Doug Mills: Obama gets a fist pump as he pays for his lunch during a surprise visit to Franklin Barbecue in Texas #obamaaustin
Doug Mills: President Obama gestures as he arrives to make remarks at the The Paramount Theatre, Austin TX #longhorns #ObamaTX
President Barack Obama meets with Kinsey Button at Magnolia Cafe in Austin, Texas. Kinsey, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote the President a letter in January explaining her family’s struggle to lead a middle class life when both of her parents lost their jobs in the wake of the Great Recession
President Barack Obama waves prior to boarding Air Force One before his departure from Austin, Texas
President Barack Obama jokes with patrons as he orders barbecue for himself and the people in the front of the line at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. At right is Kinsey Button, who introduced the President in his speech earlier that afternoon
Dan Pfeiffer, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, and traveling aide Bobby Schmuck carry President Obama’s order from Franklin Barbecue onto Air Force One
President Barack Obama fist bumps the cashier after paying for his order at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas
(Almost) On This Day: President Obama runs around his desk in the Oval Office with Sarah Froman, daughter of Nancy Goodman and Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, July 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza) (I somehow managed to use July 10 photos for July 9’s R&S. Hush)
9:50 CDT: President Obama attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, Austin, Texas
12:15 CDT: Delivers remarks on the economy, The Paramount Theatre, Austin
When tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America started showing up at the U.S. border, Republican lawmakers were quick to pounce. The influx, they argued, showed that President Obama was weak on immigration enforcement and that his appeals for normalizing the status of millions of undocumented workers was encouraging people to make a mad dash for the USA.
Yet now that Obama is proposing a fix to the problem — asking Congress for $3.7 billion for new detention centers and more judges and legal officers to expedite the deportation process — congressional Republicans are balking.
…. The GOP critics have numerous rationales, none of them convincing, for spurning Obama’s proposal. Let’s call the Republican response what it is: a tactical decision to let a problem fester for political reasons.
Anthony O. Castellanos disappeared from his gang-ridden neighborhood on the eastern edge of Honduras’s most dangerous city, so his younger brother, Kenneth, hopped on his green bicycle to search for him, starting his hunt at a notorious gang hangout known as the “crazy house.”
They were found within days of each other, both dead. Anthony, 13, and a friend had been shot in the head; Kenneth, 7, had been tortured and beaten with sticks and rocks. They were among seven children murdered in the La Pradera neighborhood of San Pedro Sula in April alone, part of a surge in gang violence that is claiming younger and younger victims.
The killings are a major factor driving the recent wave of migration of Central American children to the United States, which has sent an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors across the Texas border.
Steve Benen: Jobless claims return to near seven-year low
Economists generally expected initial unemployment claims to inch higher in the new Labor Department report. Fortunately, they were mistaken:
The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits in the first week of July fell by 11,000 to 304,000, putting initial claims close to a seven-year bottom again and offering more evidence that U.S. hiring has accelerated while the rate of layoffs remains low. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to total 320,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
ThinkProgress: Even Republicans Are Satisfied With Their New Obamacare Coverage
Conservative groups have invested millions of dollars in opposing the Affordable Care Act, but they appear to have had little success in turning Americans against the law. In fact, according to a new poll from the Commonwealth Fund, individuals and families who enroll in Obamacare — including the overwhelming majority of Republicans — are satisfied with the product:
Overall, 73 percent of people who bought health plans and 87 percent of those who signed up for Medicaid said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their new health insurance. Seventy-four percent of newly insured Republicans liked their plans. Even 77 percent of people who had insurance before — including members of the much-publicized group whose plans got canceled last year — were happy with their new coverage.
The study also found that the percentage of uninsured has dropped, from 20 percent to 15 percent, after the first open enrollment period, with 9.5 million fewer people now uninsured. Latinos, the most likely of any racial group to lack health insurance, are seeing the biggest gains in coverage. “The percent uninsured fell from 36 percent in July–September 2013 to 23 percent in April–June 2014,” Commonwealth reports.
Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare Haters, Your Case Just Got Weaker New report suggests number of uninsured declined, just as expected
Back in the spring, some conservatives insisted that Obamacare enrollment statistics were some kind of sham. Sure, people were finally signing for the program. But early reports suggested that most of these people had insurance already. The law’s critics figured that meant the Affordable Care Act wasn’t really helping substantially more Americans to get coverage, as it is supposed to do.
A new report suggests that the critics were wrong about that.
It’s a survey from the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that focuses on health care programs in the U.S. and abroad. The results provide a detailed look at the Affordable Care Act’s impact, including the question of whether more people now have insurance—and, if so, how many. The answer is consistent with previous reports. And it is encouraging.
E.J. Dionne: Harry Reid’s effort to affix the blame for dysfunction
…. The Senate majority leader gets plenty frustrated when people claim that both parties are equally responsible for the mess in Congress. The evidence, he insists, is that the Republicans are gumming things up for their own political purposes.
“It irritates me so much when people say, ‘Why don’t they just work together?’ ” Reid says. What this overlooks, he argues, is that “the Republicans made a decision . . . to oppose everything Obama wants.” It’s in the GOP’s interest to keep things from happening because it plays into a simple narrative that Reid described this way: “Democrats control the Senate. We have a Democrat in the White House. Why can’t you get things done?”
The result: “They won’t let us vote on things that the vast majority of the American people want a vote on.”
“It’s so bad around here,” Reid adds, “that they filibuster their own bills.”
It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for American foreign policy. No, seriously.
On June 23, the last of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was loaded onto a Danish freighter to be destroyed. The following day, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia asked his Parliament to rescind the permission that it had given him to send troops into Ukraine. Meanwhile, there is still cautious optimism that a nuclear deal with Iran is within reach.
What do these have in common? They were achieved without a single American bomb being dropped and they relied on a combination of diplomacy, economic sanctions and the coercive threat of military force. As policy makers and pundits remain focused on Iraq and the perennial but distracting discussion about the use of force, these modest but significant achievements have, perhaps predictably, been ignored. Yet they hold important lessons for how American power can be most effectively deployed today.
…. All too often, though, our foreign policy debates are defined by simplistic ideas: that force is a problem-solver, that America can go its own way and that mere application of American leadership brings positive results. But the results with Syria, Russia and Iran remind us that when American foreign policy is led by painstaking diplomacy, seeks multilateral consensus and acts with an understanding of its own limitations, it can produce positive results. More often than not, boring is better.
Steve Benen: John McCain and the case of mistaken identity
…. During a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the ongoing border crisis, McCain was outraged by a recent memo saying visitors to detention facilities had to check cell phones with cameras. The senator, outraged, demanded that Thomas Winkowski, a Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, explain himself….
WINKOWSKI: I don’t recall saying that. What I recall….
McCAIN: Let me provide you with a copy. It says see distribution. R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner interim, protocol for visitations and tours to CBP detention facilities. You didn’t see your own memo?
You might have noticed the problem. R. Gil Kerlikowske wrote the memo. McCain was yelling at Thomas Winkowski.
For the record, R. Gil Kerlikowske and Thomas Winkowski are not the same person. Their names may rhyme, but I’m afraid that doesn’t much matter. Senators in high dudgeon should probably get these details right before upbraiding a witness publicly.