Although I grew up in New York City, and merengue and salsa were my staple Latin music, when I moved to Los Angeles I was captivated by Mexican boleros, rancheras, and mariachis. Living in L.A. you can’t help but be. In honor of the North American summit in Mexico today, a bit of Mexican music to take you on into the night.
1:0: Vice President Biden Speaks on Investing in Infrastructure to Create Jobs and Grow Our Economy, Granite City, IIllinois (Audio Only)
5:50: President Obama Speaks with President Nieto and Prime Minister Harper, Toluca, Mexico
8:15: President Obama, President Nieto and Prime Minister Harper Hold a Press Conference, Toluca
President Obama walks to Marine One at the White House this morning, en route Andrews Air Force Base for his trip to Mexico
USA Today: Obama to sign order to cut red tape for exporters
While en route to Mexico today, President Obama plans to sign an executive order that the White House says will significantly reduce the wait time for businesses exporting goods and services outside the USA.
Obama, who heads to Toluca, Mexico, on Wednesday morning for the North American Leadership Summit, will sign what the administration is calling the executive order on “streamlining the export/import process” while he’s aboard Air Force One, according to the White House.
Currently, U.S. businesses have to submit information to dozens of government agencies to move goods across the border. The process can sometimes take days.
WH.gov: Congressional Budget Office Report Finds Minimum Wage Lifts Wages for 16.5 Million Workers
The new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report finds that 16.5 million workers would get a raise from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and this would help millions of hard-working families, reduce poverty, and increase the overall wages going to lower-income households.
On employment, CBO’s central estimate is that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lead to a 0.3 percent decrease in employment and CBO acknowledges that the employment impact could be essentially zero. But even these estimates do not reflect the overall consensus view of economists which is that raising the minimum wage has little or no negative effect on employment. For example, seven Nobel Prize winners and more than 600 other economists recently stated that: “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”
The following are six key points from the latest CBO report….
Steve Benen: A ‘thumb on the scale’ in minimum-wage fight
Before we get into what the Congressional Budget Office said about the minimum wage yesterday, let’s pause to appreciate a broader point about the selectivity with which congressional Republicans find value in CBO reports. It offers some important context.
When the CBO says the Affordable Care Act will lower unemployment, reduce the deficit, increase wages; and bring coverage to tens of millions, the right says it doesn’t matter. When the CBO says comprehensive immigration reform will boost the economy and lower the deficit, the right says it doesn’t matter. When the CBO says extended unemployment benefits will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, the right says it doesn’t matter. When the CBO says the Recovery Act rescued the economy and ended the Great Recession, the right says it doesn’t matter.
Violence has erupted in the Ukrainian capital Kiev once again, with dozens of people being killed during clashes between anti-government protesters and police.
The stand-off, which has oscillated between calm and violence for months, escalated dramatically on 18 February, with policemen being shot, and riot police moving in to clear the peaceful protest camp on Independence Square.
The stakes for Ukraine and its 45 million people are enormous, with the country’s fate now part of a wider strategic battle between the West and Russia.
By all appearances, President Obama would love to work with Congress on energy issues and steps intended to combat the climate crisis. But so long as the legislative process has been brought to a halt, the White House has the ability to take some steps on its own.
In a speech in Maryland, Obama took just such a step:
President Obama took another step to curb greenhouse gas pollution on Tuesday without waiting for Congress as he directed his administration to develop new regulations to reduce carbon emissions from the heavy-duty trucks that transport the nation’s goods.…
… Remember, none of this is subjected to congressional approval – there can be no filibuster or obstructionism; the policy is simply going forward thanks to executive-branch regularity authority.
ThinkProgress: Why Obama’s New Fuel Standards For Big Trucks Matter
President Obama is announcing plans on Tuesday for improved fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which comprise four percent of registered vehicles but are responsible for nearly a quarter of fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. In 2011, the transportation sector accounted for around 28 percent of the countries’ greenhouse gases (GHGs) — only the electricity sector produces more.
This is the latest move in Obama’s recent efforts to confront climate change, and is a key component of his Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions. On Friday, Obama called for Congress’s help in the matter, asking for assistance setting up a $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund. Congress has neglected to act on even simple measures to reduced GHGs, and Obama will use his announcement to again urge Congress to repeal $4 billion in subsidies granted to the oil and gas industry each year via taxpayers — which he called for in his State of the Union.
Steve Benen: After background checks were scrapped in Missouri
In recent years, advocates of gun reforms have pushed for expanded background checks, arguing that such measures, including closing the gun-show loophole, would improve public safety and reduce gun violence.
On the other end of the policy spectrum is Missouri, which had a background-check system before it was repealed in 2007. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health took a closer look at the impact on public safety in the state after the policy change, and the Washington Post’s Niraj Chokshi helped summarize the results:
The law’s repeal was correlated with a 23 percent spike in firearm homicide rates, or an additional 55 to 63 murders annually from 2008 to 2012….
ThinkProgress: 10 Dangerous Anti-Abortion Bills That Are Already Gaining Traction This Year
Less than two months into 2014, state legislatures are already busy crafting new attacks on reproductive health. The last three years have brought a record-breaking number of state-level restrictions on abortion, and lawmakers show no signs of letting up. In fact, abortion opponents in some states are simply getting more creative, using new language to ban the procedure and coming up with new ways to punish doctors. Here are the most problematic bills currently up for consideration…..
USA Today: Biden to appear on ‘The View’ to talk Obamacare
Vice President Biden is headed back to the couch of ABC’s The View. The vice president will appear on the show on Tuesday to highlight the Obama administration’s push to get uninsured Americans signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act before the March 31 deadline, the vice president’s office announced on Twitter.
Biden is also scheduled to appear during the premier week of NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers on Monday.
Hyperallergic: President Obama Pens Personal Apology to an Art Historian
Professor Ann Collins Johns at the University of Texas at Austin was just as peeved as many people were about President Barack Obama’s knock on art history majors. So she did what any self-assured art historian would do and wrote a letter to Obama on January 31, shortly after the President’s remarks, and sent it using the White House website. Then came the surprising part: Obama responded with a handwritten note on February 12.
…. Johns wanted to make it clear that she loves Obama. “What I did NOT expect is that THE MAN HIMSELF would write me an apology. So now I’m totally guilty about wasting his time,” she wrote on her Facebook profile page.
USA Today: Clooney, Damon visit White House to screen new movie
President Obama got a visit on Tuesday night from George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray.
The Hollywood stars were among the cast and crew on hand for a screening of The Monuments Men at the White House family theater. The film tells the story of a World War II platoon that was tasked by Franklin D. Roosevelt with going into Germany to rescue masterpieces stolen by Nazis.
The movie was written and produced by Clooney, a generous donor to Obama’s political campaigns, and Grant Heslov.