President Barack Obama signs the America’s Promise Summit Declaration, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. From left are, John Gomperts, President and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance, Alma Powell, Chair, America’s Promise Alliance, the president, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Harris Wofford.
President Barack Obama answers a question about the performance of the Secret Service after a signing the America’s Promise Summit Declaration, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The president said the Secret Service does “a great job.” He says he is grateful for the “sacrifices” the service performs on his behalf and on behalf of his family.
USA Today: Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today. This, administrators say, should help keep costs to the government down in the future.
“Before, many beneficiaries were forced to stop taking the drugs,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “This reduces costs through better management.”
…. The 2010 health care law required a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the so-called doughnut hole, or the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Medicare drug benefit, also known as Part D. In 2012, the coverage gap is $2,930. The Affordable Care Act eliminates the doughnut hole by 2020.
The previous report, with numbers through the end of October, had shown 2.65 million Medicare recipients saved $1.5 billion on prescriptions. That rose to 3.76 million recipients by the end of December.
The Hill: Senate Democrats raised more than $5.3 million in February, marking the third straight month in which they raised more than the month before.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) ended February with almost $19 million in the bank. That’s about $3.5 million more than it had one month ago, meaning the committee saved most of what it raised.
Democrats have cleared their debt and raised more than $52 million during the cycle. DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said it was the most successful February the committee has ever had.
USA Today: President Obama’s re-election team is seeking help from Internet and on-the-ground backers to spread the word about Obama’s record in office, and to bash his Republican critics.
The purpose of the “Truth Team” is to “promote the President’s achievements, respond to attacks on his record and hold the eventual Republican nominee accountable,” said the announcement from the Obama re-election team.
The overall website – BarackObama.com/TruthTeam – includes three specialty websites: KeepingHisWord.com (devoted to Obama’s record), KeepingGOPHonest.com (attacking Republicans), and AttackWatch.com (responding to critical GOP ads).
“The sites also contain tools for sharing materials via Facebook, Twitter and email, and empowers supporters to take further action by volunteering, writing letters to the editor, sending postcards to undecided voters with information about the President’s record, and more,” said the Obama announcement.
AP: President Barack Obama wants community colleges and businesses to work together to train 2 million workers in high-growth industries, and on Monday will request $8 billion to create a fund to encourage the effort.
Obama’s plan, to be spelled out at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., is called the “Community College to Career Fund,” the White House said. It would seek to train workers within areas such as health care, transportation and advanced manufacturing, and would be administered by the Education and Labor departments.
The proposed fund is part of a new budget Obama is sending to Congress. It aims to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade by restraining government spending and raising taxes on the wealthy. In an election year with a gridlocked Congress, nearly every aspect of the budget will face tough scrutiny.
11:00: PBO delivers remarks on his FY 2013 Budget to students at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale
1:45: PBO awards the 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. Michelle Obama also attends.
TPM: It was a long road back, but President Obama is now back in positive territory in our TPM Poll Average.
The shift comes on the heels of a completed Iraq withdrawal, a legislative win on the payroll tax cut before Christmas, and perhaps most importantly, good economic numbers in January and early February. The President’s numbers have jumped in the last few days in both Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls as well as individual national polls.
BroadwayCarl: Many on the left have set their hair on fire over President Obama’s solution to the conflict between religious institutions, primarily the Catholic church, providing health care coverage which includes birth control to women and the teachings of the church. One would have to be in the wildest parts of Siberia to have missed this controversy, so I will not recount the drama that has unfolded.
However, once again the ubiquitous word “cave” has appeared in association with this decision. There was a time when this would infuriate me, but now I laugh at the predictability of the critical left.
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a tug of war with Jimmy Fallon in the Blue Room of the White House during a “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” taping for the second anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” initiative, Jan. 25. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
** NBC tonight at 12:35 am ET **
AP: The number of available jobs in the United States jumped in December to near a three-year high, supporting other data that show a brighter outlook for hiring.
Companies and governments posted 3.38 million jobs in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s up from the 3.12 million advertised in the previous month and nearly matches the three-year high reached in September. Job openings in the private sector reached the highest point in almost three and a half years.
…. The report on job openings follows Friday’s optimistic employment figures. Those showed employers added 243,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.
….. It generally takes one to three months for employers to fill job openings. December’s big jump in postings is likely one reason January’s jobs report was healthy. But it also suggests job growth may continue in the coming months.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican presidential candidates have been eager, if not desperate, to accuse President Obama of waging a “war on religion”….
…. Mitt Romney seems to have settled on a policy to match the attack: the Obama administration’s decision to require coverage of contraception as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act is, according to the former governor, an “attack on religious liberty”.
…. As a substantive matter, Romney’s lying. The administration’s policy already exempts churches and other houses of worship and “doesn’t require any individual or employer to violate a religious belief – it simply ensures that their employees with different beliefs have the same access to birth control as all other women.”
…. he’s not only lying; he’s also denouncing Obama for adopting a policy similar to one Romney used to support …. as governor, a previous iteration of Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
USA Today: Pundits and bishops warn President Obama he could lose the white Catholic vote over requiring a contraception option for insurance plans. But Catholic women say they want birth control covered in employee health plans.
…. The Catholic bishops, backed by conservative evangelicals, say the Obama administration shouldn’t include contraception coverage as part of free preventive care options in employers’ health insurance plans …. here’s where the Catholic women come in. According to the Public Religion Research Institute poll released today:
….58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.
… the numbers might bring pause to pundits mulling the “Catholic vote”.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican super PACs have been raising vast sums from wealthy donors …. the political world, however, hasn’t heard much from Democratic super PACs, which have raised far less money.
That will apparently soon change … Jim Messina argued overnight that the Obama campaign just doesn’t have a choice.
He added that Republican super PACS, in aggregate, are “expected to spend half a billion dollars, above and beyond what the Republican nominee and party are expected to commit to try to defeat the President.” That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s a reasonable estimate. The Koch brothers alone are prepared to spend $100 million later this year to defeat Obama.
…. Democrats had a choice: stick to principle, refuse to play by the new rules, and make defeat far more likely, or level the playing field …. The only surprise here is that anyone would be surprised by the decision.
NYT: The delicate Karl Rove said he was “frankly, offended” …. (by)…. the Chrysler ad that Clint Eastwood narrated, which many people who don’t share Mr. Rove’s political worldview thought was rather uplifting.
…. he suggested the words were dictated by “the President of the United States and his political minions,” who bailed out Detroit with taxpayer dollars. It’s just another example of “Chicago-style politics,” he said, whatever that means.
The White House said it had nothing to do with the ad, but it had a great deal to do with Detroit’s resurgence, and that’s what’s really offensive to Mr. Rove and other Republicans. They’d prefer to drown out the good news coming from the carmakers, such as these recent headlines…
2:00: First Lady Michelle Obama visits Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
2:10: President Obama delivers remarks at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism
About today’s AP-GfK poll – OMG! Doom! Gloom!
As GOPolitico told us, white people hate the President!! Real bad!
The best bit was when they quoted Ron Fournier saying the President “only won 40%” of the white seniors’ vote in 2008 and “his approval rating with them now is 41%”. Em, I was never too hot at math ….. but is that, eh, not technically an increase?😕
Any way, not surprisingly, the economy remains the number one concern of those polled. You’ll get all the bad news everywhere today, what will be largely ignored:
* After the jobless rate fell to 8.6% last month (its lowest level since March 2009), the President’s approval rating on handling unemployment rose 5% to 45% in the poll.
* 20% say the economy got better in the past month, up from 6% two months ago (64% said it stayed the same)
* 15% said it got worse, down from 49% two months ago
* Respondents describing the economy as “very poor” fell from 43% in October to 34% in the latest poll, the lowest since May.
* 60% say the financial situation in their own household is good, up 6%
* 30% blamed the President for the economy, compared to 43% who blame Bush
* Despite the struggles with the economy, the President still beats Romney in a match-up: 47 to 46.
* The President beats the Newt 51-42.
* Among independents, it’s even better. The President beats Romney 45-41 and the Newt 54-31.
And buried in the last line in Time’s report on the poll:
“Among those with annual household incomes of $50,000 or less, Obama’s approval rating on unemployment climbed to 53 percent from 43 percent in October.
Get that? Climbed 10%.
* 60% approve of how the President is handling terrorism, 59% say he will “keep America safe”. Not bad for an appeaser, eh?
* 53% say he is a “strong leader”
* 76% say he is “likable”
There you go – the bits you won’t hear today. And hey, wait til the fella actually starts campaigning against Romgrich😉
OFA: Headlines over the past few weeks have shown with hard numbers how President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is helping young people and seniors. The reform allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26 and helps Medicare recipients save money on prescription drugs.
Take a look at this infographic summing up how the Affordable Care Act is impacting millions of Americans – then share it to pass on the good news:
Texas Monthly: As most readers know, every January TEXAS MONTHLY picks a Bum Steer of the Year, an honor conferred on whatever individual we feel has been responsible for the biggest screw-up, gaffe, fumble, stumble, train wreck, or humiliation of the past twelve months. This year, as the above cover makes pretty darn clear, our Bum Steer of the Year is Governor Rick Perry.
Jonathan Chait (NY Mag): With Ron Paul ascending in Iowa, winning the hearts of independents, and even the endorsement of Andrew Sullivan, it’s worth pointing something out: Ron Paul is not a kindly old libertarian who just wants everybody to be free. He’s a really creepy bigot.
…. Paul comes out of an intellectual tradition called “paleolibertarianism,” which is a version of libertarianism heavily tinged with far-right cultural views …. Paul is tied in deep and extensive ways to neo-Confederates, and somewhat less tightly to the right-wing militia movement. His newsletter, which he wrote and edited for years, was a constant organ of vile racism and homophobia ….. Fear and hatred of blacks and gays, along with a somewhat less pronounced paranoia about Jewish dual loyalty, are fundamental elements of his thinking….
Washington Post: The White House says a more aggressive effort to nab deceptive government contractors and deceitful Medicare recipients is paying off – to the tune of billions of dollars.
The Obama administration plans to announce Tuesday that the Justice Department recovered more than $5.6 billion in fraud committed against the government in fiscal 2011. Almost $3.4 billion of the funds came in civil fraud recoveries, with more than $2.2 billion tied to criminal fraud, according to administration officials familiar with the announcement who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The announcement is tied to a Cabinet-level meeting to be held Tuesday regarding plans to cut wasteful government spending across federal agencies and departments.
Bloomberg: U.S. economic data are outperforming expectations by the most in nine months, a trend Federal Reserve officials may incorporate into their policy statement tomorrow.
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, a daily measure of whether economic data is better or worse than economists’ projections, improved to 85.7 on Dec. 2, the highest since March 9, after the Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in the jobless rate….
“Most of the economists are missing the underlying strength” in the world’s largest economy, said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. The Fed will “modestly upgrade the economic outlook but change little else.”
November unemployment at the lowest level in more than two years and manufacturing running at the fastest pace in five months are among data that may dissuade Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and fellow central bankers from pursuing a third-round of large scale asset purchases. At the same time, the Fed may still see “significant downside risks” for the economy as Europe’s financial crisis evolves.
Business Insider: It didn’t get much attention, but this morning the latest NFIB small business optimism survey came in stronger than expected, as more and more corporations see good sales and decent business conditions on the way.
This is important, in part, since small businesses have been rather negative on the economy, even while large companies have reported record earnings.
Chicago Sun Times: President Barack Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, predicted much more scrutiny of GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich, citing the “homespun wisdom” of Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) as he compared Gingrich to a monkey on a pole exposing his butt.
“…. Last week you all left him for dead at the checkout counter at Tiffany’s and now he’s back, a lion in winter,” Axelrod quipped. “That’s L-I-O-N by the way, I don’t want to stir up any trouble here.”
…. “In certain ways [Gingrich] fits the role for this, because as we pointed out earlier in the week he is the original tea partier. You know, he brought that kind of politics to Congress in the early 90s, he led three government shut downs in order to try and roll back environmental protection…roll back the Department of Education and education programs, he wanted to cut Medicare, he wanted to give more tax cuts to the wealthy. He was really a forerunner of what we see today.”
“I told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom that I got from an alderman in Chicago some years ago when one of his …colleagues wanted to run for higher office and he was really dubious. He said:
“Just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt.”
So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we’ll see how people like the view.”
President Obama arrives to speak at a campaign event in Washington, Dec. 13
“If you stay steady, we’re going to win this thing …. This is going to be tough. But, I just want to remind all of you that you didn’t decide to support Barack Hussein Obama because it would be easy.”
Washington Jewish Week: When flames swept through Israel’s Carmel Forest last year, destroying dozens of homes and lives, President Barack Obama didn’t hesitate to help, said Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S….
…. Netanyahu directed his ambassador to, “Quick, go ask President Obama for help.”
That’s when Oren entered the White House and asked to see the president. “I told him the situation and without hesitation, President Obama turned to one of his aides and said, ‘get Israel whatever it needs. Now,’” Oren recalled.
….”America has 11 fire-fighting planes; the next morning, 8 of them took off for Israel, along with a team of fire-fighting commandos.” “Later that night,” Oren continued, “I learned, that the President left the Hanukkah reception and flew secretly to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, he called Washington and the first question he asked, ‘Has Israel gotten its planes?’”…..