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.
A year ago: A child reaches out to First Lady Michelle Obama prior to a Faith and Community Groups Leading the Way event at Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla., Feb. 11, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
12:30: VP Biden holds a roundtable discussion on gun safety with law enforcement officials in Philadelphia
1:45: President Obama will present Clint Romesha with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony
2:0: Senate lawmakers will debate and vote on re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act
On Thursday at 4:30 ET: “Fireside Hangout” with President Obama
23 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was released from prison having been locked up for 27 years by a racist state
NYT: President Obama will use his State of the Union speech to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives – drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world – after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third.
…… White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000. Currently there are about 1,700, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that passed the Senate at the end of 2009 calls for a limit of roughly 1,550 by 2018.
But Mr. Obama, according to an official who was involved in the deliberations, “believes that we can make pretty radical reductions – and save a lot of money – without compromising American security in the second term. And the Joint Chiefs have signed off on that concept.”
Washington Post: President Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress, including policies that could allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, according to people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues.
TPM: The Senate is poised to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization early this week, with a final vote expected Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
…. Despite the unusually large Senate consensus, there has been no perceptible movement among House Republican leaders since they passed a scaled-back version of VAWA on a party-line vote last year, rejecting the Senate legislation.
In an exchange on the floor Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) needled Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on VAWA….. Cantor responded that it’s a “priority” for Republicans to “move and act on this bill”….
…. By the end of the week, House Republican leaders had no progress to speak of. “Silence,” said a senior House Democratic aide.
NYT Editorial: If you’d like to know why Republicans are trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a look at three things the agency has already accomplished in its first 18 months:
* It called a halt to predatory practices by mortgage lenders, ensuring that borrowers are not saddled with loans they can’t afford and preventing brokers from earning higher commissions for higher interest rates.
* It won an $85 million settlement from American Express, which it accused of deceptive and discriminatory marketing and billing practices.
* It opened an investigation into questionable marketing practices by banks and credit card companies on college campuses, which often take place after undisclosed financial arrangements are made with universities….
Paul Krugman: Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.
To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed – and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
NYT: (Missoula, Mont) This funky college town …. has long been a liberal pocket, an isolated speck of blue in a deeply red state. Now Montana is electing more politicians who lean that way, thanks to a different-minded generation of young voters animated by the recession and social issues.
…. these students, and dozens of other young people interviewed here last week, give voice to a trend that is surprising pollsters and jangling the nerves of Republicans. On a central philosophical question of the day – the size and scope of the federal government – a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force….
…. Here in Montana, a state that backed John McCain in 2008 and Mr. Romney last year, voters under 30 have helped elect two Democratic senators and a new Democratic governor. Nationally, young voters have since 2004 been casting their ballots for Democrats by far wider margins than previous young generations – a shift that could reshape American politics for decades.
Later in the article, the GOP response to young voters in Montanta helping elect Gov Steve Bullock and re-elect Sen Jon Tester (“Both times, polls stayed open hours past their official closing time to accommodate huge lines of students. Both times, Forward Montana ran huge voter registration drives”)?
They are “now trying to undo a Montana law that permits voters to register on Election Day”.
ThinkProgress: Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, will be Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union on Tuesday.
NYT: Gabrielle Giffords looked slightly stricken as she considered the question: Would she feel bad about starring in a political advertisement against her former House colleagues who declined to stand with her on guns? “Yes,” she said, it would be painful.
“Sometimes you have to do things that are hard,” said Mark E. Kelly, Ms. Giffords’s husband, as she tucked herself close to him on their couch. Ms. Giffords nodded, as she often does when Mr. Kelly — as he often does — intuits the many thoughts she is still unable to express fully. “Really hard,” she added.
Ms. Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, a gun owner, an astronaut’s wife, a shooting survivor and an incipient gun-control advocate, is settling into the third act of her public life.
ThinkProgress: The NRA is a big spender when it comes to lobbying and campaigns. ThinkProgress investigated the NRA’s contributions to Members of Congress and — lo and behold — the most heavily NRA-backed congressman are leading the charge against new gun violence prevention measures.
Three years ago today: A bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is visible in the foreground as President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Feb. 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All times EST):
10:15: President Obama departs the White House
11:15: VP Biden and Dr Jill Biden arrive in London
1:00: President Obama arrives in Minneapolis
1:30 Participates in a discussion with local leaders and law enforcement officials (Pool spray at the top)
2:30 Delivers remarks on a comprehensive set of ideas to reduce gun violence (Live coverage)
3:35 Departs Minneapolis, Minnesota
5:45 Arrives Joint Base Andrews
6:0 Arrives the White House
The week ahead:
Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Wednesday: Attends the Democratic Senate Caucus Retreat in Annapolis, Maryland
Thursday: Delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. In the afternoon, the President will travel to Leesburg, VA to deliver remarks at the House Democratic Issues Conference
Friday: Attends meetings at the White House
Steve Benen: Last night, if you were watching the Super Bowl you saw a rather powerful ad on gun policy …. The spot, sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, urges policymakers to approve a universal background check, and features “America, the Beautiful” against the backdrop of young children.
About 12 hours earlier, Americans could see theNRA’s Wayne LaPierre on “Fox News Sunday,” making a very different kind of argument: “I make the same thing during the campaign, when he said to people I will not take away your rifle, shotgun, handgun. They leafletted the country with flyers like this, ‘Obama is not going to take your gun, Obama is going to protect gun rights.’ And, now, he’s trying to take away all three.”
….. therein lies the problem: the policy debate has become increasingly strained because one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington relies on arguments based on evidence the organization has simply made up…..
Josh Marshall (TPM): I just found out that last September the NRA published an official list of gun enemies including the ADA, AMA, ADL, Mel Brooks, Chaka Khan and hundreds of other domestic gun enemies…..
The following organizations have lent monetary, grassroots or some other type of direct support to anti-gun organizations. In many instances, these organizations lent their name in support of specific campaigns to pass anti-gun legislation such as the March 1995 HCI “Campaign to Protect Sane Gun Laws.” Many of these organizations were listed as “Campaign Partners,” for having pledged to fight any efforts to repeal the Brady Act and the Clinton “assault weapons” ban. All have officially endorsed anti-gun positions.
Michael Tomasky: The Strangest NRA Story Yet – The fact that the NRA was keeping a list of its foes isn’t all that bizarre. But the list itself is positively loony — yet more evidence of just how nuts the NRA is
One of the sure markers of the paranoid mind is the urge to keep lists. In particular, lists of enemies, subversives, no-goodniks …. It virtually goes without saying that the keepers of such lists are always the bullies who survive by fomenting hatred and making sure that their constituents stay in a state of constant agitation. And so it was no surprise to learn over the weekend that the NRA has a little list of 497 people and organizations who are in some way, shape, or form anti-gun. It makes for hilarious reading, although it’s sort of frightening to think about the demented minds of the people who assembled it.
Paul Krugman: ….. There was, however, one piece of the reform that was a shining example of how to do it right: the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a stand-alone agency with its own funding, charged with protecting consumers against financial fraud and abuse. And sure enough, Senate Republicans are going all out in an attempt to kill that bureau.
….. Right now, all the media focus is on the obvious hot issues — immigration, guns, the sequester, and so on. But let’s try not to let this one fall through the cracks: just four years after runaway bankers brought the world economy to its knees, Senate Republicans are using every means at their disposal, violating all the usual norms of politics in the process, in an attempt to give the bankers a chance to do it all over again.
Steve Benen: Long-time viewers of The Rachel Maddow Show may recall the “Geek Week” segments aired in May 2010, which included an interview with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. (The segment also noted why At Least I Am A Nerd.com still redirects to the show’s video player.)
Nearly three years later, we’ve learned that Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, will leave his post in President Obama’s second term, stepping down from the Department of Energy later this month. With this in mind, it’s worth pausing to appreciate the significance of Chu’s first-term efforts, which haven’t generated front-page news, but which carry extraordinary significance…..
2:0: Michelle Obama speaks to grassroots supporters in Cincinnati
9:25: Michelle Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event in Seattle
CBS have the first speech in their schedule, not sure whether the second one will be shown
Detroit News: General Motors said its September sales rose 1.5 percent to 210,245 vehicles, marking its best September since 2008.
Chrysler Group LLC beat analyst expectations as its September sales rose 12 percent, while Ford Motor Co. sales remained flat in September compared to the same month a year ago.
GM said passenger car sales jumped 29 percent from the same month a year ago, while sales of mini, small and compacts shot up a combined 97 percent.
….. Chrysler reported its best September sales total in five years. The Auburn Hills automaker sold 142,041 vehicles last month; September also marked the 30th consecutive month that Chrysler has experienced year-over-year sales gains.
CNNMoney: American Express will refund $85 million for what government officials called deceptive practices involving about 250,000 customers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that American Express (AXP, Fortune 500) subsidiaries illegally charged late fees, deceived customers by promising non-existent money rewards, and discriminated against new applicants over the age of 35.
“Laws were violated at all stages of the game,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray in a statement …. In addition to refunding customers, American Express will pay a $27.5 million penalty…
Quinnipiac: An 18 point lead among women puts President Barack Obama ahead of Gov. Mitt Romney 49 – 45 percent among likely voters nationwide, and voters expect 54 – 28 percent that the president will win the debates, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
…. “It is very difficult to win an election when you are getting shellacked among women,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac.
12:0: VP Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event at Century Village in Boca Raton, Fla (CNN)
1:0: Michelle Obama speaks at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls
3:05: VP Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event at Kings Point in Tamarac, Fla (CNN)
3:45: Michelle Obama speaks at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (C-Span)
4:20: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. (CBS and CNN)
6:05: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at a private residence (Print Pool for Remarks Only)
8:25: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. (Print Pool for Remarks Only)
Need to double-check some of these times, and will look for more links
Michael Tomasky: Fascinating series of tweets from the economist Justin Wolfers … the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its annual revisions of the jobs numbers … Result? They were only off by 386,000 jobs.
….. That, says Wolfers, equals 32,000 more jobs every month – every month, friends – than we knew. So the economy that year was adding an average of 194,000 jobs per month, not 162,000 ….. “The BLS benchmark revisions means that there has been a net jobs gain since Jan ’09. Romney can no longer talk about job losses under Obama.”
I would say this is rather big news. Meshes pretty nicely with this recent development that people are apparently feeling a little better about the economy, and becomes, I should think, a pretty good applause line for Obama to add into his speeches.
Washington Post: Voters in three critical swing states broadly oppose the far-reaching changes to Medicare associated with the Republican presidential ticket and, by big margins, prefer President Obama to handle the issue, according to new state polls by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
For seniors in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, Medicare rivals the economy as a top voting issue. And by majorities topping 70 percent, seniors say they prefer to keep Medicare as a program with guaranteed benefits, rather than moving to a system in which the government gives recipients fixed payments to buy coverage from private insurers or traditional Medicare, as Romney advocates.
… Generally, the more voters focus on Medicare, the more likely they are to support Obama’s bid for reelection.
The future of Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled, has become a flash point in the campaign since Romney’s selection last month of Rep. Paul Ryan…. Now, the challenges for Romney in the aftermath of the Ryan selection are becoming clear.
Michael Tomasky: On the Hardball set last night, Matthews told me that George W. Bush, on November 1, i.e. five days before the election, is giving a speech in…the Cayman Islands! It’s true.
What is he thinking? I guess he’s thinking first and foremost that he’s going to pocket $2 million or whatever it is they’re paying him (it’s an investment summit of some kind). But hasn’t he sort of noticed that overseas tax shelters in general and the Cayman Islands specifically have become campaign issues, and liabilities for the standard-bearer of his party?
It’s not even just about Romney; Bush may or may not give a crap about him. But it’s about Bush. This speech is, if the Democrats set it up properly, going to generate maybe two days of negative stories about the GOP and plutocracy that are going to include revisitations of the dismal Bush record. If he were going to make himself an issue in the campaign in such a public way, you’d think he might have decided to go visit veterans in a hospital or something.
Eugene Robinson: Conservative activist circles are abuzz with a new conspiracy theory: Polls showing President Obama with a growing lead over Mitt Romney are deliberately being skewed by the Liberal Mainstream Media so Republicans will be disheartened and stay home on Election Day.
This is denial and self-delusion but not of the harmless kind. It’s a false narrative that encourages the Republican Party to take the wrong lessons from this election, no matter the outcome.
10:45: Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event in Chesterfield, Virginia
(Don’t forget The View today)
1:25: President Obama departs New York City
2:35: Arrives at the White House
NYT Editorial: Mitt Romney …. told CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that he is tied with President Obama; he has a “very effective campaign; it’s doing a very good job” …. That’s an outright denial of political reality, but Mr. Romney’s willingness to stray from the truth is at the root of what’s really going on….
To some extent, Mr. Romney’s diminishing stature is because of two recent statements that revealed his deficiencies to a newly interested audience. He falsely suggested that the Obama administration was sympathetic to the violent Muslim protests in Libya and Egypt, illustrating his ignorant and opportunistic critique of foreign policy. And he was caught on video belittling nearly half the country for an overreliance on government handouts.
These moments, though, were not fumbles or gaffes. They were entirely consistent with the dismissive attitude Mr. Romney has routinely shown toward non-Americans or the non-rich….
Mr. Romney is free to pursue this shallow, cavalier campaign for six more weeks, but he shouldn’t be surprised if voters increasingly choose not to pay attention.
President Obama speaks during a news conference on Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the CFPB, Dec 8
Steve Benen: Two months after the Senate Banking Committee approved Richard Cordray as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate leadership brought the nomination to the floor this morning. Republicans refused to allow a vote …. It’s hard to overstate how outrageous today’s filibuster really is.
…. It’s all part of the normalization of extortion politics. Traditionally, if the GOP wanted to alter the powers of the CFPB, it would write legislation, send it to committee, bring it to the floor, send it to the other chamber, etc. But that takes time and effort, and might not work. Instead, we see the latest in a series of GOP extortion strategies: Republicans will force Democrats to accept changes to the agency, or Republicans won’t allow the agency to meet its legal mandate…..
The President is pre-taping interviews with WISH (Indianapolis, IN), KSNV (Las Vegas, NV), WREG (Memphis, TN) and WCHS (Portland, ME) today
Steve Benen: We generally look to the first Friday of every month for new unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but every Thursday morning, the Department of Labor releases a report on initial unemployment claims.
And this morning, the news is very good:
The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell 23,000 to the lowest level since late February, the government said Thursday. The Labor Department said claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 last week. The level of initial claims in the week ended Nov. 26 was revised up by 2,000 to 404,000.
The consensus expectations were for a slight drop, which makes the sharp drop that much more encouraging…..
Steve Benen: Politico has a piece today on Senate Democrats’ outrage over Republican obstructionism, as evidenced by Tuesday’s filibuster of judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan and today’s expected filibuster of CFPB nominee Richard Cordray. As Dems see it, GOP abuses are setting a new standard — which Democrats will take advantage of the next time they’re in the minority.
…. Republicans respond that these current tactics aren’t new, and the Politico article tells readers the GOP argument is sound.
…. This isn’t a subjective question on which the parties are entitled to different opinions. There are objective, often quantifiable, answers to the points Politico and Republicans are raising: are GOP senators “replicating” Democratic tactics? Were Dems abusing Senate rules in the Bush era to the same degree that Republicans are abusing them now?
The answer to both is “no,” and the false equivalence does little to advance the discussion.
Steve Benen: Most of the Affordable Care Act won’t take effect for a few years – and if court rulings and the 2012 elections go a certain way, it may not take effect at all – but there’s already evidence that the reform law is working.
It’s making a big difference in providing coverage for young adults; it’s providing treatment options for women like Spike Dolomite Ward; and it’s slowing the growth in Medicare spending.
It’s also, as Jonathan Cohn explained, saving seniors quite a bit of money on prescription medication…..
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrive to speak in the South Court Auditorium on the White House, Dec. 7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada talk backstage at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following their joint press conference, Dec. 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
CBS: President Barack Obama will appear on “60 Minutes” in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Steve Kroft interviewed the president on Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie. President Obama will talk to Kroft again tomorrow at the White House for Sunday’s report.
Barney Frank (in the Washington Post): …. The president has nominated Richard Cordray, an able, experienced and thoughtful former state attorney general who has a record of achievement in protecting individuals against financial abuse, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And the Republican minority in the Senate has announced that it intends to deny any consideration of the individual …. they will do that by blatantly distorting the Constitution…..
Cordray is just the latest capable, dedicated public servant to fall victim to a Republican mugging …. his record as attorney general of Ohio puts him in a small group of people able to act effectively to deal with the mortgage crisis. No one has raised any questions about his intelligence, integrity or dedication.
Yet his nomination will not even be fairly considered by the full Senate …. They will not confirm anyone until the Senate majority reverses itself to once again put bank regulators in a position to overrule virtually all of the policies that would be set by the consumer agency. The president is being told that the price of having a nominee confirmed is reversing himself on a major policy initiative that has already been enacted.
…. Cordray’s hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, and we’re going to see an extraordinarily qualified administrator of an important consumer protection agency be trashed by the Senate Republican minority because their primary goal is to ensure that financial institutions are not troubled by what they may see as an excessive concern for consumer fairness.
They are now refusing to confirm any recess appointment …. It is the legislative equivalent to an arsonist having set a fire and objecting to a building’s inhabitants using the fire exit.