Posts Tagged ‘spending

04
Aug
14

ObamaCare: Helping Medicare Function Efficiently

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Sara Kliff: The Amazing News Buried Inside A 283-Page Medicare Report

This is arguably the most unexpected piece of news in the new Medicare Trustees report: the government’s hospital insurance program might be spending less money to cover more beneficiaries than it did a year ago. Medicare’s hospital insurance program — known to wonks as Medicare Part A — spent $266.8 billion covering 50.3 million people in 2012. In 2013, the the same program spent $266.2 billion to cover 51.9 million people. what’s definitely clear — and what’s driving this trend — is that Medicare is spending significantly less per person than they did two years ago.

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And this report expects that trend to continue for another two years going forward. By 2015, the Medicare Trustees’ Report projects that the program will spend less per person on hospital care than it did in 2008. This doesn’t happen much in health care: not just slower growth, but the actual dollar amount spent on a given type of care dropping. The Affordable Care Act, for example, penalizes preventable readmissions — times when seniors turn up at the hospital a second time after something goes wrong during their first visit. Readmissions have been falling pretty steadily for the last few years, and those reductions could be showing up in the lower per-person spending.

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11
Jul
14

ObamaCare: Preserving Medicare For Future Generations

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Mother Jones: Medicare Just Keeps Producing Great Budget News

Medicare has been a bastion of good news lately. Every year, the CBO reduces its baseline estimate of Medicare costs, which have dropped by more than $1,000 since 2010. It is clear that the Medicare savings provisions in the ACA, such as reductions in provider payment updates and Medicare Advantage payments, have played a major role. In addition to scheduled reductions in Medicare’s more formulaic payment rates, providers may be tightening their belts and looking to deliver care more efficiently in response to financial incentives included in the ACA, and it is possible that these changes are having a bigger effect than expected.

For example, CMS recently reported that hospital readmission rates dropped by 130,000 between January 2012 and August 2013. It is also possible that hospitals and other providers are using data and other analytic tools more successfully to track utilization and spending and to reduce excess costs. Another more straightforward factor is that several expensive and popular brand-name drugs have gone off patent in recent years, which has helped to keep Medicare drug spending in check.

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25
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk backstage before an event for the “United We Serve” service project with at Fort McNair in Washington DC, June 25, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:45: The President meets with HHS Secretary Burwell

11:45: Meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres, drops by a meeting with American Jewish leaders, Roosevelt Room

12:20: Lunch with Israeli President Peres

12:35: Josh Earnest briefs the press

1:25: The President meets with Israeli President Peres

2:55: Honors NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson, East Room

5:0: Meets with Senate Democrats, The State Floor

7:10: Delivers remarks to the League of Conservation Voters, Ronald Reagan Building

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The Week Ahead

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Spandan Chakrabati: Putin Completes Surrender To Obama: Syria Disarms, Russia Backing Off Ukraine

Yesterday, weapons inspectors confirmed that Syria handed over all declared chemical and biological weapons to an international inspection team for destruction, completing a major foreign policy coup for the Obama administration (or in the media version, a triumph for Vladimir Putin in a negotiation over Syria where Obama got everything and Putin got nothing) – disarming a middle eastern power of its weapons of mass destruction in the midst of a civil war without firing a single shot. ISIS – the Islamic militant group that is gaining ground in Iraq – many Americans will be surprised to learn stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Incidentally, these were the same rebels McCain was urging US arms in Syria. The same media couldn’t get enough the “weak black guy” narrative then. But now that his strategy of strength, fairness and diplomacy has born major fruit? Nary a peep.

Vladimir Putin has formally asked the upper house of the Russian parliament to rescind their March 1 authorization for Putin to attack Ukraine. President Obama spoke with Putin on this matter just yesterday. Putin is backing off, with his tail between his legs. This yet another crowning foreign policy achievement for this president. Ending two wars. Securing the world’s loose nukes. Killing Osama bin Laden. Bringing the last American POW home. Disarming a middle-eastern madman without firing so much as a water balloon. Dashing Putin’s hope of a new Soviet empire. If this were any other president – let me clarify, if this were any white president – the work of carving their face on Mount Rushmore would have already begun.

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Jonathan Weisman: Cochran Holds Off Tea Party Challenger in Mississippi

With an unusual assist from African-American voters and other Democrats who feared his opponent, Senator Thad Cochran on Tuesday beat back a spirited challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel, triumphing in a Republican runoff and defeating the Tea Party in the state where the movement’s hopes were bright. “We all have a right to be proud of our state tonight,” Mr. Cochran said at his victory party in Jackson, Miss. “This is your victory.”

Mr. McDaniel, speaking in Hattiesburg, was angry, and he did not hesitate to say so. “There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” he said. He accused Mr. Cochran of abandoning the conservative movement. “So much for principles,” he said. The 76-year-old senator ran a largely sleepy campaign until the primary on June 3, when he was edged out by Mr. McDaniel but won enough votes to keep his opponent from outright victory. Mr. Cochran, who is seeking his seventh term, used the past three weeks to turn out Democratic voters — especially African-Americans — to make up that deficit.

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BBC: Iraq PM Nouri Maliki Rejects Calls For Unity Government

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has rejected calls for a national salvation government to help counter the offensive by jihadist-led Sunni rebels. Such calls represented a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience”, he warned. The US has led appeals to the country’s political leaders to rise above sectarian and ethnic divisions. Government forces have been unable to recapture the territory seized by the rebels this month. Almost half of the 300 US military advisers assigned to help the Iraqi security forces have arrived and are to start work on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the crisis in Iraq is being discussed by Nato leaders meeting in Brussels. They have been joined by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has just returned from a two-day visit to Baghdad and Irbil.

In his weekly televised address, Mr Maliki called on “all political forces to reconcile” in the face of a “fierce terrorist onslaught”. But the Shia prime minister gave no promise of greater representation in government for the minority Sunni Arab community, whose anger at what they say are his sectarian and authoritarian policies has been exploited by jihadist militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis). Mr Maliki said forming an emergency administration that included all religious and ethnic groups would go against the results of April’s parliamentary elections, which were won by his State of Law alliance. “The dangerous goals of forming a national salvation government are not hidden,” he said. “It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters.”

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Ari Berman: Fifty Years After Freedom Summer, The Voting Rights Act Is Needed More Than Ever

Fifty years ago, Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old anthropology major at Queens College, went down to Mississippi for Freedom Summer. His first stop was Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he and Mickey Schwerner, a 24-year-old graduate student in social work at Columbia University, and James Chaney, a 21-year-old volunteer with the Congress for Racial Equality from Meridian, Mississippi, were sent to investigate a church burning. Schwerner and Chaney had spoken at Mount Zion Methodist Church over Memorial Day, urging local blacks to register to vote. On June 21, 1964, the young civil rights activists were arrested by the Neshoba County police and then abducted by the Klan. Their bodies were found forty-four days later in an earthen dam. Goodman and Schwerner, both white, had been shot once. Chaney, who was African-American, had been mutilated beyond recognition. The fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer happens to coincide with the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, where the Supreme Court’s conservative majority invalidated Section 4 of the VRA on June 25, 2013. As a result, states like Mississippi, with the worst history of voting discrimination, no longer have to clear their voting changes with the federal government.

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Since the 2010 election, twenty-two states have passed new voting restrictions, according to the Brennan Center. This includes requiring strict voter ID to cast a ballot, cutting early voting, making it harder to register to vote and rescinding voting rights for non-violent ex-felons. New restrictions will be in place for the first time in fifteen states in the 2014 election. All across the country, we’re seeing the most significant push to restrict voting rights since Reconstruction. Partisanship is a strong motivating factor for the voting changes—GOP legislatures or governors enacted eighteen of the twenty-two new restrictions. So is race. According to the Brennan Center: “Of the 11 states with the highest African-American turnout in 2008, 7 have new restrictions in place. Of the 12 states with the largest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010, 9 passed laws making it harder to vote.”

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The wreckage of a Ukrainian helicopter downed near Sloviansk on Tuesday

BBC: West Warns Russia Of Sanctions Amid Ukraine Fighting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin that new sanctions could be applied if efforts to stabilise the situation were not speeded up. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said inaction by Russia would mean a stronger case for sanctions. President Petro Poroshenko warned he might end the truce due to violations. However, his foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, told reporters at a Nato meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Ukraine would “stick to our unilateral ceasefire”. The ceasefire began on Friday. On Tuesday, a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down with the loss of nine lives. There was also fighting overnight near the Russian border in Luhansk region. The Ukrainian military accused the rebels on Wednesday of breaking the ceasefire 44 times since it began. A separatist leader said there had “been no ceasefire”.

The truce is part of Ukraine’s plan to end two months of fighting between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents who control key buildings in towns and cities across the east. More than 420 people have been killed in the region since mid-April, the UN estimates. Mrs Merkel welcomed the surprise decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cancel a parliamentary resolution authorising him to use Russian forces in Ukraine. The cancellation was ratified by Russia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday. While Mrs Merkel said the decision was “psychologically important”, she told German parliament that Ukrainian soldiers continued to die. “Progress is slow… Diplomatic solutions are always preferable but if nothing else works, sanctions can be put back on the agenda,” she said.

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Annalyn Kurtz: 3 Reasons Not To Freak Out About -2.9% GDP

The U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter of the year, and new revisions by the Bureau of Economic Analysis show the decline was even deeper than reported. Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic growth — contracted at a 2.9% annual rate in January through March. That’s the weakest quarter for the U.S. economy since the first quarter of 2009, amid the Great Recession. But economists aren’t too worried, for three key reasons. 1) They blame the weather: Much of the downturn was due to a brutal winter. Blizzards slowed shipments both domestically and abroad and kept consumers away from shopping malls, car lots and open houses more than usual this winter.

2) It’s not a final number: Some economists take this GDP number with a grain of salt because it will be revised again next month when the Bureau of Economic Analysis makes historical revisions. 3) Last, but certainly not least, other data show the economy is improving. Hiring slowed in December, but it has since picked up again. In the last five months, the economy added 1.1 million jobs. Hiring at that level is consistent with an economy that is growing modestly around 2% to 3% a year — not an economy that is contracting.

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NYT: Iran Secretly Sending Drones And Supplies Into Iraq, U.S. Officials Say

Iran is flying unarmed surveillance drones over Iraq from an airfield in Baghdad and is secretly supplying Iraq with tons of military equipment, supplies and other assistance, American officials said. Tehran has also deployed a unit there to intercept communications, the officials said. The secret Iranian programs are part of a broader effort by Tehran to gather intelligence and help Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government in its struggle against Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the head of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force, has paid at least two visits to Iraq to help Iraqi military advisers plot strategy. And Iran has deployed about a dozen other Quds Force officers to advise Iraqi commanders, and help mobilize more than 2,000 Iraqi Shiite militia members from the country’s south, American officials said. Iranian transport planes have also been making two daily flights of military equipment and supplies to Baghdad — 70 tons per flight — for Iraqi security forces.

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Nigel Duara: Judge: People On No-Fly List Must Have Due Process

When it comes to its no-fly list, the U.S. government has a choice to make. More than a dozen Muslims sued after learning they were likely on the list — something the government still won’t confirm — and they found their only recourse was to fill out an online appeal form. Then on Tuesday, a federal judge in Oregon ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must give people a better avenue to pursue a claim that they were wrongly put on the list. Now, the government can seek some way around U.S. District Judge Anna Brown’s order. Or, they can do what she asked. But Brown didn’t want to dictate the rules. In fact, federal prosecutors specifically told her in court, “We urge you not to take over the policymaking.”

Instead, Brown set out a handful of guidelines that were issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an unrelated case. She said the government must tell people what unclassified information was used to put them on the list. And if the information’s classified, at least tell them the nature and extent of it. She said it shouldn’t leave people without an option to challenge their status or make blanket rulings that ignore the specifics of people’s lives. “The (challenge) process falls far short of satisfying the requirements of due process,” Brown wrote in her ruling Tuesday. U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said government attorneys were reviewing the decision.

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Philip Klein: Health Care Spending Actually Shrunk 1.4 Percent In First Quarter Of Obamacare, BEA Says

Health care spending actually shrunk 1.4 percent during the first quarter of the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis now says, after previously saying it soared 9.1 percent — a massive revision that will shake up the debate over how President Obama’s health care law is affecting medical spending. To give an idea of the magnitude of the swing, the 9.1 percent growth rate would have been the fastest growth in health spending since 1980,

and now the BEA says it actually shrunk more than any quarter since the first quarter of 1982 — or 32 years. The revised data suggest medical spending slowed despite the expansion of coverage. So what explains the revision? The short and easy answer is that BEA gained access to more data.

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Sam Ro: This Is Precisely What Crushed GDP

Pretty much everyone was stunned to see Q1 GDP growth slashed to -2.9% from an earlier estimate of -1.0%.
The revision largely boils down to one thing: healthcare spending. “Two thirds of the revision is in consumption, cut to +1.0% from +3.1%,” said Pantheon Macroeconomics Ian Shepherdson. “Almost all of this huge hit is in the healthcare services component, cut to -1.4% from +9.1%.” According to the BEA, healthcare spending went from adding 1.01 percentage points to subtracting 0.16 from the headline GDP growth number. “So much for the BEA’s initial view that the start of Obamacare triggered a surge in spending on healthcare,” said Shepherdon.

Most economists and strategists are brushing this off. First of all, it reflects activity from Q1, which ended in March. Second, the bulk of the more recent data has been positive. “If GDP were truly so weak, we would not expect aggregate hours worked to climb 3.7% annualized through May, jobless claims to remain near cycle lows, consumer confidence to hit a cycle high, industrial production to climb 5.0% at an annual rate over the first five months of the year, core capital goods orders to be up 5.8%, ISM to be above 55, and vehicle sales to hit their strongest annualized selling pace for the year,” said Renaissance Macro’s Neil Dutta. “GDP is the outlier in these data points. I will roll my eyes and move on. Most of the data we just mentioned is consistent with underlying growth over 3.0%.”

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Steve LeVine: How A US Decision To Allow Oil Exports Could Change The World’s Energy Balance

The Obama Administration has taken a bold step toward loosening the grip of tense geopolitics on oil prices, reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall), giving the first permission in four decades for the export of unrefined American oil. The decision—not made public but announced in the form of private letters from the US Commerce Department to two oil companies, according to the paper–seems certain to cause a stir in global oil markets and perhaps send prices lower. Global oil prices have surged because of the political turmoil in the Middle East and Africa–the march of Islamic militants in Iraq, the stoppage of oil exports from Libya, and the broad turbulence in Nigeria.

The US decision allows two Texas companies—Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products Partners—to export a form of extremely light oil called condensate. The Journal’s report does not provide the volume. US condensate production in 2012, the last year provided by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), was about 250,000 barrels a day. That is not much, relatively speaking, but the exports could have a dramatic impact if the Commerce Department provides a broader definition of what counts as condensate for export purposes.

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Your Laugh Of The Day

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On This Day

President Obama meets with members of Congress for a roundtable discussion about immigration reform, June 25, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama with actress Reese Witherspoon in the Oval Office on June 25, 2009. The president was also joined by actors Paul Rudd and Jake Gyllenhaal; they are filming a movie in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama cheers on a child attempting to dunk Press Secretarty Robert Gibbs at the Congressional Luau on the South Lawn of the White House, June 25, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands with attendees of the Congressional Luau on the South Lawn of the White House, June 25, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama laughs as First Lady Michelle Obama does a little dance while making remarks during a United We Serve event at Fort McNair June 25, 2009

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President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, before a meeting with African Outreach Leaders at the G8 Summit in Muskoka, Canada, June 25, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets guests before an event at Oyster River High School in Durham, N.H., June 25, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama eats a hot fudge sundae as he talks with patrons at the UNH Dairy Bar on the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham, N.H., June 25, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama waves to the audience after delivering remarks at Symphony Hall in Boston, Mass., June 25, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

18
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand together in the Blue Room of the White House, before a brunch celebrating the Inauguration, Jan. 18, 2013 (Photo: Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Saturday and Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President and the First Lady will participate in a community service project in the Washington, DC area in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. (1:30 EST).

Tuesday: The President and the Vice President will meet with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Wednesday: The President and the Vice President will host an event for the Council on Women and Girls at the White House.

Thursday: The President will host a reception for mayors at the White House.

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

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BREAKING NEWS

Steve Kornacki: Christie Camp Held Sandy Relief Money Hostage, Mayor Alleges

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc. The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported. Two days later, Zimmer got a call from the Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, who wanted to come to town to do an event at a ShopRite to spotlight businesses that had recovered from the storm.

On May 13, Guadagno and Zimmer met at the Hoboken ShopRite. That is where, Zimmer said, Guadagno delivered the first message about the relief aide. Zimmer shared this diary entry which she said she wrote later that day. “At the end of a big tour of ShopRite and meeting, she pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.”

The second warning, according to Zimmer, came four days later. She and Constable, who now led Christie’s department of community affairs, were seated together on stage for a public television special on Sandy recovery. Again, Zimmer provided this diary entry from May 17, which she said captured the incident. “We are mic’ed up with other panelists all around us and probably the sound team is listening. And he says “I hear you are against the Rockefeller project”. I reply “I am not against the Rockefeller project; in fact I want more commercial development in Hoboken.” “Oh really? Everyone in the State House believes you are against it – the buzz is that you are against it. If you move that forward, the money would start flowing to you” he tells me.

More here

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USA Today: What A Shocker! Young People Like Obamacare

First it was, we think we are invincible. Then it was that the penalty was too low, or that we would be turned off by website glitches. After the Department of Health and Human Services released its initial age breakdown enrollment data Monday, it is time to finally put the pessimism to rest. Young people are enrolling in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and for good reason — being covered is essential to their economic security.

Department of Health & Human Services announced that 30% of Obamacare’s 2.2 million private insurance enrollees are under the age of 35. More specifically 24% of enrollees are between the ages of 18- and 34-years-old. In other words, the exchanges have a percentage of young adult enrollees that is comparable to their proportion of the overall population. All the evidence suggests that youth enrollment will only go up as we get closer to the deadline.

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“I’ve got to get back because somebody is having a birthday today…I’m going to go ahead and sign this bill.”

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Ari Berman: Members Of Congress Introduce A New Fix For The Voting Rights Act

The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways: 1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local jurisdictions would be covered if they commit three or more violations or have one violation and “persistent, extremely low minority turnout” over the past fifteen years.

The formula is based on a rolling calendar, updated with a current fifteen-year time period to exempt states who are no longer discriminating or add new ones who are, creating a deterrent against future voting rights violations. It’s based on empirical conditions and current data, not geography or a fixed time period—which voting rights advocates hope will satisfy Chief Justice John Roberts should the new legislation be enacted and reach the Supreme Court.

The new Section 4 proposal is far from perfect. It does not apply to states with an extensive record of voting discrimination, like Alabama (where civil rights protests in Selma gave birth to the VRA), Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, which were previously subject to Section 5. Nor does it apply to states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have enacted new voting restrictions in the past few years. Moreover, Department of Justice objections to voter ID laws will not count as a new violation.

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David Cay Johnston: Willful Blindness Worsens Inequality

The rich really are getting richer, while the vast majority is getting poorer. All you have to do is look at the official government data to know this. Sadly, though, most of our nationally prominent journalists, especially David Brooks of The New York Times and PBS, do not know this because they neglect to do a basic journalistic task. It’s called reporting. The first and overwhelming problem is that his scale is wrong, probably because Brooks just conjured up the only hard number in that passage. Brooks writes about “the growing wealth of the top 5 percent.”

The threshold to be in the top 5 percent income group in 2012 was $161,000, analysis of tax return data by economists Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty shows. That is a lot of money to most people, but it is pocket change for top Wall Streeters, the group whose pay Brooks properly calls perverse. Lloyd Blankfein, who runs Goldman Sachs, was paid $23 million in 2012. That is 142 times the threshold to be in the top 5 percent. Looked at another way, had Blankfein been paid weekly, his first paycheck would have shown almost 3 times the gross pay that those at the top 5 percent threshold labored all year to make.

Goldman’s 32,400 employees made $12.6 billion last year, which is as much money as the lowest-earning 6.2 million American workers made the year before. To put that in another inequality perspective, in 2012 America had 23.3 million workers, all of them part-time or seasonal, who made less than $5,000. They averaged $2,025 each. Ponder that for a moment. About one worker in six made only $2,000.

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Think Progress: Governor Of State With Highest Minimum Wage Says It’s Still Too Low

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D), whose state has the highest minimum wage of any in the country at $9.32 an hour, proposed raising it to between $10.82 and $11.82 in his State of the State address on Tuesday. “There are tens of thousands of jobs that people depend on that don’t provide a living wage in our state,” he said. “An increase in minimum wage means more money being spent in our economy.”

Republicans in the sate House and Senate expressed concerns that a higher wage could hurt small businesses, farmers, and businesses along the border with Idaho, which has a minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25. Democrats control the House but Republicans effectively control the Senate. Washington has lately become home to demands for even higher minimum wages. In the town surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport, voters approved a $15 minimum wage, although a court recently narrowed its impact to just those who work outside the airport. The group that organized support for the higher wage is fighting that decision.

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TIME: Harvey Weinstein To Take Aim At NRA In New Movie

Film executive Harvey Weinstein said Wednesday he plans to make an anti-gun movie starring Meryl Streep that will take a direct shot at the National Rifle Association. 

“We’re going to take this issue head on, and they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them,” Weinstein said on Howard Stern’s radio show. “I never want to have a gun,” Weinstein said. “I don’t think we need guns in this country, and I hate it, and I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

More here

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On This Day:

The “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” on January 18, 2009 at the National Mall

President Obama shoots hoops with his personal aide, Reggie Love, at the White House Basketball Court, Jan. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with civil rights movement leader Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and his family in the Oval Office, Jan. 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

17
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

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Happy Birthday to the best First Lady, America has been fortunate to have at the White House. Wishing First Lady Michelle Obama long life, happiness, love, laughter, and prosperity.

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

11:0 AM EST: President Obama delivers remarks on signals intelligence programs, Department of Justice

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Brian Beutler: Desperate, Last-Ditch Effort For Obamacare Haters Fails

After the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012, most reasonable people assumed the right had missed its one big shot at using the courts to destroy the law. But Obamacare mania isn’t an ailment that afflicts reasonable people, and so conservatives turned their attention to an even more far-fetched legal challenge.  The short version is that if you take one phrase of the Affordable Care Act statute out of context,

it appears as if the law does not provide for premium tax credits on federally facilitate exchanges. Conservatives are thus asking the courts to invalidate and prohibit Obamacare subsidies in all Healthcare.gov states.

Well, a D.C. District Court judge has looked at this argument, and concluded that it’s total nonsense. I obviously agree. And if you agree, too then you also must conclude that the challengers and their supporters are either dishonest or so blinded by Obamacare hatred that they’ve lost the ability to read. There are no other interpretations.

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Edward-Isaac Dovere: Obama To Nominate First Black Lesbian Judge In 20 Years

President Barack Obama has already nominated more African-American judges and more LGBT judges than any previous president. On Thursday, he’ll announce the nomination of Staci Michelle Yandle, the first African-American lesbian federal judge he’s picked. Yandle, who’s in private practice, will be Obama’s pick for the district court for the Southern District of his home state of Illinois.

If confirmed, that would make her the first African-American judge ever on that court, and the first openly gay judge in the 7th Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. There’s another first among the four new nominees Obama will announce Thursday: Salvador Mendoza, Jr., currently a county Superior Court judge in Washington state, will be Obama’s pick for the district court for the Eastern District of his state, where he would be the first Hispanic judge in that position.

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The Republic: Superior Court Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. Of Tri-Cities Nominated To Become Federal Judge

A state judge from the Tri-Cities has been nominated by President Obama to become a federal judge for Eastern Washington. Salvador Mendoza Jr. was nominated on Thursday, and would be the first Hispanic to serve as a federal judge in Eastern Washington.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., says Mendoza has an inspiring life story, including working as a migrant farm worker in the Yakima Valley. Mendoza has been a Superior Court judge for Benton and Franklin counties since last year.

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USA Today: OFA Sponsors Spring Fellowships

Organizing for Action, the political group set up to push President Obama’s political agenda, is looking to expand its roster.

OFA is launching what it calls a “Spring Fellowship program,” assigning more than 60 veteran organizers to train more than 1,400 new volunteers to promote items such as an immigration bill and Obama’s health care law.

“It’s about making sure that voices on our side are heard, and people are held accountable,” said Jon Carson, executive director of OFA.

The trainers — which include OFA alumni, long-time volunteers, and former fellows — will be located in 22 states. They will train fellows who hail from at least 29 states (plus Washington, D.C.), and range from college students to adults making their first foray into politics.

The program, which includes data and digital training, runs from Feb. 8 to April 15.

More here

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Reuters: Senate Approves $1.1 Trillion Bill To End Government Funding Battle

Washington’s battles over government funding ended with a whimper on Thursday as the U.S. Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill that quells for nearly nine months the threat of another federal agency shutdown.

The measure, which funds thousands of government programs from the military to national parks through the September 30 fiscal year-end, passed by a strong, 72-26 majority. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

The vote came exactly three months after the end of a 16-day government shutdown in October that was waged over disputed funding of “Obamacare,” the president’s signature health care law.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare’s A “Bailout” Now? Conservative Critics Are Getting Desperate

Conservatives used to say Obamacare is socialized medicine. Now they say it is a “government bailout” of insurers. The new claim is just as misleading and cynical as the old one.

The latest conservative plaything is a pair of previously obscure Obamacare features: “reinsurance” and “risk corridors.” ….

…. Conservatives might object to reinsurance and risk corridors on principle, regardless of amounts involved. That would be a perfectly legitimate argument, except for one thing: Reinsurance and risk corridors are already a feature of some government programs, most prominent among them Medicare Part D…

What’s that? You haven’t heard Republicans attacking Medicare Part D an insurer bailout? Maybe that’s because of one other, obvious difference between Part D and the Affordable Care Act. Only one of them was signed into law by a guy named Barack Obama.

More here

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Julie Pace: AP Source: NSA Phone Data Control To Come To End

President Barack Obama on Friday will call for ending the government’s control of phone data from millions of Americans, but will not offer a plan for where the information should be held, a senior administration official said. While the move would mark a significant shift for the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone record collection program, it’s unclear how quickly the plan could be carried out or whether it will ultimately need congressional approval. The government will continue to hold the data for now, though Obama is ordering that, effective immediately, a judicial finding will be required to access the information.

Obama will announce the decisions in a highly anticipated speech at the Justice Department. The official said the president will call on the attorney general and intelligence community to recommend where to move the data before March 28, when the collection program comes up for reauthorization. The official says the administration will also consult with Congress on the data transfer. Privacy advocates say moving the data outside the government’s control could minimize the risk of unauthorized or overly broad searches by the NSA.

A presidential review panel proposed moving the data to the telephone companies or a third party. However, the phone providers have balked at changes that would put them back in control of the records, citing liability concerns if hackers or others were able to gain unauthorized access to the records. The moves are more sweeping than what many U.S. officials had been anticipating about the president’s surveillance decisions.

More here

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USA Today: 20 subpoenas Issued In N.J. Bridge Scandal

A newly formed special state committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal issued 20 subpoenas Thursday, including several to key staff members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The legislative committee sent subpoenas to 17 individuals and three institutions. None was immediately named.

Assemblyman John Wisinewski, who is leading the investigation, said no names would be revealed until the recipients were officially served. That could happen Friday. A New Jersey Senate committee is also investigating whether Christie’s top advisers orchestrated or covered up lane closures near the bridge for political purposes.

More here

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The Hill: AP Gives Award To Reporters Of Untruthful ‘Spanglish’ Story

The Associated Press’s recent error-filled article concerning the ObamaCare Spanish-language site apparently is the best story published by the AP over the last month.

The story claimed that the site was written in “Spanglish,” but the site is actually written in proper Spanish, a fact easily discerned by any fluent Spanish-language reader.

Michael Oreskes, AP’s senior managing editor, yesterday gave a “Best of the States” award to the reporters and editors involved in the ObamaCare Spanish-language hatchet job. In an email, Oreskes exalted the high-quality reporting that created this story — above and beyond other stories produced by the AP in the last month.

…. Not only did the AP story suffer from errors of the “Spanish as a second language” variety, but also it badly stumbled on factual mistakes that could have been fact-checked on Google in seconds.

More here

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Bill Quigley: Ten Examples Of Welfare For Corporations And The Ultra-Rich

There are thousands of tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and corporations provided by federal, state and local governments, but these 10 will give a taste. 1. State and local subsidies to corporations: An excellent New York Times study by Louise Story calculated that state and local government provide at least $80 billion in subsidies to corporations. Over 48 big corporations received over $100 million each. GM was the biggest, at a total of $1.7 billion extracted from 16 different states, but Shell, Ford and Chrysler all received over $1 billion each. Amazon, Microsoft, Prudential, Boeing and casino companies in Colorado and New Jersey received well over $200 million each.

2. Direct federal subsidies to corporations: The Cato Institute estimates that federal subsidies to corporations cost taxpayers almost $100 billion every year. 3. Federal tax breaks for corporations: The tax code gives corporations special tax breaks that have reduced what is supposed to be a 35-percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

More here

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NYT: A First Lady At 50, Finding Her Own Path

Michelle Obama is in many ways the embodiment of the contemporary, urban, well-heeled middle-aged American woman. On Saturday night, Mrs. Obama will celebrate her 50th birthday with dancing and sweets throughout the state floor of the White House, drawing the nation’s attention away from her husband, at least for an evening. Guests will sip fine American wines, consume delicate macarons and be entertained — the expectation is by Beyoncé.

Marc Howard, whose daughter Zoe once played on the soccer team with Sasha, recalled how his daughter drained the tiny water bottle he had brought for her one hot Washington day on the field. Mrs. Obama lightheartedly chided him. “She said, ‘What kind of water bottle is that?’ and gave Zoe hers,” Mr. Howard said. “Those are things far away from the cameras.”

While Mrs. Obama has been careful not to define herself or her role strictly through race, she has paid steadfast attention to her role as a model and mentor to minority children from poor backgrounds like her own, and has built much of her policy agenda around them. “She is more self-determinative than prior first ladies because she very rarely allows herself to be drawn into distracting conversations,” said Carl Anthony, a historian of first ladies. In addition, he said, “She speaks to a demographic pretty much ignored by the White House by all first ladies except for Eleanor Roosevelt.” He cited trips Mrs. Obama has made to the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington and White House invitations she has extended to local working-class African-Americans.

More here

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On This Day:

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman in the Red Room after welcoming the team to the White House to honor their 2011 World Series victory, Jan. 17, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama greets David Hall, one of eight Citizen Co-Chairs for the Inauguration, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Jan. 17, 2013 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

24
May
12

Rise and Shine

President Barack Obama at the Fox Theater in Redwood City, Calif., May 23

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All times Eastern

11:30: Attends a campaign event at the The Fairmont Hotel, in San Jose (Closed press)

1:00: Departs San Jose en route Newton, Iowa

4:00: Arrives in Des Moines

4:55: Tours TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer

5:15: Delivers remarks on urging Congress to act on the ‘To Do List’

6:55: Delivers remarks at a campaign event (listed in CNN’s live streaming schedule)

9:20: Departs Des Moines en route Joint Base Andrews

11:30: Arrives at Joint Base Andrews

11:45: Arrives at the White House

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President Obama greets a crowd upon arriving at the Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, California, on May 23

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Steve Benen: We talked last week about Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivering a message to his constituents: the state’s economy is improving, jobs are being created, and there’s reason for optimism. It is, of course, the exact opposite of what Mitt Romney wants Ohioans to believe right now. This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was similarly unhelpful to the larger GOP cause.

….. You can almost hear Romney shouting in the background: “You guys are screwing this up royally. We need people feeling depressed and hopeless, not excited about ‘brighter days.'”

This keeps happening. Many of the nation’s key swing states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania — are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is looking up. They’re hoping to boost their own fortunes, but inadvertently, they’re also helping President Obama in an election year in which the economy is easily the nation’s top issue.

More here

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Charles Pierce: I spent four years living under the barely distinguishable leadership of Willard Romney, Governor of Massachusetts. Since he’s out on the road now, running for president, and since he seems to be pretending that it was somebody else who was governor here …. I guess it’s up to the rest of us here to be his living memory of what happened when he won an election for the only time in his life.

…. speaking to a group of Latino businessmen in Los Angeles, Romney took time out from reassuring them that he wasn’t the racist goober he appeared to be in the primaries to excoriate public school teachers and their unions…

….. In 2006, he cut $37.8 million from the state’s higher education budget. Fees skyrocketed, as they did generally throughout the state. In 2003, he tried to cut $100 million from that same budget while raising tuition by $50 million at state colleges and universities. He also wanted to slash job training initiatives and workforce training funding. Things were rather worse at the primary and secondary level, where Romney passed down budget cuts and left cities and towns holding the bag. And that’s the way it was.

More here

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Cagle

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TPM: A new poll commissioned by NBC News, the Wall Street Journal and Telemundo shows President Obama with a large lead among Latino voters, 61 percent to 27 percent over likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. President Obama’s approval rating among Latinos polled is 61 percent approve to 32 percent disapprove, while his handling of the economy is at 54 percent approve versus 38 percent disapprove. Romney’s favorablity is underwater at 26 percent favorable versus 35 percent unfavorable.

More here

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This can never be posted enough….

TPM

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I chuckled when I saw that even the stomach-churning Rubin concedes that GOPolitico “has gone pro-Romney, big time”.

And I LOLed again when I read our old buddy Byron Tau breathlessly reporting Romney’s attack on PBO’s “administration for allowing the daughter of Cuban head of state Raul Castro into the United States”.

Tau: Castro was allowed into the United States to attend a meeting of the Latin American Studies Association. Romney’s condemnation follows on the heels of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) YouTube comments, where the Cuban-American politican called the younger Castro an “arm” of the regime and slammed the visa as “shameful.”

The Cuban-American community is highly anti-Castro – and the issue could resonate among an influential Florida constituency that is a bit more conservative than the wider Latino community.

What did Tau neglect to mention?

The GWB administration allowed Mariela Castro visit the United States ….. three times.

Another Pulitzer for our Byron!

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Have a beautiful day Zizi!

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Morning everyone ;-)

22
Feb
12

evening all

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Green Room of the White House before hosting a Smithsonian Museum of African American History reception in the East Room, Feb. 22, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama listens during the groundbreaking ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, February 22

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Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s latest post at The People’s View

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Business Week

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The Hill: The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to have a significant effect.

The bill raised fourth-quarter 2011 gross domestic product by as much as 1.5 percent, it states, and lowered the unemployment rate by as much as 1.1 percentage points.

The package reduced the rolls of the jobless by up to 2 million people in the last three months of 2011.

More here

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LA Times: Sales of previously owned homes rose 4.3% in January and inventories fell to nearly seven-year lows as lower prices, unusually warm weather and an improving economy lifted demand.

….. January sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million …. Sales rose in all four major regions, including an 8.8% pop in the West.

Job creation, mild weather, rising rents and increased household formation contributed to the sales gains, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors group. “Things are genuinely improving,” Yun said.

More here

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Slate

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Link

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One photo, two cool cats.

Thank you Pam!

(You can buy the PBO poster here – thank you Donna Dem)

12
Jan
12

catching up

This can never be posted enough, right? Read Steve Benen on the video here

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White House Live

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McClatchy

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I forgot to post this yesterday:

New York Times editorial: Where the Iowa caucuses illuminated the dark essence of social conservatism, the New Hampshire primary was a journey into the dingy, cramped quarters of the right wing’s economic policies.

The Republicans ritually denounced President Obama as hostile to capitalism, disdainful of individual enterprise and lacking in ideas for reviving the economy. All they had to offer were economic ideas that not only are inadequate for that purpose but were instrumental in creating the nation’s current economic problems.

…. The solution is policies that promote growth and help the middle class, not what the Republican hopefuls want. Mr. Obama said it well on Monday night: “We can’t go back to this brand of you’re-on-your-own economics.” You couldn’t tell that by listening to Mr. Romney prattle about a merit-based economy and call for lowering taxes and cutting spending.

…. The answer is not more of the same failed policies. The solution is to revive the successful ones, along with policies to stimulate the economy and stop foreclosures. Mr. Obama understands this. The Republican hopefuls are deluding themselves and trying to delude the voters.

Full editorial here

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Washington Post

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Steve Benen: Herman Cain argued yesterday about the Republican field, “Look, these candidates have broken the Reagan’s rule from the beginning. Reagan’s 13th commandment, you know? Don’t go negative against another Republican, but they did it anyway!” I think he meant “11th”.

:lol:

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OFA: Get the scoop – including exclusive updates and sneak peeks – on Runway to Win, a project by fashion designers in support of Obama 2012.

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New York Times (July 2011)

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CNN: Foreclosure filings and repossessions fell to their lowest level since 2007 last year.

Total filings, including default notices and bank repossessions were down 33% for the year to 2.7 million, according to RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed properties.

One in every 69 homes had at least one foreclosure filing during the year, while 804,000 homes were repossessed. That’s a significant improvement from the peaks reached in 2010 – when 1.05 million homes were repossessed – and the lowest levels seen since 2007.

More here

Thanks Creolechild

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Yes, I saw a pig fly today – GOPolitico (Donovan Slack) actually did some half decent journalism:

Michelle Obama was raring to help her husband promote his signature health care plan during the summer of 2009. But, according to the latest book about the first couple, “the West Wing never really took the first lady up on her offer.”

“She did a few events, but they were small and drew little coverage,” New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor wrote in “The Obamas.” …. “Her support for the initiative became a mostly private matter, the subject of long conversations between the Obamas.”

But a review of news clippings during the period covered by that chapter in the book – May through August 2009 – found that Michelle Obama was very public about her support and received extensive coverage. The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and ABC News, among others, reported on her efforts.

Kantor’s own newspaper declared in July 2009 that she had become “one of the Obama administration’s most visible surrogates on health care.”

Kantor says that she stands by her core assertions but believes her language could have been clearer. “As Robert Gibbs told me on the record, the White House was concerned about putting the first lady in the line of fire. But given the NYT story you mentioned, I could have been more precise about the media coverage,” she told POLITICO in a statement.

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You can read the full DOJ memo here (it’s a PDF)

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ThinkProgress

One of the facts from K_Creations:

Thanks Criquet

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Thanks Creolechild

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Link




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