President Barack Obama signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; a job-training legislation which aims to help job seekers gain valuable employment skills, as guests and members of Congress look on at the White House
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Text of the President and Vice President’s remarks here
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In other important news today…
President Barack Obama meets with Apollo 11 astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission
Peter Budetti (LA Times): ….. Medicare is a success story, providing high-quality benefits and a strong safety net for seniors and people with disabilities. But as costs have grown … so have the opportunities for criminals to commit fraud.
In his Aug. 21 Times Op-Ed article, Malcolm Sparrow focused on one part of this problem, explaining how criminals take advantage of Medicare’s electronic payment system to make false claims. But what Sparrow does not mention is that over the last two years the Obama administration has undertaken an ambitious effort to rid Medicare of criminals, and we are turning the electronic payment system to our advantage in that fight.
Since President Obama took office, we have conducted an unprecedented crackdown on those who steal from Medicare, giving law enforcement greater resources, putting more boots on the ground and increasing penalties. In 2010, these efforts recovered a record $4 billion in taxpayer money.
But we’re not just prosecuting fraud. We’re also taking steps to prevent it…. (see article for details)
In the past our response to fraud was often so fragmented because different jurisdictions didn’t have easy ways to share information …. Today, not only do we have all our claims data visible in one place in real time, we’re also adding other sources of information such as the many tips that come in to our 1-800-MEDICARE hotline….
…. For criminals looking to get rich, Medicare’s electronic payment system was once an easy target. In the fight against fraud today, it’s quickly becoming one of our own greatest weapons.
Steve Benen: Last year, the Senate Banking Committee twice approved Peter Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve. And twice, the Senate wasn’t allowed to vote on Diamond because Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and a handful of his far-right colleagues threw tantrums for unknown reasons. So, this year, President Obama resubmitted the Diamond nomination. And once again, the petulant Republican from Alabama led a small contingent that decided they’re entitled to veto power over the process.
After more than a year of waiting for a simple vote, Diamond has given up. In a New York Times op-ed, the respected Nobel laureate explained why he’s withdrawing:
Instead of going to the Fed, however, I will go about my congenial professional existence as a professor at M.I.T., where I have taught and researched since 1966, and I will take advantage of some of the many opportunities that come to a Nobel laureate. So don’t worry about me … But we should all worry about how distorted the confirmation process has become, and how little understanding of monetary policy there is among some of those responsible for its Congressional oversight.
… Diamond is among the most accomplished economists of his generation, and last year, was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. And yet, there was Richard Shelby & Co., insisting that Diamond lacked the qualifications to join the board of governors of the Federal Reserve ……The result of this fiasco isn’t just the loss of a qualified nominee to an important post; it’s also a lost opportunity to have the Fed take actions to bolster the economy. We can only hope that this wasn’t part of a larger campaign by Republicans to hurt the economy on purpose.