11:30: VP Biden meets with law enforcement officials to discuss common sense immigration reform
1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
5:0: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the Diplomatic Corps Reception (Closed press)
Occupy Democrats: Watch a Doctor Destroy a Koch Brother-Funded Anti-Obamacare Ad in 2 Minutes:
The Hill: The Obama administration on Thursday highlighted lower-than-expected premiums for healthcare plans sold through ObamaCare’s new insurance marketplaces.
In the 11 states that have released rates for next year, premiums for a middle-of-the-road plan are an average of 18 percent cheaper than the Congressional Budget Office had expected.
…. New York is the latest state to report that premiums for plans offered through its exchange would be cheaper than expected — and, on average, 50 percent cheaper than comparable policies available in the state today …. California also reported lower-than-expected premiums…
Six states have released rate filings for plans available to small businesses through a separate exchange. Those policies are also an average of 18 percent cheaper than existing coverage options, HHS said.
President Obama on Thursday touted some good news about Obamacare. And, lord knows, he’s earned the right. Republicans and conservative intellectuals keep seizing on setbacks — some real, some imagined — and predicting that Obamacare will be a catastrophe. They are almost certainly wrong.
Ironically, one of the best reasons to believe in Obamacare may be the very issue that has inspired so much chortling on the right: The insurance premiums for people who buy on their own, because they don’t get coverage from an employer or through a government program.
Insurers around the country have already submitted bids…. they are coming in lower than most experts had predicted….
…. it means the overall price of Obamacare — the amount of money the government must spend, in order to make the law function — is going to be even lower than predicted.
ThinkProgress: Most Media Coverage Ignores Premium Drop, Focuses On GOP Effort To Undermine Obamacare
Early on Wednesday, as House Republicans prepared to vote for a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer and individual mandates, New York state officials announced that health care premiums in the new exchange will plummet by at least 50 percent as a result of the law.
For reform advocates, the story represented a reprieve from the constant drum beat of media coverage about implementation delays, predictions of rate shock, and employers dropping coverage. But a ThinkProgress analysis of television reports about the health care law for Wednesday, July 18th, confirms that even with good news to report, bookers and segment producers are still far more interested in broadcasting stories about the political brinkmanship in Washington, DC than the actual, tangible progress of implementation.
Steve Benen: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act did not actually strike down the entire civil-rights law, but rather, gutted it by rejecting Section 4 of the VRA. The burden then shifted to Congress to find a remedy …. Yesterday, the House held its first hearing on the VRA since the court ruling, and if the public comments were any indication, the odds of success in the near future appear long…
Most of the Republican members of the panel apparently didn’t think the hearing was especially important – which is to say, they didn’t show up ….
… Anyone predicting congressional Republicans might do the right thing on voting rights should probably adjust their expectations accordingly. GOP policymakers at the state level are rushing to impose new restrictions to keep voters from participating in their own democracy, and GOP policymakers at the federal level appear content to do nothing to stop them.
As part of our Summer Of Fakery, the House allegedly has taken up the job of repairing the damage done to the Voting Rights Act that occurred when John Roberts declared the day of jubilee. One of the witnesses today was Hans von Spakovsky, who’s been scamming this particular scam for over a decade now. Anyway, this is what von Spakovsky was peddling today.
“[That section] was an unprecedented, extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty……..”
…. Not to bring that pesky Constitution into things again, but here’s an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty:
Amendment XIII: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…..
…. If you want to understand why modern conservatives seem so impatient with settled law, remember that they owe their modern ascendancy to the people who refused to accept any of these three Amendments because they didn’t believe the freaking Civil War changed anything.
ThinkProgress: On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.
3:45: President Obama delivers remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson (C-Span)
NYT: It happened a few minutes before the beginning of Jim Langevin’s junior cadet shift back in 1980 …. A bullet ricocheted off a locker and went right through the boy’s neck, severing his spinal cord.
At 16, he would never walk again and never fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
Now, three decades later and seven terms into his career as one of Rhode Island’s two members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Langevin, 48, is the only quadriplegic ever to serve in Congress….
For the past month, he has been on a quiet campaign to persuade his colleagues to give up their guest passes to next Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Obama so that victims of gun violence can attend.
That way, he said, when the nation’s highest officeholders look up from the floor of the House to those watching from the gallery, they will not be able to avoid seeing the human toll that guns can exact.
Upworthy: It’s a fact so jaw-dropping it’s unbelievable — people thought it was a crazy Internet rumor until Politifact verified it. But it’s true: More Americans have died just since 1960 from gun incidents — suicides, accidents, and homicides — than died in every war in U.S. history. The deadliest war the U.S. has ever had is the war we waged against ourselves.
Politifact: Politifact: Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, supporters and opponents of gun control have thrown out statistics to support their point of view.
Here’s one that caught our eye, offered by liberal commentator Mark Shields on the Dec. 21, 2012, edition of the PBS NewsHour.
Shields told host Judy Woodruff, “You know, Judy, the reality is – and it’s a terrible reality – since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years. … I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.”……
CNN: A group of four senators working behind the scenes on a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales is making significant progress, according to sources in both parties familiar with their work.
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN is told the legislation they are working on would effectively require background checks on private gun purchases made with non-licensed gun dealers, according to sources in both parties. That would include closing the so-called gun show loophole.
NYT: President Obama may have run his last political campaign, but that does not relieve him of his obligations to the Democratic Party.
The president, who has a vested interest in Democrats retaining their Senate majority and trying to narrow Republican control of the House, is already making plans to return to the campaign trail. He has agreed to hold at least 14 separate fund-raising events this year, a Democratic official familiar with the plans told The New York Times, characterizing it as an “aggressive schedule.”
…. Mr. Obama will appear at 10 events outside Washington: five for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and five for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will also host one event for each committee in Washington as well as appearing at two joint fund-raising galas for House and Senate candidates.
Reuters: A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
The country’s trade gap narrowed to $38.5 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $46 billion.
“Trade data for December paint a reassuring and encouraging picture of the US economy at the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
‘President Obama has outlined his plan for fixing our broken immigration system. Add your name to stand with the President’ – here
BuzzFeed: One of President Obama’s two nominees Thursday for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Todd M. Hughes, would become the first out gay appeals court judge in the country, if confirmed by Congress.
Hughes currently is the deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice….. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which runs the Presidential Appointments Project to support out LGBT candidates for appointments, praised the nomination.
NYT: Cardiss Collins, who reluctantly ran for a Chicago Congressional seat left vacant when her husband died in a plane crash and went on to become Illinois’s first black congresswoman, serving for nearly 25 years as a voice for racial and gender equality and expanded health care for the poor, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. She was 81.
….. She campaigned little but easily won the primary in April and cruised through the general election in June with 92 percent of the vote. Six years later, and after some early struggles in office — she had never considered a political career before she was thrust into one — she became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. For much of the 1980s, she was the only black woman in Congress.
TPM: Outgoing Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu, who announced his resignation last week, took to his Facebook page Thursday to make light of an article from parody news site “The Onion” alleging that he woke up next to a solar panel after a night of partying in D.C. As Chu wrote in a post on his Facebook page:
“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”
People: My song with my husband: Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”
Michelle Obama: Barack and I danced to “Let’s Stay Together” at this Inauguration, and it was such a special moment for us. We had spent all day together with our family and friends at different Inaugural events, and at the end of the day the dance was really our one-on-one moment with each other. Well, each other and everyone watching on TV!
Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled. (7.0 ET: The President and Hillary Clinton’s 60 Minutes interview)
Monday: The President will welcome the NBA Champions Miami Heat to the White House to honor the team and their 2012 victory
Tuesday: The President will travel to Las Vegas where he will deliver remarks. He will return to Washington, DC in the evening
Wednesday and Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Friday: The President will award 12 eminent researchers the National Medal of Science and eleven extraordinary inventors the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House, the highest honors bestowed by the United States Government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors
NYT: A brand new conservative group calling itself Americans for a Strong Defense and financed by anonymous donors is running advertisements urging Democratic senators in five states to vote against Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense, saying he would make the United States “a weaker country.”
Another freshly minted and anonymously backed organization, Use Your Mandate, which presents itself as a liberal gay rights group but purchases its television time through a prominent Republican firm, is attacking Mr. Hagel as “anti-Gay,” “anti-woman” and “anti-Israel” in ads and mailers…..
AP: Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims and messages such as “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” joined a rally for gun control on Saturday, marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.
Leading the crowd were marchers with “We Are Sandy Hook” signs, paying tribute to victims of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray and other city officials marched alongside them. The crowd stretched for at least two blocks along Constitution Avenue.
Participants held signs reading “Gun Control Now,” “Stop NRA” and “What Would Jesus Pack?” among other messages. Other signs were simple and white, with the names of victims of gun violence.
About 100 residents from Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six teachers, traveled to Washington together….
President Barack Obama’s statement on Sen. Tom Harkin’s announcement that he would not seek re-election:
“By the time Senator Harkin finishes his fifth term, he will have represented the people of Iowa in the United States Congress for an incredible 40 years. He has served in the U.S. Senate longer than any Democrat in Iowa’s history. During his tenure, he has fought passionately to improve quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families, to reform our education system and ensure that every American has access to affordable health care. Senator Harkin will be missed, and Michelle and I join Iowans in thanking him for his long-standing service and wish him and his wife, Ruth, all the best in the future.”
President Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office, Jan. 23 (Photo by Pete Souza)
10:45: The President and Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
1:45: VP Biden participates in a live Google+ Hangout about gun violence
2:30: President Obama will announce the nomination of Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission
4:35: The President meets with Secretary of State Clinton
Business Insider: Initial jobless claims have crushed expectations. They have fallen to lowest level since January 2008, falling to 330K. This is well below expectations of 355K ….
Amazing news – more later
I haven’t had a chance yet to read much on the Inaugural speech, but I liked this column:
Harold Meyerson: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek,” candidate Barack Obama said in 2008 … in the aftermath of Obama’s 2012 reelection and his second inaugural address, his 2008 remarks seem less a statement of self-absorption than one of prophecy. There is an Obama majority in American politics, symbolized by Monday’s throng on the Mall, whose existence is both the consequence of profound changes to our nation’s composition and values and the cause of changes yet to come.
…. His speech reclaimed U.S. history from the misrepresentations of both constitutional originalists and libertarian fantasists….
…. The Obama Majority – its existence and mobilization – is what enabled the president to deliver so ideological an address …. secure in the knowledge that the nation’s minorities had joined with other liberal constituencies to form a new governing coalition, he voiced their demands to ensure equality and to preserve and expand the government’s efforts to meet the nation’s challenges. As he left the stage, he stopped and turned to marvel at the crowd, at the new American majority they represented. They were the ones he, and we, were waiting for.
Morning everyone. Another teeny (miserable) Rise and Shine, but I’m hoping to finally – :???: – keep my promise to catch up some time today, just trying to finish off some work. So, chat away, and I’ll see ya in a bit.
Charles Pierce: …. the senior members of the Republican party reminded us today that, no matter how much lipstick they slather on the pig in order to fool the more credulous members of the courtier media, the heart of their party is still black and withered and smells of death and corruption.
…. This is what prevails when you scratch down beneath the pretty surface — a party so completely fking unhinged that it thinks that a treaty on the rights of disabled people is some sort of one-world plot to steal the liberty of a third-rate moron like Jim Inhofe. …. They simply do not care. Their prejudices and their paranoia must have pride of place over any help to be given to the less fortunate among us….
…. I can hardly wait for the next Beltway hummer in which Rubio is promoted as “the changing face of the Republican party.” They can’t stand up to the lunatic base because the lunatic base is all they have.
Steve Benen: Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole made a rare Senate appearance this morning, sitting in a wheelchair just off the floor so that members would have to see him as they entered the chamber. Why? Because they were poised to vote on ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Dole hoped to send a message.
It didn’t work. The Senate killed the treaty this afternoon, with a final vote of 61 to 38, which seems like a lopsided majority, but which fell short of the two-thirds necessary for ratification. Eight Republicans broke ranks and joined Democrats in support of the treaty, but the clear majority of the Senate GOP voted to block it.
Charles Pierce: “Mike Huckabee …. the de-bloated god-bothering whackaloon who is occasionally mistaken for a nice guy.”
Bob Costas responds to Fox News attacks: “Sometimes The Quality Of The Thinking Of Those Who Oppose You Speaks For Itself.” (See video at Media Matters)
…. Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said as soon as Ryan and Romney started campaigning together, during his daily calls with Romney “it was like talking to your buddy who just met a girl and is giddy.” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said when he saw the chemistry of Ryan and Romney together, he thought, “it was like a bromance.” (Lynn Sweet)
A red ribbon is hung from the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 30, to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Michael Grunwald (Time): It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan….
This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party…..
…. we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.
David Firestone (NYT): Republicans reportedly laughed when they saw the Obama administration’s initial offer in the fiscal negotiations yesterday. The idea that President Obama might actually want to enact his campaign promises – tax hikes on the rich, modest Medicare cuts, investments in infrastructure – is apparently considered a joke to the party that has shown virtually no flexibility in the last four years.
But some of that laughter may contain nervousness, because there is more going on here than just a pathway to splitting the difference. The White House made clear yesterday that it is approaching these talks from a position of responsibility, and that it actually takes seriously the notion of old-fashioned bargaining. That’s something Republicans have refused to do — and now they realize they’ve been called out.
Deaniac (The People’s View): The president is in a fighting mood. Starting today, he’s barnstorming the country, getting the American people to pressure Congress to extend the middle class tax breaks, and to do so now. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented the leaders of Congress with the Administration’s opening offer. That offer is heavy on revenue, tax fairness, and Medicare savings without affecting benefits. Here’s a short summary of what the president has proposed, from leaked details.
Liberal Librarian (The People’s View): Yesterday’s vote in the UN on Palestine has stirred a lot of emotions on the left; I’ve taken the time to read the responses across a few blogs this morning, and for the most part they’ve been considered and judicious. So here are my two pfennigs.
When the world’s three most powerful faiths declare a piece of real estate “holy”, that causes problems of a sort not found anywhere else. To the Jews, it is the “Promised Land”, vouchsafed to them by God unto the last generation. To Muslims, it’s holy because God walked in it with the Hebrew patriarchs, whom they consider earlier prophets; and, of course, they believe Muhammad made his Night Journey to heaven from the Temple Mount. To Christians, obviously, it was the land where Jesus lived, preached, and died. The deep emotional and religious attachments are not to be disregarded.
Kevin Drum (Mother Jones): There’s one particular strain of Republican reaction to their election loss that’s always given me the biggest chuckle, and today Paul Waldman highlights it: the absurd proposition that Mitt Romney never forthrightly defended conservative principles….
…. For months, conservatives yelled from the rooftops about how 2012 presented the sharpest choice ever in governing philosophies …. [they] claimed that this one was truly an ideological turning point, America’s last chance to choose what kind of country we should be. But literally within hours of defeat, they turned on a dime and insisted that the American people weren’t given a real chance to decide between two competing visions. And they’ve maintained this claim despite losing the popular vote in the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and despite the fact that demographic trends very clearly spell even further trouble in the future for their hardnosed brand of social intolerance and slavish dedication to the interests of the rich.
11:0: VP Biden attends the inaugural speech of President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the National Palace
11:05: PBO arrives in Philadelphia
11:45: Tours The Rodon Group manufacturing facility
12:05: Delivers remarks
2:00: Departs Philadelphia
2:55: Arrives at the White House
NYT: Timothy Geithner presented John Boehner a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance …. the details show how far the president is ready to push House Republicans. The upfront tax increases in the proposal go beyond what Senate Democrats were able to pass earlier this year….
…. Senate Democratic leaders left their meeting with Mr. Geithner ecstatic. If the Republicans want additional spending cuts in that down payment, the onus is on them to put them on the table, said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.
Steve Benen: President Obama had to endure some deeply unpleasant experiences with Congress over the last couple of years, but the result of the incidents taught him valuable lessons. It’s clear, especially after last year’s debt-ceiling crisis, that the president now knows exactly how to negotiate with reckless, radicalized Republicans.
…. The days of preemptive concessions and negotiating from a defensive crouch are over …. Obama is acting like a confident, re-elected president who expects congressional Republicans to start moving in his direction, not the other way around. GOP leaders aren’t accustomed to this dynamic, but it’s probably time they adapt to their new surroundings.
…. Republicans desperately want the president to negotiate with himself …. Obama clearly isn’t willing to play that game anymore.
Greg Sargent: … the White House position is that it has laid out what it wants in the way of new revenue and spending, and that it’s now up to Republicans to detail their bottom line on cuts. It’s the GOP’s turn now. This opening bid will cheer liberals – it strongly suggests the White House is willing to push Republicans very hard, in the belief that it has all the leverage.
The Daily Dolt: Humanity’s most divisive figure, Barack Hussein Obama, is set to become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 to win over 51% of the popular vote twice. The Great Divider is currently at 50.9% of the popular vote, and his lead continues to expand as results are still being tallied.
….. now we shall commence with the childish, entirely unprofessional gloating segment of this blog post:
Suck it, Marco Rubio. Suck it, Mitch McConnell. And suck it, Reince Priebus.
President Obama returns from a trip to Thailand, Burma and Cambodia, Nov. 21
2:0: The President pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey
4:20: The First Family participates in a service event
NYT: In the fractious relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the shoe may have just shifted to the other foot.
After more than a year of Mr. Obama needing – and not getting – much support from his Israeli counterpart in his efforts to woo American Jewish voters at home ahead of his re-election, it is now Mr. Netanyahu, Israel experts say, who needs Mr. Obama to help shore up his support at home.
The Israeli leader is facing an election in January, and if there is one thing that Israeli voters do not like, scholars say, it is any kind of daylight between their prime minister and the American president in times of strife.
After a year in which Mr. Netanyahu made no secret of his support for Mitt Romney, now might seem a perfect time for Mr. Obama to return the favor. And yet, as Israel and Hamas — and their proxies, the United States and Egypt — struggle to agree on a cease-fire in the fighting in Gaza, he has not done so.
…. All of this, Middle East experts say, means that Mr. Obama may have buttressed his own standing with the Israeli public, and is now in a far better position to start pressing Mr. Netanyahu on issues from the Israeli siege of Gaza to Iran to the dormant Middle East peace process, where he has had little leverage.
Charles Pierce: …. I would like to have an opinion on this continual bloodletting that didn’t sound banal but, goddammit, I’m out of them. I am thoroughly sick of both sides here. Opportunistic cutthroats poke a stick at the region’s most powerful military, knowing full well that said military will overreact and that the overreaction will fall most heavily on the civilian population on whose behalf the cutthroats are allegedly acting. Said military reacts right on cue, with all the modern military hardware against which the cutthroats know that they and the people they allegedly represent have no possible defense. Innocent people die. Then more innocent people die…..
…. there is no side worth taking in this. Not any more. It’s just tangled slaughter and bloody ambivalence and blind, unending fury. There is nothing but madness at its center, implacable as gravity, and drawing everything toward it.
NYT: The Obama administration took a big step on Tuesday to carry out the new health care law by defining “essential health benefits” that must be offered to most Americans and by allowing employers to offer much bigger financial rewards to employees who quit smoking or adopt other healthy behaviors.
…. Insurance companies are rushing to devise health benefit plans that comply with the federal standards. Starting in October, people can enroll in the new plans, for coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2014.
The rules translate the broad promises of the 2010 law into detailed standards that can be enforced by state and federal officials. Under the rules, insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher premiums to people because they are sick or have been ill. They also cannot charge women more than men, as many now do.