10:35: President Obama departs the White House en route Woodbridge, Va.
11:05: Arrives in Woodbridge, Va.
11:30: Delivers remarks via satellite at the AARP Life@50+ National Event & Expo at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge
12:45: Delivers remarks at a campaign event at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge (C-Span)
1:30: VP Biden and Jill Biden travel to Hanover, N.H., to deliver remarks at a campaign event at Dartmouth College
2:30: President Obama arrives at the White House
3:0 First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at Morgan State University, Baltimore (need to check the time on this)
5:15: VP Biden and Jill Biden travel to Concord, N.H., to deliver remarks at a campaign event at the New Hampshire State House
Washington Post: The last of the 33,000 “surge” troops President Obama ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 have left the country, the Pentagon announced Friday, just ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.
The number of U.S. troops in the war zone now stands at 68,000, Secretary of State Leon E. Panetta told reporters traveling with him during a week-long visit to the Asia-Pacific region. The troop count is down from a peak of 101,000 U.S. forces last year and marks the end of a critical phase in Obama’s war strategy.
…. The drawdown of U.S. forces is in keeping with Obama’s timetable to pull out all conventional combat forces by the end of 2014…
Full article here
USA Today: Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of about $4.5 billion on prescription medications because of the 2010 health care law since January 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today.
“We’re seeing consistent, steady savings for seniors thanks to the health care law,” said Jon Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “In just 21/2 half years, seniors have seen billions in savings, and those savings will continue to grow as the doughnut hole is fully closed.”
Washington Post: In 3 1/2 years in office, President Obama has set in motion a broad overhaul of public education from kindergarten through high school, largely bypassing Congress and inducing states to adopt landmark changes that none of his predecessors attempted.
He awarded billions of dollars in stimulus funding to states that agreed to promote charter schools, use student test scores to evaluate teachers and embrace other administration-backed policies. And he has effectively rewritten No Child Left Behind, the federal law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, by excusing states from its requirements if they adopt his measures.
Loved this bit:
Remember this from last month?
I work for The Villages, a large retirement community in Central Florida, and one of the top 20 privately held corporations in the state. My employer records annual sales of over $1 billion dollars, and the company’s CEO, H. Gary Morse, is a multi-millionaire (possibly even a billionaire).
In contrast, the company’s employees are underpaid and have no benefits. I haven’t had a raise in six years. I am a part-time hourly employee, which means no paid vacation and no paid sick leave. This year, thanks to cuts in my hours, I’m on track to gross less than $10,000.
…. I checked my mail box and found a letter from my employer.
To our entire Villages Team:
The Villages is a great example of the “American Dream” come true. Together, we have created jobs, established businesses, founded an award-winning school and set the standard for enjoyable, affordable retirement living.
Only in America could such a community be created … but that America will soon disappear if we don’t change the leadership in Washington, D.C.
Read the full post here
LA Times: …. Paul Ryan’s initial campaign visit to Florida was to The Villages, a hotbed of Republican retirees. Residents were encouraged to arrive in their golf carts for the outdoor rally Saturday.
Hundreds of supporters jammed one of the development’s “town squares,” where free entertainment and boozy dances each night have helped this community of 60,000 seniors earn a somewhat double-edged reputation as Disney World for the Cialis set.
Open-air bars at the event began pouring before 8 a.m. Happy-hour pricing was in effect: $2.75 for a 14-ounce margarita. However, a Chick-fil-A stand did a brisker business.
The privately held, and tightly controlled, retirement complex is a regular campaign stop for GOP presidential candidates…..
Romney counts billionaire H. Gary Morse, who built The Villages on more than 30 square miles of central Florida farmland, among his campaign’s biggest donors. A co-chairman of Romney’s Florida finance committee, Morse, family members and their corporation have already given more than $1 million to the Romney campaign and the “super PAC” supporting him….
Scum of the earth.
President Obama talks on the phone with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover team aboard Air Force One during a flight to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Aug. 13 (Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: Just this morning, I noted that Mitt Romney publicly gave his word, on camera, that he would “go back and look” to let us know what tax rates he paid over the last decade. The good news is, Romney really did “go back and look,” and elaborated on the findings today.
The bad news is, his answer was horrible:
“…I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way. But every year I’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.”
Let’s walk through the top five reasons this answer is woefully unacceptable…..
Full post here
David Simon: Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit.
Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?
Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college. If not, it was my first couple years as a newspaper reporter. Since then, the paychecks have been just fine, thanks, and I don’t see any reason not to pay at the rate appropriate to my earnings, given that I’m writing the check to the same government that provided the economic environment that allowed for such incomes.
I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly: Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent. I swear. And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail. But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits. I’m just not that kind of guy.
This republic is just about over, isn’t it?
ABC: After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.
Ryan had denied doing so as recently as Wednesday, when he spoke to ABC’s Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, in Ohio.
“I never asked for stimulus,” Mitt Romney’s new running mate said. “I don’t recall… so I really can’t comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work.”
Two years ago, during an interview on WBZ’s NewsRadio he was asked by a caller if he “accepted any money” into his district. Ryan said he did not.
…. But as we’ve now learned, Ryan did write letters. He did request stimulus funds.
Charles Pierce: The president is angry. The president is an angry man. The president is black. The president is an angry black man …. That is the four-point plan on “the economy” on which Willard Romney apparently intends to run for president for a while…..
“If you look at the ads that have been described and the divisiveness based on income, age, ethnicity and so-forth, it’s designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger and this is not in my view what the American people want to see,” Romney said.
Ethnicity? And so forth…. If he blows that dog-whistle any louder, Seamus may return from that great roof-rack in the sky.
This should surprise absolutely nobody, because, if there’s one thing candidate Romney has demonstrated, it is that he really is quite a remarkable liar…. Asking a Republican presidential candidate to abandon race-baiting entirely is to ask for an awful lot of 13-second Republican stump speeches. Asking Willard Romney to do it is to assume that there is muck so foul that he will not immerse himself in it to be president….
…. There was nothing Romney wouldn’t do in business to make a buck. Why should we be surprised that he campaigns the same way? ….
…. Since you can count on Rafalca’s hooves the number of times in his life that Willard Romney has been in a fair fight, it’s no great shock to discover that, since he can’t fight hard, he’ll fight dirty, because winning is not something you earn. Winning is something you inherit…..
Full post here
McClatchy: …. Paul Ryan will leave sizable footprints on the 2012 presidential race. His controversial plan to overhaul the federal budget has been the chief talking point of the campaign since Mitt Romney put him on the GOP ticket last weekend.
…. According to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, “[Medicaid] Cutbacks might involve reduced eligibility … coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost-sharing by beneficiaries – all of which would reduce access to care.”
Those cuts and the Ryan plan’s calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act would add tens of millions of low-income Americans to the ranks of the uninsured. It also would raise taxpayers’ bill for emergency room indigent care and cause an increase in private insurance rates.
…. Ryan’s plans for Medicare have caused a stir … In order to slow spending in the national health plan for seniors, Ryan would replace Medicare’s guarantee of coverage for new beneficiaries in 2023 with a flat payment to seniors known as a “voucher” or “premium support” ….
Ryan’s planned tax cuts favor the affluent. Those who earn more than $1 million annually would see an average tax cut of $265,000 and a 12.5 percent increase in after-tax income … But at the lower end of the scale, people earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut …
…. All told, the Tax Policy Center said, Ryan’s tax plans would increase the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years. His call to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for high-earning Americans would boost the deficit by an additional $5.4 trillion.
Full article here
NYT Editorial: Three days after Paul Ryan became the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, he made a pilgrimage on Tuesday to the Las Vegas gambling palace of Sheldon Adelson, the casino tycoon who is spending more than any other donor to try to send Mr. Ryan and Mitt Romney to the White House. No reporters were allowed, perhaps because the campaign didn’t want them asking uncomfortable questions about the multiple federal investigations into the company behind Mr. Adelson’s wealth.
Those questions, though, aren’t going away, and neither are the ones about the judgment of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan in drawing ever closer to a man whose business background should lead them to back away — fast. By not repudiating Mr. Adelson’s vow to spend as much as $100 million on their behalf, the two candidates seem more eager to keep the “super PAC” dollars flowing than to preserve the integrity of their campaign.
The issues swirling about Mr. Adelson’s business practices are not new and can hardly come as a surprise to the Romney campaign…. A careful presidential campaign would put distance between itself and a businessman like Mr. Adelson … By allowing Mr. Adelson to have such an outsize role in their race, the candidates themselves are placing a very risky bet.
Full editorial here
NYT: As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan fanned out across the country this week, glad-handing voters and donors, a smaller but no less important gathering was taking place on Capitol Hill: Mr. Romney’s transition team met on Tuesday with more than a dozen loyalists from the private and public sectors in space borrowed from a law office.
Mr. Romney’s transition team …. offers a glimpse of what might be Mr. Romney’s approach to governing, functioning much like his old private equity firm, Bain Capital. The team is assessing the government and looking for ways to make it more efficient and streamlined…..
The rest of the article didn’t interest me too much – a transition team for something that will never happen 🙄 – it was just this line:
“The team also offers a glimpse of what might be Mr. Romney’s approach to governing, functioning much like his old private equity firm, Bain Capital…..”
Davenport, Iowa, August 15 (Scout Tufankjian for OFA)
Morning everyone 😉
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.
Bob Cesca: The President is Crushing the Budget Deficit
Has Gallup taken happy pills today?
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.
TODville. I have a favor to ask. You’ve seen my occasional rants about how people with disabilities are (mis) treated in these United States.
Will you please, please, PLEASE sign this White House ‘We the People’ petition and pass it on to your friends and families?
***** You can sign the petition here *****
It’s about funding Medicaid so that people with disabilities can get the proper supports they need in the community in which they live.
You’ll need a WhiteHouse gov account which you can get from the link. And please remember to go back and sign the petition. We need 5,000 signatures for it to get to the Policy folks at the White House.
Sign and share the petition– Support people with disabilities and seniors!
Thank you. Me and my son really REALLY appreciate if you can take a few seconds to do this.
Let’s get tweeting:
If you’d like to re-tweet this message (which includes the link to the petition) just click here – and re-tweet!
Thank you Isonprize
American Bridge on YouTube
Glenn Kessler (Washington Post): …. “It is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years today you’re paying into a program that’s going to be there.” – Gov. Perry
Perhaps the governor does not know the dictionary definition of a Ponzi scheme. Here’s what Merriam-Webster says: “An investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.”
This is a frequent mistake politicians make when talking about Social Security. It is not an investment vehicle; it is intended to provide income security as well disability and life insurance. Just more than 60 percent of the 54 million beneficiaries are retired workers; the rest are disabled workers, dependents or survivors.
Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, which means that payments collected today are immediately used to pay benefits. Until recently, more payments were collected than were needed for benefits. So Social Security loaned the money to the U.S. government, which used it for other things. In exchange, Social Security received interest-bearing Treasury securities. The value of those bonds is now about $2.6 trillion.
In any case, Perry is wrong to label Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes ultimately go bust and everyone (except possibly early investors) generally loses their money. Social Security faces a long-term funding issue, but one that most experts say is manageable. After all, the Social Security actuary says that Social Security’s shortfall is 0.7 percent of the gross domestic product over the next 75 years.
Jonathan Chait: …. Perry, stylistically, ruled the roost. The media seems to consider Romney the winner. Pardon the condescension, but they’re not thinking like Republican base voters. Romney approaches every question as if he is in an actual debate …. Perry treats questions as interruptions …. His total liberation from the constraints of reason give Perry a chance to represent the Republican in in a way Romney simply cannot match.
In this way Perry eerily apes the style of George W. Bush….
Protesters stand outside Popovers on the Square as Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry campaigns inside August 18, 2011 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
ABC: …. What Perry may not have loved, however, is the treatment he received just 24-hours later at a meet-and-greet stop in this picturesque Seacoast town where he encountered about two-dozen protesters who shouted at him, held signs with slogans like “Another Texas idiot for sale,” and followed him into a cafe to yell some more.
The protesters, some of whom were senior citizens and members of the New Hampshire Alliance For Retired American gathered on a sidewalk more than an hour before Perry arrived at the event….
As the presidential candidate from Texas walked into a local restaurant, Popovers on the Square, he was forced to shake hands with voters amid shouts of “Hands off Social Security and Medicare!” and “You’re a threat to America” from the anti-Perry forces who gathered just a few feet away from him….
Inside the café, Gail Mitchell (a small-business owner from Barrington) and a companion grilled him: “You said Social Security was unconstitutional.”
“Social Security’s going to be there for those folks,” Perry answered his inquisitors, making reference to the elderly.
“But you said Social Security is unconstitutional,” Mitchell repeated.
“I don’t think I – I’m sorry, you must have,” Perry said before stopping himself.
Instead of elaborating, Perry stuffed a generous piece of popover in his mouth. (Perry called them “pop ups.”)
“I’ve got a big mouthful,” Perry said and then ordering a glass of water. He later tripped over one of the women standing at his side pressing him on Social Security.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” Perry said to her.
In an interview with Newsweek last year, Perry was asked about his opinion on the constitutionality of programs like Social Security and Medicare.
“I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term ‘general welfare’ in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care,” Perry said in the interview. “What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that. From my perspective, the states could substantially better operate those programs if that’s what those states decided to do.”
At a house party in New Hampshire last Saturday, Perry referred to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme.
Steve Benen: When a candidate would rather stuff food in his mouth than answer an important question, it’s safe to say he considers the issue politically problematic.
Later, Ray Sullivan a Perry campaign spokesperson, told reporters he’s “never heard” the governor question the constitutionality of Social Security.
Sullivan may be the only one.
As for Perry’s reluctance to stand by his own positions, what happened to the swagger, Rick? Folks want to know if you stand by what you said about Social Security. You’re not going to let polls and a bunch of aides tell you what to think, are you?
Full post here
Washington Post: Newly-minted presidential candidate Rick Perry got a taste Thursday of the rough-and-tumble nature of presidential politics, with protesters dogging him on the campaign trail, demanding to know whether he thinks Social Security is unconstitutional and begging him to follow through on threats of Texas seceding.
Nearly two dozen hecklers greeted the Texas governor with signs saying, “Ricky Go Home” and “Seniors Say NO to Ricky.” As Perry prepared for a meet-and-greet at a cafe downtown, they began chanting, “Hands off Social Security and Medicare.”
“He’s appealing to the tea party,” said Larry Drake, a retired federal worker and Democrat who said he came Thursday to show his opposition to the Republican governor. “It’s like George W. Bush on steroids.”
…A man shouted, “Please secede,” referring to comments Perry has made about Texas leaving the United States because of what he considered encroachment by the federal government. Perry ignored them with a tight smile.
MSNBC: Whether it’s due to the current Medicare debate, the end of the health-care fight (in which the GOP clubbed Democrats on Medicare), or something else, Republicans are losing ground with seniors.
In our combined NBC/WSJ polls for the first half of this year, 44% of seniors identify themselves as Democrats, versus 35% who identify themselves as Republicans. So a nine-point spread.
But in our merged NBC/WSJ polls from 2010, Democrats held just a two-point edge among seniors, 42%-40%.
Why is this important? Because last year – when they won control of the House and made gains in the Senate – … the GOP won the senior vote by more than 20 percentage points, 59%-38%. But in 2008, McCain beat Obama among seniors by eight points, 53%-45%. And in 2006, Democrats split the senior vote, 49%-49%.
…. Something similar is happening in the Midwest, too. Per the merged 2011 NBC/WSJ polls, 42% of respondents in that region identify with Democrats, versus 31% who identify with Republicans. So an 11-point spread. Yet back in our 2010 merged data, the Dem edge was just four points, 41%-37%….