President Obama joins in singing “Sweet Home Chicago” during the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern):
10:0: President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama
11:15: Attends the Democratic Governors Association Meeting, State Dining Room
If Republicans can keep discussion around the Affordable Care Act vague, they’ll win in the midterms. The party of health care should collect stories of success and confront the party of no.
The big electoral question hanging over Democrats, of course, is what to do about Obamacare this fall. The pundits say: It’s death! The Democrats are gonna get killed. The Democratic consultants advise their candidates to be as mealy-mouthed as they can possibly get away with being and change the topic as quickly as possible.
The pundits might end up being right after all the votes are counted. But I say the quickest way for Democrats to guarantee that the pundits end up being right is to take their consultants’ advice and pussy-foot around the issue. Democrats who do that will be hoping they sound “reasonable,” but what they’ll really be sounding, and everyone will hear it, is timorous, callow, and totally without conviction. If Democrats are going to say they support the ACA at all—and most of them are going to have to—they might as well do it in a full-throttle and in-your-face way. And they can. The material is there if they just have the onions to use it.
Steve Benen: A closer look at latest ACA ‘horror story’
It’s hard to miss the pattern: the right identifies an “Obamacare victim,” who receives a fair amount of attention and finds themselves featured in a misleading attack ad. Soon after, reality sets in – the ACA “horror story” draws closer scrutiny and the story turns out to be quite different than the one first presented to the public.
I tried to keep up with all of them for a while, but I’ve literally lost count of how many times this has happened.
The new one is an attack ad in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race, sponsored by the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, featuring a woman named Julia Boonstra….
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones asks the obvious question about yet another overinflated or inaccurate Obamacare sob story from Republicans, in this case, from an advertisement produced by Americans for Prosperity:
So here’s my question: if this is the best AFP can do, does that mean that no one is truly being harmed by Obamacare? … If this is happening to a lot of people, finding a dozen or so of them shouldn’t be hard. But apparently it is. So maybe it’s not actually happening to very many people at all?
…. It’s not as if the occasional Obamacare horror story turns out to be exaggerated; every single one propagated by Republicans has fallen apart under scrutiny.
…. The lesson for the press? If you want a nice, easy, debunking story, focus on Republican claims about Obamacare.
Last spring, President Obama signaled to congressional Republicans that he was serious about a long-term debt-reduction deal. GOP leaders made it explicitly clear: if the White House really wants a deal, Obama will have to accept a change to how Social Security benefits are calculated – a policy called “chained CPI,” in reference to the Consumer Price Index.
To the severe disappointment of his progressive allies and Democratic base, the president agreed, including chained CPI in his budget as a demonstration of his commitment…
In theory, this was poised to be a breakthrough moment for a bipartisan debt-reduction agreement. But in practice, the president’s effort was for naught …. A year later, the president has decided there’s no point in offering Republicans what they want if they’re not prepared to take “yes” for an answer – Obama’s new budget plan drops chained CPI.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama cheer during their daughter Sasha Obama’s basketball game, Feb. 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama smile as they walk through the crowd at the Governors Ball in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “The President and First Lady were dancing along to the music of the Harry Connick, Jr., Big Band at the Governors Ball. Mrs. Obama turned towards me and, for one split second, looked right at me. Usually I strive to capture moments when the subjects are unaware of the camera. But this an exception where I actually liked that she was looking at me.” Feb. 21, 2010
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama applaud the performance of Harry Connick Jr. and the Big Band during the Governors Ball in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama gestures during a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama reads a document in the Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and VP Biden following remarks on the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Feb 21 2012
Mick Jagger performs “I Can’t Turn You Loose” during the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
MoooOOOooorning everyone, I ran out of news-gathering time again, will catch up later. Happy Friday!
Clare Kim: Obama Talks Surveillance, Hillary, And Trayvon Martin With Leno
On The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, President Obama talked with host Jay Leno about everything from the Affordable Care Act and NSA leaker Edward Snowden to the economy, his relationship with Hillary Clinton, and the death of Trayvon Martin. Leno asked the president about the ongoing skepticism for the NSA surveillance program that collects phone record metadata in order to prevent terrorist attacks. Obama firmly stated that the government has not encroached on the privacy of citizens, and that they have not “abused these powers” in any way. He added that America does not “have a domestic spying program,” but intelligence gathering is “a critical component” for a counter-terrorism program.
Pres. Obama cancels meeting with Russia President Putin next month. - AP
‘What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat, and, you know, that information is useful,” Obama said. “But, you know, what I’ve said before, you know, and I want to make sure I repeat and that is we should be skeptical about the potential encroachments on privacy. None of the revelations show that the government has actually abused these powers, but they are pretty significant powers.” Jay Leno also brought up the recent crackdown on gays in Russia, comparing the country’s treatment of homosexuality to the way Nazi Germany persecuted Jews. President Obama said he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
Leno told the president he’d spoken eloquently about the death of Trayvon Martin. “I could tell you were speaking from the heart,” he said. “Tell me about that.” He told Leno that he spoke about the case because he “wanted to try to explain why this was a particularly sensitive topic for African-American families because a lot of people who have sons know the experience they had of being followed and being viewed suspiciously…what we also believe in is people, everybody, should be treated fairly and the system should work for everyone. And so what I’m trying to do is just make sure that we have a conversation and that were all asking ourselves ‘are there some things we can do to foster better understanding’ and to make sure we don’t have laws in place that encourage the kind of violent encounter that we saw there that resulted in tragedy.”
1:00PM: Pres. Obama is interviewed by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff
3:50PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
5:20PM: Pres. Obama departs Los Angeles
9:50PM: Pres. Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews
10:05PM: Pres. Obama arrives at the White House
Julie Pace: In Rebuke, Obama Cancels Moscow Summit With Putin
In a rare diplomatic rebuke, President Barack Obama on Wednesday canceled his Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision reflected both U.S. anger over Russia’s harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and growing frustration within the Obama administration over what it sees as Moscow’s stubbornness on other key issues, including missile defense and human rights.
Obama will still attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a top White House official said the president had no plans to hold one-on-one talks with Putin while there. Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary. “We’ll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment,” Rhodes said.
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. Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact.
I would have hoped for a “Pants on Fire” rating, but would have settled for at least a “False” conclusion. But the House Majority Leader can make a claim that’s the polar opposite of reality and it’s “half true”? Seriously? In theory, I’m not reflexively opposed to the idea of websites fact-checking important claims made by political figures, but if you’re going to have the word “fact” in your name, you have a responsibility to get the details right. And too often, PolitiFact just isn’t good at its job.
President Barack Obama listens during a health care reform meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on Aug. 7, 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Greg Sargent: The GOP’s Fundamental Miscalculation About ObamaCare
What if Republicans — in their drive to repeal and even defund Obamacare — are making the same mistake they made in 2012 about the economy? Last year, Republicans gambled that high public dissatisfaction with Obama’s economic performance meant majorities had concluded that the President had been an abject failure, meaning there was simply no chance he’d be reelected. Instead, exit polls suggested voters didn’t hold Obama to blame for the economy in high enough numbers to ensure his defeat. One possible explanation — advanced by Ron Brownstein, yours truly and others — is that despite their disappointment, they found the sluggishness of the recovery understandable, given the circumstances, and saw the election as a nuanced choice between sticking with a disappointing status quo and a worse alternative. Republicans appeared caught off guard by this.
A similar miscalculation may be guiding the current GOP drive to repeal Obamacare — and the conservative drive to shut down the government to force its defunding. polls that offer a more nuanced range of options — such as changing the law or repealing parts of it — find only minority support for the GOP position of full repeal. This pattern has been clear for years now. Meanwhile, polls that ask directly whether Republicans should keep blocking the law find majority opposition to that. It seems reasonable to surmise that dissatisfaction with the law may not necessarily translate into broad support for getting rid of it entirely (let alone replacing it with nothing). As in 2012, voters may be taking a longer, more nuanced view than Republicans think.
There was a line in Dan Balz’s terrific analysis of the Republican Party’s political dilemma that kind of bugged me. Not because he was wrong, but because he could be easily disproven. All that’s needed is for black folks to vote. During the 2012 presidential election, Republicans certainly thought past patterns would prevail. Specifically, they thought the coalition of minorities and women, many of whom were first-time voters, wouldn’t return to the polls for two reasons. First, there was a strong belief that because those first-time voters didn’t have a tradition of voting, many of them would stay home on Election Day. Second, there was an even stronger belief that President Obama’s coalition was so disillusioned by what their guy was unable to achieve that they would be too demoralized to vote. Wrong and wrong, again.
Blacks were the only race or ethnic group to show a significant increase between the 2008 and 2012 elections in the likelihood of voting (from 64.7 percent to 66.2 percent). The 2012 increase in voting among blacks continues what has been a long-term trend: since 1996, turnout rates have risen 13 percentage points to the highest levels of any recent presidential election. A House of Representatives returned to Democratic control and the Democratic majority hanging on in the Senate would allow Obama to get his agenda through and get something done for the American people. All that’s required is for the 2014 electorate to be less white than it has ever been.