PBS: White House Announces Plan To Train 50,000 People, Including Veterans, To Install Solar Panels
The U.S. is planning to train veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years. The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases and train a total of at least 50,000, including veterans.
The Agriculture Department will also spend nearly $70 million to fund 540 solar and renewable energy projects, focused on rural and farming areas. And the Energy Department will propose stricter efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners, a move the department said could cut emissions more than any other efficiency standard it has issued to date.
President Barack Obama speaks about energy during a visit to a Wal-Mart store in Mountain View, California. Walmart will double by 2020 the number of on-site solar energy projects at its U.S. outlets and distribution centers, the company announced
Standing beneath the glare of fluorescent lights inside a Walmart store, President Obama on Friday rolled out his plan for sweeping energy reform, an ambitious effort to convert more businesses, homes and government building to solar power. Obama’s energy initiative — an executive action that calls for investments in more solar energy jobs, upgrading homes and buildings to be more efficient, and partnerships with the housing and tech industries — and aims to move the country away from foreign oil dependency while creating more jobs in the renewable energy sector. Despite a spotty record on labor issues, Walmart has been what many experts consider a pioneer in energy efficiency and renewable energy. It’s one of at least 10 private companies that, as part of Obama’s plan, have agreed to double-down on their efforts to convert more of their energy to renewable sources. Dozens of affordable housing organizations, retailers, home builders and tech companies have also signed on to the presidents plan with their own plans to invest in solar, helping the environment and lowering their electricity bills.
FACT: Since President Obama took office, America has increased its electricity generation from solar—more than 10-fold.
Arkansas-based Walmart, an early investor in the solar industry, pledged on Friday it will double the number of solar energy projects at its stores and distribution centers by 2020. By the end of last year, the retail giant had 335 renewable energy projects, with solar making up about 6 percent of those. The company expects the additional solar projects will save $1 billion per year in energy costs. “It’s the right thing to do because when you save that money you can pass that money back to consumers in the form of lower prices, or you can create more jobs,” Obama said. The executive order, an 11-page document released Friday morning, involves more than 300 private and public sector commitments to cut carbon emissions, an additional $2 billion in energy efficiency investments in federal buildings over three years, new efficiency standards for appliances and training programs at community colleges across the country that will assist 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020.
The announcement was applauded by several environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The Mountain View store in which Obama spoke now gets 14.5 percent of its energy from solar systems built and installed by SolarCity, based in San Mateo and one of Walmart’s biggest solar vendors. SolarCity says its projects with Walmart alone have created an estimated 9,000 construction jobs in the United States, and SolarCity itself has created an additional 5,000 permanent American jobs since it did its first project with Walmart in 2010. A few Silicon Valley tech leaders have also signed onto Obama’s energy plan. Apple is building a 2.8 million square-foot headquarters that will also run entirely on renewables, including a rooftop solar system, and has committed to powering all its facilities with green; Yahoo announced it will add a solar installation to their Sunnyvale headquarters by early 2015; and Google announced on Friday a $1 million prize to develop the next generation of power inverters, or cooler-size boxes that help homes run on solar panels.
Pete Souza: “To appreciate this photograph, one must know the iconic photograph by Stanley Tretick of John Kennedy Jr. crawling out from the trap door of this same desk while his father, President Kennedy, worked at the desk. Caroline Kennedy had stopped by to see President Obama, and when she mentioned that he was using the same desk as her father, the President immediately remembered the Tretick picture and tried to open the trap door. It was locked and no one had a key.” March 9, 2009
Today (All Times Eastern)
12:45 PM EDT: The President delivers remarks on energy, Walmart, Mountain View, California
After pounding Democrats on ObamaCare for the last several years, Republicans have a big problem. The law is working and their message is falling flat. This was confirmed again by testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday in which health care industry executives surprised Republican lawmakers. They said the law has not led to a government takeover of the industry, that most enrollees are paying their premiums as required, and that premiums are not certain to go up next year as Republicans claim. With more than 8 million people enrolled in health plans through the ObamaCare exchanges, many Republicans know it’s much harder to repeal the law now than it might have been several years ago. And they tried more than 50 times already without success.
David Jackson: Obama Touts Energy Plans, Trumpets W. House Solar Panels
President Obama will announce new plans Friday designed to boost solar power and promote energy efficiency, including the completed installation of solar panels on the White House roof. The solar panels on the president’s residence are “part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building,” said White House spokesman Matt Lehrich. During a visit to Wal-Mart in Mountain View, Calif., near San Jose, Obama will also outline what aides call some 300 “private and public sector commitments” designed to create jobs and reduce carbon pollution.
The speech comes three days after the administration issued a report saying that climate change caused by pollution is already damaging the environment and triggering extreme weather conditions. The initiatives Obama will announce Friday include programs aimed at financing for new solar business ventures, training and developing a solar workforce, and enforcing new building codes to promote efficiency. Private companies, including Wal-Mart, will commit to similar projects, the White House said. The plans are projected to create enough new solar energy to power more than 130,000 homes, and energy savings that are the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road for one year, the White House said.
When Emily Letts got pregnant, she knew she would get an abortion. Then she decided to film it. Letts, 25, is an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, which is where she had her abortion. The non-graphic video focuses on her face and shows her breathing and humming through the procedure. The doctor on the other side of the sheet is out of view. When she entered the Abortion Care Network’s Stigma Busting video competition and won, the video went viral. Here, she explains why she decided to share her experience so publicly. I searched the Internet, and I couldn’t find a video of an actual surgical procedure in the clinic that focused on the woman’s experience. We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like. A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth. There is no cutting, and risk of infertility is less than 1 percent. Yet women come into the clinic all the time terrified that they are going to be cut open, convinced that they won’t be able to have kids after the abortion. The misinformation is amazing, but think about it: They are still willing to sacrifice these things because they know that they can’t carry the child at this moment.
There are three options for a first-trimester abortion: medical abortion, which is the pill; a surgical abortion with IV sedation, where you’re asleep through the whole thing; and a surgical abortion with local anesthesia during which you’re awake. The first night I posted the video to my Facebook page, I couldn’t sleep. Then I looked at my Facebook wall. I was expecting this tsunami of hateful, scary things, but everyone was so breathtakingly supportive. People who I have never talked to started writing their own abortion stories. I had one woman who messaged me saying she’d had an abortion that week and she was plagued with guilt. Her boyfriend called her a killer, but she said she was recovering well and appreciated the video. Another woman told me she’d had a miscarriage and that because of my video she felt like she could talk to me about it. Just all of these things started pouring out of women.
Derek Willis: The Most Republican Company?: The Makers Of Wonder Bread
The most Republican-leaning company in the country, based on political donations, isn’t Koch Industries. It’s the company that makes Wonder Bread. The political action committee of Flowers Foods, a Georgia company that produces the pillowy sandwich bread, Tastykakes and Nature’s Own baked goods, has given more than 99 percent of its political contributions since 1979 to Republicans. Only three Democratic congressional candidates have gotten money from its PAC since 1984, and not one in the past 20 years. Most corporations involved in national politics don’t operate this way. Despite its largess, Flowers keeps a low profile that masks the motives for its one-sided giving. It’s based in Thomasville, a southwestern Georgia city just over the Florida border best known for an annual rose festival and grand antebellum homes.
There are other companies that lean heavily toward Republicans: The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store PAC routinely gives them more than 80 percent of its contributions. The PAC of Phillips International, a financial information publisher, gave a combined $1,100 to just two Democrats between 1994 and 2006, compared with more than $545,000 to Republicans. The California-based radio and publishing company Salem Communications, which like Phillips has openly embraced a conservative message, also gives almost nothing to Democrats. Some trade associations, like the Associated Builders and Contractors, have long been exclusive donors to Republicans, much the way many labor unions have given almost all of their contributions to Democrats. But none of those companies have given as much money as Flowers has, and over as long a period of time.
NBC News: The Newest Benghazi Controversy: Political Fundraising
House Speaker John Boehner would not say Thursday if the House GOP’s campaign arm should stop including the Benghazi attacks in fundraising appeals. Asked three times whether the National Republican Congressional Committee should be fundraising based on what they call Democratic obstruction of the Benghazi investigation, Boehner answered only: “Our focus is on getting the answers to those families who lost their loved ones. Period.” An NRCC email sent Wednesday morning included a link to “become a Benghazi watchdog” – which led to a page where supporters can donate cash. A separate website called “BenghaziWatchdogs.com” still contains a link encouraging visitors to “help fight liberals by donating today.”
Democrats say that’s inappropriate and calls attention to the political nature of the GOP focus on Benghazi. In a statement sent minutes before Boehner’s weekly press conference began, Rep. Steve Israel, who chairs the Democratic counterpart to the NRCC, called the Republican cash appeal “callous.” “Fundraising off the Benghazi tragedy is despicable and insulting and has no place in the national conversation,” he said. “Speaker Boehner and Chairman Walden should immediately take down their BenghaziWatchdogs.com website and stop insulting the memory of the brave Americans who were lost there.”
Eleanor Kennedy: HCA, Community Health Systems And LifePoint Starting To See Benefits From The Affordable Care Act
One quarter in, Nashville’s publicly traded hospital operators seem optimistic about the effects of the Affordable Care Act on their bottom lines. Community Health Systems CFO Larry Cash told investors and analysts during the company’s first-quarter earnings call Wednesday that the ACA should decrease self-pay admissions from about 8 percent to about 4 percent over a three-year period. The company has seen some early moderate impacts, especially in Medicaid expansion states where self-pay admissions have already begun to drop, Cash said. “We believe we have recognized, although on a roughly calculated basis, at least $10 million from the ‘woodwork effect’ [in which people currently eligible for Medicaid but who had yet to sign up will now do so because of the ACA] and the Affordable Care Act for additional Medicaid business,” Cash said.
Brentwood-based LifePoint was also high on the ACA’s impacts during its first-quarter earnings call last week, with company leadership emphasizing Medicaid expansion’s effects in many of the states where it operates hospitals. “So far and as expected, the new health care law has been a net positive for LifePoint with respect to Medicaid expansion,” CEO Bill Carpenter said during the call. “In the seven states where we operate that have expanded coverage, we saw increasing Medicaid and decreasing self-pay volumes. Increases in Medicaid membership and health insurance exchange participation contributed measurably to our results in the quarter.
Elise Vebeck: Obama’s HHS Nominee Breezes Through Senate Confirmation Hearing
Senate Republicans mounted little resistance Thursday to Sylvia Burwell, President Obama’s nominee to replace Kathleen Sebelius as head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While several of the senators played up their opposition to ObamaCare, most Republicans called Burwell a qualified pick, and several went out of their way to praise the former Clinton administration official as uniquely suited to lead HHS. GOP lawmakers solicited Burwell’s views on major policy debates, such as how ObamaCare will affect the economy, the deficit and federal healthcare costs. Not surprisingly, Burwell sided with the administration on every point. “The Affordable Care Act is strengthening the economy … reducing the deficit and providing great savings,” she said.
At the same time, Burwell played up her desire to be flexible on certain issues, like states’ desire to expand Medicaid in alternative ways. She also sought to quiet debate on the cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board and other controversial topics. “IPAB never needs to be used,” Burwell said, noting that the panel is only triggered when the rate of healthcare spending rises above a certain level. “In the current window that we’re looking at, it is our estimate that it would never be activated,” she said. The path to confirmation for Burwell would look very different had Senate Democrats not used the “nuclear option” last year. The procedural maneuver gave Democrats the power to confirm nominees like Burwell with a simple majority vote, which means they can approve Obama’s choices without any Republican support. Last April, she was confirmed to head the Office of Management and Budget by a vote of 96-0.
Scott Keyes: Before Obamacare, GOP Candidate Was Denied Health Coverage For Adopting A Child
In a parallel universe, Matt Bevin might not be an anti-Obamacare crusader, but instead a poster child for the issues with the old health insurance industry and the ways in which the Affordable Care Act now prevents insurers from taking advantage of consumers. That’s because Bevin, a Republican Senate candidate trying to unseat Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), himself was once the victim of an unfair insurance industry practice: Denying coverage to consumers because of a pre-existing condition. During a campaign stop in western Kentucky on Monday, Bevin told the crowd that after leaving a job, “My wife and I literally didn’t have health care for about a year because of a pre-existing condition.”
Was it cancer? Heart disease? Pancreatitis? No. It wasn’t a health condition at all. “I was rather shocked… What it was is that we were adopting. That’s considered a pre-existing condition,” Bevin said. He and his wife have four adopted children from Ethiopia in total. As a result, Bevin noted, “For over a year or so, I had no coverage for my entire family. That’s a little bit unnerving for people.” Bevin’s experience is exactly the type of ordeal that families no longer have to go through now that Obamacare is the law of the land. Despite unwittingly making a succinct case in favor of health reform, Bevin’s takeaway from his own insurance debacle was that we need to repeal Obamacare and instead “let states come up with solutions.”
Is it safe to say that Barack Obama’s presidency will be remembered as the most consequential since Ronald Reagan’s — a presidency that “changed the trajectory of America” and “put us on a fundamentally different path”? In both the domestic and foreign spheres, Obama has had transformational impact. And there is more to come. Reagan’s great achievement at home was to shift the political spectrum to the right. People tend to forget how radical his ideas once seemed. His biggest legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, is a landmark because it establishes the principle that health care should be considered a right, not a privilege. Democrats such as Harry Truman — and Republicans such as Richard Nixon — sought for decades to move the nation toward universal care. The fact that Obama succeeded where others failed is, in itself, a huge achievement.
What kind of monster must someone be to actually root for ppl 2 NOT get private insurance? Politics over humanity. thehill.com/policy/healthc…
Health care is part of a larger suite of issues on which Obama has swung the pendulum back to the left. He made the case, for example, that more regulation of the financial sector was needed. Republicans were forced to give way. The president has been hammering away in speeches about the need for an increase in the minimum wage. Republicans haven’t caved on this yet, but in the end they almost surely will because of widespread public support for it. Whether Democrats lose the Senate or not, Obama will have a tough time getting significant legislation passed in his final two years. Please don’t tell me he simply needs to be a better politician, like Bill Clinton. Obama ran rings around both Clintons in 2008. A black man with the middle name Hussein who gets elected president twice should be in the all-time-all-world Politics Hall of Fame.
Obama is not the first president to endorse multilateralism, but he may be the first to mean it. He agreed to use force in Libya only after France and Britain nominally took the lead. He has kept the NATO allies together in cautiously dealing with the Ukraine crisis. He has refused to be drawn into Syria because he is unsure whether intervention would make the situation better or worse. The president realizes that even the most powerful nation on earth cannot mediate every dispute, take sides in all wars, alleviate all suffering. He acknowledges our limitations and more narrowly defines our national interest. The public approves, even if some foreign policy sages are apoplectic.
President Obama watches the action during a break from playing basketball at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 9, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama stops to talk with families after playing basketball at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 9, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama reacts to a comment made at the White House Correspondents Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 9, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama “meets” with speechwriter Cody Keenan, who dressed as a pirate for an Oval Office photo taken for use in the President’s humorous speech to the White House Correspondents Association dinner May 9, 2009. “But as I said during the campaign, we can’t just talk to our friends. As hard as it is, we also have to talk to our enemies, and I’ve begun to do exactly that,” the President said in his speech. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks on the phone to Solicitor General Elena Kagan from the Treaty Room in the White House residence, Sunday night, May 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the economic situation in Europe, prior to the Hampton University commencement in Hampton, Va., Sunday, May 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in the “Pit Crew Challenge” during an event with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition on the South Lawn of the White House, May 9, 2011. The First Lady visited seven activity stations during the event, which helped promote both the Let’s Move! and Joining Forces initiatives. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama walks through the Rose Garden of the White House for an outdoor meeting with senior staff, May 9, 2011. Walking with the President, from left, are: Senior Advisor David Plouffe, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Counselor to the President Pete Rouse, and Counsel to the President Bob Bauer (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama meets with senior staff in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 9, 2011. Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett is seen at right (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, May 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama watches a demonstration by Oscar Perez and Bobford Do as he tours a classroom at Manor New Technology High School in Manor, Texas, May 9, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama, Prince Harry of Wales, and Dr. Jill Biden help military children create Mother’s Day cards and other crafts in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 9, 2013. The children presented the gifts to their moms during the Joining Forces Military Mother’s Day Tea in the East Room. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)