11:30: VP Biden meets with law enforcement officials to discuss common sense immigration reform
1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
5:0: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the Diplomatic Corps Reception (Closed press)
Occupy Democrats: Watch a Doctor Destroy a Koch Brother-Funded Anti-Obamacare Ad in 2 Minutes:
The Hill: The Obama administration on Thursday highlighted lower-than-expected premiums for healthcare plans sold through ObamaCare’s new insurance marketplaces.
In the 11 states that have released rates for next year, premiums for a middle-of-the-road plan are an average of 18 percent cheaper than the Congressional Budget Office had expected.
…. New York is the latest state to report that premiums for plans offered through its exchange would be cheaper than expected — and, on average, 50 percent cheaper than comparable policies available in the state today …. California also reported lower-than-expected premiums…
Six states have released rate filings for plans available to small businesses through a separate exchange. Those policies are also an average of 18 percent cheaper than existing coverage options, HHS said.
President Obama on Thursday touted some good news about Obamacare. And, lord knows, he’s earned the right. Republicans and conservative intellectuals keep seizing on setbacks — some real, some imagined — and predicting that Obamacare will be a catastrophe. They are almost certainly wrong.
Ironically, one of the best reasons to believe in Obamacare may be the very issue that has inspired so much chortling on the right: The insurance premiums for people who buy on their own, because they don’t get coverage from an employer or through a government program.
Insurers around the country have already submitted bids…. they are coming in lower than most experts had predicted….
…. it means the overall price of Obamacare — the amount of money the government must spend, in order to make the law function — is going to be even lower than predicted.
ThinkProgress: Most Media Coverage Ignores Premium Drop, Focuses On GOP Effort To Undermine Obamacare
Early on Wednesday, as House Republicans prepared to vote for a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer and individual mandates, New York state officials announced that health care premiums in the new exchange will plummet by at least 50 percent as a result of the law.
For reform advocates, the story represented a reprieve from the constant drum beat of media coverage about implementation delays, predictions of rate shock, and employers dropping coverage. But a ThinkProgress analysis of television reports about the health care law for Wednesday, July 18th, confirms that even with good news to report, bookers and segment producers are still far more interested in broadcasting stories about the political brinkmanship in Washington, DC than the actual, tangible progress of implementation.
Steve Benen: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act did not actually strike down the entire civil-rights law, but rather, gutted it by rejecting Section 4 of the VRA. The burden then shifted to Congress to find a remedy …. Yesterday, the House held its first hearing on the VRA since the court ruling, and if the public comments were any indication, the odds of success in the near future appear long…
Most of the Republican members of the panel apparently didn’t think the hearing was especially important – which is to say, they didn’t show up ….
… Anyone predicting congressional Republicans might do the right thing on voting rights should probably adjust their expectations accordingly. GOP policymakers at the state level are rushing to impose new restrictions to keep voters from participating in their own democracy, and GOP policymakers at the federal level appear content to do nothing to stop them.
As part of our Summer Of Fakery, the House allegedly has taken up the job of repairing the damage done to the Voting Rights Act that occurred when John Roberts declared the day of jubilee. One of the witnesses today was Hans von Spakovsky, who’s been scamming this particular scam for over a decade now. Anyway, this is what von Spakovsky was peddling today.
“[That section] was an unprecedented, extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty……..”
…. Not to bring that pesky Constitution into things again, but here’s an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty:
Amendment XIII: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…..
…. If you want to understand why modern conservatives seem so impatient with settled law, remember that they owe their modern ascendancy to the people who refused to accept any of these three Amendments because they didn’t believe the freaking Civil War changed anything.
ThinkProgress: On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.
Michael Tomasky: Well, we learned something new about what’s going on in wingnut land. Apparently, you see, there are four–no; make that at least four!–diplomatic officials who are in possession of vital information about Benghazi: the department’s (er, Hillary’s) refusal to increase security in the months before the attack; the diplo security forces (er, Hillary’s) failure to respond to the attack in the most forceful way; and finally, the administration’s (er, Hillary’s) cover-up and lies in the aftermath.
Ed Henry asked about this right off the bat, injecting a dose of Breitbartism into the proceedings. Like everyone else in America who tries not to patronize the fever swamps, I went “huh?” Then I Googled it and got this Fox News piece laying out the whole vast conspiracy:
Senator Tim Kaine: Nearly four months after the horrific Newtown shootings, the Senate is poised to do something that hasn’t been done for a long time in Congress – actually have a meaningful floor debate on reducing gun violence. Some senators and lobbyists are trying to make sure that no vote can take place. This should outrage the strong majority of American citizens who believe in reasonable gun rules to protect public safety.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and 11 other senators have promised to filibuster any discussion of gun safety rules. Instead of just voting against restrictions they don’t like, they are trying to block any vote whatsoever….
…. There are those who believe the National Rifle Association and its allies are so powerful that no legislation will pass. But the power of the organization’s leadership is vastly overrated. I’ve run three statewide races in the NRA’s home state. Its leadership campaigned vigorously against me each time, spending nearly $800,000 against me in my 2012 Senate race. I won all my races anyway.
Steve Benen: I’ve long believed we can learn a lot about politicians by how they conduct their campaigns. Candidates who are honest and above board before the election tend to be honest and above board after the votes are tallied. Those who choose to be dishonest and sleazy during the race are often less than forthright once in office.
And if this adage is true, we’re learning some unsettling things about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell…
Greg Sargent: …. The suggestion by the McConnell campaign that Mother Jones engaged in “Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters” is intriguing; it constitutes a suggestion that Mother Jones broke the law. To my knowledge, the McConnell campaign didn’t provide CNN with any evidence of this. (The Mother Jones story only says that a “recording” of the strategy session “was obtained by Mother Jones.”) It’s a serious charge, and if it were made without evidence by the campaign of the Senate minority leader — perhaps the most powerful Republican elected official the country — it’s a big deal.
Since late last week, we have been fed a steady diet of grandma on catfood and the eeeebil Obama that is trying to make that happen. As usual, focusing on the method of inflation adjustment (that isn’t simply applicable to Social Security but all of government), our venerable Leftist talking heads are missing the forest for the trees. Well, more like they’re missing the forest for the branches. While people are howling at a revised method of calculating inflation, they are completely missing broader perspective on how this president is devising a more expansive social safety net.
So let’s get some perspective. This president has expanded the social safety net in more broadly than anyone since the passage of Social Security – through health care reform, through expanding children’s health insurance, through student aid expansion and through Medicare reforms. Let’s talk about those.
Charles Pierce: …. the senior members of the Republican party reminded us today that, no matter how much lipstick they slather on the pig in order to fool the more credulous members of the courtier media, the heart of their party is still black and withered and smells of death and corruption.
…. This is what prevails when you scratch down beneath the pretty surface — a party so completely fking unhinged that it thinks that a treaty on the rights of disabled people is some sort of one-world plot to steal the liberty of a third-rate moron like Jim Inhofe. …. They simply do not care. Their prejudices and their paranoia must have pride of place over any help to be given to the less fortunate among us….
…. I can hardly wait for the next Beltway hummer in which Rubio is promoted as “the changing face of the Republican party.” They can’t stand up to the lunatic base because the lunatic base is all they have.
Steve Benen: Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole made a rare Senate appearance this morning, sitting in a wheelchair just off the floor so that members would have to see him as they entered the chamber. Why? Because they were poised to vote on ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Dole hoped to send a message.
It didn’t work. The Senate killed the treaty this afternoon, with a final vote of 61 to 38, which seems like a lopsided majority, but which fell short of the two-thirds necessary for ratification. Eight Republicans broke ranks and joined Democrats in support of the treaty, but the clear majority of the Senate GOP voted to block it.
Charles Pierce: “Mike Huckabee …. the de-bloated god-bothering whackaloon who is occasionally mistaken for a nice guy.”
Bob Costas responds to Fox News attacks: “Sometimes The Quality Of The Thinking Of Those Who Oppose You Speaks For Itself.” (See video at Media Matters)
…. Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said as soon as Ryan and Romney started campaigning together, during his daily calls with Romney “it was like talking to your buddy who just met a girl and is giddy.” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said when he saw the chemistry of Ryan and Romney together, he thought, “it was like a bromance.” (Lynn Sweet)
AP: Some of the money from President Barack Obama’s health care law is flowing to places you might not expect.
Two Texas public employee programs are among the top 25 beneficiaries of a $5-billion fund to shore up employer coverage for early retirees, despite Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s vow to repeal what Republicans derisively call “Obamacare.”
And records show the Huntsman family business, where GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was once a top executive, received about $1 million.
Some see a gap between dire Republican rhetoric about the health care overhaul and the pragmatic impulse to cash in on a new government benefit.
“Lots of Texans are already benefiting from health care reform,” said Anne Dunkelberg, a health care expert at the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Other than for political theater, there would not be the kind of opposition there is.” The nonpartisan center advocates for the poor.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
…. with Spain’s PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
… with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff
…. with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
… with International Labor Organization Director-General Juan Somavia
CNN: President Barack Obama leads all of his potential Republican challengers in hypothetical 2012 matchups among Pennsylvania adults, according to a new poll.
The Franklin and Marshall College poll released Thursday in the battleground state, shows Obama ahead of potential rivals Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, but the results are closest when the president is paired with Romney.
Obama leads the former Massachusetts governor 35% to 26% and Cain, the former pizza executive, 38% to 24%. He enjoys a 20% lead over Texas Gov. Perry, 40% to 20% and a 13% advantage over former two-term Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum, 38% to 25%.
The U.S. Senate is supposed to vote on the American Jobs Act as early as tonight. It’s a bill that will put people to work immediately, and it contains proposals that members of both parties have said in the past that they’d support.
But Senate Republicans want to block it. Not because they have a plan that creates jobs right now – not one Republican, in Congress or in the presidential race, does. They only have a political plan.
Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory. They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election. So they’re doing everything in their power to make sure nothing gets done.
There’s still time for principled Republican senators to declare their independence from this kamikaze political strategy.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, needs to hear what Americans like you think.
You can reach his office at (202) 224-2541. Tell him not to let politics get in the way of creating jobs.
Will you take three minutes and call now? Then click here to let us know how it went.
If Sen. McConnell’s office says he won’t support the American Jobs Act, ask which parts he doesn’t support:
– Making sure that those who served our country can get good jobs at home by providing incentives for businesses to hire unemployed veterans? — Preventing layoffs of teachers, cops, and firefighters, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more? — Rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, and airports with a bipartisan, public-private infrastructure bank? — Modernizing at least 35,000 public schools in rural and urban areas? — Providing job training for the unemployed, especially young people who have been hit especially hard?
The President has been forceful and clear: Action on jobs is desperately needed, and Congress should pass this bill right away. And he has specifically asked those of us who agree to make sure Republican lawmakers know it.
This bill – and the simple idea that every American who works hard and plays by the rules has a fundamental right to economic security – is a big part of what we stand for as a campaign and as a movement.
There’s no good reason for Congress to delay any more – and if they do, you deserve to know why.
Call Sen. McConnell’s office. Tell him you’re watching, and you expect Republicans in the Senate to do the right thing and move forward on this bill today.