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
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.
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):
…. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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……
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.
@petesouza: Pres Obama with make-a-wish visitor Suhail Zaveri, 14, and his family in the Oval Office
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.
The Debate Over A Path To Citizenship Is Resolved Among The Public, If Not In Congress
Washington Post: As the renewed debate over the nation’s immigration laws continues on Capitol Hill, this much is clear: Most Americans favor creating a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.
And the more Americans hear about specific requirements a path to citizenship would involve, the more likely they are to endorse it.
Support for a path to citizenship was strongest in a Fox News poll conducted last month in which more than seven in 10 voters expressed support for the idea. Take a closer look at the way the question was asked: “Do you favor or oppose allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, as long as they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check?”
And even in surveys where a simple support/oppose question was asked without the mention of specific requirements, a majority expressed support for a path to citizenship. In both the Associated Press-Gfk and Washington Post-ABC News polls, 55 percent or more said they favored opening an avenue to citizenship.
NYT: With resistance to tougher gun laws stiffening in Congress, a visibly frustrated President Obama on Thursday implored lawmakers and the nation not to lose sight of the horrors of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. “The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things?” Mr. Obama said in remarks at the White House, surrounded by relatives and friends of victims of gun violence, including some from Newtown. “That’s not who we are. That’s not who we are. And I want to make sure every American is listening today.”
Mr. Obama’s appearance, from the East Room of the White House, suggested just how delicate the situation had become. Rather than read from teleprompters, he seemed to speak extemporaneously much of the time and expressed irritation in a way that he generally does not. At some moments, he paused and took a breath as if collecting himself and circled back to some of his points for emphasis. “Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” he said.“I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.”
The renewed push by the president, who will travel to Colorado next week to rally support for new gun measures, is just one piece in a broader nationwide effort, timed to coincide with the two-week Congressional recess, by gun control groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s coalition.
Juliet Eilperin: The Environmental Protection Agency will move ahead Friday with a rule requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles nationwide, amounting to one of President Obama’s most significant air pollution initiatives, according to people briefed on the decision.
The proposed standards would add less than a penny a gallon to the cost of gasoline while delivering an environmental benefit akin to taking 33 million cars off the road, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made yet.
The proposed standards, which had been stuck in regulatory limbo since 2011, would reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline by two-thirds and impose fleet-wide pollution limits on new vehicles by 2017.
The Obama administration’s decision to go ahead with the regulations deals a political blow to the oil and gas industry, which had mobilized dozens of lawmakers in recent days to lobby the White House for a one-year delay.
Goodbye Ashley Judd? Why McConnell Might Be More Worried
Roll Call: Ashley Judd’s decision to stay out of next year’s Kentucky Senate race absolutely won’t deprive Democrats of the sort of young woman who’s well-funded and telegenic enough to topple Mitch McConnell. In fact, the chances have gone up on just such a scenario.
That’s because the candidate who’s always been preferred by the Democratic establishment, both in the state and inside the Beltway, is now positioned to step in and take a clear shot at becoming only the third challenger in more than 60 years to deny re-election to an incumbent Senate party floor leader.
She is 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state for the past year and the scion of one of the best-connected Democratic families in the state. Because she’s already won statewide but is in a job that does not require her to stake out firm positions on any of the polarizing issues of the day, Grimes has the potential to be a difficult combination for McConnell to counter.
Julie Pace: President Barack Obama will press Congress to pass new tax incentives and other flexibility measures aimed at attracting more private sector investment in infrastructure projects around the country, a senior administration official said.
The president will flesh out the details of his proposals during a speech Friday at a Miami port that is undergoing $2 billion in upgrades, funded by public and private money.
Among the proposals Obama will call for Friday: Higher caps on “private activity bonds” to encourage the private sector to spend more on highway projects and other infrastructure needs. State and local governments use the bonds to attract investment.
$4 billion in new spending on two infrastructure programs that award loans and grants. A renewed call for a $10 billion national “infrastructure bank”
Greg Sargent: It isn’t just Richard Cordray. Obama is also set to use recess appointments to install his picks to the National Labor Relations Board, according to White House officials and others familiar with ongoing discussions.
The move, which is arguably as important as the Cordray appointment, will ratchet up opposition from Republicans and make this an even bigger fight, since they have been attacking the NLRB regularly for its moves to streamline union elections and inform workers of their rights.
…. Obama’s move, which will help energize unions in advance of the 2012 election, is yet another sign that he is determined to circumvent GOP opposition and make government functional again by any means necessary….
ThinkProgress: Republicans have shown outrage at Obama for using his recess appointment powers with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray, and similar outrage is likely to follow the news of the NLRB appointments. But the past three Republican presidents also made recess appointments to the NLRB. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush each made three recess appointments to the NLRB, while George W. Bush made seven such appointments.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka: We commend the President for exercising his constitutional authority to ensure that crucially important agencies protecting workers and consumers are not shut down by Republican obstructionism. Working families and consumers should not pay the price for political ploys that have repeatedly undercut the enforcement of rules against Wall Street abuses and the rights of working people.
NYT: A defiant President Barack Obama, tired of Senate Republicans stalling his nominee to lead a new consumer protection agency, put him in charge Wednesday over their opposition.
“I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” the president said.
… With a director in place, Obama said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can start overseeing the mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial operations often blamed for practices that helped undermine the economy.
Obama announced the move with Cordray by his side before a cheering crowd in Ohio … “Every day that we waited was another day when millions of Americans are left unprotected,” Obama.
President Barack Obama walks with Col. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander of the 89th Airlift Wing, before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The president is scheduled to deliver remarks on the economy at Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
11:35: PBO arrives in Cleveland, Ohio.
12:05: PBO participates in a discussion with a family at a private residence.
President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden about the importance of establishing an agency dedicated to protect consumer’s rights and names Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser to set up the new agency. September 17