As the Affordable Care Act continues to find its footing and the system grows stronger, its detractors are finding that their arguments are running into each other in unhelpful ways.
For example, for years, Republicans have argued that “Obamacare” redistributes wealth in such a way as to punish the wealthy. The party stuck to that line, right up until Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued the exact opposite: ”[Obamacare] exacerbates income inequality. This is why the rich have gotten richer under President Obama.”
You can say the ACA goes too far to help the poor, or the ACA goes too far to help the rich, but you shouldn’t say both at the same time. The same is true of enrollment numbers – critics of the law tend to complain that enrollment totals to date are both too high and too low.
Likewise, the right has long believed the health care law goes too far to help bring coverage to the uninsured. Now, however, some conservatives are arguing it doesn’t go far enough.
The last hurdle to a clean debt ceiling increase, Ted Cruz’s proposed second rendering of “Green Eggs and Hams”, was soundly defeated in the Senate today, though all the Republicans who voted to rob Cruz of the opportunity to filibuster then turned around and voted to default the United States. That latter vote was inconsequential, of course, as 55 Democrats voted to do the responsible thing and pay America’s bills.
The bill was already passed by the House with a smattering of Republicans joining the Democratic minority, as LL reported here earlier in the week, and the president will sign it. But this debt ceiling skirmish smelled and looked different from the ones Republicans have put up in the past two and a half years that they have been in charge of the US House. This one not only has a taste of bitter defeat for the Republicans, it has the hint of resignation. I can’t call it a fight, because they didn’t even put up a fight.
Paul Waldman: Racial Fears, Gun Fantasies, And Another Dead Teenager
The basic facts are that Dunn and his fiancée pulled into a convenience store, where she went inside and he stayed outside. Dunn then got into an argument with four teenagers in another car over the volume of the music they were playing; the argument escalated, and eventually Dunn took out his gun and fired ten shots, killing Jordan Davis, one of the teens. Dunn claims that he saw a shotgun, or maybe a pipe, emerge from the teens’ car, so he had no choice but to defend himself. No such gun or pipe was ever found. That part of his story was also contradicted by his fiancée, who testified that afterward he said nothing to her about them having a gun.
While in jail awaiting trial, Dunn wrote letters to his family that said, among other things, “It’s spooky how racist everyone is up here and how biased toward blacks the courts are. This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs.” When he says “racist” in that letter, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about bias against black people. He also wrote, “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these **** idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.” That doesn’t sound like a man who’s “crazy with grief,” as he testified he was over the shooting.
NYT: Over 1.1 Million Added To Rolls Of Health Plan
More than 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance through federal and state marketplaces in January, according to the government, and the number of young people enrolling increased faster than that of any other group. Most promising, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, is that 25 percent of those signing up for insurance from October through January were ages 18 to 34 — the young and presumably healthy people whom insurance companies need as customers in order to keep premiums reasonable for everyone.
“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the marketplace,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. “The case for repeal is infinitely harder now that people actually have coverage,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to the president, who added that the increased momentum of enrollment documented in Wednesday’s report gives the advantage to Democrats. “A message of ‘elect me so I can take health care away from my soon-to-be constituents’ is a dead-bang loser.”
AP: NSA: Co-Worker Provided A Digital Key To Snowden
A National Security Agency employee resigned from the agency after admitting to federal investigators that he gave former NSA analyst Edward Snowden a digital key that allowed him to gain access to classified materials, the NSA has told Congress. Snowden has previously said he did not steal any passwords.
The unnamed civilian employee who worked with Snowden resigned last month after the government revoked his security clearance, according to a letter that NSA legislative director Ethan L. Bauman sent this week to the House Judiciary Committee. A military employee and a private contractor also lost their access to NSA data as part of the continuing investigation by the FBI, Bauman said.
SmartyPants: How Political Journalists Gave Up The Freakin’ Plot
As someone who loves looking at the big picture, I am particularly glad to see Jay Rosen write about this kind of thing. He zero’s in on that second article by Chris Cillizza in a piece aptly titled: Behold how badly our political journalists have lost the freakin’ plot. Nobody knows exactly when it happened. But at some point between Teddy White’s The Making of the President, 1960 and the Willie Horton ads in 1988, political journalism in this country lost the plot. When it got overly interested in the inside game, it turned you and me and everyone who has to go into the voting booth and make a decision into an object of technique, which it then tried to assess.
We became the people on whom the masters of politics practiced their craft. Then political journalism tried to recover an audience from the people it had turned into poll numbers and respondents to packaged stimuli. Tricky maneuver. In other words, political journalists turned their focus away from being the source of information to become analysts of the power game. Voters/citizens are objectified via the assumption that we are merely the field on which these games are played. This is why Chuck Todd can so blithely claim that its not his job to call out the lies being told about Obamacare. Its not because he is a tool of the GOP. Its because he literally doesn’t think its his job to provide the public with accurate information about policies. He thinks his job is to analyze what works/doesn’t work for the power players in politics.
A federal judge in Norfolk struck down as unconstitutional Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday night, saying the country has “arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.” U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen issued a sweeping 41-page opinion that mentioned at length Virginia’s past in denying interracial marriage and quoted Abraham Lincoln. She struck the constitutional amendment Virginia voters approved in 2006 that both bans same-sex marriage and forbids recognition of such unions performed elsewhere. She stayed her decision pending appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, meaning same-sex marriages will be not be immediately available in the commonwealth.
Think Progress: Minnesota Bill Would Provide 61,000 Free Lunches To Low-Income Students
Thanks to two state Congressman, Senator Jeff Hayden (D) and Representative Yvonne Selcer (D), thousands of Minnesota students may receive free lunches in the near future. In a state with inconsistent meal policies, a bill entitled No Child Turned Away would remedy stringent and humiliating practices currently affecting students who cannot afford to purchase school food.
No Child Turned Away aims to provide free lunches to 61,000 students who qualify for reduced-lunch programs but not free ones. At present, 250,000 students are eligible for free lunches, and 62,000 participate in reduced-price lunch policies. Nevertheless, research shows that schools across Minnesota consistently fail students in need of food assistance.
Elissa Gomez: Report: 5.8 Million Lose Access To Medicaid Due To GOP Obstruction
According to an Urban Institute study, if all 50 states expanded Medicaid, “an estimated 10.3 million poor uninsured adults would have new options for insurance coverage.” In the 25 states that have decided against expanding Medicaid as of January, the study finds that an estimated 5.8 million Americans – accounting for 27.2 percent of all uninsured adults nationwide — will not be eligible for health coverage through the program.
The reasons have overwhelmingly been tied to ideology and party politics. GOP lawmakers have argued that Medicaid expansion is “big government” intrusion and detrimental to state economies. According to the report, in many of these states, uninsured residents with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level may qualify for subsidies to purchase coverage through the federally run exchanges. Uninsured adults with incomes below the poverty level will not have access to any new coverage options.
Lynn Parramore: I’m Proud My Mother Was Arrested Fighting Extremism In North Carolina
It was a proud day for this Raleigh native. On Saturday, a crowd of riled-up citizens that the North Carolina NAACP estimated to number upwards of 80,000 — the largest such gathering in the South since the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march — headed to the state capitol to protest the extremist policies of North Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature.
Black and white, young and old, gay and straight, the people gave voice to a full roster of outrages, from racist attacks on voting rights to the state government’s refusal to expand Medicaid to half a million vulnerable Tar Heels to limitations on women’s reproductive freedom. From a four-year-old girl carrying a sign that read “Nope to Pope!” (referring to Art Pope, the state’s multimillionaire budget director and Koch ally) to the indomitable Rosa Nell Eaton, a 92-year-old veteran of the Civil Rights movement, they were united with one message: “Forward together, not one step back.”
President Obama visits Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Parkville, Maryland February 14, 2011. At left is teacher Susan Yoder.
President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and members of the Chinese delegation following their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 14, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “The President genuinely enjoys being with kids. Here, he played a magnifying glass game with children during a visit to a pre-kindergarten classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia.” Feb. 14, 2013
President Obama joins in a music program at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
….. with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on the Colonnade of the White House, March 15
Bo waits for First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn driveway before departing the White House, March 20. Bo accompanied Mrs. Obama during her visit to Maryland Fisher House IV at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda
President Obama and Dr. Suleiman A.D. Al Farajat, a University of Jordan tourism professor, jump from a ledge of the Nabataean Amphitheater during a walking tour of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, March 23
…. with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel before a Cabinet meeting, March 4
….. on their way to attend an Easter service at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., March 31
All photos by Pete Souza, except the one of Bo – taken by Lawrence Jackson
President Barack Obama and Dr. Suleiman A.D. Al Farajat, a University of Jordan tourism professor, jump from a ledge of the Nabataean Amphitheater during a walking tour the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, March 23
President Barack Obama shakes hands during a meet and greet at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, March 21
President Barack Obama meets National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, left, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, in the conference room aboard Air Force One en route to Tel Aviv, Israel, March 20
President Barack Obama greets members of Hora, a local children’s dance troupe, before departing Israeli President Shimon Peres’ residence in Jerusalem, March 20
President Barack Obama watch a dance performance at the Al-Bireh Youth Resource Development Center in Ramallah, the West Bank, March 21, 2013. Dr. Samih Al-Abed, Chairman of the Board, Al-Bireh Youth Resource Development Center, left, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority are seated with the President
President Barack Obama visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. Standing with the President, from left, are: Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; Israeli President Shimon Peres; Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu; and Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate
President Barack Obama and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority enter the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank, March 22
President Barack Obama watches as a vendor writes a name using colored sand in a bottle during a walking tour of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, March 23
King Abdullah II of Jordan waves to President Barack Obama as he boards Air Force One at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, March 23
See all posts/photos/videos from the Middle East trip here
Saturday: The President returns to Washington, DC from his Middle East trip. Arrives White House 11:35 PM EST (approx!)
Sunday: No public events scheduled
Monday: The President will deliver remarks at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members and civilians at the White House
Later on Monday, the President will designate five new National Monuments using his authority under the Antiquities Act in a signing ceremony with Secretary Salazar in the Oval Office. The five new National Monuments include: the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; First State National Monument in Delaware; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State.
In the evening on Monday, the President and the First Lady will mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House with friends and staff
Tuesday: The President will welcome the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and the Major League Soccer champion LA Galaxy (the loud noise you hear is Tally fainting) to the White House
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Thursday: The President will welcome President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House
Friday: The President will travel to Miami, Florida for an event on the economy
Three years ago today:
President Obama hugs Vicki Kennedy, widow of Ted, after signing the Affordable Health Care Act
UT? You. Are. A. Treasure. Thank you SO much for all your hard work today.