Posts Tagged ‘steve



13
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Feb. 13, 2012 – Pete Souza: “From early spring to late fall, the light in the Oval Office is fairly consistent with the sun high above the horizon during the day. But during the winter months, the sun is lower and splashes through the back window in the early morning and late afternoon. Here, in the midst of the morning light, the President talks on the phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron.”

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Presidential Daily Schedule:

The President has no public events scheduled – due to bad weather, the White House has postponed the President’s announcement about a new project designed to help young African-American and Hispanic men find jobs and get a good start in life. “We will reschedule the event,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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@petesouza: Overhead angle of Presidents Obama and Hollande before last night’s state dinner

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(The last five minutes of the interview)

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ThinkProgress: Uninsurance Rate Falls To Five-Year Low As 3.3 Million Enroll In Obamacare

The Obama administration on Wednesday released its monthly update on health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 3.3 million Americans enrolled in private health plans through Obamacare’s state and federal marketplaces from October through February 1, with 1.1 million signing up in January alone. The data comes on the same day that a Gallup survey found that the U.S. uninsurance rate has hit a five-year low.

“We’re seeing a healthy growth in enrollment,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a conference call with reporters. According to Sebelius, an additional 6.6 million Americans have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) during the first four months of the open enrollment period.

More here

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National Journal: Obamacare Enrollment Is Back on Track

With two months left to go, Obamacare enrollment is on track to hand the White House a significant win over the law’s critics.

About 3.3 million people had signed up for private insurance plans through the end of January, according to new data the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday. January itself was a little better than expected, and the growth put the administration within reach of a strong total when open enrollment ends in March.

There are significant gaps in the data that could affect assessment of the law’s ultimate success, but barring any wild surprises, things are looking good for the White House.

Here’s what you need to know from the latest data….

More here

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Obama-Prayer

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SmartyPants: President Obama’s Faith: “Maintaining Your Moral Compass”

As someone who is dedicated to trying to understand President Obama, it is always interesting to come across a speech or an interview with him from the past that I haven’t seen before. And so I was delighted to find this interview from March 2004 that he did with Cathleen Falsani about his religious faith. If you are interested, I suggest that you go read the whole thing. But I’m going to excerpt a few things he said that stood out to me. First of all, he recounts a history that we have all become familiar with by now. 
I am a Christian. 
So, I have a deep faith. So, I draw from the Christian faith.
 On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. 
I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10. 
My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.

And I’d say, probably, intellectually I’ve drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith… So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

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I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding. And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I’m having internally. I’m measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I’m on track and where I think I’m off track. When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

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WBIR: Healthcare.gov Enrollments In Tennessee Higher Than National Average

Tennessee’s enrollment rate in the federal health exchange was higher than the national enrollment growth rate in January, according to new federal statistics released Wednesday.

In Tennessee, the federal government reported that 59,705 people had enrolled in Marketplace plans as of February 1. As of the last report, which covered through December 28, there were about 36,250 enrollees in Tennessee. That’s a growth rate of about 65 percent.

However, enrollment in the federal exchange grew by 50 percent nationally in January. As of February 1, there are 3.3 million enrollees nationally.

More here

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Miami Herald: After Website Woes Decrease, Obamacare Enrollment Surges In Florida, Nation

Nearly 300,000 Floridians have signed up for Affordable Care Act plans, an 88 percent increase in a month, reflecting an enrollment surge that coincides with the end of Obamacare’s major website woes.

Florida’s number of enrollees, the second-highest in the nation behind California, accounts for almost 9 percent of the nation’s 3.3 million total enrollees, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More here

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Adam Serwer: North Carolina Voting Law Hits Black Voters: Study

North Carolina’s recent voting law changes will disproportionately affect black voters in the state, according to a study published Wednesday by Dartmouth University.

“The study provides powerful ammunition for the pending legal challenges,” says Brenda Wright, a voting rights expert with the liberal think tank Demos. “It shows that virtually every key feature of North Carolina’s election legislation will disproportionately cut back on registration and voting by African Americans in North Carolina as compared to whites.”

North Carolina was once covered by the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting submit their voting law changes to the Justice Department for approval. After the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional last year the formula for determining which jurisdictions were covered by that requirement, North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a package of voting law restrictions. Among the changes were shortening the time for early voting, instituting a photo ID requirement, eliminating same-day voter registration and limiting pre-registration for teenagers to those who will be of voting age on Election Day. According to the study, all of those changes “will have a disparate effect on black voters in North Carolina.”

More here

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Sara Kliff: Obamacare Beat A January Enrollment Projection

The Obama administration has beaten a monthly health insurance enrollment target for the first time, according to data released Wednesday showing that more than 1.14 million people signed up for health plans in January in the new insurance marketplace.

The latest enrollment data from the Obama administration show that 3.3 million people have signed up for private health insurance through federal and state insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. This figure represents all enrollment from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1. It includes both people who have and have not paid their first month’s premium. Of those people, 1,146,100 selected their health insurance plans in January, meaning there was a 53 percent increase enrollment last month alone.

More here

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Reuters: In First NYC Budget, de Blasio Pushes Pre-K, Retiree Healthcare

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio included a tax on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten in his first budget and proposed restoring $1 billion to a retiree healthcare fund that his predecessor’s plan would have drained. The proposal marks the first time in 20 years that a Democrat has drafted a spending plan for the biggest city in the United States. The Democrat-led City Council must approve a budget by the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

More here

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NYT: Obama’s Weekend in Sunnylands, With Lots of TV

President Obama has added an item to his agenda for Presidents’ Day weekend:

The leader of the free world is looking forward to binge-watching DVDs of his latest favorite television show: HBO’s edgy new “True Detective” series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Mr. Obama made a point of approaching HBO’s chief executive, Richard Plepler, at the state dinner for France on Tuesday night.

“Where is my True Detective and Game of Thrones?” Mr. Obama asked Mr. Plepler as he told him that the coming weekend would be a good time to have the DVDs.

More here

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TPM: Rand Paul Accused Of Plagiarizing His Big Obama Lawsuit

Did Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plagiarize the lawsuit he filed Wednesday against President Barack Obama and the National Security Agency? The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported that Paul originally drafted the class action suit he filed under former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) name with the help of Bruce Fein, who recently served as an attorney for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s father.

Fein’s ex-wife and spokeswoman, Mattie Fein, told Milbank that Cuccinelli stole “the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein” without payment. She added that Paul, who “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”

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Crooks and Liars: Stephen Colbert Declares Himself First Lady of France Following Invite to State Dinner

The Colbert Report may never be the same now that sitting next to the First Lady at the White House state dinner has gone to Stephen’s head.

Video at link

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Jenna Levy: U.S. Uninsured Rate Drops So Far In First Quarter Of 2014

The percentage of uninsured Americans fell to 16.0% so far in the first quarter of 2014 from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. These data are based on more than 19,000 interviews with Americans from Jan. 2-Feb. 10, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. While more than a month remains in the first quarter, these preliminary data show the uninsured rate appears to be on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level measured since 2008.

if the uninsured rate continues to fall over the next several months, it may suggest that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for most Americans to have health insurance, which took effect on Jan. 1, is responsible for the decline. The percentage of uninsured 26- to 34-year-olds, which has been dropping since the third quarter of 2013, is now 25.7%. Americans in this age group have had the highest uninsured rate since 2011. The uninsured rate among 26- to 34-year-olds has been declining faster than it has among any other age group.

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive to present the National Medal of Arts and Humanities Medal in the East Room at the White House, February 13, 2012

President Obama honors National Medal of Arts recipient Al Pacino in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, February 13, 2012

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President Obama runs to the stage before speaking to workers and guests at the Linamar Corporation plant in Arden, N.C., on Feb. 13, 2013, as he travels after delivering his State of the Union address

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10
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk towards the White House after observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Arizona shooting, on the South Lawn, Jan. 10, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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USA Today: Obama to visit North Carolina next week

President Obama will prepare for his Jan. 28 State of the Union speech with a visit next week to North Carolina. Obama will travel to the Raleigh-Durham area on Wednesday for an event on the economy, the White House announced Thursday.

More here

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Steve Benen: December job totals disappoint

…. The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, far below economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% – its lowest point since October 2008 – but that appears largely to be the result of people dropping out of the workforce.

…. this is an initial estimate, which will be revised twice more, and may end up looking far less discouraging than it does right now. Indeed, the revisions from October and November showed an additional 38,000 U.S. jobs that had been previously unreported.

…. For congressional Republicans to undermine the economy on purpose by cutting off extended unemployment benefits makes it that much more difficult for the job market to return to where it needs to be.

All told, so far in calendar year 2013, the economy added 2.18 million jobs, while the private sector alone created 2.21 million jobs.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: Putting 2013 job totals in context

December’s job totals were clearly a bitter disappointment, but now that we have 12 months of job data, we can ask a different question: how did 2013 shape up?

In all, the U.S. economy added 2.186 million jobs last year, while the private sector created 2.213 million. Looking back over the last couple of decades, that means when it comes to the overall economy, 2013 was the best year for jobs in the United States since 2005 and the second best year since 1999.

That’s right: last year, the economy created more jobs than seven of the eight years Bush/Cheney was in office….

More here

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Brian Beutler: Most important political news this week: New report kills GOP’s radical agenda

Christie and the bridge is big. But Obamacare driving down healthcare inflation is even bigger. Here’s why.

The furthest-reaching political news of the week has nothing to do with who clogged the George Washington Bridge or what Robert Gates thinks of Barack Obama’s completely justifiable skepticism of David Petraeus and the war in Afghanistan.

It came in a seemingly boring actuarial report from a government agency most people probably have never of, showing that for the first time since the 1990s, total U.S. healthcare spending grew at a slower rate than the U.S. economy at the beginning of the current decade.

This sounds like the kind of thing only wonks and other nerds care about, which is probably why it didn’t become a #hashtag meme on Twitter or whatever, but the implications of the great healthcare spending slowdown are vast, and have thus reignited a long-simmering academic and ideological debate over whether, and to what extent, Obamacare deserves credit.

More here

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Paul Krugman: The Medicaid Cure

Something really interesting is happening on the health-care front: costs are rising much less rapidly than anyone expected. This is good news for the budget; it’s also good news for Obamacare. There was much skepticism about promises that health reform would “bend the curve”, reducing cost growth; well, the curve is bending, and it’s likely that the cost control measures that are part of Obamacare (and have been in effect for several years) are part of the reason.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned much, however, is that another aspect of recent developments — the rapid rise in Medicaid enrollment, despite Republican efforts to block it — adds to the prospect of continuing good news on health costs.

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Greg Sargent: Steve Beshear: Don’t fear the politics of Obamacare, Dems

The rollout of Obamacare in Kentucky may represent the most interesting experiment in the politics of health care in the country right now. Dem governor Steve Beshear is perhaps the most outspoken defender of the Affordable Care Act in the south. This, in a deep red state where the reform known as “Obamacare” is deeply unpopular; where the leading foe of the President’s agenda is on the ballot this year; and where the need for reform is urgent.

In an interview today, Beshear offered fellow Dems — red state and otherwise — some startling advice: Stand up for Obamacare because it’s the right thing to do. What’s more, Beshear insists, Republicans are wrong: the health law will be a political positive for Dems next fall.

“We’re doing the right thing,” Beshear told me. “That’s the most important point here. The people of America, and the people of Kentucky, deserve access to affordable health care. For the first time in the history of this country, we have a tool that allows us to accomplish this goal.”

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LA Times: Remember the deficit? It’s melting

The capital may be enduring a brief spell of record-low temperatures this week, but the federal deficit continues to melt away.

According to the latest figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the red ink for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, dropped by almost 40% compared with the same period a year earlier.

The deficit has gone down so much that the federal government actually ran a surplus for December — a one-time occurrence that resulted from some special circumstances but still an indicator of the rapidly improving state of the government’s finances.

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The New York Daily News isn’t often linked here …. but if you missed it, the editorial on Christie is a bit of a must-read: here

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The Wire: The Four Key Questions Chris Christie Didn’t Answer at His Press Conference

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a lengthy press conference on Thursday aimed at answering questions about his administration’s involvement in the sudden decision to close traffics lanes in the town of Fort Lee last September. But a number of critical questions went unanswered.

Background: The closure of most of the on-ramp lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York the week of September 9 meant a massive traffic back-ups in Fort Lee, slowing emergency vehicles (with dangerous effect) and delaying commuters. The town’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, wrote a letter on Thursday of that week, suggesting the closures were punitive.

At the time, two Christie appointees ran the Port Authority’s New Jersey arm, both of whom have resigned. One, David Wildstein, had his emails subpoenaed, revealing that Bridget Anne Kelly, deputy chief of staff to Christie, told him shortly before the traffic change that it was “time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Christie’s press conference lasted about two hours, but there remain some outstanding questions….

More here

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Read Steve Benen here on Rachel Maddow’s Bridgegate theory

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TPM: New Jersey Residents File Lawsuit Against Christie Over Traffic Jam

Six New Jersey residents have filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie, the state of New Jersey, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and others over traffic jams in September.

The suit filed in federal court Thursday appears to be the first civil claim over traffic jams that appear to have been caused as political punishment for the Fort Lee mayor.

The plaintiffs want it certified as a class action.

More here

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Charles Pierce: Big Chicken Exposed

…. I spent a couple of hours watching his bop-til-you-drop press conference this morning, and I came to the following conclusion.

What a fking poltroon.

…. The basic theme of the press conference was that Big Chicken was responsible for one thing and one thing only — of trusting people who preyed on his well-known innocence and his extensively documented and deeply held faith in his fellow human beings …. What a world it is when a man cannot trust the hacks whom he appoints to serve him. Jesus H. Christ in the HOV lane, Nixon threw Haldeman and Ehrlichman out the windows with more compassion and fellow feeling than Christie demonstrated yesterday.

…. the simple fact is that Big Chicken remains a bully, and now he stands exposed as a coward, as most bullies are, and an entirely self-centered cad. “You need to understand this,” he said. “I am resolved to do the job, but I am a very sad person today. A person I gave a high public office betrayed me. I might get angry later. But I am a sad person today.”

In so goddamn many ways.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: All-Male Congressional Committee Considers Imposing Far-Reaching Abortion Restrictions

On Thursday morning, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on HR 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.” That subcommittee, which is headed up by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and comprised of 12 other male lawmakers, is deciding whether to advance sweeping restrictions on abortion coverage that would make the procedure less affordable for women across the country.

Abortion opponents are relentless in their efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t end up financing abortion services. But HR 7 is actually deceptively titled. Under the guise of preventing federal money from covering abortion, it would actually have dramatic consequences for the insurance industry and the tax code as a whole, potentially creating a society in which private insurance no longer includes abortion care.

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MoooOOOooorning!

18
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama makes Congressional calls from the Oval Office before the final Senate vote repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the military, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern):

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:05: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with moms to discuss health care, Oval Office

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National Journal: Obamacare’s Unlikely Winners

Sue Spanke of Missoula, Mont., was highly displeased this fall when she learned her health insurance had been canceled. “I got so mad that I went to my phone and started calling all the political people and giving them what for,” Spanke told The Billings Gazette. That was before she learned she was eligible for a policy at a much lower cost.

After angrily calling her state auditor’s office, Spanke, a self-employed artist in her 50s, found she was eligible for a federal subsidy. Her new insurance will cover her for a mere $30 to $40 a month with a deductible of only $500. She had been paying $350 a month for a Blue Cross policy with a $5,000 deductible. “I went from a horrible policy that didn’t cover anything, that was breaking me, to the best policy at the best price I’ve had since I was in my 20s,” she said.

With the website largely fixed, one of the last lines of attack against Obamacare is that the president lied when he said if people like their insurance plans, they can keep them. The White House is hoping stories like Spanke’s will inoculate them against those arguments. And the positive stories abound.

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Journal Gazette: Getting an earful on Obamacare

…. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, had asked for input on the Affordable Care Act during an open house Monday at his office in the E. Ross Adair Federal Building, and he got it…

…Lee Albright, owner of the south-side meat market carrying his last name, doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act repealed, which Stutzman and the Republican-controlled House have voted to do numerous times. Albright told his congressman that his monthly payment for family health coverage will drop from $3,800 to $1,700 by enrolling in a plan offered through the much-maligned law.

Albright said most of his dozen employees also are enrolling in Affordable Care Act plans and will have coverage for the first time. “If the Republican Party thinks they’re going to kill Obamacare, you guys need to realize that those nine people that I add on, are they going to vote Republican ever again if you take their health care from them?”

Stutzman responded: “No, probably not.”

More here

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WMGT: Congressman Scott Talks Healthcare, Farm Bill at Town Hall Meeting

Residents from all around middle Georgia met with U.S. Representative Austin Scott to talk about concerns they have in the nation’s capitol during a town hall meeting on Monday.

Gridlock in Washington has left local business owners like Bob Schumacher, frustrated. He hasn’t had health insurance for some time, and has tried multiple times to use the scrutinized healthcare.gov website and hasn’t had any luck, until now.

“I was able to get an insurance plan and with the tax credit, it’s going to be about half of the price that it was going to be two and a half years ago,” Schumacher said.

…. “They’ve definitely got the website up and running now, and so you can get online and see if there is something out there that works for you.”

More here

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CT Mirror: CT insurance exchange enrollment up more than 50% in two weeks

Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is enrolling about 1,400 people a day and is on track to have 50,000 to 60,000 people signed up for health care coverage by the end of the year, an official said Tuesday.

Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said about 20,000 people have signed up for private insurance plans through the marketplace, about 70 percent of whom will get federal financial assistance to discount their premiums.

In addition, about 17,000 people have signed up for Medicaid coverage through the exchange, Madrak said.

The approximately 37,000 people signed up for coverage through the exchange marks a nearly 58 percent increase from enrollment as of Dec. 4, the previous figures Access Health reported.

More here

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Dana Milbank: Auto bailout could be harbinger for Obamacare

When will the criticism of Obamacare finally end?

I’ve done some research on the question, and by my calculations, judging from current trends, this will happen approximately . . . never.

I base this on the criticism of the auto bailout of early 2009. Almost five years later, the industry is healthy again and large swaths of the Midwest have been spared what would have been certain economic devastation. All this was achieved for a relatively modest sum: … It would seem that the argument against the bailout has been settled. Yet opponents continue to argue their case — if anybody will listen.

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Faces of Repeal

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Paul Krugman: The Obamacare Worm Continues to Turn

Dana Milbank has an interesting piece today …. he compares Obamacare to the auto bailout, which at this point looks like a rousing success — but continues to be lambasted by the right, because it shouldn’t have worked, and therefore can’t have worked.

….. it’s a strong signal that the press is catching up to the reality that December is not October, and that the news — while there are still many troubles — is increasingly positive. Actually, so is Darrel Issa’s angry rebuke to a health care official: “You need to watch more Fox News.”

More here

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National Memo: What If Every Voter Denied Medicaid Expansion By Republicans Voted Democratic?

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 4.8 million Americans will be denied health insurance because Republican governors and legislatures have refused to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Another study, called Health Care for America Now (HCAN), was released last week and found that 4,831,590 people were being denied Medicaid in red states, nearly duplicating Kaiser’s result. HCAN went a step further and estimated that the result of not expanding insurance to these eligible residents would result in the loss of 27,000 lives in 2014, while denying the states $42.6 billion a year in economic activity.

Most of these people who earn too much for Medicaid and too little to purchase insurance in the health care exchanges — 79 percent — live in southern states.

More here

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Norbrook: Republicans Are Running Scared

After the  government shutdown, Republicans took a big hit in the polls.  A very, very large hit in the polls in fact. It turned out that while various people are willing to talk about what they don’t like about “big government,” there are even more things that the government provides that they do like.  While Republicans thought they had a “winning strategy” by using the shutdown to attempt to repeal “Obamacare” (for the 40′th plus time), it turned out that the public thought it was really stupid, particularly when all those things like national parks had to close. Add in a lack of action on any substantive issues, the unpopularity of various Republican governors, and some losses in elections they thought were winnable, and things are starting to get tense for them.

More here

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Had no intention of mentioning the race-baiting turd that is Ron Fournier, but Charles Pierce….. oh, Charles Pierce:

Ron Fournier Is Smarter Than You Are

Once again, former Karl Rove self-actualization guru Ron Fournier has taken to the pages of the National Journal – Motto: There’s A Reader Out There Somewhere – to explain that the president misapprehended the results of the 2012 election, and that he has been operating under the illusion that, because he got the most votes, he got to be president again. To elucidate this for the dimmer people among us, Ron shows how brilliant he was in the immediate aftermath of said election, and employs the useful tool of Historical Parallelism, which he applies repeatedly and vigorously to his own forehead.

…. The IRS dumbassery was just that. The NSA surveillance started under Bush – with considerably more Democratic support in the Congress, Ron, than this president has gotten from Republicans on anything – and Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! remains a hoax. I’m afraid we are past the point where an intervention would help. Better just fire off the stun gun and pry the tool of Historical Parallels out of his hand.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: Why Obama Is Sending Openly Gay Athletes To Russia’s Olympics

As controversy erupted over Russia’s anti-gay law ahead of next year’s Sochi Olympics, President Barack Obama said that he opposed boycotting the Games in favor of letting the United States delegation lead by example on the LGBT rights front.

“One thing I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which i think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes were seeing there,” Obama said. “And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it’ll probably make their team weaker.”

Tuesday, Obama took a step forward in showing that example, selecting tennis legend and former U.S. Olympic coach Billie Jean King, a lesbian who has long been an LGBT equality advocate, to be a part of the delegation that will represent the White House at the opening ceremony on February 7. Hockey player Caitlin Cahow, who is also openly gay, will be a part of the delegation to the closing ceremonies on February 23.

More here

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Steve Benen: Obama sends Putin an Olympic message

Subtle, this wasn’t.

…. note that the U.S. Olympic delegation is traditionally led by someone from the White House – current or former president, vice president, or member of the First Family. For Sochi, as Rachel noted on the show last night, Obama tapped former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, which means no one from the White House or even from the president’s cabinet will be on hand for the opening ceremony.

… this also strikes me as this latest in a series of elections-have-consequences moments. Conservatives have come to celebrate Vladimir Putin as something of an international hero, while religious right activists cheer on his culture war from afar. Obama has been highly ambitious and progressive when it comes to advancing LGBT civil rights, and his choice in Olympic delegation members sends a signal the world will notice…

Full post here

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LA Times: Homeless men invited to help Pope Francis celebrate birthday

Pope Francis boosted his down-to-earth image by inviting a group of homeless men to his Vatican residence to help him celebrate his 77th birthday.

The group of men joined Francis on Tuesday as he gave his morning Mass and then ate breakfast with him …. the men, a Pole, a Slovak and a Czech, were sleeping under the portico outside the Vatican’s press center when they were approached by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who distributes charitable contributions for the pope.

“Would you like to come to Pope Francis’ birthday party?” Krajewski reportedly asked them. “After a moment of bewilderment and wonder, they started packing up their beds, pieces of cardboard and covers which were arranged to protect them from the bitter cold of the Roman night.”

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama walks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to their bilateral meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Pete Souza: “The President briefs European leaders following a multilateral meeting in which an agreement was tentatively reached at the United Nationals Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Most conferences like this are very scripted; this one was just the opposite.” Dec. 18, 2009

President Obama speaks during a multilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Prime Manmohan Singh, and South African President Jacob Zuma during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shows military officials the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room following a meeting, Dec. 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

13
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

President Barack Obama plays basketball during a visit to the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Aug. 13, 2012. The President toured a cornfield on the family farm to view the effect the drought is having on crops ( Photo by Pete Souza)

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ThinkProgress: Dying Teen Is Being Denied A Heart Transplant Because He’s Had Trouble With The Law

Fifteen-year-old Anthony Stokes has less than six months to live unless he receives an emergency heart transplant. But his family has been told that Anthony doesn’t qualify for the transplant list because he has a “history of non-compliance” — partly due to his history of earning low grades and having some trouble with the law.

…. Regardless of Anthony’s specific past, his story fits into a larger pattern of racially-motivated skepticism about young black men. The routine criminalization of black youth — thanks in large part to the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline,” which funnels a disproportionate number of black teens into the justice system for minor infractions — ensures that teens like Anthony are often seen as threats. And once society labels those kids as criminal, suspect, or “non-compliant,” their lives are typically considered to have less value.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: Hardly Anyone Showed Up To Steve King’s Anti-Immigration Reform Rally

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President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama leave after dining at The Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs, August 11

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USA Today: Chef Sam Kass Helps The Obamas, Nation’s Kids Eat Right (There’s video at the link. A delightful must watch)

White House chef Sam Kass eyed the corn ripening in the garden tucked in a corner of the South Lawn but decided to pluck a cucumber off the vine instead. “We had corn two days ago,” he explained. Vegetables and fruits are on the menu for the first family and for kids across the country who are heading back to school, a cause for Michelle Obama and Kass, the Obamas’ family chef and executive director of the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. In an interview Friday with USA TODAY’s Capital Download, Kass discussed the impact the campaign against childhood obesity seems to be having.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made headlines last week with the release of a study that showed obesity rates among low-income preschoolers declining for the first time in decades — down in 17 states and up in only three. On the same day, Gallup reported that the percentage of Americans who went to fast-food restaurants at least once a week had dropped by 9 percentage points since 2006.

“I think we’re right at a tipping point,” Kass said, shedding his jacket as he sat at a picnic table in the sweltering August heat. The White House garden, the first big vegetable patch on the grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II, produces about a thousand pounds of produce a year. “Last year, fruit and vegetable consumption was up 6%, which came as a great surprise. We’re seeing much greater awareness across the board about what we’re eating and how much we’re eating and trying to make sure we’re getting balanced meals on our kids’ plates.” President Obama insisted last week on NBC’s Tonight Show that his favorite food was broccoli. Really? “Broccoli is a go-to staple here,” Kass confirmed. “He likes his greens. I mean, he’ll eat any kind of green vegetable. There’s nothing that’s not in play.” For Obama, he typically blanches the broccoli or sautés it with a little olive oil.

More here

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naacp.org

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Once again, Happy Birthday Chiparoo!

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On this day:

President Barack Obama talks with Senior Advisor David Axelrod on the Colonnade of the White House, Aug. 13, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas discuss the 2012 Summer Olympic Games during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, Aug. 13, 2012 (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

President Barack Obama greets Military Aide Lt. Col. Dave Kalinske and his family in the Oval Office, during Kalinske’s departure ceremony, Aug. 13, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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06
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

A year ago today: President Obama greets the family of Make-A-Wish child Francisco “Paqui” Lopez Pena, outside the Oval Office, Aug. 6, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

EDT

10:10 AM The President departs the White House

MST

11:40: Arrives Phoenix, Arizona

12:10: Tours Erickson Construction

1:05: Delivers remarks at Desert Vista High School, Phoenix (4:05 EDT, White House Live)

2:10: Departs Phoenix

PDT

3:25: Arrives Los Angeles

4:30: Tapes an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”

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Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy

Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.

Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.

“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….

More here

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@WhiteHouse

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Marketwatch: Home-price growth near seven-year high

Annual home-price growth in June was close to the fastest pace in seven years, as inventories of existing and new homes remained low, according to data released Tuesday.

Home prices, including distressed sales, rose 1.9% in June, and were up 11.88% from a year earlier … In May, prices were up 11.93% from the prior year, the fastest annual growth since February 2006.

Excluding short sales and other distressed properties, prices rose 1.8% in June, and were up 10.97% from the year-earlier period, reaching the fastest annual pace since February 2006.

More here

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USA Today: President Obama heads west Tuesday, to talk housing in Phoenix and the economy on a late-night talk show in Hollywood.

Obama starts in Phoenix, where he tours a home construction company and delivers a speech on housing policy.

…. After Phoenix, Obama travels to the Los Angeles area for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he hopes to talk about the economy in between jokes.

The president will spend the night in Los Angeles.

More here

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Steve Benen: PolitiFact finds its pants on fire

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.

Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact…..

More here

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VotingRightsMatter.com

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From The Last Word:

From Mississippi to the Ivy League: Two students reflect on their unique journeys – video here

Sister Simone schools ‘Catholic school boy’ Paul Ryan – video here

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Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.

USA Today: Obama praises Negro League veterans

While Major League Baseball grapples with performance enhancing drugs, President Obama and some special guests spent Monday evening talking about the old days in the Negro League.

Obama thanked Negro League veterans for helping pave the way for African-Americans in professional sports, as well as other walks of life.

….. The Negro League delegation also included a woman owner, Minnie Forbes of the old Detroit Stars.

Forbes pointed out that in the old days African-American ballplayers — and African-Americans in general — couldn’t stay in certain hotels or restaurants.

“Now,” she said, “we are able to come to the White House and see the president,” himself an African-American.

Forbes also reported that the the president gave her a kiss on the cheek — “and I’m not washing my face!”

More here

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Greg Sargent: Keep An Eye On Georgia Senate Race

A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.

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National Journal: Republicans Confront Lady Problems in Congress

When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.

The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.

More here

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On this day….

President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MooooOOOOoooorning!




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