On This Day: President Obama makes Congressional calls from the Oval Office before the final Senate vote repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the military, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern):
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:05: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with moms to discuss health care, Oval Office
Sue Spanke of Missoula, Mont., was highly displeased this fall when she learned her health insurance had been canceled. “I got so mad that I went to my phone and started calling all the political people and giving them what for,” Spanke told The Billings Gazette. That was before she learned she was eligible for a policy at a much lower cost.
After angrily calling her state auditor’s office, Spanke, a self-employed artist in her 50s, found she was eligible for a federal subsidy. Her new insurance will cover her for a mere $30 to $40 a month with a deductible of only $500. She had been paying $350 a month for a Blue Cross policy with a $5,000 deductible. “I went from a horrible policy that didn’t cover anything, that was breaking me, to the best policy at the best price I’ve had since I was in my 20s,” she said.
With the website largely fixed, one of the last lines of attack against Obamacare is that the president lied when he said if people like their insurance plans, they can keep them. The White House is hoping stories like Spanke’s will inoculate them against those arguments. And the positive stories abound.
…. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, had asked for input on the Affordable Care Act during an open house Monday at his office in the E. Ross Adair Federal Building, and he got it…
…Lee Albright, owner of the south-side meat market carrying his last name, doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act repealed, which Stutzman and the Republican-controlled House have voted to do numerous times. Albright told his congressman that his monthly payment for family health coverage will drop from $3,800 to $1,700 by enrolling in a plan offered through the much-maligned law.
Albright said most of his dozen employees also are enrolling in Affordable Care Act plans and will have coverage for the first time. “If the Republican Party thinks they’re going to kill Obamacare, you guys need to realize that those nine people that I add on, are they going to vote Republican ever again if you take their health care from them?”
WMGT: Congressman Scott Talks Healthcare, Farm Bill at Town Hall Meeting
Residents from all around middle Georgia met with U.S. Representative Austin Scott to talk about concerns they have in the nation’s capitol during a town hall meeting on Monday.
Gridlock in Washington has left local business owners like Bob Schumacher, frustrated. He hasn’t had health insurance for some time, and has tried multiple times to use the scrutinized healthcare.gov website and hasn’t had any luck, until now.
“I was able to get an insurance plan and with the tax credit, it’s going to be about half of the price that it was going to be two and a half years ago,” Schumacher said.
…. “They’ve definitely got the website up and running now, and so you can get online and see if there is something out there that works for you.”
CT Mirror: CT insurance exchange enrollment up more than 50% in two weeks
Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is enrolling about 1,400 people a day and is on track to have 50,000 to 60,000 people signed up for health care coverage by the end of the year, an official said Tuesday.
Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said about 20,000 people have signed up for private insurance plans through the marketplace, about 70 percent of whom will get federal financial assistance to discount their premiums.
In addition, about 17,000 people have signed up for Medicaid coverage through the exchange, Madrak said.
The approximately 37,000 people signed up for coverage through the exchange marks a nearly 58 percent increase from enrollment as of Dec. 4, the previous figures Access Health reported.
I’ve done some research on the question, and by my calculations, judging from current trends, this will happen approximately . . . never.
I base this on the criticism of the auto bailout of early 2009. Almost five years later, the industry is healthy again and large swaths of the Midwest have been spared what would have been certain economic devastation. All this was achieved for a relatively modest sum: … It would seem that the argument against the bailout has been settled. Yet opponents continue to argue their case — if anybody will listen.
Dana Milbank has an interesting piece today …. he compares Obamacare to the auto bailout, which at this point looks like a rousing success — but continues to be lambasted by the right, because it shouldn’t have worked, and therefore can’t have worked.
….. it’s a strong signal that the press is catching up to the reality that December is not October, and that the news — while there are still many troubles — is increasingly positive. Actually, so is Darrel Issa’s angry rebuke to a health care official: “You need to watch more Fox News.”
National Memo: What If Every Voter Denied Medicaid Expansion By Republicans Voted Democratic?
A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 4.8 million Americans will be denied health insurance because Republican governors and legislatures have refused to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Another study, called Health Care for America Now (HCAN), was released last week and found that 4,831,590 people were being denied Medicaid in red states, nearly duplicating Kaiser’s result. HCAN went a step further and estimated that the result of not expanding insurance to these eligible residents would result in the loss of 27,000 lives in 2014, while denying the states $42.6 billion a year in economic activity.
Most of these people who earn too much for Medicaid and too little to purchase insurance in the health care exchanges — 79 percent — live in southern states.
After the government shutdown, Republicans took a big hit in the polls. A very, very large hit in the polls in fact. It turned out that while various people are willing to talk about what they don’t like about “big government,” there are even more things that the government provides that they do like. While Republicans thought they had a “winning strategy” by using the shutdown to attempt to repeal “Obamacare” (for the 40′th plus time), it turned out that the public thought it was really stupid, particularly when all those things like national parks had to close. Add in a lack of action on any substantive issues, the unpopularity of various Republican governors, and some losses in elections they thought were winnable, and things are starting to get tense for them.
Once again, former Karl Rove self-actualization guru Ron Fournier has taken to the pages of the National Journal – Motto: There’s A Reader Out There Somewhere – to explain that the president misapprehended the results of the 2012 election, and that he has been operating under the illusion that, because he got the most votes, he got to be president again. To elucidate this for the dimmer people among us, Ron shows how brilliant he was in the immediate aftermath of said election, and employs the useful tool of Historical Parallelism, which he applies repeatedly and vigorously to his own forehead.
…. The IRS dumbassery was just that. The NSA surveillance started under Bush – with considerably more Democratic support in the Congress, Ron, than this president has gotten from Republicans on anything – and Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! remains a hoax. I’m afraid we are past the point where an intervention would help. Better just fire off the stun gun and pry the tool of Historical Parallels out of his hand.
ThinkProgress: Why Obama Is Sending Openly Gay Athletes To Russia’s Olympics
As controversy erupted over Russia’s anti-gay law ahead of next year’s Sochi Olympics, President Barack Obama said that he opposed boycotting the Games in favor of letting the United States delegation lead by example on the LGBT rights front.
“One thing I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which i think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes were seeing there,” Obama said. “And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it’ll probably make their team weaker.”
Tuesday, Obama took a step forward in showing that example, selecting tennis legend and former U.S. Olympic coach Billie Jean King, a lesbian who has long been an LGBT equality advocate, to be a part of the delegation that will represent the White House at the opening ceremony on February 7. Hockey player Caitlin Cahow, who is also openly gay, will be a part of the delegation to the closing ceremonies on February 23.
…. note that the U.S. Olympic delegation is traditionally led by someone from the White House – current or former president, vice president, or member of the First Family. For Sochi, as Rachel noted on the show last night, Obama tapped former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, which means no one from the White House or even from the president’s cabinet will be on hand for the opening ceremony.
… this also strikes me as this latest in a series of elections-have-consequences moments. Conservatives have come to celebrate Vladimir Putin as something of an international hero, while religious right activists cheer on his culture war from afar. Obama has been highly ambitious and progressive when it comes to advancing LGBT civil rights, and his choice in Olympic delegation members sends a signal the world will notice…
LA Times: Homeless men invited to help Pope Francis celebrate birthday
Pope Francis boosted his down-to-earth image by inviting a group of homeless men to his Vatican residence to help him celebrate his 77th birthday.
The group of men joined Francis on Tuesday as he gave his morning Mass and then ate breakfast with him …. the men, a Pole, a Slovak and a Czech, were sleeping under the portico outside the Vatican’s press center when they were approached by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who distributes charitable contributions for the pope.
“Would you like to come to Pope Francis’ birthday party?” Krajewski reportedly asked them. “After a moment of bewilderment and wonder, they started packing up their beds, pieces of cardboard and covers which were arranged to protect them from the bitter cold of the Roman night.”
President Obama walks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to their bilateral meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “The President briefs European leaders following a multilateral meeting in which an agreement was tentatively reached at the United Nationals Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Most conferences like this are very scripted; this one was just the opposite.” Dec. 18, 2009
President Obama speaks during a multilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Prime Manmohan Singh, and South African President Jacob Zuma during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shows military officials the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room following a meeting, Dec. 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Coach Geno Auriemma in the Blue Room of the White House prior to an event to honor the NCAA Champion University of Connecticut Huskies and their 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, July 31 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern):
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:15: President Obama meets with a group of bipartisan members of Congress
3:45: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi of the Republic of Yemen
5:55: Hosts a reception for the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
Jason Linkins: What If Ron Fournier Can’t Read (great response to Fournier’s BS)
Suffice it to say, Ron Fournier is wrong and I am right. Also, Greg Sargent is right,Brendan Nyhan is right, John Sides is right, Jonathan Bernstein is right, and historian George Edwards is right. If you are harboring a belief that former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used “fireside chats” to overcome political opposition, you are not remembering that correctly. It’s very pretty to think that, but you’re wrong. And that will just as true tomorrow as it is today, full stop.
Fournier, in his most recent attempt, titled “What If Obama Can’t Lead?,” seems to be rather upset at being accused of supporting what Sargent calls the “Green Lantern Theory” of presidential power. He simply believes that “great presidents overcome great hurdles,” and that’s that. Once you’ve established “greatness,” then all hurdles are defeated. If hurdles remain, then you’ve not established “greatness,” no matter how many hurdles you’ve previously overcome. (And to be sure, Obama has overcome quite a number of those.) I’m afraid that Fournier doesn’t have much of a clue as to the process by which these obstacles are surmounted. And he’s opted to simply pant with extreme impatience, rather than undertaking an exploration as to how this process works. He proceeds from the premise that at one point in history, there were presidents, and at other points in history, stuff happened that was possibly attributable to those presidents. Rather than taking a searching inventory of the relevant history or undertaking an effort to understand the political science, he attributes the fact that “Presidents did stuff” to a hazy concept called “leadership” and proceeds to conclude that if a president isn’t successfully “doing some stuff” then that president “can’t lead.”
Republican IRS Hearing Fails To Deliver On Claims Of White House Link
Tara Culp-Ressler: The First State That Tried To Defund Planned Parenthood Is Officially Giving Up
After a legal battle that has stretched over the course of two years, the state of Indiana has agreed to put an end to its efforts to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana was the first state that attempted to target the national women’s health organization by blocking it from receiving state-level Medicaid dollars for the services it provides to low-income women.
In 2011, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) signed a law to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid funding simply because it is an abortion provider — even though that money actually funds general health screenings for thousands of low-income women, not abortions. But those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Multiple courts have determined that states aren’t allowed to discriminate against qualified Medicaid providers simply because of their stance on abortion rights, saying that low-income women deserve the freedom to choose their own doctors.
The 44th president, like his 43 predecessors, believes that the United States should honor its sovereign debt, as part of maintaining the “full faith and credit of the United States.” He also believes that the policy on government spending first applied under George Washington and in force since then should still be the policy now: once Congress has voted programs or benefits into law, then the government is legally and morally obligated to carry out those programs, until and unless they are repealed.*
To which the other “side” to the dispute replies: Who cares! We don’t like you or your programs, and to prove it we’re willing to risk a default on the national debt. What’s going on now is more like the 1970s-era hijackers Brendan Koerner describes in his recent book, who would threaten to blow up the plane unless they got the ride to Cuba they wanted. Or, if you want a less violent analogy, it’s like me walking into a restaurant, ordering and enjoying a meal, and then when I finished just tearing up the check and saying that I was “digging in my heels” about whether I should pay.
Greg Sargent: Ostrich Punditry Refuses To reckon With Reality Of Today’s GOP (another fantastic rebuttal to Fournier’s BS)
Now that President Obama has proposed tax reform that would lower corporate tax rates and provide for new stimulus spending — which Republicans have flatly rejected — it has renewed the seemingly endless, intractable debate over the causes of gridlock and failure to compromise in Washington. There is no prominent commentator who is more determined to blame both sides for what is happening than Ron Fournier, so his latest explanation for what ails us is worth a response.
Advice such as this seems deliberately designed to be impossible to meet. Whatever Obama does, the pundit can simply respond with, “not enough; do more of it, or do it moreeffectively.” After all, Obama is already doing some of the things Fournier wants him to do: He is holding discussions with GOP lawmakers in hopes of enticing them to break away from the leadership/Tea Party alliance’s hostility to compromise on the budget, infrastructure spending, and other matters.
If anything, it’s punditry such as Fournier’s that constitutes a surrender of sorts. It’s not enough to claim Obama’s legacy will inevitably seen as a failure to overcome GOP intransigence (should that happen), because history isn’t fair. The question is, shouldthat be the case, and would blaming Obama for failing to overcome it be a reasonable and accurate assessment?
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.”
Comedian Bill Maher announced last night that he will donate one million dollars to President Obama’s re-election campaign. At the end of his groundbreaking comedy special, “CrazyStupidPolitics: Live from Silicon Valley,” which streamed live on Yahoo!, Bill brought out a check, making a personal donation of one million dollars to Obama’s Super PAC, Priorities USA Action. He explained that having a country governed by Barack Obama rather than any of the Republican candidates is “worth a million dollars” and that in his own financial interests, “this is the wisest investment I think I could make.” He also encouraged other wealthy liberals to do the same and give until it hurts.
Washington Post (Editorial): Run to the extreme in the primary, move to the center in the fall: That’s expected. But moving from the cartoon world the Republican presidential candidates have constructed back into three dimensions might prove more difficult.
In their debate Wednesday night, the remaining candidates seemed to be continuing their drift from reality – the reality of a center-right electorate they propose to woo and govern, and of the complexities of the problems they promise to solve.
…. From his perch of thorough hypocrisy – Paul is a master earmarker who preserves his purity by voting against appropriations bills he knows will pass – the Texas congressman declared: “I don’t accept that form of government.”
And, of Santorum, “He is a fake.” No, what’s fake is the two-dimensional canvas they’re presenting to voters.
TPM: Mitt Romney’s got a problem. Purple Strategies released their “Purple Poll” on Thursday, data from twelve swing states … “His favorable ratings are just atrocious,” Doug Usher, a managing partner at Purple Strategies said. “You can’t be sitting on 27 percent favorability in the general,” the level Romney is at in their new numbers.
“The best thing that Mitt Romney could actually do is actually run a campaign that said something,” Bruce Haynes, one of the founding partners of Purples Strategies and a veteran of GOP campaigns, told TPM. “It’s a Seinfeld campaign. It’s a campaign about nothing….”
Robert Shrum: Mitt Romney is pandering so desperately to the far-right fringe that he’s become all but unelectable in November …. As he demonstrated in this debate, he’s so desperate to pander his way to the nomination that he’s making it increasingly worthless.
This may do for the primary – it may be essential – but it’s a disaster in the making for the fall campaign. Romney’s cynical hope has to be that his shape-shifting will convince voters he doesn’t really mean this stuff. He can pray that his character weakness is his saving grace – that his reputation for lying about his beliefs will pull him back from the edge of a gender gap that will otherwise pose an unbridgeable barrier to the White House. The longer the primaries drag on, and the more he has to profess his hostility to women’s rights, the less likely it is that he can ever convince the majority who are women to take a chance on him.
…. From Oklahoma to Ohio, which both vote on March 6, and then onto Wisconsin and across the Midwest, Romney is well behind Santorum in the polls. He will have to keep pandering – and above all, right now, he has to win Michigan.
In the Arizona debate, he may have staunched his bleeding in the primaries, but he opened his veins for November.
Martin Bashir: “Newt Gingrich said he’s going to take oil prices down to $2 or $2.50 – the only thing that Newt Gingrich is very skilled at doing is taking his underpants down in the form of the number of adulteries that this man commits.”
Steve Rattner (NYT): …. As a presidential aspirant, Mr. Romney evidently hasn’t felt a need to be consistent or specific as to what should have been done to address the collapse of the auto industry starting in late 2008. But the gist is that the government should have stayed on the sidelines and allowed the companies to go through what he calls “managed bankruptcies,” financed by private capital.
That sounds like a wonderfully sensible approach – except that it’s utter fantasy. In late 2008 and early 2009, when G.M. and Chrysler had exhausted their liquidity, every scrap of private capital had fled to the sidelines.
I know this because the administration’s auto task force, for which I was the lead adviser, spoke diligently to all conceivable providers of funds, and not one had the slightest interest in financing those companies on any terms. If Mr. Romney disagrees, he should come forward with specific names of willing investors in place of empty rhetoric. I predict that he won’t be able to, because there aren’t any.
A source tells National Confidential that 26 American cars will be arranged by the United Auto Workers to echo Mitt Romney’s infamous “let Detroit go bankrupt” op-ed when he visits Ford Field on Friday. The cars will be on top of a parking garage right across from Ford Field where Romney will be giving a speech to the Detroit Economic Club.
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, despite occasional setbacks, and most analysts expected this morning’s report to show a modest uptick in filings.
The good news is, that didn’t happen. In fact, initial jobless claims reached a four-year low last week, and the new totals were unchanged this week.
Greg Sargent: At yesterday’s debate, Mitt Romney and the other candidates went all in on birth control – sorry, “religious liberty” – in blasting President Obama over the contraception controversy…. But some new polling out this morning from Quinnipiac illustrates the risk Republicans are taking with this latest reprise of the culture wars:
President Obama recently announced an adjustment to the administration’s health-care rule regarding religiously affiliated employers providing birth control coverage to female employees. Women will still be guaranteed coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket cost, but will have to seek the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control on religious grounds. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s decision?
Steve Benen: …… Romney added that Obama is “requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.”
It is, in fact, literally “unbelievable,” since that’s not at all what the administration is doing.
It was painful enough to have so much of the debate focus on opposition to birth control, but Romney’s dishonesty managed to make a mind-numbing discussion even worse.
Ronald Brownstein (National Journal): ….. Some of Romney’s answers could come back to haunt him, not in the primary but in a general election, if he gets that far.
At a time when some Republicans are already concerned that he has narrowed his potential support among Latinos with an unflinching embrace of conservative positions on immigration (like “self-deportation”), Romney doubled down by insisting that on “day one” as president he would drop the federal legal challenge to Arizona’s tough state statute against illegal immigration.
And on the same day that an NBC/Marist poll already showed Romney trailing President Obama by 18 percentage points in Michigan, a state Republicans once hoped to contest this fall, Romney likewise doubled down on his criticism of the auto rescue engineered by Bush and Obama – and sprinkled in some especially sharp rhetoric against the United Auto Workers union for good measure.
E.J. Dionne: They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist….
Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education.
Please forgive this outburst. It’s simply astonishing that a man in his fourth year as our president continues to be the object of the most extraordinary paranoid fantasies … And now that the economy is improving, short-circuiting easy criticisms, Obama’s adversaries are reheating all the old tropes and cliches and slanders.
….. As for Obama as a socialist, ponder two numbers: 13,005, which the Dow Jones average hit this week, up from a low point of 6,547 in March 2009. Some socialist.
We are blessed with the freedom to say whatever we want about our president. But those who cast Obama as something other than one of us don’t understand him and don’t understand what it means to be American.
USA Today: Republicans were quick to rebuke the Obama administration after a third clean-energy company to receive taxpayer dollars, Ener1, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week.
But absent from their critique of Ener1 — which was awarded a $118.5 million grant from the Department of Energy in 2009 to expand an Indianapolis manufacturing plant — has been any mention that the electric battery manufacturer was also championed by one of the GOP’s rising stars, Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic): All parties agree that Ron Paul is not, personally, racist and that he didn’t write the (newsletters) passages …. As I’ve said before, we all must make our calculus in supporting a candidate or even claiming he is “good” for the debate. But it must be an honest calculus.
If you believe that a character who would conspire to profit off of white supremacy, anti-gay bigotry, and anti-Semitism is the best vehicle for convincing the country to end the drug war, to end our romance with interventionism, to encourage serious scrutiny of state violence, at every level, then you should be honest enough to defend that proposition.
What you should not do is claim that Ron Paul “legislated” for Martin Luther King Day, or claim to have intricate knowledge of Ron Paul’s heart, and thus by the harsh accumulation of evidence, be made to look ridiculous.
Megan Carpentier (The Guardian): If you told a liberal in 2008 that progressives ought to give Ron Paul a chance because he was the most anti-war candidate on the ballot, you would have been laughed out of the room … But in 2012, some prominent (and white, male) progressives are arguing exactly that. What’s changed? Not Ron Paul, that’s for certain.
…. to the women, minorities and LGBT people (and their supporters) who have paid attention to Paul’s record, it comes as little surprise that his most vociferous supporters on the left are pale and male … and their arguments stale.
…. Nonetheless, there have been calls by progressives, most notably Glenn Greenwald, to ignore all of that and more, and focus instead on Obama’s policy failings …. no policy priorities are more imperative than those – certainly not abortion, immigration rights, LGBT equality, racial justice or any other aspect of the US’s extensive foreign policy. (Greenwald, who is gay, was in the relatively privileged position of being able to travel to Brazil to circumvent Doma.)…
…. (their) lives won’t be directly affected by all those pesky social conservative policies Paul would seek to enact as president, either due to their race, class, gender or sexual orientation…..