President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3210, Pay Our Military Act, which provides continuing appropriations for pay and allowances for members of the Armed Forces during any period for which interim or full-year appropriations for FY 2014 are not in effect, in the Oval Office, Monday night, Sept. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
TPM: A lesser-known but important provision in “Obamacare” that regulates how health insurance companies spend their money is yielding benefits for consumers, a new study finds.
By this August, insurers are projected to send consumers a total of $1.3 billion in rebates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday – $541 million to large employers, $377 million to small businesses and $426 million to people with their own insurance plans.
The rebates are the result of a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent or 85 percent of premium earnings on health care – as opposed to marketing and administrative activities – or otherwise provide rebates to their consumers.
Steve Benen: Joe Weisenthal published a pretty remarkable chart today noting economic growth in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe over the last nine years….
…. Once President Obama took office and the Recovery Act/stimulus began putting capital back into the economy, the U.S. economy began growing again. In the U.K., the economy started to improve, right up until British officials began implementing an austerity agenda – at which point the national economy stagnated and slipped back into a recession.
Obama rejected austerity, and as a result, American growth, while fragile and insufficient, is easily outpacing Europe’s and UK’s, where austerity measures have ruled the day.
….When David Cameron’s austerity policies began, Republicans were not only certain they would work, they pleaded with American policymakers to follow the Tories’ lead …. The remarkable thing is, Republicans aren’t the least bit chastened by the track record of failure.
ThinkProgress: …. The Romney campaign organized a conference call today with three of Romney’s foreign policy advisers to push back (against VP Biden’s foreign policy speech). During the call, Romney adviser Ambassador Pierre Prosper attacked President Obama for dealing with Russia, albeit using geographical terms from the Cold War era:
PROSPER: ….. The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia….
Aside from the fact that “Czechoslovakia” broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia nearly 20 years ago, the Obama administration never “abandoned” missile defense sites because they were never there to begin with….
Michael Tomasky: It seems clear that the main issue Mitt Romney is going to use to try to reestablish himself as a moderate is immigration …. Can Romney, who staked out an immigration position during the primaries that left him sounding like Pat Buchanan, really pull this off? My bet: He’ll be smooth, he’ll do almost everything right, he’ll say all the right things — and he’ll end up with something very much like the 31 percent of the Latino vote John McCain got, maybe two or three points more, tops. The reason is simple: Romney, like his party, is just too white.
…. There is no signal, at least yet, that Rubio would make a whit of difference. Last weekend, a poll came out in which 1,000-plus Latinos were asked about Obama-Biden matchups against Romney-Rubio, and Romney paired with various other Hispanic Republicans ….. in Florida, Obama did better among Latinos against Romney with Rubio on the ticket, suggesting that maybe to know him isn’t to love him.
NYT: The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities….
In making the general assertion that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” the ad cites as evidence $1.2 billion that went “to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico.” In fact, the company involved in the plant, SunPower, said that the $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee was for its solar ranch in California….
The ad also says that the Obama administration sent “half a billion to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs in Finland.” …. Loans under the agency’s alternative vehicle program went to Fisker Automotive, an American electric car company based in California that has facilities in Finland, as well as China and Germany. The agency provided $169 million for engineering and tooling work, all carried out in the United States….
Distriction.com: Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later.
So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language. “I am proud of you,” Stephon signed. The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back.
“Thank you,” Obama replied.
This is one of those moments that humanize the office of the presidency…..
Stephon: “The moment I will never forget was when he looked at me. He gave me a chance to talk to him. It was like he was waiting for me to say something. I took the moment and signed “I am proud of you,” and his response was “Thank u” in sign language back! Oh my gosh! I was like wow! He understood me after I said I was proud of him. It was so amazing…I was just speechless. Right after he thanked me, he smiled at another deaf lady who signed “I love you.” When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me. He was just a humble man. I am just impressed by him and know that he will have my vote and he will win second term without a doubt. Yeah, I feel safe to have him for another term.”
Obama’s approval rating is soft, but new polls of South Carolina and Florida show him ahead of Gingrich and Romney. Michael Tomasky asks: could the GOP be headed for disaster?
How can Barack Obama, as this new NBC/Marist poll has it, be beating Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in South Carolina, of all places? …. Is it conceivable that 10 months and three weeks from now, Obama could actually win the state? If it happens, we will know that the Republicans are headed off the cliff. And that is precisely where we should all hope they go.
…. now let’s look at the Florida numbers from the NBC/Marist poll. There Obama is beating both Romney and Gingrich by outside the margin of error. He leads Romney 48-41 and Gingrich 51-39.
…. if Obama holds Florida, he can afford to lose Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and either Michigan or Pennsylvania, and still rack up a winning 270 electoral votes. But of course, if he’s winning Florida, he’s likely not losing any of those other states, with the exception of Indiana….
Ten months and three weeks is a long, long time. But today’s poll suggests that a wipeout of such proportions is not unimaginable….
Washington Post: Against the backdrop of a tightening Republican presidential contest, much of the hierarchy of President Obama’s campaign is decamping from Chicago to Washington on Tuesday for a high-profile debriefing on the the state of the president’s reelection effort.
…. At the top of the list is an erratic Republican presidential field roiled by the ascent of Newt Gingrich, whom the Democrats view as a weak challenger to the president. They also take some credit for the Gingrich surge, because it appears to have partly been a result of a devastating video attack on Mitt Romney produced by Obama’s longtime admaker.
A speech by Obama last week in Kansas – a searing attack on GOP economic policies – was hailed by one liberal critic as the “most important economic speech of his presidency.” This week, Obama is celebrating the end of the U.S. war in Iraq, making good on one of this central campaign promises. Even the unemployment rate has dipped.
….. senior Obama advisers and supporters are cautiously pointing to signs that perhaps the president’s fortunes have turned a corner. Among their favorites: the laundry list of politically tricky statements that front-runners Romney and Gingrich have made during the Republican race….
NY Daily News: Julianne Moore didn’t bring her research on Sarah Palin home with her ….. the flame-haired actress told us she “read every single thing” she could about the Grizzly Mama and “watched every interview” in order to prepare for her role as the former Alaska governor in next spring’s HBO mini-series, “Game Change.”
But when we asked Moore if she’d developed a newfound respect for Palin after delving deeper into her life, the actress, 51, raised an eyebrow and sighed deeply. “No,” she said quietly.
Rudy Giuliani to Piers Morgan: “My gut tells me right now as I look at it that Gingrich might actually be the stronger candidate, because I think he can make a broader connection than Mitt Romney to those Reagan Democrats…You won’t have this barrier of possible elitism that I think Obama could exploit pretty effectively.”
Quarterback Barrett Trotter #14 of the Auburn Tigers holds a sign depicting President Obama during the game against the LSU Tigers, October 22
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Hey, suddenly “leading from behind” is looking pretty good, isn’t it? This instantly infamous phrase, spit like rusty nails out of the mouths of neocons and other foreign-policy bigwigs ever since it appeared in that New Yorker article …. described a way of conducting multilateral foreign policy that has achieved electrifying results.
…. a truly multilateral intervention to rid the world of one of its most tyrannical dictators, undertaken with no loss of American life? This is a first. It’s a very big deal….
…. let us note how the Obama record on Libya compares with the neocon record. Libya was the great case of neocon hypocrisy in the Bush years. The neocons were supposed to be different from the Kissingerian realists, right? The neocons cared about spreading democracy and freedom. But all they spread in Libya was more tyranny…..
…. The Republican electorate may eat up potshots at Obama for being weak, but I doubt the broader public is buying it. A president who iced bin Laden and has overseen the ousters of two leading autocrats (and a couple of other minor ones) is not weak. Leading from behind, the sneerers forgot, is still leading.
Jill Lawrence (Atlantic): The Republicans aiming for the White House might be well-advised to pack it in on foreign policy for a while and cede the field to President Obama…..
…. In a world ever more complicated, dangerous and economically fragile, he can make a strong argument that he deserves re-election based on his record as commander in chief…..
…. Obama has an unmatched record of targeting and killing terrorists and helping others to do so ….. What’s more, whether it’s killing terrorists or navigating the Arab Spring, Obama has been for the most part quiet and judicious and has avoided igniting anti-American sentiment across the globe….
…. Obama has taken enormous incoming for saying that pre-1967 borders with land swaps should be the foundation for Mideast peace talks … yet he recently intervened to help rescue six Israelis during an attack on their embassy in Cairo and opposed the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Obama deserved a “badge of honor” for his stand at the U.N. and told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Obama is as much a friend to Israel as Bush and other presidents.
…. in looking at him as commander in chief and leader of the free world, the GOP would prefer that people ignore what’s been going on in the real world. It brings to mind the old Marx Brothers joke: “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”
President Obama leaves Joint Base Andrews outside Washington after playing golf, October 22
Michael Williams (The Guardian): President Obama’s latest foreign intervention in Libya reflects an evolution of the American way of war and the crystallisation of the “Obama Doctrine”. Gone are the “shock and awe”, trillion-dollar campaigns of the Bush era – right on cue, the president has followed Thursday’s news of Muammar Gaddafi’s death with Friday’s announcement of the final pullout of US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. In this age of austerity and public fatigue with foreign exploits, the Obama White House has diligently combined military force, technology, intelligence assets and patience to rack up an unassailable list of “wins” for the president on foreign affairs.
The success and strength of the the president’s doctrine lies in the fact that it is not doctrinaire. The Obama Doctrine is based upon the very pragmatic concept that the United States should defend primary and secondary interests when it can, but that there is no hard-and-fast rule on intervention. There is no “off limits” zone à la the Monroe Doctrine, no Truman-esque hard line such as the containment of the USSR that led to the Vietnam war. The Obama Doctrine is also a far cry from the Bush Doctrine’s “you’re either with us or you’re against us” mentality, which held that democracy promotion could be achieved via direct regime change – so saddling the US with $1tn of debt and an unwinnable war in Iraq.
The Bush Doctrine played right into Osama bin Laden’s hands; the Obama Doctrine killed Bin Laden…..
Mary Beth Brotski and Teri McClain chat across the street from the Paramount Theatre Sunday in Seattle. The women, who found their positions at about 7:30 a.m., were the first ones holding signs for President Obama, who will be attending an event at the theatre later in the day
ThinkProgress: At the main square in Benghazi, people have been gathering to celebrate the end of the rule of Muammar Qaddafi. As euphoric Libyan rebels advanced into Tripoli on Sunday, there were scenes of jubilation in the rebels’ de facto capital, Benghazi, where thousands celebrated in the streets.
One large sign in the middle of the square in Benghazi features a picture of the “Fantastic 4” (from right to left): Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and U.S. Ambassador the U.N. Susan Rice. The text on the sign reads: “God Bless You All. Thanks For All.”
Men take part in Friday prayers behind a banner honoring U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, British Prime Minister David Cameron, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President Barack Obama, at the main square of the rebel-held town of Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Aug. 12
Lexington (The Economist): I am on holiday for three weeks in a faraway corner of Cornwall, but the momentous news from Libya has reached even here. Barack Obama received a lot of stick for his cautious approach to the uprising in Libya. Liberals traumatised by Iraq could not believe he had started another war. Republicans mocked him for “leading from behind”. But with the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime now in prospect, his critics ought to eat at least some of their words.
Like many others, I had strong misgivings, but the president remained supremely calm throughout and the speech he made in March looks pretty good in light of what has now happened. The intervention could not have taken place without America’s technological help; it was conducted mainly by allies; it had the blessing of the UN Security Council and the Arab League; and for those reasons it has generated almost no blowback from the Arab world. In short, a job well done – though I don’t expect his Republican critics to be willing to admit this.
Ian Dress, 8, holds a sign separating himself from protesters while waiting for President Barack Obama to pass on his way to the Rural Economic Forum at the Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, Aug. 16