TPM: A lesser-known but important provision in “Obamacare” that regulates how health insurance companies spend their money is yielding benefits for consumers, a new study finds.
By this August, insurers are projected to send consumers a total of $1.3 billion in rebates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday – $541 million to large employers, $377 million to small businesses and $426 million to people with their own insurance plans.
The rebates are the result of a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent or 85 percent of premium earnings on health care – as opposed to marketing and administrative activities – or otherwise provide rebates to their consumers.
Steve Benen: Joe Weisenthal published a pretty remarkable chart today noting economic growth in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe over the last nine years….
…. Once President Obama took office and the Recovery Act/stimulus began putting capital back into the economy, the U.S. economy began growing again. In the U.K., the economy started to improve, right up until British officials began implementing an austerity agenda – at which point the national economy stagnated and slipped back into a recession.
Obama rejected austerity, and as a result, American growth, while fragile and insufficient, is easily outpacing Europe’s and UK’s, where austerity measures have ruled the day.
….When David Cameron’s austerity policies began, Republicans were not only certain they would work, they pleaded with American policymakers to follow the Tories’ lead …. The remarkable thing is, Republicans aren’t the least bit chastened by the track record of failure.
ThinkProgress: …. The Romney campaign organized a conference call today with three of Romney’s foreign policy advisers to push back (against VP Biden’s foreign policy speech). During the call, Romney adviser Ambassador Pierre Prosper attacked President Obama for dealing with Russia, albeit using geographical terms from the Cold War era:
PROSPER: ….. The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia….
Aside from the fact that “Czechoslovakia” broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia nearly 20 years ago, the Obama administration never “abandoned” missile defense sites because they were never there to begin with….
Michael Tomasky: It seems clear that the main issue Mitt Romney is going to use to try to reestablish himself as a moderate is immigration …. Can Romney, who staked out an immigration position during the primaries that left him sounding like Pat Buchanan, really pull this off? My bet: He’ll be smooth, he’ll do almost everything right, he’ll say all the right things — and he’ll end up with something very much like the 31 percent of the Latino vote John McCain got, maybe two or three points more, tops. The reason is simple: Romney, like his party, is just too white.
…. There is no signal, at least yet, that Rubio would make a whit of difference. Last weekend, a poll came out in which 1,000-plus Latinos were asked about Obama-Biden matchups against Romney-Rubio, and Romney paired with various other Hispanic Republicans ….. in Florida, Obama did better among Latinos against Romney with Rubio on the ticket, suggesting that maybe to know him isn’t to love him.
NYT: The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities….
In making the general assertion that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” the ad cites as evidence $1.2 billion that went “to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico.” In fact, the company involved in the plant, SunPower, said that the $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee was for its solar ranch in California….
The ad also says that the Obama administration sent “half a billion to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs in Finland.” …. Loans under the agency’s alternative vehicle program went to Fisker Automotive, an American electric car company based in California that has facilities in Finland, as well as China and Germany. The agency provided $169 million for engineering and tooling work, all carried out in the United States….
Distriction.com: Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later.
So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language. “I am proud of you,” Stephon signed. The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back.
“Thank you,” Obama replied.
This is one of those moments that humanize the office of the presidency…..
Stephon: “The moment I will never forget was when he looked at me. He gave me a chance to talk to him. It was like he was waiting for me to say something. I took the moment and signed “I am proud of you,” and his response was “Thank u” in sign language back! Oh my gosh! I was like wow! He understood me after I said I was proud of him. It was so amazing…I was just speechless. Right after he thanked me, he smiled at another deaf lady who signed “I love you.” When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me. He was just a humble man. I am just impressed by him and know that he will have my vote and he will win second term without a doubt. Yeah, I feel safe to have him for another term.”
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as President Hu Jintao of China greets daughters Sasha and Malia before the start of the State Dinner reception in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 19, 2011. Marian Robinson is pictured at right.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
ABC: It turns out that the State Visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao had one success not mentioned in the joint statement issued at its conclusion: Sasha Obama got to practice her Chinese with President Hu.
As first disclosed by Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications in a videoconference with Chinese bloggers, more Americans are studying about China these days.
“The president pointed out last night at the State Dinner that his daughter Sasha is a very young girl but her class is studying Chinese,” Rhodes said. “She’s under 10 years old but she’s studying Chinese and she wanted to have the chance to practice her Chinese with President Hu. You know not every 9-year-old has the opportunity to try out her first phrases in Chinese with the president of China.”