Archive for December 1st, 2013

01
Dec
13

Tweets Of The Day

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Continue reading ‘Tweets Of The Day’

01
Dec
13

Let Funny Reign

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01
Dec
13

Why America Needs ObamaCare

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Paul Waldman: The Health Care Reality Conservatives Ignore

For all the difficulties of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout, Americans are more patient than you might think: A new poll shows a majority expressing optimism that the problems are going to be ironed out.

Not only that, a majority continues to support the law or think it didn’t go far enough. Nevertheless, the conservatives rooting for its demise have been expressing not just vindication, but triumph. “We could be looking at the collapse of American liberalism,” said columnist Charles Krauthammer. “Liberalism is crumbling in front of our eyes,” echoed Michele Bachmann.

Yes indeed, a glitchy website and people moving from junk insurance to real insurance prove once and for all that government should have as little to do with health care as possible, and the entire liberal project lies in tatters. Let’s step back a moment to consider why we needed the Affordable Care Act and what it says about the health care market. The basic conservative position is that the more you let market forces operate, the better the outcome will be. “More markets” is the answer to everything: Let people buy insurance across state lines. Make it virtually impossible to sue for medical malpractice. Create more health savings accounts.

But where do you think the problems of America’s health care system came from? It wasn’t government that gave us nearly 50 million uninsured Americans and denials for pre-existing conditions. It wasn’t government that gave us the yearly and lifetime caps on insurance coverage that have sent so many people into bankruptcy when they’ve faced a serious illness or accident.

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@Jilevin

It wasn’t government that gave us “rescissions,” where your insurance company cancels your policy if you get sick. It wasn’t government that gave us a system in which the gap between what we spend and what we get is so enormous. It was the free market.

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01
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama pauses in the Oval Office after making a series of telephone calls to Members of Congress, Dec. 1, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Jason Sattler: REMINDER: The Number Of Uninsured Americans Increased By 7.9 Million Under George W. Bush

The week President Obama took office, initial jobless claims, the statistic that immediately gauges layoffs, hit a 26-year high with 637,000 applying for unemployment insurance in one week. It was clear that the president was inheriting a record deficit, a cratering economy and two floundering wars. But buried in all those crises was an unspoken slow-motion disaster that people rarely mentioned: the steady crumbling of our health care system.

“When [former president Bill] Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million,” Ron Brownstein wrote in 2009. “By the time [former president George W.] Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 percent.” The numbers were just as bad when you looked at the share of the uninsured. When Clinton left office, 13.7 percent of the population was uninsured. Bush left with 15.4 percent lacking coverage.

The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman calls the Affordable Care Act’s role in bringing health-cost growth to its lowest rate on record the law’s “secret success.” But the other secret success is how Obamacare is helping to reverse the growth of the uninsured population. This began in 2011 with children and young adults being able to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, covering more than three million. And it continues this year with millions of Americans being added to the Medicaid rolls and millions likely to sign up for private plans, if the law’s health care exchanges begin working well enough.

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Jonathan Bernstein: The Minimum Wage And The Post-Policy GOP

At the federal level, one would think that Democrats might have some success actually passing an increase. After all, raising the minimum wage always polls extremely well, and with many state and local increases happening, it’s easy to imagine business lobbyists willing to accept a relatively modest national increase that could take a lot of steam out of those other initiatives. There’s plenty of precedent for Democrats forcing the issue by attaching a minimum wage hike to something Republicans want and managing to get it passed.

And while most Republicans in Congress surely oppose an increase, it’s not as if there’s some important principle violated by a $10 an hour minimum wage compared with $7 and change. Perhaps it will happen. But if not, the culprit is going to be, once again, the post-policy Republican Party. This just isn’t how the American political system is supposed to work. There really is an opportunity here for a deal that could enact popular policy ideas from both sides. But thanks to a dysfunctional Republican Party, it’s very hard to see it happening.

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@ACASuccessStory

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Media Matters: How Print And Broadcast Media Are Hiding Obamacare’s Success In Controlling Costs

Jason Furman: “ACA Is Contributing To The Recent Slow Growth In Health Care Prices.” In a November 20 report, economist Jason Furman, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), highlighted several positive impacts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to Furman, the ACA has already helped reduce waste and overpayment in Medicare that is “contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending.” Furman argues that reduced spending in Medicare is having an effect across the health care sector

Print Media Devote Only Five Stories To ACA’s Role In Slowed Costs. Since the release of the CEA report on November 20, the five top newspapers in the United States – The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and USA Today – issued only five articles that mentioned the ACA’s role in slowing the growth of health care costs. In the same time period, all print outlets combined issued 67 stories focusing on other aspects of the ACA rollout, including issues with the Healthcare.gov website and cancellations of individual policies. Only two outlets — USA Today and The New York Times — issued front page stories mentioning the CEA report.

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The People’s View: The Conservative Movement’s Death Wish

However, a funny thing is happening. Conservatives have forgotten how to play the game. Or rather, what passes for conservative now is so to the right that it no longer bears any relation to reality. Thus D’Souza tweets his tweet about President Obama being a grown-up Trayvon, and that the US must “survive” him. Thus Rush Limbaugh compares the nuking of the filibuster to allowing rape. Thus every half-assed thing which comes out of a conservative’s mouth makes people who have some sense shake their heads in bewilderment.

At this point, it’s as if conservatives can’t help themselves. The fact that Obama has run rings around them in spite of their vigorous efforts has led to a psychotic break. Republicans fight Democrats with vile assertions. Republicans knife each other in purity contests. A strong, intelligent, black Democratic president who knows exactly what they’re up to, and times his attacks for maximum effect, has put them flat on their backs. They’re used to Democrats and liberals who are defensive. They’re used to the triangulations of a Bill Clinton. Barack Obama’s strength has sent them into a fugue state from which, as yet, they haven’t been able to awaken.

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Reuters: Cayman Islands, Costa Rica Sign Tax Pacts With U.S.

The United States has signed agreements with the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica to help those countries’ banks comply with an anti-tax evasion law starting next year, the Treasury Department said on Friday. The deals are part of the US effort to enforce the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was enacted in 2010 and is set to take effect in July 2014. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to tell the US Internal Revenue Service about Americans’ offshore accounts worth more than $50,000.

It was enacted after a Swiss banking scandal showed that 17,000 US taxpayers had hidden substantial fortunes overseas. On Thursday a former UBS banker, Raoul Weil, agreed to be extradited to the US to face charges arising from that scandal. With these two deals, both signed this week, the Treasury has now finished 12 FATCA “intergovernmental agreements” (IGAs), which help countries’ financial institutions comply with the law.

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Timothy Garnder: U.S. Extends Iran Oil Sanctions Waivers To China, India, South Korea

The U.S. State Department extended six-month Iran sanctions waivers on Friday to China, India, South Korea and other countries in exchange for their reducing purchases of Iranian crude oil earlier this year. The waivers had been expected. Under a law governing sanctions imposed on Iran’s disputed nuclear program by the United States, the State Department is required to determine whether the Islamic Republic’s oil consumers have reduced their purchases.

The decision comes even after the United States and five other global powers, known as the P5+1, agreed in Geneva this month to ease Iran’s access to about $4.2 billion in foreign currency reserves for six months in exchange for Tehran’s taking steps to curb its nuclear program. The waivers, which the State Department calls exceptions, mean that banks in the consuming countries will not face being cut off from the U.S. financial system for the next six months.

Since the beginning of the sanctions regime in 2012, all 20 of Iran’s oil customers have qualified for the periodic waivers. But despite the Geneva agreement, the United States reserves the right to sanction any oil consuming country should it suddenly increase its purchases. 

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UnmitigatedDisasters

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Mark Barabak: Kentucky Governor Sees Health Law As Chance To Heal An Ailing State

Relations between President Obama and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear have not always been friendly. But leading one of the nation’s poorest, sickest states, Beshear has improbably overseen one of the most successful rollouts of Obama’s troubled healthcare overhaul and become, deep in his long public career, a hero to Democrats grasping to find a redeeming figure amid the political wreckage. “I knew if I was going to make a huge difference in the health status of Kentucky, it was going to take some kind of transformational tool to do that, and that’s what the Affordable Care Act is for me,”

Beshear, white-haired and greyhound-lean, said as he sat behind a big maple desk in his office. “I think we’ve started something here,” he later added, “that a generation from now you’ll see a very different Kentucky than what you see today. The need for care in this pretty but hard-pressed state is unarguable. Kentucky leads the nation in cancer deaths and preventable hospitalizations and suffers some of the highest rates of diabetes, cardiovascular illness and premature death. Extending healthcare to as many as possible could make a difference, the 69-year-old Beshear said, long after he is gone. “To me,” he said, “it was the morally responsible and the right thing to do.”

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LA Times: The Chalice That Helped Make Possible The Iran Nuclear Deal

Many paths led to the international agreement to temporarily curb Iran’s nuclear program: secret meetings in Oman, formal negotiations in Geneva, and a quiet encounter in New York involving two diplomats and an exquisite silver chalice in the shape of a mythical winged creature. The latter session led in September to the return of the chalice to Iran, where officials hailed it as a gesture of friendship by the United States.

When Rouhani announced plans to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, Obama’s advisors decided the moment was right for a gesture. A day after Obama delivered his annual address to the world body, the American diplomat received an email from Washington, which he read at his desk three blocks from U.N. headquarters. He was instructed to find a way to return the griffin chalice to the Iranians with no fanfare before Rouhani left in two days. Two days later, Rouhani accepted a telephone call from Obama, the first such high-level contact since 1979, when militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking hostages they held for 444 days.

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Lisa Mascaro: GOP Promise Of Immigration Reform Fades A Year After Election

Earlier this year, as House Republicans began considering changes to the nation’s immigration laws after their party’s defeat in the presidential election, they were given a list of do’s and don’ts that updated GOP thinking on the issue. The suggestions seemed obvious to most but signaled a new tone for the Republican Party. “Don’t use the term’anchor baby’ or phrases like ‘send them all back,'” said the memo from a Republican-aligned advocacy group, the Hispanic Leadership Network.

“Do acknowledge that ‘our current immigration system is broken and we need to fix it.'” Changing the way the party talks about immigration is about all House Republicans have to show for their efforts over the last 11 months — and even that effort has notable exceptions. In fact, the House’s most visible immigration-related action was a measure to defund an Obama administration program to defer deportations of young immigrants, a vote that increased Latino animosity even though it failed to become law.

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On December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and her courageous act sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement that changed the course of history. We are forever grateful.

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On This Day:

Pete Souza: “He and the Vice President were headed for the short walk from the White House to the Eisenhower Executive Office building to brief Congressional leaders on his new Afghanistan strategy that he would publicly unveil at West Point that night. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had just pulled up in her motorcade and the Vice President congratulated her that her daughter, Chelsea, had just gotten engaged.” Dec. 1, 2009

President Obama gestures while talking on the phone Oval Office prior to leaving for his speech at West Point, Dec. 1, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

An ornament hangs on the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama jokes with Vice President Biden and former Secretary of State Colin Powell following their meeting in the Oval Office, Dec. 1, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

The President with Malia and the First Lady with Sasha wait backstage before the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and his daughter Sasha at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington December 1, 2011

01
Dec
13

Early Bird Chat

On This Day: President Obama and his daughter Sasha laugh during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington December 1, 2011

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds, Happy Sunday!




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