President Barack Obama flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, gives a statement on the Supreme Court health care decision in the Rose Garden at the White House. The Supreme Court upheld the ObamaCare subsidies for customers in states that do not operate their own exchanges in a 6-3 ruling
President Barack Obama tells Vice President Joe Biden a joke
On This Day: President Obama reacts to a picture presented to him of a younger Robert Gibbs, who played soccer at North Carolina State, following a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
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Today (All Times Eastern)
11:15: The President meets with a group of House Democrats on economic issues, Roosevelt Room
12:0: White House press briefing
3:0: The President departs White House
3:25: Meets with wounded service members, Walter Reed Hospital
Reuters: Table For Five: Obama To Dine With Kansas City Penpals
Valerie, a single mom from Kansas City, Missouri, who owns a small business, wrote to President Barack Obama last week “in the middle of the night,” describing just how hard she works.
On Tuesday, she will get the chance to tell Obama in person as one of four people the president dines with in a visit to the midwestern city – part of a summertime White House campaign to rouse Democratic voters ahead of November midterm elections.
“Are you serious?” said Valerie – whose last name was not provided – to Josh Earnest, Obama’s press secretary, who phoned her to invite her to the dinner.
“Oh my God! I would love it!” she told Earnest in a video made by the White House.
Jesse Rosenfeld: Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ In Gaza, Shrinking Strip By 40 Percent
To protect itself from Hamas rockets and tunnels, Israel is forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes, turning their old neighborhoods into a no-man’s land.
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the three-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.
What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”
Michael Hiltzik: Here’s The Single Best Analysis Of The Halbig Anti-Obamacare Ruling
Northwestern University law and political science professor Andrew Koppelman moves past the absurd legal theory underlying the Halbig ruling on the Affordable Care Act — in which a federal appeals court invalidated subsidies provided to insurance buyers on federal, as opposed to state, insurance exchanges — to ask why the lawsuit’s backers brought the case in the first place. We know the consequences of the ruling: If it stands, about 4.8 million Americans will lose their subsidies and likely their health insurance, since it would be rendered unaffordable; there are residents of as many as 36 states that let the federal government establish their exchanges.
Are 4.8 million Americans losing their health insurance ‘collateral damage’? The Halbig lawyers don’t care: http://t.co/49zRzXG8YZ
But is that what the plaintiffs and their backers really desired? And if not, what was their real goal? Koppelman’s conclusion is that the lawsuit is a product of the “moral dysfunction” infecting the fight over Obamacare. “The opponents of Obamacare,” he writes in the New Republic, “have from the beginning found themselves driven by the logic of their position to make arguments that are increasingly morally repulsive.” In this case and others aimed at overturning the ACA, he writes, the argument is that “if you get sick and you can’t pay for it, that’s your tough luck.” Koppelman doesn’t think the plaintiffs really believe that. He thinks they’re merely out to make a narrow ideological point about government responsibility, and the 4.8 million possible victims of their campaign are merely collateral damage.
Business Insider: Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling License To Dick Cheney-Linked Company
Israel has granted a U.S. company the first license to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights, John Reed of the Financial Times reports.
A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.
That geographic location will likely prove controversial. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Its administration of the area — which is not recognized by international law — has been mostly peaceful until the Syrian civil war broke out 23 months ago.
Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional on Monday in the first such decision by a federal appellate court in the South. “We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote. The 2-1 ruling applies throughout the circuit that also includes West Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, where the attorneys general split Monday on what they’ll do next. Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006 to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage.
Virginia laws prohibit recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Floyd said such measures “impermissibly infringe on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry.” The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond is the second federal appellate court to overturn gay marriage bans, and the first to affect the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states’ rights that have long held sway. Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. Most are still under appeal. More than 70 cases have been filed in all 31 states that prohibit same-sex marriage. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow such marriages.
CNBC: US Confidence Jumps In July As Consumers See Better Days Ahead
Consumers grew more confident about the economy in July, The Conference Board reported on Tuesday, with stock markets perched near record highs and expectations building for the recovery. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 90.9, higher than expectations and above the prior month’s showing of 86.4. That was the component’s highest since October 2007.
President Obama eats a peach following a town hall meeting at Kroger’s Supermarket in Bristol, Va. on July 29, 2009. Seconds later, the President handed a dollar bill to the CEO of Kroger’s, who attended the event (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama listens to a question at a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The hands of U.S. Secret Service agents as President Obama shakes hands along a rope line following a health care town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
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Crime victim Lisa Marie Iyotte gets emotional while introducing President Obama before he signed the Tribal Law and Order Act during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House, on July 29, 2010
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First Lady Michelle Obama greets U.S. military families at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, July 29, 2012
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President Obama greets former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Outer Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama has lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the patio outside the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
On This Day: President Obama signs letters from children backstage after signing executive orders and unveiling new gun control proposals as part of the Administration’s response to the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and other tragedies, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Jan. 16, 2013. The children wrote the President letters in the wake of the Newtown tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety (Photo by Pete Souza)
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):
11:20 EST: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama deliver remarks at an event on expanding college opportunity; South Court Auditorium
Black fathers are more involved in their children's care than white fathers, according to a CDC study http://t.co/F92ooZysgN
AP: Obama Convenes College Leaders On Expanding Access
President Barack Obama is bringing university presidents from across the country together to exact commitments from each to expand access to higher education. The president and first lady Michelle Obama were to greet leaders from more than 100 colleges and universities, plus 40 nonprofit and other groups, in a White House auditorium Thursday. The price of admission: a promise to voluntarily take action to help more low-income students attend college.
The participating schools have agreed to take action in one of four areas: Helping low-income students connect with colleges that can meet their needs and then seeking to ensure that they graduate. Reaching out to elementary, middle and high school students in hopes that by engaging earlier, more students will be encouraged to pursue higher education. Boosting remedial programs so underprepared students will still have opportunities to succeed. Seeking to ensure lower-income students aren’t disadvantaged by lack of access to college advisers and inability to prepare for entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.
The headline numbers for the Affordable Care Act this week have been the 2.2 million Americans who have enrolled in a marketplace plan. But beneath the headlines lurks an even bigger blowout case for Obamacare: the interest is nearly literally off the charts.
By the 28th of last month 4,348,224 applications had been completed through the state and federal-run marketplaces applying for coverage for 7,716,824 individuals. Of those, 5.1 million have been deemed eligible for marketplace plans, and an additional 1.5 million for expanded Medicaid (note that Medicaid enrollees are not necessarily all enrolling through the exchanges, and additional numbers are doing so by directly applying with their states). About 1 million applicants’ status is still pending.
That only about 2.2 million of the over 5 million had chosen marketplace plans by December 28 is an indication of a surge in enrollments that likely continued past that date. That means that as we continue to receive updates and March 31 end of open-enrollment approaches, the numbers are likely to blast past even the huge spike in enrollment in December.
Reuters: UnitedHealth says quarterly profit rose, sees 2014 growth
UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, on Thursday reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and the addition of 170,000 members, and said 2014 earnings would improve as well. The fourth quarter marked the beginning of sales of new individual plans created under the national healthcare reform law often called Obamacare, coverage which went into effect for the first customers on January 1. UnitedHealth has limited its participation in selling those new plans so far to three states but said in the release that “strength in sales to individuals and smaller employer groups” had contributed to adding new customers in the quarter.
Net income rose to $1.4 billion, or $1.41 per share, from $1.2 billion, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier. The insurer is the first to report its results in a group that also includes WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc. Employer-based plans and government health programs, as well as a fast-growing health technology division, make up the bulk of UnitedHealth’s annual sales. UnitedHealth also added new members in its government plans for seniors and for the poor, for a total of 45,445,000 medical customers at the end of 2013. The company said that revenue rose to $31.12 billion, up from $28.77 billion a year earlier. Both earnings and revenue came in slightly ahead of analyst expectations
USA Today: White House Jump Starts Health Exchanges With Celebrities
After a month of marketing the federal exchange site as “not broken anymore,” the White House has tossed the ball to Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning in new ads touting health insurance to begin running Thursday. Both men offered up their help for free, said Julie Bataille, communications director at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Their ads will spark a full-court press effort to get young people — in particular, young men — to sign up for health insurance before enrollment ends March 31. The ads, part of a $52 million campaign in digital, TV and radio advertising for the first quarter of 2014, will air on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBAtv during NBA games.
Johnson and Mourning say they discovered their ailments and received treatment because they had health insurance. Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, but had no idea he was sick until after a full exam from his doctor, something he says wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t insured. Mourning’s cousin, retired Marine Jason Cooper, donated his kidney to Mourning in 2003 after Mourning was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. “I was at the top of my game,” Mourning says in his ad spot. “I felt invincible, but when I went for my regular team physical, it turned out I had serious kidney disease. It was caught in time to treat, and lucky for me, I was insured.”
Ryan Cooper: Cory Booker Wants To Torpedo A Major Obama Achievement. What’s His Endgame?
American and Iranian negotiators came to an agreement Sunday on a six-month deal to put the Iranian nuclear program on hold in exchange for easing sanctions slightly, in the hopes of reaching a more permanent agreement in the interim. Meanwhile, at last count, 59 senators are supporting a bill that would impose new sanctions—among them Cory Booker, the brand-new New Jersey senator. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it.
The bill’s supporters insist that they’re simply trying to improve the U.S. negotiating posture. On Twitter, Booker insisted that he favors a peaceful solution, adding, “I’m 4 additional sanctions if current negotiations fail 2 start or fail 2 work.”
A senior Democratic aide told Joshua Hersh and Ryan Grim, “The goal isn’t to disrupt things, it’s to make Iran even more willing to make serious concessions by making them aware of what will happen if they don’t.”
Hunter Walker: What Christie Did To Get A Reputation As A Political Bully Even In College
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is no stranger to accusations of political bullying and backroom dealing like those at the heart of the bridge scandal. TPM has found one of the first times the brash political brawler faced such claims was in the mid-1980s when he was an undergrad at the University of Delaware. There, student newspaper archives show, Christie was accused of establishing a college political machine that rewarded his friends and drove his classmates out of student government. One fellow student even wrote to the paper to decry Christie’s “cronyism” and question the legitimacy of the future governor’s reign.
The accusations have have relevance anew now that the potential 2016 presidential contender is facing the biggest turmoil of his career with the uproar over the George Washington Bridge. Democrats in New Jersey have accused members of Christie’s administration of using their power to close lanes on the bridge, causing a traffic jam in the town of Fort Lee, N.J. as revenge against the mayor there.
Bob Cesca: President Set To Announce NSA Reforms, Greenwald Insists Nothing Will Change
On Friday, President Obama will announce a slate of reforms aimed at the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations, as well as the FISA Court that oversees it. These changes are expected to be closely related to the recommendations published by the administration’s NSA review panel last month. From what we know now, the president will announce the following: 1) He’ll reform bulk collection of metadata by limiting NSA’s access to it. A source told The Washington Post that the president will say that “NSA’s bulk collection of phone data — which includes numbers dialed but not call content — is not something that the government should rely on except in limited circumstances.”
2) He’ll call for privacy measures to foreign intelligence gathering. 3) He’ll create a public civil liberties advocate on the FISA Court as a counter-point to NSA requests. But the president is wisely not planning to unilaterally turn over bulk collection to private sector corporations, as the panel had proposed. Instead, he’s going to leave this in the hands of Congress to decide. At the time, the panel’s recommendations were applauded by a practically giddy Glenn Greenwald and his supporters who believed the findings vindicated the national security leaks by Edward Snowden. But now that the president has decided to implement most of the panel’s top shelf recommendations, including (and to repeat) limiting the bulk metadata program, which is arguably the Greenwald crowd’s primary gripe, the president is evidently not changing anything. Literally nothing, says Greenwald.
Milt Shook: The Republicanization Of The United States: Becoming A “Can Do” Nation Again
The debt is astronomical. At the time Saint Reagan took office, the total amount of debt the United States held was $900 billion. That’s for the entire 193 years since the Constitution was ratified. Again, that was 31% of the constantly increasing GDP at the time. By the time Saint Reagan and the elder Bush were done, in just 12 years, the total debt topped $6 trillion, and it represented 63% of GDP. Think about it; they have been cutting — and continue to cut — money for food inspections, money for OSHA inspections, money for the EPA, money for customs inspections, and money for pretty much anything that makes us safer, at the same time they’re giving oil companies billions of dollars in subsidies and giving the Pentagon money that even it says it doesn’t need for projects it says it doesn’t want.
At the same time, they crow about “free markets” even as everything in most of our stores is made in Asia. and they do everything they can to prevent workers from organizing into unions. Republicans have taken us from being a nation where every worker has a right to unionize to one in which “at-will employment” and “right to work” essentially gives employers the right to do anything they want. The Republicanization of the United States has to stop, and we have to stop it.
A judge on Wednesday upheld subsidies at the heart of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, rejecting one of the main legal challenges to the policy by conservatives opposed to an expansion of the federal government. A ruling in favor of a lawsuit brought by individuals and businesses in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia would have crippled the implementation of the law by making health insurance unaffordable for many people. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington D.C. wrote that Congress clearly intended to make the subsidies available nationwide under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“There is evidence throughout the statute of Congress’s desire to ensure broad access to affordable health coverage,” the judge wrote. In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a requirement of the law, commonly called Obamacare, that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. The subsidies, in the form of tax credits, are available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four. The law aims to provide health coverage to millions of uninsured or under-insured Americans by offering private insurance at federally subsidized rates through new online health insurance marketplaces in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C.
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia at a church service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, Jan. 16, 2011
President Obama paints a quotation attributed to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr during a day of service in King’s honor at the Browne Education Campus school in Washington, January 16, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama stands with her daughter Malia as President Obama delivers remarks during a day of service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr, at the Browne Education Campus school in Washington, January 16, 2012
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Let Freedom Ring Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., January 16, 2012
President Obama works on his inaugural address with Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting, not pictured, in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs a series of executive orders on gun control surrounded by children who wrote letters to the White House about gun violence. They are, from left, Hinna Zeejah, Taejah Goode, Julia Stokes and Grant Fritz. Jan. 16, 2013