President Barack Obama speaks during the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Maryland. President Obama honored 84 firefighters that were killed in the line of duty last year and an additional three firefighters killed in previous years
Forward to 1 hr 59 for the President’s remarks – text of remarks here
Caskets and pictures of firefighters are seen as President Obama speaks during a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the firefighters who were killed in a huge blast at a Texas fertilizer plant last week
The Texas fertilizer facility did not have sprinklers, shut-off valves, fire alarms or legally required blast walls wapo.st/14f7p36
You can see video of the President’s Iowa speech here
Steve Benen: I was surprised to learn two weeks ago that federal firefighters, including many combating brutal wildfires in Colorado, are considered temporary employees who are ineligible for health care coverage through the Forest Service. They’re working incredibly dangerous jobs under life-threatening conditions, but many go without insurance.
President Obama is poised to change that. The Denver Post reported yesterday on a shift in administration policy:
President Barack Obama has directed federal officials to offer seasonal firefighters the option of purchasing federal health insurance coverage…On a recent trip to Colorado Springs, the president was apparently moved by the men and women firefighters he met, senior administration officials said in an interview Tuesday. When he returned to Washington, he told his cabinet that he wanted to “find a solution” for the hundreds of workers toiling in dangerous conditions without the option to buy in to federal insurance.
….it appears to be a huge step forward…. Whatever the mechanism, the access to health insurance for these firefighters will begin later this month….
NYT Editorial: Paying taxes forthrightly has long been a matter of civic pride for most American politicians, a demonstration of honesty and of a willingness to share in society’s burdens. Since the Watergate era, presidential candidates have released several years of tax returns, allowing voters to peer at their financial choices and discern their entanglements.
Mitt Romney has upended that tradition this year. He has released only one complete tax return, for 2010, along with an unfinished estimate of his 2011 taxes. What information he did release provides a fuzzy glimpse at a concerted effort to park much of his wealth in overseas tax shelters, suggesting a widespread pattern of tax avoidance unlike that of any previous candidate.
Mr. Romney has resisted all demands for more disclosure, leading to growing criticism from Democrats that he is trying to hide his fortune and his tax schemes from the public. Given the troubling suspicions about his finances, he needs to release many more returns and quickly open his books to full scrutiny.
Jonathan Chait: Michael Gerson is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush turned Washington Post columnist, from which perch he has spent the entirety of the Obama administration gleefully predicting a downward spiral into ruin and dysfunction reminiscent of, well, George W. Bush. Having possibly run low on Obama tragic failure scenarios, Gerson devotes today’s column to musing about why Obama has not proposed any major new initiative to address the economic crisis.
Gerson begins by arguing that Obama is declining to propose any major plans because he does not want to admit failure …. But wait! Through diligent research — I have hired a team of laid-off Bush-era Middle East intelligence veterans just for this research task — we have scoured the public record and uncovered a startling fact: Obama does have an ambitious new set of policy proposals!
He unveiled it in a nationally televised address last fall, after which point he has been touring the country and touting it daily….
…. I’m sure once he has become aware that all his objections about Obama are false — that Obama is not denying the crisis, that he does have a plan to address it, that Keyensian economists do support the plan, and it won’t increase the long-term deficit — surely he will change his mind on this.
TPM: A central element of the 2012 campaign cycle has become just when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital. The Romney campaign says he left in early 1999 — in time to get him off the hook for some controversial investments. Factcheck.org backs up Mitt while David Corn and the Obama campaign have brought forward numerous pieces of documentary evidence indicating he didn’t leave until a couple years later.
Now here’s even more evidence that he didn’t leave in 1999 as he now claims.
….I’ve found yet more instances where Romney made declarations to the SEC that he was still involved in running Bain after February 1999. To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet noted these.
Matt Miller (Washington Post): The House is voting (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, six Republican governors (so far) say they won’t go along with the law’s planned Medicaid expansion for 4 million uninsured people in their states, even though the feds would pick up nearly all the tab.
See the pattern here?
The Republican message to uninsured Americans in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling couldn’t be clearer: You’re on your own.
…. Fifty million uninsured Americans would be the immediate casualties of the GOP’s “let them eat the emergency room” mentality. But all of us would be at risk. In America — alone among wealthy nations — everyone is a pink slip or job change or new illness away from finding they’ve lost coverage or are uninsurable.
This is the shameful reality behind the GOP’s rhetoric on health care. Republicans don’t want to spend a penny to insure the uninsured.
2:15: President Obama will meet in the Oval Office with Democratic congressional leaders “to discuss their legislative agenda for the coming months and his proposals to provide small businesses new incentives to grow and hire, encourage companies to create jobs here at home, and ensure that middle class families don’t see a massive tax hike at the end of the year,” the White House said.
Attendees include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Rep. Steve Israel, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
President Barack Obama visits with volunteers and evacuees at the YMCA serving as an evacuation center in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs Gazette: After the Waldo Canyon fire exploded Tuesday night into a catastrophe that claimed two lives and destroyed 347 homes, a gloom descended on Colorado Springs … So I was pleasantly surprised to hear cheers and laughter Friday.
They erupted at the sight of President Obama at Fire Station 9 on Garden of the Gods Road …. most of the crowd was excited Obama was coming …. When a couple drunks stumbled up and started trash talking about Obama, several in the crowd quickly confronted them.
“Show some respect,” demanded Jack Martinez, who waited, camera in hand, to see the president of the United States …. “I’m glad he’s in town,” Martinez said as heads around him nodded agreement. “He should be here.”
….The doors of the black SUV with the presidential seal opened and Obama hopped inside. The crowd around me roared. Cheered. Hollered words of support …. I saw a soldier in camouflage on the curb snap to attention and salute as Obama drove past.
It was good to see the community smile again. No doubt, there will be more tears before this is over.
But I sensed the crowd was comforted to know we’re not alone. That our president cares. Our nation cares.
Denver Post: The mayor of this beleaguered city told reporters after President Barack Obama departed on Air Force One that he was thankful for the visit and described his two-and-a-half hours with the president during the tour of the Waldo Canyon Fire damage.
Air Force One was wheels up from Colorado Springs airport at 2:42 p.m. Afterward Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said the firefighting effort “shows the power of federal, state and local governments working together.”
Bach was in the limo with Obama, Gov. John Hickenlooper and others for about 2 1/2 hours. He said the president was “very down to earth, very straightforward, smart, and wants to help.”
…. Bach said the mood in the limo was somber as they drove through Mountain Shadows. Obama was “very taken by what he saw.”
He described the president as “very engaging.” Bach said his most poignant memory of the visit will be that on several occasions Obama got out of car, came right up to engage the people and hugged them, thanking them.
“I think he was very sincere in that,” he said.
“It was more than a photo op for him. He clearly wanted to say to the people, the firefighters, ‘this matters and the country has your back.’ That means a lot.”
My fave pic from last year’s picnic …. love the look she gave Rusty, I hope she’s President one day 😉
7:0 President Obama speaks at a picnic for Members of Congress (it’s over)
President Barack Obama talks with senior advisors before a phone call with President François Hollande of France in the Oval Office, June 27, 2012. Pictured, from left, are Larry Pfeiffer, Director of Operations, the Situation Room; Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics; Caroline Atkinson, Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Elizabeth “Liz” Sherwood-Randall, Senior Director for European Affairs; and Chief of Staff Jack Lew. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)