, particularly on voting rights and abortion. As Norm Ornstein observes, we are seeing “a new era of voter suppression that parallels the pre-1960s era — this time affecting not just African-Americans but also Hispanic-Americans, women, and students, among others.” And, as the Guttmacher Institute notes, “issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011.”
Less well-covered has been the assault on workers’ rights as part of a coordinated, strategic, national and ideological program. These recent efforts are actually focused just as much, if not much more, on private-sector workers who aren’t in a union. Efforts to roll back everything from minimum wage laws to unemployment insurance affects everyone who works for a wage, and this is where the coordination across states has been particularly intense.
Greg Sargent: Republicans Can’t Put Off Immigration Reform Forever
On a conference call with reporters today, GOP Rep. David Valadao of California, one of three House Republicans who has embraced the House Dem comprehensive immigration reform plan, announced that he is circulating a letter calling on the House GOP leadership to hold a vote on reform this year. He is asking fellow Republicans to sign on.
“I’m hoping to get a decent number,” Valadao said. This will be interesting to watch, because it could shed light on a key question about the immigration debate: How many Republicans inside the House GOP caucus are genuinely willing to push the House GOP leadership to allow votes on reform?
Asian-Americans have been moving steadily toward the Democrats and away from the GOP. In 2012, Asians supported Obama by a staggering 73-26, compared to 62-35 in 2008. This is a remarkable trajectory for a group that, back in 1992, supported George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton by a strong 54-30 margin. In every election since then, Asians have increased their support for the Democratic candidate, including elections like 2004 where most other groups, even progressive ones, were going in the opposite direction
Why is this? One reason is the GOP’s dreadful record on immigration, an issue of considerable importance to the Asian-American community. Another is that Asian-Americans are a strongly pro-government constituency. In a massive Pew study of Asians, released last year, Asians endorsed a bigger government providing more services over a smaller government providing fewer services by 55-36. That’s a sharp contrast with the public as a whole, who endorsed smaller over larger government by 52-39.
Plenty of people did get hit in 2009, including people at the very top. But all things are relative. The fortunate 400 people with the highest adjusted gross incomes still made, on average, $202 million each in 2009, according to Internal Revenue Service data. And this doesn’t even count income that doesn’t show up as adjusted gross income, such as tax-exempt interest.
Yet the top 400 paid an average federal income tax rate of less than 20 percent, far lower than the top rate of 35 percent then in effect. Even in a bad year like 2009, the federal tax code at the very top is regressive, not progressive.
Sun Times: Durbin “Stand Your Ground” Hearing Tuesday: Trayvon Martin’s Mother To Testify
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will chair a hearing Tuesday on the controversial “stand your ground” laws that played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, will be testifying.
Durbin is holding the hearing in his role as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The hearing was originally scheduled for September…..
TIME: Password-Reset Security Glitch Fixed On Healthcare.gov
A security flaw in the original design of HealthCare.gov that could have disclosed e-mail and other account information to hackers was eliminated Monday during an overnight fix, a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman has told TIME.
“We are eliminating this theoretical vulnerability by preventing users from seeing the specific reset functionality when trying to reset their password,” said Brian Cook, who works for the agency that oversees the troubled website portal for federal health-insurance exchanges. There is no public evidence that these design flaws were ever exploited to compromise user accounts.
USA Today: Insurance For The Young Could Be Less Than $50 A Month
Almost half of young, single, uninsured adults in 34 states could pay $50 or less a month for insurance through the online exchanges after receiving subsidies, according to a study released by the Department of Health and Human Services Monday. The HHS study said there are 7.2 million uninsured Americans 18 to 34 in single-person households in the 34 states. Of that total, there are 2.9 million who are eligible to buy insurance on either federal or state partnership insurance marketplaces.
Of those 2.9 million young people, HHS found that 1.3 million, or 46%, could pay less than $50 a month for a bronze plan. The exchanges offer coverage from the bronze to platinum level. Bronze is the cheapest. About 1.9 million of uninsured young people in those 34 states, the study showed, could pay $100 a month or less for health insurance with the tax credits.
As Germany’s “Handygate” has become a mass phenomenon bordering on hysteria, one of the strangest aspects has been the fact, which I’ve noted previously, that Chancellor Angela Merkel was using a quite insecure cellphone to conduct government business. According to numerous media reports, the cellphone in question, said to have been intercepted by NSA for years, was used by Merkel for political party affairs, and was supposed to be used only to the classification level of VS-NfD, which is roughly equivalent to the U.S. category of For Official Use Only (FOUO), in other words, not actually classified at all.
Except the actual story is coming into focus now and it’s a rather different one than what Berlin’s been complaining so loudly about. While Merkel has indeed had a quite vulnerable cellphone, her “real”Chancellor-Phone, as the Germans call it, is quite secure from interception.
Bloomberg: Obama Tells FBI Leaders He’ll Press Congress To Lift Budget Cuts
President Barack Obama said he will keep pressing Congress to lift across-the-board budget cuts to ease the limits they have placed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other critical agencies.
At the formal installation ceremony for James Comey as the seventh director of the FBI, Obama said resources for the agency have been trimmed by the automatic cuts known as sequestration even as the the FBI’s mission has been expanding to confront the threat of terrorism.
A congressional committee will meet this week to come up with a plan for taxes and spending to replace the automatic spending cuts approved in 2011. Comey said in a speech in Philadelphia last week that the budget limits mean that as many as 3,500 positions will be cut and agents will be furloughed, radio station KYW reported.
President Obama talks on the phone with Israel PM Netanyahu, in the Oval Office, Oct. 28, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Rollling Stone, November 2012 (Photo released Oct 29, 2012)
Oct. 29, 2009 – Pete Souza: “This photo was taken about 4AM after the President made an unannounced trip to Dover Air Force Base to pay respects to fallen troops coming back from Afghanistan. After meeting privately with the families, the President walked alone up the ramp of the cargo plane carrying the 18 caskets, all draped in American flags. I could see the emotion on his face as he walked from casket to casket, leaving a Presidential coin on each. When he was done, he paused for a few minutes, head bowed in prayer. I heard him tell others later how that was the most difficult moment of his Presidency thus far. Out of respect for the families, not all of who wanted their ceremony photographed, we can’t show those pictures (but they will become part of Presidential archive).”
On This Day:
President Obama rests his foot on a desk as he talks with Phil Schiliro, assistant to the President for legislative affairs, in the Outer Oval Office, Oct. 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets Girl Scouts prior to a signing ceremony for the Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act in the Oval Office, Oct. 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Jonathan Cohn: How Obama, Reid, And Pelosi Stopped Republican Extortion. Three Reasons The Democrats Won
It’s over. The Senate voted yes. The House voted yes. President Obama signed the bill and, on Thursday, the federal government is open for business again. But in a narrower political sense, this was one of those (relatively) rare Washington battles in which one side clearly prevailed. It was the Democrats. When this episode started, they said they were determined not to make major concessions simply because Republicans were threatening shutdown and default.
Sure enough, here we are—with a new continuing resolution, a higher debt limit, and no major changes in law. Democrats achieved the policy outcome they had sought, while establishing a precedent for the future: No more negotiating while under such threats. So what did Democrats do right? How did they hold it together? Among the many factors, three come quickly to mind.
Administration officials have said they never expected so many initial visitors and that the high demand is a good sign. Both claims are true. In fairness, federal officials operated under tremendous political and logistical constraints, the kind few outsiders can grasp. Private developers don’t have the same stringent standards for privacy and security, for instance. And given the enormous challenges of trying to integrate so many systems—some new, some old—nobody seriously expected the launch of Obamacare’s federal websites to take place without glitches
People trying to get insurance have been remarkably patient, which tells you something important about how dysfunctional and frustrating the old insurance market was. Obamacare’s architects assumed that most states would opt to run their own marketplaces with federal officials running only a few. The assumption proved wrong: Pretty much any state with a Republican governor or Republican legislative control said no, adding to the administrative burden on HHS. But 14 states plus the District of Columbia are managing their own markets.Mostly it’s places you would expect—progressive outposts like California, Washington, and New York—where Obama and his policies are most popular. But Kentucky, where a Democratic governor and group of dedicated officials have worked diligently to deliver the law’s benefits, is also on the list.
Now that the government shutdown crisis is over, leaving the GOP brand in tatters, the news is filled with chatter about Republicans “reassessing” for the battles that come. As Karen Tumulty’s piece asks: “What will it take to save the Republicans from the self-destructive impulses of the tea party movement?” If Republicans do want to enter into the normal give and take of governing — a big “if,” to be sure – it will require a willingness to rely on an alliance of non-Tea Party Republicans and Democrats to get things done.
Republicans didn’t lose the shutdown fight because Obama is trying to destroy their party. They lost it because the Tea Party fantasy outcome was never going to happen. It was rooted in a deeply unhinged view of how governing should work that Dems were never, ever, ever going to accept. It took GOP leaders too long to accept this and act accordingly.
In fact, one of the most insightful analyses of Obamacare’s federal site came from John Green, co-producer of Vlogbrothers—who tried applying for insurance via an Obamacare exchange (one the federal government is running for Indiana) and then compared the experience to applying for insurance the old way, via an insurance company website. Even with the delays and server errors, he found, Obamacare was quicker and easier—mostly because, under the old system, he had to reconstruct several years of his medical history down to every exam and test.
President Obama spoke briefly yesterday, announcing the re-opening of the federal government, and sharing some thoughts on how to help the country get moving in the right direction again. Specifically, the president stressed the importance of immigration reform – four times. The push came on the heels from similar remarks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said, “I look forward to the next venture, which is making sure we do immigration reform.” As it turns out, congressional Republicans don’t quite see it that way.
A prominent House Republican intends to help destroy the legislation because, he claims, Obama is “trying to destroy the Republican Party.” Presumably, then, that’s an outcome Republicans prefer to inflict on themselves? Stepping back, here’s my question for congressional Republicans: what is it, exactly, you intend to run on in 2014? I don’t mean that in some kind of obnoxious, snarky, way; I genuinely want to know.
Framed through the windows of the spare limousine, President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the motorcade with Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and personal aide Reggie Love, Oct. 19, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Think Progress: New Jersey Supreme Court: Same-Sex Couples Can Begin Marrying Monday
The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an arguably unprecedented decision Friday: though they still plan to hear out a case challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, they are going to allow same-sex couples to begin marrying in the state in the meantime. The lower court’s decision will take effect at 12:01 AM Monday morning. In an order denying the Christie administration a stay of the lower court’s marriage equality ruling, the Court posited that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act so “changed the landscape” that the harm to same-sex couples being denied federal benefits was too blatant to ignore
this outcome is not a final guarantee that the right to marry is a permanent fixture for same-sex couples in New Jersey, but it is incredibly encouraging. Though the Court reserved its right to nullify any marriages that take place until they rule, they have explicitly stated their expectation that the state will lose and marriage equality will prevail.
President Barack Obama waves from the Colonnade to visitors as they tour the White House grounds during the 2012 White House Fall Garden Tour, Oct. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, with veteran James Sperry and his daughter, Hannah, pause for the national anthem prior to Game 1 of the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 19, 2011. The First Lady and Dr. Biden attended the game as part of their Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama listens to the University of Texas Pan American Mariachi Aztlan band in the Grand Foyer before signing the Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with third and fourth grade students during a surprise visit to Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., Oct. 19, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs H.R. 3210, Pay Our Military Act, which provides continuing appropriations for pay and allowances for members of the Armed Forces during any period for which interim or full-year appropriations for FY 2014 are not in effect, in the Oval Office, Monday night, Sept. 30 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Members of the Cabinet watch as President Obama makes a televised statement on a possible government shutdown, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 30 (Photo by David Lienemann)
President Obama hugs Americans who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act after delivering remarks about the launch of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces and the first federal government shutdown in 17 years in the Rose Garden