10:35: President Obama departs the White House en route Woodbridge, Va.
11:05: Arrives in Woodbridge, Va.
11:30: Delivers remarks via satellite at the AARP Life@50+ National Event & Expo at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge
12:45: Delivers remarks at a campaign event at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge (C-Span)
1:30: VP Biden and Jill Biden travel to Hanover, N.H., to deliver remarks at a campaign event at Dartmouth College
2:30: President Obama arrives at the White House
3:0 First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at Morgan State University, Baltimore (need to check the time on this)
5:15: VP Biden and Jill Biden travel to Concord, N.H., to deliver remarks at a campaign event at the New Hampshire State House
Washington Post: The last of the 33,000 “surge” troops President Obama ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 have left the country, the Pentagon announced Friday, just ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.
The number of U.S. troops in the war zone now stands at 68,000, Secretary of State Leon E. Panetta told reporters traveling with him during a week-long visit to the Asia-Pacific region. The troop count is down from a peak of 101,000 U.S. forces last year and marks the end of a critical phase in Obama’s war strategy.
…. The drawdown of U.S. forces is in keeping with Obama’s timetable to pull out all conventional combat forces by the end of 2014…
USA Today: Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of about $4.5 billion on prescription medications because of the 2010 health care law since January 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today.
“We’re seeing consistent, steady savings for seniors thanks to the health care law,” said Jon Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “In just 21/2 half years, seniors have seen billions in savings, and those savings will continue to grow as the doughnut hole is fully closed.”
Washington Post: In 3 1/2 years in office, President Obama has set in motion a broad overhaul of public education from kindergarten through high school, largely bypassing Congress and inducing states to adopt landmark changes that none of his predecessors attempted.
He awarded billions of dollars in stimulus funding to states that agreed to promote charter schools, use student test scores to evaluate teachers and embrace other administration-backed policies. And he has effectively rewritten No Child Left Behind, the federal law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, by excusing states from its requirements if they adopt his measures.
I work for The Villages, a large retirement community in Central Florida, and one of the top 20 privately held corporations in the state. My employer records annual sales of over $1 billion dollars, and the company’s CEO, H. Gary Morse, is a multi-millionaire (possibly even a billionaire).
In contrast, the company’s employees are underpaid and have no benefits. I haven’t had a raise in six years. I am a part-time hourly employee, which means no paid vacation and no paid sick leave. This year, thanks to cuts in my hours, I’m on track to gross less than $10,000.
…. I checked my mail box and found a letter from my employer.
To our entire Villages Team:
The Villages is a great example of the “American Dream” come true. Together, we have created jobs, established businesses, founded an award-winning school and set the standard for enjoyable, affordable retirement living.
Only in America could such a community be created … but that America will soon disappear if we don’t change the leadership in Washington, D.C.
LA Times: …. Paul Ryan’s initial campaign visit to Florida was to The Villages, a hotbed of Republican retirees. Residents were encouraged to arrive in their golf carts for the outdoor rally Saturday.
Hundreds of supporters jammed one of the development’s “town squares,” where free entertainment and boozy dances each night have helped this community of 60,000 seniors earn a somewhat double-edged reputation as Disney World for the Cialis set.
Open-air bars at the event began pouring before 8 a.m. Happy-hour pricing was in effect: $2.75 for a 14-ounce margarita. However, a Chick-fil-A stand did a brisker business.
The privately held, and tightly controlled, retirement complex is a regular campaign stop for GOP presidential candidates…..
Romney counts billionaire H. Gary Morse, who built The Villages on more than 30 square miles of central Florida farmland, among his campaign’s biggest donors. A co-chairman of Romney’s Florida finance committee, Morse, family members and their corporation have already given more than $1 million to the Romney campaign and the “super PAC” supporting him….
Steve Benen: Just this morning, I noted that Mitt Romney publicly gave his word, on camera, that he would “go back and look” to let us know what tax rates he paid over the last decade. The good news is, Romney really did “go back and look,” and elaborated on the findings today.
The bad news is, his answer was horrible:
“…I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way. But every year I’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.”
Let’s walk through the top five reasons this answer is woefully unacceptable…..
David Simon: Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit.
Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?
Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college. If not, it was my first couple years as a newspaper reporter. Since then, the paychecks have been just fine, thanks, and I don’t see any reason not to pay at the rate appropriate to my earnings, given that I’m writing the check to the same government that provided the economic environment that allowed for such incomes.
I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly: Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent. I swear. And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail. But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits. I’m just not that kind of guy.
Charles Pierce: The president is angry. The president is an angry man. The president is black. The president is an angry black man …. That is the four-point plan on “the economy” on which Willard Romney apparently intends to run for president for a while…..
“If you look at the ads that have been described and the divisiveness based on income, age, ethnicity and so-forth, it’s designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger and this is not in my view what the American people want to see,” Romney said.
Ethnicity? And so forth…. If he blows that dog-whistle any louder, Seamus may return from that great roof-rack in the sky.
This should surprise absolutely nobody, because, if there’s one thing candidate Romney has demonstrated, it is that he really is quite a remarkable liar…. Asking a Republican presidential candidate to abandon race-baiting entirely is to ask for an awful lot of 13-second Republican stump speeches. Asking Willard Romney to do it is to assume that there is muck so foul that he will not immerse himself in it to be president….
…. There was nothing Romney wouldn’t do in business to make a buck. Why should we be surprised that he campaigns the same way? ….
…. Since you can count on Rafalca’s hooves the number of times in his life that Willard Romney has been in a fair fight, it’s no great shock to discover that, since he can’t fight hard, he’ll fight dirty, because winning is not something you earn. Winning is something you inherit…..
McClatchy: …. Paul Ryan will leave sizable footprints on the 2012 presidential race. His controversial plan to overhaul the federal budget has been the chief talking point of the campaign since Mitt Romney put him on the GOP ticket last weekend.
…. According to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, “[Medicaid] Cutbacks might involve reduced eligibility … coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost-sharing by beneficiaries – all of which would reduce access to care.”
Those cuts and the Ryan plan’s calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act would add tens of millions of low-income Americans to the ranks of the uninsured. It also would raise taxpayers’ bill for emergency room indigent care and cause an increase in private insurance rates.
…. Ryan’s plans for Medicare have caused a stir … In order to slow spending in the national health plan for seniors, Ryan would replace Medicare’s guarantee of coverage for new beneficiaries in 2023 with a flat payment to seniors known as a “voucher” or “premium support” ….
Ryan’s planned tax cuts favor the affluent. Those who earn more than $1 million annually would see an average tax cut of $265,000 and a 12.5 percent increase in after-tax income … But at the lower end of the scale, people earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut …
…. All told, the Tax Policy Center said, Ryan’s tax plans would increase the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years. His call to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for high-earning Americans would boost the deficit by an additional $5.4 trillion.
NYT Editorial: Three days after Paul Ryan became the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, he made a pilgrimage on Tuesday to the Las Vegas gambling palace of Sheldon Adelson, the casino tycoon who is spending more than any other donor to try to send Mr. Ryan and Mitt Romney to the White House. No reporters were allowed, perhaps because the campaign didn’t want them asking uncomfortable questions about the multiple federal investigations into the company behind Mr. Adelson’s wealth.
Those questions, though, aren’t going away, and neither are the ones about the judgment of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan in drawing ever closer to a man whose business background should lead them to back away — fast. By not repudiating Mr. Adelson’s vow to spend as much as $100 million on their behalf, the two candidates seem more eager to keep the “super PAC” dollars flowing than to preserve the integrity of their campaign.
The issues swirling about Mr. Adelson’s business practices are not new and can hardly come as a surprise to the Romney campaign…. A careful presidential campaign would put distance between itself and a businessman like Mr. Adelson … By allowing Mr. Adelson to have such an outsize role in their race, the candidates themselves are placing a very risky bet.
NYT: As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan fanned out across the country this week, glad-handing voters and donors, a smaller but no less important gathering was taking place on Capitol Hill: Mr. Romney’s transition team met on Tuesday with more than a dozen loyalists from the private and public sectors in space borrowed from a law office.
Mr. Romney’s transition team …. offers a glimpse of what might be Mr. Romney’s approach to governing, functioning much like his old private equity firm, Bain Capital. The team is assessing the government and looking for ways to make it more efficient and streamlined…..
USA Today: Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today. This, administrators say, should help keep costs to the government down in the future.
“Before, many beneficiaries were forced to stop taking the drugs,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “This reduces costs through better management.”
…. The 2010 health care law required a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the so-called doughnut hole, or the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Medicare drug benefit, also known as Part D. In 2012, the coverage gap is $2,930. The Affordable Care Act eliminates the doughnut hole by 2020.
The previous report, with numbers through the end of October, had shown 2.65 million Medicare recipients saved $1.5 billion on prescriptions. That rose to 3.76 million recipients by the end of December.
The Hill: Senate Democrats raised more than $5.3 million in February, marking the third straight month in which they raised more than the month before.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) ended February with almost $19 million in the bank. That’s about $3.5 million more than it had one month ago, meaning the committee saved most of what it raised.
Democrats have cleared their debt and raised more than $52 million during the cycle. DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said it was the most successful February the committee has ever had.