On This Day: Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at a rally for the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama in Hartford, the day before the Connecticut Super Tuesday primary. Congressional Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Chris Murphy and John B. Larson are onstage behind Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy and Barack Obama. February 4, 2008
3:0: The President and Vice President meet with Department of Defense leadership on Afghanistan
4:30: The President and Vice President meet with the House Democratic Caucus, The East Room
AP: Obama Secures $750M in Pledges to Get Kids Online
Claiming progress in his campaign to get American schools wired for the future, President Barack Obama is announcing commitments from U.S. companies totaling about $750 million to connect more students to high-speed Internet.
Apple is pledging $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools. AT&T and Sprint are contributing free Internet service through their wireless networks. Verizon is pitching in up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions. And Microsoft is making Windows available at discounted prices and offering 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office software.
Obama was to announce the commitments Tuesday at a middle school in the Maryland suburbs near Washington. Also in the pipeline: an addition $2 billion that the Federal Communications Commission is setting aside from service fees over two years to connect another 20 million students to high-speed Internet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement at the Munich Security Conference, that Israel will face boycotts should negotiations with the Palestinians fail, is a level-headed view of reality that the Israeli government chooses to continually ignore.
…. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beats them all: Instead of welcoming Kerry as an ally, he publicly quarrels with him and hints that the secretary of state is trying to pressure Israel to “give up essential interests.”
Netanyahu refuses to understand that Israel’s most essential interest is ending the conflict, and that Kerry is a fair, dedicated, mediator who needs the support of all parties in order to complete this complex process. Netanyahu refuses to understand that now is the time for big decisions, not small politics.
A month ago, the president was on the outs – even among Democrats. Today, he’s quelled critics and getting his chance to make negotiations work.
The push for new sanctions on Iran has stalled. The Democrats who bucked President Obama to back the sanctions bill are backpedaling mightily—no longer even pretending they’re pushing Harry Reid to hold a vote on the measure. And while there’s still plenty of chest-pounding and posturing, the debate’s end result seems clear: The Senate will wait, at least so long as the negotiations move in the right direction.
That’s a full flip from just more than a month ago. Before the December recess, the Senate’s pro-sanctions faction was surging. Senators—including Democrats who are typically Obama loyalists—were agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear negotiations with Iran bordered on capitulation.
So how did Obama — a supposedly feckless president when it comes to handling Congress — turn the tide? Obama’s in-person, all-hands-on-deck advocacy campaign with the Senate appears to have advanced his cause, but it’s not that simple.
South Carolina’s battle over Medicaid expansion: After the Supreme Court ruled that states were not obligated to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, South Carolina was one of the first to opt out. PBS NewsHour’s Mary Jo Brooks reports on the effects for residents who are still uninsured, plus a small alternative program designed to reach some of them.
Bill Hammond (NY Daily News): Anti-Obamacare, facts be damned
House Speaker John Boehner lobbed a social media stink bomb this weekend that distilled Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act to their cynical, knee-jerk essence.
“Sick kids denied specialty care due to #Obamacare,” his Twitter feed proclaimed on Saturday, linking to a conservative blog post based on a TV news report out of Seattle. His Facebook page weighed in on the same story, calling it “heartbreaking” and vowing that House Republicans “will continue working to scrap this broken law.”
There’s just one problem: The shocking claim — that the President’s health reforms resulted in sick children being denied care — was flat-out false. Which Boehner’s staff must have known, assuming they actually read the material they were helping to spread across the Internet.
In fact, all of the children in question did get care, as was perfectly clear in the Jan. 30 press release from Seattle Children’s Hospital that got this snowball started.
President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next month amid reports of a strained American-Saudi relationship over Iran and Syria.
White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that Obama would meet with Saudi King Abdullah in late March, calling it “part of regular consultations” between the two countries.
“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” Carney said.
The Saudi stop will be added to a late March trip that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Vatican City.
Brian Beutler: Angry right’s secret revulsion: Why they really dodge minimum wage questions
Obama’s decision to increase the minimum wage for a small number of federal contractors has drawn out the crazies
It’s no great secret that Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage. They don’t pretend it’s something they want to do under any circumstances. They don’t even really bother disguising their opposition. They cloak their view in dated and oversimplified economic arguments about labor demand and economic growth when the real impediment is ideological, and so it’s a somewhat better kept secret that many Republicans oppose the minimum wage altogether.
Opposing the minimum wage isn’t a politically seemly thing to do, though, and thus the great political consequence of President Obama’s decision, announced during his State of the Union address, to institute a $10.10 minimum wage for future federal contracts, will be to draw the extent of this opposition out into the open.
The pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama conducted by Bill O’Reilly was not only notable for the Fox News anchor’s constant interruptions, but also for his harping on old news. The travails of HealthCare.gov, the murderous attacks in Benghazi and the actions taken by the IRS against conservative groups chewed up 9 minutes and 45 seconds of the 10-minute sitdown.
We all know that those topics are nothing but chum for O’Reilly’s anti-Obama audience. But the president successfully avoided the rhetorical traps set by the ambassador from “fair and balanced.” And he respectfully stood up to the disrespect demanded by said audience by giving as good as he got.
…. It’s always difficult to tell whether the tail is wagging the dog over there at Fox, but I would argue that the IRS conspiracy theories and others are in large part due to O’Reilly and Fox. Neither the station nor its anchor has shown Obama or his office the respect both deserve. And that 10-minute interview was a perfect illustration of it.
Every Saturday morning, President Obama delivers a weekly address, which is immediately followed by a Republican response, but this week’s GOP address was a little different: it was delivered by four Republicans instead of one. The message: there may be some room for a little “bipartisan common ground.”
…. Before getting into the particulars, it’s striking to realize just how small the “common ground” is. There are all kinds of popular ideas that enjoy broad public support – on job creation, aid to struggling families, immigration, public safety, etc. – but none of them made the cut in the official Republican statement.
Instead, progress is now possible in just four areas – four narrow areas.
Florida’s 13th congressional district will host a special election next month and by all appearances, it should be a close contest. Democrats have nominated former state CFO Alex Sink, who very nearly won the 2010 gubernatorial race, and have high hopes about her chances.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is also taking the race very seriously – so seriously, in fact, that the NRCC has come up with an unusual fundraising gambit.
Folks can go to a website that looks legitimate – contribute.sinkforcongress2014.com – and find a nice photo of the Democratic candidate alongside a graphic that reads, “Alex Sink – Congress.” If you’re not reading carefully, you might assume this is a page for Sink supporters to make a campaign contribution to their preferred candidate. But it’s not – this is a page set up by Republicans.
Valerie Jarrett: Today POTUS called Pauline Beck to tell her the home care rule has been finalized—in 07’ he took a walk in her shoes
Reuters: Obama to extend wage law to cover two million home care aides
The Obama administration said on Tuesday it will extend the protection of U.S. minimum wage and overtime law to almost 2 million home health workers who assist the elderly and disabled.
Home health aides, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants will be brought under the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, effective in January 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a statement.
“Today we are taking an important step toward guaranteeing that these professionals receive the wage protections they deserve while protecting the right of individuals to live at home,” said Thomas Perez, who was sworn in on September 4 as President Barack Obama’s new labor secretary.
A year ago today: “The President hugs the First Lady after she had introduced him at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. The campaign tweeted a similar photo from the campaign photographer on election night and a lot of people thought it was taken on election day.” (Photo by Pete Souza)
The Hill: Obama Group’s New Ad Touts Healthcare Law Insurance Rebates
The political advocacy group spun off from President Obama’s reelection campaign on Thursday unveiled a new ad touting the benefits of ObamaCare, their third national ad as the administration readies to rollout their healthcare reforms.
The new ad from Organizing for Action (OFA), titled “Every Day” features a North Carolina family discussing the insurance rebate they received under the healthcare law. The parents Rebecca and Russell worried about how to pay for their son’s medical care in the face of rising premiums.
“When the Affordable Care Act was passed we ended up getting a $350 rebate from our insurance company and then his premiums were going to go down by $60 a month,” says Rebecca in the ad.
“ObamaCare is helping everyday families every day,” reads onscreen text.
“It’s nice to see somebody looking out for the little guy,” says the father Russell.
The Grio: Eric Holder’s Sentencing Reforms Represent A Sea Change
This week, Attorney General Holder announced that Federal Prosecutors would have more discretion (i.e. more leeway) in maneuvering around some of this nation’s more draconian sentencing practices impacting substance abusers and others whose lives and families have been decimated by the so-called War on Drugs. Nearly half of the federal inmate population is serving time for drug offenses. The significance of this policy shift initiated by AG Holder and the DOJ should not be underestimated.
Holder’s announcement this week signals both his leadership and commitment to these issues as well as his capacity to hear and respond to calls for equal justice from the litany of voices aimed at ending the war on drugs and reforming our broken criminal justice system. The Department of Justice memo sent to all U.S. federal prosecutors this week requires them to not include information regarding drug quantities – thereby allowing them to sidestep mandatory minimums – for drug defendants that meet a reasonable set of criteria, including having no affiliations with drug cartels or other criminal organizations, no prior criminal record, and no violent crimes connected to their offenses.
Obamacare critics keep insisting that Obamacare is a bad deal for most people buying insurance on their own. And a big reason is that they don’t think much of the subsidies.
I know. You’re getting tired of hearing about the subsidies. Bear with me, because today we have some new and important information, thanks to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
To review: Obamacare provides offers tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. If your income is less than four times the poverty line, and if you’re buying through one of the new insurance exchanges, then the tax credit will operate like a discount. The less money you have, the bigger the discount. Nowadays, most Obamacare critics acknowledge that the subsidies exist. But they tend to dismiss them as trivial. “Some low-income people will get subsidies,” Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote on Monday. “But that doesn’t change the essential facts.”
Actually, it does change the essential facts—by quite a lot….
The Obama administration has made changes to a college loan program designed to help more families qualify for college aid.
African-American college presidents and lawmakers had sought changes to the PLUS loan program…..
“The Education Department says families that have recent but small-scale debt may now become eligible for PLUS loans through appeals …. Black lawmakers have been pressuring the administration, saying large numbers of previously eligible applicants have been denied aid under tighter credit rules.
“Parents and graduate students who use PLUS loans have no borrowing limit, but they face some of the highest interest rates in the federal student loan system.”
Carrie Healey: Obama’s Half-Sister Speaks On Human Trafficking, Peace Gardens
President Obama’s half-sister, peace advocate and educator, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng spoke today at the Center for American Progress on human trafficking.
Dr. Soetoro-Ng proposed the U.S. plant peace gardens, create “reflective spaces,” and practice yogo in an effort to bring peace to victims of trafficking.
“My brother’s administration is committed to addressing this issue,” she said in regards to Obama’s handling of the issue. ”But today I would like us to consider some grassroots, pro-active, preventative, and educational solutions.”
USA Today: Obama bus stops: Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton
President Obama’s two-day bus tour next week will start with three cities in Upstate New York: Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton.
The major topic will be college education.
Obama will “discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has access to a quality education by reducing costs and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The tour will be Aug. 22 and 23.
The bus tour – the latest in a series of middle-class speeches Obama has been delivering – will also include yet-to-be-determined stops in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Remember when a whole bunch of suckers from our side of the aisle got all gooey about Rand Paul, because Aqua Buddha and Aqua Buddha alone stood between us and a Hellfire missile fired up our keisters from a drone because we said mean things about the president? Well, in the days since, Aqua Buddha’s shown that he has more than a small sweet-tooth for the days when Freedom meant states could keep black people from eating in restaurants and, of course, voting:
“So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”
….The suckers should be embarrassed to have lined up with this clown.
ThinkProgress: Three Republicans Who Opposed Sandy Relief Now Demand Disaster Aid For Arizona
Arizona Republicans Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar all voted against emergency relief funding after SuperStorm Sandy ravaged much of the New Jersey and New York area earlier this year. Now, following an Arizona wildfire, the same trio is vocally complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not doing enough to aid their state.
Aug. 15, 2010 – Pete Souza: “Back in the Gulf Coast for a weekend, the President and First Lady toured St. Andrews Bay on a boat in Panama City Beach, Fla. I noticed their hands touching as they held the rail on the boat.”
Aug. 15, 2010: President Obama and daughter Sasha steer the “Bay Point Lady” during a tour of St. Andrews Bay off Panama City Beach, Fla. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 15, 2011: President Barack Obama greets children from the Valleyland Kids summer program outside a school in Chatfield, Minn., during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama holds a baby as he arrives for lunch at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama greets people outside the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Kate Sheppard: Obama Issues Order To Prevent The Next West, Texas-Style Explosion
On Thursday, President Obama issued an executive order on chemical facility safety, three and a half months after the deadly ammonium nitrate explosion in a West, Texas fertilizer plant. The order outlines a number of new initiatives intended to modernize oversight of plants and strengthen the coordination of the various agencies responsible for safety at these facilities.
To take up those mandates, the order establishes a new Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group, which will include the top officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Homeland Security. It also directs federal, state, local, and tribal groups to figure out how to work together better on this issue.
Clare Kim: Meet The Academy of Motion Picture’s First African-American President
Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, becoming the first African-American and third woman to lead the organization that awards the Oscars every year.
Boone Isaacs, a marketing executive who currently heads CBI Enterprises, was voted in by the board of governors Tuesday night. She has consulted on films like The Artist, The King’s Speech and Precious. She has also served as executive vice president of worldwide publicity at Paramount Pictures and as president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema. Earlier this year, she produced the 4th annual Governors Awards for the Academy.
President Barack Obama named a new, full-time commissioner of the IRS on Thursday, giving the besieged agency a permanent leader.
Obama nominated John Koskinen, a veteran of government service who helped oversee the restructuring of mortgage giant Freddie Mac in the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, to lead the IRS.
“John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform,” Obama said in a statement. “With decades of experience, in both the private and public sectors, John knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances.”
Joseph Diebold: Texas Republicans Want Wendy Davis To Pay For Special Session
After spending their first special session watching State Sen Wendy Davis’ (D) marathon filibuster and their second passing the abortion restrictions Davis was fighting against, the Texas legislature is back for a third session. Now, they need to handle the transportation measure that was the motivation for the original special session, before they got sidetracked with anti-abortion legislation.
Unfortunately for the state’s taxpayers, the extra time will cost them an additional $2.4 million. But one lawmaker has an idea for who should foot part of that bill: Davis herself. State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he thinks Davis should be on the hook for the cost of the extra lawmaking sessions.
Davis shrugged off the criticism, noting that Republican Gov. Rick Perry is the one who decides to add special sessions. “It’s unfortunate that the leadership in power squandered taxpayer dollars pursuing partisan politics before Texas priorities and forced an unnecessary special session,” she said.