Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving

29
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

A Year Ago Today – Pete Souza: “There is closure in this photograph. I suspect that neither man really wanted to have lunch with the other, but they both knew the importance for the American people in seeing them do so. Here, the President bids farewell to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney following their lunch.”

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

The President has no public events scheduled

Today:

11:0 EST: The Arrival of the White House Christmas Tree

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s interview will air tonight on ABC’s 20/20 at 10PM ET / 9PM CT

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Timothy Egan (NYT): Rooting for Failure

I just spent 15 minutes on my local health care exchange and realized that I could save a couple hundred dollars a month on my family’s insurance. Of course, I live in Washington State, which has a very competitive market, a superbly functioning website and no Koch-brothers-sponsored saboteurs trying to discourage people from getting health care.

California is just as good. It’s enrolling more than 2,000 people a day. New York is humming as well. And Kentucky, it’s the gold standard now: More than 56,000 people have signed up for new health care coverage — enough to fill a stadium in Louisville.

This is terrible news, and cannot be allowed to continue. If there’s even a small chance that, say, half of the 50 million or so Americans currently without heath care might get the same thing that every other advanced country offers its citizens, that would be a disaster.

But not to worry. The failure movement is active and very well funded….

More here

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@AnthonyBourque

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare’s Secret Success

…. Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings. The prevalent attitude in Washington is that reform isn’t real unless the little people suffer…

… Has the curve been bent?

The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.

…. The news on health costs is, in short, remarkably good. You won’t hear much about this good news until and unless the Obamacare website gets fixed. But under the surface, health reform is starting to look like a bigger success than even its most ardent advocates expected.

Full column here

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Steve Benen: The Nature Of The ACA Opposition

It’s easy and accurate to say the Affordable Care Act isn’t yet popular with the public, but it’s important to take the next step and ask why. A CNN/ORC International poll also indicates nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the national health care law, but some give the Affordable Care Act a thumbs down because it isn’t liberal enough.

This has always been the inconvenient detail for the right. Conservatives look at the top-line poll results and say, “See? 58% of Americans oppose ‘Obamacare.’ Therefore, Democrats should listen to Republicans and gut the law.” But it’s the nuances of Americans’ attitudes that matter. In this CNN poll, 40% of the public backs the Affordable Care Act and another 14% want the law to go even further and be more ambitious. In other words, as the CNN analysis explained, 54% of the country either supports Obamacare, or say it’s not liberal enough. That’s not a recipe for conservative success; that’s the opposite

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Michael Hiltzik: What Americans Really Think Of Obamacare

The data from the latest CNN opinion poll, conducted Nov. 18-20, suggest that Americans are far more sophisticated about the Affordable Care Act, glitches and all, than the Republican and Democratic parties alike have given them credit for. The poll results are here; crunch the raw numbers as you wish. Released on the eve of the reboot of the federal government’s enrollment website, healthcare.gov, the survey indicates that 54% of Americans favor the law or think it should have gone further. Most important, Americans are willing to give the law a chance to work, and on balance confident that it will work.

The pockets of greatest strength for the law are non-whites and–happily–those aged 18-34.  The breakdown by age is gratifying because participation by young persons is crucial if the cost-sharing aspects of expanded insurance coverage are to be achieved: younger and healthier enrollees subsidize their older and sicker neighbors, on average, until they themselves become older and sicker, something that befalls us all. In that age group, 48% favor the law and 12% think it should go further. The 60% total is the highest of any age cohort. Younger respondents are also the most confidence that “the current problems facing the health care law” will be solved: 71%. But more than half of all respondents (54%) think so.

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Jonathan Cohn: Boehner Inadvertently Exposes Sloppy Media Coverage of Obamacare Costs

House Speaker John Boehner loves to tell stories about people getting a raw deal from Obamacare. This week, he decided to tell one about himself.

As you may recall, Obamacare treats members of Congress and their staff differently from other working Americans. Thanks to a provision added to the law by Charles Grassley, the Republican Senator from Iowa, certain Capitol Hill workers can’t get insurance like other federal employees—i.e., via the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan. Instead, they must get coverage through one of the new Obamacare exchanges. For many, that means enrolling through the District of Columbia exchange.

This week, Boehner did just that. But, as his advisers later explained to media outlets, the Speaker had trouble. The website had technical problems, they said, and it took hours for Boehner to complete process. When he finally found a policy, he discovered it would cost a lot more. Politico got the full story, including a quote from Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. “The Boehners are fortunate enough to be able to afford higher costs. But many Americans seeing their costs go up are not. It’s because of them that this law needs to go.” Soon it was all over social media.

But this story turns out to be a lot more complicated than either Boehner or the initial press accounts suggested. In fact, it’s an almost perfect example of how media coverage of Obamacare has failed to provide scrutiny, context or a sense of scale.

More here

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Washington Post: Obamacare’s Online SHOP Enrollment Delayed By One Year

The Obama administration announced Wednesday it would delay a significant piece of the health-care law: the online small business insurance marketplace. The Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, will not offer online enrollment until November 2014, a one-year delay from a launch that was initially planned for this past October. Small businesses will still have the option to purchase SHOP health insurance plans through a broker or agent, who will assist the employer with filing a paper application.

The federal government expects to process those filings for eligibility within three to five days, according to a document circulated to health law stakeholders. “It’s disappointing that the online portion of the federal small business marketplace through Healthcare.gov will be delayed and it’s important it get up and running as soon as possible,” said John Arensmeyer, president of the Small Business Majority, a nonprofit that supports the Affordable Care Act. “However, it doesn’t change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance.”

More here

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ThinkProgress: ThankProgress: 9 Things Progressives Can Be Thankful For

States are enacting protections for undocumented immigrants.

Same-sex couples have more access to marriage benefits than ever before.

More workers are getting raises and taking sick leave.

Uninsured Americans are signing up for health insurance.

The U.S. is taking steps to address the consequences of climate change.

States are enacting prison reform.

College activists across the country are fighting back against rape culture.

Solar power is on the rise and prices keep dropping.

Number of homeless Americans on the decline.

See details here

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Suzanne Maloney: How Rouhani Won The Negotiations And Rescued His Regime

Although it was greeted with heated debate in the United States, the announcement of a landmark deal on Iran’s nuclear program was met with wide approval in Iran. Cheering crowds decked in purple and green, the colors associated with the country’s embattled movements for moderation and reform, met Iran’s nuclear negotiators at the airport. Newspapers printed special editions with jubilant headlines. And even the stern Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released an official statement with unusual dispatch to welcome the news and laud the diplomats who hammered out the deal.

One might think that the crowds and officials were rejoicing at the relatively meager sanctions relief meted out by a justifiably mistrustful West. Or perhaps that they were celebrating the fact that the deal left open the question of whether Iran has the right to enrich uranium. In fact, their concerns were far broader: thanks to the deal, regime moderates have started to rebalance a government that seemed on the verge of toppling only a few years ago. And, in so doing, they have confounded the world’s expectations.

More here

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Think Progress: Texas National Guard Begins Offering Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

The Texas National Guard has begun processing benefits for same-sex couples at all facilities with the so-called RAPIDS machinery necessary to produce ID cards. The state originally had refused to comply with a Defense Department directive to offer the benefits, citing a constitutional amendment that limits the definition of marriage to different-sex couples. When this change was first announced on Tuesday, it seemed as though Texas may have followed Oklahoma’s example and moved the available RAPIDS machines only to federal facilities, forcing all couples to travel to those facilities.

Staff Sergeant Jennifer Atkinson, a spokesperson for the Texas National Guard, clarified to ThinkProgress that couples can have their benefits processed at any facility currently equipped with RAPIDS, including some state facilities. Georgia and Louisiana remain the only two states that are in violation of the Defense Department’s directive to ensure same-sex couples are afforded the same federal benefits through the National Guard as other married couples.

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TPM: Biden Intends To Object To China’s New Air Defense Zone

Vice President Joe Biden intends to raise objections over China’s newly declared air defense zone in the East China Sea during a visit to the country next week. China says all aircraft must notify Chinese authorities before entering the zone, which includes islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing. The United States is not acknowledging the zone and flew two B-52 through unhindered Wednesday. The officials said Biden will make it clear the U.S. has a “rock-solid commitment” to its allies in the region. Biden plans to visit allies Japan and South Korea during the visit from Dec. 1-8.

More here

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UT’s wonderful ’50 Thanks Yous’ post from yesterday is now permanently linked at the top of the sidebar on the right, so next time someone asks you, ‘but what has Obama done?’, tell them to clickety click the link.

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On This Day:

Bo is greeted by several of the President’s Active Lifestyle Award achievers in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Nov. 29, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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MoooOOOooorning! And thanks a gazillion to UT for so many of the links.

28
Nov
13

A Thanksgiving Rise and Shine: 50 Thank Yous to the President

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50 Thank Yous to our President on this Thanksgiving

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1. Thank you for never giving up the fight for the Affordable Care Act – ‘ObamaCare’ – and bringing comprehensive health insurance to 30 million people.

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2. Thank you for expanding health coverage for over 4 million more children with the Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act.

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3. Thank you for putting two qualified and outstanding women on the Supreme Court.

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4. Thank you for refusing to hide the cost of war, unlike your predecessor.

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5. Thank you for bringing the Iraq war to an end and bringing troops home to their families.

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6. Thank you for your courage in bringing OBL to justice when the naysayers derided and mocked you for your promise to the American people.

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7. Thank you for choosing diplomacy first with Syria and securing a deal that began the removal and destruction of chemical weapons.

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8. Thank you for pursuing diplomacy with Iran through sanctions not war and pushing for an interim deal that came to fruition after 34 years of failures.

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9. Thank you for the drawdown of the war in Afghanistan and putting an end date to combat involvement by troops.

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10. Thank you for improving America’s image abroad by stretching your hand out to allies and non-allies alike, beginning with your 2009 inaugural address and your historic Cairo speech.

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11. Thank you for the New START Treaty that reduces the overwhelming number of warheads in the world.

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12. Thank you for the Executive Order that banned torture, reversed GWB torture practices, and restored the United States in accord with the Geneva Convention.

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13. Thank you for increasing funding annually for the Veteran Affairs Department and for the new G.I. Bill which helps veterans achieve the dream of an education.

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14. Thank you for providing $4.3B in funding for 9/11 responders proving that this nation is behind them not just with words but with deeds.

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15. Thank you for having a Department of Justice that takes seriously any effort to suppress people’s right to vote.

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16. Thank you for having a diverse cabinet and administration that looks like the America of 2013 and not the 1800s.

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17. Thank you for the Claims Resolution Act which made sure African-American and Native American farmers received $4.6B for being cheated out of government loans.

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18. Thank you for doing your part to reduce the horror of gun violence by issuing regulations and rules that will, hopefully, save lives.

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19. Thank you for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act aka ‘Stimulus’ that drastically reduced unemployment and prevented the lay off of teachers, cops, firefighters, etc.

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20. Thank you for rescuing the auto industry and saving over one million jobs when everyone on all sides of the issue said it was a foolish idea.

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21. Thank you for 44 months of economic productivity and 7.8 million private sector jobs.

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22. Thank you for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which has protected and helped millions of people recover money from corrupt financial institutions.

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23. Thank you for Wall Street Reform and Credit Card Reform that put regulations in place to prevent another Great Depression and protect consumers from predatory credit card companies.

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24. Thank you for cutting taxes for hardworking middle and working class Americans through the American Recovery and Investment Act – and not the 1%.

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25. Thank you for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which helps women fight discrimination in wages and salary.

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Continue reading ‘A Thanksgiving Rise and Shine: 50 Thank Yous to the President’

27
Nov
13

The First Family Gives Back

@petesouza: Pres Obama greets a young girl while volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank in DC today

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WTVQ: Obama Hands Out Thanksgiving Goodies To Needy In DC

 President Barack Obama is continuing an annual family tradition this year, by helping to pack bags of food and distribute them to the needy on Thanksgiving eve. Obama, his wife, Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha and his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, dropped in Wednesday on the Capital Area Food Bank, one of the largest serving the Washington area.

They dropped bundles of sweet potatoes, onions, carrots and apples into reusable bags people held open as they walked by. They also handed out small white boxes stamped with the presidential seal that contain M&M’s candy. Obama wished people a “Happy Thanksgiving,” and Malia shook their hands. It’s the third straight Thanksgiving that Obama and his family have helped out at this particular food bank.

More here

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27
Nov
13

The Conversation

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24
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama await the arrival of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Mrs Gursharan Kaur, for the State Dinner at the White House, Nov. 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Washington Post: World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal With Iran To Freeze Its Nuclear Program

Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions. The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.

The deal, intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear pact to be completed in six months, freezes or reverses progress at all of Iran’s major nuclear facilities, according to Western officials familiar with the details. It halts the installation of new centrifuges used to enrich uranium and caps the amount and type of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to produce.

Iran also agreed to halt work on key components of a heavy-water reactor that could someday provide Iran with a source of plutonium. In addition, Iran accepted a dramatic increase in oversight, including daily monitoring by international nuclear inspectors, the officials said. The concessions not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected, the officials said. In return, Iran will receive modest relief of trade sanctions and access to some of its frozen currency accounts overseas, concessions said to be valued at less than $7 billion over the six-month term of the deal. The sanctions would be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement’s terms.

More here

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Laura Rozen: Burns Led Secret US Back Channel To Iran

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has led a secret U.S. back channel to Iran going back to before the June election of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, U.S. officials told Al-Monitor. Burns was tapped to lead the US diplomatic effort to establish a bilateral channel with Iran, which gained momentum after the exchange of letters between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Rouhani in early August, US officials said.

Led by Burns, the US’s second highest ranking diplomat and a former lead US Iran nuclear negotiator, the US effort to form direct diplomatic contacts with Iran also includes two officials from the Obama White House: Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and Puneet Talwar, the National Security Staff senior director for Iran, Iraq, and Persian Gulf affairs, US officials confirmed. Talwar’s role in back channel discussions with Iran was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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LA Times: Iran’s Leaders Call Nuclear Deal A Success

Iran’s leadership Sunday hailed the interim nuclear deal brokered in Geneva between Iranian  envoys and representatives of  the United States and five other world powers. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, thanked President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiating team in a message that called the Geneva talks a “success,”  a crucial sign of support from the nation’s ultimate arbiter of national security issues.

The Iranian president, meantime, gave a nationally televised address labeling the agreement  a breakthrough that could eventually help eliminate the vise of international sanctions, which have put a stranglehold on Iran’s economy in recent years. Rouhani, a soft-spoken cleric and longtime government insider, was elected in June on a pledge to work  toward alleviating the crippling sanctions and heighten Tehran’s engagement with the world. The deal brokered in Geneva represents a major political victory for the new president, who faces opposition at home from hard-liners opposed to any perceived compromise with the West.

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AP: Iran Deal Leaves Israel Few Options

After feverishly trying to derail the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran in recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has little choice but to accept an agreement that he has derided as deeply flawed.

Netanyahu believes the six-month deal leaves Iran’s military nuclear capabilities largely intact, while giving Iran relief from painful economic sanctions, undermining negotiations on the next stage. At the same time, Israel’s strongest piece of leverage, the threat of a military strike on Iran, seems to be out of the question despite Netanyahu’s insistence it would remain on the table.

U.S. officials said Sunday’s deal was just a first step and further negotiations aim for a final agreement that would prevent any threat from Iran’s nuclear program. They said the relief from sanctions was minimal and that the most biting economic measures, including sanctions on Iran’s vital oil industry, remained in place and more could be imposed if Iran fails to follow through.

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AP: Secret US-Iran Talks Set Stage For Nuke Deal

The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran’s nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.

The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West. President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort – promised in his first inaugural address – to reach out

The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.

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Stonekettle Station: Take Back Your Government

Government of the People. That’s what Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg one hundred and fifty years ago this week. Government of the People, by the People, and for the People. Lincoln was, of course, referring to the Preamble of the United States’ Constitution, the bit that goes “We the People of the United States…”

More, Lincoln’s speech reached directly back to the fundamental principles outlined by the grievances in the Declaration of Independence, i.e. the Founder’s demand for a government that does the business of its people first and foremost, one that operates with the consent of the governed, and a government that is directly answerable to its citizens.

That’s the idea, right? That’s how America is supposed to work. We can all of us, left and right, republican and democrat, moderate and progressive, whateverside of America we’ve chosen to plant our flag on, surely we can all at least agree to that basic principle. Right? Right. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And sure, that sounds good. In theory. As a sound bite. There’s just one problem. The people.

More here

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Washington Post: In Rural Kentucky, Health-Care Debate Takes Backseat As Long Uninsured Sign Up

in a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up: cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students.

Now it was the beginning of another day, and a man Lively would list as Client 375 sat across from her in her office at a health clinic next to a Hardee’s. “So, is that Breathitt County?” she asked Woodrow Wilson Noble as she tapped his information into a laptop Thursday morning. “Yeah, we live on this side of the hill,” said Noble, whose family farm had gone under, who lived on food stamps and what his mother could spare, and who was about to hear whether he would have health insurance for the first time in his 60-year-old life. “All right,” she said. “We’ve got you eligible for Medicaid.”

“Okay, Woodrow, now you get to shop a little bit,” she said, explaining options he’d never had before. “If you go to the doctor, all you’re going to pay is $1,” she began. “If you’re in the hospital for an extended period, you should only be billed $5. . . . If you get medicine, generics are $1 and brand is $4. . . . You can go to the dentist once a month — exams, X-rays and cleanings are covered. . . . Now for your teeth, the plan does take care of having them pulled and does take care of fillings,

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Chicago Sun-Times: Affordable Care Act Counselor Tries Health Insurance Marketplace For First-Hand Knowledge

As one of those people who is supposed to help Illinoisans find new options for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, Joann Boblick figured she should check out healthcare.gov and see how it works.  Glitches with the website have kept many Americans from viewing insurance plans available. But Boblick was able to get through to Illinois’ marketplace on healthcare.gov. She also found an insurance plan that will be cheaper than the one she has.

“The first time, I got nowhere. The site just said come back later. The second time, I decided to come back later because I was waiting too long,” said Boblick, 36, of Western Springs. “The third time was the charm.” Boblick currently pays a premium of $340 a month with a deductible of $6,000. The Blue Choice Bronze PPO 006 that she enrolled in on Oct. 7 costs $185 a month with the same deductible and offers the same doctors, dentists and hospitals she has now. That’s even though Boblick made too much money — about $65,000 — to qualify for a subsidy to pay for a new insurance plan.

For those still waiting to log on at HealthCare.gov, Boblick suggested people think of getting insurance as they would think of getting a new iPhone the first day. “People wait days for an iPhone. Care about it that much,” she said. “Realize it’s more important than the iPhone.”

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BBC: Iran Deal Limited But Important

So how should we rate the interim deal? At first sight it appears to be a good one – certainly from the big powers’ perspective, going further than perhaps many commentators had expected. The chief goal was to prevent Iran from forging ahead with its nuclear activities even as talks were continuing. If fully implemented the deal seems to do just that: All uranium enrichment above 5% is to be halted. The entire stockpile of 20% enriched material to be diluted or converted to a form not suitable for further enrichment. This 20% enriched uranium is the feedstock that Iran could use to “dash” towards weapons grade material.

No more centrifuges (the machines used to enrich material) are to be installed, and large numbers of the existing banks of centrifuges are to be left inoperable. Iran’s stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium is to remain the same between now and the end of the six-month period. So any excess material will have to be converted to oxide form. In broad terms there will be no further construction or experimental work for the Arak reactor which Western experts fear could be used – once it is commissioned – for its plutonium, giving Iran a second route towards a nuclear bomb

In return Iran has received what the White House insists is “limited, temporary and reversible relief” in terms of economic sanctions.. For a start if Iran abides by the deal there will be no new economic sanctions over the coming six months. Certain sanctions on gold, precious metals, Iran’s auto sector and Iran’s petrochemical exports are to be suspended, providing Iran with about $1.5bn of revenue. Safety-related repairs and inspections are to be sanctioned for some of Iran’s civil airliners. Some $4.2bn from Iranian oil sales will be allowed to be transferred to Iran. Some $400m of Iranian funds can be transferred to educational institutions in third countries to pay the fees of Iranian students studying there

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On This Day:

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Gursharan Kaur in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

First Lady Michelle Obama claps during the entertainment portion of the State Dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India (Photo by Pete Souza)

The President and First Lady wait for Indian Prime Minister Singh’s motorcade to depart the White House at the conclusion of the first official state dinner for the Obama administration, Nov. 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets the Sinkfield family in the Outer Oval Office, Nov. 24, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks with a young customer as he packs and delivers bags of food to area residents at Martha’s Table, November 24, 2010

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Nov. 24, 2011 – Pete Souza: “I photograph a lot of presidential phone calls from the Oval Office. But rarely is the light like this, backlit and reflecting back from a briefing paper. On Thanksgiving Day, the President made phone calls to 10 U.S. military service members — two each from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy — to thank them for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.”

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President Obama arrives at ‘One More Page Books’ on Small Business Saturday, Arlington, Virginia, November 24, 2012

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21
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia pardon the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey Cobbler during a Rose Garden event at the White House, November 21

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Today (All Times Eastern):

1:0: Press Briefing by Josh Earnest

2:0: President Obama delivers remarks at a ConnectED Champions of Change event

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Steve Benen: ACA Slows Growth In Health Costs

It looks like the law’s many detractors will have to cross another complaint off their list. Health care spending since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act has risen by 1.3% a year, the lowest rate ever recorded, and health care inflation is the lowest it has been in 50 years, a report released Wednesday by the White House shows.

How good are the number figures? According to a new report published by Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, over the last three years – the period since “Obamacare” became the law of the land – per capita health care spending has grown at a rate of 1.3%. “This is the lowest rate on record for any three-year period and less than one-third the long-term historical average stretching back to 1965,” Furman noted. Moreover, thanks to health care reform, inflation for health care goods and services is “currently running at just 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, the lowest level since January 1962.”

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Mother Jones: So Far, Obamacare Has Taken Only A Modest Hit In The Polls

This isn’t very different from Kaiser tracking polls in the past. In the most recent one, among people who expressed an opinion, 56 percent wanted the law kept as is or enhanced, while 44 percent wanted it repealed.

So far, Obamacare hasn’t really taken that big a hit in public opinion, and as the website problems continue to get fixed I expect that public opinion will improve.

More here

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NYT: G.O.P. Maps Out Waves Of Attacks Over Health Law

The memo distributed to House Republicans this week was concise and blunt, listing talking points and marching orders: “Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” “Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” “The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.” “Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”

The document, the product of a series of closed-door strategy sessions that began in mid-October, is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months, they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered, sequenced assault.

The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law — through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home — and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic.

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TPM: Reports: Obamacare Enrollment On The Rise

Obamacare enrollment seems to be recovering from its slow start and picking up in the last few weeks, according to news reports. The New York Times reported Monday that more than 50,000 Americans had selected a health plan through HealthCare.gov, the federal website serving 36 states, as of mid-November. That’s up from about 27,000 who had picked a plan over the entire month of October.

According to the Los Angeles Times, enrollment in some of the 15 state marketplaces is also on the upswing. In the first half of November, California has nearly doubled its enrollment in all of October. In the Minnesota, the rate of enrollment in the second half of October was triple what it had been in the first half of the month. State officials in Connecticut, Kentucky and Washington told the Times that they were on pace to beat their enrollment goals and/or top last month’s enrollment.

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Reuters: U.S. Jobless Claims Fall, Hint At Firming Labor Market

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting some strengthening of labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 335,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 6,750 to 338,500.

More here

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Justin Sink: Obama Announces $100M In Education Grants For High School Students

President Obama will announce $100 million in education grants for high school students. The government will award as many as 40 grants to fund the Youth CareerConnect program, which is designed to partner high schools with colleges and employers.  “Many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that links their work in school to college and careers — especially in the critically important fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” the White House said in a statement.

The program will be paid for primarily from Department of Labor revenues from the H-1B visa program. To qualify, local school districts will need to match 25 percent of the federal grant, as well as recruit a local workforce investment system entity, an employer, and an institution of higher education to partner in the program. The first wave of programs will be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.

More here

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AP: US Unemployment Benefit Applications Drop To 323K

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 last week, the lowest since late September and further evidence of an improving job market. The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average fell for the third straight week to 338,500.

Both figures are near pre-recession levels. Hiring is also picking up. Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs per month from August through October. That’s up sharply from an average of 146,000 in May through July.

More here

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Jason Furman: New Report From The Council Of Economic Advisers: The Recent Slowdown In Health Care Cost Growth And The Role Of The Affordable Care Act

Health care spending is growing at the slowest rate on record: According to the most recent projections, real per capita health care spending has grown at an estimated average annual rate of just 1.3 percent over the three years since 2010. This is the lowest rate on record for any three-year period and less than one-third the long-term historical average stretching back to 1965. This slower growth in spending is reflected in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.

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The ACA is contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending and is improving quality of care: ACA provisions that reduce Medicare overpayments to private insurers and medical providers are contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending.  Other ACA reforms are reducing hospital readmission rates (see figure below) and increasing provider participation in payment models designed to promote efficient, high-quality care.

More here

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Jon Favreau: President Obama Should Never Apologize For Passing Obamacare

It’s true what they say: Barack Obama does not relish the game of politics. Don’t get me wrong—as the first president in more than five decades to win more than 51 percent of the vote twice, he understands how the game is played. But Obama did not run for elected office because he needed to be loved. He has his family and friends for that, and he lacks the insecurity that lies just beneath the healthy egos of so many politicians. This president does not crave constant affirmation, which means he does not engage easily in the backslapping and glad-handling and forced emoting that comes so naturally to other elected officials.

But the president should never apologize for passing the Affordable Care Act, and neither should those of us who have supported this kind of reform for years, even decades. We didn’t fight for this law because it was good politics. We didn’t fight for this law with the hope that it would lead to some ideological victory for big government—otherwise we wouldn’t have proposed a plan that maintained the private insurance market with reforms that Republicans once championed.

We fought for this law because no other advanced democracy on Earth gave insurance companies free rein to profit by discriminating against all but the healthiest and wealthiest citizens. We fought for this law because 14,000 Americans, most of them working and middle class, were losing their health insurance every day—with no other options. We fought for this law because millions of other Americans thought they had decent coverage until their insurance company refused to pay for treatment that someone in their family desperately needed; because people died as a direct result of not being able to afford better health care. The reason we fought so hard for this law—the reason Obama is willing to stake his entire legacy on making it work—is because so many of us have had a personal experience with the fear and vulnerability that comes with being sick.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama looks at a photograph of Kate Puzey as he greets her brother, David Puzey, and other guests in the Oval Office, Nov. 21, 2011. The President signed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, which improves the preventative measures and the response of the Peace Corps in cases of crime and sexual assault of Peace Corps volunteers (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Darius Rucker, Kris Kristofferson and Lisa Meyers in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House before “The History of Country Music: From Barn Dances to Pop Charts” interactive workshop for local students, Nov. 21, 2011 ( Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Dierks Bentley performs during the “Country Music: In Performance at the White House” concert in the East Room, Nov. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with First Lady Michelle Obama in the Oval Office, Nov. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama, along with First Lady Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Craig Robinson, participates in a service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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22
Nov
12

The Week Ahead

@BarackObama

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Thursday: The President will celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House. There are no public events scheduled

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: No public events scheduled

Monday: Attends meetings at the White House

Tuesday: Hosts President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House

Wednesday: Holds a Cabinet Meeting at the White House

Thursday: Meets with the 2012 Nobel Prize winners in the Oval Office

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“Barack”:

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Obamafoodorama

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President Obama jokes with players from the Oregon State University basketball team in the Oval Office on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22. The team’s head coach is Craig Robinson, brother of First Lady Michelle Obama. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Chat away – unless your mouth is full with turkey.

22
Nov
12

Rise and Shine

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NYT: President Obama skipped dessert at a long summit meeting dinner in Cambodia on Monday to rush back to his hotel suite. It was after 11:30 p.m., and his mind was on rockets in Gaza rather than Asian diplomacy. He picked up the telephone to call the Egyptian leader who is the new wild card in his Middle East calculations.

Over the course of the next 25 minutes, he and President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt hashed through ways to end the latest eruption of violence, a conversation that would lead Mr. Obama to send Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the region. As he and Mr. Morsi talked, Mr. Obama felt they were making a connection. Three hours later, at 2:30 in the morning, they talked again.

…. The White House phone log tells part of the tale. Mr. Obama talked with Mr. Morsi three times within 24 hours and six times over the course of several days, an unusual amount of one-on-one time for a president. Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.

Full article here

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President Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a phone call from his hotel suite in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 19 (Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, aboard Air Force One during the flight from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Washington, D.C., Nov. 20. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon listens at right. (Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in the Oval Office, Nov. 21. Chief of Staff Jack Lew, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough listen in the foreground. (Pete Souza)

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone

21
Nov
12

Pardon Me?

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Capital Area Food Bank, Washington, November 21

21
Nov
12

At your service

4:20: The First Family participates in a service event

Not sure where – or if – this will be shown, but try the usual links:

CNN * CBS




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