Posts Tagged ‘recovery

17
Feb
14

Happy 5th Birthday, Stimulus!

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Jason Sattler: 5 Ways The Stimulus Saved And Remade America

It Reversed America’s Layoff Crisis. What happened in mid-2009 that suddenly boosted America out of recession and reversed the escalating trend of layoffs, which is measured here with the four-week moving average of initial unemployment claims that simply averages the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits? Was it the uptick of people buying tricorn hats or purchasing signs to call Obama a socialist/fascist/corporate cronyist?

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Or maybe it was the result of markets calmed by government intervention infused with the sudden burst of spending via the only place from which it could come in such a crisis, the federal government? It Led To The Creation Or Saving Of 9 Million Jobs. The most untold part of the untold story of the stimulus is the dramatic way it nearly conjured a vibrant green energy industry that barely existed five years ago.

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Pete Danko: More Wind Power Equals Lower Electricity Prices

The price of electricity has dropped in states that have developed extensive wind power over the past five years. It’s just a slight drop, but here’s the kicker: the other states have seen a hefty rise.  The AWEA pointed to 11 states that had produce more than 7 percent of their electricity from wind power – Texas, Wyoming, Oregon, Oklahoma, Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. In those states, the price of electricity fell 0.37 percent in the past five years. Meanwhile, in the rest of the states, electricity went up by 7.79 percent.

More here

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Igor Volsky: Republicans Slam Stimulus On Fifth Anniversary – But Most Took Credit For It Back Home

Monday marks the five-year anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery Act, President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus stimulus package that invested in everything from infrastructure projects to electronic medical health care records and alternative energy sources. Every single Republican in the House and almost every Republican in the Senate — with the exception of Former Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — voted against the measure and today the GOP continues to deride the law as wasteful an ineffective.

But as ThinkProgress reported throughout 2009, over half of the GOP caucus praised the effects of the stimulus or took credit for the federal dollars in their home districts and states — despite repeatedly voting against it in Washington D.C. The Wall Street Journal reported “Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who called the stimulus a ‘wasteful spending spree’ that ‘misses the mark on all counts,’ wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October in support of a grant application from a group in his district which, he said, ‘intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.’” Ryan also wrote letters to the Secretary of Energy requesting stimulus funds for a local energy company in 2009. Ryan repeatedly voted against the stimulus.

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2.17.14

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Steve Benen: The Recovery Act, Five Years Later

It seems like ages ago, but in late 2008 and early 2009, the global economic crisis had reached terrifying levels, and U.S. policymakers had to choose a direction for the nation’s future. Democrats rallied behind a stimulus package called the Recovery Act, while Republicans called for a five-year federal spending freeze. First, if the nation had followed the GOP’s preferred course at the height of the crisis – David Brooks described the Republican prescription at the time as “insane” – the Great Recession would have been far worse, making their complaints now rather laughable. Second, if GOP lawmakers are convinced the stimulus failed, why’d they take credit for its investments back home? And third, public relations notwithstanding, the Recovery Act was a great success.

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Michael Grunwald: Five Years After Stimulus, Obama Says It Worked

Five years ago Monday, President Barack Obama visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, his $800 billion stimulus bill. At the time, the U.S. economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. In the fourth quarter of 2008, it had contracted at an 8% annual rate, a Depression-level free fall. “Today does not mark the end of our economic problems,” Obama said on Feb. 17, 2009. “But it does mark the beginning of the end.” And so it did. the Recovery Act increased U.S. GDP by roughly 2 to 2.5 percentage points from late 2009 through mid-2011, keeping us out of a double-dip recession. It added about 6 million “job years” (a full-time job for a full year) through the end of 2012. If you combine the Recovery Act with a series of follow-up measures, including unemployment-insurance extensions, small-business tax cuts and payroll tax cuts, the Administration’s fiscal stimulus produced a 2% to 3% increase in GDP in every quarter from late 2009 through 2012, and 9 million extra job years, according to the report.

 The report also estimates that the Recovery Act’s aid to victims of the Great Recession — in the form of expanded food stamps, earned-income tax credits, unemployment benefits and much more — directly prevented 5.3 million people from slipping below the poverty line. It also improved nearly 42,000 miles of roads, repaired over 2,700 bridges, funded 12,220 transit vehicles, improved more than 3,000 water projects and provided tax cuts to 160 million American workers. The Recovery Act jump-started clean energy in America, financing unprecedented investments in wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources of electricity. It advanced biofuels, electric vehicles and energy efficiency in every imaginable form. It helped fund the factories to build all that green stuff in the U.S., and research into the green technologies of tomorrow. It’s the reason U.S. wind production has increased 145% since 2008 and solar installations have increased more than 1,200%. The stimulus is also the reason the use of electronic medical records has more than doubled in doctors’ offices and almost quintupled in hospitals. It improved more than 110,000 miles of broadband infrastructure. It launched Race to the Top, the most ambitious national education reform in decades.

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David Danelski: MOJAVE DESERT: High-Profile Solar Plant Dedicated With Fanfare

Amid the glow of 173,000 mirrors capturing the sun’s power, more than 100 government officials and energy executives Thursday celebrated the opening of the Ivanpah solar plant in northeast San Bernardino County and declared their intention to build more of them to combat global warming. “We will continue to work across the board to advance these projects. So bring them on,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in his keynote. His address, given in a large tent next to the mirror fields, came during a luncheon that offered squash ravioli and a salad of baby greens. Moniz said Ivanpah is the world’s largest thermal solar project and part of a strategy to expand carbon-free sources of energy.

The Obama administration is looking to provide as much as $40 billion in additional loan guarantees for energy projects, Moniz said. The plant is expected to provide enough electricity for as many as 140,000 homes through contracts with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric. It has been hailed by President Barack Obama, who said in his State of the Union address that America is a global leader in solar development. The government has backed such projects with investment tax credits that run through 2016, though it is not clear how much the Ivanpah investors have benefited. The tax breaks were part of Obama’s first-term economic stimulus package. Ivanpah is one of the first commercial-scale solar developments initiated during Obama’s recession-fighting stimulus effort. It is the first large-scale plant to use power-tower technology — at Ivanpah, the mirrors focus solar energy onto boilers mounted on three, 460-foot towers. Heat in the boilers creates steam, which powers turbines that generate electricity.

More here

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04
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Kennedy Center honoree Meryl Streep in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 4, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Today (all times Eastern):

11:15: President Obama delivers remarks on the economy at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress

1:30 (I think): First Lady Michelle Obama unveils the White House holiday decorations to military families

2:05: Delivers remarks at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act

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Mediaite: Consumer Reports Changes Verdict on Obamacare Website, Tells MSNBC: ‘It’s Time’

After advising consumers to steer clear of Healthcare.gov in October, Consumer Reports health care expert Nancy Metcalf told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Tuesday morning that the federal health care exchange website was improved enough following the Obama administration’s frantic month of repairs that users could confidently use it.

“Now we’re saying, ‘it’s time,’” Metcalf said, in particular praising the new window-shopping function, in which users can peruse health plans without registering with the site. The requirement to make an account before viewing options was considered one of the main causes for the site’s initial traffic bottleneck. “It’s terrific, I’ve tried it, it was working yesterday through the busiest times,” Metcalf said.

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Paul Krugman: Unacceptable Realities

…. The hysteria over Obamacare is being well documented … what I see a lot in my inbox (and in my reading): the furious insistence that nothing resembling a government guarantee of health insurance can possibly work.

That’s a curious belief to hold, given the fact that every other advanced country has such a guarantee …. but nothing makes these people as angry as the suggestion that Obamacare might actually prove workable.

And it’s going to get worse. For two months, thanks to the botched rollout, their delusions seemed confirmed by reality. Now that things are getting better, however, you can already see the rage building….

…. what you have to conclude is that there are a large number of people who find reality — the reality that governments are actually pretty good at providing health insurance…— just unacceptable…

Full post here

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@HHSGov

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In case you missed Charles Pierce yesterday, he was in especially sublime form:

The Neverending Assaults On The Affordable Care Act

In case it hasn’t dawned on you by now, the assault on the Affordable Care Act has absolutely nothing to do with anything except an ideological – nay, theological – resistance to the notion that the government (which is, I hasten to remind everyone, us) should do anything to help construct and maintain a social safety net.

People who are not us need to have the freedom to die offstage. This assault simply will not stop, and anyone who thinks that the ACA eventually will “out-succeed” the attacks on it is being extraordinarily foolish. There are wealthy and powerful people in this country – and these wealthy and powerful people have enough intellectual and political ‘ho’s at their disposal – that it will not matter through the decades how well the ACA comes to work. The attempts to weaken and destroy it simply will never stop.

…. Among the people seeking to destroy it, the fact that it was working would be the most serious indictment against it. In fact, the better it works, the more pernicious it is, and the more urgent the task of its destruction becomes. The happier They are, the weaker America becomes. The healthier They are, the less free we are. Forever and ever, amen.

Full post here

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TPM: House Dems To Hit 60 Republicans On Obamacare

House Democrats’ campaign arm plans to hit roughly 60 Republicans on Obamacare as part of the Obama administration’s pushback against criticism by opponents of the healthcare law.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is blasting out statements to supporters targeting five dozen House Republicans who have criticized the Affordable Care Act. The statements tout the benefits from the Affordable Care Act and link House Republicans criticism of the law and the website to opposition other aspects of the healthcare law, like immunizations for children and cancer screenings.

The move comes as the Obama administration has launched a campaign to move the national conversation away from criticism resulting from problems with Healthcare.gov and call more attention to positive aspects of the law…

More here

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Steve Benen: Another ACA horror story fades away

House Speaker John Boehner was pretty aggressive in pushing the latest Affordable Care Act horror story, this time about a New York father who was reportedly told his 18-month-old daughter couldn’t be included on the family’s plan. Boehner promoted the story on his site and Twitter feed to help get the word out.

….. “It was 100 percent false,” said Bill Schwarz, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Health. “Of course, everyone is covered in the family policy.”

….. So here’s the follow-up question for the Speaker of the House: how about an acknowledgement that this story is bogus? Boehner cited this as proof that the Affordable Care Act is a “train wreck,” and told his Twitter followers how awful it is that “Obamacare” won’t cover this poor man’s baby – which is the exact opposite of the truth.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: The blurred line between caricature and reality

It’s become a running joke: when Republican get bored with the latest manufactured outrage of the day, they turn to the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” as a standby. Indeed, it’s been widely assumed over the last several weeks that as the Affordable Care Act improves, GOP lawmakers would have no choice but to return to their favorite faux political controversies.

They are nothing if not predictable….

…. The White House should probably consider this a good sign. Remember, as recently as last week, congressional Republicans were reluctant to talk about literally any issue other than the Affordable Care Act …. it now appears that phase is ending and far-right lawmakers are back to Benghazi and the IRS. If that isn’t affirmation of the White House’s health care initiative getting back on track, nothing is.

Full post here

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Another ‘In Case You Missed’ – heavenly:

Charles Pierce: Yet Another End For The Obama Administration

Ace reporter Ron Fournier of the Associated Press has another scoop for y’all. There is absolutely no fking way on god’s green and pleasant earth that this Obama fellow will be elected president again. He has blown his chance for that third term, and probably the fourth and fifth as well. Ron would like the Pulitzer committee to leave the medallion on the doorstep. Watch out, Obama. The Horsemen ride at daybreak!

…. A center-cut diamond of Village idiocy …. Ron Fournier quoting something Ed Rendell said on Morning Joe. Fournier has no sense, Rendell has no constituency, and Morning Joe has no pride…

Fournier: “Whoever was in charge. No doubt Sebelius, McDonough, and others must answer to the president, but only one person answers to the public. Obama must change more than his staff. He must transform himself.”

Or else what? The Republicans will refuse to cooperate with him? I swear, of all the concern trolls in the world, Ron Fournier lives under the most impressive bridge.

Full post here

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Milt Shook: Of Course Obama’s Progressive! Give Him More Democrats, See What Happens

I am continuously amazed by the sheer number of self-described liberals who constantly describe Barack Obama as a “moderate Republican,” which is a concept as extinct as a dodo bird. They sometimes even compare Obama with Ronald Reagan. Some have even suggested that Obama is to the right of Saint Reagan. It’s really difficult to take that level of silliness seriously, but the fact of the matter is, a lot of the people who say this kind of thing have a very high profile within the progressive media/blogosphere.

Unfortunately, because people who say this have no political skills or knowledge to speak of, we have to spend a lot of our time refuting this nonsense, so that we can get the Republican Party out of the majority, and give progressives a bit more power, as part of the majority. Democrats have to win elections and win a majority in all governmental bodies we can manage, and we can’t do that if a significant number of voices on what is supposed to be the smart ideological side are screaming that both parties are the same, or that progressives like Obama are actually not progressive, but rather, very conservative. That kind of rhetoric will not get lots of people out to the polls, and it certainly won’t encourage people who already can’t stand Republicans to come out and vote for Democrats.

More here

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The People’s View: The Obama Recovery, The Pope, and the Collective Right Wing Freakout

Despite Republican efforts to slow down, halt, and throw monkey wrenches into the economic recovery at every possible turn, the Obama recovery insists on continuing. Yesterday, two important indicators of growth happened for the economy: US manufacturing growth reached its strongest point in two-and-a-half years, and consumer demand blew the lid off of online sales, growing by as much as 20% year-over-year on Cyber Monday (with online retail giant Amazon.com growing sales by a whopping 44%).

All that is looking to usher in another month with job growth at around 200,000. And like putting salt on the Obamacare naysayers’ wound, just as the website was getting fixed, small businesses added jobs for the first time in four months. Oh, and Obamacare is going to cost less than projected.

America is making things again. Small businesses are hiring. Consumers are buying. Obamacare is signing people up while costing less. Syria is disarming. Iran is giving up its nuclear ambitions. Therefore, of course, Republicans are losing their sh*t, now this close to arguing that the Pope, just like Obama, is a Marxist who hates Catholics!

More here

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Michael Tomasky: The Accidental Truth in the RNC’s Latest Race Gaffe

A tweet about Rosa Parks ‘ending racism’ reveals a shameful truth about the GOP: Equality has never been the party’s fight and likely never will be. Yeah, it was probably a junior social-media staffer who threw up that Twitter post about Rosa Parks “ending racism” in 1955. And it was just a little slip.

But it’s a story because it reveals two painful and quite shameful truths about the GOP, in this year of the “autopsy” that wasn’t, this year when the Republican-appointed Supreme Court majority essentially made racially discriminatory gerrymandering legal again after nearly 50 years, and when Republican state parties all over the country are redoubling their efforts to make it as difficult as possible for black people to cast a vote.

The first truth is that this staffer, whoever it was, in all likelihood made this slip for a reason. She or he has been schooled to believe that racism did end, and that all present-day discussion of the problem is just whining from society’s takers. We might call this a central tenet of the right, although the word tenet dignifies it too much. It’s more like a fact-free conviction, held by people who are never capable of imagining walking a hundred yards, let alone a mile, in another person’s shoes.

More here

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ToooOOOooooOOoooo funny – thank you Amk!

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Edith Childs, from Greenwood, S.C., in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, during a holiday party, Dec. 4, 2009. Childs coined the campaign slogan “fired up, ready to go.” (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama greets patrons during a lunch with small business owners and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski at Hamilton Family Restaurant in Allentown, Pa., Dec. 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reaches out to greet members of the audience following remarks at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, Pa., Dec. 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama embraces House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following their meeting in the Oval Office, Dec. 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama takes a picture of guests Marilyn Arleen Nelson and Glen D. Nelson during the Kennedy Center Honors reception in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 4, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama makes remarks at a reception for the recipients of the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011

At the Kennedy Center Honors event, December 4, 2011

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk down the Grand Staircase before delivering remarks at a holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

15
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

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)

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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 law works,” Rebecca adds.

More here

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Steve Benen

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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.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: The Big Savings Obamacare Critics Miss

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….

More here

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USA Today: Obama Team Alters College Loan Program

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.”

Full post here

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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.”

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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.

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Charles Pierce: A Fine Bromance

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.

Full post here

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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.

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As Steve Benen said, “always check your spelling when writing about education”:

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On This Day:

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)

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31
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:10: The President meets with the House Democratic Caucus, United States Capitol

11:25: Meets with the Senate Democratic Caucus, United States Capitol

(C-Span have live coverage listed for 11:15, but the meetings are closed so they’ll probably just show statements after)

2:10: President Obama welcomes the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies to honor the team and their 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship

3:0 Congressional leaders join together for a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (C-Span 3)

4:30: The President and VP Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

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Steve Benen: Economic growth exceeds expectations

Going into this morning, expectations for economic growth in the second quarter — April, May, and June of this year — were quite poor, making the actual GDP report a little more encouraging.

The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7% annual rate in the second quarter, buoyed by a solid gain in consumer spending and a sharp increase in business investment, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected growth to total 1.0%.

To be sure, 1.7% GDP growth is not, by any fair measure, good news. It tells us the economy is growing, but the recovery is at best sluggish. But given the news we were expecting, 1.7% is a relatively pleasant surprise, especially since the previous quarter’s growth was revised down to 1.1%.

More here

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Bloomberg: Economy in U.S. Expands More Than Forecast on Inventories

The economy in the U.S. grew more than projected in the second quarter, reflecting an unexpected pickup in inventory building as consumer spending cooled. Growth in the previous three months was revised down.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 1.7 percent annualized rate, after a 1.1 percent gain the prior quarter, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 1 percent advance for last quarter. Consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, climbed 1.8 percent after increasing 2.3 percent.

Job gains and rising home prices are shoring up Americans’ confidence and lifting automobile sales and production, making it likely the U.S. will pick up once government spending cuts and tax increases pose less of a restraint. The report also showed inflation is falling further below the Federal Reserve’s goal….

More here

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Steve Benen: Reality gets in the way of far-right shutdown scheme

As a large group of Republicans push for a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act, Norm Ornstein offered some compelling context. “You could say it’s a do-nothing Congress but that doesn’t do justice to it,” he said. “These guys are doing something, which is to destroy the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare.”

That’s plainly true, though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), arguably the main ringleader of the scheme, apparently believes destroying the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare is a fine idea. As Sarah Kliff reported, however, there is a flaw in the right-wing premise…..

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Steve Benen: ATF finally poised to move forward with real leadership

Ask conservative opponents of gun reforms what they’d like to see from law enforcement, and you’ll probably get a predictable answer: we should enforce the gun laws we already have, not approve new ones. For the last several years, however, that’s been easier said than done.

Enforcement of existing gun laws generally falls under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which has lacked a permanent, Senate-confirmed leader for the last seven years, thanks to opposition from Republicans and the National Rifle Association, both of which have reflexively balked at the very idea of an ATF chief.

With this in mind, we may be poised for a breakthrough this week….

More here

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ThinkProgress: Texas Lawmakers Are Too Busy Focusing On Abortion Restrictions To Get Anything Else Done

Just over an hour after Texas legislators concluded their second special session — an extra lawmaking session they used to enact sweeping abortion restrictions — Gov. Rick Perry (R) called them back for a third one. An outstanding highway funding bill is the only item on the agenda. “When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher,” the governor noted in a statement.

Perry cited that same transportation measure as one of the reasons he believed it was necessary to call the first special legislative session at the beginning of June. But instead of focusing on getting that done, the governor demonstrated a different set of priorities — adding a slew of anti-abortion provisions that were unable to advance during the state’s regular session to the docket.

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Bob Cesca: Bradley Manning Lives in a Nation of Laws, and, Hero or Not, He Broke 16 of Those Laws

While fleeing from the law in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden encouraged a return to “the rule of law rather than men.” In spite of his politically incorrect usage of “men” instead of “men and women,” he’s right. Generally speaking, individual citizens shouldn’t be held above the law — least of all a soldier named Pfc. Bradley Manning who stole 720,000 classified documents and handed them over to be be indiscriminately posted for public consumption by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks.

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Two years ago today:

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden shake hands in the Oval Office following a phone call with House Speaker John Boehner securing a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation’s deficit and avoid default, Sunday, July 31, 2011. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

22
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

A year ago: “The President hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped her friend, Allie Young, left, stay alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital. Photo by Pete Souza, July 22, 2012

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The Week Ahead:

Today:

3:0: The President meets with Secretary of State Kerry

7:25: Delivers remarks at an Organizing for Action event, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington, DC (Open Press)

8:10: Delivers remarks and answers questions at an Organizing for Action dinner, Mandarin Oriental Hotel (Print Pool for Remarks Only)

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Tuesday: The President will welcome NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

Wednesday: He will travel to Galesburg, Illinois and Warrensburg, Missouri for events on the economy

Thursday: He will welcome President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam to the White House. In the afternoon, the President will travel to Jacksonville, Florida for an event on the economy. On Thursday evening, he will host an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

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Time: Drawing renewed attention to the economy, President Barack Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency.

The address Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., will be the first in a new series of economic speeches that White House aides say Obama intends to deliver over the next several weeks ahead of key budget deadlines in the fall. A new fiscal year begins in October, and the government will soon hit its borrowing limit.

…. The president will also speak Wednesday at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo.

More here – and more at the NYT

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AP: Survey: Brighter U.S. Economic Outlook Boosts Hiring

Companies are increasingly confident the economy will grow at a modest pace over the next year and are hiring more, according to a survey of business economists.

Nearly one-third of the economists surveyed said their companies added jobs in the April-June quarter …. That’s the highest percentage in nearly two years. And 39 percent expect their firms will hire more in the next six months. That’s near the two-year high of 40 percent reached in the January-March quarter.

…. Optimism about future economic growth increased. Nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents forecast growth of 2.1 percent or more over the next 12 months. That’s up from two-thirds in the first quarter survey, released in April, and the most in a year.

More here

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OFA

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ThinkProgress: No, Obamacare Won’t Raise Insurance Premiums In Indiana By 72 Percent

On Friday, the Indiana Department of Insurance announced that initial rates submitted by individual health plan providers for the state’s Obamacare insurance marketplace would cost 72 percent more than currently available plans …. Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) administration was quick to use the figures to criticize the health law….

The problem is, the Department of Insurance didn’t really release “data” in the plural — it released a single data point. The $570 per month figure is the average of all of the submitted rates, including cheaper plans with less benefits (so-called “Bronze” and “Silver” level plans) as well as the more generous and expensive “Gold” and “Platinum” level plans. That’s like saying the average cost of a car in an Indiana dealership is $100,000 because it sells $20,000 Fords, $60,000 BMWs, and $220,000 Lamborghinis — technically true, but highly misleading.

More here

And see Jonathan Cohn – ‘Hoosier Hustle? Another Dubious Attack on Obamacare’

Also too – ThinkProgress: Tea Party Senator Concedes Defeat: We Won’t Be Able To Fully Repeal Obamacare

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USA Today: Vice President Biden is off on a six-day trade and diplomatic trip to India and Singapore.

…. The vice president and his wife Dr Jill Biden land Monday in New Dehli; they will travel to Mumbai later this week …. they arrive Thursday in Singapore…

… The Bidens will stop in Hawaii on their way back to the United States; they return to Washington on Sunday.

More here

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