On This Day: President Obama jokes with members of the Dallas Mavericks in the Green Room of the White House before honoring the team and their 2011 NBA Championship victory, Jan. 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):
11:00AM: The President and Vice President meet with Members of Congress, The Roosevelt Room
12:45PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
2:20PM: The President delivers remarks announcing Promise Zones, The East Room.
The first five Zones are located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The President first announced the Promise Zone Initiative during last year’s State of the Union Address, as a way to partner with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.
I signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov. $40 monthly premium & dental ins for $33 monthly. Yay for ObamaCare
The next goal is to push private enrollment from 2 million to 7 million by March 31, and to control costs by balancing older (costlier) subscribers with younger ones. The new survey suggests that both goals are feasible. Among the marketplace visitors questioned in December, 51% (versus 37% in the earlier survey) found it easy to compare the subscription fees (premiums) for different plans, and 43% (up from 30%) had no trouble comparing the benefits. And when the researchers questioned potential enrollees who hadn’t visited a health care exchange, or hadn’t applied for coverage, nearly 60% said they still planned to find a plan before the 2014 enrollment period ends in late March. “If that large a percentage of eligible consumers enroll in either Medicaid or the marketplace plans,” says Sara Collins, the Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for health care coverage and access, “that would make for a very successful first year of enrollment.”
Especially when you consider the age patterns the survey reveals. Now that insurers can’t penalize or exclude people who may actually require medical care, they depend heavily on young, healthy subscribers to help dilute the cost. Rates would skyrocket if the exchanges attracted only high-risk subscribers, but the new survey should help allay that fear. It found that 19- to 34-year-olds, who make up roughly 40% of potential enrollees, accounted for roughly 40% of marketplace visitors through December—and they were just as determined as older consumers to find coverage. Some 58% of the young adults who hadn’t yet enrolled said they would return before March 31. The figures were 61% among 35- to 49-year-olds and 55% among 50- to 64-year-olds.
TIME: Gates Was Offended Obama Thought He’d Write A Memoir
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes in his new memoir that President Barack Obama was concerned his national security advisers might later write memoirs — much to Gates’ offense. Gates recounts an April 2010 meeting to discuss Iran policy in the Oval Office. Gates encouraged Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to consider the ramifications of a surprise Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, he writes. Gates details that he wanted Obama to beef up the U.S. military’s posture in the region that year, including moving in a second aircraft carrier, and additional radar and missile defense capabilities.
Gates writes that Obama ended the meeting on a noncommittal note. I was put off by the way the president closed the meeting. To his very closest advisers, he said, “For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe you be my witness.” I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters. Maybe Obama’s fears weren’t too far off the mark.
Molly Redden: Christie Administration’s Bridge Lane Closure Slowed Search For Missing 4-Year-Old, Says Official
Private messages released on Wednesday strongly suggest that a top adviser to Republican Gov. Chris Christie orchestrated a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, as political retaliation against the city’s Democratic mayor. Calling the messages “astonishing” and “unconscionable,” members of the Fort Lee borough council described the mid-September traffic disaster, caused when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unexpectedly closed two of the town’s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, as having dire consequences.
“There was a missing child that day. The police had trouble conducting that search because they were tied up directing traffic,” says Jan Goldberg, a Fort Lee councilman who works with local emergency personnel. Police found the missing child, a four-year-old. “But with the streets in the condition they were, I would venture to say that the search took longer,” Goldberg says. Ila Kasofsky, a Fort Lee councilwoman, tells Mother Jones that ambulances and other emergency vehicles could not get through the gridlock. In the aftermath of the lane closures, Kasofsky says she spoke with a Fort Lee resident who couldn’t get over the bridge to support her husband through major surgery. Another Fort Lee woman was unable to pick up her son after his dialysis session.
Linh Tat: EMS Responses Delayed By GWB Lane Closures In Fort Lee
Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department. The woman later died, borough records show.
In at least two of those instances, response time doubled, noted EMS coordinator Paul Favia, who documented those cases in a Sept. 10 letter to Mayor Mark Sokolich, which The Record obtained. On Sept. 9, the first day of the traffic paralysis, EMS crews took seven to nine minutes to arrive at the scene of a vehicle accident where four people were injured, when the response time should have been less than four minutes, he wrote.
Christie inhabits a rare space in American politics: He’s a bully. He’s followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him. Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.
It’s not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they’re weak. The reason Chris Christie is so good at this is that Chris Christie is actually a bully. What makes Christie unusual is that he’s a bully with power. That can be a dangerous combination. There have been previous hints that Christie’s proclivity to publicly humiliate his opponents is matched by a tendency to privately punish them, too. a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events; a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs; a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled; another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district.
Sharon Stone on The Talk on how ObamaCare is helping her charity, ‘A Better LA’ and improving lives. Video here. Go to minute 28:12:
“I became involved with it, one, because it’s working, which I really like; these platforms that are making sense and are working. Logically, you know, ‘A Better LA’ is about helping to end gang violence and gang violence…[crowd applauds]…thank you…thank you; because we’re really gonna need your support because you know, we’re just, we’re really grassroots organization that we hope will become ‘A Better Chicago,’ ‘A Better Detroit,’ ‘A Better Philadelphia,’ because gang violence, you know gangs are really how drugs get in the street. Gangs, if you worry about your kids getting on drugs, you really need to stop the gang violence, because gangs are the way that drugs are distributed; and so, what we’re doing is, we’re getting people that are in gangs, who want to be out of gangs to come out. We train them in an eighteen week program, together with the police, and with people so that they learn mediation techniques. Then they go back in and they get in and work inside gangs, and they tell us what they need and we help them. We don’t tell them what to do, they tell us what they need. And we’re really having a great deal of success, where we went from, like, seventeen hundred deaths a year to four hundred deaths, three hundred deaths a year. We’re really seeing it coming down. [crowd applauds]. Yes it’s huge and we’ve been able to get neutral areas because you know, the parks are sort of like gang offices and so now these parks are becoming more neutral areas where the gang people’s kids can play and be safe; and because it’s still families, I mean, these are really low economic areas and so people who have real leadership skills become the heads of gangs. I mean, if we were in these low economic areas, we’d be the gang leaders because we have leadership skills. So you have to figure out how other people like you and me, who just don’t have good opportunities. So you have to show them, here’s how you can have a good opportunity and have a different kind of life. [crowd applauds].
So, we recently started a new program which I’m so excited about, using Obamacare and we are the first organization in America, who’s a 501(3c) where we took Obamacare and we insured our gang mediators as a group and UCLA helped us to form them as a group; and so all of our mediators got healthcare. [crowd applauds]. So when they go back in, they’re like, I have healthcare, when my wife has a baby, she can go to the hospital. Someone in my family needs drug rehab, dental care, my kid can have braces, and they’re also a group. Bonded organization where they may have come from all these different gangs or different neighborhoods, or different organizations; they’re now a bonded group, together. I’m very excited about it. One of the reasons I think Obamacare is so great is because you know, we are living for a really long time now and you know, we’re not retiring at sixty-two. So when we’re fifty, we’re not like, thinking oh I’m gonna knock off here in about ten years, what am I gonna do? We’re thinking, gee, what I do wanna do with the next thirty, forty years of my life? And we start thinking, well, maybe I don’t wanna do the same thing I’ve been doing until now. What do I want to do with my second career? What do I want to do now that my kids are grown up and gone, and I don’t have to just keep it all together because I’m keeping my family together, I have to pay those house bills, I have to put them through college. What do I want to do now for me?
Craig Whitlock: Air Force General To Retire After Criticism For Handling Of Sexual-Assault Case
A three-star Air Force general whose handling of sexual-assault cases drew withering criticism from advocacy groups and some lawmakers retired under pressure Wednesday. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the commander of the Third Air Force in Europe, acknowledged that he had become a “distraction” for the Air Force because of controversial cases in which he overturned a sexual-assault conviction of a star fighter pilot and decided that there was not enough evidence to court-martial an accused rapist. Franklin’s decision to grant clemency in February to a convicted fighter pilot at Aviano Air Base in Italy helped spark a national debate over sexual assault in the armed forces and about whether military leaders took the problem seriously enough.
The pilot, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, had been found guilty in November 2012 by an all-male jury in what was seen as a test of the Air Force’s willingness to tackle such crimes. Franklin’s decision to grant clemency infuriated many female lawmakers and activists, who said the outcome would discourage victims from reporting abuse. Congress has since passed several measures to bolster the investigation of sex crimes in the military and has stripped commanders of the authority to overturn convictions — an outcome of Franklin’s decision in the Aviano case.
Greg Sargent: Dems Slam GOP Senate Candidates Over Unemployment Benefits
Is it conceivable that the 2014 elections might not prove to be exclusively about Obamacare and nothing else? With the battle over unemployment benefits raging, Dems are increasingly focused on the fact that some House Republicans expected to oppose an extension under any circumstances — no matter what “pay for” is agreed to — are also running for Senate. Today, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will hit multiple Republicans who are vying for their party’s Senate nomination in red states over the Republican refusal to extend benefits – in keeping with the broader Dem effort to make 2014 about economic mobility and inequality.
Dems are targeting GOP Senate candidates in Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. Here’s the release hitting House GOPers running for Senate in Georgia. Dems believe the failure to extend benefits — and opposition to a minimum wage hike — will build a general election case that centers on Republicans’ lack of an affirmative agenda for economically struggling Americans.
Despite the treasured right-wing talking points, it’s increasingly clear that Obamacare is a success. Moreover, in places where Obamacare is not succeeding, it’s also clear that the right wing is to blame. Well, it’s clear to any who look at the state-by-state numbers of the newly insured. A whole lot of Americans will have to look, however, for the program’s success to redound to Democrats’ advantage. Charles Gaba, an enterprising Web site designer, has taken it upon himself to track the number of Americans who have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Tallying those who have signed up on the state and federal exchanges (2.1 million), those who have obtained Medicaid coverage (4.4 million) and those who gained coverage through the law’s requirement that private plans allow parents to cover their children up to age 26 (3.1 million), he cites more than 9 million newly insured through Obamacare. Which is to say, the ACA is working as planned, perhaps a little better, in the states where governors and legislatures chose to implement it, such as California and New York. Consider the implications: A larger share of Californians will be able to afford regular medical check-ups than Texans. A smaller share of Californians is likely to be bankrupted by the expense of major medical treatment than Texans. Only by publicizing the act’s manifest success in states where it has been implemented can supporters begin to change the public’s verdict.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Nevada and Tea Party favourite Sharron Angle, who lost to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in her race for the U.S. Senate, speaks to supporters at an election night rally in Las Vegas, Nevada