President Barack Obama signs a Memorandum of Disapproval regarding a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of a rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures. The joint resolution passed by Congress is a rarely used oversight tool that allows legislators to block regulatory actions
President Obama signs Memorandum of Disapproval, vetoing measure blocking NLRB rules on union elections. http://t.co/BuKbShDWEk
On This Day: President Obama makes Congressional calls from the Oval Office before the final Senate vote repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the military, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern):
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:05: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with moms to discuss health care, Oval Office
Sue Spanke of Missoula, Mont., was highly displeased this fall when she learned her health insurance had been canceled. “I got so mad that I went to my phone and started calling all the political people and giving them what for,” Spanke told The Billings Gazette. That was before she learned she was eligible for a policy at a much lower cost.
After angrily calling her state auditor’s office, Spanke, a self-employed artist in her 50s, found she was eligible for a federal subsidy. Her new insurance will cover her for a mere $30 to $40 a month with a deductible of only $500. She had been paying $350 a month for a Blue Cross policy with a $5,000 deductible. “I went from a horrible policy that didn’t cover anything, that was breaking me, to the best policy at the best price I’ve had since I was in my 20s,” she said.
With the website largely fixed, one of the last lines of attack against Obamacare is that the president lied when he said if people like their insurance plans, they can keep them. The White House is hoping stories like Spanke’s will inoculate them against those arguments. And the positive stories abound.
…. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, had asked for input on the Affordable Care Act during an open house Monday at his office in the E. Ross Adair Federal Building, and he got it…
…Lee Albright, owner of the south-side meat market carrying his last name, doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act repealed, which Stutzman and the Republican-controlled House have voted to do numerous times. Albright told his congressman that his monthly payment for family health coverage will drop from $3,800 to $1,700 by enrolling in a plan offered through the much-maligned law.
Albright said most of his dozen employees also are enrolling in Affordable Care Act plans and will have coverage for the first time. “If the Republican Party thinks they’re going to kill Obamacare, you guys need to realize that those nine people that I add on, are they going to vote Republican ever again if you take their health care from them?”
WMGT: Congressman Scott Talks Healthcare, Farm Bill at Town Hall Meeting
Residents from all around middle Georgia met with U.S. Representative Austin Scott to talk about concerns they have in the nation’s capitol during a town hall meeting on Monday.
Gridlock in Washington has left local business owners like Bob Schumacher, frustrated. He hasn’t had health insurance for some time, and has tried multiple times to use the scrutinized healthcare.gov website and hasn’t had any luck, until now.
“I was able to get an insurance plan and with the tax credit, it’s going to be about half of the price that it was going to be two and a half years ago,” Schumacher said.
…. “They’ve definitely got the website up and running now, and so you can get online and see if there is something out there that works for you.”
CT Mirror: CT insurance exchange enrollment up more than 50% in two weeks
Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is enrolling about 1,400 people a day and is on track to have 50,000 to 60,000 people signed up for health care coverage by the end of the year, an official said Tuesday.
Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said about 20,000 people have signed up for private insurance plans through the marketplace, about 70 percent of whom will get federal financial assistance to discount their premiums.
In addition, about 17,000 people have signed up for Medicaid coverage through the exchange, Madrak said.
The approximately 37,000 people signed up for coverage through the exchange marks a nearly 58 percent increase from enrollment as of Dec. 4, the previous figures Access Health reported.
I’ve done some research on the question, and by my calculations, judging from current trends, this will happen approximately . . . never.
I base this on the criticism of the auto bailout of early 2009. Almost five years later, the industry is healthy again and large swaths of the Midwest have been spared what would have been certain economic devastation. All this was achieved for a relatively modest sum: … It would seem that the argument against the bailout has been settled. Yet opponents continue to argue their case — if anybody will listen.
Dana Milbank has an interesting piece today …. he compares Obamacare to the auto bailout, which at this point looks like a rousing success — but continues to be lambasted by the right, because it shouldn’t have worked, and therefore can’t have worked.
….. it’s a strong signal that the press is catching up to the reality that December is not October, and that the news — while there are still many troubles — is increasingly positive. Actually, so is Darrel Issa’s angry rebuke to a health care official: “You need to watch more Fox News.”
National Memo: What If Every Voter Denied Medicaid Expansion By Republicans Voted Democratic?
A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 4.8 million Americans will be denied health insurance because Republican governors and legislatures have refused to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Another study, called Health Care for America Now (HCAN), was released last week and found that 4,831,590 people were being denied Medicaid in red states, nearly duplicating Kaiser’s result. HCAN went a step further and estimated that the result of not expanding insurance to these eligible residents would result in the loss of 27,000 lives in 2014, while denying the states $42.6 billion a year in economic activity.
Most of these people who earn too much for Medicaid and too little to purchase insurance in the health care exchanges — 79 percent — live in southern states.
After the government shutdown, Republicans took a big hit in the polls. A very, very large hit in the polls in fact. It turned out that while various people are willing to talk about what they don’t like about “big government,” there are even more things that the government provides that they do like. While Republicans thought they had a “winning strategy” by using the shutdown to attempt to repeal “Obamacare” (for the 40′th plus time), it turned out that the public thought it was really stupid, particularly when all those things like national parks had to close. Add in a lack of action on any substantive issues, the unpopularity of various Republican governors, and some losses in elections they thought were winnable, and things are starting to get tense for them.
Once again, former Karl Rove self-actualization guru Ron Fournier has taken to the pages of the National Journal – Motto: There’s A Reader Out There Somewhere – to explain that the president misapprehended the results of the 2012 election, and that he has been operating under the illusion that, because he got the most votes, he got to be president again. To elucidate this for the dimmer people among us, Ron shows how brilliant he was in the immediate aftermath of said election, and employs the useful tool of Historical Parallelism, which he applies repeatedly and vigorously to his own forehead.
…. The IRS dumbassery was just that. The NSA surveillance started under Bush – with considerably more Democratic support in the Congress, Ron, than this president has gotten from Republicans on anything – and Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! remains a hoax. I’m afraid we are past the point where an intervention would help. Better just fire off the stun gun and pry the tool of Historical Parallels out of his hand.
ThinkProgress: Why Obama Is Sending Openly Gay Athletes To Russia’s Olympics
As controversy erupted over Russia’s anti-gay law ahead of next year’s Sochi Olympics, President Barack Obama said that he opposed boycotting the Games in favor of letting the United States delegation lead by example on the LGBT rights front.
“One thing I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which i think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes were seeing there,” Obama said. “And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it’ll probably make their team weaker.”
Tuesday, Obama took a step forward in showing that example, selecting tennis legend and former U.S. Olympic coach Billie Jean King, a lesbian who has long been an LGBT equality advocate, to be a part of the delegation that will represent the White House at the opening ceremony on February 7. Hockey player Caitlin Cahow, who is also openly gay, will be a part of the delegation to the closing ceremonies on February 23.
…. note that the U.S. Olympic delegation is traditionally led by someone from the White House – current or former president, vice president, or member of the First Family. For Sochi, as Rachel noted on the show last night, Obama tapped former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, which means no one from the White House or even from the president’s cabinet will be on hand for the opening ceremony.
… this also strikes me as this latest in a series of elections-have-consequences moments. Conservatives have come to celebrate Vladimir Putin as something of an international hero, while religious right activists cheer on his culture war from afar. Obama has been highly ambitious and progressive when it comes to advancing LGBT civil rights, and his choice in Olympic delegation members sends a signal the world will notice…
LA Times: Homeless men invited to help Pope Francis celebrate birthday
Pope Francis boosted his down-to-earth image by inviting a group of homeless men to his Vatican residence to help him celebrate his 77th birthday.
The group of men joined Francis on Tuesday as he gave his morning Mass and then ate breakfast with him …. the men, a Pole, a Slovak and a Czech, were sleeping under the portico outside the Vatican’s press center when they were approached by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who distributes charitable contributions for the pope.
“Would you like to come to Pope Francis’ birthday party?” Krajewski reportedly asked them. “After a moment of bewilderment and wonder, they started packing up their beds, pieces of cardboard and covers which were arranged to protect them from the bitter cold of the Roman night.”
President Obama walks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to their bilateral meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “The President briefs European leaders following a multilateral meeting in which an agreement was tentatively reached at the United Nationals Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Most conferences like this are very scripted; this one was just the opposite.” Dec. 18, 2009
President Obama speaks during a multilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Prime Manmohan Singh, and South African President Jacob Zuma during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shows military officials the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room following a meeting, Dec. 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
USA Today: Obama selection of Billie Jean King for Sochi ‘genius’
President Obama’s selection of Billie Jean King for the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games is a stroke of genius.
What better way to show the nation’s disgust for President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law than for Obama to send an American cultural icon and sports legend who also happens to be openly gay?
“Some people pooh-poohed the idea. They didn’t think it was going to work. They thought there was going to be a lot of violence, and so our committee met every weekand we said, O.K., what do we need to move this really large group of people from all over, to bring them in? We needed public relations. We needed to have a medical corps of nurses and doctors on hand. We needed to have Porta-Pottys, arrange transportation. Once we had charter buses, regular buses coming in—what’s going to happen to those? Where are people going to park?”
As a kid, there was not much I could aspire to, because the achievement of black people in spaces of power and rule and governance was not that evident, and therefore we were diminished in the way we thought we could access power and be part of the American fabric. So we who came back from this war having expectations and finding that there were none to be harvested were put upon to make a decision. We could accept the status quo as it was beginning to reveal itself with these oppressive laws still in place. Or, as had begun to appear on the horizon, stimulated by something Mahatma Gandhi of India had done, we could start this quest for social change by confronting the state a little differently. Let’s do it nonviolently, let’s use passive thinking applied to aggressive ideas, and perhaps we could overthrow the oppression by making it morally unacceptable.”
The bus was on fire and was filling up with smoke. -Hank Thomas
“Separate, but equal” drinking fountains in North Carolina, photographed by Elliott Erwitt in 1950.
“When I first met Dr. King, I was 16, and he came to speak at our high school gathering. They have kids from all over the country come as representatives of their part of the country. So there were a couple hundred of us, and we would meet in groups and discuss politics, and we were discussingnonviolence because it was a Quaker-based group. And then Dr. King came and spoke, and I was just stunned, because this man was doing what we had talked about. They had just started the more publicly seen and known boycotts in Montgomery, and I just wept through the whole thing, because it made something real to me. It was real, but I hadn’t seen an example of it in my daily life, and there it was.”
@petesouza: Pres Obama pokes his head through a hole where visitors pose as the President at the Women’s Rights Park
In 2010 President Obama greeted Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where Remsburg was recovering from severe injuries sustained in Afghanistan
NYT: President and Soldier: 3 Meetings, And a Lesson in Resilience
Three times, mainly by chance and in very different circumstances, Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg has met President Obama.
They were introduced near Omaha Beach in France in 2009, when Sergeant Remsburg was part of a select Army Ranger group chosen to re-enact a parachute drop for celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in World War II.
The second meeting came less than a year later at a military hospital outside Washington, where Mr. Obama was stunned to see among the wounded troops from Afghanistan a familiar young man — now brain-damaged, a track of fresh stitches across his skull, and partly paralyzed.
The third time was two weeks ago in a private visit in Phoenix, where Sergeant Remsburg did something that neither Mr. Obama nor military doctors would once have predicted: he stood up and saluted his commander in chief.
Completely random old pic (Portsmouth, N.H., Sept. 7, 2012)
Today (all times Eastern)
11:0: President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing
11:45: Meets with senior advisors
12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press
2:15: President Obama meets with independent financial regulators
A sign along Harding Hill in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, August 18
USA Today: Coming off a week’s vacation, President Obama deals Monday with new rules on the financial system.
Obama holds a closed-door meeting with financial regulators to discuss the impact of new laws, the White House says, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill and the Consumer Protection Act.
The guest list includes the Comptroller of the Currency, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Also: The chairs of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In a rare occurrence, Vice President Joe Biden will join President Barack Obama in Scranton for the last stop on the president’s two-day bus tour promoting affordable higher education.
…. The president is scheduled to appear Friday at Lackawanna College, a school spokeswoman and the White House confirmed Friday. The school will be the last stop on a tour that takes Mr. Obama on Thursday to the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., and the State University of New York and Henninger High School in Syracuse. Hours before the Scranton stop, the president will take part in a town hall at Binghamton University.
“At each stop, the president will discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has the opportunity to achieve a quality education by reducing cost and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” a White House official said…
ThinkProgress: How Testicular Cancer Convinced A Former Republican Staffer To Leave His Party
Before he could realize the value of affordable health care, one Republican campaign staffer had to experience what it’s like to be without it.
Clint Murphy, who’s been involved with Republican campaigns since the 1990s, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 when he was 25 years old. Four years and four rounds of chemo treatment later — all of which was covered by insurance — Murphy was in remission. Insurance wasn’t a problem in his subsequent political jobs — he worked on John McCain’s election campaign in 2008 — but when he quit politics in 2010 and entered real estate, he realized just how difficult obtaining insurance with a pre-existing condition could be.
…. That’s why Murphy had this to say to his Republican friends who oppose Obamacare on Facebook last week: “When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance.”
Steve Benen: Far-right ‘ready to erupt’ over health care?
President Obama’s weekly addresses tend to be pretty tame, at least as far as political rhetoric goes, but over the weekend his latest weekly message included some fairly pointed language about Republican efforts to sabotage the federal health care system.
Some congressional Republicans, Obama said, are “working hard to confuse people, and making empty promises that they’ll either shut down the health care law, or, if they don’t get their way, they’ll shut down the government…. A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you.”
And while the White House pushes against the GOP shutdown threats, far-right activists continue to push in the opposite direction.
Recent political reporting suggests that Republican leaders are in a state of high anxiety, trapped between an angry base that still views Obamacare as the moral equivalent of slavery and the reality that health reform is the law of the land and is going to happen.
But those leaders don’t deserve any sympathy. For one thing, that irrational base is a Frankenstein monster of their own creation. Beyond that, everything I’ve seen indicates that members of the Republican elite still don’t get the basics of health reform — and that this lack of understanding is in the process of turning into a major political liability.
On the unstoppability of Obamacare: We have this system in which Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and then they go into effect. The Affordable Care Act went through this process, and there is no legitimate way for Republicans to stop it.
Reuters: Illinois expands background checks to all gun purchases
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a gun-control measure into law on Sunday that expands background checks to cover all firearms purchases in the state, closing what he said was a loophole that exempted gun sales between private parties.
The new law also requires all gun owners to report any lost or stolen firearms to local police within 72 hours.
“Guns are a plague on too many of our communities,” Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe. This commonsense law will help our law enforcement crack down on crime and make our streets safer.”
The expanded background checks go into effect on January 1, 2014.
Michael Tomasky: Julian Assange Loves Rand Paul and His ‘Very Principled Positions’
Julian Assange, who back when he roamed the earth freely used to do things like show up on the steps of St. Paul’s to protest the wrongs of capitalism, has now apparently placed his faith in the man who is arguably the capitalists’ single biggest lickspittle in Washington, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). In and of itself, this is only mildly interesting. But Assange’s admirers on the left are so seduced by his oppositionalist posture and his desire to stick it to the man (as long as the man is the government of the United States) that they seem willing to follow him off any cliff, maybe even the cliff of voting for Paul in 2016. It’s a jejune politics, and ultimately a politics of leisure. No one whose day-to-day life is materially affected by the question of who is in office has time for such silly games, and therefore, no one who purports to be in solidarity with those people should either.
… these seemingly left-wing anti-establishment types should never be trusted. These are just playtime politics, luxuries for the leisure class. If you want a real left-winger, I say stick with Marx. At least he understood that politics is chiefly about economic relations. Anyone who doesn’t understand that is sending you down blind alleys, knows little about politics to begin with, and should be shunned by anyone who claims to be anywhere on the broad left side of the spectrum.
They carried signs that demanded “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All” and “Decent Housing.” They protested the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. They denounced racial profiling in the country’s largest city.
This isn’t 1963 but 2013, when so many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington fifty years ago remain unfulfilled or under siege today. That’s why, on August 24, a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, unions, progressive groups and Democratic Party leaders will rally at the Lincoln Memorial and proceed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the march and dramatize the contemporary fight. (President Obama will participate in a separate event commemorating the official anniversary on August 28.)
The Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Voting Rights Act in late June and the acquittal of George Zimmerman less than three weeks later make this year’s march “exponentially more urgent” with respect to pressuring Congress and arousing the conscience of the nation, says Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, a co-sponsor of the march.
BBC News: Benefits Extended To US Gay Military Spouses
US military same-sex spouses will gain all benefits open to opposite-sex spouses by 3 September, Pentagon officials have said. It includes healthcare and housing and will be open to any military member with a valid marriage certificate. The Pentagon had already extended certain privileges to same-sex couples after a ban on openly gay troops – known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – was repealed in September 2011. But most benefits had been off-limits until the Supreme Court ruling.
“It is now the department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally,” Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a memo on Wednesday to senior Pentagon officials. The Pentagon also stated it would allow leave for military personnel, who are stationed in a state that does not permit same-sex marriage, to travel to a jurisdiction where they can marry legally. The change will mean that homosexual troops and their spouses will also have the right to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC.
TPM: Peggy Noonan: Obama Should Defend Missouri Rodeo Clown (Yes Peggy, you are a RACIST)
Peggy Noonan offered a “classy” suggestion to President Barack Obama on Tuesday: go to bat for that rodeo clown in Missouri. Let me suggest a classy Obama move that might go over well. From his Vineyard vacation spot he should have the press office issue a release saying his reaction to finding out a rodeo clown was rudely spoofing him, was, “So what?” Say he loves free speech, including inevitably derision directed at him, and he does not wish for the Missouri state fair to fire the guy, and hopes those politicians (unctuously, excessively, embarrassingly) damning the clown and the crowd would pipe down and relax. This would be graceful and nice, wouldn’t it? He would never do it. He gives every sign of being a person who really believes he shouldn’t be made fun of, and if he is it’s probably racially toned, because why else would you make fun of him?
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday denounced the violent crackdown by the Egyptian military as a “deplorable” and unnecessary escalation that represents a “serious blow” to peace and democracy.
Kerry said Egypt faced a “pivotal moment” and warned the military-appointed interim government that the “world is closely watching” how it responds. More than 100 people were killed Wednesday when the army raided camps where supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi have been protesting for the past month.
“Today’s events are deplorable, and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy,” Kerry said during a 5-minute surprise appearance at the State Department’s daily press briefing. “It’s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people’s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion.” “Violence will not create a roadmap to Egypt’s future,” he said.
North Carolina Republicans passed a sweeping set of changes to the state’s election law. These measures were proposed just one week after the Court’s ruling, and were rushed through the state legislature. GOP Gov. Pat McCrory calls them “common sense” measures, designed to “ensure the integrity” of the ballot box and “provide greater equality in access to voting to North Carolinians.” And that’s true, if you rob those words of their actual meaning. The centerpiece of the law is a strict new mandate for voter identification, that’s more notable for what it bans than what it permits. Of the various forms of state-issued ID, only four are valid for voting: driver’s licenses, passports, veteran’s IDs, and tribal cards. Everything else is unacceptable. This includes college IDs, public or municipal employee IDs, ID from public-assistance agencies, and out-of-state driver’s licenses.
"Reverse" racism is nearly as big a societal problem as employees sexually harassing their bosses.
It’s no accident that those are the excluded categories. As with similar laws in other states, the restrictions target Democratic voters, from students and young people—who are more likely to rely on university-issued identification—to public employees and the poor. And of course, a large share of these voters are black and Latino. Overall, the state estimates that as many as 318,000 voters could lack (PDF) appropriate identification. Echoing many supporters of voter identification, Governor McCrory points to other activities that require photo ID: “Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID, and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote.” But voting is just that, a right, and restricting particular kinds of ID—used by particular kinds of people—without expanding access to other forms of identification is an obvious attempt to make voting hard for some and not others.
There is but you have to wait in line 9 hours to get it // Rand Paul: No ‘evidence’ blacks prevented from voting wapo.st/19tBrDf
Indeed, the other provisions of the law make it plain that this was the intent. Governor McCrory’s “common sense” initiative bans paid voter-registration drives, removes a week from the early voting period (which was a popular option for black voters in 2008 and 2012), eliminates straight-ticket voting, repeals out-of-precinct voting, repeals a mandate for high-school voter-registration drives (again, because Republicans don’t want young people participating), eliminates flexibility in early-voting hours, and makes it more difficult for precincts to designate additional voting sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities. We’re only 50 years removed from Jim Crow, and history has a strong grasp. Yes, we have an African-American president. But we also have deep-seated racial inequality. To think we’ve overcome this—to think it no longer matters for the present—is worse than ignorant, it’s naive.
On this Day: President Obama and daughter Sasha swim at Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Daily Beast: Treasury Monthly Statement Shows the U.S. Deficit Is Melting Away
Still complaining about the deficit? The latest monthly statement from the U.S. Treasury shows that even without destroying the social safety net or striking a grand bargain, it’s being erased.
…. So as you listen to people complaining about the annual deficit, remember that it is melting away. The miracle cure for deficits, it turns out, isn’t ripping up the social safety net, or a grand bargain. It’s growth, combined with some fiscal restraint, and higher taxes. Compared with a year ago, there are about 2.2 million more people working today, at slightly higher wages, paying slightly higher taxes. The combination of those forces pushes collections higher. Meanwhile, spending on anti-poverty programs like unemployment benefits falls as unemployment claims decline. Winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has reduced the Pentagon budget. And the sequester has taken a bite out of the budget of many agencies. The combination of those forces pushes spending lower. The latest update on this year’s fiscal situation confirms that each of these trends is fully intact.
President Obama liked the idea laid out in a memo from his staff: an ambitious plan to expand high-speed Internet access in schools that would allow students to use digital notebooks and teachers to customize lessons like never before. Better yet, the president would not need Congress to approve it.
White House senior advisers have described the little-known proposal, announced earlier this summer under the name ConnectEd, as one of the biggest potential achievements of Obama’s second term.
Bob Cesca: Cory Booker Wins Senate Primary. The Far-Left Wins Nothing. Again.
Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker is one step closer to being the next senator from the Garden State. He won the Democratic primary on Tuesday by a significant margin over his rivals, Rep. Frank Pallone, Assembly Speaker Shiela Oliver and Rep. Rush Holt.
Historically speaking, if he wins on October 16, Booker will also be the only elected African American member of the United States Senate, and the ninth member in history. (Yeah, there’s still something very, very wrong with American voters.)
There’s another dimension to this election, meanwhile, that only appeared briefly on the blogs and via social media. Were it not for the divisiveness on the left created by the Edward Snowden NSA drama, with far-left activists supporting Snowden’s leaks and with pragmatic center-left liberals expressing disdain for the hyperbolic, outraged sensationalism of the story, the New Jersey special election would’ve surely been a huge battleground between those two factions.
ThinkProgress: Arizona Republicans Already Working On 2020 Gerrymander Plan
Unhappy that an independent redistricting commission devised maps it deemed too independent for the 2012 elections, Arizona Republicans are already scheming to rig the redistricting process after the 2020 elections to be more favorable to their party.
If you’ve been following the health care debate lately, you’ve probably heard quite a bit of talk about Congress being “exempt” from the Affordable Care Act. It’s a talking point the right has pushed quite aggressively, but is it true? Republicans certainly want us to think so. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas)complained about an “outrageous exemption for Congress.” The far-right editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint touted a similar line last week. Over the weekend, Republican media figures, including Bill Kristol and Ana Navaro, repeated the talking point on the Sunday shows, and no one thought to correct them. This morning, in an unusually hysterical piece, a Washington Times columnist suggested the policy might constitute “treason.” (No, seriously, that’s what it said.)
The policy certainly sounds awful, doesn’t it? If “Obamacare” is so great, why are members of Congress eager to exempt themselves from the new federal system? No wonder Fox is soworked up over this. The problem, as you might have guessed, is that the argument is so wildly misleading, it bears no meaningful connection to reality.
USA Today: President Obama is going retro when it comes to honoring sports champions.
Next week, Obama will host a White House ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins, the last National Football League team to go undefeated in the regular season and playoffs.
That Dolphins team famously went 17-0, beating the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl on Jan. 14, 1973.
Aug. 14, 2009: President Obama casts his line while fishing for trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 14, 2010: President Obama greets members of the U.S. Coast Guard after making a statement at the U.S. Coast Guard Panama City District Office, Panama City, Fla (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 14, 2012: The President waves from his campaign bus to people lining the motorcade route in Iowa (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 14, 2012: President Obama has a beer with patrons at the Pump Haus Pub and Grill in Waterloo, Iowa (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 14, 2012: Pete Souza: “How about a White House beer? The President was greeting patrons at Coffee Connection in Knoxville, Iowa, when this customer asked him about the White House beer. The President said he thought he might have some on his campaign bus and asked an aide to check. A few minutes later, the President delivered a bottle and the customer reacted in celebration.”
Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy
Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.
Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.
“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.
Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.
A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.
When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.
The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.
President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)
By now, you may have heard of the campaign to undermine Obamacare that the conservative group FreedomWorks is running. If not, read Sarah Kliff’s article on it in the Washington Post. The article will take you inside the “Obamacare resistance,” as she calls it, where leaders are printing up fake Obamacare cards and urging young people to burn them in protest. The idea is to undermine the law: If only older and sicker people sign up for coverage in large numbers, then insurers will have to raise premiums, increasing costs for the govenrment and for those who buy without subsidies.
NYT: Someone Tell Cantor: The Deficit Is Shrinking
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, for a preview of what will happen the next time Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling. It was a remarkable exchange, in part because Mr. Cantor made a remarkable error.
…. For your convenience, we’ve highlighted the mistake. Mr. Cantor appeared to be defending his party’s shenanigans by arguing that the “ultimate problem” is the “growing deficit.” The thing is, the deficit is not growing. It is shrinking.
Steve Benen: Florida’s Scott readies second ‘disgusting’ voter purge
The voting process in Florida last year was a national disgrace, which was unfortunately the result of a deliberate scheme – state Republican policymakers closed the early-voting window, cracked down on voter-registration drives, and created painfully long voting lines, especially for minorities and the poor.
But that’s not all they did.
Last summer, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) launched an aggressive voter purge, which he claimed was necessary to remove non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls. As we discussed at the time, this too was a fiasco …. in an unfortunate twist, Rick Scott apparently enjoys this disaster so much, he’s ready to do it again.
Steve Benen: Can a president be a radical socialist and a Wall Street shill?
….. Republicans can tell Americans that President Obama is a radical socialist who hates free-enterprise capitalism, or they can tell us he’s a Wall Street shill, but when they make both arguments at the same time, it’s awfully difficult to take them seriously. Indeed, it reinforces the thesis that, even now, the right still doesn’t know how it wants to criticize the president.
But I also believe there’s another angle to this to keep in mind.
For good or ill, Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to reach compromises with congressional Republicans, frequently offering to accept GOP policy goals that congressional Democrats find abhorrent.
But because so many congressional Republicans have become post-policy nihilists, GOP officials not only reject attempts at compromise, they often announce their opposition to whatever it was they urged Obama to do in the first place.
I completely missed this …. Jim Messina will be working for David Cameron? Seriously? (Michael Tomasky)
This is almost as awful as the prospect of Wayne Rooney playing for Chelsea.
Oh, I need a brandy.
WP: The Washington Post Co. agreed Monday to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.
Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to The Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.
In Florida, Enroll America’s work carries particularly high stakes because as much as 25 percent of the non-elderly population lacks insurance and Republican leaders have refused to implement the law’s key provisions themselves. White House officials, who aim to sign up 7 million people nationwide for coverage by next year, have said the state is among their top targets because it has the nation’s third-largest uninsured population after California and Texas.
Over the weekend, more than 100 volunteers with Enroll America knocked on about 4,000 doors around the state. Among the volunteers was Botero, who carried a list of names and addresses generated by a “microtargeting” tool developed by Enroll America, the biggest nonprofit working on Obamacare enrollment. The organization, using census data, commercially available consumer databases and demographic information such as age, race and income, developed a formula to determine the likelihood that someone is uninsured.
The House of Representatives is poised to take its 40th vote to repeal Obamacare. To mark the occasion, here’s a quick rundown of 40 ways that Obamacare is already working for millions of Americans and will impact more beginning in 2014.
Say goodbye to lifetime limits: Insurance companies will no longer be able to place an arbitrary cap on coverage. Children can no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Starting in 2014, adults will no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Free preventive care, including: Annual check-ups Contraception Vaccinations Gestational diabetes screenings Mammograms
The White House: Statement From the President On The Confirmation Of Samantha Power As U.S. Ambassador To The United Nations
I’m pleased that the Senate has confirmed Samantha Power as our next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations by a strong, bipartisan majority. As one of our country’s leading foreign policy thinkers, Samantha knows that our nation’s interests are advanced with strong and principled American leadership. As a long-time champion of human rights and dignity, she will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and U.S. national interests. I’m grateful that Samantha will continue to be a vital member of my national security team, and I know that under her leadership our U.N. Mission in New York will continue to represent American diplomacy at its best.
White House says July employment is "further confirmation that the US economy is continuing to recover but "more work remains."
Is there any bill funding the government — at any level of spending — that Republicans alone can pass out of the House at this point?
Congress has gone home for recess after a series of botched votes that are cause for deep pessimism about the future. The basic problem here is not hard to divine. The Senate GOP filibuster of the transportation bill yesterday, and the House GOP decision to yank its version of the same the day before that, confirm that Republicans may not be able to pass a spending bill at sequester levels, even as they won’t support one at higher spending levels, either. If this sounds crazy, that’s because it is. But this craziness has a cause. Republican leaders have nurtured it for years, and now they are stuck in a trap of their own creation.
When federal policymakers start with a bizarre premise — low-income Americans simply aren’t suffering enough — it’s truly amazing to see where they end up. A plan by House leaders to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program — twice the amount of cuts proposed in a House bill that failed in June — threatens to derail efforts by the House and Senate to work together to complete a farm bill before agriculture programs expire on Sept. 30. The bill that would double cuts previously sought by House Republicans was announced Thursday by Representative Frank D. Lucas, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of House Agriculture Committee, during a lunch with lobbyists, and first reported by Reuters.
And so, instead of adopting a more moderate bill, making a compromise with the Senate easier, House Republicans, in their infinite wisdom, decided to make their version much more right-wing — doubling the cuts to food aid for the poor, while imposing work requirements and drug tests. If Ayn Rand were alive today, this is the sort of bill that would lead her to say, “Aren’t you guys overdoing it a bit?”
You’re a 26-year-old single dude, holding down a pair of part-time jobs tending bar and painting houses, and making about $24,000 a year. Thanks to Obamacare, you can finally get decent health insurance, just like people with full-time jobs at large companies do. But when you go online to check out your options, you see that even the cheapest “bronze” plan, which has high deductibles and co-payments, will cost you about $100 a month. Obamacare’s penalty for carrying no insurance next year is less than one-tenth of that. Do you buy the insurance anyway?
But there [are] good reasons to think the critics are wrong, that young people will sign up for health insurance, and that Obamacare will work as its designers intended. Here are six of those reasons.
President Barack Obama talks with diners at Lechonera El Barrio restaurant while waiting for his lunch order during a stop in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 2, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama works on his statement on the compromise reached to reduce the deficit and avert a default, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. Standing in the background are, from left: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Press Secretary Jay Carney; Jon Lovett, Associate Director of Speechwriting; and Senior Advisor David Plouffe. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Welcome to Whitesplaining Palooza: a magical time where white folks will explain issues dealing with people of color so that finally everyone can understand! The latest magical Whitesplainer: Tim Allen.
You may remember Tim Allen as the lovable dad on the ’90s TV show Home Improvement. You may remember him as a co-star with Martin Lawrence in the 2007 movie Wild Hogs. Or you may not remember him at all, but Tim Allen wants to explain to you about how to deal with the word “ni**er” Tim Allen explaining how to deal with the word ni**er is hilarious. Not because he’s a comedian, but because he has no understanding of how racism works.
Racism doesn’t come with a barcode scanner that checks each person for their actual feelings when they use problematic language. Another thing that perhaps Allen didn’t know: you can participate in racism without taking on the mantle of “racist.” Racism doesn’t come in only one flavor. Poorly executed but well-meaning acts can still add to the problem.
Roll Call: ObamaCare Defunding Fight Could Threaten Boehner Leverage, Message
The effort by conservatives in the House and Senate to threaten a government shutdown over Obamacare could force Speaker John A. Boehner into the arms of House Democrats.
With 60 Republicans already pushing Boehner to defund Obamacare in any spending bill, the speaker may not be able to cobble together a House majority on a bill that President Barack Obama would sign without Democratic votes. And he’s not likely to get those votes for free.
But senior aides from both sides of the aisle say the threat would surely backfire on Republicans if they carry it out. For one thing, most of Obama’s new health care program is mandatory spending that is not affected by appropriations bills, so it would continue to receive funding in any event. “Even if you shut down the government, Obamacare will continue to be funded, and all you will have accomplished in that scenario is a government shutdown,” a senior Republican appropriations aide said.
WSJ: Regulator Outlines J.P. Morgan Electricity – Market Violations
Federal energy regulators laid out their first formal accusations that traders at J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -0.64% & Co. manipulated electricity markets, providing new details of their case against the bank ahead of an expected settlement.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that between September 2010 and June 2011, J.P. Morgan engaged in “eight manipulative bidding strategies” that were designed to improperly obtain excessive payments from electricity-system operators in California and the Midwest.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the commission and J.P. Morgan are expected to settle the case for roughly $410 million in a deal that would also include the bank relinquishing roughly $200 million in unpaid claims from electricity buyers in California. That settlement could come as early as Tuesday.
The Grio: Obama, Holder Meet With Activists On Voting Rights Act
President Barack Obama is promising not to let one election go by without protecting minority voting rights. The president met privately Monday with more than a dozen civil rights leaders to talk about strengthening the Voting Rights Act. Last month the Supreme Court struck down the most powerful provision of the 48-year-old law.
The participants told reporters afterward that they are pleased with the administration’s response so far. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was also at the White House meeting, announced support last week for a lawsuit asking for advance court approval for voting changes in Texas.
Participants said the president and Holder promised more action to protect the right to vote. The attendees stressed than any legislative response to the Supreme Court ruling must have broad bipartisan support.
USA TODAY: Health Care Costs Rise At Slowest Rate In 50 Years
Personal health care costs rose last year at the slowest rate in the last 50 years, the White House announced Monday, citing statistics aimed at bolstering the case for the 2010 health care law.
The 1.1% increase in personal consumption spending over the 12 months ending in May was due to decreases in hospital and nursing home services, according to a statement from Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Hospital readmissions rates dropped from an average of 19% to 17.9% for Medicare patients since the passage of the 2010 health care law, Krueger said.
ThinkProgress: Governor Accepted Gifts From Individuals Who Later Landed Lucrative State Contracts
Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) campaigned for his office pledging to prohibit gifts to government officials from those seeking state contracts. But his own financial disclosures show he accepted thousands of dollars worth of gifts from friends who could benefit from his position.
Last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) apologized for bringingembarrassment to Virginia as a result of tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and loans he and his family took from a tobacco executive. Like McDonnell and others, Corbett received gifts from several benefactors in recent years
OPB: Health Reform Will Bring Insurance To Oregon’s Homeless
When the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January, most of Oregon’s homeless people will have health insurance. That means they’ll have access to drug and alcohol treatment, regular doctor visits and counseling.
Traci Manning, the director of the Portland Housing Bureau, says that will change things dramatically. “Having health insurance will prevent some people from becoming homeless in the first place,” Manning says. “Because if you don’t have insurance and you have a serious health care crisis, and perhaps are already struggling to make ends meet, you suddenly have a lot of bills, maybe you start missing a lot of rent. You run through your savings and for some people right now, that may be the cause of their homelessness.”
Manning says that fact that homeless people will have insurance could also free up money for other things. “There is the opportunity for services that are currently provided directly by the public to be paid for directly through Medicaid.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during the National Anthem at the start of an event to mark the 60th anniversary of the suspension of the 1950-1953 Korean War at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. July 27
President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Americans to take time from their “hurried lives” to listen to the heroic stories of Korean War veterans who returned to a country weary of war and deserved a better homecoming.
“Unlike the Second World War, Korea did not galvanize our country. These veterans did not return to parades,” Obama said in a speech at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, making the 60th anniversary of the war’s end.
“Unlike Vietnam, Korea did not tear at our country. These veterans did not return to protests. For many Americans tired of war, there was it seemed a desire to forget, to move on,” Obama said.
They “deserve better,” the president said, adding that on this anniversary, “perhaps the highest tribute we can offer our veterans of Korea is to do what should have been done the day you came home.”
ThinkProgress: Growing Number Of States Are Reporting Lower Than Expected Health Care Premiums
Health premiums in Maryland’s exchanges will be “among the lowest of the 12 states that have available proposed or approved rates for comparison,” the state’s exchange — Maryland Health Connection — announced Friday. The news comes just as New York,Oregon, Montana, California, and Louisiana are also reporting lower than expected premiums.
In Maryland, a 25-year-old will be able to purchase a plan that is more comprehensive than policies currently available on the individual market for $114 per month, while a middle aged adult will have to pay approximately $260 per month for insurance. A 21-year-old non-smoker can start as low as $93 a month. Officials say they used their authority to deny rate increases to reduce the proposed premiums by “more than 50 percent.” Thirty other states have have similar authority.
ThinkProgress: Steve King: In Private, Republicans Actually Agree With My ‘Cantaloupe-Sized Calves’
A growing number of Republicans are publicly distancing themselves from Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) claim that many undocumented youths are drug mules with cantaloupe-sized calves, but the conservative congressman claims that GOP lawmakers are backing him in private.
During an appearance on Fox News on Saturday, King said that Republicans are in fact standing by him, but are afraid to publicly support him for fear of sparking outrage and losing their legislative leverage…..
Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Saturday after at least 65 people were killed and over 1,000 were injured in Egypt during clashes between security forces, armed men, and protesters demonstrating against the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi.
Kerry said he spoke with Egypt’s Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei and Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy Saturday morning to express “our deep concern about the bloodshed.” He also described the situation as a “pivotal moment for Egypt” and called for an “independent and impartial inquiry into the events of the last day.”
Asawin Suebsaeng: Obama Says Ho Chi Minh Was Inspired By Founding Fathers, Conservatives Freak Out
After a meeting with Vietnam’s president Truong Tan Sang on Thursday, President Barack Obama said the following to reporters (emphasis mine): At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman. And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it’s 67 years later, it’s good that we’re still making progress. (Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese communist and nationalist revolutionary leader who died in 1969. He fought alongside Allied forces during World War II, but fought American forces during the Vietnam War.)
Several conservative media outlets blasted the president on similar terms. “Obama may have just been trying to flatter his guest who was obviously eager to show that Ho was not the monster history shows him to be,” Chris Stirewalt, digital politics editor for Fox News wrote. “But his connection between the American founders and Ho shows either a massive lack of historical knowledge on the part of the president or a remarkable degree of moral flexibility.”
Yes, it is true that the United States once waged a disastrous, pointless, and horrific waragainst Ho Chi Minh and the people of Vietnam. But Obama’s comment wasn’t a gaffe or insult to American war vets. What Obama said is literally a historical fact. In September 1945, Ho Chi Minh delivered the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi to a crowd of nearly a million Vietnamese. Not only was the “The Star-Spangled Banner” played by a Vietnamese band during his address, but he opens his speech by quoting Thomas Jefferson.
First lady Michelle Obama watches the women’s singles tennis match between Serena Williams of the U.S. and Jelena Jankovic of Serbia at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games, July 28
.. with Venus Williams and former gymnast Dominique Dawes
Serena Williams gives a thumbs up gesture toward her sister Venus and first lady Michelle Obama after she defeated Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic