USA Today: Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today. This, administrators say, should help keep costs to the government down in the future.
“Before, many beneficiaries were forced to stop taking the drugs,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “This reduces costs through better management.”
…. The 2010 health care law required a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the so-called doughnut hole, or the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Medicare drug benefit, also known as Part D. In 2012, the coverage gap is $2,930. The Affordable Care Act eliminates the doughnut hole by 2020.
The previous report, with numbers through the end of October, had shown 2.65 million Medicare recipients saved $1.5 billion on prescriptions. That rose to 3.76 million recipients by the end of December.
The Hill: Senate Democrats raised more than $5.3 million in February, marking the third straight month in which they raised more than the month before.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) ended February with almost $19 million in the bank. That’s about $3.5 million more than it had one month ago, meaning the committee saved most of what it raised.
Democrats have cleared their debt and raised more than $52 million during the cycle. DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said it was the most successful February the committee has ever had.
USA Today: President Obama’s re-election team is seeking help from Internet and on-the-ground backers to spread the word about Obama’s record in office, and to bash his Republican critics.
The purpose of the “Truth Team” is to “promote the President’s achievements, respond to attacks on his record and hold the eventual Republican nominee accountable,” said the announcement from the Obama re-election team.
The overall website – BarackObama.com/TruthTeam – includes three specialty websites: KeepingHisWord.com (devoted to Obama’s record), KeepingGOPHonest.com (attacking Republicans), and AttackWatch.com (responding to critical GOP ads).
“The sites also contain tools for sharing materials via Facebook, Twitter and email, and empowers supporters to take further action by volunteering, writing letters to the editor, sending postcards to undecided voters with information about the President’s record, and more,” said the Obama announcement.
AP: President Barack Obama wants community colleges and businesses to work together to train 2 million workers in high-growth industries, and on Monday will request $8 billion to create a fund to encourage the effort.
Obama’s plan, to be spelled out at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., is called the “Community College to Career Fund,” the White House said. It would seek to train workers within areas such as health care, transportation and advanced manufacturing, and would be administered by the Education and Labor departments.
The proposed fund is part of a new budget Obama is sending to Congress. It aims to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade by restraining government spending and raising taxes on the wealthy. In an election year with a gridlocked Congress, nearly every aspect of the budget will face tough scrutiny.
11:00: PBO delivers remarks on his FY 2013 Budget to students at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale
1:45: PBO awards the 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. Michelle Obama also attends.
TPM: It was a long road back, but President Obama is now back in positive territory in our TPM Poll Average.
The shift comes on the heels of a completed Iraq withdrawal, a legislative win on the payroll tax cut before Christmas, and perhaps most importantly, good economic numbers in January and early February. The President’s numbers have jumped in the last few days in both Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls as well as individual national polls.
BroadwayCarl: Many on the left have set their hair on fire over President Obama’s solution to the conflict between religious institutions, primarily the Catholic church, providing health care coverage which includes birth control to women and the teachings of the church. One would have to be in the wildest parts of Siberia to have missed this controversy, so I will not recount the drama that has unfolded.
However, once again the ubiquitous word “cave” has appeared in association with this decision. There was a time when this would infuriate me, but now I laugh at the predictability of the critical left.
They Gave Us A Republic: ….…I admit to watching, dumbfounded, as contraception became, in the immortal words of the Vice President, “a big fucking deal” over the last week or so…. I had a busy week, and just left it up to Obama…..
What he was up to, it looks to me like, was positioning his pieces to call “checkmate” in one of those games of eleventh dimensional chess that I am starting to believe might actually exist.
He must have been laughing his ass off when the Bishops and their GOP allies picked this fight… Some pro-choice republicans were aghast, and pleaded with the leadership not to, but they charged ahead, like a two-ton bull, right through the doors of the china shop. And Barack Obama smiled and stood aside, holding them open.
…. Obama wasn’t boxed in. Not at all. But now the Bishops are. So far, they have been silent after thunderously declaring that nothing short of total repeal of the mandate would suit them. And as they lost the healthcare reform battle, they are going to lose this one, too. Because they are wrong and their time is past. And by their silence, I think they are telling us all that they realize they’ve been had.
Deaniac (The People’s View): Nontroversy resolved. Another stroke of genius by Obama.
… now the President has stripped off all the cover for the GOP’s anti-women agenda, and they are still not smart enough to hide it. Now women know for sure that this fight is about birth control and not about religious liberty. Now women also know who stands in their corner to protect birth control and which party wants to take this very basic health care right away from them.
Smartypants: In The Atlantic, James Fallows has written one of the most interesting analyses of the Obama administration that I’ve seen.
…. if you’re like me, you won’t agree with some of the things he says. But what I appreciated about it is that he doesn’t seem to have an ax to grind from either side. He’s not trying to defend Obama or take him down. I’ll admit that its rare to see an analysis these days that doesn’t at least seem to have one or the other agenda – no matter how deep people try to bury it.
Addictinginfo: The Republican Party is tearing itself apart and many conservative voters are considering abandoning the sinking ship to vote for none other than President Obama in 2012.
According to a poll conducted by Wenzel Strategies on behalf of conservative publication World Net Daily, 1 in 5 Republicans will vote for or are leaning towards voting for President Obama in the upcoming Presidential Election in November.
Several weeks ago, I launched a new Friday afternoon feature, highlighting the most blatant Mitt Romney falsehoods of the week. It moved to Maddow Blog last week, and here’s this week’s installment. (It does not include mendacity from Romney’s CPAC speech this afternoon.)
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a tug of war with Jimmy Fallon in the Blue Room of the White House during a “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” taping for the second anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” initiative, Jan. 25. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
** NBC tonight at 12:35 am ET **
AP: The number of available jobs in the United States jumped in December to near a three-year high, supporting other data that show a brighter outlook for hiring.
Companies and governments posted 3.38 million jobs in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s up from the 3.12 million advertised in the previous month and nearly matches the three-year high reached in September. Job openings in the private sector reached the highest point in almost three and a half years.
…. The report on job openings follows Friday’s optimistic employment figures. Those showed employers added 243,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.
….. It generally takes one to three months for employers to fill job openings. December’s big jump in postings is likely one reason January’s jobs report was healthy. But it also suggests job growth may continue in the coming months.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican presidential candidates have been eager, if not desperate, to accuse President Obama of waging a “war on religion”….
…. Mitt Romney seems to have settled on a policy to match the attack: the Obama administration’s decision to require coverage of contraception as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act is, according to the former governor, an “attack on religious liberty”.
…. As a substantive matter, Romney’s lying. The administration’s policy already exempts churches and other houses of worship and “doesn’t require any individual or employer to violate a religious belief – it simply ensures that their employees with different beliefs have the same access to birth control as all other women.”
…. he’s not only lying; he’s also denouncing Obama for adopting a policy similar to one Romney used to support …. as governor, a previous iteration of Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
USA Today: Pundits and bishops warn President Obama he could lose the white Catholic vote over requiring a contraception option for insurance plans. But Catholic women say they want birth control covered in employee health plans.
…. The Catholic bishops, backed by conservative evangelicals, say the Obama administration shouldn’t include contraception coverage as part of free preventive care options in employers’ health insurance plans …. here’s where the Catholic women come in. According to the Public Religion Research Institute poll released today:
….58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.
… the numbers might bring pause to pundits mulling the “Catholic vote”.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican super PACs have been raising vast sums from wealthy donors …. the political world, however, hasn’t heard much from Democratic super PACs, which have raised far less money.
That will apparently soon change … Jim Messina argued overnight that the Obama campaign just doesn’t have a choice.
He added that Republican super PACS, in aggregate, are “expected to spend half a billion dollars, above and beyond what the Republican nominee and party are expected to commit to try to defeat the President.” That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s a reasonable estimate. The Koch brothers alone are prepared to spend $100 million later this year to defeat Obama.
…. Democrats had a choice: stick to principle, refuse to play by the new rules, and make defeat far more likely, or level the playing field …. The only surprise here is that anyone would be surprised by the decision.
NYT: The delicate Karl Rove said he was “frankly, offended” …. (by)…. the Chrysler ad that Clint Eastwood narrated, which many people who don’t share Mr. Rove’s political worldview thought was rather uplifting.
…. he suggested the words were dictated by “the President of the United States and his political minions,” who bailed out Detroit with taxpayer dollars. It’s just another example of “Chicago-style politics,” he said, whatever that means.
The White House said it had nothing to do with the ad, but it had a great deal to do with Detroit’s resurgence, and that’s what’s really offensive to Mr. Rove and other Republicans. They’d prefer to drown out the good news coming from the carmakers, such as these recent headlines…
Don’t miss the ‘2011 Year in Photos’ at the White House site (here)
Steve Benen: Jennifer Rubin today reflects on President Obama’s re-election strategy, and argues he’ll struggle to point to meaningful accomplishments …Obama “accomplished nothing,” she says, other than “jamming through” – which is apparently synonymous with “passing with large majorities in both chambers, following a year-long fight” – the Affordable Care Act.
Well, he also passed the Recovery Act, which prevented a depression and created 3 million jobs.
And there was also the Wall Street reform package …. which featured the most sweeping overhaul of financial industry regulations since FDR.
Come to think of it, we also saw a rescue of the American auto industry, DADT repeal, a breakthrough student-loan-reform bill, ratification of New START, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the biggest overhaul of our food-safety laws in 70 years, new regulation of the credit card industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, net neutrality, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, and health care for 9/11 first responders……