ThinkProgress: Boehner Will Sue Obama For Stuff He Thought Was Totally Fine Under George W. Bush
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed Wednesday that he will file a federal lawsuit challenging the executive actions of President Barack Obama, despite supporting President George W. Bush’s extensive use of executive authority. … President Obama has issued about 180 executive orders — a power that has been utilized by every president since George Washington except for the brief-tenured William Henry Harrison …. But Boehner embraced the power of a Republican president to take action, even at times when he would circumvent Congress by doing so… … As of February, Obama had issued fewer executive orders than all but one of the other presidents since World War II.
Steve Benen: Boehner Readies Frivolous Anti-Obama Lawsuit
I can think of some dangerous moves Boehner has made since becoming Speaker, including threatening to trash the full faith and credit of the United States on purpose. I can also think of some reckless moves he’s made, including shutting down the government. I can even think of some irresponsible moves from the Speaker, including refusing to compromise on pretty much any area of public policy. But I can’t think of anything quite as dumb from the last several years as this lawsuit.
Indeed, the Speaker himself couldn’t actually identify by name anything the president has done that warrants a legal challenge. Boehner is outraged by Obama’s use of executive power. And what, pray tell, has offended the Speaker? He didn’t say. I’m sure he’ll think of something to justify his lawsuit eventually, right? … It’s an embarrassment to the institution and the nation, but at this point, that simply means more of the same.
BBC: Iraqi PM Welcomes Syria Air Strike On Border Crossing
Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of Iraq has told the BBC he supports an air strike on Islamist militants at a border crossing between Iraq and Syria. Military and rebel sources say the strike took place inside Iraq, at the Qaim crossing, although Mr Maliki said it was carried out on the Syrian side. Isis and its Sunni Muslim allies seized large parts of Iraq this month. The government has struggled to hold back the militants’ advance from the north and west. It has also been receiving support from Iran, with whom its Shia Muslim leaders have close links. The Syrian air strikes show how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are merging together, with Isis as a common factor. Once-rival fighters on the Syrian side of the border at Qaim have now pledged allegiance to Isis, giving it control of both sides.
If US drones are not yet involved, they soon could be, illustrating how the threat posed by Isis is creating a convergence of interests between players who so far have been adversaries. That goes for Iran, too, which is deeply concerned about the sudden upheavals in Iraq. It has reinforced its positions along its own western border, where guards have been killed in an attack. There are reports that Iran has been heavily shelling border areas in the Kurdish mountains, where an Iranian Kurdish opposition group called Pejak has bases. The US, which also backs the government, has stressed that the militants can only be defeated by Iraq’s own forces. Mr Maliki is seeking to form a new government but has rejected calls to create an emergency coalition which would include all religious and ethnic groups.
Let us compare what Boehner says the president has done — which, by the way, he has done less than almost all of his immediate predecessors — and then let’s compare everything his House hasn’t done because it doesn’t like the president, his party, his politics, or (sadly) his race. Let us determine who is “faithfully executing” the jobs for which they all get paid.
Hell, let us determine who’s actually interested in governing the country, or is counsel for the plaintiff going to argue that, if the country elects a obstructionist Congress, and that Congress holds together, then the country need not necessarily be governed by anyone at all? That would be an interesting point to be litigated – if, again, this were a serious legal action, and not the latest and most elaborate clown show staged by a threadbare political circus.
Ikea plans to adopt a wage structure that it says will raise the average hourly minimum wage at its 38 stores in the United States to $10.76 an hour — a 17 percent increase. Ikea, which will be announcing its new wage policy on Thursday, said it would not impose an across-the-board minimum wage for its stores, but would instead set a minimum for each store based on the cost of living in that particular area. For example, the minimum wage will run from a low of $8.69 an hour at its stores in Pittsburgh and West Chester, Ohio, to $13.22 an hour at its store in Woodbridge, Va.
Ikea said that its new average minimum wage, $10.76 an hour, was $3.51 above the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The retailer’s decision was made as many low-wage workers and labor unions are pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage and after Gap Inc. informed its employees in February that it would set $9 as the minimum hourly rate for its United States work force this year and then establish a minimum of $10 next year.
The People’s View: Please Proceed, Mr. Speaker: Why John Boehner’s Hissy Fit Over Obama’s Executive Actions Will Backfire
John Boehner has decided to formalize his hissy fit in the form of a lawsuit against the President for acting on behalf of the American people by the means of administrative and executive authority, given the GOP’s absolute resolve to allow Congress to do nothing. I could walk you through the mind-numbingly boring and utterly clueless memo Boehner wrote to the House, but the gist of it is this: We, the GOP House will not do any work, and we will not let anyone else do any either.
The lawsuit, needless to say, is wholly without merit. So much so that Boehner’s own memo did not name a single executive action he believes violates or ovesteps the president’s Constitutional authority. Of course, sources say he will tell them later. I suppose the irony of asking his chamber to approve unchecked authority for him to pick and choose whatever he wants to sue the president Obama while complaining that Obama has acted in a “king-like” fashion is completely lost on the Speaker.
The Nation: The Media’s Disappearing Of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program And Why It Matters
In Syria, the Obama administration just achieved an unprecedented foreign policy success in WMD nonproliferation, but you likely didn’t hear about it. Nine months after entering into joint negotiation with the Russians and Syria’s tyrannical President Bashar al-Assad, the last of that country’s 1,300 tons of declared chemical weapons began a journey to a chemical weapons-eating ship in the Mediterranean for destruction by the US.
The mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme has been a major undertaking marked by an extraordinary international cooperation. Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict. And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight timeframes. This successful dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program by the US has been matched by an almost as successful disappearing of the news of it by the Beltway media, however.
Adam Chandler: Army Clears Bergdahl Of Any Misconduct During Captivity
As the Army continues to investigate whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is guilty of deserting his unit, this afternoon they said there is no reason to believe that Bergdahl engaged in any misconduct during his five years in captivity. In fact, that’s all that the Army said: We have no reason to believe that he engaged in any misconduct.”
Bergdahl electrified the national discourse last month after he was freed in a prisoner swap involving five members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo Bay. As charges against his character emerged, the narrative quickly shifted from Bergdahl as POW to Bergdahl as despicable deserter, unworthy bargaining chip, unwitting endangerer of America, and worse.
The People’s View: The Message from Mississippi: Democrats are Not Sitting it Out This Year
Last night marked the second high-stakes GOP primary where Democrats have screwed up the pollsters’ math. In Virginia’s 7th district, where knocking off an entrenched Republican incumbent in the primary would actually give the Democrat in the race a shot against a nutjob Teabagger, they knocked off Eric Cantor. Now in Mississippi, where a Democrat has a smaller chance of winning the Senate seat than a hailstorm in hell, Democrats – black Democrats – mowed down the Tea Party scourge like it’s nobody’s business.
TPM: First U.S. Appeals Court Finds A Right To Same-Sex Marriage
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Utah’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, becoming the first appellate court in the country to find a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.
“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws,” Judge Carlos F. Lucero wrote in the decision for a three-judge panel. “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”
Pew: After Decades Of Gop Support, Cubans Shifting Toward The Democratic Party
Cubans in the U.S. have long identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party, even as Hispanics overall have tilted Democrat. But the party affiliation of Cubans has undergone a shift over the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of survey data.
Less than half (47%) of Cuban registered voters nationwide now say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party—down from the 64% who said the same about the GOP a decade ago, according to 2013 survey data. Meanwhile, the share of Cubans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has doubled from 22% to 44% over the same time period, according to the survey of Hispanics.
Washington Post: Brown, Hogan Win Gubernatorial Nominations; Democrat Frosh wins attorney general contest
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown cruised past his two rivals in Maryland’s bitter Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, setting up a November contest with GOP nominee Larry Hogan, a Cabinet secretary under the state’s last Republican chief executive. Brown would be Maryland’s first African American governor and only the third elected in the nation….
After going out on a not-so-wobbly limb to suggest that Republicans would push to impeach President Obama if they succeeded in retaking the Senate, George Will’s Sunday column read like a real threat. Fed up with what he views as Obama’s “offenses against the separation of powers,” the conservative columnist advocated that Congress sue the executive branch to stop a lawless president. Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner told the House Republican caucus that he was contemplating such a step.
The plan all along has been to crash the Obama agenda and then climb on top of the wreckage and seize power. Not only are Republicans complicit in the “failures” they rail against, but they are also the reason the president has had to resort to executive action to get some things done. Even Will agrees Obama is within his authority to do this. He just doesn’t like the degree to which he has done it. Poor dear.
President Obama jokingly reacts to news that staffer Nora Becker will be leaving to pursue a joint MD and PhD in healthcare economics, during the White House staff picnic on the South Lawn, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a football while taking a phone call in the Oval Office, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tosses a football with Trip Director Marvin Nicholson in the outer Oval Office on June 26, 2009. Personal Secretary Katie Johnson watches from her desk (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama stands in the Oval Office with a Hawaiian paddle that was given to him as a gift by chef Allen Wong, who catered the 2009 Presidential Luau, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany at the front door of the Oval Office, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron prepare to board Marine One at the Deerhurst Resort landing zone in Muskoka, Canada, following the conclusion of the G8 Summit, June 26, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama exits Bright Star upon her arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Md., June 26, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
VP Biden in Independence, June 26, 2012
VP Biden in Waterloo, June 26, 2012
President Obama at the Varsity, a restaurant in Atlanta, Ga., June 26, 2012
Today we were greeted with the news that House Speaker John Boehner, unable to cobble together a debt ceiling hike which would bring along a majority of his conference, caved and agreed to a clean hike, passed with a minority of GOP votes, the rest of the votes supplied by Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats. As reported in the Washington Post:
House Republican leaders told members Tuesday morning that it is clear their latest attempt at seeking a concession in the debt ceiling debate will not attract enough support, so they will be bringing up a “clean” debt limit bill, according to several GOP people inside their Tuesday morning huddle.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) made his opposition known in dramatic fashion. “How about you talk to my son and tell him about the debt that he’s going to pay,” he said. Flashing his phone at TPM, he raised his voice: “$17.3 trillion right now. … He’s a Clemson student. I’d be glad for you to explain how he’s going to pay that back.”
And thus John Boehner is forced, yet again, to go hat in hand to Nancy Pelosi, and beg for Democratic support to pass the basic business of government. When he’s put out as being the most ineffective Speaker in modern history, others say that “No, he’s being very effective at stymying government.” But he’s not even able to do that. His great battle, shutting down the government in 2013, was a colossal failure and defeat, due to a misreading of both President Obama and the national mood. He was forced to surrender unconditionally, getting nothing of what he had demanded, having brought the country to the brink of insolvency.
On This Day – Pete Souza: “Another snowstorm blanketed Washington for the second time in a few days. Because it was a Saturday, I hung around the White House thinking that the President might venture out in the snow with his daughters. Here they are playing in the Rose Garden in the midst of the storm.” Feb. 6, 2010
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):
8:00AM: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the National Prayer Breakfast
12:00PM: Press Secretary Jay Carney holds a Press Briefing
1:00PM: Vice President Biden speaks on Infrastructure Investment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2:15PM: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Martelly of Haiti
Join the team that cares about getting America covered: ofa.bo/f3v
Sy Mukherjee: Conservatives Seize on Report To Argue Obamacare Is a Job Killer – But The Author Says They’re Wrong
On Wednesday, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Doug Elmendorf refuted the claim that the Affordable Care Act is a job killer — a misleading takeaway from his agency’s new report that is being touted by Obamacare critics. Testifying before the House Budget Committee on the CBO’s newly released economic projections for the next decade, Elmendorf addressed the report’s finding that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the labor participation rate and the total number of hours worked by an equivalent of 2 million jobs in 2017. According to Elmendorf, that statistic is being taken out of context to suggest that Obamacare will eliminate jobs.
If someone says, ‘I decided to retire or stay home and spend more time with my family and spend more time doing my hobby,’ they don’t feel bad about it — they feel good about it. And we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.” Elmendorf also noted that the ACA is actually expected to boost the economy in the near-term by making health insurance and medical care affordable for the poorest Americans, giving them the freedom to spend money in other areas of the economy. “On balance, CBO estimates that the ACA will boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years,” states the report.
Under questioning today before the House Budget Committee from Dem Rep. Chris Van Hollen, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf confirmed that in reality, his report suggests Obamacare will reduce unemployment: The CBO report found that Obamacare — through subsidizing health coverage – would reduce the amount of hours workers choose to work, to the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers over 10 years. This was widely spun by Republicans as a loss of 2.5 million jobs. To counter this, Van Hollen cited the report’s findings on Obamacare’s impact on labor demand, rather than supply.
On page 124, the report estimates that the ACA will “boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years because the people who will benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and from access to the exchange subsidies are predominantly in lower-income households and thus are likely to spend a considerable fraction of their additional resources on goods and services.” This, the report says, “will in turn boost demand for labor over the next few years.” “When you boost demand for labor in this kind of economy, you actually reduce the unemployment rate, because those people who are looking for work can find more work, right?” Van Hollen asked Elmendorf. “Yes, that’s right,” Elmendorf said.
TPM: Iran Is Apparently Adopting Universal Health Care: RouhaniCare
The quasi-official Twitter account for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the country would be adopting a universal health care system to “extend medical insurance to all Iranians.” In English at least, the new government is also adopting a nickname that would sound familiar to American ears: RouhaniCare.
Washington Post: Boehner Urges Allies To Consider Linking Military Benefits To Debt Limit
A new break in the GOP’s debt-ceiling strategy emerged at a private lunch on Wednesday, where House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) encouraged his allies to consider linking a restoration of recently cut military benefits with a one-year extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority.
“He was very warm to it, seeing it as something that can get us out of this fix,” said one attendee, who like the others requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “I think this could be a way for us to get through the debt ceiling, but the speaker is going to spend the next few days taking the temperature of his members.”
Sean Sullivan: Biden To Raise Money For Alex Sink In Florida Special Election
Vice President Biden will travel to Florida next week to attend a fundraising event for Democrat Alex Sink’s campaign for Congress, Biden’s office confirmed Wednesday, marking the White House’s first direct involvement in a special election seen as harbinger of the November midterms.
Sink is running against Republican David Jolly in a Tampa-area swing district. They are competing to success long-serving Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), whose death last year led to the special election.
Justin Snow: Obama Nominates Second Gay Black Judge To Federal Bench
After his first attempt to nominate an out African-American judge to the federal bench was blocked by Sen. Marco Rubio, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday his intent to try again. According to a release from the White House, Obama will nominate Darrin Gayles to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Gayles, who has served as a circuit court judge for Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit since 2011 and previously served as a county judge for the same circuit from 2004 to 2011, was endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund for his bid for re-election in 2012. If confirmed, Gayles, much like Thomas before him, would become the first out black man in the nation’s history to serve on the federal bench.
Miami Herald: Obama Nominates Four For Federal Judgeships Including Gay Miami-Dade Judge Darrin Gayles
President Barack Obama has nominated four people to serve as federal judges in Florida’s middle and southern districts. Three of those nominated Wednesday are currently circuit judges and one is an attorney in private practice. All four must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
According to a White House announcement, Obama chose Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Beth Bloom and Darrin Gayles for South Florida. Nominees for Florida’s middle district are Putnam County Circuit Judge Carlos Eduardo Mendoza and Orlando attorney Paul Byron.
Anyone who has ever picked up a tabloid knows full well how the 1 percent flouts the laws that bind the rest of us. One night in 2004, 16-year-old Eric Bradlee Miller got drunk on a bottle of vodka, stole a pickup truck at a convenience store, then plowed into a car, killing the driver. Almost ten years later, Ethan Couch, also 16, packed several friends into his father’s pickup, stole two cases of beer from a Walmart, and proceeded to scream down a local thoroughfare until he collided with a disabled vehicle, killing its driver and three passersby. Miller’s grandfather, with whom he lived, had wanted to hire a private lawyer but couldn’t afford the expense, and so the court appointed one instead. The lawyer advised Miller to plead not guilty and take the case to trial, where he was convicted of murder and handed a 20-year sentence.
Couch’s parents hired two prominent local defense attorneys who advised him to plead guilty and wallow in contrition before the judge. Most famously, they enlisted a psychologist to testify that Couch suffered from an obscure malady known as “affluenza,” in which wealthy parents render their children blameless by failing to discipline them. Prosecutors had asked for 20 years; the judge—the same one who sentenced Miller—set Couch free. The only catch was that the teenager would have to spend part of his probation in a California rehab facility with a half-million-dollar annual tab. The only way to bring about the ideal of equal protection under the law is to boost spending on lawyers for the poor and middle class, and to prevent the affluent from spending freely. We must, in effect, socialize the legal profession.
AP: House Conservatives Rule Out Immigration This Year
Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate. several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.
“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters at a gathering of conservatives. “I think when we take back the Senate in 2014 one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration issue.” Labrador’s comments were noteworthy as he was one of eight House members working on bipartisan immigration legislation last year. He later abandoned the negotiations.
The Senate last June passed a bipartisan bill that would tighten border security, provide enforcement measures and offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally. The measure has stalled in the House where Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of a bill-by-bill process.
Luke Harding: How Snowden Went From Loyal NSA Contractor To Whistleblower
At the time, the figure who most closely embodied Snowden’s rightwing views was Ron Paul, the most famous exponent of US libertarianism. Snowden supported Paul’s 2008 bid for the US presidency. He was also impressed with the Republican candidate John McCain. He wasn’t an Obama supporter as such, but he didn’t object to him, either. Once Obama became president, Snowden came to dislike him intensely. He criticised the White House’s attempts to ban assault weapons. He was unimpressed by affirmative action. Another topic made him even angrier. The Snowden of 2009 inveighed against government officials who leaked classified information to newspapers – the worst crime conceivable, in Snowden’s apoplectic view. In January of that year, the New York Times published a report on a secret Israeli plan to attack Iran. The Times said its story was based on 15 months’ worth of interviews with current and former US officials, European and Israeli officials, other experts and international nuclear inspectors.
TheTrueHOOHA’s response, published by Ars Technica, is revealing. In a long conversation with another user, he wrote the following messages: “WTF NYTIMES. Are they TRYING to start a war?” “They’re reporting classified shit” “moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this? those people should be shot in the balls” “that shit is classified for a reason” “it’s not because ‘oh we hope our citizens don’t find out’ its because ‘this shit won’t work if iran knows what we’re doing'” For the rest of the journey, Greenwald read the latest cache, mesmerised. Sleep was impossible: “I didn’t take my eyes off the screen for a second. The adrenaline was so extreme.” From time to time Poitras would come up from her seat in the rear and grin at Greenwald. “We would just cackle and giggle like schoolchildren. We were screaming and hugging and dancing with each other up and down,” he says. Their celebrations woke up some of their neighbours; they didn’t care.
The report estimated that — thanks to an increase in insurance coverage under the act and the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums — many workers who felt obliged to stay in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours than they otherwise would have. In other words, the report is about the choices workers can make when they are no longer tethered to an employer because of health benefits. The cumulative effect on the labor supply is the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers by 2024. Some workers may have had a pre-existing condition and will now be able to leave work because insurers must accept all applicants without regard to health status and charge premiums unrelated to health status.
Some may have felt they needed to keep working to pay for health insurance, but now new government subsidies will help pay premiums, making it more possible for them to leave their jobs. The report clearly stated that health reform would not produce an increase in unemployment (workers unable to find jobs) or underemployment (part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week). It also found “no compelling evidence” that, as of now, part-time employment has increased as a result of the reform law, a frequent claim of critics.
President Obama calls Senators from the Oval Office. Feb. 6, 2009. Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, is seated (Photo by Pete Souza)
Snow blankets the White House south grounds during a blizzard Feb. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a child of a supporter after speaking at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with, from left, Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, Senior Advisor David Plouffe and Speechwriting Associate Director Jonathan Lovett in the Oval Office, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama confers with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as he talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Feb. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
REI Chief Executive Officer Sally Jewell is congratulated by outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after she was nominated by President Obama to be the next Secretary of the Interior, Feb. 6, 2013
President Obama talks with Director of Speechwriting Cody Keenan in the Oval Office, July 23 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Yahoo: President Barack Obama’s speech on economic policy Wednesday will be the first in an ambitious series of six addresses laying out a sweeping vision for America’s future. The philosophy at the core of the campaign will be familiar, but there will be “aggressive new ideas.”
That’s according to Cody Keenan, the speechwriter in charge of crafting what may be Obama’s most far-reaching second-term effort to get Americans to sign on to his plans.
… Obama’s six speeches will cover education, housing, retirement security, health care, poverty and jobs, Keenan said…
“In the weeks ahead — especially when it comes to college costs, which is something he’s obsessed with — we’ll have some aggressive new ideas,” said Keenan.
Time: Why Obama Keeps Going Back to One Small Illinois College
…. Knox has a special place in the President’s heart and in American history. “It’s the place where I gave my first big speech after I had been elected to the U.S. Senate,” Obama said at a recent event in Washington. Wednesday marks his third visit – once as a Senate candidate, once as a Senator and now as commander-in-chief – adding to a long history of presidents and political figures who have left a mark on the college.
Founded in 1837 by religious missionaries who opposed slavery, Knox College was, from its beginning, a progressive institution that welcomed women and people of color. In 1858, the college was the site of the fifth of seven Lincoln-Douglas debates, where Abraham Lincoln, challenging incumbent Senator Stephan A. Douglas, debated the nature and future of slavery.
Leaders of the Republican Party are still predicting that Obamacare will be a disaster, one that will wreak havoc on American health care. Most of their allies in the media say the same thing. But a small group of conservative intellectuals has been warning that the law might not be so apocalyptical — that, with full implementation about to begin, wholesale repeal may no longer be possible…
… Once Americans can take advantage of the law’s benefits — once more low-income people become eligible for Medicaid, and once more low- and middle-income people start to get subsidies that will help them buy private insurance — taking those benefits away will be nearly impossible, particularly since Republicans still haven’t proposed an alternative that would come close to providing the same level of security.
The speaker says Republicans should be judged on how many laws they repeal. This is unprecedented, irresponsible, and terrifying. …
It would be impossible to name the craziest thing said by a Republican so far this year….
New entrants arrive constantly and the competition is feral. And yet paradoxically they don’t even shock anymore. But one recent Republican remark should arrest you and deserves your contemplation: John Boehner’s statement on Face the Nation Sunday that he and his House Republicans “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
It’s not an outrageous statement in the Obama-wants-to-impose-Sharia vein, but in its way it’s more disturbing. The Republican Party now sees dysfunction as not just an unfortunate consequence of a set of historical factors, something that they might work every now and again to correct. Now, the Republican Party sees dysfunction as its mission.
Family values are a pillar of traditional Republican discourse. But as soon as it comes time to address immigration issues, all of their emphasis on family unity goes out the window, replaced by advocacy for division.
This is the logical conclusion that follows from the KIDS Act, being developed by the House of Representatives. While this House bill would legalize the status of minors brought to the United States without papers by their parents, it would be the only measure the lower house would approve to regularize the status of anyone undocumented, unlike the Senate bill that initially aspired to benefit 11 million people.
The bill’s sponsor, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, speaking in favor of the measure, stated that this is a matter of “decency and compassion”…..
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.
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.
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”?
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…..
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…..
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 ….
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.”
The Hill: Consumers saved nearly $4 billion on their insurance premiums last year because of new rules in President Obama’s healthcare law, the administration said Thursday. The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) said consumers saved $3.9 billion last year from new rules that govern insurance companies’ spending. The rules have saved consumers roughly $5 billion over the past two years, HHS said. The health law requires insurance plans to spend 80 or 85 percent of their premiums on medical costs, leaving only the remaining 15 or 20 percent for profit and administrative expenses. They must pay a rebate if they miss the threshold.
Consumers saved money as insurers changed their premiums to comply with the requirement, HHS said in a report Thursday. The new rules first took effect in 2011. That year, insurers paid out more than $1 billion in rebates. Last year saw fewer rebates and more up-front savings, according to the HHS report. Consumers saved $3.4 billion last year as insurance companies lowered their premiums to comply with the new rules. Consumers also received $500 million in rebates from insurers that did not meet the new standards.
Washington Post: The House just voted down the five-year, $940 billion farm bill on the floor. The final tally: 195 yeas and 234 nays. This was unexpected, to say the least. Farm bills have historically sailed through Congress without too much trouble. Yet the House farm bill, supported by the GOP leadership, has faced a particular dilemma. Most Democrats opposed the revised version because it cut spending on food stamps for low-income families by $20.5 billion over the next 10 years.
On the other hand, many conservative Republicans also opposed the bill because it didn’t cut spending enough. Squeezed on both sides, the bill failed after House Speaker John Boehner brought it up for a vote. So what happens next? The White House, recall, had already threatened to veto the House farm bill because of its cuts to food-stamp programs. So it likely wasn’t going to become law anyway. But if the House bill had passed, Republicans could have at least gone to conference and tried to reconcile it with the $955 billion Senate version, which contained far lighter cuts to food-stamps funding.
Roll Call: The House defeated the farm bill resoundingly on a 195-234 vote Thursday, dealing a blow to Speaker John A. Boehner and prompting a bitter round of finger pointing between Democratic and Republican leaders. Most Democrats opposed the bill, unhappy with a deep $20.5 billion, 10-year cut to food stamps and backed by a White House veto threat, while Republicans split into competing factions, with a sizable group opposing the bill over concerns it did not cut deeply enough. Sixty-two Republicans voted against the bill, while two dozen Democrats supported it. The bill’s defeat on Thursday came as a shock to Republican leaders.
The farm bill had been one of the first big tests for the Speaker this year, with immigration and budget battles yet to come.
1:05: Tours Ellicott Dredges (which manufactures innovative dredges and dredge equipment being sold for infrastructure projects across the country and around the world)
1:20: Delivers remarks
2:15: Visits a community center
3:0: Departs Baltimore
3:25: Arrives the White House
Kevin Drum (Mother Jones): It’s Official: Those Bogus Email Leaks Came From Republicans
It’s not as if we didn’t know this already, but Major Garrett made it official: last week’s leaks that misquoted the Benghazi emails came directly from Republicans….
So here’s what happened. Republicans in Congress saw copies of these emails two months ago and did nothing with them. It was obvious that they showed little more than routine interagency haggling. Then someone got the bright idea of leaking two isolated tidbits and mischaracterizing them in an effort to make the State Department look bad…..
But it was typical GOP overreach. To their surprise, the White House took Republicans up on their demand to make the entire email chain public, thus making it clear to the press that they had been burned. And now reporters are letting us all know who was behind it.
Steve Benen: Whether or not an issue is a “scandal” tends to be a subjective question — one voter’s world-changing controversy may be another voter’s meaningless distraction. Indeed, the Beltway has spent a week telling the nation that the White House is engulfed in three ongoing scandals, though many of us suspect this analysis is deeply flawed.
But if we’re going to talk about real political scandals, can we at least have a conversation about Republicans lying to reporters about Benghazi?
Jeffrey Goldberg (Bloomberg): So it turns out that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and, before a group of leading Senate Republicans decided that she was evil incarnate, a top contender to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, had nothing to do with formulating the White House’s response to the fatal attacks last year at the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
…. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, among others, argued for weeks that Rice was a crucial cog in a huge conspiracy to hide the facts of Benghazi from the American people….
…. I don’t expect that Graham will apologize to Rice for accusing her of engaging in an enormous conspiracy, when all she seems to have done is take the consensus of several government agencies and present it publicly. But you would hope Graham would think twice before threatening again to stop her advancement in government.
These were the words of the second in line to the Presidency as the deadline for the sequester neared: “We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”
In a situation which bordered on the surreal, where draconian cuts—which were never intended to come into effect—were, in fact, set to come into effect, Speaker of the House John Boehner, weighted down with the stress of the moment, had what could only be described as a public political psychotic break.
Faced with the pressure of a self-inflicted doomsday deadline—because, don’t forget, the Republican-controlled House voted for the sequester as a mechanism to force a compromise on spending and taxes—and faced with a caucus which increasingly didn’t listen to him, he blamed the Senate for failing to act on two bills passed in the House to avoid the sequester.
Of course, he failed to mention certain salient facts. Firstly, the bills passed in the House were never going to pass the Democratically controlled Senate, and certainly never going to survive a presidential veto. Secondly, and more importantly, those “fixes” were passed in the previous Congress. They were dead letters, as pertinent to the realities of the new Congress as flat-earth theory to modern astrophysics. Mr. Boehner was putting forth a position which he should have known, as Speaker of the House, had no bearing on the current situation. The Senate had to pass the Violence Against Women Act again in the new session because the bill it passed in the previous Congress lapsed due to inaction by the GOP-led House. Not only wouldn’t the Senate pass the House bill on avoiding sequester; it couldn’t; the bills had expired, and new legislation was needed. And, thirdly, all spending bills have to pass the House first. The idea that it was incumbent upon the Senate to do the House’s work for it is something new in American politics. One branch of the legislature has, seemingly, abdicated all responsibility for legislating, merely waiting for the other body to take all the work upon itself.