Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia

05
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets a young visitor in the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

10:45: President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

11:30: Meets with senior advisors

1:45: Meets with Democratic Senators at the Senate Democratic Issues Conference; Washington Nationals Park

4:0: Meets with Treasury Secretary Lew

4:45: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry

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Michael Hiltzik: Why The New CBO Report On Obamacare Is Good News

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest report on the Affordable Care Act, and here are a few bottom lines:

— The ACA is cheaper than it expected.

— It will “markedly increase” the number of Americans with health insurance.

— The risk-adjustment provisions, which Congressional Republicans want to overturn as a “bailout” of the insurance industry, will actually turn a profit to the U.S. Treasury.

…. The ACA will increase the number of Americans with health insurance by 13 million this year, 20 million next year, and 25 million a year from then through 2024. Some 80% of those enrollees will be receiving federal subsidies to keep their coverage affordable.

There will be fewer uninsured people living in the United States, and most of those with individual coverage will be getting help to pay for it. Is there another other conclusion to draw from those statistics than the Affordable Care Act is working?

Full article here

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Washington Post: The media’s massive revisions on CBO-Obamacare story

The Post’s Glenn Kessler today published a fact-checking post breaking some news: No, he wrote, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) never, ever reported that Obamacare would somehow or other kill more than 2 million U.S. jobs.

Okay, to say that Kessler broke this news is a rhetorical exaggeration to highlight the point that many-o-many media outlets misconstrued the CBO findings. For a while this morning, the Internet was hopping with job-killing hype, when in fact the truth was vastly different. Obamacare’s impact, the CBO concluded, would lessen the supply of labor by encouraging certain folks not to work: “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked. . . .”

For someone approaching retirement, notes Kessler, Obamacare could well mean that they needn’t hold onto a bad job just to keep health insurance. That’s a far different dynamic from job-killing.

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Image: Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

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Steve Benen: CBO Delivers Welcome News To Obamacare Backers

If Republican press releases and reports from conservative and major media outlets are any indication, the Congressional Budget Office’s findings on the Affordable Care Act are simply brutal. National Review, which probably published its report before actually looking at the CBO’s findings, ran this headline: “The CBO Just Nuked Obamacare.”

As we discussed earlier, the coverage has been profoundly misleading. Despite what Americans are being told, the CBO did not find that the health care reform law would cost the nation over 2 million jobs. What it actually said is that the law will empower more than 2 million Americans to leave the workforce if they want to, no longer feeling forced to stay at a job in order to have benefits for them and their family.

Why “Obamacare” critics consider this a bad thing remains unclear….

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ThinkProgress: Obamacare Finally Gives Workers The Freedom Conservatives Demanded

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office projected that The Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.3 million in 2021, leading critics to seize on the claim as evidence that the health care law is undermining job growth.

But that’s not what the CBO actually said. In fact, CBO economists write that “[t]he estimated reduction [in labor] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor.” Americans won’t be losing their jobs, but people who are only working to maintain access to their employer sponsored health insurance plans will be able to leave the workforce or work fewer hours because they can obtain coverage elsewhere. That’s a goal that prominent Republicans, conservative think tanks and policy analysts have supported for years…..

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National Memo: Obamacare — The Greatest Pro-Life Victory Ever  

A new report finds that between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate hit its lowest point since 1973, when Roe v. Wade declared access to the procedure a Constitutional right.

The rate fell 13 percent to 16.9 per 1,000 women in 2011, down from its peak of 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981.

While conservatives want to claim credit for the decline with onerous restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, the availability of contraception and family planning deserve most of the credit, according to the Guttmacher Institute’s Rachel Jones, the lead author of the study.

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Yahoo: New Report: Budget Deficit To Drop To $514B

A new report released Tuesday says the government’s budget deficit is set to fall to $514 billion for the current year, down substantially from last year and the lowest by far since President Barack Obama took office five years ago. The Congressional Budget Office report credits higher tax revenues from the rebounding economy and sharp curbs on agency spending as the chief reason for the deficit’s short-term decline.

Last year’s deficit registered $680 billion. Obama inherited an economy in crisis and first-ever deficits exceeding $1 trillion. The 2009 deficit, swelled by the costs of the Wall Street bailout, hit a record $1.4 trillion, while the deficits of 2010 and 2011 both registered $1.3 trillion. The report predicted the economy will continue to rebound this year and grow at a 3.1 percent rate and by 3.4 percent next year. It foresees the jobless rate holding steady at 6.8 percent this year; the most recent nationwide unemployment rate registered 6.7 percent.

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Tal Kopan: Emmitt Smith Gives Wendy Davis Committee $10K

Team Wendy just landed an all-star running back. Former Dallas Cowboys running back and NFL MVP Emmitt Smith donated $10,000 to the committee backing Wendy Davis’s campaign for Texas governor last month. According to campaign filings, the CEO of EJSmith Enterprises donated the money on Jan. 8 to Texas Victory Committee, a joint effort from Wendy Davis for Governor and Battleground Texas, a group that supports Democrats in the state.

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Jonathan Chait: ‘Obamacare Bailout’ Does Not Exist, Confirms Government; House Republicans Demand Its Repeal Anyway

As of yesterday, House Republicans were torn, Sophie’s Choice-style, over what to demand in return for lifting the debt ceiling to accommodate the budget they passed. (Caveat: I’ve never seen Sophie’s Choice; I assume it’s a movie about a bungling kidnapper who has to choose what ransom she should demand.) One option was the Keystone XL pipeline. The other was the risk corridor provision in Obamacare, which they falsely call a “bailout.”

Here’s what happened next. First, the Congressional Budget Office released its annual budget report, and, among other things, it utterly annihilated the premise that there is any such thing as an “Obamacare bailout.” Having seen their imaginary claim conclusively debunked, Republicans are now leaning toward demanding its repeal anyway…

…. Today’s report projects that the bungled launch will mean enrollment in the exchanges will collapse all the way from seven million people to … six million people. Now, the number of people in the plan isn’t the only or best measure of its success, but it is a measure critics have seized upon. The existence of the nefarious Obamacare Bailout was a second reason – as the House Republican hearing asks, why the need for a bailout, if not to save a doomed law? There’s no reason why the lack of an Obamacare bailout should prevent conservatives from feeling anger at it anyway.

Full post here

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NYT: Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.

The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.

The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections.

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Richard Sherman’s fantastic response

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DeadSpin: Now A Champion, Richard Sherman Deals With An Insult In The Best Way

Colin Kaepernick had an excellent method of dealing with people who hated him by favoriting their anger on Twitter. Seahawks corner Richard Sherman—now a Super Bowl champion—handled an angry Twitter person in a less passive but equally fantastic way.

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Bryce Covert: GM’s First Female CEO Will Make Half Of What Her Predecessor Made

In December, General Motors (GM) made headlines for picking Mary Barra to replace Dan Akerson as its new CEO. That meant she would not only be the first woman at the helm of the carmaker, but any global carmaker. But while she may have shattered that glass ceiling, her pay is another story. Looking at the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Elizabeth MacDonald notes that Barra will be paid $4.4 million in total compensation, which includes a base salary of $1.6 million.

Akerson, on the other hand, made an estimated $9 million, with a $1.7 million base salary and $7.3 million in stock. That means Barra will make less than half of what he made. In fact, Akerson will continue to make more as her, as GM will pay him $4.68 million as an outside senior adviser.Worse, Barra comes to the job with an outsized amount of previous experience. She’s been with the company since 1980 and was most recently serving as senior vice president of global product development. Akerson, on the other hand, came into the role without a background running a car company

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Caitlin McNeal: WaPo Rebuts Its Own Columnist On Claim That Obamacare Is Killing Jobs

The Affordable Care Act is killing jobs, or not, depending on which portion of the Washington Post you read on Tuesday. The paper’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote that Obamacare was “killing jobs and squelching growth” based on a newly released CBO report.

However, the report notes that the reduction in hours worked by Americans will “almost entirely” be due to workers’ choice to leave the work force — not because they lost their jobs or can’t find a full-time job. Glenn Kessler, the Post’s “Fact Checker,” followed up a few hours later giving the claim made by Rubin and other news organizations three Pinocchios out of four.

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Josh Barro: The Buried Lede In The CBO Report: Obamacare Will Raise Wages

Obamacare will drive wages up. The price of labor, like any good or service, is determined by supply and demand. If producers of labor (workers) become less inclined to sell it, but consumers of labor (firms) are unchanged in their interest in buying, then the price of labor has to rise in order to bring the quantity supplied and the quantity demanded into line.  If (as CBO predicts) the decline in work is driven almost entirely by a decline in labor supply, the upshot will be very different. Employers will be left holding the bag economically. Workers will choose to work fewer hours; since firms won’t be any less interested in hiring, they’ll have to pay more per hour to get those workers in the door.

The positive wage effect should be concentrated among low-skill workers, who will face the greatest discouragement to work from Obamacare, and therefore will be able to command the greatest wage increases in order to keep working. More broadly, Obamacare alters the employer-employee relationship in a way that empowers employees. When an employee is dependent on his job not just for a wage but for health insurance, he is less able to threaten to leave if he doesn’t get a raise. Severing the work-insurance link strengthens the employee’s hand in bargaining — which is bad for employers and good for workers.

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On This Day:

Sen. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama during a Super Tuesday primary campaign rally at the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, February 5, 2008

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The President is applauded by House Democrats as he is introduced to speak at the House Democrats Issues Conference at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va, Feb. 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama wears a AF1 jacket on his first flight aboard Air Force One from Andrews Air Force Base to Newport News, Va., Feb. 5. 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama shows Washington, D.C. area students, who were featured in the Washington Post, the valet button on his desk during their surprise visit to the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Feb. 5, 2011 – Pete Souza: “The two coaches for Sasha Obama’s basketball team couldn’t make it to one of her games, so the President and his then personal aide, Reggie Love, filled in as coaches for this game one Saturday. Here they along with Sasha’s teammates react during the game.”

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31
Jan
14

News Of The Day

Pete Souza: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provide encouragement to Erick Varela, who was about to introduce the President, prior to an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the Green Room of the White House

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Chicago Sun-Times: Foundation Launched To Pick Site For Obama Presidential Library

The first steps toward building President Barack Obama’s library and museum were announced on Friday with the launch of a foundation to oversee the competitive selection process with the target date of picking a site early in 2015. Martin Nesbitt, Obama’s close friend who will run the effort with two other Obama associates, told me in an interview they are committed to a “thoughtful, consistent, fair and transparent” process with the ultimate choice left to Obama and first lady Michelle. “We have no preconceived idea about what these proposals will look like. We want to create a blank canvass, create sort of a white canvas with some guiding principles that allow people to respond in a thoughtful and creative way and we will evaluate them when they come in,” Nesbitt said.

Incorporation papers for the newly created Barack H. Obama Foundation were filed Friday in Washington, D.C. The foundation is led by Chicagoan Nesbitt, the co-CEO of The Vistria Group and treasurer of Obama’s two White House campaigns; Julianna Smoot, a co-chair of the 2012 re-election bid and the 2008 National Finance Director and J. Kevin Poorman, the Wilmette businessman who took over several companies run by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker when she stepped down to join Obama’s cabinet. Obama asked Nesbitt to take on the duty of running the foundation last summer, and I broke the news that Nesbitt and Smoot would helm a foundation last July.

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Terry Tang: Tape Of Martin Luther King Jr. Ariz. Speech Found

Mary Scanlon had no idea a $3 purchase from a Goodwill store in Phoenix would turn out to be a rare link to the civil rights movement’s most revered leader. Last April, Scanlon was at the thrift store when she spotted a pile of 35 vintage reel-to-reel tapes, including one labeled with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name. Despite the moldy and torn packaging, she snapped up all of them. “I didn’t really necessarily have any expectation that this tape would be rare,” Scanlon said. Arizona State University archivists have found that tape is the only known recording of speeches the slain civil rights leader gave at ASU and at a Phoenix church in June 1964.

The hour-long audio has since been digitized and is now available for listening on ASU’s website through June 30. The tape illustrates that King had been eager to visit supporters in Arizona, a state that would draw criticism more than 20 years later for rescinding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Scanlon, who donated all the tapes to the school, said the find is one of the high points of her life. “To have anything about myself connected in any way to Martin Luther King, what more could a person ask for? I’m so proud,” Scanlon said.

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NYT: Ex-Port Authority Official Says ‘Evidence Exists’ Christie Knew About Lane Closings

The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening. In a letter released by his lawyer, the former official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order”

and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago. During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”

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Chris Geidner: Edith Windsor’s Lawyer Seeks To Argue In Utah Marriage Appeal

Three same-sex couples — represented by the New York lawyer who represented Edith Windsor in her successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act — have asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to intervene in the pending lawsuit challenging Utah’s marriage laws.

In a Friday filing at the court, Roberta Kaplan argued on behalf of the couples that they should be allowed to intervene in the appeal — a move they acknowledge would be an “exceptional case” — in order to raise questions about other portions of Utah law that prevent recognition of same-sex couples.

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TPM: Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Clears Major Hurdle For Construction

The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle after the State Department raised no major environmental objections to its construction. The department’s report was released Friday. It says Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline and other options to get the oil from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries are worse for the environment. The latest environmental review stops short of recommending approval of the project. State Department approval of the project is needed because it crosses a U.S. border. A decision is not expected before the summer.

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Jonathan Chait: Six Reasons Chris Christie Is Probably Guilty

1. Wildstein is claiming evidence exists that Christie knew. He would look bad if such evidence does not come to light. 2. Wildstein spent time with Christie while the lanes were closed. If you had been ordered to close traffic lines for punitive reasons, and you saw the governor, wouldn’t you either tell him about it, or else already know he approved?

Undertaking an action like that without knowing the governor approved it, and without having any desire to take credit, seems like an implausible motivation. 3. Christie has changed his story about when he knew about the lane closings. Having first asserted he learned on October 1, Christie later claimed he learned earlier, though would not say when. 4. His campaign manager is pleading the fifth.

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Dylan Scott: Study: Thousands Of People Will Die In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid

As many as 17,000 Americans will die directly as a result of states deciding not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new study. Researchers from Harvard University and City University of New York have estimated that between 7,115 and 17,104 deaths will be “attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in opt-out states” in a study published in Health Affairs.

“The results were sobering,” Samuel Dickman, one of the authors, said, according to theMorning Call. “Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal.” They projected that 423,000 fewer diabetics would receive medication to treat their disease. If opt-out states had expanded Medicaid, 659,000 women who are in need of mammograms and 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears would have become insured, the study found.

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Powerful commercial. Native Americans are human beings and the NFL is disgusting for not treating them as such

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Sahil Kapur: Boehner Promises GOP No Path To Citizenship In Immigration Reform

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told House Republicans that the immigration blueprint his leadership team released on Thursday was “as far as we are willing to go” to make reform happen, according to a source in the room.

The blueprint supports legal status for undocumented immigrants, which is already further than many conservatives want to go. If Democrats demand the promise of citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally, as the bill passed by the Senate would do, the Speaker said the House would block reform.

More here

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OFA: What Does Health Insurance Mean To This 20-Something?

In 2009, I was healthy, preparing to graduate from college, and getting ready to start on a career that I love with an exciting opportunity at a new startup in an emerging field. And when I say startup, I mean startup. Shoe-string, even. There were only two of us. It was pretty risky, but I was beyond excited.

But then—out of the blue—I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that nearly derailed it all. Luckily, I was able to get treatment and was soon back to being myself. But I had two things added to my life: daily medicine to keep the condition in check, and a “pre-existing condition.” That’s when I really got why this whole health insurance thing matters.

thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s going to stay that way. When it was time for me to shop on the marketplace for my own coverage this winter, I was protected: No plan could deny me because of my pre-existing condition. I found one that is really comprehensive and is still within my budget. Now, I’m healthy, and I’ve got my own plan that I can afford and rely on.

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Reuters: Two Obamacare Exchanges See More Health Insurer Competition

At least two U.S. states running their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges expect new insurers to enter their marketplaces and bolster competition in 2015, officials said on Friday.

Kynect, which is Kentucky’s marketplace, and the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange have had separate talks about 2015 with health insurers that could opt to join the online marketplaces set up under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law. Kentucky also expects an expansion of physician networks available within current plans.

Increased competition would increase consumer choices and tend to put downward pressure on health insurance cost trends. It could also help ensure the future of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which depends on the success of new online marketplaces.

More here

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Pete Souza: POTUS during Google+ hangout today

22
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, Jan. 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

10:00AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden receive the Presidential Daily Briefing

10:45AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with the President’s Commission on Election Administration

11:30AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden convene a meeting with select Cabinet Secretaries of the Council on Women and Girls

12:30PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet for lunch

12:45PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

2:05PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden host an event for the Council on Women and Girls 

4:30PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

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John Ostapkovich: Philadelphia Church Hosts Dual-Focused Health Event

North Philadelphia’s Bright Hope Baptist Church hosted a health event Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Day that offered free flu shots as well as help signing up for Obamacare. Patricia Coulter rolled up her sleeve for her flu shot provided by Walgreen’s, but the President and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia also had her eye on sign-ups for Obamacare elsewhere in the room: “When people are healthy, they are energized,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

“They can work. They can provide for their families. You can’t separate health and well-being from economic and jobs and businesses.” Levana Layendecker from Equality, Pennsylvania: “Health insurance companies would often discriminate against LGBT people, charging more, basically treating being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person as a pre-existing condition and that is no longer allowed.”

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Public Integrity: Small Donors Boost Pro-Obama Organizing For Action

When President Barack Obama’s campaign machine restructured itself as a politically active nonprofit in 2013, one goal was to keep attracting the legions of small-dollar donors who had twice helped catapult Obama into the White House. Now the numbers are in for 2013, and they show that Organizing for Action, as the pro-Obama nonprofit is known, has been wildly successful. During its first year, Organizing for Action raised $26.3 million, with 57 percent of that sum coming from people who gave less than $250, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of records released by the group.

Donors who gave between $250 and $1,000 accounted for another 14 percent of the total. Katie Hogan, an Organizing for Action spokeswoman, said the group was “proud” of its support from more than 421,000 grassroots donors who have helped the nonprofit work to “tip the scales back towards the American people and away from special interests in Washington.” During its inaugural year, the group advocated for Obama’s signature health care reform law, for action to curb climate change and for gun safety legislation. It has not contributed to candidates’ political campaigns or run advertisements boosting or opposing specific politicians. Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 broke records for the enormous sums they collected from individual donors who gave small-dollar amounts.

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Washington Post: Democrats Win State Senate Seat In Northern Virginia – And Perhaps Control Of The Chamber

Democrats remained on course to take control of the Virginia Senate after winning a key special election Tuesday, as thousands of Northern Virginia voters braved snow and bitter winds to cast ballots in an unusual, three-way contest. In the race to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), Democrat Jennifer Wexton prevailed over Republican John Whitbeck and independent Joe T. May, a former Republican delegate running as an independent, according to unofficial election results. The district encompasses a slice of Fairfax County and a hefty portion of eastern Loudoun County, a region that has leaned toward Democrats in recent elections but remains battleground territory.

With the Virginia Senate previously split 20-20, Democrats must hold the two seats vacated by Herring and Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D) so they don’t lose control to Republicans. If the chamber remains evenly divided, Northam would act as a tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats control of the chamber. The race to replace Northam in his former Senate district, which is based in Norfolk and also leans Democratic, remains undecided. Del. Lynwood W. Lewis (D-Accomack) was certified the winner of a special election by just nine votes, prompting Republican Wayne Coleman on Thursday to request a recount.

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The Independent: Pope Francis Tells Davos Business Leaders: ‘Ensure Humanity Is Served By Wealth, Not Ruled By It’

Pope Francis has challenged the world’s business leaders to put their wealth to good use in serving humanity, and to oversee the “better distribution of wealth”. In a message addressing more than 2,500 participants at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland yesterday, he said more must be done to promote the “growth of equality” alongside an economic recovery.

The Pope’s comments came as a report released by Oxfam found that the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire international population, around 3.5 billion people. “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it,” Pope Francis said in the message read at the opening ceremony by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice.

“The growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it. It demands first of all ‘a transcendent vision of the person’,” he said in the message. “It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”

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Eugene Robinson: Washington Is Silent On W.Va.’s Chemical Spill

The drinking water in nine West Virginia counties has finally been declared safe, or mostly safe. But many people say they can still smell the licorice-like odor of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — in the sink, in the shower, in the air, especially in neighborhoods close to the Elk River. I say “mostly” because so little is known about the toxicity of the chemical, known as MCHM, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women in the affected area not to drink the water, at least for now. Unfortunately, this warning came after the CDC had already told residents the water was safe for everyone.

More than a week since the chemical spill in Charleston, the state capital, contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people, there has been little solid information about the danger to human health — and little outrage from officials in Washington, who seem to expect West Virginians to take the whole thing in stride. I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if this had happened on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in one of the wealthier Zip codes of Southern California. Imagine living for a week without tap water for drinking, cooking, bathing, even washing clothes. Imagine restaurants having to shut down, hotels putting sinks and showers off-limits, nursing homes trying to care for patients with only bottled water at their disposal. Imagine learning that there was essentially no information on the long-term health effects of a chemical you could smell everywhere you went.

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Washington Post: Former VA Gov. McDonnell And Wife Charged In Gifts Case

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were charged Tuesday with illegally accepting gifts, luxury vacations and large loans from a wealthy Richmond area businessman who sought special treatment from state government. Authorities allege that for nearly two years, the McDonnells repeatedly asked executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for loans and gifts of money, clothes, golf fees and equipment, trips, and private plane rides. The gifts and loans totaled at least $165,000.

In exchange, authorities allege, the McDonnells worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governor’s office to Williams’s struggling company, Star Scientific, a former small cigarette manufacturer that now sells dietary supplements. McDonnell, 59, is the first governor ever to face criminal charges in Virginia, a state that has prided itself on a history of clean and ethical politics, and the charges will probably accelerate a push for the legislature to tighten state ethics laws. The criminal prosecution marks a stunning crash for a politician who was considered for the Republican vice presidential nomination in 2012 and who, just a year ago, was considered a credible prospective candidate for president.

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Jon Terbush: The Sleeper Issue That Could Help Democrats In 2014

However, there is one crucial piece of ObamaCare that may well become a big winner for Democrats by the end of the year: The dramatic expansion of Medicaid. Unlike the overall law, the expansion of Medicaid is actually quite popular with voters of all political stripes. Even in the Deep South, more than six in ten support expanding Medicaid, according to one survey last year; conservatives split almost evenly on the issue. This presents the GOP with two interconnected problems.

First, it undermines part of the party’s “repeal” crusade, since nixing ObamaCare would mean ending a popular policy that has already extended benefits to millions of Americans, many of them previously uninsured. In red West Virginia, some 75,000 people have already enrolled in Medicaid, far higher than expected, according to The New York Times. As a result, the number of uninsured people in the state has plummeted by about a third. That’s a perfect 2014 Democratic ad campaign right there: People are happy now that they’re covered by Medicaid, and Republicans want to take it away.

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Michael Tomasky: How Bad Does The GOP Need Chris Christie? Really Bad

Without the scandal-engulfed New Jersey governor, Republicans don’t have a candidate who could even come close to the votes needed to win the presidency in 2016. I trust you’re enjoying the Christie panic among Republican establishment types as much as I am. That New York Times story on Sunday, with big boosters like Home Depot’s Kenneth Langone fretting publicly that he really must surround himself with better people (so it’s their fault!), combined with the cable damage-control efforts by the likes of Rudy Giuliani, really shows the extent to which the party big shots have been counting on Christie to save them.

The fact that the GOP establishment needs to come face-to-face with is that they have no one to blame for this but themselves. They’ve reached the point where they almost have to have a Northeasterner like Christie to run for president, just as they had to settle for Romney last time. They’ve let their party go so far off the deep end that practically no Republican officeholder from any other region of the country could appeal to enough moderates in enough purple and blue states to win back the territory the party ceded to the Democrats in the last two elections. Remember: the Republicans come into the next presidential election with 206 reliable electoral votes from states their nominees have won at least four of the last six elections. The Democrats’ corresponding number is 257 (just 13 shy of the victory threshold).

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Jamelle Bouie: No, Obama Didn’t Play The ‘Race Card’

In his long interview with David Remnick in the latest issue of The New Yorker, President Obama gave a few thoughts on the dynamics behind his job approval rating. For anyone who studies public opinion, and the intersection of politics and race, they were banal: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

Naturally, this led to an explosion of sputtering outrage from the right-wing, which was shocked that Obama would even mention race, much less in the context of his approval rating. This isn’t a coincidence. What political scientists call “racial resentment”—the intersection of anti-black sentiments and traditional American views on hard work and individualism—is one of the most reliable predicators of partisan affiliation. And according to a 2010 paper by political scientists Michael Tesler and David Sears, voters high on the racial resentment scale became more partisan in their attachment to the Republican Party.

Indeed, according to another paper from researchers at the University of Michigan, Stanford, and the University of Chicago, there’s been a marked increase in the number of voters with explicit anti-black attitudes in the last five years, which rose from 47.6 percent in 2008 to 50.9 percent in 2012. What’s more, anti-black attitudes are heavily distributed on the right side of the political divide, though they exist among Democrats and independents as well.

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Covered California Daily News: Milestone Enrollment Numbers Released By Covered California And Department Of Healthcare Services

Covered California™ and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced today that 500,108 Californians enrolled for health insurance and selected plans through the end of 2013 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 584,000 applicants were determined likely eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. DHCS also transitioned 630,000 individuals into the Medi-Cal program from the state’s Low Income Health Program. The statistics, reflecting enrollment activity from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, show that the demand for health care coverage in California remains strong. And the preliminary total of enrollments in Covered California health insurance plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Jan. 15, 2014, has increased to more than 625,000, demonstrating continued vigor in the new insurance marketplace.

“We’re encouraged by the outpouring of interest and participation in the state insurance exchange,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “While our objective is to insure all eligible Californians over time, independent estimates for Covered California’s subsidy-eligible enrollment by the March 31 deadline range between 487,000 and 696,000. These impressive numbers for the first half of open enrollment and the continued momentum in January tell us we are on track to meeting, if not beating, those enrollment estimates as we continue to pick up steam.” Lee noted that of those enrolled so far, 424,936 are eligible for subsidies. “We are pleased that Californians — many for the first time — are getting quality, affordable health insurance to protect themselves and their families,” Lee added.

More here

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On This Day:

… with 98-year-old Charles Raynor at Smitty’s Place, Elyria, Ohio, Jan. 22, 2010

…. with 16-month-old Dyllan Schneider and her mother Crystal

…. holding a roundtable discussion at Lorain County Community College in Elyria

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr Jill Biden attend the inaugural National Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral, Jan. 22, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Bo greet visitors during an inaugural open house in the Blue Room of the White House, Jan. 22, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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12
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama hugs first lady Michelle Obama after speaking at a memorial service at McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz

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The Week Ahead:

Monday: The President will welcome the President of Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey, to the White House

Tuesday: The President will hold a Cabinet meeting, and in the afternoon he will welcome the 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat to the White House to honor the team on winning their second straight championship title

Wednesday: The President will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, for an event on the economy

Thursday: The President and First Lady will host an event at the White House on expanding college opportunity

Friday: The President will make remarks about the outcome of the review that he has led on the issue of signal intelligence

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Name: Lindsey Carmichael

Occupation: Social services, Paraolympian

Why is having health care important to you?

If I didn’t have access to health care I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like. The health care technology we have today is a blessing. The idea that we’re not sharing that with as many people as possible is crazy to me.

How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

It made me feel relieved and a little bit more in control.

Getting covered means: a piece of mind to keep living my life.

More here

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@nycjim: What Chris Christie woke up to this morning.

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Media Matters: How The Media Marketed Chris Christie’s Straight Shooter Charade

He’s been relentlessly and adoringly depicted as some sort of Straight Shooter. He’s an authentic and bipartisan Every Man, a master communicator, and that rare politician who cuts through the stagecraft and delivers hard truths.  Christie’s coverage has been a long-running, and rather extreme, case of personality trumping substance. The truth is Christie was never the Straight Shooter that political reporters and pundits made him out to be. Not even close, as I’ll detail below. Instead, the Straight Shooter story represented appealing fiction for the press. They tagged him as “authentic” and loved it when he got into yelling matches with voters.

In August of 2010, the state was shocked to discover it had narrowly missed out on $400 million worth of desperately needed education aid from the federal government because New Jersey’s application for the grant was flawed. Christie initially tried to blame the Obama administration but that claim was shown to be false. Christie’s own Education Commissioner then publicly blamed Christie for the failure to land the money. He insisted the governor, who famously feuds with the state’s teacher unions, had placed that political battle and his right-wing credentials ahead of securing the federal funds and that Christie had told him the “money was not worth it” to the state if it meant he had to cooperate with teachers. In November 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice inspector general found that while serving as U.S. attorney, Christie routinely billed taxpayers for luxury hotels on trips and failed to follow federal travel regulations.

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Martin Longman: Christie Showed His Stripes As U.S. Attorney

The dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy of 2007 has been largely forgotten, but it was a very big deal at the time. It resulted in the resignations of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the Acting Associate Attorney General, the chief of staff for the Attorney General, the chief of staff for the Deputy Attorney General, the Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the former acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and the Department of Justice’s White House Liaison. It was a total disaster for the Bush administration that was the natural result of a conspiracy to deliberately politicize the Justice Department. The U.S. Attorneys who were fired were fired for insufficient partisan zeal. In some cases, they refused to open meritless voter fraud cases. In other cases, they wouldn’t open meritless investigations on Democratic politicians. In still other cases, they were actually investigating lawbreaking by Republicans.

So, one of the takeaways from the scandal was that the U.S. Attorneys who weren’tdismissed were incredibly suspect. The attorneys who were found acceptable to the Bush administration were the ones who would launch phony investigations against innocent people and who would cover up criminal activity if is was carried out by Bush’s allies. Chris Christie was a U.S. Attorney who passed that test. He was considered sufficiently corrupt (or corruptible) to remain a U.S. Attorney in Alberto Gonzales’s (and Karl Rove’s) Justice Department.

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Adario Strange: 5 Hospitalized After West Virginia Water Contamination Crisis

Five people have been hospitalized following a major water-contamination crisis in West Virginia, according to local news reports. Although the exact reasons for the hospitalizations have yet to be confirmed, local reports suggest that the patients’ symptoms could have been caused by chemical contamination of the water supply. Government officials in West Virginia declared a state of emergency on Thursday in nine counties due to water contamination that has impacted over 300,000 local residents. Due to the contaminated supply, residents in the affected areas have been unable to drink tap water or use it to bathe, cook or even wash clothes for several days.

The situation reached a critical point Thursday when residents of Kanawha County reported smelling a licorice smell in the air, which was traced back to a 35,000-gallon chemical storage tank based near the Elk River. Operated by Freedom Industries, the storage tank reportedly overflowed and eventually contaminated the water supply maintained by the West Virginia American Water Co. plant, according to CNN. Freedom Industries president Gary Southern held a televised press conference Friday during which he answered questions about the accident, while sipping a bottle of Aquafina water. “At this point, Freedom Industries is still working to determine the amount of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or Crude MCHM, a chemical used in processing coal, that has been released, as the first priority was safety, containment and cleanup.”

More here

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BBC: BP Loses Bid Over Gulf Oil Payouts

BP has lost an appeal to cancel the terms of its multi-billion-dollar settlement with businesses over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. A US federal appeals court on Saturday upheld the terms of the original 2012 settlement. The UK oil giant has supported compensation for businesses harmed by the disaster.

But it argued that the terms of the existing deal meant that some huge sums were being paid for false claims. In 2012, BP agreed to make payments to those who suffered economic losses as a result of the disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which triggered the worst offshore oil spill in US history. The blast killed 11 workers and released an estimated four million barrels of oil into the gulf.

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The Economist: He May Be Getting Somewhere, After All

FEW believed that John Kerry, the American secretary of state, would manage to haul the Israelis and Palestinians back into the negotiating room, let alone get them to discuss anything of substance. Yet six months since talks began, he may be able to present, within weeks, a “framework agreement”, after which final details must be hammered out. Diplomats who had mocked his dogged prophetic conviction now sound shocked by his progress. Rejectionists on both sides who quietly presumed that the process would collapse under its own weight now express alarm. Consternation and confusion are visible on the faces of some ministers in Binyamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government.

Mr Kerry’s methodical midwifery may be paying off. His team of 120, including four generals, has almost as great a command of detail as do the Israelis and Palestinians. He hugs the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, a former firebrand who vilified Palestinians and was cordially detested by them in return, whereas his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, used to shun him. Mr Lieberman nowadays praises Mr Kerry for bringing peace closer than ever, and has turned the ten naysayers in his party’s parliamentary bloc into yes men. Yair Lapid, the finance minister, has come out strongly in favour, bringing onside his 19 parliamentarians, the second-biggest party in the 120-strong Knesset. Mr Kerry’s people have also courted the black-hatted Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox. All told, he has overseen a remarkable turnaround. After the election at the beginning of last year, a narrow majority in the Knesset would have shied from a negotiated two-state solution. Now, according to insiders, its members stand 85-35 or so in its favour.

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Jonathan Chait: That Awkward Moment When Republicans Have To Hurt The Poor Before They Can Love Them

“Poverty,” reports the New York Times, “is suddenly the subject of bipartisan embrace.” Before poor people get too excited about this new development, some clarification may be in order. The parties are not embracing a shared program to alleviate poverty, nor even the goal of doing something at all about poverty anytime soon. There is merely shared agreement to discuss poverty as a subject. What hasn’t changed is the general shape of the Republican economic agenda in either the long run or the short run. Republicans agree that government takes too much from the rich and gives too much to the non-rich, and its domestic agenda is constructed largely as a corrective to what Republicans see as excessive redistribution.

Republicans also believe that nothing about the immediate labor market requires any changes to their general economic policies. (That is, they don’t believe high unemployment justifies temporarily relaxing their opposition to deficit spending or to worry less about coddling the unemployed.) The near-term agenda remains completely unaltered. Republicans remain unified in their desire to cut food stamps and end emergency unemployment benefits unless offset by other cuts to domestic spending. Nearly all support ongoing state-based campaigns to deny Medicaid coverage to uninsured people too poor to qualify for tax credits to buy private insurance.

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Chris Geidner: Obama Administration To Recognize Utah Same-Sex Couples’ Marriages

The federal government will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who married in Utah in recent weeks, the Justice Department announced Friday. Approximately 1,360 same-sex couples married between Dec. 20, 2013 — when U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby found the state’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages to be unconstitutional — and this Monday, when the Supreme Court put new marriages of same-sex couples on hold pending the state’s appeal of Shelby’s ruling.

In a video released by the Justice Department on Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced, “I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.” Specifically, he noted, “In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled — regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”

More here

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Let’s Enroll Texas

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On This Day:

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