One of my favorite British shows is “Time Team”. Hosted by the awesome Sir Tony Robinson (Baldrick to you “Blackadder” fans), a team of archaeologists scours Great Britain for interesting sites to excavate.
In the just completed and final Series 20, the fifth episode finds the gang excavating on a military site on Salisbury Plain. Brought in to help, Tony et. al. are seconded to an already existing excavation. And a big part of this excavation is an organization which seeks to heal wounded UK vets reintegrate and heal their psychic and physical wounds via archaeology. I found myself smiling throughout the entire episode, especially when the program’s founder explained what had helped him escape the miasma of depression in which he was sunk after his tours of duty.
TPM: A lesser-known but important provision in “Obamacare” that regulates how health insurance companies spend their money is yielding benefits for consumers, a new study finds.
By this August, insurers are projected to send consumers a total of $1.3 billion in rebates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday – $541 million to large employers, $377 million to small businesses and $426 million to people with their own insurance plans.
The rebates are the result of a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent or 85 percent of premium earnings on health care – as opposed to marketing and administrative activities – or otherwise provide rebates to their consumers.
Steve Benen: Joe Weisenthal published a pretty remarkable chart today noting economic growth in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe over the last nine years….
…. Once President Obama took office and the Recovery Act/stimulus began putting capital back into the economy, the U.S. economy began growing again. In the U.K., the economy started to improve, right up until British officials began implementing an austerity agenda – at which point the national economy stagnated and slipped back into a recession.
Obama rejected austerity, and as a result, American growth, while fragile and insufficient, is easily outpacing Europe’s and UK’s, where austerity measures have ruled the day.
….When David Cameron’s austerity policies began, Republicans were not only certain they would work, they pleaded with American policymakers to follow the Tories’ lead …. The remarkable thing is, Republicans aren’t the least bit chastened by the track record of failure.
ThinkProgress: …. The Romney campaign organized a conference call today with three of Romney’s foreign policy advisers to push back (against VP Biden’s foreign policy speech). During the call, Romney adviser Ambassador Pierre Prosper attacked President Obama for dealing with Russia, albeit using geographical terms from the Cold War era:
PROSPER: ….. The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia….
Aside from the fact that “Czechoslovakia” broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia nearly 20 years ago, the Obama administration never “abandoned” missile defense sites because they were never there to begin with….
Michael Tomasky: It seems clear that the main issue Mitt Romney is going to use to try to reestablish himself as a moderate is immigration …. Can Romney, who staked out an immigration position during the primaries that left him sounding like Pat Buchanan, really pull this off? My bet: He’ll be smooth, he’ll do almost everything right, he’ll say all the right things — and he’ll end up with something very much like the 31 percent of the Latino vote John McCain got, maybe two or three points more, tops. The reason is simple: Romney, like his party, is just too white.
…. There is no signal, at least yet, that Rubio would make a whit of difference. Last weekend, a poll came out in which 1,000-plus Latinos were asked about Obama-Biden matchups against Romney-Rubio, and Romney paired with various other Hispanic Republicans ….. in Florida, Obama did better among Latinos against Romney with Rubio on the ticket, suggesting that maybe to know him isn’t to love him.
NYT: The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities….
In making the general assertion that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” the ad cites as evidence $1.2 billion that went “to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico.” In fact, the company involved in the plant, SunPower, said that the $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee was for its solar ranch in California….
The ad also says that the Obama administration sent “half a billion to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs in Finland.” …. Loans under the agency’s alternative vehicle program went to Fisker Automotive, an American electric car company based in California that has facilities in Finland, as well as China and Germany. The agency provided $169 million for engineering and tooling work, all carried out in the United States….
USA Today: President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation’s dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.
In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points.
The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group. Romney’s main advantage is among men 50 and older, swamping Obama 56%-38%.
…. In the poll, Romney leads among all men by a single point, but the president leads among women by 18.
David Javerbaum (NYT): A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney. The recent remark by Mitt Romney’s senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom that upon clinching the Republican nomination Mr. Romney could change his political views “like an Etch A Sketch” has already become notorious. The comment seemed all too apt, an apparent admission by a campaign insider of two widely held suspicions about Mitt Romney: that he is a) utterly devoid of any ideological convictions and b) filled with aluminum powder.
…. according to the latest theories, the “Mitt Romney” who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children’s toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse.
Rupert Cornwell (UK Independent): Obamacare is in the hands of the unelected – The Supreme Court has the power to trump Congress and consign to history the US’s boldest attempt at universal healthcare.
….. If the so-called “individual mandate” is rejected, then the whole financial edifice of Obamacare comes crashing down. With the stroke of a judicial pen, unelected judges would have voided the most important piece of health legislation since the Medicare and Medicaid Acts in 1965, and destroyed the boldest effort yet to give America what is taken for granted in every other industrial country: universal health coverage.
…. The biggest casualty of all, however, could be the reputation of the Supreme Court itself … it would be shown once and for all as just another player, albeit a mightily powerful one, in the partisan warfare that has brought the American political system almost to the point of dysfunction. Maybe, that will induce one conservative justice at least to step back from the brink on Obamacare. But don’t bet on it.
Tuesday: PBO will deliver remarks at the AP Luncheon during the ASNE Convention.
Wednesday: PBO will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. Christian leaders from across the country will join the President at this breakfast for a time of prayer, reflection, and celebration of Easter. Also on Wednesday, the President will sign the STOCK Act, which makes clear that Members of Congress are subject to the same insider trading laws that apply to everyone else. This was legislation the President called on Congress to pass in his 2012 State of the Union Address.
Thursday: PBO will sign the JOBS Act, which includes key initiatives the President proposed last fall to help small businesses and startups grow and create jobs.
Friday: PBO will deliver remarks at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy. Later, the President and the First Lady will mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House with friends and staff.
In case you missed BWD’s comment last night, she was involved in a car crash a few days ago – it was a horrible experience that has left her badly shaken. I know BWD loves this video, so this is for her – look after yourself, get strong soon friend.
Love, too, to QuietObserver whose Dad is battling ill-health, as are Fred and HZ. And Sam UK, this is a tough time for you too, we’re thinking of you.
The Guardian: Vince Cable (UK Government Business Secretary) has launched an extraordinary attack on “rightwing nutters” in America who are trying to block the raising of the US government’s debt ceiling and who are, he said, a bigger threat to the world economy than problems in the eurozone.
… He said: “The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few rightwing nutters in the American Congress rather than the eurozone.”
Negotiations on raising the US government’s debt limit above its current level of $14.3tn (£8.7tn) collapsed in acrimony late on Friday over details of a package of spending cuts and tax rises that would help to pay for such a move.
A visibly angry Barack Obama attacked the Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner, for refusing to return his phone calls and said he had been “left at the altar” in trying to reach an agreement. Most experts agree that if the US were to default on its debt payments, stock and bond markets worldwide would plunge, threatening a new great recession. The deadline for agreement is just over a week away, on 2 August……