TPM: Justice Department To Launch Push For Full Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage
In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department, announcing Saturday that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages. The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programs, and Holder says same-sex couples will qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.
AG Eric Holder about to expand fed recognition of same-sex marriages "to the greatest extent possible under the law."
“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York. The advocacy group works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.
On Monday, the Justice Department will issue a policy memo to its employees instructing them to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law. After the Supreme Court decision last June, the Treasury Department and the IRS said that all legally married gay couples may file joint federal tax returns, even if they reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. The Defense Department said it would grant military spousal benefits to same-sex couples. The Health and Human Services Department said the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer a bar to states recognizing same-sex marriages under state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management said it is now able to extend benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of federal employees and annuitants.
Saturday and Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.
Monday: The President welcomes President Hollande of France to Washington for a State Visit. They will tour Monticello, the residence of Thomas Jefferson, one of the United States’ earliest envoys to France.
Tuesday: The President and First Lady will officially welcome President Hollande with an arrival ceremony, after which the Presidents will have a bilateral meeting and press conference. That evening, the President and First Lady will host a State Dinner for President Hollande.
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Friday: The President will deliver remarks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland. Following the conference the President will depart for Rancho Mirage, California, for a meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Estate.
…. I’m reminded once more of an anecdote from a year ago, when Obama invited several GOP lawmakers to the White House for a private screening with the stars of the movie “Lincoln.” The president extended the invitation in secret, so congressional Republicans wouldn’t face any lobbying to turn Obama down.
It didn’t matter. None of the Republicans accepted the invitation to go and watch the movie at the White House.
…. And yet, there are still many in DC who think the president’s lack of “personal connections” with Republican lawmakers is responsible for congressional gridlock on a historic scale.
TPM: Conservatives Shocked Obamacare Is Working Like It’s Designed To
A new line of bad Obamacare news made the rounds in conservative circles this week: One insurance company, Humana, said it could receive up to $450 million in 2014 through the various provisions in the law that were designed to help insurers make the transition to its reforms.
It was picked up by Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who wrote about the report for Forbes. He cited Humana executives who said that the Obamacare “bailout” — as Republicans have dubbed those provisions — would cost up to $450 million to cover their company.
… As is often the case, the whole story is a bit more complicated … To put it simply: An insurance company receiving money through those programs is just the law working as it’s supposed to. And, the way the programs are designed, some companies could end up paying money to the government if they perform better than expected.
HealthAffairs.org: Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion: The Health And Financial Impacts
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to increase access to health insurance by: 1) requiring states to expand Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) ($19,530 for a family of three in 2013), with the cost of expanded eligibility mostly paid by the federal government; 2) establishing online insurance “exchanges” with regulated benefit structures where people can comparison shop for insurance plans; and 3) requiring most uninsured people with incomes above 138 percent FPL to purchase insurance or face financial penalties, while providing premium subsidies for those up to 400 percent of FPL.
Recent studies suggest that Medicaid expansion will result in health and financial gains. Older studies also found salutary health effects of expanded or improved insurance coverage, particularly for lower income adults. These studies also document an increase in utilization of most health care services. Most recently, the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment (OHIE) found a striking increase in emergency department use as well as other outpatient care.
The Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 that states may opt out of Medicaid expansion, and as of November 2013, 25 states have done so. These opt-out decisions will leave millions uninsured who would have otherwise been covered by Medicaid, but the health and financial impacts have not been quantified.
Dave Weigel looks at the disastrous initial media handling of the CBO report — CBOghazi, hah! — and addresses one of my pet peeves: reporting that skips right past the actual policy issues to speculation about how they will play politically. I think of this as “second-order” reporting, and it’s almost always a bad thing.
…. I’m not against all political reporting: it has to be done, and colorful anecdotes are part of what motivates people to read newspapers. But substance should always come first. And if reporters don’t understand the substance well enough — if they don’t know enough about the economics of health reform to tell the difference between job loss and reduced labor supply — they should defer to or consult with someone who does before writing.
Pollsters have found that in the Obama era, the number of self-identified Republican voters who believe in evolution has dropped sharply. Similarly, in recent years, GOP voters routinely tell pollsters that the federal budget deficit has gone up, even as it drops quickly.
What drives results like these? It’s probably the result of the same phenomenon that drives attitudes like these, as reported by Greg Sargent yesterday, about the Affordable Care Act.
…. Do these same partisans and ideologues genuinely believe the Affordable Care Act has hurt them or their families? Maybe some had to change plans or see a new doctor, but odds are, most of these folks are giving the pollsters an ideologically satisfying answer.
It’s not about dishonesty or ignorance; it’s about political tribalism in a period of stark polarization.
Part of the reason I have been relatively nonchalant on the Republican dog-and-pony show and threats to want to extract concessions from the president in order to raise the debt ceiling is that I have been convinced for some time that for Republicans, that dog simply won’t hunt. This has become a sad, broken, predictable record now: the debt ceiling gets close, Republicans swoon over themselves with promises to extract concessions from Democrats and the president just to pay America’s bills that Congress has already authorized, then let it be raised without those concessions anyway. And then in a few month’s time, they repeat and promise it’ll be different this time, and then back off again.
That is what is happening right now. Tomorrow, the Congress-enacted suspension of the borrowing limit expires, and the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says that extraordinary measures to keep the government from running out of money will last only until the end of this month. After toying once again with demanding the suspension of the Affordable Care Act and/or approving the Keystone XL pipeline, the House Republican leadership is inching ever closer to the white flag.
TPM: Tea Party Brings The Knives Out For Mitch McConnell
Conservatives are bringing out the torches and pitchforks for Mitch McConnell.
Long-simmering tension between the tea party and Senate minority leader has again risen to the surface as a swath of conservative activists redouble their efforts to help Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin oust McConnell in the Republican primary on May 20, before he even makes it to the general election.
The lobbying group FreedomWorks, the Jim DeMint-founded Senate Conservatives Fund, the political organization Madison Project and prominent tea party activist Erick Erickson are all trying to tear down McConnell, a 29-year incumbent who is vying to become Senate majority leader next January.
Their newest beef? It’s not just that McConnell isn’t a true conservative — it’s that his poor standing in the polls back home is a danger to GOP hopes of recapturing the Senate.
President Obama greets members of the National Policy Alliance before a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama hugs Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta during the armed forces farewell tribute to Panetta, Feb. 8, 2013
President Obama talks with General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after attending the Armed Forces farewell tribute for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Va., Feb. 8, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)