President Barack Obama speaks at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, about his plan to clamp down on the private companies that service federal student debt. More than 40 million Americans are in debt thanks to their education, and most of their loans come from Uncle Sam. So President Barack Obama is aiming to clamp down on the private companies that service federal student debt with a presidential memorandum he signed Tuesday
"No matter who you are or where you come from, not only can you succeed, but you can help everybody else succeed." —President Obama
Bloomberg: Corporate U.S. Healthiest In Decades Under Obama With Lower Debt
Steve Wynn, founder of the Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) casino empire, once called President Barack Obama’s administration “the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.” Barry Sternlicht, chief executive officer of Starwood Property Trust Inc. (STWD), said Obamacare was driving down wage growth and “affecting spending and the desire to buy houses and everything else.” Corporate and economic statistics almost six years into his administration paint a different picture. Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (SPX) Index are the healthiest in decades, with the lowest net debt to earnings ratio in at least 24 years, $3.59 trillion in cash and marketable securities, and record earnings per share. They are headed this year toward the fastest average monthly job creation since 1999, manufacturing is recovering and the U.S. has returned as an engine for global growth. The recovery, which stands in contrast to weak growth in Europe and Asia, has underpinned an almost threefold gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since March 2009.
“The U.S. is leading the way — we’re the only major economy with accelerating growth,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Moody’s Analytics Inc. and a registered Democrat who has advised both the Obama administration and Senator John McCain, a Republican. “Obama deserves some credit for that, but he probably won’t get it.” Barring any major disruptions, the economy is setting up for Obama to leave office on a high note, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University in Houston. “History will eventually show that Obama inherited the Great Recession and resuscitated the economy,” Brinkley said in an interview. One example is General Motors Co. (GM), which last week regained its investment-grade debt rating from Standard & Poor’s only five years after the government-backed bankruptcy. Obama’s $49.5 billion bailout of the automaker in exchange for taxpayers owning 61 percent of the company kept it from being liquidated, an outcome that could have crippled parts suppliers and economies throughout most of 50 states, not just the Midwest. In the broader economy, consumers are buying again and homebuilding is increasing. The unemployment rate has declined to 6.1 percent, the lowest since 2008. The economy expanded at a 4.6 percent annualized rate in April through June. Obama’s 2010 health-care program will hold down consumer prices for years to come as millions of Americans obtain coverage, BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse Group AG said. The “Medicare cost miracle” resulted at least in part from Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman wrote in a Sept. 1 New York times article.
The preliminary figures on second-quarter GDP looked good; the revised tally looked better; and the final report looks even better still. The U.S. economy grew at a 4.6% annual pace in the second quarter, matching the best performance since the recession ended in mid-2009. The increase in real gross domestic product was revised up from 4.2%, mainly because of higher exports and business investment, the Commerce Department said Friday. Americans also spent more on health care, but the gain was offset by lower spending on other services. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted GDP would be revised up to a seasonally adjusted 4.7%. Consumer spending, the main source of economic activity, was unchanged at 2.5% growth. The biggest gains came in business investment, a good sign for the economy in the months ahead. To provide some additional context, 4.6% growth is tied for the best quarter since the start of the Great Recession.
President Barack Obama applauds during an event in the East Room of the White House, where he signed a Presidential Memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt. The president said the rising costs of college have left America’s middle class feeling trapped. He says no hard-working young person in America should be priced out of a higher education. President Obama signed a presidential memorandum he says could help an additional 5 million borrowers
President Barack Obama signs a Presidential Memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt
Chicago Tribune: Obama Moves To Ease Student Loan Burdens, Urges Congress To Act
President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order making it easier for up to 5 million people to pay off college tuition debt, and scolded congressional Republicans for opposing legislation that would lower student-loan borrowing costs. Obama signed an executive order allowing more people to limit repayments of federal student loans to 10 percent of their monthly incomes. The action will not take effect until December 2015. The administration will also try to lower student costs by renegotiating government contracts with companies like Sallie Mae that service student loans, he said.
The president said Congress should also take steps to ease debt burdens on students, 71 percent of whom earn bachelor’s degrees with debt, which averages $29,400. Senate Democrats have proposed legislation that would allow millions of Americans to refinance both federal and private undergraduate student loans at lower interest rates. The bill is unlikely to overcome the opposition of Republicans. “If you’re a Big Oil company, they’ll go to bat for you,” he said. “If you’re a student, good luck.”
President Obama on Monday will take executive actions to ease the burden of college loan debt for potentially millions of Americans, in a White House event coinciding with Senate Democrats’ plans for legislation to address a concern of many voters in this midterm election year. Mr. Obama’s main action will be to expand on a 2010 law that capped borrowers’ repayments at 10 percent of their monthly income. The intent is to extend such relief to an estimated five million people with older loans who are currently ineligible — those who got loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011.
But the relief would not be available until December 2015, officials said, given the time needed for the Education Department to propose and put new regulations into effect. Also, Mr. Obama will announce that the department will renegotiate contracts with companies that service federal loans to give them additional financial incentives to help borrowers avoid delinquency or default. The Education and Treasury Departments are to work with the nation’s largest tax-preparation firms, H&R Block and Intuit Inc., to ensure that borrowers are aware of repayment options and tax credits for college tuition.
Josh Hicks: Kerry: Leaving Soldier Behind Would Be ‘Offensive And Incomprehensible’
Secretary of State John F. Kerry in an interview aired Sunday pushed back against criticism of the prisoner swap for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. “It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what,” Kerry said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Republicans have accused the Obama administration of placing U.S. troops at greater risk by encouraging enemies to take prisoners for leverage, essentially putting a target on the backs of American troops. Responding to those concerns, Kerry said that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is over and that “we’re going to have very few people in that kind of position.”
Simon Maloy: GOP’s Quiet Obamacare Disaster: How This Week’s Biggest Story Got Overlooked
While everyone obsessed over the Bergdahl flap, the real story was revealed by a nomination hearing and new data
Right around noon on Wednesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services. The all-out Obamacare brawl that Republicans had promised when Burwell’s nomination was announced never materialized. Instead, it ended with a quiet, respectful display of bipartisan comity.
Losing the opportunity to grandstand on the Burwell nomination, however, was the least of the Republicans’ troubles this week when it came to the Affordable Care Act. We’re only six days into June, and opponents of the ACA have already had a terrible month.
Two Las Vegas police officers were killed Sunday in what appears to be a politically motivated ambush in a pizza restaurant that spilled over to a nearby Wal-Mart, where the two shooters committed suicide after killing a woman in the store. Details are sketchy, but Metropolitan Police Department sources close to the investigation say the shooters shouted that “this is the start of a revolution” before opening fire on the officers, and draped their bodies with cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag. Investigators have also found paraphernalia associated with white supremacists. The shooters then stripped the officers of their weapons and ammunition and badges, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. They then covered the officers with something that featured the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on Me.”
The flag is named for Christopher Gadsden a Revolutionary War general who designed it. It has recently come back in vogue as an adopted symbol of the American tea party movement. Brandon Monroe, 22, has lived in the complex for about two weeks. He said the man who lived in the apartment that was being searched often rambled about conspiracy theories. He often wore camouflage or dressed as Peter Pan to work as a Fremont Street Experience street performer. A woman lived with him, Monroe said, but he didn’t see her as often. They were weird people, Monroe said, adding that he thought the couple used methamphetamine. “The man told Monroe he had been kicked off Cliven Bundy’s ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas while people from throughout the U.S. gathered there in protest of a Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle.” Jessica Anderson, 27, said.
Dan Diamond: Since Obamacare Passed 50 Months Ago, Healthcare Has Gained Almost 1 Million Jobs
Obamacare was once called “The Job-Killing Health Care Law.” But the latest jobs report suggests that the broader economy—and the health care sector, specifically—is adding jobs at a healthy rate. Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, the health care industry has gained nearly 1 million jobs—982,300, to be more precise—according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates released on Friday.
Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has added 7.7 million jobs since March 2010, and for the first time, more people are working since the recession began five years ago. Private-sector jobs also grew for the 51st straight month, Justin Wolfers observes at The Upshot, which ties the longest consecutive streak on record and overlaps with the passage of Obamacare 50 months ago. But that streak is piddling compared to health care, which just reported its 131st straight month of job gains.
Tiffany HSU: Job Recovery In Southern California Is Outpacing U.S. Gains
Southern California fell harder in the recession than the rest of the country and took longer to recover, but now the region’s job gains are outpacing the national employment upswing. Each month since April 2012 except one, Los Angeles County has seen at least 2% year-over-year job growth, compared with a 1.7% average across the country. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that all the jobs lost in the downturn are now back nationwide, with 217,000 net new jobs added in May. The unemployment rate stayed put at 6.3%, the lowest in more than five years. But a steadily growing population means that millions of people are still out of work. In Los Angeles County, only 330,800 jobs have returned, compared with the 435,400 jobs lost from December 2007 to January 2010.
Cheery economic reports showing rising home prices in Southern California, along with steadily recovering personal income, will help boost optimism, Kleinhenz said. But new opportunities will lure more job hunters into the labor force, requiring employers to add more jobs to keep unemployment rates low. But an LAEDC report this week showed promising signs. In April, Los Angeles County employers added 90,800 nonfarm jobs — a 2.6% boost from a year earlier. The area’s jobless rate improved to 9.8% last year from 10.9% a year earlier. LAEDC expects the gauge to fall to 8.7% this year and then continue sliding to 7.8% in 2015.
Laura Vozzella: Va. Lawmaker To Resign, Paving Way For Jobs For Self, Daughter, According To Associates
Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor’s push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. The news prompted outrage among Democrats — and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe’s proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians.
In a statement, McAuliffe (D) acknowledged that Puckett’s resignation had created “uncertainty” for his plan to expand the federal-state health program for the poor to 400,000 uninsured Virginians. But he contended that he still had a majority of the Senate on his side. “I am deeply disappointed by this news and the uncertainty it creates at a time when 400,000 Virginians are waiting for access to quality health care, especially those in Southwest Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “This situation is unacceptable, but the bipartisan majority in the Senate and I will continue to work hard to put Virginians first and find compromise on a budget that closes the coverage gap.” Senate Republicans, meanwhile, issued a statement praising Puckett. “Although Senator Puckett has decided to end his tenure in the Senate of Virginia, his legacy there will endure,” said Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (James City). “And, his commitment and service to the people of Southwest, who honored him with their votes in five successive elections, will continue.”
Reuters: U.S. Deaths In Afghanistan May Have Only Tenuous Link To Bergdahl
The frantic search for Bowe Bergdahl began the moment his comrades discovered he was no longer inside the fragile outpost in a rock-strewn valley in one of the most hostile corners of Afghanistan. Exactly why Bergdahl left is subject to intense scrutiny. But accounts by two Taliban sources as well as several U.S. officials and fellow soldiers raise doubt over media reports that he had sought to join the Taliban, and over suggestions that the deaths later that year of six soldiers in his battalion were related to the search for him.
His dramatic release on May 31 after five years in captivity in return for five Taliban commanders sparked a national controversy over whether President Barack Obama paid too high a price for his freedom. That was fueled by allegations by some in his battalion that he was a deserter, and that soldiers died because they were looking for him after his disappearance in the early hours of June 30, 2009. While many questions remain, a Reuters reconstruction of his disappearance indicates that at the time when Bergdahl’s six comrades in the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment were killed in August and September 2009, his fallen comrades were on other missions like securing the Afghan elections and, according to one U.S. military official, the period of intensive ground searches had already ended.
State health insurance marketplaces that offered consumers very few health plan choices in 2014 are starting to add more insurers — slowly, in most cases. But this is a sign that insurers are feeling confident about the second year of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion. The development is important for a few reasons. For one, recent research suggests that more competition in the exchanges could help temper premium increases. Other new analysis shows that exchange plans, on average, are cheaper than individual plans offered outside the insurance marketplaces. And given the narrow networks in exchange plans, more insurers could mean better access to providers.
In New Hampshire, the exchange’s only insurer last year had excluded 10 of 26 hospitals in the state from its network, meaning the exchange’s customers were limited in their choice of care providers. In 2015, though, New Hampshire will have five insurers selling individual and family health plans on the exchange, state officials announced this week. That also includes the expansion of two non-profit, co-op plans that received start-up funding from the Affordable Care Act. Then there’s West Virginia, a poorer state and one of the least healthy in the country — not exactly an attractive market for insurers. Just one insurer sold 2014 exchange plans, but a second insurer from Kentucky, another co-op, will join in 2015. Kentucky Health Cooperative, which signed up 75 percent of the approximately 82,000 people who selected private plans in Kentucky’s exchange, will sell plans statewide in West Virginia next year.
It looks like the law’s many detractors will have to cross another complaint off their list. Health care spending since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act has risen by 1.3% a year, the lowest rate ever recorded, and health care inflation is the lowest it has been in 50 years, a report released Wednesday by the White House shows.
How good are the number figures? According to a new report published by Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, over the last three years – the period since “Obamacare” became the law of the land – per capita health care spending has grown at a rate of 1.3%. “This is the lowest rate on record for any three-year period and less than one-third the long-term historical average stretching back to 1965,” Furman noted. Moreover, thanks to health care reform, inflation for health care goods and services is “currently running at just 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, the lowest level since January 1962.”
Mother Jones: So Far, Obamacare Has Taken Only A Modest Hit In The Polls
This isn’t very different from Kaiser tracking polls in the past. In the most recent one, among people who expressed an opinion, 56 percent wanted the law kept as is or enhanced, while 44 percent wanted it repealed.
So far, Obamacare hasn’t really taken that big a hit in public opinion, and as the website problems continue to get fixed I expect that public opinion will improve.
NYT: G.O.P. Maps Out Waves Of Attacks Over Health Law
The memo distributed to House Republicans this week was concise and blunt, listing talking points and marching orders: “Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” “Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” “The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.” “Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”
The document, the product of a series of closed-door strategy sessions that began in mid-October, is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months, they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered, sequenced assault.
The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law — through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home — and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic.
Obamacare enrollment seems to be recovering from its slow start and picking up in the last few weeks, according to news reports. The New York Times reported Monday that more than 50,000 Americans had selected a health plan through HealthCare.gov, the federal website serving 36 states, as of mid-November. That’s up from about 27,000 who had picked a plan over the entire month of October.
According to the Los Angeles Times, enrollment in some of the 15 state marketplaces is also on the upswing. In the first half of November, California has nearly doubled its enrollment in all of October. In the Minnesota, the rate of enrollment in the second half of October was triple what it had been in the first half of the month. State officials in Connecticut, Kentucky and Washington told the Times that they were on pace to beat their enrollment goals and/or top last month’s enrollment.
Reuters: U.S. Jobless Claims Fall, Hint At Firming Labor Market
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting some strengthening of labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 335,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 6,750 to 338,500.
Justin Sink: Obama Announces $100M In Education Grants For High School Students
President Obama will announce $100 million in education grants for high school students. The government will award as many as 40 grants to fund the Youth CareerConnect program, which is designed to partner high schools with colleges and employers. “Many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that links their work in school to college and careers — especially in the critically important fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” the White House said in a statement.
The program will be paid for primarily from Department of Labor revenues from the H-1B visa program. To qualify, local school districts will need to match 25 percent of the federal grant, as well as recruit a local workforce investment system entity, an employer, and an institution of higher education to partner in the program. The first wave of programs will be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.
AP: US Unemployment Benefit Applications Drop To 323K
The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 last week, the lowest since late September and further evidence of an improving job market. The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average fell for the third straight week to 338,500.
Both figures are near pre-recession levels. Hiring is also picking up. Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs per month from August through October. That’s up sharply from an average of 146,000 in May through July.
Jason Furman: New Report From The Council Of Economic Advisers: The Recent Slowdown In Health Care Cost Growth And The Role Of The Affordable Care Act
Health care spending is growing at the slowest rate on record: According to the most recent projections, real per capita health care spending has grown at an estimated average annual rate of just 1.3 percent over the three years since 2010. This is the lowest rate on record for any three-year period and less than one-third the long-term historical average stretching back to 1965. This slower growth in spending is reflected in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.
The ACA is contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending and is improving quality of care: ACA provisions that reduce Medicare overpayments to private insurers and medical providers are contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending. Other ACA reforms are reducing hospital readmission rates (see figure below) and increasing provider participation in payment models designed to promote efficient, high-quality care.
Jon Favreau: President Obama Should Never Apologize For Passing Obamacare
It’s true what they say: Barack Obama does not relish the game of politics. Don’t get me wrong—as the first president in more than five decades to win more than 51 percent of the vote twice, he understands how the game is played. But Obama did not run for elected office because he needed to be loved. He has his family and friends for that, and he lacks the insecurity that lies just beneath the healthy egos of so many politicians. This president does not crave constant affirmation, which means he does not engage easily in the backslapping and glad-handling and forced emoting that comes so naturally to other elected officials.
But the president should never apologize for passing the Affordable Care Act, and neither should those of us who have supported this kind of reform for years, even decades. We didn’t fight for this law because it was good politics. We didn’t fight for this law with the hope that it would lead to some ideological victory for big government—otherwise we wouldn’t have proposed a plan that maintained the private insurance market with reforms that Republicans once championed.
We fought for this law because no other advanced democracy on Earth gave insurance companies free rein to profit by discriminating against all but the healthiest and wealthiest citizens. We fought for this law because 14,000 Americans, most of them working and middle class, were losing their health insurance every day—with no other options. We fought for this law because millions of other Americans thought they had decent coverage until their insurance company refused to pay for treatment that someone in their family desperately needed; because people died as a direct result of not being able to afford better health care. The reason we fought so hard for this law—the reason Obama is willing to stake his entire legacy on making it work—is because so many of us have had a personal experience with the fear and vulnerability that comes with being sick.
President Obama looks at a photograph of Kate Puzey as he greets her brother, David Puzey, and other guests in the Oval Office, Nov. 21, 2011. The President signed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, which improves the preventative measures and the response of the Peace Corps in cases of crime and sexual assault of Peace Corps volunteers (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Darius Rucker, Kris Kristofferson and Lisa Meyers in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House before “The History of Country Music: From Barn Dances to Pop Charts” interactive workshop for local students, Nov. 21, 2011 ( Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Dierks Bentley performs during the “Country Music: In Performance at the White House” concert in the East Room, Nov. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with First Lady Michelle Obama in the Oval Office, Nov. 21, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, along with First Lady Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Craig Robinson, participates in a service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
In an unexpected twist, the political world starts today with circumstances that look eerily similar to those from 24 hours ago: a bipartisan Senate deal is taking shape and a fractured House remains unpredictable. The point of yesterday, apparently, was to waste a day, humiliate House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and bring the nation just a little closer to default.
After House Republicans rejected a series of desperate attempts by Boehner to make them happy, attention turned back to the Senate, which waited until after the lower chamber imploded to renew its talks. By all appearances, the basic framework of an agreement is in place.
Michael Tomasky: Senate Debt Ceiling Deal Won’t Mean This Chaos Is Over. Far From It.
Tuesday might have ended with the Senate on the cusp of a deal to avert a default, but it also featured Boehner bowing and scraping to his House crazies to come up with a competing plan that failed.
This is a sad and sickening spectacle, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Not as bad as Watergate, you say? I beg to differ. However this turns out this has been in its way worse than Watergate. Watergate ultimately vindicated our system against the machinations of one sociopath. It took time, because he was a president. But even he ultimately observed democratic norms and, when cornered, did the honorable thing.
Today, we have a clavern of sociopaths who know nothing of honor, and we have no easy way to stop them. Except at the ballot box. Except that they’ve rigged that, too, with their House districts. They’ve rigged the whole game so that they light the match and then point at President Obama and shout: “Look! Fire!” And overseeing it all is House Speaker John Boehner, as of Tuesday officially the worst high-ranking elected officer in the history of the United States.
Here’s how grave the House Republicans’ condition has become: They’re now in the care of a mortician.
In the early minutes of a marathon meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday morning, Rep. Steve Southerland, a funeral director from Florida, rose to suggest the lawmakers sing “Amazing Grace” — and his colleagues joined him in a rendition of the burial hymn.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
It was an appropriate choice, for the House GOP is practicing its own form of mortuary science: It is burying both the Republican brand and America’s standing in the world.
…. A great portion of the courtier press that now expresses horror at what is going on now went gleefully along for the ride as it became inevitable. Any members of that courtier press who relished the pursuit of Bill Clinton’s penis, or conducted the absurd campaign of untruth that was waged against Al Gore between 1999 and 2000 lost the right years ago credibly to denounce conservative extremism and Republican vandalism.
That means you, Roger Simon of Politico, who was so shocked the other day to discover that racism may have afflicted the process of government since the president’s election, but who once claimed to right to make candidates like Gore “jump through hoops” for the pure hella-fun of it.
That means you, Chris Matthews, who chased the presidential dick for two years, all the way through an impeachment process that was a constitutional absurdity, but who now discovers that the campaign of destruction never truly stopped.
That means you, Andrew Sullivan, with your current existential torment over How It Came To This….
…… This means all of you who went along for the ride on torture, and on Iraq, and who hid under the bed after 9/11. This is how the power came to rest with Ted Yoho, who is a fool and a know-nothing. This is how historical inevitability is created. This is how its momentum becomes unstoppable. This is how the wreckage piles up.
Bob Cesca: Why Isn’t the GOP Complaining About the Deficit? Because It’s Dropping — Fast.
As we careen headlong toward the debt ceiling deadline, with the House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner in full Three-Stooges-Trying-To-Fix-The-Plumbing mode, the issue area that’s been overshadowed by the grandstanding, political props and brinksmanship is government spending itself.
The budget deficit is really the 4,000 pound gorilla in the room and the Republicans refuse to discuss anything other than the fact that employer mandate for the dreaded Affordable Care Act begins a year after the individual mandate. Yes, we’re in the middle of a showdown over the debt because of Obamacare rather than, you know, spending and fiscal responsibility.
Why aren’t they talking about the deficit? That’s easy: they can’t say anything bad about it because the Obama administration’s record on the deficit is kind of stellar.
TPM: McCain: ‘Republicans Have To Understand We Have Lost This Battle’
With the government shutdown in its third week and the United States dangerously close to the debt limit, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) urged members of his party on Tuesday to stop digging.
“It’s very, very serious,” McCain said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”
Barring an accident of political brinksmanship, the United States will not default on its debts and other obligations.
Economic conditions provide exactly zero reasons to worry that the U.S. cannot service its debts. The danger in the current crisis, therefore, is not catastrophic economic collapse.
Rather, the danger is that the House’s tea party Republicans, in their zeal to block President Barack Obama’s policies, especially on health care, have damaged investors’ long-term trust in the U.S. government. And by thwarting the principle of majority rule, they have demonstrated a disrupting power that they may wield into the next decade, causing further erosion in confidence.
As the federal government enters its sixteenth day of shutdown and stands just hours away from defaulting on the national debt, the largest newspaper in Texas has pulled its endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The conservative lawmaker delivered a 21-hour speech on Sep. 24, urging Senate and House Republicans to vote against any government funding measure that includes appropriations for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and is viewed as at least partially responsible for the current impasse.
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” during the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 Joining them, from left, are: Harry Johnson, Sr.; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; and Herman “Skip” Mason (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama says goodbye to former President George H. W. Bush and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, prior to departure from Easterwood Field landing zone, in College Station, Texas, Oct. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Neighbors in West Newton, Mass., react as the President headed their way after speaking at an event next door, Oct. 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
2:45: The President participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony, a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington
3:30: The President and Vice President meet with Secretary of Defense Hagel
* The President conducts an interview with Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo to discuss his plan for a Better Bargain for the Middle Class and the need for immigration reform
Excerpts of the interview will be broadcast on “Noticiero Telemundo” today at 6:30pm/5:30 central. The interview will also air in its entirety on “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart” on Sunday, September 22 at 12pm/11am central, and will be available on Telemundo.com and on the Facebook page of “Noticiero Telemundo.”
…. details are leaking out about Alexis and they point to a disturbing history of gun violence …. Under federal law, it’s very likely that he was still able to legally posses a firearm. Permanent bans on gun ownership are only handed out to very specific groups of people including felons, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill …. in nearly half of states, officials are still able to give a handgun permit to someone with a history like Alexis’s.
If reports from the scene are right, however, Alexis’s gun possession Monday was illegal no matter his gun history. News outlets indicate that Alexis had as many as three weapons, including a semi-automatic AR15. The AR15 is banned in DC.
…. One of the gun regulations President Obama proposed earlier this year would outlaw the sale of AR15s and other military-grade weapons.
Bob Cesca: Another Gun Massacre and Another Powerful Reason for Stronger Gun Control Laws
At approximately 8 a.m. eastern time on Monday, a man named Aaron Alexis, a former reservist with the U.S. Navy, entered the Naval Sea Systems Command office building at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 10 others. The gunman used a shotgun, a handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle to rain bullets into a crowd of people before eventually being shot and killed by police.
At 2:15 p.m., six hours after the massacre, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) tweeted the following sentiment to his followers: “Remember to keep praying for those affected by both the Navy Yard shootings and the Colorado floods.”
A noble gesture — that is if you ignore the irony that the congressman is a vocal climate crisis denier, as well as one of the NRA’s most valuable allies inside the House of Representatives with a creepy obsession with AR-15 assault rifles, say nothing of being one of the only internet trolls serving as a member of Congress.
This seems like a particularly good day to be ignoring the work of academics, doesn’t it?
Conclusions. We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.
…. The results of the study may seem little more than an exercise in confirming the obvious, but that’s an exercise the country needs. It needs to have the obvious – guns kill people, health-insurance helps keep them alive, large banks are all thieves, economic oligarchy is incompatible with political democracy, Fk The Deficit….
After two Democratic state senators were defeated in Colorado recall elections last week, there was some speculation that proponents of gun-safety would begin to retreat, backing away from efforts to reduce gun violence.
After a dozen people were gunned down yesterday at the Navy Yard in D.C., there was ample evidence to the contrary.
President Obama briefly addressed the issue at the start of his speech on the economy, arguing that policymakers must “do everything that we can to try to prevent” these mass shootings. Like-minded lawmakers followed suit.
ThinkProgress: Under Obamacare, Millions Of Americans Will Pay Less Than $100 Per Month For Health Insurance
About 6.4 million Americans will be able to purchase insurance for less than $100 each month on Obamacare’s new state-level marketplaces, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s because those people will be eligible for federal subsidies that will reduce the price of purchasing a plan under the health reform law.
The Obama administration calculated the expected premiums for people buying “silver” plans, which are the second-cheapest option on the new insurance marketplaces. Even though not every marketplace has announced its premium rates yet, researchers were still able to estimate those payments based on the health law’s rule for determining subsidies.
CNBC: Priced to sell: Sweet Obamacare deals for young
Health insurance for most young adults on New York and California’s Obamacare health exchanges will cost dramatically less than what twentysomethings have said they’d be willing to spend on insurance, a new analysis finds.
The attractive prices could significantly boost enrollment in those states’ exchanges and help keep premiums low for people of all ages, said Christina LaMontagne, vice president of price-comparison site NerdWallet, which did the analysis.
Jonathan Cohn: …. the biggest news on Monday wasn’t about Obamacare’s poll numbers. It was about Obamacare’s reach. And there the news was much clearly better. In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that will expand the state’s Medicaid program, as Obamacare envisions. The signing was the culmination of a long, difficult effort by Synder and a bipartisan, statewide-coalition to overcome Tea Party resistance….
…. Greg Sargent got Pew to give him a breakdown of exactly which voters oppose the law so much they want officials to make it fail: Sure enough, it’s Tea Party Republicans. As Greg notes, this voting bloc is highly influential within Republican Party politics, particularly as primary voters: That goes a long way to explaining why congressional Republicans are threatening to shut down the government or allow default if Obama won’t agree to delay or defund the law.
But support for such extreme positions doesn’t extend much outside this group. Meanwhile, it turns out that many people opposed to (or at least ambivalent about) the law simply don’t know much about it….
AP: US to help Syrian forces fight chemical weapons
President Barack Obama on Monday cleared the way for the U.S. to send chemical weapons-related assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as international organizations working inside the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
…. The White House said the non-lethal assistance could fall into three categories:
– Chemical weapons-related “personal protective” equipment to international organizations working in Syria, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
– Medical assistance to strengthen local Syrian health care providers’ ability to prepare for and respond to the use of chemical weapons
– Defensive chemical weapons training and protective equipment to vetted members of the Syrian opposition to protect against the use of deadly gases..
Spandan (The People’s View): Obama on GOP’s Economic Hostage Taking: Don’t Even Think About It
The president spoke [yesterday] on the economy and the upcoming budget battles in Congress. Marking the fifth anniversary of the economic crash of 2008, President Obama spoke of the hard work he and his administration has done to pull the economy back from the brink of another Great Depression – from a rescue of the financial sector to the revival of the American auto industry, restoring confidence in the banking system and creating nearly 7.5 million jobs in the last three-and-a-half years. But he commanded the stage with a serious, “you’re pissing me off” look on his face and one clear, unequivocal message: The President does not negotiate with economic terrorists.
Jonathan Weisman: Amid Revolt Over Fiscal ‘Gimmicks,’ Options Dwindle for G.O.P.
First came the “supercommittee,” tasked in 2011 with finding a bipartisan deficit reduction plan but doomed to fail. Then came the “McConnell plan,” a way for Congress to raise the government’s debt limit without actually voting to do so. And in January there was “no budget, no pay,” a measure coupled with the last debt ceiling increase to deny paychecks to lawmakers if they did not pass a budget…..
For three years, Congressional leaders have relied on tactical maneuvers, sleights of hand and sheer gimmickry to move the nation from one fiscal crisis to the next — with little strategy to deal with the actual problems at hand….
President Obama joined the fray Monday, castigating Republicans for the latest budget crisis but “hoping that a light bulb goes off.”
…. Since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, a coterie of Republicans has challenged this informal approach. Their belief is that the absence of cooperation should lead not to stalemate but to the president bending to their will. That assumption implies a delegitimization of the presidency that Obama has come to understand, belatedly, that he can’t accept.
The Republican Establishment is trying to coax the crisis-mongers out of their fervor. Today The Wall Street Journal editorial page assails Republicans who insist on shutting down the government unless President Obama agrees to destroy his own health-care reform, a fantastical demand. “Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the pilots,” the Journal warns.
…. Establishment Republicans are trying to talk their base out of extreme measures without addressing their deeper belief that House Republicans are entitled to extract concessions from the president, via threat, without compromising at all.
Steve Benen: Crusade against Texas clinics based on bogus claims
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his Republican allies in the state legislature launched an aggressive legislative campaign against reproductive rights over the summer, including measures intended to close the vast majority of clinics where reproductive services are provided.
Proponents of the policies said the measures were necessary in order to protect public safety. Becca Aaronson reports in the Texas Tribune this week that the arguments are plainly contradicted by the facts…..
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama console Paul and Janet Monti, parents of Army Sgt. 1st. Class Jared C. Monti in the Blue Room following a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Sept. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
A young boy listens to President Barack Obama as he delivers remarks at a rally on health insurance reform at the Comcast Center, University of Maryland in College Park, Md., on Sept. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
NYT Editorial: Mitt Romney wrapped the most important speech of his life around an extraordinary reinvention of history — that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed….
The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security — even if it meant holding the nation’s credit rating hostage to a narrow partisan agenda.
Mr. Romney’s big speech, delivered in a treacly tone with a strange misty smile on his face suggesting he was always about to burst into tears, was of a piece with the rest of the convention. Republicans have offered precious little of substance …. but no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.
It’s easy to understand why the Republicans have steered clear of these areas. While President Obama is vulnerable on some domestic issues, the Republicans have no purchase on foreign and security policy. In a television interview on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, could not name an area in which Mr. Obama had failed on foreign policy.
EJ Dionne: …. Once again, Romney showed that his campaign will launch attacks with little regard for their veracity. “Unlike President Obama,” he said, “I will not raise taxes on the middle class.” … Obama has in fact asked Congress to retain current tax rates for families earning less than $250,000 a year.
“I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour,” Romney also said. “President Obama began with an apology tour.” There was no apology tour. And Romney suggested that Republicans had been initially eager to work with the president, when in fact the party was determined from the beginning to oppose virtually all of Obama’s initiatives.
…. there will be a jarring contrast between the Romney who spoke of uniting the nation and his exceptionally harsh, relentless and divisive advertising campaign that includes factually-challenged spots on welfare plainly aimed at stirring resentment.
The stark disjunction will inevitably keep alive the question that his convention speech did not answer: Who is the real Romney?
Msg from The Obama Diary: Genuine bloggers who create their own posts are welcome to use anything from TOD – rebloggers, who only copy others in an attempt to up their traffic, are not. Like the reblogger who treats women like this – explicit – while copying TOD posts on women’s rights. He belongs in the GOP.
President Obama arrives back at the White House, August 29
Thank you Sosena 😉
Washington Post: President Obama used some of his toughest language yet against rival Mitt Romney today, accusing the Republican’s campaign of bragging that “we will not let the truth get in the way.”
Speaking to an outdoor crowd of 7,500 in downtown Charlottesville, Obama said Romney and his campaign have not told the truth in TV ads accusing the president of ending the work requirement in landmark welfare reform legislation that was passed in the 1990s.
“Somebody was challenging one of their ads,” Obama said. “They just they made it up about work and welfare. And every outlet said this was just not true. They were asked about it, and a campaign person said, we won’t have the fact checkers dictate our campaign plan. We will not let the truth get in the way.”
Msg from The Obama Diary: Genuine bloggers who create their own posts, are welcome to use anything they ever see at TOD – rebloggers, who just copy others’ posts in an attempt to up their traffic, are not. Especially rebloggers who talk to women like this – explicit – while copying TOD posts on women’s rights. Thanks.
3:30 ET: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event in Charlottesville, Virgina
Washington Examiner: President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will tour seven swing states next week ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Obama will travel to Iowa, Colorado, Ohio and Virginia between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4 as part of his “Road to Charlotte” tour, the president’s campaign announced Tuesday. Among the cities Obama will visit include Des Moines and Sioux City in Iowa, Boulder, Colo., Toledo and Cleveland in Ohio and Norfolk, Va. Biden will travel separately to York, Pa., Green Bay, Wis., and Detroit between Sept. 2 and Sept. 4.
NYT Editorial: …. the Republicans’ parade of truth-twisting, distortions and plain falsehoods arrived on the podium of their national convention on Tuesday. Following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney’s campaign, rarely have so many convention speeches been based on such shaky foundations.
…. Conventions are always full of cheap applause lines and over-the-top attacks, but it was startling to hear how many speakers in Tampa considered it acceptable to make points that had no basis in reality.
Gov John Kasich of Ohio, for example, boasted of the booming economy in his state, never mentioning that he and Mr. Romney opposed the auto bailout that has played an outsized role in the state’s recovery. (Apparently Mr. Obama’s destructive economic policies do not apply everywhere.)
…. Considering how Mr. Romney has conducted his campaign so far, most recently his blatantly false advertising accusing Mr. Obama of gutting the work requirement on welfare, it is probably not surprising that the convention he leads would follow a similar path.
Voters looking for a few nuggets of truth would not have found them in Tampa on Tuesday.