Posts Tagged ‘act



14
Aug
13

Eight Ways Obamacare Helps You

WH.gov

Copy, paste, tweet!

06
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

A year ago today: President Obama greets the family of Make-A-Wish child Francisco “Paqui” Lopez Pena, outside the Oval Office, Aug. 6, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

EDT

10:10 AM The President departs the White House

MST

11:40: Arrives Phoenix, Arizona

12:10: Tours Erickson Construction

1:05: Delivers remarks at Desert Vista High School, Phoenix (4:05 EDT, White House Live)

2:10: Departs Phoenix

PDT

3:25: Arrives Los Angeles

4:30: Tapes an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”

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Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy

Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.

Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.

“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….

More here

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@WhiteHouse

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Marketwatch: Home-price growth near seven-year high

Annual home-price growth in June was close to the fastest pace in seven years, as inventories of existing and new homes remained low, according to data released Tuesday.

Home prices, including distressed sales, rose 1.9% in June, and were up 11.88% from a year earlier … In May, prices were up 11.93% from the prior year, the fastest annual growth since February 2006.

Excluding short sales and other distressed properties, prices rose 1.8% in June, and were up 10.97% from the year-earlier period, reaching the fastest annual pace since February 2006.

More here

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USA Today: President Obama heads west Tuesday, to talk housing in Phoenix and the economy on a late-night talk show in Hollywood.

Obama starts in Phoenix, where he tours a home construction company and delivers a speech on housing policy.

…. After Phoenix, Obama travels to the Los Angeles area for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he hopes to talk about the economy in between jokes.

The president will spend the night in Los Angeles.

More here

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Steve Benen: PolitiFact finds its pants on fire

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.

Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact…..

More here

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VotingRightsMatter.com

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From The Last Word:

From Mississippi to the Ivy League: Two students reflect on their unique journeys – video here

Sister Simone schools ‘Catholic school boy’ Paul Ryan – video here

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Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.

USA Today: Obama praises Negro League veterans

While Major League Baseball grapples with performance enhancing drugs, President Obama and some special guests spent Monday evening talking about the old days in the Negro League.

Obama thanked Negro League veterans for helping pave the way for African-Americans in professional sports, as well as other walks of life.

….. The Negro League delegation also included a woman owner, Minnie Forbes of the old Detroit Stars.

Forbes pointed out that in the old days African-American ballplayers — and African-Americans in general — couldn’t stay in certain hotels or restaurants.

“Now,” she said, “we are able to come to the White House and see the president,” himself an African-American.

Forbes also reported that the the president gave her a kiss on the cheek — “and I’m not washing my face!”

More here

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Greg Sargent: Keep An Eye On Georgia Senate Race

A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.

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National Journal: Republicans Confront Lady Problems in Congress

When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.

The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.

More here

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On this day….

President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

26
Jul
13

News Of The Day

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Powerful words from Sybrina Fulton: “No prom for Trayvon. No high school graduation for Trayvon. No college for Trayvon. No grandkids coming from Trayvon. All because of a law; a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for this awful crime.”

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The sad reality of the far right’s blind Obama hatred:

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ObamaCare is freaking awesome….screw you GOP:

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Washington Post: Maryland issues insurance rates that are among lowest in U.S.

Maryland insurance officials approved final rates Friday for health plans to be sold in the online marketplace for individuals beginning Oct. 1. The rates offered by nine carriers are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates for comparison and among the lowest in the D.C. area, according to an analysis by Maryland officials who will be operating the state’s marketplace.

More here

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Yes Republicans, there is a war on women:

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“I didn’t want to be right,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says about her prediction that striking a key prong of the Voting Rights Act will lead to a wave of minority voter suppression, “but sadly I am.” In an interview with the Associated Press’ Mark Sherman, Ginsburg reiterated one of the core points of her dissent from the five Republican justices’ voting rights decision — “The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn’t make any sense to me,” Ginsburg said. “And one really could have predicted what was going to happen” once the law was struck down.

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@VP: VP & son-in-law Howard stop for some lime juice & talk w/ employees @ a hawker market in Singapore

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Yes Republicans, the truth does indeed hurt:

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President Obama walks across the South Lawn as he departs the White House. Obama invited all the members of his cabinet and their families to spend the day at Camp David.

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Sweeeeeeeeeet!

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Cuteness alert!

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22
Jul
13

News Of The Day

This is a very insightful commentary by Justice Stevens.

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Where’s the outrage from the poutragers….hmmm?

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And here we go….BOOM!

God weighs in.

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Heartless

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Continue reading ‘News Of The Day’

19
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern):

10:45: Rep. Nancy Pelosi Holds Weekly Press Briefing (C-Span)

11:30: VP Biden meets with law enforcement officials to discuss common sense immigration reform

1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

5:0: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the Diplomatic Corps Reception (Closed press)

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Occupy Democrats: Watch a Doctor Destroy a Koch Brother-Funded Anti-Obamacare Ad in 2 Minutes:

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The Hill: The Obama administration on Thursday highlighted lower-than-expected premiums for healthcare plans sold through ObamaCare’s new insurance marketplaces.

In the 11 states that have released rates for next year, premiums for a middle-of-the-road plan are an average of 18 percent cheaper than the Congressional Budget Office had expected.

…. New York is the latest state to report that premiums for plans offered through its exchange would be cheaper than expected — and, on average, 50 percent cheaper than comparable policies available in the state today …. California also reported lower-than-expected premiums…

Six states have released rate filings for plans available to small businesses through a separate exchange. Those policies are also an average of 18 percent cheaper than existing coverage options, HHS said.

Full post here

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Jonathan Cohn: The Obamacare Train Still Hasn’t Wrecked

President Obama on Thursday touted some good news about Obamacare. And, lord knows, he’s earned the right. Republicans and conservative intellectuals keep seizing on setbacks — some real, some imagined — and predicting that Obamacare will be a catastrophe. They are almost certainly wrong.

Ironically, one of the best reasons to believe in Obamacare may be the very issue that has inspired so much chortling on the right: The insurance premiums for people who buy on their own, because they don’t get coverage from an employer or through a government program.

Insurers around the country have already submitted bids…. they are coming in lower than most experts had predicted….

…. it means the overall price of Obamacare — the amount of money the government must spend, in order to make the law function — is going to be even lower than predicted.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Most Media Coverage Ignores Premium Drop, Focuses On GOP Effort To Undermine Obamacare

Early on Wednesday, as House Republicans prepared to vote for a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer and individual mandates, New York state officials announced that health care premiums in the new exchange will plummet by at least 50 percent as a result of the law.

For reform advocates, the story represented a reprieve from the constant drum beat of media coverage about implementation delays, predictions of rate shock, and employers dropping coverage. But a ThinkProgress analysis of television reports about the health care law for Wednesday, July 18th, confirms that even with good news to report, bookers and segment producers are still far more interested in broadcasting stories about the political brinkmanship in Washington, DC than the actual, tangible progress of implementation.

More here

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Steve Benen: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act did not actually strike down the entire civil-rights law, but rather, gutted it by rejecting Section 4 of the VRA. The burden then shifted to Congress to find a remedy …. Yesterday, the House held its first hearing on the VRA since the court ruling, and if the public comments were any indication, the odds of success in the near future appear long…

Most of the Republican members of the panel apparently didn’t think the hearing was especially important – which is to say, they didn’t show up ….

… Anyone predicting congressional Republicans might do the right thing on voting rights should probably adjust their expectations accordingly. GOP policymakers at the state level are rushing to impose new restrictions to keep voters from participating in their own democracy, and GOP policymakers at the federal level appear content to do nothing to stop them.

Full post here

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Charles Pierce: Some Voting Rights Act Fakery

As part of our Summer Of Fakery, the House allegedly has taken up the job of repairing the damage done to the Voting Rights Act that occurred when John Roberts declared the day of jubilee. One of the witnesses today was Hans von Spakovsky, who’s been scamming this particular scam for over a decade now. Anyway, this is what von Spakovsky was peddling today.

“[That section] was an unprecedented, extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty……..”

…. Not to bring that pesky Constitution into things again, but here’s an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty:

Amendment XIII: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…..

…. If you want to understand why modern conservatives seem so impatient with settled law, remember that they owe their modern ascendancy to the people who refused to accept any of these three Amendments because they didn’t believe the freaking Civil War changed anything.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.

More here

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

18
Jul
13

Heads Up: President Obama statement on the Affordable Care Act

11:25: The President delivers a statement on the Affordable Care Act

White House Live * C-Span * CBS

17
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:50: The President delivers a statement on the confirmation of Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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NYT: Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, state officials are to announce on Wednesday.

State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.

“Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president for health initiatives with the Community Service Society of New York. “It’s not bargain-basement prices, but we’re going from Bergdorf’s to Filene’s here.”

“The extraordinary decline in New York’s insurance rates for individual consumers demonstrates the profound promise of the Affordable Care Act,” she added.

More here

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AG Eric Holder: “So Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father, and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world that he must still confront. This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways.”

Full NAACP speech from yesterday (transcript here):

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Michael Tomasky: Reid Crushes McConnell

…. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell struck a deal, abetted apparently by John McCain, that averted the invocation of the nuclear option by Reid and the Democrats. Reid got just about everything he wanted. The Senate is going to pass through all seven nominees that Reid brought up in this skirmish….

…. About as clear a win for one party over another as we’ve seen in a long time. Why did it happen? Because everyone in the room knew that the Democrats had the 51 votes to change the rules. Stand together or fall apart, as the old cliche goes. It’s true. It’s still pathetic that it had to come to this for the president to fill his cabinet (and sub-cabinet), but it goes to show that holding the line as a group works.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: …. Will what transpired in the Senate yesterday actually, you know, matter? …. The cautious answer is that it’s evidence of incremental progress, the results of which will have a real-world impact on the lives of real people.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for example, looks out for consumers against predatory excesses from the financial industry. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Chris Hayes last night, in light of yesterday’s deal and Richard Cordray’s confirmation, “We know this agency is here to stay. No more clouds over what it legally is entitled to do. No more attacks that say maybe we’re going to be able to undercut it in this way or weaken it in that way. We’ve got a full-fledged watchdog. The one we fought for, and [Cordray] is going to be there to fight for us.”

…. I’ve heard plenty of criticisms of yesterday’s agreement, and detractors have raised fair concerns … But in today’s environment, incremental progress is still progress, and there’s ample reason to believe yesterday’s deal moves the ball forward.

Full post here

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McClatchy: Congress revisits Voting Rights Act

Congress is taking the first steps toward bringing back pre-clearance of voting laws under the Voting Rights Act this week, as activists express tempered optimism in lawmakers’ willingness and ability to act.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month tossed out the Voting Rights Act’s formula that determined which jurisdictions must submit their voting law changes to the federal government before enacting them. The 5-4 ruling did not get rid of pre-clearance altogether but said Congress must come up with an updated standard to enforce it rather than the 1965 version that covered Georgia and other Deep South states with a history of overt discrimination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will kick off the congressional response with a hearing Wednesday featuring Congress’ civil rights conscience: Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: …. the narrative about the IRS targeting Obama’s enemies has been thoroughly debunked….

The IRS “scandal,” lately dormant, is returning soon to cable-news channel near you: Tomorrow, Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general who produced the original report at Darrell Issa’s request, is going back before Issa’s committee, and this time he’s in for some pretty serious grilling from Democrats. The evidence is now even more preponderant than it already was that there was absolutely no political agenda in the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) applications. In fact, evidence is mounting that if anyone was behaving politically here, it was George — and, of course, Issa and the other Republicans who launched into their baseless tirades about “enemies lists” and other such nonsense.

…. what about the mainstream media that swallowed whole from the Republican-conservative spoon, running huge headlines and ominous editorials, all those breathy stories that got nearly half the American public believing, on the basis of zero hard evidence, that the White House was involved here? It’s not in the nature of the beast to run huge headlines saying “No Scandal Here.” But it should be in the beast’s nature to take a much harder look at Issa, George, and the other perpetuators of this non-story. And it should start tomorrow, when George testifies.

Full post here

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Reuters: President Barack Obama on Tuesday for the first time admitted that it was unlikely that the Republican-led House of Representatives would pass sweeping immigration reforms before lawmakers left Washington for a month-long break in August.

In television interviews taped with four Spanish-language newscasts, Obama said he thinks many Republicans need more time to grapple with concerns about border security and the changing demographics of America.

…. Obama has insisted that reforms must include the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he told Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.

Many House Republicans oppose that measure, calling it “amnesty” for people who have broken existing immigration laws. But Obama said ignoring the problem would resign undocumented immigrants to “a lower status.” “I think that’s not who we are as Americans,” he said.

More here

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Wendy Davis and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro (left) and his twin brother, Congressman Joaquín Castro, in Austin on July 7, 2013

Texas Monthly: The Life and Death (and Life?) of the Party

Democrats once ruled Texas. Then came five decades of steady decline. Can Wendy Davis, the Castro brothers, and Team Obama’s vaunted field operation return their party to power? And if they can’t, can anyone?

“Somebody has to step up,” Wendy Davis observed one evening in late May over drinks at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “As long as the Democrats continue to buy into the same bullshit that some of the Republicans are saying — ‘Oh no, it’s Texas, it’s hopeless’ — and continue to act like it won’t happen for six, eight, twelve, sixteen years from now, that perpetuates the problem.”

“So are you going to run for statewide office?” I asked.

Her green eyes sparkled. “One day, someday,” she said coyly.

One day, someday, about a month later, on the morning of June 25, the petite fifty-year-old Democratic state senator from Fort Worth fixed herself a single boiled egg for breakfast. It would be her only meal of the day. She slipped on a pair of pink tennis shoes, headed over to the Capitol, and stepped up……

More here

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President Obama hosted members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at the White House on Tuesday as the group gather in Washington for their annual convention. The Oval Office meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the African-American sorority and the 51st anniversary of its convention. Obama met with members including the sorority’s president, Cynthia Butler-McIntyre.

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@petesouza: Pres Obama with make-a-wish visitor Suhail Zaveri, 14, and his family in the Oval Office

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CBS: Cuban and U.S. officials will hold the first migration talks between the two nations since 2011 in Washington on Wednesday. Analysts believe both countries have a strong interest in getting them off the ground again.

…. The Bush Administration broke off these twice-yearly talks, along with taking other measures such as severely restricting the rights of Cuban Americans to travel back to the island – limiting them to only one visit every three years.

President Obama reestablished the rights of Cuban Americans to visit their homeland as much as they want and resumed the talks, only to break them off over the detention and jailing of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, which the State Department has repeatedly said remains a major obstacle to any improvement in relations between the two neighboring countries.

More here

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Morning!

09
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

@vj44: Perfect day in DC for the start of the season and visit to the @whitehouse

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Today:

10:20: Live From the Kids’ State Dinner: Entrances (WH Live)

10:30: The President meets with members of the Congressional Black Caucus

10:45: White House Public Health and Climate Change Champions of Change (WH Live)

11:25: Live From the Kids’ State Dinner (WH Live)

11:55: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the second annual Kids’ State Dinner (WH Live)

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney (WH Live)

1:0: Kids State Dinner: Rachel Crow Musical Performance (WH Live)

2:0: Vice President Biden Speaks at Fire Fighter Memorial Service, Prescott Valley, Arizona (WH Live)

2:35: The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

4:30: Meets with Secretary of Defense Hagel

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President Obama meets with his Cabinet and senior officials in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 8 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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NYT: U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan

Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

More here

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Steve Benen: …. We’re left with a dynamic that the political establishment still finds difficult to fully grasp: GOP officials could make the federal health care system better and more to their liking, but they see no value in that. They’d rather sabotage it, regardless of the real-world consequences. They could help get rid of a mandate they oppose, but they’d rather keep the policy they hate in the hopes it won’t work, people will feel adverse consequences, and there will be new fodder for 30-second attack ads a year from now.

Some people pursue public service want to build things, and some pursue public service because they just want to watch things burn.

…. The most generous thing I can say about their approach is that it’s fundamentally unserious about helping anyone. The least generous thing I can say is probably inappropriate for a family-friendly blog.

Full post here

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Ezra Klein: Obamacare just got easier to implement, not harder

This hasn’t been a banner news week for Obamacare. But can it really be true, as my colleague Jennifer Rubin writes, that “Everyone now agrees: Obamacare can’t be implemented”?

Er, no.

I asked around …. Larry Levitt, vice president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation: “….. If anything the delay removes some potential administrative complexities from the plates of the implementers……” …. Timothy Jost, a health law expert at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law, was even blunter. “Implementation just got easier rather than harder,” he said.

Well, so much for “everyone.”

As those interviews indicate, the thinking among health-care experts is closer to the precise opposite of Rubin’s bombastic headline: The Obama administration has decided to accept some bad media coverage now, and some higher costs later, in order to make Obamacare much, much simpler to implement next year…..

More here

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@KennettDems

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Steve Benen: On Friday, when he hoped no one was looking, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) approved sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights, including a requirement that women receive a medically unnecessary ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, and regulatory measures that would close half of the state’s abortion clinics.

The law was supposed to go into effect statewide yesterday. A federal court had other ideas…..

More here

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ThinkProgress: Sorry, Republicans, Your Own Investigation Proves No Dead People Voted In South Carolina….

South Carolina never found a single dead voter in recent elections. At least, that is the final word from the State Election Commission investigation into whether 900 people voted using a dead person’s name….

…. When Attorney General Alan Wilson demanded the original investigation, he cited “an alarming number” of cases reported by the DMV that “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.” ….

…. [This] will not prevent state Republicans from redoubling strict voter ID efforts, invigorated by the recent Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act. In fact, Wilson celebrated the decision, calling the Voting Rights Act an “extraordinary intrusion” and pledging to implement voter ID ….

More here

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ThinkProgress: Bush-Appointed Judge Slams Decision Striking Voting Rights Act — Court’s Reasoning Was ‘Made Up’

If a leading conservative scholar and former judge were now on the Supreme Court instead of Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Alito, it is likely that the Voting Right Act would remain intact.

Judge Michael McConnell was a leading conservative law professor at the time President George W. Bush named him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 2002 …. McConnell was also widely viewed as a possible Supreme Court nominee during the Bush Administration.

In an interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg, McConnell has harsh words for the five conservative justices’ recent decision neutering much of the Voting Rights Act — labeling the reasoning that drove that decision “made up.”

More here

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

08
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

On this day: President Obama greets bystanders as he tours earthquake damage in L’Aquila, Italy while attending the G-8 summit, July 8, 2009 (Pete Souza)

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Today:

10:30: President Obama holds a Cabinet Meeting; VP Biden attends

11:50: President Obama delivers a statement on his management agenda

1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

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USA Today: President Obama has added events to his Monday schedule, a Cabinet meeting and a statement on his “management agenda” for “smarter government.” …. the White House said Obama will discuss progress in three key areas: “Delivering government services better, smarter and faster … finding ways to reduce waste and save taxpayers money; and … opening up huge amounts of government data to give entrepreneurs and businesses the ability to create jobs and solve problems.” … he “will direct his Cabinet and key members of his Administration to build on the progress made over the first term, and challenge them to go even further.”

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Washington Post: Obama’s summertime push: Immigration and the economy

With several controversies fading and a period of intense foreign travel over, President Obama is narrowing his focus this summer to two issues, immigration and the economy….

On immigration, Obama is devising a new, more public strategy that will include events in states with large Latino populations, advisers say — part of an aggressive effort to pressure House Republicans who remain skeptical of proposed changes…..

The president also plans a series of summertime events focused on steps the government can take to drive economic growth, aides said. Many in the White House see a Sept. 30 deadline to renew government funding as probably the last opportunity for Obama to scale back the deep domestic spending cuts known as sequestration before the 2014 midterm elections.

….  His aides say the president is buoyed by the Senate’s passage of an immigration bill and by a steady stream of positive economic news, including a report Friday showing robust job growth.

“When you’re toiling in the vineyard through a tumultuous spring, it can be hard to see it all coming together,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. But now, she said, “you can see it coming together.”

More here

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Steve Benen: The Voting Rights Act was gutted, but it’s not yet dead

With lightning speed, state Republican policymakers responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act by moving on a series of new voting restrictions, primarily targeting minority groups, students, and the poor. Before two weeks ago, many states would have needed Justice Department approval for these changes – approval they would not have received – but it is now “open season” on Americans’ access to their own democracy.

There is, however, a possible hurdle for those waging the “war on voting.” The Supreme Court undermined the Voting Rights Act by targeting Section 5 of the law – the provision related to pre-clearance – ordering Congress to come up with new standards and leaving this area of the law unenforceable. But Section 2 of the VRA – described by Chief Justice John Roberts in his ruling as “permanent” and applicable “nationwide” – remains intact…..

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Starting today, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ propaganda arm, will run an ad, the first of several that are planned, to attack Obamacare. This marks the official opening salvo of the 2014 election campaign. Republicans — with no accomplishments, no remotely popular vision of the country, on the cusp of possibly killing immigration reform, and perhaps admitting (at least to themselves) that Benghazi and the IRS are not going to be Barack Obama’s undoing after all — have been reduced to grasping at their final straw: frightening people about health-care reform…..

…. this is all the GOP has. They have tried to beat Obama on every front, from the economy to terrorism to the environment to the recent “scandals” to the question of his very legitimacy as president. They’ve lost most of these fights …. and, of course, they lost the big fight, the world-historical state versus anti-state fight — the one over Obamacare.

They are going to spend the next three-and-a-half years trying to reverse that loss…..

Full post here

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In that Tomasky post he bemoans the fact that Stacey Lihn, who spoke so powerfully at the Democratic convention about Obamacare, hadn’t been used since by the campaign. Just spotted the new ad:

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Washington Post: On Wednesday, just before the Fourth of July holiday, North Carolina Republicans added a slew of anti-abortion restrictions at the last minute to a bill otherwise concerned with banning Sharia law (already a questionable endeavor, but never mind that now).

….. In pretending to promote safety, the actual accomplishment of these amendments would be to place an undue burden on women seeking abortions. Fewer clinics means less access to licensed, well-equipped providers. Where is the safety in that? These restrictions are disingenuous attempts to infringe on a woman’s ability to make constitutionally protected decisions in consultation with her doctor.

…. disrespect for process is a disturbing commonality in many of these proposed restrictions and further evidence of their true intent. Any law that will limit women’s access to abortion and to much other health care deserves a public hearing. Honesty about the true motivation of these laws would be welcome, too.

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Steve Benen: ….. perhaps now would be a good time to consider why Gov. Rick Perry and his party are preoccupied with reproductive rights, but have done nothing to address exploding fertilizer plants.

Tim Murphy reported on Friday: In the two and a half months since an explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer storage facility left 12 first responders dead and at least 200 people injured, two things have become clear. The disaster could have been avoided if the proper regulations had been in place and enforced — and state and federal agencies don’t appear to be in a hurry to put those regulations in place or enforce them.

…. Lawmakers in Austin have a handy excuse for punting on new fertilizer regulations: That would be intrusive.

…. Got that? When the issue is exploding fertilizer plants, which recently leveled part of a town and killed 15 people, state Republican policymakers are concerned with “overregulation.” When the issue is uteruses, state Republican policymakers believe there is no point at which you can overregulate.

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Star Telegram: Despite Democrats’ requests for a series of hearings statewide, Sen. Jane Nelson has scheduled one hearing on the abortion restrictions bill.

The hearing, to begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Texas Capitol, will be at least the third time this year that testimony will be taken in a Senate committee on the proposal.

…. Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session to deal with the comprehensive abortion bill, as well as transportation funding and sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.

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Spandan C (The People’s View): Republicans Revive Empty Debt Ceiling Threats in Suicide Move

The National Journal is reporting that John Boehner and his unruly herd of Republicans are preparing once again to issue empty threats on the country’s debt ceiling – putting up a brave front and demanding that Medicare be dismantled, or Social Security privatized, or food stamps cut back further for them to give the president a debt ceiling increase. Huh? What debt ceiling increase? Two months ago, we talked about how the president’s policies resulting improving economy (and raising taxes on the rich) made the bottom fall out of the GOP’s debt ceiling square dance, as the president paid down the debt and cut the deficit in half (when measured against the size of the economy).

But fret not, think Boehner and Ryan, maybe the President’s policies took that candy from their petulant hands back in May, but we will reach the debt ceiling again….

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Smartypants: President Obama’s foreign policy: Moving from dominance to partnership

During the Cold War, all foreign policy issues for the United States were defined as good vs evil…capitalism vs communism. Of course that kind of binary view of the world had disastrous consequences – not just in Viet Nam in the 60’s, but also in Africa and South/Central America in the 70’s and 80’s as attempts by countries all over the globe to extricate themselves from colonialism got labelled “communist.”

The neocons of the Bush/Cheney administration tried desperately to recreate that good vs evil frame with their Global War on Terror. Playing on the anger/fear after 9/11, they had us going for a while on that one. I suspect that one of President Obama’s greatest legacies will be that the very policies many on the left so vociferously criticize him for will prove to be effective enough to actually end not only that “war,” but also the frame the neocons wanted to reignite.

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Oooooh:

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President Obama returns to the White House from Camp David, July 7

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On this day…

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Clio Napolitano, wife of President Napolitano, at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, July 8, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

03
Jul
13

The Good That Is ObamaCare

Information is power. ObamaCare works and is here to stay, so go out into the world and educate people. 2014 is around the corner and we have to be our own news and become even more proactive. Don’t let the media, so called progressive experts or the GOP demoralize you. Even if you only inform one person about the fantastic awesomeness that is ObamaCare, you have created a ripple effect because that person will tell another and another and another. Nobody said implementation of ObamaCare would be easy; Medicare and Social Security had a rough ride initially, but now? Try to mess with them negatively and watch the backlash explode. I will keep on providing tools that will help you disseminate facts and stop the lies.😀

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RWJF: Traditionally, individuals considering leaving their job to strike out on their own have worried that they may be denied health insurance coverage because they have preexisting conditions, fear losing access to a trusted physician, or are unable to afford the premiums without an employer sharing the costs. The result is that some U.S. workers feel “job lock,” being tethered to their jobs and unable to leave, even if their skills and talents no longer match their position.

New research estimates that the number of self-employed Americans will be 1.5 million higher in 2014 because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Beginning next year, access to high-quality, subsidized health insurance coverage will no longer be exclusively tied to employment, which could lead people to pursue their own businesses as self-employed entrepreneurs.

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Denise Early: Around 900,000 people living in Arizona do not have health insurance. Over 90% of them will get help from Obamacare. 94% of uninsured people in Tucson will get help paying for their health insurance under Obamacare, according to Enroll America. Based on census data, 50%  of the uninsured in Tucson would qualify for expanded Medicaid. In Arizona, Medicaid is run by AHCCCS, pronounced “access” (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System). 44% of uninsured Tucsonans would qualify for help with their health insurance premium.

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The White House Blog: The Medicare Trustees reported some good news for seniors and taxpayers: The Medicare program will be solvent through 2026, nearly a decade longer than projected at the time of passage of the Affordable Care Act. This is 2 years longer than projected last year. Their annual report also shows that the long run actuarial deficit in the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund – a measure of its long-term fiscal health – has been cut by more than 70 percent since enactment of the health care law. The long-run Medicare deficit has fallen from 3.88 percent of taxable payroll in the 2009 Trustees Report to 1.11 percent in this report.

These long-run gains are matched by short-term relief: the Trustees also project that the Part B premium will not increase between 2013 and 2014, keeping out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries down. Medicare cost growth has remained at historically low levels over the past three years even as new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs have helped tens of millions of beneficiaries access care at lower cost. The law reduces prescription drug costs by closing the donut hole, a policy that has already saved more than 6 million seniors more than $700 each. And more than 32 million seniors have accessed a free preventive service under the law, helping them stay healthy and avoid future illness.

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Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas: In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that a medium-level “silver” plan — which covers 70 percent of a beneficiary’s expected health costs — on the California health exchange would cost $5,200 annually. More recently, a report from the consulting firm Milliman predicted it would carry a $450 monthly premium. Yesterday, we got the real numbers. And they’re lower than anyone thought.

The way this competition can drive down rates is already evident in Oregon. There, one insurer came in with monthly premium costs in the $169 range, while other insurers asked to charge more than $400. But then, seeing  what their competitors were charging, two insurers came back to the state’s regulators and asked if they could refile at lower rates. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be competitive in the exchange. The Obama administration was ecstatic to see this: It’s exactly what they’re hoping will happen across the country.

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USA TODAY: Market forces and an impetus to attract younger, healthier people into the insurance market will help keep health insurance premiums lower as the 2010 health care law takes effect on Jan. 1, industry analysts and insurance officials say.

“If they price too high, young people won’t buy insurance, and that’s going to hurt the companies,” said Jay Angoff, who led initial implementation of the law for HHS. “They need these people to come in. It’s an industry problem.”

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Ezra Klein: Last week, California released early information on the rates insurers intend to charge on the new insurance marketplaces — known as “exchanges” — that the state is setting up under Obamacare. They were far lower than anyone expected. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” crowed Peter Lee, director of the state’s exchanges. The Affordable Care Act’s critics saw it differently. Avik Roy, a conservative health writer at Forbes, said Lee was being “misleading” and that “Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.” Obamacare, he said, would trigger “rate shock,” the jolt people feel when they see higher rates.  Roy got his 146 percent by heading to eHealthInsurance.com, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

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Click to buy the plan and eventually you’ll have to answer pages and pages of questions about your health history. Ever had cancer? How about an ulcer? How about a headache? Do you feel sad when it rains?  Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu? The actual cost of the plan will depend on how you answer those questions. According to HealthCare.gov, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they’ll have to pay more than $109.

Comparing the pre-underwriting price of this plan to those in Obamacare’s exchanges is ridiculous. The plans in Obamacare’s exchanges have to include those people. They can’t turn anyone away or jack up rates because of a history of arthritis or heart disease. They also have to offer insurance that meets a certain minimum standard. Under Obamacare, for instance, the out-of-pocket limit for someone making 100 to 200 percent of the poverty line is $1,983. Under the Value 4500, you could spend up to $9,500 before the out-of-pocket limit kicked in. Obamacare also has subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty line. The poor pay next to nothing. The rich pay full freight.

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Sy Mukherjee: Golden State small businesses and their employees got some great news: two of the state’s largest insurers will have to give them over $36 million in insurance rebates because of an Obamacare consumer protection.

The health law forces insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on paying for actual medical services, rather than administrative overhead or profits. That means more money for ordinary consumers — and less for profitable insurance companies.

The so-called “80/20 rule” put $1.5 billion back into Americans’ pockets in 2011 alone. The average rebate was $151 per family across all insurance markets, and in states where insurers blatantly gouged prices, average rebates topped a whopping $500 per family.

Now, the benefits for Californians with small business health plans are beginning to materialize. Blue Shield of California will be forced to pay back $24.5 million in rebates. Anthem Blue Cross will have to pay back another $12 million.

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Tara Culp-Ressler: A new study focusing on low-income women in St. Louis, MO concludes that expanding access to free contraception — just as the health care reform law does through its provision to provide birth control without a co-pay — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended teen pregnancy and abortion. Researchers found that when women weren’t prohibited by cost, they chose more effective, long-lasting forms of birth control and experienced many fewer unintended pregnancies as a result.

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ThinkProgress: Americans who bought individual health plans in 2012 saved $2.1 billion thanks to Obamacare consumer protections that limit how much insurers can profit off of Americans’ premiums, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The vast majority of those savings stem from individual health plan providers lowering the premiums they charge Americans in an effort to comply with the reform law.

The Kaiser study comes shortly after several major California insurers announced that they would have to pay back $36 million to small businesses and their employees after charging them too much. Obamacare mandates that insurers on the individual market spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on actual medical services, or reimburse the amount they overspent to their customers.

But insurers can avoid writing those checks after-the-fact if they just lower their premiums to begin with — and KFF’s study concludes that’s what many individual plan providers have been doing.

More here

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President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23rd, 2010.

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