Posts Tagged ‘success

05
May
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet guests at the Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:55: The President holds a bilateral meeting with President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti

1:0: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

2:0: Vice President Biden Speaks to the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

5:50: The President hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception, Rose Garden

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The Week Ahead

Tuesday: The President attends meetings at the White House.

Wednesday: Travels to Los Angeles to participate in a joint DSCC/DCCC event. In the evening, the President will be honored at a dinner hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation. He will remain overnight in Los Angeles.

Thursday: Participates in a DNC roundtable in Los Angeles before traveling to San Diego to participate in a DCCC event. The President will then travel to San Jose where he will participate in two DNC events and remain overnight.

Friday: Participates in an event on energy in the San Jose area. Following the event the President will return to Washington, DC.

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@TheObamaDiary

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BBC: Boko Haram admits abducting Nigeria girls from Chibok

Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram says it carried out the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in April.

About 230 girls are still believed to be missing, prompting widespread criticism of the Nigerian government.

“I abducted your girls,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video obtained by the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, a woman who helped organise protests over the abduction has been detained, her fellow community leaders say.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: Gallup: Number of Uninsured Lowest We’ve Ever Recorded

Obamacare is reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. And while nobody can say for sure exactly how many people are getting coverage, Gallup just provided a pretty big clue.

According to the organization, the proportion of adults without coverage last month fell to 13.4 percent. That’s lower than it was last yaer. That’s lower than it was when the Affordable Care Act became law—and when President Obama took office.

In fact, that’s lower than it’s ever been since the beginning of 2008, before the economic crisis, which is when Gallup started taking regular monthly polls on this question.

More here

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 Steve Benen: Health care frauds vs. health care facts

It probably didn’t get as much attention as it deserved, but something unusual happened last week: House Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) got caught telling a rather brazen lie.

GOP officials issued a “report” arguing that “only 67 percent” of consumers who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges paid their first month’s premiums. In this case, Republicans were lying – they deliberately published a document that included fraudulent claims, intended to deceive the public, and once caught, the officials made no real effort to deny what they’d done.

Paul Krugman took Republicans to task in his new column, condemning them for “spreading disinformation about health reform because it works, and because they can – there is no sign that they pay any political price when their accusations are proved false.”

But the GOP’s failed attempt at a con arguably looks even worse this morning, with new evidence of the Affordable Care Act’s success.

More here

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Eclectablog: Obamacare success stories keep coming, with a rosy forecast for 2015

Karen is just one of 272,500 Michiganders who signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov, where a strong finish to 2014 enrollment bodes well for next year.

So much good news, it’s hard to know where to begin.

On Thursday, Obama administration officials predicted health insurance premiums would be stable in 2015, thanks to a large and varied pool of insured Americans. This is according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which reported that about 28 percent of the 8 million Americans who enrolled in private health insurance through Healthcare.gov were in the 18-34-year-old age range needed to help keep the risk pool balanced and keep premiums down — the demographic naysayers predicted would not sign up. Yet another “horror story” debunked.

In Michigan, 272,539 people signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov, in addition to thousands more who have enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan, the state’s Medicaid expansion program that launched April 1.

More here

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Paul Krugman: Inventing A Failure

Last week, House Republicans released a deliberately misleading report on the status of health reform, crudely rigging the numbers to sustain the illusion of failure in the face of unexpected success. Are you shocked?

You aren’t, but you should be. Mainstream politicians didn’t always try to advance their agenda through lies, damned lies and — in this case — bogus statistics. And the fact that this has become standard operating procedure for a major party bodes ill for America’s future.

About that report: The really big policy news of 2014, at least so far, is the spectacular recovery of the Affordable Care Act from its stumbling start, thanks to an extraordinary late surge that took enrollment beyond early projections….

This is a problem for Republicans, who have bet the ranch on the proposition that health reform is an unfixable failure … How can they respond to good news?

Well, they could graciously admit that they were wrong, and offer constructive suggestions about how to make the law work even better. Oh, sorry — I forgot that I wasn’t writing jokes for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

More here

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I assumed this ad was a parody ….. it’s not:

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Michael Hiltzik: Medicaid expansion is the final battle in war over Obamacare

The final battles of any war often are the bloodiest. They’re waged by the last holdouts, dead-enders desperate to prove to themselves and their dwindling followers that their efforts were not in vain.

The final battle of the war over the Affordable Care Act is being waged today over expanding Medicaid. As the act was originally conceived, Medicaid would provide healthcare for more than 10 million of the poorest uninsured Americans, most of them childless adults with earnings up to 138% of the federal poverty level. (This year, that income ceiling is about $16,000.)

Then the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Congress couldn’t impose the expansion on state governments, but had to make it voluntary. Republican legislators and governors in 28 states turned the expansion down. A handful later reversed themselves. These include four that, with federal permission, are temporarily trying out novel Medicaid formats.

The refusal of more than half the states to cover so many of their neediest citizens — the number who have fallen into the “coverage gap” is estimated at 5 million — amazes and frustrates health experts. That’s especially so because the federal government covers 100% of the cost of expansion through 2016. After that, the federal share will slowly decline to 90% in 2020 and beyond.

More here

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BBC: Ukraine crisis: Rebels ‘retreating’ in Sloviansk

Pro-Russian militants just outside Sloviansk have retreated amid attacks by Ukrainian troops, reports say.

Government forces took control of a TV tower in the suburbs and rebels were pulled back deeper into the city, the Russian Interfax news agency said.

Earlier reports told of heavy gunfire, apparently closer to the centre than in recent days.

But a BBC team which has recently reached the centre of Sloviansk says the city is currently quiet.

Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 30 injured in an incident in Sloviansk, the interior ministry said.

Fears of an impending offensive by Ukrainian forces on the pro-Russian stronghold had been growing overnight, sources inside the city said earlier.

More here

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Salon: Diagnosing Paul Ryan’s psychopathy: Arrogant, manipulative, deceitful, remorseless

Paul Krugman revealed Ryan’s big con years ago. It’s gotten worse. Why does anyone take him seriously on policy?

If the GOP as a whole has pretty much given up on the whole “rebranding” thing, their 2012 vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, most definitely has not. In fact, rebranding is pretty much his thing, regardless of how credible — or incredible, actually — his efforts may be.

For years, Ryan touted himself as an avid Ayn Rand disciple, until he didn’t in early 2012, even calling it “an urban legend” that he had anything serious to do with Rand at all. He then tried to present the latest iteration of his draconian soak-the-poor/shower the rich budget proposal as grounded in Catholic social teaching, rather than Rand’s fiercely anti-Christian philosophy, a claim that the conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops soundly rejected, writing that his proposed budget failed to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

Now, seeking to put all memory of the “47 percent” campaign behind him, Ryan’s trying to take that reinvention to a whole new level.

More here

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On This Day

Senator Obama walks out to address supporters at a campaign stop at the American Legion Mall in Indianapolis, May 5, 2008

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President Obama and Vice President Biden wait in line to place their orders during an unannounced lunch-time visit to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., May 5, 2009

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President Obama, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, Members of Congress and guests, signs the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 5, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

May 5, 2010: “After doing a series of posed photos, the President started joking around with the First Lady in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House before a Cinco de Mayo event.” (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama walks along the South Lawn Drive of the White House with Sen. John Kerry, May 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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May 5, 2011: “A few days after the mission against bin Laden, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the “Pride of Midtown,” lost 15 firefighters on 9/11 — an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house.” (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with firefighters and first responders at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9, before visiting the National Sept. 11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York, May 5, 2011

President Obama speaks with New York City Police Sergeant Stephanie Moses after laying a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan May 5, 2011

President Obama greets family members after laying a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial in New York on May 5, 2011

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at a Cinco de Mayo reception in the White House, May 5, 2011

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Leaving the White House, May 5, 2012

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama embrace at Schottenstein Center, Columbus, May 5, 2012

Schottenstein Center, Columbus

First Lady Michelle Obama at Virginia Commonwealth University May 5, 2012 in Richmond

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President Obama steps down from Air Force One with Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, en route to speak at the Ohio State University spring commencement, May 5, 2013

President Obama delivers the address during The Ohio State University commencement at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, May 5, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

17
Mar
14

“I’m One Grateful Old Lady”

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A Word from ’57 and Female’ (comment here)

I am going to be 64 years old in a few months and being self-employed for the last 33 years I have never had one of my medications covered by insurance. Never. Just to stay minimally healthy, my asthma, blood pressure meds and a few others are around $600/month.

We had awful insurance that never covered my asthma until there was no insurance at all for the last decade. I lived in constant fear.

I chose a Gold plan – for my last year and half until Medicare I wanted maximum flexibility and a low deductible: $500 and $3,500 out-of-pocket cap with a large network. I chose a co-op plan. These plans, with no profit incentive, were supposed to be a bridge to something akin to a public option. In the 2012 budget fight, the Republicans won the elimination of these plans from ACA but anyone who had a grant before then was grandfathered in. IL was able to establish an insurance plan/company that will run on overhead similar to Medicare and we all ‘own’ the company.

My premium, after some subsidy, is $558/month. Your age can still be a factor in premium cost, but with a cap. I do have co-pays on my medications – it will be about $140/month. But I’m still only out a little more for truly comprehensive health care than what I was paying retail for my meds before ACA.

To walk up to the CVS Pharmacy counter and give them my card was overwhelming. My $320 asthma med: $70 co-pay. My $160 nasal spray: $30. And so on.

I need to get my first mammogram. I need to go to the gynecologist for the first time in 10 years. When I was sick last week and even the meds from the doctor weren’t working, I knew if – God forbid – I needed the ER because I couldn’t breathe, I could go. I have insurance. I will not be denied, as I was in 1983 because ‘no one develops asthma as an adult’ sayeth BCBS and they wouldn’t pay for my hospital stay.

I’m one grateful old lady.

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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!

09
Dec
13

Government Motors? Oh Really?

Statement by the President

When I took office, the American auto industry – the heartbeat of American manufacturing – was on the verge of collapse.  Two of the Big Three – GM and Chrysler – were on the brink of failure, threatening to take suppliers, distributors and entire communities down with them.  In the midst of what was already the worst recession since the Great Depression, another one million Americans were in danger of losing their jobs.

As President, I refused to let that happen.  I refused to walk away from American workers and an iconic American industry.  But in exchange for rescuing and retooling GM and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars, we demanded responsibility and results.  In 2011, we marked the end of an important chapter as Chrysler repaid every dime and more of what it owed the American taxpayers from the investment we made under my Administration’s watch.  Today, we’re closing the book by selling the remaining shares of the federal government’s investment in General Motors.  GM has now repaid every taxpayer dollar my Administration committed to its rescue, plus billions invested by the previous Administration.

Less than five years later, each of the Big Three automakers is now strong enough to stand on its own.  They’re profitable for the first time in nearly a decade.  The industry has added more than 372,000 new jobs – its strongest growth since the 1990s.  Thanks to the workers on our assembly lines, some of the most high-tech, fuel-efficient cars in the world are once again designed, engineered, and built right here in America – and the rest of the world is buying more of them than ever before.

When things looked darkest for our most iconic industry, we bet on what was true: the ingenuity and resilience of the proud, hardworking men and women who make this country strong.  Today, that bet has paid off.  The American auto industry is back.

For our autoworkers and the communities that depend on them, the road we’ve taken these past five years has been a long and difficult one.  But it’s one we’ve traveled together.  And as long as there’s more work to do to restore opportunity and broad-based growth for all Americans, that’s what we’ll keep doing to reach the brighter days ahead.

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NYT: U.S. Sells Remaining Stake in General Motors

The Treasury Department announced on Monday that the government had sold its remaining shares of General Motors stock.

The government has thus exited one of the most controversial investments made during the midst of the financial crisis, when it stepped in to rescue the Detroit automakers – a decision that as many as three in four Americans opposed at the time.

Taxpayers recouped about $39 billion on the investment, the Treasury Department said, having spent about $50 billion bailing out the automaker.

All in all, taxpayers have ended up in the black on the crisis-related bailouts, Treasury said: It has recovered $433 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program after initially investing about $422 billion.

More here

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09
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

An orphan from Orlando Children’s Home pays tribute to Nelson Mandela outside of his house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Dec 9

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Today:

The President and First Lady left for South Africa this morning (8:10 EST), don’t have the schedule yet for their time there, will post as soon as I do. According to Mark Knoller, the trip will take about 17 hours with a refueling stop.

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USA Today: Obama’s day: Off to South Africa

President Obama leaves Monday for what looks like a relatively quick trip to South Africa to honor the late Nelson Mandela. The president and first lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to attend a memorial service for Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

No other events have been announced for Obama, and he could be back at the White House as early as Wednesday.

Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura are expected to accompany the Obamas aboard Air Force One on the journey of more than 8,000 miles. Ex-presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are expected to travel separately to South Africa for Mandela services.

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NYT: Amid the Uproar Over the Health Law, Voices of Quiet Optimism and Relief

Since his chronic leukemia was diagnosed in 2010, Ray Acosta has paid dearly for health insurance: more than $800 a month in premiums, plus steep co-payments for the drug that helps keep him alive.

Mr. Acosta, 57, owns a small moving company in Sierra Vista, Ariz., which he said had barely made it through the recession. He was thinking about dropping his coverage, but the insurance company beat him to it, informing him recently that it would cancel his policy at year’s end.

He sought advice from an insurance agent who had used his moving company. She connected him with an application counselor at a community health center, who found — to Mr. Acosta’s astonishment — that he qualified for Medicaid under the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which gives states the option of expanding the program to include more low-income adults.

“I’m kind of in a disbelieving fog,” Mr. Acosta said last week, two days after completing an application. “I’m just hoping, keeping my fingers crossed, that this might really help me out.”

More here

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National Journal: Is the Republican Advantage on Obamacare Eroding?

With HealthCare.gov finally working, Democrats are able to fight back in the Obamacare anecdote war.

The White House and its outside allies are already ramping up a massive effort to emphasize the personal stories of people getting coverage under the health care law — ground that Democrats were largely forced to concede to the GOP during the uproar over canceled insurance policies.

Collecting constituent stories has been a focus of the Republican strategy against the health law for several weeks. But now, with HealthCare.gov working better and enrollment beginning to surge, Democrats are prepared to launch a deluge of pro-Obamacare anecdotes as they try to promote enrollment and make a political sales pitch for the Affordable Care Act.

…. This week, Enroll America and some of its partner organizations — including Families USA and Planned Parenthood — is launching a major new initiative to highlight positive experiences of those enrolling in coverage. The push will involve a coordinated weekly theme that highlights stories of certain demographics.

More here

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The People’s View: Shocking: Obamacare Refuses to Kill Jobs

If the president had a tough November, he’s certainly making up for it this month. Not only has Healthcare.gov performing at peak efficiency, killing the GOP’s favorite anti-Obamacare doomsday talking point, today’s jobs report recorded the lowest unemployment rate since before President Obama took office, with 203,000 jobs created in November. Reports suggest that in the first two days of December alone, the national website enrolled Americans at the rate of nearly 15,000 a day, while 1.5 million Americans living in poverty have gained coverage under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion – an advance blunted only by Republican governors’ and state legislators’ refusal to accept full federal funding to expand coverage.

This must be awkward for the Republicans (and for the Democrats of little faith who began to turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble with the website) – or, it would be if they had any shred of decency left. Their talking points against Obamacare are falling like flies. Not only have jobs been created in the private sector every single month since Obamacare was enacted, just as it is ready to go into full effect, unemployment dips to 7% and new jobless claims have fallen to below 300,000.

More here

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TPM: Americans Discover They’re Trapped In GOP’s Medicaid Expansion Gap

With HealthCare.gov working better and the first deadline to sign up for health coverage that starts in January approaching, Obamacare’s so-called navigators — the people and organizations receiving federal funds to help people enroll — are seeing more and people come through the doors and out to their events.

…. with HealthCare.gov finally performing better, this has been their busiest time since the Oct. 1 launch. But in 25 states, that robust interest has a downside: Navigators are forced to tell more and more people that they probably won’t be able to get covered because their state, all of which had a GOP-controlled legislative chamber or governor, have refused to expand Medicaid. Lynne Thorp, who is overseeing the University of South Florida’s navigator program in that state, told TPM that about one in four people who contact her team fall into that Medicaid gap.

“Those are hardest phone calls because it doesn’t make any sense to them,” Thorp said. “We have to explain that they fall into this gap where this program can’t assist them.”

More here

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A rare HP link…

Huffington Post: Top Georgia Democrat Fights To Prove Obamacare Can Overcome Deep South Resistance

For Democrats like Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s House minority leader, advocating for the Affordable Care Act in a strongly conservative state is a daunting task. Her Republican colleagues, who control the state legislature, are staunch opponents of the law, and Gov. Nathan Deal is one of 20 GOP governors who rejected the Medicaid expansion.

That alone would seem like enough for state Rep. Abrams and her Democratic colleagues to tackle, but it doesn’t end there. Last month, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, another Georgia Republican, chaired a congressional oversight hearing in Gainesville during which a handful of cherry-picked witnesses spoke only of being harmed by the health care law.

….. But despite the litany of obstacles facing Obamacare in her state, Abrams said that Georgians are “hungry for information” on what the law means for them and how they can sign up. She has made it her mission to bring that directly to them, by leading events explaining the Affordable Care Act to people across Georgia, many of whom have spent decades waiting for access to health insurance.

More here

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Steve Benen: Obama warns of ‘unemployment cliff’ consequences

In just 19 days, federal emergency unemployment benefits will expire for 1.3 million struggling Americans, and in the hopes of raising the issue’s visibility, President Obama devoted his weekly address to the subject over the weekend.

…. The rhetoric certainly sounded compelling and had the added benefit of being accurate. But the decision isn’t up to Obama; it falls to Congress to approve an extension before the Dec. 28 deadline. And on Fox News yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul helped encapsulate why progress appears highly unlikely:

“I do support 26 weeks of unemployment that they’re paid for, if you extend it beyond that you do a disservice to these workers,” Paul said. Paul said that business surveys indicate a reluctance to hire workers who have been on unemployment insurance for lengthy periods.

Got that? Paul believes cutting off aid to jobless Americans during a period of high unemployment is doing those folks and their families a favor.

More here

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@AngryBlackLady

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Your Bizarre Story of the Day:

Steve Benen: Chris Christie’s traffic jam?

There’s been a simmering controversy in New Jersey, which initially appeared a little too outlandish to take seriously. But late Friday afternoon, the story took an interesting turn:

    A Port Authority official with close ties to Gov. Chris Christie is resigning after state lawmakers questioned whether lane closings on the George Washington Bridge that led to extensive traffic backups in September were politically motivated….

… It still seems hard to believe anyone would cause massive traffic jams as part of a petty, partisan dispute, but the questions raised thus far haven’t received reasonable answers. It’s a story worth keeping an eye on.

Full post here

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On This Day:

Pete Souza: “The day we were leaving for Oslo, the President’s first meeting of the morning was with his speechwriting team. He said he had stayed up most of the night writing. I was surprised to see that he had handwritten the entire speech so I made a few close-up pictures as he went over the speech with his aides in the Oval Office.” Dec. 9, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks to Secret Service Uniformed Division officers as he walks through the magnetometer in the Northwest Gatehouse at the White House, following his visit to Blair House, Dec. 9, 2011. The President told a reporter as he exited the gatehouse, “I just wanted to see what it was like getting in here.” (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha and Malia, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react as they push the button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MoooOOOooorning!




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