President Barack Obama announces his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. President Obama cited concerns about the impact on the environment, saying it would not serve the interests of the United States
President Obama on Tuesday vetoed a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, rejecting an effort by Republicans and some Democrats to force his administration to let the highly contested energy project move forward. By saying no to the legislation, Mr. Obama retains the authority to make a final judgment on the pipeline on his own timeline. The White House has said the president would decide whether to allow the pipeline when all of the environmental and regulatory reviews are complete. But the veto — his first rejection of major legislation as president — is also a demonstration of political strength directed at Republicans who now control both chambers of Congress.
Mr. Obama is signaling that he will fight back against their agenda. The Obama administration must decide whether to approve infrastructure projects like the Keystone pipeline, which cross a border with another country. In his veto message to Congress, delivered with no fanfare on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Obama wrote that the legislation “attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.” Mr. Obama added that “because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.”
The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest report on the Affordable Care Act, and here are a few bottom lines:
— The ACA is cheaper than it expected.
— It will “markedly increase” the number of Americans with health insurance.
— The risk-adjustment provisions, which Congressional Republicans want to overturn as a “bailout” of the insurance industry, will actually turn a profit to the U.S. Treasury.
…. The ACA will increase the number of Americans with health insurance by 13 million this year, 20 million next year, and 25 million a year from then through 2024. Some 80% of those enrollees will be receiving federal subsidies to keep their coverage affordable.
There will be fewer uninsured people living in the United States, and most of those with individual coverage will be getting help to pay for it. Is there another other conclusion to draw from those statistics than the Affordable Care Act is working?
The Post’s Glenn Kessler today published a fact-checking post breaking some news: No, he wrote, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) never, ever reported that Obamacare would somehow or other kill more than 2 million U.S. jobs.
Okay, to say that Kessler broke this news is a rhetorical exaggeration to highlight the point that many-o-many media outlets misconstrued the CBO findings. For a while this morning, the Internet was hopping with job-killing hype, when in fact the truth was vastly different. Obamacare’s impact, the CBO concluded, would lessen the supply of labor by encouraging certain folks not to work: “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked. . . .”
For someone approaching retirement, notes Kessler, Obamacare could well mean that they needn’t hold onto a bad job just to keep health insurance. That’s a far different dynamic from job-killing.
Steve Benen: CBO Delivers Welcome News To Obamacare Backers
If Republican press releases and reports from conservative and major media outlets are any indication, the Congressional Budget Office’s findings on the Affordable Care Act are simply brutal. National Review, which probably published its report before actually looking at the CBO’s findings, ran this headline: “The CBO Just Nuked Obamacare.”
As we discussed earlier, the coverage has been profoundly misleading. Despite what Americans are being told, the CBO did not find that the health care reform law would cost the nation over 2 million jobs. What it actually said is that the law will empower more than 2 million Americans to leave the workforce if they want to, no longer feeling forced to stay at a job in order to have benefits for them and their family.
Why “Obamacare” critics consider this a bad thing remains unclear….
ThinkProgress: Obamacare Finally Gives Workers The Freedom Conservatives Demanded
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office projected that The Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.3 million in 2021, leading critics to seize on the claim as evidence that the health care law is undermining job growth.
But that’s not what the CBO actually said. In fact, CBO economists write that “[t]he estimated reduction [in labor] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor.” Americans won’t be losing their jobs, but people who are only working to maintain access to their employer sponsored health insurance plans will be able to leave the workforce or work fewer hours because they can obtain coverage elsewhere. That’s a goal that prominent Republicans, conservative think tanks and policy analysts have supported for years…..
A new report finds that between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate hit its lowest point since 1973, when Roe v. Wade declared access to the procedure a Constitutional right.
The rate fell 13 percent to 16.9 per 1,000 women in 2011, down from its peak of 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981.
While conservatives want to claim credit for the decline with onerous restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, the availability of contraception and family planning deserve most of the credit, according to the Guttmacher Institute’s Rachel Jones, the lead author of the study.
Yahoo: New Report: Budget Deficit To Drop To $514B
A new report released Tuesday says the government’s budget deficit is set to fall to $514 billion for the current year, down substantially from last year and the lowest by far since President Barack Obama took office five years ago. The Congressional Budget Office report credits higher tax revenues from the rebounding economy and sharp curbs on agency spending as the chief reason for the deficit’s short-term decline.
Last year’s deficit registered $680 billion. Obama inherited an economy in crisis and first-ever deficits exceeding $1 trillion. The 2009 deficit, swelled by the costs of the Wall Street bailout, hit a record $1.4 trillion, while the deficits of 2010 and 2011 both registered $1.3 trillion. The report predicted the economy will continue to rebound this year and grow at a 3.1 percent rate and by 3.4 percent next year. It foresees the jobless rate holding steady at 6.8 percent this year; the most recent nationwide unemployment rate registered 6.7 percent.
Tal Kopan: Emmitt Smith Gives Wendy Davis Committee $10K
Team Wendy just landed an all-star running back. Former Dallas Cowboys running back and NFL MVP Emmitt Smith donated $10,000 to the committee backing Wendy Davis’s campaign for Texas governor last month. According to campaign filings, the CEO of EJSmith Enterprises donated the money on Jan. 8 to Texas Victory Committee, a joint effort from Wendy Davis for Governor and Battleground Texas, a group that supports Democrats in the state.
Jonathan Chait: ‘Obamacare Bailout’ Does Not Exist, Confirms Government; House Republicans Demand Its Repeal Anyway
As of yesterday, House Republicans were torn, Sophie’s Choice-style, over what to demand in return for lifting the debt ceiling to accommodate the budget they passed. (Caveat: I’ve never seen Sophie’s Choice; I assume it’s a movie about a bungling kidnapper who has to choose what ransom she should demand.) One option was the Keystone XL pipeline. The other was the risk corridor provision in Obamacare, which they falsely call a “bailout.”
Here’s what happened next. First, the Congressional Budget Office released its annual budget report, and, among other things, it utterly annihilated the premise that there is any such thing as an “Obamacare bailout.” Having seen their imaginary claim conclusively debunked, Republicans are now leaning toward demanding its repeal anyway…
…. Today’s report projects that the bungled launch will mean enrollment in the exchanges will collapse all the way from seven million people to … six million people. Now, the number of people in the plan isn’t the only or best measure of its success, but it is a measure critics have seized upon. The existence of the nefarious Obamacare Bailout was a second reason – as the House Republican hearing asks, why the need for a bailout, if not to save a doomed law? There’s no reason why the lack of an Obamacare bailout should prevent conservatives from feeling anger at it anyway.
NYT: Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.
The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.
The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections.
DeadSpin: Now A Champion, Richard Sherman Deals With An Insult In The Best Way
Colin Kaepernick had an excellent method of dealing with people who hated him by favoriting their anger on Twitter. Seahawks corner Richard Sherman—now a Super Bowl champion—handled an angry Twitter person in a less passive but equally fantastic way.
Bryce Covert: GM’s First Female CEO Will Make Half Of What Her Predecessor Made
In December, General Motors (GM) made headlines for picking Mary Barra to replace Dan Akerson as its new CEO. That meant she would not only be the first woman at the helm of the carmaker, but any global carmaker. But while she may have shattered that glass ceiling, her pay is another story. Looking at the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Elizabeth MacDonald notes that Barra will be paid $4.4 million in total compensation, which includes a base salary of $1.6 million.
Akerson, on the other hand, made an estimated $9 million, with a $1.7 million base salary and $7.3 million in stock. That means Barra will make less than half of what he made. In fact, Akerson will continue to make more as her, as GM will pay him $4.68 million as an outside senior adviser.Worse, Barra comes to the job with an outsized amount of previous experience. She’s been with the company since 1980 and was most recently serving as senior vice president of global product development. Akerson, on the other hand, came into the role without a background running a car company
Caitlin McNeal: WaPo Rebuts Its Own Columnist On Claim That Obamacare Is Killing Jobs
The Affordable Care Act is killing jobs, or not, depending on which portion of the Washington Post you read on Tuesday. The paper’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote that Obamacare was “killing jobs and squelching growth” based on a newly released CBO report.
However, the report notes that the reduction in hours worked by Americans will “almost entirely” be due to workers’ choice to leave the work force — not because they lost their jobs or can’t find a full-time job. Glenn Kessler, the Post’s “Fact Checker,” followed up a few hours later giving the claim made by Rubin and other news organizations three Pinocchios out of four.
Josh Barro: The Buried Lede In The CBO Report: Obamacare Will Raise Wages
Obamacare will drive wages up. The price of labor, like any good or service, is determined by supply and demand. If producers of labor (workers) become less inclined to sell it, but consumers of labor (firms) are unchanged in their interest in buying, then the price of labor has to rise in order to bring the quantity supplied and the quantity demanded into line. If (as CBO predicts) the decline in work is driven almost entirely by a decline in labor supply, the upshot will be very different. Employers will be left holding the bag economically. Workers will choose to work fewer hours; since firms won’t be any less interested in hiring, they’ll have to pay more per hour to get those workers in the door.
The positive wage effect should be concentrated among low-skill workers, who will face the greatest discouragement to work from Obamacare, and therefore will be able to command the greatest wage increases in order to keep working. More broadly, Obamacare alters the employer-employee relationship in a way that empowers employees. When an employee is dependent on his job not just for a wage but for health insurance, he is less able to threaten to leave if he doesn’t get a raise. Severing the work-insurance link strengthens the employee’s hand in bargaining — which is bad for employers and good for workers.
Sen. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama during a Super Tuesday primary campaign rally at the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, February 5, 2008
The President is applauded by House Democrats as he is introduced to speak at the House Democrats Issues Conference at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va, Feb. 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama wears a AF1 jacket on his first flight aboard Air Force One from Andrews Air Force Base to Newport News, Va., Feb. 5. 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shows Washington, D.C. area students, who were featured in the Washington Post, the valet button on his desk during their surprise visit to the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Feb. 5, 2011 – Pete Souza: “The two coaches for Sasha Obama’s basketball team couldn’t make it to one of her games, so the President and his then personal aide, Reggie Love, filled in as coaches for this game one Saturday. Here they along with Sasha’s teammates react during the game.”
Washington Post: Life After Jan. 1: Kentucky Clinic Offers Early Glimpse At Realities Of Health-Care Law
The envelopes began arriving in December across eastern Kentucky, one of the sickest and poorest corners of the country. “Dear member . . . We want you to be healthy . . .” read the letter to Mary Combs, and with it came a plastic card representing the first insurance she ever had: a Medicaid plan made possible by the nation’s new health-care law, effective Jan. 1. Nine days into the new year, the 41-year-old call-center worker headed to the health clinic on Highway 15. She saw a doctor about her chronic stomach ulcers, had her blood drawn for tests and collected referrals for all the specialists she had been told she needed but could never afford. The next week, she saw a neurologist, who found lesions on her brain and prescribed medicine for the cluster headaches, which are also called “suicide headaches” for pain that is far more intense than a migraine and which Combs had been treating with an alcohol-soaked cloth wrapped around her head.
“That’s the big question — does getting insurance bend the cost curve or the health outcomes curve?” said Karen Ditsch, the executive director of Juniper Health, which runs the nonprofit Breathitt clinic. Life since Jan. 1: The number of uninsured has dropped by 520 people, which represents about 21 percent of the those without coverage. Of that 520, 472 qualified under the health-care law’s expanded income parameters for Medicaid, which is aimed at the working poor. Here and there, for-profit clinics that never accepted the uninsured have hung “Welcome new patients!” signs on doors. A new blue billboard hovering above the Hardee’s advertises surgery to treat acid reflux.
Insurance companies, bless their hearts, seem determined to remind us why we need the Affordable Care Act. The latest example comes from Anthem Blue Cross, which has just hit 306,000 customers in California with premium increases of up to 25%. As reported by my colleague Chad Terhune, the increases average 16% and are scheduled to kick in April 1, unless the state Department of Insurance jawbones Anthem into backing down.
Here’s the kicker: No one can blame these increases on the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, a popular argument among critics of the act. That’s because the increases are for grandfathered policies exempt from the act.
“It’s a rich irony,” says Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a leading California consumer advocacy group. “The insurers can’t have it both ways — they can’t blame the increases on the ACA while increasing rates on their non-ACA-compliant plans as well.” Luckily, Anthem customers have a choice this time around. They can check the state’s insurance exchange at coveredca.com to see if they can replace their old plan with a new one that might well be better, at lower cost.
Memo to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and the bosses at for-profit corporations who think they belong in every doctor’s office and that they should be able to decide whether their employees have access to birth control: Women who use birth control do not have an “overactive libido.” We are not looking for a handout from “Uncle Sugar” to score a contraceptive fix. We are not sluts. This is not the reality for women — it never has been and never will be.
In fact, women who use birth control are your mother, partner, sister, and daughter. Ninety-nine percent of sexually active American women have used birth control at some point in their lives. We are just regular people trying to take care of ourselves medically and financially. That’s why seven in ten Americans believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services.
One of America’s most accomplished lawmakers—a crusader responsible for cleaner air, safer food, and healthier kids—is calling it a career. On Thursday, Congressman Henry Waxman announced that he would retire at the end of this term, 40 years after he first came to Congress. The list of laws for which he deserves substantial credit is simply staggering—not only for its length, but also for its breadth. Waxman was behind the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, plus laws regulating lead, greenhouse gas emissions, and formaldehyde. That arguably makes him his generation’s most influential lawmaker on environmental issues.
He was also behind a series of Medicaid expansions, the Ryan White Care Act, the Orphan Drug Act, the Waxman-Hatch Generic Drug Act, and, of course, the Affordable Care Act. That almost certainly makes him the most influential living lawmaker on health care issues. Other major accomplishments include the Food Quality Protection Act and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—and, somewhere along the way, he found time to modernize the postal service. How has Waxman done it? For one thing, Waxman recognizes that lawmaking requires patience and persistence—that you have to build the case for legislation, through investigations and stagecraft, even if that takes years or even decades.
Hannah Allam: Kerry’s First Year As Top U.S. Diplomat Yields Breakthroughs On Thorny Issues
A year ago, John Kerry succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, joking on one of his first days at work that he had “big heels to fill.” Now a year into his role as America’s top diplomat, Kerry has proven that any trepidation about following such a high-profile figure was misplaced. Kerry’s anniversary this week – he assumed office on Feb. 1, 2013 – finds him, in the opinion of foreign policy analysts, with more significant, concrete breakthroughs than Clinton had in her entire four-year term. As showpieces they hold up the nuclear deal with Iran and the chemical weapons pact with Syria.
A year into Kerry’s tenure, Ross said, the picture from Asia is brighter. Ross, who’s in Beijing for six months, said U.S. diplomacy has brought about improved cooperation with China on North Korea, including landmark banking and other sanctions. And while there are still no U.S.-Chinese military agreements, he said, there are deeper military contacts so that American officials can “pick up the phone and call them if there’s an escalation.” “Secretary Kerry speaks with a quieter voice and made real policy adjustments,” Ross said. “The quiet approach has been more useful than his predecessor’s.”
In the bitter cold, dark hours of the night, as many others are sleeping, Rocio Caravantes begins her hourlong journey on public transportation from her home in Logan Square to one of her two jobs downtown. Once she arrives at work, Caravantes spends hours vacuuming and scrubbing floors, polishing sinks and toilets, cleaning the bar areas and event spaces and tidying up the rugs in an upscale luxury hotel where she can’t afford to spend a night. Panic at times grips her as she thinks about how she will pay all her bills, she said.
“It is impossible to live on $8.25 an hour,” Caravantes said in Spanish, through an interpreter. “Not even three jobs are enough. I earn $495 biweekly. The first check goes to rent — it’s $500 a month. The second is for transportation, food, (phone) and education.” Caravantes, 40, is one example of the minimum wage workers who have become the focus of a national conversation about salaries for the working poor. It’s a political debate in the Illinois governor’s race, and Gov. Pat Quinn used his State of the State address last week to renew his push for an increase in the state minimum wage. President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue too when he asked Congress to increase the federal wage to $10.10.
But the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C., paints a broader portrait of low-wage workers. “People tend to think of low-wage workers as teenagers who are working on the weekends for extra spending money,” said David Cooper, an analyst with the institute. “While that is a portion of these workers, the vast majority don’t fit that stereotype.” According to the institute’s research, more than half of low-wage workers are older than 30.
As President Barack Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, it is time to focus on restoring opportunity for all. That means helping to make sure more Americans can take part in our growing economy and build some economic security for the long term. To get that done, we are putting forward real, concrete solutions to our most pressing problems – from college affordability and job training to fair wages and a stable retirement. This program, which will begin later this year, is called myRA or My Retirement Account. This account is designed to help low- and middle-income workers, who are too often overlooked or ignored, begin saving for retirement. We are talking about the waitress who is holding down two part-time jobs to support her kids; the recent graduate who landed a job but is grappling with student loans; the janitor who has never been given the chance to invest in a retirement account.
Here is how myRA, which is simple, safe and affordable, will work. You will be able to start saving with an initial deposit of as little as $25 and contribute as little as $5 each payday. If an employer chooses to participate, contributions are made through automatic payroll deductions, making them hassle-free. There are no fees – 100 percent of any contribution goes into the account and is invested in a Treasury security. That means it will be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, will earn the same interest rate that is available to federal employees for their retirement savings, and the balance will never go down. Finally, myRA is not tied to any one employer – it belongs to the worker, not the workplace. In other words, the account is portable and can be easily rolled into a Roth IRA. And if myRA savers ever need to, they can withdraw their contributions tax-free, at any time.
It is utterly irrelevant if Chris Christie ‘wins the day’ or the weekend or the next 5 minutes or the next week. Irrelevant. The bottom line is that he is in serious trouble, politically and legally. On the legal front, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is probing allegations by the mayor of Hoboken that a member of Christie’s cabinet and the lieutenant governor linked federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds to the the mayor’s support for a redevelopment project in Hoboken that would exclusively benefit one of Christie’s closest allies – whom he appointed to chair the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
This morning on his MSNBC show Steve Kornacki discussed reporting he and I (and producer Jack Bohrer) did showing that those federal Hurricane Sandy funds have not been monitored by the Christie Administration as required by a law that Christie himself signed last March. Furthermore, relief funds have been extremely hard to account for because Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a single website to track Sandy funding and contract information. Based on the reactions of two congressmen who watched the report with me, officials in Washington will be loath to trust Christie with the next round of federal funds and we should not be surprised if an investigation is on the horizon.
The push to build Barack Obama’s presidential library officially got underway Friday with the establishment of a foundation managed by three of his longtime supporters. “The president’s future library will one day serve as an important part of our nation’s historical record, and our mission is to build a library that tells President Obama’s remarkable story in an interactive way that will inspire future generations to become involved in public service,” Nesbitt said.
The foundation is responsible for developing a library that reflects Obama’s values and priorities, according to Nesbitt. He said it will focus on economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of American citizenship and promoting peace, justice and dignity around the world, among other things.
Pete Souza: “White House valets had moved the sofas in the Oval Office to accommodate the large number of press photographers that were covering the President’s meeting with Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. When the photo-op ended, the President said to Gov. Douglas, ‘let’s move the sofas back in place.’ Gov. Douglas didn’t quite know what to do as the President did the heavy lifting. The valets now good-naturedly cringe when they look at this picture because it was their responsibility to move the sofas back in place.” Feb. 2, 2009
President Obama walks to the Oval Office after returning to the White House following a trip to Nashua, N.H., Feb. 2, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama speaking alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, on childhood obesity during a meeting with Cabinet and Congressional members in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, February 2, 2010
Vice President Joe Biden talks with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., after President Barack Obama signed the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Behind them, the President talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is updated on the severe winter storm currently moving across the country during a phone call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Vice President Joe Biden snaps a photo of President Barack Obama and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provide encouragement to Erick Varela, who was about to introduce the President, prior to an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the Green Room of the White House
The first steps toward building President Barack Obama’s library and museum were announced on Friday with the launch of a foundation to oversee the competitive selection process with the target date of picking a site early in 2015. Martin Nesbitt, Obama’s close friend who will run the effort with two other Obama associates, told me in an interview they are committed to a “thoughtful, consistent, fair and transparent” process with the ultimate choice left to Obama and first lady Michelle. “We have no preconceived idea about what these proposals will look like. We want to create a blank canvass, create sort of a white canvas with some guiding principles that allow people to respond in a thoughtful and creative way and we will evaluate them when they come in,” Nesbitt said.
Incorporation papers for the newly created Barack H. Obama Foundation were filed Friday in Washington, D.C. The foundation is led by Chicagoan Nesbitt, the co-CEO of The Vistria Group and treasurer of Obama’s two White House campaigns; Julianna Smoot, a co-chair of the 2012 re-election bid and the 2008 National Finance Director and J. Kevin Poorman, the Wilmette businessman who took over several companies run by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker when she stepped down to join Obama’s cabinet. Obama asked Nesbitt to take on the duty of running the foundation last summer, and I broke the news that Nesbitt and Smoot would helm a foundation last July.
Terry Tang: Tape Of Martin Luther King Jr. Ariz. Speech Found
Mary Scanlon had no idea a $3 purchase from a Goodwill store in Phoenix would turn out to be a rare link to the civil rights movement’s most revered leader. Last April, Scanlon was at the thrift store when she spotted a pile of 35 vintage reel-to-reel tapes, including one labeled with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name. Despite the moldy and torn packaging, she snapped up all of them. “I didn’t really necessarily have any expectation that this tape would be rare,” Scanlon said. Arizona State University archivists have found that tape is the only known recording of speeches the slain civil rights leader gave at ASU and at a Phoenix church in June 1964.
The hour-long audio has since been digitized and is now available for listening on ASU’s website through June 30. The tape illustrates that King had been eager to visit supporters in Arizona, a state that would draw criticism more than 20 years later for rescinding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Scanlon, who donated all the tapes to the school, said the find is one of the high points of her life. “To have anything about myself connected in any way to Martin Luther King, what more could a person ask for? I’m so proud,” Scanlon said.
NYT: Ex-Port Authority Official Says ‘Evidence Exists’ Christie Knew About Lane Closings
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening. In a letter released by his lawyer, the former official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order”
and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago. During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”
Chris Geidner: Edith Windsor’s Lawyer Seeks To Argue In Utah Marriage Appeal
Three same-sex couples — represented by the New York lawyer who represented Edith Windsor in her successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act — have asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to intervene in the pending lawsuit challenging Utah’s marriage laws.
In a Friday filing at the court, Roberta Kaplan argued on behalf of the couples that they should be allowed to intervene in the appeal — a move they acknowledge would be an “exceptional case” — in order to raise questions about other portions of Utah law that prevent recognition of same-sex couples.
TPM: Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Clears Major Hurdle For Construction
The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle after the State Department raised no major environmental objections to its construction. The department’s report was released Friday. It says Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline and other options to get the oil from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries are worse for the environment. The latest environmental review stops short of recommending approval of the project. State Department approval of the project is needed because it crosses a U.S. border. A decision is not expected before the summer.
1. Wildstein is claiming evidence exists that Christie knew. He would look bad if such evidence does not come to light. 2. Wildstein spent time with Christie while the lanes were closed. If you had been ordered to close traffic lines for punitive reasons, and you saw the governor, wouldn’t you either tell him about it, or else already know he approved?
Undertaking an action like that without knowing the governor approved it, and without having any desire to take credit, seems like an implausible motivation. 3. Christie has changed his story about when he knew about the lane closings. Having first asserted he learned on October 1, Christie later claimed he learned earlier, though would not say when. 4. His campaign manager is pleading the fifth.
Dylan Scott: Study: Thousands Of People Will Die In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid
As many as 17,000 Americans will die directly as a result of states deciding not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new study. Researchers from Harvard University and City University of New York have estimated that between 7,115 and 17,104 deaths will be “attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in opt-out states” in a study published in Health Affairs.
“The results were sobering,” Samuel Dickman, one of the authors, said, according to theMorning Call. “Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal.” They projected that 423,000 fewer diabetics would receive medication to treat their disease. If opt-out states had expanded Medicaid, 659,000 women who are in need of mammograms and 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears would have become insured, the study found.
Powerful commercial. Native Americans are human beings and the NFL is disgusting for not treating them as such
Sahil Kapur: Boehner Promises GOP No Path To Citizenship In Immigration Reform
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told House Republicans that the immigration blueprint his leadership team released on Thursday was “as far as we are willing to go” to make reform happen, according to a source in the room.
The blueprint supports legal status for undocumented immigrants, which is already further than many conservatives want to go. If Democrats demand the promise of citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally, as the bill passed by the Senate would do, the Speaker said the House would block reform.
OFA: What Does Health Insurance Mean To This 20-Something?
In 2009, I was healthy, preparing to graduate from college, and getting ready to start on a career that I love with an exciting opportunity at a new startup in an emerging field. And when I say startup, I mean startup. Shoe-string, even. There were only two of us. It was pretty risky, but I was beyond excited.
But then—out of the blue—I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that nearly derailed it all. Luckily, I was able to get treatment and was soon back to being myself. But I had two things added to my life: daily medicine to keep the condition in check, and a “pre-existing condition.” That’s when I really got why this whole health insurance thing matters.
thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s going to stay that way. When it was time for me to shop on the marketplace for my own coverage this winter, I was protected: No plan could deny me because of my pre-existing condition. I found one that is really comprehensive and is still within my budget. Now, I’m healthy, and I’ve got my own plan that I can afford and rely on.
Reuters: Two Obamacare Exchanges See More Health Insurer Competition
At least two U.S. states running their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges expect new insurers to enter their marketplaces and bolster competition in 2015, officials said on Friday.
Kynect, which is Kentucky’s marketplace, and the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange have had separate talks about 2015 with health insurers that could opt to join the online marketplaces set up under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law. Kentucky also expects an expansion of physician networks available within current plans.
Increased competition would increase consumer choices and tend to put downward pressure on health insurance cost trends. It could also help ensure the future of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which depends on the success of new online marketplaces.
President Obama signs a line worker’s shirt after touring the Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tenn., July 30 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Steve Benen: Why would the GOP balk at a corporate tax cut?
As promised, President Obama spoke in Tennessee this afternoon, and made congressional Republicans an offer they probably shouldn’t refuse: the GOP would get corporate tax reforms, including lower rates, while Democrats would get investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.
…. GOP opposition is just a little more difficult to understand. Sure, when the White House proposes new tax revenue from the wealthy, it stands to reason that Republicans will scream bloody murder. When the president talks about increasing the size of government in any appreciable way, we know the GOP will go berserk.
But corporate tax breaks and infrastructure jobs? Why announce knee-jerk opposition to these ideas?
I’ve spent some time this afternoon collecting Republican complaints about the new Obama offer, so let’s take them one at a time.
Now that it appears as if the American public is ready to move beyond their fear-based approach to national security, I agree with President Obama.
I’ve got to tell you though Charlie, I think this is a healthy thing because its a sign of maturity that this debate would not have been taking place 5 years ago. And I welcome it.
That means that perhaps we can have a rational discussion about the NSA and potential reforms that make sense. Of course folks like Greenwald are not going to initiate a discussion about solutions – that would mean actually owning some responsibility rather than simply screaming from the sidelines (not to mention that solutions are terrible link-bait). But somebody needs to do it. As is often the case, that part is left to the pragmatists.
@whitehouse This morning, President Obama and VP Biden met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on resuming peace talks
ThinkProgress: Obama Calls Out Republicans For Wasting Time On Keystone: ‘That’s Not A Jobs Plan’
In a speech on Tuesday focused on repairing the American economy, President Obama called out Republicans in Congress for flouting serious job-creation efforts in favor of trying to repeal environmental regulations and push for the creation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
While Republicans have advocated for Keystone by insisting that it will create jobs, Obama slammed that assertion Tuesday, pointing to the Cornell University estimate that Keystone would only create 50 permanent jobs….
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last two months has been largely encouraging, though there have been setbacks. Last week, for example, was a step in the wrong direction. This week’s report, however, was a very pleasant surprise. Initial claims not only dropped sharply, they fell to a level unseen in nearly four years.
Charles Pierce: ….. The decision by the Obama administration to scuttle (for the moment) the Keystone XL pipeline for good already has been responsible for the birthing of many public cows among the president’s Republican opponents……
This was an act of authentic political courage. The Republicans have turned the pipeline into an idiotic campaign litmus test and hung a ridiculously short deadline on the approval process, a deadline that nobody directly affected by the project thought was in any way adequate….
Sun Times: President Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, is launching an Institute of Politics at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, to create bipartisan programs bringing big names in politics to campus and internships for students.
“If years from now I run across young people who have participated in this Institute who are now writers and staffers and yes, candidates, we’ll have done our job well,” Axelrod said in a conference call on Wednesday.
The U. of C. institute will be largely modeled on Harvard University’s Institute of Politics….
Steve Benen: With Mitt Romney still refusing to release his tax returns, we can only speculate as to why he’s so afraid of disclosure. The widely held assumption has been that the Republican frontrunner is embarrassed by his “15% problem” …. But that’s not the only thing Romney’s returns might show. Reuters’ Sam Youngman reported on a related issue:
His vast fortune is invested in dozens of funds linked to Bain Capital ….. Several Bain funds have offshore connections and take advantage of tax breaks used only by the U.S. financial elite…..
It’s worth clarifying that no one has accused Romney of doing anything illegal … But it doesn’t exactly help paint a picture of Romney as a “man of the people”…..
TPM: Turns out Mitt Romney wasn’t the first GOP candidate in 35 years to take Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, the certification of Iowa caucus votes conducted by the state GOP shows Rick Santorum likely won – by 34 votes, though officials are officially calling it a “split decision.”
January 17, 2012. President Barack Obama unexpectedly runs into Michelle on her birthday in the basement of the White House.
Though official duties filled much of the day, Tuesday was also Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday. As the president returned to the West Wing in the evening, he unexpectedly met the First Lady. “Obama gave her several kisses and wished her a happy birthday then walked off,” Morris says. “It was the highlight of the day for me—something you can’t plan for as a photographer. It was the most interesting photograph for me of the day by far.”
Bob Cesca: As predicted, the Keystone XL pipeline has now been officially rejected by the Obama Administration after the Republicans chose to hasten the timeline for approval with a rider inserted into legislation that extended payroll tax-cuts and unemployment benefits for 2 months.
….. [when] Speaker Boehner whines about this today … you should keep this in mind:
Environmentalists note that in December 2010, according to Boehner’s financial disclosure forms, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada’s oil sands, the region that produces the oil the pipeline would transport….
350.org founder and Keystone XL protest leader, Bill McKibben, had the following reaction the news that the State Department is expected to reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline later this afternoon:
“Assuming that what we’re hearing is true, this isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call. The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he’s too conciliatory. But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge political consequences,’ he’s stood up strong. This is a victory for Americans who testified in record numbers, and who demanded that science get the hearing usually reserved for big money.
Mediaite: In a preview of Wednesday’s Piers Morgan Tonight, former President Jimmy Carter surprised host Morgan with his somewhat blunt (by mainstream media standards) assessment of Newt Gingrich. Speaking of his standing ovation moment at Monday night’s debate, President Carter told Morgan “I think (Gingrich) has that subtlety of racism that I know quite well, that Gingrich knows quite well, that appeals to some people in Georgia.”
“Really?” Morgan exclaimed as Carter spoke, later adding, “That’s a pretty serious charge to level at Newt Gingrich, that he’s being racist.”
“I’m not saying he’s racist, but he knows the subtle words to use to appeal to a racist group,” Carter responded.
NYT Editorial: Preaching Division in South Carolina. By mixing falsehoods with racial condescension, Newt Gingrich brought a raucous presidential debate crowd to its feet on Monday night in South Carolina, further cheapening his reputation and that of the state Republican Party.
For months, Mr. Gingrich has made racial resentment an integral part of his platform as a conservative challenger to Mitt Romney. He has traversed the country calling President Obama “the greatest food-stamp president in American history” and presenting African-Americans with the great revelation that they should prefer paychecks to federal handouts….
The fact is that Mr. Obama has “put” no one on food stamps. People apply for food assistance, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, because they’re poor or out of work and their families are hungry. The number of people using the program, which is now at a peak, began rising with the recession, in 2007, and continued through four of the toughest years ever faced by the poor and near-poor in modern history. Mr. Obama eased the eligibility requirements as part of his stimulus program, a desperately needed measure that helped struggling families and the economy…..
Chris Weigant: The Huffington Post ran an article today titled “Gov. Martin O’Malley Urges Dems To Focus More On Romney’s Governing Record, Less On Bain.” In it, the governor of Maryland makes the following case:
“I think a point that needs to be emphasized was that in easier times when he [Romney] was governor of a pretty innovative state, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 [in job creation],” he said. “You contrast that to the tougher times we have now, under Governor Deval Patrick’s leadership, Massachusetts is 5th in the nation.”
O’Malley makes a good point. President Obama’s re-election team should heed it …. the real issue to put before the voters is what Mitt Romney did after he left the private sector for politics.
USA Today: Nuclear weapons are very much on the mind of the Obama administration today as they monitor events in North Korea following the death of dictator Kim Jung Il.
Obama spoke with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak shortly after North Korea announced Kim’s death overnight.
On the domestic front today, Obama aides will wait and see if House Republicans vote down a Senate plan to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the extension should be for a year, as reported by USA TODAY’s Aamer Madhani.
If the House does reject the Senate plan, lawmakers will resume negotiations — as Obama stresses, the payroll tax cut expires at the end of the year.
Steve Benen: The pieces were in place. Senate leads from both parties agreed to a temporary compromise that looked pretty sensible: Dems would get a two-month extension of the payroll tax break and a clean extension of unemployment benefits, while GOP lawmakers would get an expedited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. It was quickly approved with overwhelming, bipartisan support, 89 to 10.
…. But Boehner then took this victory to his caucus … the Speaker quickly realized his job is to take, not give, orders from his right-wing members: “It’s pretty clear that I and our members oppose the Senate bill.”
…. Why is it, exactly, that Boehner called the compromise a “good deal” and a “victory” on Saturday, only to say he opposes the deal on Sunday?…
Indeed, the House will likely take up the Senate deal later today, simply to prove it can’t pass the lower chamber. In the bigger picture, it’s pretty amazing: House Republicans are going to kill a bipartisan compromise on a middle-class tax cut, which just passed the Senate 89 to 10, the week before Christmas.
…. If Americans find all of this ridiculous, they should have been a little more careful before the 2010 midterms.
ThinkProgress: The Florida Family Association has managed to do a lot of damage with its All-American Muslim boycott over the last week and a half, whether by convincing companies like Lowe’s and Kayak to absolutely humiliate themselves, or by stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment against the cast of a touching and totally uncontroversial reality show.
But fortunately one thing sanctimonious moralizers do well is make lists, and they’ve kept track of advertisers who stuck to their guns and either continued to advertise on the show after the FFA started its campaign.
So if you’re withdrawing your business from Lowe’s and Kayak and, during the holiday season, looking for new places to spend some money, you can use their list against them. Those advertisers include:
– Big Lots
– Conagra’s Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes
– Discover Card
– Disney for The Muppets
– GeicoHonda North America, for the Accord and Odyssey
– HTC Phones
– Resolve Clean
– Scrubbing Bubbles
– Kay Jewelers
NYT: Almost 13 years ago, Mitt Romney left Bain Capital, the successful private equity firm he had helped start, and moved to Utah to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympic Games and begin a second career in public life.
Yet when it came to his considerable personal wealth, Mr. Romney never really left Bain.
In what would be the final deal of his private equity career, he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political aspirations.