President Barack Obama addresses an audience of armed forces at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. President Obama thanked the troops for their service and marked the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan. ahead of the upcoming holidays
President Barack Obama returns a salute as he steps off Marine One helicopter upon his return on the South Lawn of the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama reads “Twas the night before Christmas” to patients, families, and staff at Children’s National Health System in Washington
Beth Fitzgerald: Sharp Decline In Uninsured New Jerseyans In Wake Of Obamacare, Report Finds
The number of uninsured New Jersey non-elderly adults plunged 46 percent — from 21.2 percent in September 2013 to 11.5 percent in June 2014 — according to a new report Friday from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to the report, co-authored by Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, and Katherine Hempstead of RWJF, the decrease is statistically significant — and suggests that more than 520,000 New Jerseyans have obtained health coverage since September 2013. “This are the first numbers showing the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the number of uninsured in New Jersey,” Cantor said. “They show a robust response to the ACA.”
Cantor said the survey shows that “People are responding to the availability of subsidies for private plans (on HealthCare.gov) and to the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. It appears that the problem of the uninsured was cut nearly in half since the third quarter of 2013. We can expect the number gaining coverage to rise a bit further this year, as people eligible for Medicaid can still sign up. The next opportunity for other individuals to buy coverage will begin in November, when the HealthCare.gov annual enrollment period opens for 2015 plans.” The state was also very smart to opt for the Medicaid expansion, which is the main reason the uninsured is dropping at a faster rate than the national average. The big increase in federal funds that will be spent in premium subsidies and Medicaid will also help stimulate New Jersey’s economy. Good news all around.”
President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac with Vice President Joe Biden prior to departure from Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern)
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:45: President Obama is interviewed by local and national meteorologists participating in “Weather from the White House”
4:15: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry
The Week Ahead
Wednesday: Travels to Los Angeles to participate in a joint DSCC/DCCC event. In the evening, the President will be honored at a dinner hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation. He will remain overnight in Los Angeles.
Thursday: Participates in a DNC roundtable in Los Angeles before traveling to San Diego to participate in a DCCC event. The President will then travel to San Jose where he will participate in two DNC events and remain overnight.
Friday: Participates in an event on energy in the San Jose area. Following the event the President will return to Washington, DC.
We can't get to the reckoning about America's racialized political economy when one of the parties suppresses vote/denies health insurance.
The number of New Jersey residents who enrolled in Affordable Care Act insurance plans more than doubled in the final month before the deadline, bringing the total who signed up from the Garden State to roughly 162,000. More than 80 percent received a federal subsidy to help pay for their policies, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today.
Another 98,000 New Jersey residents selected coverage through the newly expanded state Medicaid program. One New Jersey health policy expert called the last-minute surge “nothing less than astounding.” It meant the state exceeded the goal set by public-health experts, said Jon Whiten, deputy director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a think tank that supports health care reform.
The satellite images viewed by President Obama before a meeting with eight Western governors were stark, showing how snowpack in California’s mountains had shrunk by 86 percent in a single year. “It was a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment,” recalled White House counselor John D. Podesta, one of two aides who briefed the president that February day. Obama mentioned the images several times as he warned the governors that political leaders had no choice but to cope with global warming’s impact. He is regularly briefed on scientific reports on the issue, including a national climate assessment that he will help showcase Tuesday. He is using his executive authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources, and is moving ahead with stricter fuel-efficiency standards for the heaviest trucks. And while he routinely brings up climate change in closed-door meetings with world leaders, according to his aides, he also discusses it in his private life, talking about global warming’s implications with his teenage daughters. “This is really real for him, in terms of what he’s leaving,” said Cecilia Muñoz, who directs the White House Domestic Policy Council and has helped coordinate federal investment in climate-resilient infrastructure projects. “This is personal for him.”
As president, Obama enacted the first carbon limits for cars and light-duty trucks and helped push through a House bill that would have imposed a national limit on greenhouse gas emissions. Obama has remained wary of some of the risks stemming from hydraulic fracturing, including the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When the subject of natural gas came up during a Nov. 30, 2012, meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Obama turned to Holdren and his deputy assistant for energy and climate change, Heather Zichal. “Do we have an accurate accounting of methane emissions, and do we have a problem there?” Zichal recalled the president asking. The White House announced a new methane strategy — which will include additional federal regulations — in March. After his reelection, Obama told chief speechwriter Jon Favreau to make climate change “one of the big sections” in his second inaugural address, Favreau recalled. The move surprised even some of his closest aides.
The mortality rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after the state enacted health care reform in 2006, according to a new study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Since Massachusetts’ health law relies on many of the same policies as the Affordable Care Act, the findings suggest that Obamacare could help save thousands of lives once it’s fully implemented. That suggests that for every 830 people who gained insurance, one death was prevented.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that that health reform had a particularly significant impact in the areas of Massachusetts with previously high rates of poverty and uninsurance; the mortality rate decline was steepest there. Although life expectancy for Americans as a whole has been on the rise, widening income inequality and deepening health disparities have ensured that poor people’s lives are actually getting shorter. This study suggests that Obamacare has the potential to help reverse that trend — but that’s only possible in the states that agree to fully implement the law.
Brian Beutler: The D.C. Press Corps Is Suffering From Benghazi Stockholm Syndrome
Last week, after Republicans pivoted to Benghazi in unison, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein observed an interesting phenomenon. When it came time to put White House press secretary Jay Carney in the hot seat, reporters for smaller outlets—whose correspondents are consigned to the back rows of the briefing room—were interested in real, unfolding dramas: Ukraine, the Affordable Care Act, the Snowden disclosures, and so on. But when Carney moved to the big-name journalists at the front of the room, the only thing anyone seemed to care about was Benghazi And that raises an interesting question, because in covering the story as a political scandal, just as Republicans want them to, the only scalps the media has really collected are their own.
CBS suspended Lara Logan after “60 Minutes” aired, and later had to retract, her Benghazi feature; Sharyl Attkisson resigned from the same network, charging her former colleagues with liberal bias—reportedly because they didn’t adequately promote her Benghazi coverage; and ABC’s Jonathan Karl had to apologize last year after he passed along an inaccurate summation of then-unreleased White House Benghazi emails. The administration had granted members of Congress access to the emails in classified briefings, and the source who provided Karl the summary (presumably a Republican) had either taken poor notes, or intentionally misconstrued their contents, to make it appear as if the White House had thumbed the scales in the inter-agency dispute over how to address the attacks publicly.
Terence McCoy: The Man Behind The Nigerian Girls’ Kidnappings And His Death-Defying Mystique
No one knows how old he is. Some say 35. Some say 36. Others think he’s 44. Twice he was believed dead, and twice he reemerged to conduct an even broader campaign of killing and terror that made him one of the most wanted men in the world.
His name is Abubakar Shekau. He is the leader of Boko Haram. And he has your girls. “I abducted the girls at a Western education school,” Shekau proclaimed on Monday in a video, clutching a rifle among several masked men.
“And you are disturbed. I said Western education should end. … I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell; he commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
Shekau, who has a $7 million bounty on his head, grinned a mouth of white teeth.
The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say. The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people —
fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged. A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday he is personally overseeing investigations into major banks, and is working with regulators as those probes enter a “key” stage. The Obama administration’s top attorney emphasized that no institution or individual is powerful or influential enough to escape capture, and that the notion of “too big to jail” is a myth. “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail,’” he said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “To be clear, no individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law.” Holder said in his new message that his team is working closely with financial regulators to mitigate those potential risks, clearing the way for criminal charges if the case can be made.
Holder said Monday that there are times when an institution’s behavior was wrong, but not necessarily illegal. Furthermore, sometimes it can appear that a bank broke the law, but is not backed by evidence permissible in court. Nonetheless, Holder underlined that when banks do break the law, his department will not hesitate to bring forward the case. On that front, he said the Justice Department has made “great strides” in coordinating with financial regulators to address potential economic risks from criminal charges, including the revocation of a bank’s charter to do business in the United States. The Justice Department is reportedly examining BNP Paribas for evading U.S. sanctions, and Credit Suisse for helping Americans evade taxes.
Noam N. Levey: Health Insurance Reduces Deaths, New Massachusetts Study Shows
Giving more people health insurance could save tens of thousands of lives nationwide in the coming years, a new analysis of data from Massachusetts, whose trailblazing reforms became the model for President Obama’s health law, suggests. Throughout the national debate over the Affordable Care Act, critics of the law have questioned whether expanding coverage actually results in better health. The new analysis by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Urban Institute adds to the growing evidence that health coverage does make people healthier.
Mortality rates in Massachusetts measurably improved compared with similar places around the country after the state began guaranteeing its residents health coverage in 2006, the researchers found. A similar trend is emerging nationally, as surveys indicate millions have gained coverage since state marketplaces created by the federal law opened in October. A nationwide Gallup poll released Monday showed the percentage of working-age adults without coverage dropped from 18% last fall to 13.4% in April.
The White House is backing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki after he faced calls to resign Monday over allegations that veterans died waiting for care in Phoenix and other problems in his department. “As the President said last week, we take the allegations around the Phoenix situation very seriously,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman. “That’s why he immediately directed Secretary Shinseki to investigate, and Secretary Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review,” he said.
“We must ensure that our nation’s veterans get the benefits and services that they deserve and have earned. The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the Department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.” Earlier Monday, the American Legion called on Shinseki to resign, although the Veterans of Foreign Wars declined to do so. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Veterans’ Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, called on Shinseki to resign “due to chronic mismanagement and systemic failures of the VA under his leadership, ranging from dramatic cost overruns in major construction projects to glaring patient safety problems,” according to a press release.
I know it’s cruel to pick on people who are ill, but in Ron Fournier’s case an exception must be made. Fournier is currently ailing from a condition known as bipartisanship (medical name: vacuousness), which manifests itself when another person expresses a thought that can be deemed partisan. For example, on Monday Paul Krugman wrote a column castigating Republicans for releasing a biased report on whether people were paying their Obamacare premiums. (TPM: “Nearly 40 percent of Obamacare enrollees signed up after March 15—which means their first premium wasn’t due until after the committee finished collecting its data.”) Krugman scolded the GOP and expressed outrage that the Party was so dishonest.
The effect of this was to trigger one of Fournier’s symptoms: writing silly responses to people like Krugman. Fournier begins by agreeing with Krugman’s contention that the GOP is dishonest. Fournier provides no evidence that the White House could get accurate figures, and in any case it’s failure to do so is not an example of “skewing the truth.” Moreover, there will presumably be accurate figures after the end of May, which is when people who enrolled will have to pay up
Danny Vinik: Republicans Still Don’t Have A Jobs Plan, But Americans Think They Do
A Pew Research-USA Today survey released on Monday finds that Americans’ number one priority remains jobs. And yet, while Democrats have fought for increased government spending to boost the recovery, Americans are planning to reward Republicans in November—even though they have still not offered a credible jobs plan. And while the recovery certainly could be much stronger, its weakness is the result of Republican obstruction, not the Democratic agenda.
In the debate over whether to apply fiscal or monetary stimulus, the GOP chooses neither. Facing a massive hole in aggregate demand, Republicans have offered the same supply-side agenda as always: tax cuts, spending cuts, and deregulation. These are not macroeconomic policies for filling a short-term hole in demand and spurring a recovery. Only after the economy returns to sustainable, full employment—something we haven’t achieved in nearly 20 years—should we look at supply-side policies to boost growth.
Jonathan Cohn: More Good News For Obamacare: It May Be Saving Lives After All
It also suggests the health care law, implemented effectively, could save thousands of lives a year. The subject of the new paper is the Massachusetts health care reform scheme, signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney, that took effect in 2007. It is an obvious subject for research, because it looks just like Obamacare and it succeeded in reducing the number of uninsured, just as Obamacare seems to be doing. The change made a big difference. Subsequent studies showed that, as more people got insurance, fewer people struggled with medical bills and more people got regular medical care. But while hospitalizations for preventable conditions came down and people reported that they felt better, those findings didn’t fully address the question of how insurance was affecting health. Enter three well-credentialed, well-respected health care economists—Benjamin Sommers (who’s also a physician) and Katherine Baicker, from the Harvard School of Public Health; and Sharon Long, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.
The trio obtained figures on mortality and, better still, they were able to isolate causes of mortality “amenable to health care.” In other words, they were able to get data on cancers, various cardiac problems, and other conditions that, with better medical care, people should be more likely to survive. Then they compared how the people in Massachusetts fared relative to groups of people from around New England, who were similar in almost every meaningful way—age, income, and so on—except that they lived in states where similar expansions of health insurance were not underway. The results were clear. In those other places, outside of Massachusetts, the death rate from “amenable” causes went down by only a little bit and the overall death rate actually increased a tad. But in Massachusetts, deaths overall and deaths from “amenable” causes both went down—significantly. The authors calculated that, for every 830 people who got insurance in Massachusetts, about one person avoided a premature death.
Uninsured rate drops to 13.4% in April, new all-time low in Gallup Poll. Among blacks, 13.8% versus 20.9% before #Obamacare
That’s a big payoff and it suggests Obamacare might have one, too. If millions of additional Americans end up with health insurance because of the law, as now seems likely, it would mean that at least a few thousand are going to live longer. And the number could get pretty high. A story in the New York Times suggested 17,000 would be a good guess. Harold Pollack has done some back-of-the-envelope math for healthinsurance.org and concluded the number could be as high as 24,000.
Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave to the crowd after Obama delivered election night remarks after winning the North Carolina Primary at a rally at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh on May 6, 2008
President Obama with Afghan President Karzai and Pakistan President Zardari walk along the Colonnade following a US-Afghan-PakistanTrilateral meeting in Cabinet Room May 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama meets in the Rose Garden of the White House with, from left, Susan Davies, deputy counsel to the President, Phil Schiliro, assistant to the President for legislative affairs, Ron Klain, chief of staff to the Vice President, and Bob Bauer, counsel to the President, regarding the pending Supreme Court nomination, May 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Dr. Jill Biden walks down the Cross Hall en route to a Mother’s Day Tea in the East Room of the White House, May 6, 2011. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden hosted the tea for military spouses, relatives, and friends (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama and Vice President Biden shake hands with the troops following the President’s remarks at Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama disembarks Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, following his trip to Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama plays golf with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) at left at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on May 6, 2013
On This Day: President Obama hugs North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey, October 31, 2012
Today (All Times Eastern):
12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
12:0 Cory Booker will be sworn in as a U.S. senator by Vice President Biden
1:30: President Obama delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit
3:15: President Obama meets with Senator-elect Cory Booker
5:15: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome local children and military families to trick-or-treat at the White House
Jonathan Cohn: Guess Who Really Wants To Take Away Your Insurance: Republicans
Republicans are outraged that some Americans must give up their current insurance plans because they don’t satisfy Obamacare’s new regulations for benefits and pricing. Partly they are mad at President Obama, because he repeatedly said people who like their coverage would get to keep it. And that’s fine. As I said yesterday, Obama should have said “most” people, not “all” people. Readers can decide for themselves whether, by the standards of politics, that’s a felony or misdemeanor.
But Republicans are also making a substantive argument here. It’s unconscionable, they say, that lawmakers would force people to give up their current coverage. Just a few minutes ago, during congressional testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, an angry Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee practically screamed at the witness: “You’re taking away their choice!”
It’s good politics, I’m sure. It’s also breathtakingly cynical. Republicans have repeatedly endorsed proposals that would take insurance away from many more Americans—and leave them much, much worse off.
Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement.
She says she’s angry at President Obama for having promised that people who like their health plans could keep them, when hers is getting canceled for not meeting Obamacare’s standards.
“Please explain to me,” she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, “how my plan is a ‘substandard’ plan when … I’d be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin.” Bartiromo didn’t take her up on her request. So I will.
The bottom line is that Cavallaro’s assertion that “there’s nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act,” as she put it Tuesday on NBC Channel 4, is the product of her own misunderstandings, abetted by a passel of uninformed and incurious news reporters.
I talked with Cavallaro, 60, after her CNBC appearance. Let’s walk through what she told me…
Spandan (The People’s View): The Cheapest Shot Against Obamacare, And Why Men Should Pay for Maternity
Right wing Obamacare opponents have a rehashed talking point: the Affordable Care Act forces people to purchase coverage for things they do not need. This accusation comes from the fact that the ACA requires insurance plans to cover maternity and newborn care, and that is outrageous because men, who will never get pregnant, are being forced to pay for a policy that covers maternity care.
It’s heartening to see the sudden Republican realization that men will never get pregnant; one only wishes they could apply such factual conviction to decisions about a pregnancy and let those who do get pregnant, rather than the government, determine whether to carry those pregnancies to term.
But I digress. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were free to charge women more for health insurance than men – essentially treating the fact of being female as a pre-existing condition – with the excuse that women could get pregnant, and thus they, and not those who couldn’t be pregnant, should have to pay for the cost of childbearing.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently appeared on Fox News and when the discussion turned to the budget, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
In reality, the deficit is not growing; it’s shrinking:
For the first time in five years, the U.S. government has run a budget deficit below $1 trillion….
This is the fastest deficit reduction seen in the United States since the end of World War II.
Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons mixing, filling and production facilities, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday. The watchdog body’s announcement means that the first deadline has been met in an ambitious program to eliminate the country’s entire chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of next year. The joint United Nations-OPCW mission visited 21 out of 23 sites, the OPCW statement said, and 39 of the 41 facilities at those sites.
The remaining two sites were too dangerous for the inspectors to go to, it said, but Syria had declared those sites as abandoned. The chemical weapons equipment there was moved to other sites, which were inspected. The OPCW said it was “now satisfied that it has verified — and seen destroyed — all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.” The next milestone for the mission will be November 15, it said, when the body’s executive council must approve a detailed plan submitted by Syria for the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile.
CNBC: US-Single Family Home Prices Rise In Aug, Yearly Gain Best Since 2006
U.S. single-family home prices rose in August and also posted their strongest annual gain in more than seven years, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday. The report suggested the housing sector continued to recover despite those headwinds. Home prices have been rising nationally since early 2012 and economists have singled out housing as one of the bright spots of the U.S. recovery.
Think Progress: Senate May Soon Have Enough Votes To Pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) To Protect LGBT Workers
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised a Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Thanksgiving, and possibly as early as next week. This bill, which has been proposed in every Congress since 1994, would make it illegal for employers to make hiring, promotion, or firing decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Like all Senate legislation, ENDA will require a cloture vote of 60 votes before it can pass, and it seems the votes are almost all there, with several new endorsements this week.
An overwhelming majority of the country believe the employment protections already exist at the federal level, when in fact only 21 states protect sexual orientation and 17 protect gender identity. Under the current mosaic of protections, LGBT people have indicated that they much prefer working in states where they are protected, impacting businesses across the country.
Marine One departs the South Lawn of the White House at the start of President Obama’s trip to Boston, Oct. 30, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
@NewsBreaker: White House decorated for Halloween as POTUS returned from Boston
On This Day:
President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talk with local residents at the Brigantine Beach Community Center, which is serving as a shelter for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets a woman in the audience after speaking at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association, Oct. 31, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
It was Halloween at the White House for military families and the First Lady began dancing with some of the their children, Oct. 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Marian Robinson welcome children from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools for Halloween festivities at the North Portico of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama hands out treats during a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House staff in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama reacts to performers during a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House staff in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)