Posts Tagged ‘japan

08
Apr
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama embraces Vice President Biden in the Oval Office after a meeting on the budget, April 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

Today (All Times Eastern):

11:45 EDT: President Obama delivers remarks on equal pay, East Room

****

@petesouza: Pres Obama takes the stage at Bladensburg High School

****

The Week Ahead

Wednesday: The President and the First Lady will travel to Houston, TX. The President will attend a memorial service at Fort Hood. He will attend DCCC and DSCC events. More details regarding the President and First Lady’s travel to Houston will be forthcoming.

Thursday: The President and the First Lady will travel to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, TX. The President will deliver remarks at a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. The President and the First Lady will return to Washington, DC, in the afternoon.

Friday: The President will travel to New York, NY to deliver remarks at the National Action Network’s 16th Annual Convention.

****

****

****

Bryce Covert: Obama’s New Move On Gender And Pay Could Have More Impact Than The Lilly Ledbetter Act

President Obama on Tuesday is expected to sign two executive orders that will address the pay disparity between women and men. One will bar federal contractors from retaliating against employees who talk about their pay with each other. The other will require businesses to hand over data on pay, broken down by race and gender, to the Labor Department. The goal of both steps is to increase transparency, which is more important than it may sound. It’s hard to fight pay discrimination if you don’t even know what other people make. That’s exactly what happened to Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the Lilly Ledbetter Act is named. She didn’t find out she was being paid less than the men around her until 19 years after she started at Goodyear. Even then, it was thanks only to an anonymous note. While President Obama has touted the fact that his first act as president was to sign that bill, it was a very, very incremental step toward gender wage parity. The law merely gives women more time to bring suits.

The executive orders could start a new wave of progress. About half of American workers are either expressly barred or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with each other. Obama’s action won’t change that fact for everyone, but it will affect 22 percent of the workforce. And it can have ripple effects to other companies that might want to compete for federal contracts, changing standards over time.President Obama has proposed a universal preschool system that includes care for children ages zero to three and would go a long way toward helping parents afford the skyrocketing costs of child care. But many of these ideas are anathema to conservatives in Congress, because they would require government spending and/or interfering with the free market. Until that changes, executive orders like the ones Obama will issue Tuesday may be the best hope for a while.

More here

****

****

Meghashyam Mali: Obama Administration Reverses Planned Cuts To Medicare Advantage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday announced that it would increase payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans by 0.4 percent, reversing a planned cut. The move comes after criticism from insurance groups and Democratic lawmakers who feared the fallout from trimming benefits for seniors in a difficult midterm election year.

CMS had proposed a 1.9 percent rate cut in February. But on Monday, agency officials said that changed estimates allowed for them to reverse the cut. CMS in a statement said that the rate changes would “ensure beneficiaries will continue to have access to a wide array of high quality, high value, and low cost options while making certain that plans are providing value to Medicare and taxpayers.”

More here

****

****

****

Jamelle Bouie: Jonathan Chait’s Look At Race During The Obama Era Is Missing One Thing: Black Americans

You should contrast this with Jonathan Chait’s most recent feature for New York magazine, where the story of race in the Obama administration is a story of mutual grievance between Americans on the left and right, with little interest in the lived experiences of racism from black Americans and other people of color. It’s a story, in other words, that treats race as an intellectual exercise—a low-stakes cocktail party argument between white liberals and white conservatives over their respective racial innocence.That might fit the experiences of a mostly white pundit class, but it has nothing to do with race as experienced in the “day-to-day” lives of ordinary people. When a twentysomething black New Yorker talks about race, she isn’t as concerned with the rhetoric of Republicans as she is with the patrol car that trails her teenage brother when he rides his bike to the corner store.

What’s odd about the argument is that Chait clearly shows the extent to which conservatism—even if it isn’t “racist”—works to entrench racial inequality through “colorblindness” and pointed opposition to the activist state. But rather than take that to its conclusion, he asks us to look away.Of course, it’s not accusing conservatives of “racism” to note that particular policies—say, tax cuts to defund the social safety net, or blocking the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act—have a disparate impact. That’s just reality. And it’s not tarring your opponents to note that race plays a huge part in building popular support for those policies. Chait finishes his piece with a note (a hope?) that this dynamic of grievance will become irrelevant with time: “The passing from the scene of the nation’s first black president in three years, and the near-certain election of its 45th nonblack one, will likely ease the mutual suspicion. In the long run, generational changes grind inexorably away.” Yes, the Return of the White President will cause this tension to recede, as arguments over racial innocence—“You’re racist!” “You’re a race baiter!”—fade like the elves of Middle-Earth. But that’s only the end of the story if you’re most concerned with partisan fights.

More here

****

****

Eli Clifton: Exclusive: Shady Double-Agent’s Obamacare Sabotage: Top “Supporter” Quietly Funded Its Opposition

While proponents of the Affordable Care Act took a victory lap on the April 1 signup deadline, opposition to the state-run marketplaces continues to expand across the country through “Health Care Freedom Acts,” bills that would seek to limit state governments’ cooperation with the Affordable Care Act. But the untold story, until now, is that a key White House ally in passing the Affordable Care Act may have helped lay the groundwork for these very anti-ACA legislations being introduced across the country. Billy Tauzin, the president of the pharmaceutical lobby, couldn’t help gloating while delivering a keynote speech at his final PhRMA annual meeting before his 2010 retirement. Reflecting on the industry’s decision to support comprehensive healthcare reform, the mega-lobbyist quipped, “This PhRMA team is a Super Bowl championship team of advocacy.” That comparison might be more accurate if the NFL’s championship team had rigged the Super Bowl.

Tax records show that PhRMA initiated a series of payments to the American Legislative Exchange Council with a $379,192 contribution in 2008. Tauzin’s powerful lobby continued its payments to ALEC throughout its negotiations with the White House. Between 2008 and 2011, those contributions exceeded $1.25 million. ALEC, a conservative group serving as a clearinghouse for state-level legislation, opposed the Affordable Care Act and launched its Health Care Freedom Initiative in 2008, the same year that PhRMA initiated its support. The project promised to “expose the truth about ObamaCare and fight back — one state at a time.” It also armed state lawmakers with “14 specific recommendations to push back against Obamacare” and offered boilerplate legislation with its “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.”In a previously unpublished “Schedule of Contributors” tax filing, PhRMA is listed as contributing $339,000 to ALEC in 2010, making it ALEC’s second largest donor after cigarette giant Reynolds American. The filing lists Pfizer, a member of the pharmaceutical lobby, as contributing an additional $136,000 on its own.

More here

****

****

Think Progress: Black Women Are Breaking Barriers But Still Not Getting Compensated For It

Black women are graduating high school, attending college, participating in the labor force, and starting businesses at higher rates, but they still aren’t seeing the rewards of their hard work, according to a recent report from the Black Women’s Roundtable, the women’s initiative of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. Young black women have increased their high school graduation rate by 63 percent over the past 50 years, more than tripling it and “virtually eliminating the gap with Asian women (down to 2%), and significantly narrowing the gap with white women (7%),” the report notes. That gap between the rates of black women and white women has shrunk from 22 percent in 1960. After they leave high school, black women have begun to dominate college. “Though all women lead their male counterparts in college enrollment and degree attainment,” the report says, “Black women do so at higher rates than any other group of women in America.”

In 2010, they were 66 percent of all blacks who finished a Bachelor’s Degree, 71 percent with a Master’s, and 65 percent with a Doctorate. And they keep excelling after they graduate. “As they have from the beginning of their experience in America, Black women lead all women in labor force participation rates,” according to the report. Their labor force participation rate is higher than all other women, and that continues to be true even after they become mothers. They are also very entrepreneurial, starting businesses at six times the national average and representing the fastest growing segment of women-owned businesses. Black women own more than 1 million firms, employ 272,000 people other than themselves, and generate an estimated $44.9 billion in revenue. But even as they’ve been working harder on their educations and starting more businesses, black women aren’t seeing higher returns. While women working full-time, on average, make 77 percent of what men make, black women make 64 percent of what white men make.

More here

****

****

****

Michael Cohen: How Putin Is Losing In Crimea: A Reality Check

A funny thing happened on March 21: Russia lost a war and virtually no one noticed. It was precisely this agreement — and the refusal of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign it — that led to the bloody demonstrations in Kiev that forced Yanukovych from power and spurred Russia’s seizure of Crimea. It’s the kind of trade that looks bad for Russia on the surface — and will only look worse in the future. Russia’s political influence in Ukraine and its dreams of creating an economic union to compete with the EU lies in tatters. Rather than push the U.S. and EU away from his western border, Putin’s actions have practically invited them in by strengthening the bonds between Kiev and the West. It is yet another reminder that Putin’s decision to seize Crimea, rather than serve as a triumphant moment, is far more likely to end up a disaster.

While Putin clearly imagines Russia to be a great power, the country is a hollow shell of its former self, with waning political and military influence and an economy that is teetering on the brink. Higher inflation, a weakening ruble, huge capital outflows and a lack of economic reforms contributed to a major slowdown in the growth rate last year — from a projected increase of 3.6 percent to a mediocre 1.3 percent clip. The Crimea crisis will only add to these economic woes.The far bigger one is that major financial institutions like Deutsche Bank are recommending that their clients keep their money out of Russia; two of the biggest ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, have downgraded Russia’s investment rating from “stable” to “negative”; and even MasterCard and Visa are ending relationships with key Russian banks to avoid the snare of U.S. sanctions.

More here

****

Evan Perez and Steve Katsenbaum: Key Figure In M.J. Traffic Scandal, David Wildstein, Meets With Prosecutors

David Wildstein, a central figure in a political scandal that has upended the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, met recently with federal prosecutors, two U.S. officials familiar with the matter told CNN. The U.S. attorney’s office in Newark is investigating suggestions that top Christie appointees and allies orchestrated traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee last September. Prosecutors are looking at whether the gridlock was politically motivated.

A state legislative committee is also investigating the matter, which involved sudden closures of access lanes to the nation’s busiest bridge over several days. Lawyers from the Justice Department’s public integrity section have joined the investigation to consult on certain legal aspects, particularly over separate allegations the Christie administration conditioned Superstorm Sandy relief money for Hoboken on the mayor’s support for a redevelopment project backed by the governor, according to one U.S. official.

More here

****

Bisch_iCMAEaRYm.jpg-large

****

NYT: In A Test Of Wills With China, U.S. Sticks Up For Japan

On his first trip to China as the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel is finding himself in the middle of a spat that would not be out of place in “Mean Girls,” a movie about social cliques in high school. For the first time, China will host the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, a meeting every two years of countries that border the Pacific Ocean. The W.P.N.S., as it is known in naval circles, counts among its members the United States, Australia, Chile, Canada and a number of Asian countries, including China and Japan. Often at such meetings, the host country organizes an international fleet review, at which the visiting countries can parade their ships and show off some fancy hardware. For this year’s fleet review, China, which is hosting the event in Qingdao, invited all the countries in the symposium to take part — except Japan.

So on the eve of Mr. Hagel’s trip, which includes a visit to Qingdao, Pentagon officials announced that if Japan could not take part in the review, then neither would the United States. The United States will attend the meeting, the Pentagon said, but no American ships will sail in the fleet review. Late last year, China set off a trans-Pacific uproar after it declared that an “air defense identification zone” gave it the right to identify and possibly take military action against aircraft near the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China. Japan controls and administers the islands, but China claims them. Japan refused to recognize China’s claim, and the United States has been defying China ever since by sending military planes into the zone unannounced.

More here

****

****

John W. Gonzalez: Allegation Against Battleground Texas Dismissed

Two special prosecutors have rejected public complaints that Battleground Texas violated election laws while registering voters in San Antonio last year. Three people had alleged that a Battleground Texas staffer violated state election law by mining voters’ personal data. The Democratic group has steadfastly denied the allegation as a fiction from conservative activist James O’Keefe III, who’s been criticized for dubious and even criminal tactics.Based on their finding, a state district court judge dismissed the case on Friday, officials confirmed Monday.

More here

****

BkTDEjbCIAAASLW.jpg-large

****

Brendan Sasso: FCC To Break Up Big TV Stations

Overriding intense Republican opposition, the Democratic leaders of the Federal Communications Commission voted Monday to crack down on media consolidation. The new rules bar multiple broadcast TV stations in the same market from sharing a single advertising staff. Democratic FCC officials argue that major TV companies around the country are using “joint sales agreements” to undermine the agency’s media-ownership caps. The FCC bars any company from owning more than one of the top four TV stations in a market. By selling ads for multiple stations, companies have been able to dodge the FCC’s ownership cap while effectively controlling several stations, the agency officials said.

The goal of the TV ownership cap is to ensure that viewers have access to a diverse range of views in the media and that no single corporation is able to dominate the flow of information. While the TV stations serve local markets, major media companies such as Sinclair own dozens of stations around the country. “The commission has long imposed limits on concentration of ownership for use of the public’s airwaves,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. “Today, what we’re doing is closing off what is a growing end run around those rules.”

More here

****

****

Meredith Clark: Kansas Bill Kills Long-Held Teacher Rights

After a weekend of heated debate, the Kansas legislature passed a bill that strips teachers of the right to challenge dismissals and ensures tax breaks for corporations that fund private school scholarships. Despite huge majorities in the state House and Senate, the bills passed narrowly over the objections of hundreds of teachers and activists who packed the galleries to protest the bill. Until now, a teacher with three years of experience was guaranteed the right to receive a written reason for possible termination and the right to appeal the decision. Teachers in Kansas have had the right to due process since 1957. Without it, a teacher could be fired for being gay, or disagreeing politically with an administrator, and have no recourse.

The bill also provides $126 million to address disparities in public school funding. The Kansas supreme court ruled in March that the state’s current funding system is unconstitutional. The court had ordered the legislature to craft a solution before July 1. Some Republican lawmakers sought policy changes like the end of due process in exchange for supporting the funding measure. Republican Governor Sam Brownback has not said whether he will sign the bill. Kansas’ teachers are among the lowest paid in the United States, with the state coming in 42nd in teacher pay. Educators fear that eliminating due process rights for teachers will make it even harder to retain talented teachers. “How do we get great teachers to come to Kansas when they’re already getting paid so little, and now they have no due process?” Aaron Estabrook, a school board member in the city of Manhattan asked msnbc. “How can we recruit them when they won’t be protected?”

More here

****

****

On This Day

Sen. Barack Obama before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the situation in Iraq, Capitol Hill, April 8, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the situation in Iraq, Capitol Hill, April 8, 2008

****

President Obama offers a fist-bump to senior staff member Pete Rouse, during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, April 8, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

President Obama admires a tapestry at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, share a toast during a luncheon at Prague Castle, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Secretary of State Rodham Clinton following the expanded delegation bilateral meeting with President Medvedev of Russia at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

President Obama talks with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office in between meetings to discuss the ongoing budget negotiations, April 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is reflected in a mirror in the Outer Oval Office as talks with Chief of Staff Bill Daley, left, and Vice President Biden in the doorway of the Oval Office, April 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with staff in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to discuss the ongoing negotiations on a budget funding bill, April 8, 2011. Pictured, from left, are: National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President; Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor; and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks on the phone with House Speaker John Boehner in the Oval Office, April 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama gestures while meeting with staff in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to discuss the ongoing negotiations on a budget funding bill, April 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama delivers a statement in the Blue Room of the White House after Democrats and Republicans reached a short-term budget deal to prevent a government shutdown, April 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

27
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

06767d7f1e8da20c4f0f6a706700de1b

President Barack Obama and Pope Francis laugh while exchanging gifts after their meeting at the Vatican

2014-03-27T130954Z_1521884520_GM1EA3R1MMQ01_RTRMADP_3_OBAMA-ITALY

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at Quirinal Palace in Rome

2014-03-27T103158Z_2113183398_GM1EA3R1FDW01_RTRMADP_3_POPE-OBAMA

ad7bbbbf1e64a20c4f0f6a706700f464

55ba8b64477941b88695c7491c251734-55ba8b64477941b88695c7491c251734-0

****

USA Today: Obama’s Gift To Pope Francis: A Seed Chest

President Obama presented Pope Francis with a custom-made seed chest on Thursday, containing fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House Garden. The gift was inspired by the pope’s decision to grant public access to the gardens of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence, according to a White House statement. Obama and Pope Francis met for 52 minutes at Vatican City.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, presented the president with a plaque of some kind, and an encyclical. “I will treasure this,” Obama said. “I actually will probably read this (encyclical) in the Oval Office when I’m deeply frustrated. I’m sure it will give me strength and calm me down.” The seed chest from Obama is made from American leather and wood reclaimed from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals built in the United States.

More here

****

ee546cc71eefa40c4f0f6a7067004aea

****

****

****

Jason Millman: Young Adults Signing Up At Higher Rates Off Obamacare Exchanges

A higher rate of young adults and uninsured people are signing up for coverage through a private insurance website as next week’s enrollment deadline approaches, according to information released by the company Tuesday. The enrollment data, issued by eHealthInsurance, provides a snapshot of how some customers are shopping for insurance away from Obamacare exchanges during the law’s first enrollment period. EHealth, a national online insurance broker predating the health care law, operates similar to the Obamacare exchanges, offering customers a selection of health plans from competing insurers.

However, shoppers on eHealth’s website can’t access federal subsidies to help purchase insurance, though the company says it has helped people enroll in subsidy-eligible plans by telephone. Since Jan. 1, about 45 percent of those picking new health plans through eHealth were between 18 and 34 years old, the company says. By comparison, the all-important demographic accounted for 27 percent of signups on Obamacare exchanges the past couple of months. EHealth says its rate of youth enrollment has increased from 39 percent of signups between October and December.The rate of eHealth customers who identified themselves as previously uninsured has also increased since the first three months of the enrollment, the company says. Since January, 51 percent of the website’s shoppers say they were previously uninsured, up from 34 percent between October and December.

More here

****

BjLJRQUCEAAOusK.jpg-large

****

America Blog: They Stole Her Photo, Then Claimed She Hated Obamacare. She Doesn’t

Helene isn’t having the best week. The Texas blogger was visiting Las Vegas for a bachelorette party this past weekend, and woke up on Saturday to find that she’d become the latest anti-Obamacare poster child. The thing is, Helene never signed up for the job. In fact, she told me yesterday that she’s quite happy with the Affordable Care Act (ACA),

and with the “affordable” health care it helped her find. “Not only do I not agree with what the image is portraying,” Helene wrote me, “I actually have Affordable Healthcare!” So, if anything, Helene is an Obamacare success story. But that didn’t stop over 17,000 people on Facebook from sharing an image of her face, posted just days ago, with a caption complaining about Obamacare. To add insult to injury, the people who stole her image couldn’t even spell “conspiracy” right.

More here

****

2014-03-27T110153Z_1676497204_GM1EA3R1GR401_RTRMADP_3_POPE-OBAMA

5bffed2d1e96a30c4f0f6a706700ef86

****

****

SmartyPants: President Obama’s Speech In Brussels – One Of The Most Important Of His Presidency

One of the things we know from reading about President Obama’s life story is that while he was practicing law in Chicago, he taught classes on the topic of “power.” I’ve always wished that either he or someone who attended one would outline the content of what he taught. Perhaps the President will do that once his second term is over.

He doesn’t tend to speak directly about the topic, but from listening to him refer to it in other contexts, what I’ve deduced is that he embraces the power of partnership as the alternative to our more traditional concept of the power of domination. Today the President began his speech in Brussels with a history lesson on the power of partnership vs the power of domination.

More here

****

****

****

Paul Krugman: Data As Slogan. Data As Substance

Noah Smith has the definitive piece on what’s wrong, so far, with the new FiveThirtyEight. For all the big talk about data-driven analysis,what it actually delivers is sloppy and casual opining with a bit of data used, as the old saying goes, the way a drunkard uses a lamppost — for support, not illumination.So what would real data-driven reporting look like (beyond what goes on at the sites Noah mentions, and also at the Times)? Well, here’s an example: Charles Gaba’s ACASignups.net.

Gaba, a website developer, realized that nobody was systematically keeping track of enrollment data for Obamacare, and has turned himself into one-stop shopping on the law’s progress. And he really fills a need: when you read news reports on Obamacare, you can tell right away which reporters have been reading Gaba and know what’s happening and which reporters are relying solely on official announcements — or, worse, dueling political spin.

More here

****

6d30c12fd7ff7a0b4f0f6a706700d849

****

NYT: Obama Juggles Itinerary In Bid To Ease Tensions Between Two Allies

When President Obama brings together the estranged leaders of Japan and South Korea for a peacemaking session in The Hague on Tuesday evening, it will be the culmination of three months of intense behind-the-scenes American diplomacy. The unusual effort included a phone call from Mr. Obama to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; a follow-up lunch that the American ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, had with Mr. Abe; a decision to put both Tokyo and Seoul on Mr. Obama’s itinerary when he visits Asia next month; and a plan to resolve this neighborhood quarrel on the ultimate neutral ground: a stately Dutch city accustomed to litigating international disputes.

cc1313e5f847800b4f0f6a7067005ef6

In this case, Mr. Abe and President Park Geun-hye of South Korea have barely been on speaking terms since coming to power just over a year ago. Their antagonism is complex and deeply personal, rooted in World War II history as well as their own conservative and nationalist political leanings, which make old animosities even harder to overcome. Convinced the two were not going to mend relations on their own, the White House proposed a “trilateral” meeting with Mr. Obama at the nuclear security summit in the Netherlands. The European locale and nonproliferation theme made sense. “It’s a multilateral meeting not in Asia,” said a senior administration official, “and a multilateral meeting about the one thing Japan and South Korea are in agreement on.” Mr. Obama’s participation was critical: In a call on March 6, the president told Mr. Abe he wanted to bring his two allies together. At a lunch that day, Ambassador Kennedy fleshed out the idea.

More here

****

****

****

Sy Mukherjee: Anti-Obamacare Governor Now Encouraging Residents To Enroll Under Health Law

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), an ardent Affordable Care Act critic, is now encouraging residents to transition into new health plans under the very reform law that he once refused to help implement. Walker told the Washington Examiner’s Philip A. Klein that he has instructed state agencies to work with individuals who are transitioning into plans offered on Wisconsin’s Obamacare marketplace. That includes both the previously uninsured and poor residents just above the poverty level who are being siphoned out of the state’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare,

and into private ACA plans under Walker’s conservative alternative to Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion.  Just two years ago, Walker was singing a very different tune. He had refused to create a statewide ACA marketplace — thereby also forgoing significant federal funding for Obamacare outreach efforts — and said he wouldn’t lift a finger to help implement the law until the Supreme Court decided the law’s fate. In fact, Wisconsin’s spending on ACA outreach is the lowest in the nation at just 46 cents per capita.

More here

****

423701aeff6147458796d9df950cb0be-423701aeff6147458796d9df950cb0be-0

cc1295b37dfd4f2ea194af8509692fa5-cc1295b37dfd4f2ea194af8509692fa5-0

****

****

****

Bloomberg: WTO Panel Sides With U.S. In Dispute Over China Minerals

The World Trade Organization backed the U.S. in a dispute with China, agreeing that limits on exports of rare-earth elements used in hybrid-car batteries and wind turbines violate trade rules. A Chinese industry group said it regrets the ruling against China. A dispute-settlement panel at the Geneva-based trade arbiter yesterday determined that China, the world’s largest producer of the minerals, didn’t adequately justify imposing export duties and quotas on the goods, as well as the elements tungsten and molybdenum. China’s export limits “have been putting American manufacturers at a disadvantage and preventing full and fair competition,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters yesterday on a conference call.

The WTO decision follows a 2011 ruling in which the trade arbiter sided with the U.S. in determining that China’s export limits on raw materials for steel and chemical production, such as bauxite, magnesium and zinc, broke trade law. The U.S., the 28-nation EU and Japan in 2012 filed complaints with the WTO, saying that China’s restrictions on exports of rare-earth minerals — a group of 17 chemically similar elements used in electronics, autos, helicopter blades and other goods — disrupted trade flows and caused global prices to jump, in some cases as much as three times as much as what Chinese companies pay.

More here

****

Bjncxm0IUAETQ5f.jpg-large

****

Tara Culp-Ressler: Hobby Lobby Inspired New York Lawmakers To Fight To Protect Birth Control In Their State

If the craft chain Hobby Lobby and the furniture company Conestoga Wood Specialties successfully win their Supreme Court challenges, it could open the door to allow businesses across the country to compromise their workers’ access to reproductive health care. In response to that potential future, New York lawmakers are taking the opportunity to reaffirm their state’s commitment to providing insurance coverage for essential preventative health services like birth control.

Earlier this month, New York Sen. Liz Krueger (D) and Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D) introduced the so-called “Boss Bill,” which would close a loophole in the state’s existing workplace anti-discrimination laws to protect women’s access to birth control. Under the legislation — which was written in direct response to the multiple lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive provision — New York’s labor law would be amended to prevent employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their reproductive health care decisions, even if those employers are trying to cite their religious beliefs.

More here

****

f48fe9981ef1a40c4f0f6a70670085d2

****

****

****

Owen Matthews: Sanctions Will Work, All Right. Just Ask The Oligarchs

President Barack Obama, who has supposedly taken the toughest line in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “aggression,” has merely declared banking sanctions on a dozen Russian businessmen personally close to Putin. But in truth, there’s some deep thinking behind Washington’s sanctions regime, and they could ultimately prove deadly to Putin’s future. The key to the sanctions strategy is to drive a wedge between Putin’s shrinking inner circle and the wider Russian elite. “People aren’t ready to sacrifice their holidays in the Alps and in Antalya for the sake of an idea of a Great State,” says Nina Khrushcheva, a historian at New York City’s New School and a granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader who ceded Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. “That was fine in Stalin’s time, but it’s not fine in Putin’s time.”

In other words, the sanctions are smart because they so precisely target Kremlin insiders and personal friends of Putin—men such as such as billionaire Gennady Timchenko, whose Gunvor company trades most of Russia’s oil and who has major interests in gas pipe-building companies, and Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s former judo partner, whose construction company hugely benefited from the $50 billion Sochi Olympics. The share prices of companies associated with the sanctioned billionaires have been badly hit, and Visa and Mastercard suspended operations with two banks linked to those on Washington’s list. In other words, Putin has become a liability for Russia’s rich—and they’re getting nervous.It’s easy to see why Putin’s moves worry them. Even without direct personal sanctions, all of Russia’s businesspeople will pay a price for the Crimea annexation in the form of steeply higher borrowing costs. Most international ratings agencies have downgraded Russia’s outlook from stable to negative. The ruble has slid further; capital is fleeing Russia fast.

More here

****

BiirN_7IUAEUFn4.jpg-large

****

Brian Beutler: Republicans Losing It Over New Obamacare Data: Why Their Position Is Collapsing

It’s a complete accident of legislative and administrative history that the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act should fall the week before the end of the law’s first ever, six-month-long open-enrollment period. But it’s a great coincidence for those of us in the business of cutting through all the hyperbole that accompanies each ACA anniversary, because, for the first time since the law passed, there are real data, and real beneficiaries, to hold up against the spin.

And as I’ve been arguing for months now, the GOP’s position on the law can’t actually withstand on-the-ground realities. Case in point: Terri Lynn Land — Michigan’s one-time Republican secretary of state, turned Senate candidate — held a first-ever conference call with reporters to trash the ACA on its fourth birthday. But confronted with the question of what happens to people with preexisting medical conditions if the GOP repeals the law (and thus eliminates the individual mandate) — Land’s press aide, Heather Swift, commandeered the call, and tried to take the whole thing off the record.

More here

****

****

Coral Davenport: Obama Turns To Web To Illustrate The Effects Of A Changing Climate

President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change could deluge or destroy their own backyards — and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app. As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House on Wednesday inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps. The project is the brainchild of Mr. Obama’s counselor, John D. Podesta, and the White House science adviser, John P. Holdren.

The effort comes as Mr. Obama prepares to announce a set of aggressive climate change regulations aimed at limiting emissions from coal-fired plants.“Localizing this information gives a sense of how this affects people and spurs action,” Mr. Podesta told a small group of reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “If you’re thinking about this from the perspective of how your local community will be affected, it’s likely to change that question of salience.”

More here

****

140325-women-voters-employers-should-not-be-able-to-limit-birth-control-coverage

****

Sahil Kapur: Kagan Throws Scalia’s Own Religious Liberty Arguments Back In His Face

During oral arguments Tuesday about the validity of Obamacare’s birth control mandate, Justice Elena Kagan cleverly echoed Justice Antonin Scalia’s past warning that religious-based exceptions to neutral laws could lead to “anarchy.” “Your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard,” she told Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing against the mandate for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. “So another employer comes in and that employer says, I have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws;

and then another employer comes in, I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another, child labor laws. And all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative.” Kagan’s remarks might sound familiar to the legally-trained ear. In a 1990 majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, Scalia alluded to the same examples of what might happen if religious entities are permitted to claim exemptions from generally applicable laws. He warned that “[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy.”

More here

****

5-101

****

The Bump: A Message From Michelle Obama For The Bump Moms (Really!)

Back when Barack and I were expecting our first daughter, we were overwhelmed with so many emotions: excitement, wonder, hope… and occasional moments of panic at the prospect of bringing this little person into the world. We had all the usual first-time parent worries: How would we balance the needs of our growing family with the demands of our jobs? How would the stresses of caring for a new baby affect our marriage? Would our little girl be able to tell that we had no idea what we were doing? But there was one thing we never worried about: ensuring that I would have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. That’s because, while we were still struggling to pay off our student loans and pay down our mortgage, we both had jobs that provided health insurance.

So while our finances weren’t perfect, we had the security of knowing that I could get the maternity care I needed. Every mother and every father in this country deserves this kind of peace of mind – and that’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about.Every plan on HealthCare.gov covers maternity care, pediatrician’s visits, preventive care (things like flu shots, mammograms and vaccines for kids), birth control and more. And these plans are affordable – the majority of people without insurance today will be able to get covered for $100 a month or less, and many young adults will be able to get covered for as little as $50 a month. Also, if you’re pregnant now, and you get signed up by March 31st, when your baby is born, you’ll both be covered.

More here

****

BjuUurqIgAAJcZh.png-large

****

Greg Sargent: Is Obamacare Repeal Fatigue Setting In?

Views of the ACA remain unfavorable, but the gap is narrowing. The new poll finds that in March, 38 percent viewed the law favorably, versus 46 percent who saw it unfavorably. That’s a substantial narrowing from the 34-50 spread during the dark days of January, and a return almost to where opinion was in September (39-43), before the rollout disaster began. – Support for repeal continues to shrink. Only 18 percent want to repeal the law and not replace it, while all of 11 percent want to repeal and replace it with a GOP alternative — a grand total of 29 percent. Meanwhile, 49 percent want to keep the law and improve it, and another 10 percent want to keep it as is — a total of 59 percent.

Among indys, that keep/improve versus repeal/replace spread is 52-31. Republicans are all alone here, with their spread at 31-58. That overall keep-versus-repeal spread has improved for the law since February (when it was 56-31), and even more so since December and October, suggesting a clear trend. – Crucially, a majority, 53 percent, say they are tired about hearing about the law and want to move on to other issues. Only 42 percent think the Obamacare debate should continue. A majority of independents has had enough (51-45). Even 47 percent of Republicans are done with it. – Most of the ACA’s individual provisions are wildly popular. Virtually every one of them — the Medicaid expansion; the preexisting conditions piece; subsidies for low income people’s coverage – has overwhelming majority support, and all of those are even backed by a majority of Republicans.

More here

****

2014-03-27T105955Z_1847377228_GM1EA3R1GN901_RTRMADP_3_POPE-OBAMA

0cd789f11e99a30c4f0f6a7067006892

Pope Francis takes a picture with President Barack Obama and his delegation after his meeting at the Vatican with the President

****

****

****

Jonathan Cohn: John Bohener’s Hypocritical Griping About The Obamacare Deadline Delay. Conservatives’ Real Beef: That People Want To Sign Up

The Obama Administration has made another adjustment to the Affordable Care Act and the critics are making another fuss. The adjustment, first reported (I think) by Amy Lotven for Inside Health Policy, is an extension of the open enrollment period for buying private insurance through the new Obamacare marketplaces. Officially, most people have until March 31 to sign up for a plan. (The exception are people who lose a job or have some other, similar life-altering experience. They can sign up throughout the year.) But on Wednesday, the administration announced that it will be offering some extra time to consumers who don’t finish their applications in time. They’ll be able to use the websites, just like they can now, only they’ll have to check a box attesting to the fact that they started the application process before April 1.

“What the hell is this? A joke?” House Speaker John Boehner said at a press conference. “Another deadline made meaningless. If he hasn’t put enough loopholes in the law already, the administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it.”For each one of these extensions or delays, the ultimate question is whether they change the law’s ability to realize its basic goals—which, in this case, means encouraging people to buy new private health plans while maintaining a stable insurance market. Giving people a little extra time to enroll wouldn’t seem to impede this kind of progress. If anything, it would seem to enhance it. And maybe that’s what really bothers some of the law’s fiercer critics.

More here

****

****

****

Market Watch: Jobless Claims Fall To 4-Month Low Of 311,000

The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 to 311,000 last week to mark the lowest level in four months, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to total 320,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ended March 22. The average of new claims over the past month declined by 9,500 to 317,750. That was the lowest level since last September, when claims fell sharply because of a major errors related to a computer upgrade in California’s system for processing claims. The four-week average is the lowest since 2007 if the reports distorted by California’s computer problems are excluded. The monthly figure smooths out the jumpiness in the weekly report and offers a better look at the underlying trend.

More here

****

****

****

On This Day:

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, listens to testimony before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs about the health care needs of returning service members on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 27, 2007

****

President Obama makes a point during an interview in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama preps with staff in the Cabinet Room of the White House before interviews, March 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama laughs as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder jokes about his basketball skills during his ceremonial installation at George Washington University on March 27, 2009

****

President Obama travels aboard Air Force One en route to Afghanistan, March 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 ****

 First Lady Michelle Obama helps to plant a cherry blossom tree during an event celebrating the centennial anniversary of the 1912 gifts of cherry blossom trees to the United States from Japan, in Washington, D.C. on March 27, 2012

President Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani of Pakistan during the Nuclear Security Summit at the Coex Center in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 27, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama talks with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon during a break in the Nuclear Security Summit at the Coex Center in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 27, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine during a pull aside at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Coex Center in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 27, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 ****

 President Obama watches as Vice President Biden administers the oath of office to Julia Pierson, as she is sworn-in as the new director of the U.S. Secret Service, March. 27, 2013, in the Oval Office

****

18
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama laughs while walking with Senior Advisor David Axelrod following an event at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

Today (All Times Eastern):

3:40: President Obama awards 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor in recognition of their valor during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War

5:20: Attends a DNC fundraiser, Washington DC

****

****

****

HHS.gov: Marketplace Enrollment Hits 5 Million Milestone

As this historic open enrollment period enters its final weeks, millions of Americans are finding quality, affordable coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Fernando Valdez and Denise Schroeder were part of a weekend wave of consumers signing up for new coverage and bringing enrollment nationwide to more than 5 million through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1st.

Fernando Valdez, 25, of El Paso, Texas woke up early on Saturday, after his mother insisted that he walk to an enrollment center and enroll in Marketplace coverage.  Now, he will pay $22 a month for his health insurance. Fernando said that he walked away knowing that if “I get into an accident I will not be in trouble with trying to find health care.”….

And Denise Schroeder says she now feels like “I have a whole new life” after enrolling in coverage in recent days. Denise, a small business owner in West Chester, Pennsylvania is also a cancer survivor. Because she had cancer, Denise knew she couldn’t let her health coverage lapse, but the $880 premium she was paying each month wiped out her savings account, and she said it was killing her. But after working with an enrollment navigator, she enrolled on Thursday in a Silver Plan for $22 a month.  When she saw the new premium, she cried.

More here

****

****

Des Moines Register: IowaCare Shift Shrinks Wait Time At Broadlawns, U Of I ERs

Not long ago, a trip to the emergency room at University of Iowa Hospitals was an exercise in frustration for people expecting immediate medical care. Unless they arrived with a life-threatening injury, most people often were forced to wait two hours or more in a crowded waiting room before seeing a doctor.

The federal Affordable Care Act has changed that, reducing congestion at the hospital and at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.

Today, Iowans once covered by IowaCare are no longer forced to choose between two public hospitals — U of I Hospitals and Broadlawns — when they need medical care. Under the new Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, they can seek medical care in their hometowns where physicians now are reimbursed for services they provide.

More here

****

****

Kathy Robertson: Covered California Hits Million Sign-Ups For Health Care Coverage

Covered California hit a milestone late Friday of one million people signed up for coverage in the state’s new health benefits exchange. By the end of Saturday, the figure was up to 1,018,315 people who have applied for coverage and selected a health plan.

There are two weeks left to sign up for individual coverage in the new insurance marketplace. Open enrollment started Oct. 1 and ends March 31. “This is a historic threshold for our exchange, for the state of California and for the nation,” Peter Lee, executive director at Covered California, said in a news release. “It speaks to the immense need for the Affordable Care Act and the millions of people who have been waiting for affordable coverage.”

More here

****

@petesouza: President Obama with President Abbas following meeting at the White House

****

****

****

Reuters: Russian Government Admits Economy In Crisis As Ukraine Weighs

Russia’s government acknowledged for the first time on Monday that the economy was in crisis, undermining earlier attempts by officials to suggest albeit weakening growth could weather sanctions over Ukraine. Moscow markets wait to see the full scale of western measures over the seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea and support of its referendum to join Russia, after losing billions of dollars in recent weeks in state and corporate money.

For weeks, Russian officials have said the confrontation between Moscow and the West over Ukraine that threatens economic sanctions and asset freezes would “weigh on the economy”. Although not speaking directly about the impact from the conflict, Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov said on Monday the economy was in trouble. “The economic situation shows clear signs of a crisis,” Belyakov told a local business conference.

More here

****

****

****

Reuters: Defiant Putin Signs Treaty Making Crimea Part Of Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, on Tuesday signed a treaty making Crimea part Russia but said he did not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine. In a fiercely patriotic address to a joint session of the Russian parliament in the Kremlin, punctuated by standing ovations, cheering and tears, Putin lambasted the West for what he called hypocrisy. Western nations had endorsed Kosovo’s independence from Serbia but now denied Crimeans the same right, he said.

“You cannot call the same thing black today and white tomorrow,” he declared to stormy applause, saying Western partners had “crossed the line” over Ukraine and behaved “irresponsibly”. He said Ukraine’s new leaders, in power since the overthrow of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich last month, included “neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites”. Putin said Crimea’s disputed referendum vote on Sunday, held under Russian military occupation, had shown the overwhelming will of the people to be reunited with Russia after 60 years as part of the Ukrainian republic.

More here

****

****

****

Paul Waldman: What The Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Mean

The Obama administration announced late yesterday that 800,000 people have signed up for new health insurance so far in March. That brings the total under the Affordable Care Act to over 5 million and makes it likely that 6 million will have enrolled by March 31, the last day to sign up before getting a fine. That 6 million number would meet a projection made by the Congressional Budget Office. So what are we to make of those numbers? To a degree, targets like these are arbitrary when we’re judging the law’s success. It isn’t as though we’ll say that if 5,999,999 people signed up by the end of the month then the law has failed, while if 6,000,001 sign up then it has succeeded.

Nor does that number include the millions of people who have been enrolled in Medicaid, many of whom are getting health coverage for the first time. And the number of people signed up will continue to rise, particularly since the fines are quite small in the first year but get larger over time. But it’s worth remembering that for all the time we spend gaming out the political winners and losers of Obamacare, there are real people’s lives at stake. The law isn’t going to be repealed, something Republicans know as well as Democrats. For all its complications and the difficulty of implementation, the ACA has already done an extraordinary amount of good for those millions of people. If Republicans took their newfound concern for (some) people’s access to health care and used it to actually work to make the law work as well as possible, millions more might be helped as well. If only.

More here

****

****

****

Antoni Slodkowski: Japan To Impose Sanctions On Russia For Crimea Move

Japan will suspend talks on investment pact and relaxation of visa requirements as part of sanctions against Russia after Moscow recognized Crimea as a sovereign state, top government spokesman said on Tuesday. “Japanese government does not recognize a referendum in Crimea,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the referendum had no legal force as it was in breach of Ukraine’s constitution. “The recognition of Crimean independence by Russia violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is regrettable,” he told a regular news conference.

More here

****

costs_of_for-profit_colleges

****

Danny Vinik: Obama Is Cracking Down On For-Profit Colleges – And Liberals Should Applaud Him For It

The Department of Education released the final draft of its proposed rule on Friday to ensure that for-profit colleges offer post-graduation employment opportunities for their students that leave them capable of paying back their student loans. The rule, known as the “gainful employment” regulation, represents the culmination of a three-year fight with the industry, which successfully challenged a previous version of the rules in court.

The administration believes that the new regulation, which will first go through a 60-day public comment period, can now withstand a court challenge. And that’s a good thing once you understand what the changes will do and why they’re necessary. Students at for-profit colleges drop out at an alarming rate and those that do graduate have much higher levels of debt than students in public and private non-profit colleges. For-profits also receive a substantial share of their revenue—more than 80 percent to be exact—from loans and grants from the federal government.

More here

****

****

****

AP: Biden Says More Sanctions Coming For Russia

Denouncing Russia’s actions in Crimea as nothing more than a “land grab,” Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that the U.S. and Europe will impose further sanctions as Moscow seeks to annex the Ukrainian territory. Meeting with anxious European leaders in neighboring Poland, Biden said the world sees through Russia’s actions. He said virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea that cleared the way for Russia to annex the peninsula in Ukraine.

“The world has seen through Russia’s actions and has rejected the flawed logic,” Biden said. Biden, who arrived Tuesday morning in Warsaw, said the U.S. joins Poland and the international community in condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, calling it a blatant violation of international law.

More here

****

****

AP: UK Suspends Military Cooperation With Russia

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the U.K. is suspending military cooperation with Russia in light of the crisis over Ukraine. Speaking shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea from neighboring Ukraine, Hague told British lawmakers on Tuesday that it is regrettable that Putin is choosing a path of isolation in the annexation of Crimea and denying Russian and Crimean citizens of a partnership with the international community. Hague said the U.K. is suspending military export licenses to Russia, has canceled naval exercises and suspended a proposed Royal Navy ship visit to Russia.

More here

****

****

Sahil Kapur: 45 Religious Orgs Back ‘Universal Access To Contraception’

Forty-five nationally known religious organizations want the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare’s requirement that employer insurance plans cover birth control without co-pays, calling it a “moral good.” “As religious leaders, we support universal access to contraception,” leaders of the groups said in a joint statement Monday. “We believe that all persons should be free to make personal decisions about their reproductive lives, their health

and the health of their families that are informed by their culture, faith tradition, religious beliefs, conscience, and community.” “No single religious voice can speak for all faith traditions on contraception, nor should government take sides on religious differences,” they said. “We call on our government to respect the beliefs and values of everyone’s faith by safeguarding equal access to contraception for those whose conscience leads them to use it.”

More here

****

****

****

Six Years Ago Today:

****

On This Day:

Sen. Barack Obama at a fundraising event in Denver on March 18, 2007

****

President Obama signs books at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18. 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands with audience members following a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, California on March 18, 2009

President Obama and Senior Advisor David Axelrod depart an event at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

President Obama arrives to sign the Hire Act in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 18, 2010

President Obama, backed my Members of Congress, signs the Hire Act in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 18, 2010

President Obama checks his BlackBerry as he walks along the Colonnade to the Oval Office, March 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama discusses health care reform during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, March 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha Obama walk across Lafayette Park on their way to services at St. John’s Church on March 18, 2012

****

President Obama arrives at the Women’s History Month Reception in the East Room of the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama, March 18, 2013

****

03
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha and Malia, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react as they push to button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010

****

Today (All Times Eastern):

11:0: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia

12:05: Holds a working lunch with President Santos

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:30PM: President Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act

3:30: President Obama participates in ambassador credentialing ceremony

****

BaCDGtFCMAE-KhQ.jpg-large

****

Get Covered America: Certainty For Rebecca

Certainty. That’s what Rebecca Haug of Del Norte, CO wanted most when she went to look for a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Since her husband passed away in 2007, she has been working as a registered nurse, gaining and losing coverage through employers who have closed up or cut back in tough times.

But now, Rebecca knows that her health insurance can’t be taken away if her job changes. Debt from her medical expenses, which have been pushing her toward bankruptcy, will finally stop piling up. Before the Marketplace opened, Rebecca was quoted a health insurance premium at nearly $1,100 a month — just for herself — from private insurers. But through the Marketplace, Rebecca found out she qualified for a $500 tax credit to purchase insurance. Because of that financial assistance, she will pay nothing for her monthly premium.

More here

****

BafJFIqIQAAe3yY.jpg-large

****

TPM: Obamacare To Cost ‘Billions Of Dollars Less Than Originally Projected’

Among the GOP’s myriad criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, one of the loudest has centered around the law’s price tag. But it turns out Obamacare won’t be as costly as expected. The New York Times reported Tuesday that “the government is expected to spend billions of dollars less than originally projected on the law.” The adjusted estimate is a result of the law’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies for private insurance plans proving less costly than initially anticipated.

More here

****

BaByd7yCMAA6Sy4.png-large

****

Michelle Andrews: Health Law May Offer Part-Time Workers Better Options

In January, part-time workers who have so-called “mini-med” health insurance plans with very limited benefits and annual caps on payments will begin to lose that coverage, which under the health care overhaul can’t  be renewed after the beginning of the year.  Many experts say it’s just as well, noting that part-timers likely will have better options in January. After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, nearly all plans were required to eliminate lifetime and annual dollar limits on benefits.

When Roberta Grindle was diagnosed with colon cancer in October, she blew through the $5,000 coverage limit on her mini-med plan almost immediately. Grindle, 62, worked 16 hours a week at a big box store near her home in Sebring, Fla., and paid $32 every two weeks for the store’s  plan, the only coverage available to part-time workers.

The health law requires that employers offer health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours a week or face penalties starting in January, but the Obama administration delayed that provision until 2015. Many part-time workers will have more options for better coverage starting in January. If their employer doesn’t offer a health plan, they can shop for insurance on the online marketplaces, and subsidies will be available to those with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013).

More here

****

****

NYT: U.S. Regulator To Keep An Eye On Largest Student Loan Servicers

The U.S. consumer financial watchdog will soon start supervising the seven largest student loan servicers to ensure they treat borrowers fairly and comply with federal consumer laws, the agency said on Tuesday. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken a broad interest in the burden of student loan debt, which it says now totals $1.2 trillion and saddles many borrowers with debt that takes years to repay.

Student loan borrowers have complained about being charged late fees as a result of processing mistakes by the servicers, lost paperwork and poor communication. “Student loan borrowers should be able to rest assured that when they make a payment toward their loans, the company that takes their money is playing by the rules,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Under a new rule set to take effect on March 1, the CFPB would expand its supervision to non-bank student loan servicers that handle more than 1 million accounts, regardless of whether they include federal or private loans.

More here

****

****

****

Colorado Consumer Health Initiative: Strong Coverage For A Strong Family

Sara and I are also both self-employed small business owners. While Margaret and I have no health issues, Sara has a pre-existing condition. In 2008, Sara was treated for a “mild” heart issue, specifically a super ventricular tachycardia (SVT). At the time, the procedure was recommended essentially because it “couldn’t hurt” to get this issue done. It was a simple, low-risk procedure and was completed in a few hours.

However, what the doctors didn’t tell us is that treatment for this problem (which was a problem in name only – Sara had no illness or issues) would make it impossible for her to obtain healthcare later in life. Using the new Colorado Health exchange, Sara, myself, and Margaret were quoted $590.65 per month for a family plan. The individual annual deductible is lower ($1,750 per person, $3,500 per family), there is 25% coinsurance, and it’s a “silver” plan (KP CO Silver), which seems like it should be an upgrade over existing policies.

What’s more, the whole family will share the same policy. They can visit the same doctors (not all doctors would take Sara’s insurance via Cover Colorado), use the same online health record management system via KP.org, etc. Through Connect for Health Colorado my family can save money and have a more comprehensive health plan that meets our needs thanks to Obamacare.

More here

****

BacF0NNIUAId_Pb.jpg-large

Pisarski: #Ukraine | 1,6 mln people gathered in #Kiev on Sunday – according to Ukr police.

****

Masha Gessen: A Whiter Shade Of Envy

In Russian, envy comes in two colors: black and white. The former is mean and resentful: “It should be me, not you.” The latter is aspirational: “I want to be you.” “Black envy” affirms a despondent world view; “white envy” affords a hopeful one. For a week and a half, many Russians have had a clear case of white envy watching the protests in neighboring Ukraine. After President Viktor F. Yanukovich backed out of signing a political and trade agreement with the European Union, protests broke out in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.

Many competing and contradictory political forces are involved, but the way it looks from Moscow the front line is drawn clearly: Ukraine has to choose between an increasingly reactionary Russia and Western Europe. Russia is using every kind of pressure — from threatening economic sanctions to declaring tens of thousands of Ukrainians persona non grata — all in order to drag Ukraine back into the Middle Ages with it. Western Europe, which has many demands of its own, promises a future of openness and progress.

More here

****

Bahtz2EIYAAVppQ.jpg-large

@DavidNakamura: VP Biden meets with Japan’s Deputy PM Taro Aso as U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy looks on.

****

Nooga.Com: One Chattanoogan’s Experience With Obamacare

Chattanooga resident John VanHyning and his wife have gone without health insurance since July 2012. His wife is disabled, and the couple has two grandchildren who live with them, VanHyning said. He has a part-time job that pays a couple hundred dollars a week. Now, he has coverage that will go into effect Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Liberty Tax officials connected him with American Exchange, a local company whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through the online marketplaces.

“I was even a little skeptical—how can they hook me up so easily when everybody else has [had so many problems?]” he said. Within about 40 minutes of going into Liberty Tax, where he made a phone call to American Exchange, he and his wife were signed up for health care coverage. It won’t cost the couple anything to get a silver plan through BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The monthly premium cost for that plan is $683.64. But because of federal tax credits, the couple won’t have to pay any of that.

More here

****

MyPlan

****

Edward Domain: My Affordable Care Act Enrollment Experience

On May 4th of this year, I was in a cab on a Saturday afternoon heading to the St. Louis Cinco de Mayo parade with two friends. My cab driver was texting and as a result rolled through a red light, we collided head-on with a van and I wound up in the hospital requiring 5 total surgeries and spent five and a half months in two hospitals and a nursing home. I have a new hip, will be in physical therapy for my shoulder for another year and without insurance I would have been doomed. My current bill for health insurance is $628.34/mo and only covers me.

This is insane.  No one I know pays this much for health insurance, so when Healthcare.Gov was announced, I was cautiously optimistic- I had also gotten a letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois informing me my policy was being cancelled. After I chose my plan rated ‘gold’ here is my new bill for health insurance under Obamacare: I am saving $265.85/mo under Obamacare, for a total savings of $3,190.20/year This plan is far better than what I had before. My current plan has a deductible of $3,000 and has a $20 co-pay. Under Obamacare, my new plan has a $750 deductible and $30 co-pay for doctor’s visits.

For me, I’ll happily pay an extra $10 when I visit the doctor in return for a smaller copay for the important stuff. If you look, the most I’ll ever pay in one year is $6000- after that I am 100% covered for everything. If you look at my plan details, you’ll see that if I am in-network, after the deductible is covered ($750) then almost everything gets covered 100%. The biggest point for me is that my new plan under Obamacare is with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the same company that my old plan was under. That means they were happily over-charging me for insurance and now, thanks to Obamacare, I have a better plan than I had before and I am paying less for it. Also of note- I did not qualify for subsidies- I am paying the full rate.

More here

****

Bacxjz2CYAAsV5S.jpg-large

****

Philadelphia Weekly: So I Signed Up For Obamacare And Got A Big Surprise

From 2005 to 2009, I paid $15 for all office visits after meeting my out-of-pocket deductible. But starting in 2010, that number became $30 per office visit for my family doctor and $50 for any specialists—and with a chronic illness, most of my office visits involve specialists. So, with age 40 looming on the horizon, I had resigned myself to rearranging my life still further, to the reality that I’d need to find, somehow, significantly more money to spend on my private health insurance—since it isn’t something I can live without. Then Obamacare appeared.

With the Personal Choice Platinum Plan PPO, I’ll pay $429.96 per month as a tobacco non-user at age 39. And when I turn 40 a few months later—the source of my financial dread? I’ll pay $435.41 per month. That’s not just no huge increase after all. That’s fifty bucks a month less than I’m paying now. It gets better. Instead of paying my current $30 for a family doctor visit, I’ll pay only $10. I’ll pay $40 for a specialist instead of the $50 I now pay.

With my new Platinum Plan, prescriptions are priced in three tiers. A generic drug’s copay is $5; a brand name drug purchase is a $30 copay; and a non-formulary brand is a $50 copay. That’s the pricing at retail pharmacies—but my new plan also offers a mail-order option to my door through Future Scripts that will enable me to buy a three-month supply of prescription drugs at the cost of a two-month supply’s copay. What sorcery is this? Well—it’s Obamacare. This is what Obamacare is. It’s not the flawed website the media has been dwelling on. It’s the more affordable care structure the website is supposed to point us to—and that a simple phone call did point me to.

More here

****

A9ALFxFCEAA4-Da

****

Lauren Silverman: An Obamacare Success Story: From The High Risk Pool To The Marketplace For A Lot Less

More than 20,000 people rely on the state run Texas Health Insurance Pool. The pool insures folks with pre-existing health conditions who can’t find coverage elsewhere. In a few months, that risk pool will no longer exist. And at least one North Texas family is celebrating. Right after he retired a decade ago, Bob Flood learned he had cancer and a kidney would have to be removed. Just one month after he lost his kidney, he lost his health insurance. “The only place I could get health insurance was through the Texas health risk pool. And that is 200 to 400 percent above what the average person pays,”

Flood says. Flood’s family policy was more than three thousand a month. His wife Amy says they tried to write the check once a year to avoid seeing the bill so often. “That was a sizeable chunk of change,” Amy Flood says. “And frankly I would have rather given it to other needy people rather than just to an insurance consortium.” But the Floods wanted to be responsible, so they agreed to grin and bear it. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they don’t have to anymore. “Now we have a policy which covers the three of us for less than a thousand dollars a month.”

More here

****

On This Day:

President Obama whistles as he and Vice President Biden wait in the holding room of the South Court Auditorium prior to the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009. The Vice President’s personal aide, Fran Person, is at right (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama attends a breakout session, “Creating Jobs Through the Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure,” during the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, at the National Christmas Tree ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2009

On This Day: President Obama heads along the White House colonnade to the residence after leaving the Oval Office for the day, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reaches for a Purple Heart medal which he presented to a wounded soldier at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama participates in a live Twitter question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

29
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

A Year Ago Today – Pete Souza: “There is closure in this photograph. I suspect that neither man really wanted to have lunch with the other, but they both knew the importance for the American people in seeing them do so. Here, the President bids farewell to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney following their lunch.”

****

Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

The President has no public events scheduled

Today:

11:0 EST: The Arrival of the White House Christmas Tree

****

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s interview will air tonight on ABC’s 20/20 at 10PM ET / 9PM CT

****

Timothy Egan (NYT): Rooting for Failure

I just spent 15 minutes on my local health care exchange and realized that I could save a couple hundred dollars a month on my family’s insurance. Of course, I live in Washington State, which has a very competitive market, a superbly functioning website and no Koch-brothers-sponsored saboteurs trying to discourage people from getting health care.

California is just as good. It’s enrolling more than 2,000 people a day. New York is humming as well. And Kentucky, it’s the gold standard now: More than 56,000 people have signed up for new health care coverage — enough to fill a stadium in Louisville.

This is terrible news, and cannot be allowed to continue. If there’s even a small chance that, say, half of the 50 million or so Americans currently without heath care might get the same thing that every other advanced country offers its citizens, that would be a disaster.

But not to worry. The failure movement is active and very well funded….

More here

****

@AnthonyBourque

****

Paul Krugman: Obamacare’s Secret Success

…. Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings. The prevalent attitude in Washington is that reform isn’t real unless the little people suffer…

… Has the curve been bent?

The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.

…. The news on health costs is, in short, remarkably good. You won’t hear much about this good news until and unless the Obamacare website gets fixed. But under the surface, health reform is starting to look like a bigger success than even its most ardent advocates expected.

Full column here

****

Steve Benen: The Nature Of The ACA Opposition

It’s easy and accurate to say the Affordable Care Act isn’t yet popular with the public, but it’s important to take the next step and ask why. A CNN/ORC International poll also indicates nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the national health care law, but some give the Affordable Care Act a thumbs down because it isn’t liberal enough.

This has always been the inconvenient detail for the right. Conservatives look at the top-line poll results and say, “See? 58% of Americans oppose ‘Obamacare.’ Therefore, Democrats should listen to Republicans and gut the law.” But it’s the nuances of Americans’ attitudes that matter. In this CNN poll, 40% of the public backs the Affordable Care Act and another 14% want the law to go even further and be more ambitious. In other words, as the CNN analysis explained, 54% of the country either supports Obamacare, or say it’s not liberal enough. That’s not a recipe for conservative success; that’s the opposite

More here

****

****

Michael Hiltzik: What Americans Really Think Of Obamacare

The data from the latest CNN opinion poll, conducted Nov. 18-20, suggest that Americans are far more sophisticated about the Affordable Care Act, glitches and all, than the Republican and Democratic parties alike have given them credit for. The poll results are here; crunch the raw numbers as you wish. Released on the eve of the reboot of the federal government’s enrollment website, healthcare.gov, the survey indicates that 54% of Americans favor the law or think it should have gone further. Most important, Americans are willing to give the law a chance to work, and on balance confident that it will work.

The pockets of greatest strength for the law are non-whites and–happily–those aged 18-34.  The breakdown by age is gratifying because participation by young persons is crucial if the cost-sharing aspects of expanded insurance coverage are to be achieved: younger and healthier enrollees subsidize their older and sicker neighbors, on average, until they themselves become older and sicker, something that befalls us all. In that age group, 48% favor the law and 12% think it should go further. The 60% total is the highest of any age cohort. Younger respondents are also the most confidence that “the current problems facing the health care law” will be solved: 71%. But more than half of all respondents (54%) think so.

More here

****

****

Jonathan Cohn: Boehner Inadvertently Exposes Sloppy Media Coverage of Obamacare Costs

House Speaker John Boehner loves to tell stories about people getting a raw deal from Obamacare. This week, he decided to tell one about himself.

As you may recall, Obamacare treats members of Congress and their staff differently from other working Americans. Thanks to a provision added to the law by Charles Grassley, the Republican Senator from Iowa, certain Capitol Hill workers can’t get insurance like other federal employees—i.e., via the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan. Instead, they must get coverage through one of the new Obamacare exchanges. For many, that means enrolling through the District of Columbia exchange.

This week, Boehner did just that. But, as his advisers later explained to media outlets, the Speaker had trouble. The website had technical problems, they said, and it took hours for Boehner to complete process. When he finally found a policy, he discovered it would cost a lot more. Politico got the full story, including a quote from Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. “The Boehners are fortunate enough to be able to afford higher costs. But many Americans seeing their costs go up are not. It’s because of them that this law needs to go.” Soon it was all over social media.

But this story turns out to be a lot more complicated than either Boehner or the initial press accounts suggested. In fact, it’s an almost perfect example of how media coverage of Obamacare has failed to provide scrutiny, context or a sense of scale.

More here

****

****

Washington Post: Obamacare’s Online SHOP Enrollment Delayed By One Year

The Obama administration announced Wednesday it would delay a significant piece of the health-care law: the online small business insurance marketplace. The Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, will not offer online enrollment until November 2014, a one-year delay from a launch that was initially planned for this past October. Small businesses will still have the option to purchase SHOP health insurance plans through a broker or agent, who will assist the employer with filing a paper application.

The federal government expects to process those filings for eligibility within three to five days, according to a document circulated to health law stakeholders. “It’s disappointing that the online portion of the federal small business marketplace through Healthcare.gov will be delayed and it’s important it get up and running as soon as possible,” said John Arensmeyer, president of the Small Business Majority, a nonprofit that supports the Affordable Care Act. “However, it doesn’t change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance.”

More here

****

BaBLZaLCQAAhdO6.jpg-large

****

ThinkProgress: ThankProgress: 9 Things Progressives Can Be Thankful For

States are enacting protections for undocumented immigrants.

Same-sex couples have more access to marriage benefits than ever before.

More workers are getting raises and taking sick leave.

Uninsured Americans are signing up for health insurance.

The U.S. is taking steps to address the consequences of climate change.

States are enacting prison reform.

College activists across the country are fighting back against rape culture.

Solar power is on the rise and prices keep dropping.

Number of homeless Americans on the decline.

See details here

****

****

Suzanne Maloney: How Rouhani Won The Negotiations And Rescued His Regime

Although it was greeted with heated debate in the United States, the announcement of a landmark deal on Iran’s nuclear program was met with wide approval in Iran. Cheering crowds decked in purple and green, the colors associated with the country’s embattled movements for moderation and reform, met Iran’s nuclear negotiators at the airport. Newspapers printed special editions with jubilant headlines. And even the stern Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released an official statement with unusual dispatch to welcome the news and laud the diplomats who hammered out the deal.

One might think that the crowds and officials were rejoicing at the relatively meager sanctions relief meted out by a justifiably mistrustful West. Or perhaps that they were celebrating the fact that the deal left open the question of whether Iran has the right to enrich uranium. In fact, their concerns were far broader: thanks to the deal, regime moderates have started to rebalance a government that seemed on the verge of toppling only a few years ago. And, in so doing, they have confounded the world’s expectations.

More here

****

****

Think Progress: Texas National Guard Begins Offering Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

The Texas National Guard has begun processing benefits for same-sex couples at all facilities with the so-called RAPIDS machinery necessary to produce ID cards. The state originally had refused to comply with a Defense Department directive to offer the benefits, citing a constitutional amendment that limits the definition of marriage to different-sex couples. When this change was first announced on Tuesday, it seemed as though Texas may have followed Oklahoma’s example and moved the available RAPIDS machines only to federal facilities, forcing all couples to travel to those facilities.

Staff Sergeant Jennifer Atkinson, a spokesperson for the Texas National Guard, clarified to ThinkProgress that couples can have their benefits processed at any facility currently equipped with RAPIDS, including some state facilities. Georgia and Louisiana remain the only two states that are in violation of the Defense Department’s directive to ensure same-sex couples are afforded the same federal benefits through the National Guard as other married couples.

More here

****

****

TPM: Biden Intends To Object To China’s New Air Defense Zone

Vice President Joe Biden intends to raise objections over China’s newly declared air defense zone in the East China Sea during a visit to the country next week. China says all aircraft must notify Chinese authorities before entering the zone, which includes islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing. The United States is not acknowledging the zone and flew two B-52 through unhindered Wednesday. The officials said Biden will make it clear the U.S. has a “rock-solid commitment” to its allies in the region. Biden plans to visit allies Japan and South Korea during the visit from Dec. 1-8.

More here

****

UT’s wonderful ’50 Thanks Yous’ post from yesterday is now permanently linked at the top of the sidebar on the right, so next time someone asks you, ‘but what has Obama done?’, tell them to clickety click the link.

****

On This Day:

Bo is greeted by several of the President’s Active Lifestyle Award achievers in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Nov. 29, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

****

MoooOOOooorning! And thanks a gazillion to UT for so many of the links.




@BarackObama

@WhiteHouse

@FLOTUS

@blog44

@PeteSouza

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

@TheObamaDiary

@NerdyWonka

@DaRiverZkind

@Lib_Librarian

@amk4obama

@zizii2

Categories

Blog Stats

  • 24,809,092 hits

Archives

April 2014
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930