May 8, 2013 at 8:53 am #87552
Just thought we’d start the day with a few videos.
The President giving the Commencement Address at THE Ohio State University.
The First Lady gave an interview with CBS This Morning, reflecting on her time in the White House so far.
The First Lady resumed her book tour yesterday…for American Grown.
As you make it through Hump Day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.May 8, 2013 at 8:56 am #87554
On Day Stock Market Sets New Record, Conservative Group Floats Impeaching Obama For ‘Wrecking The Stock Market’
By Scott Keyes on May 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 15,056, an all-time record. For one conservative group, this can only mean one thing: it’s time to impeach President Obama.
That was the message Capitol Hill Daily, a conservative publication based out of Baltimore, sent to Citizen United’s listserv today. They accused President Obama of “wreck[ing] the stock market” and asked readers to take a poll about whether he should be impeached as a result.May 8, 2013 at 8:59 am #87556May 8, 2013 at 9:06 am #87557
How Sequestration Is Devastating Programs That Aid Senior Citizens
By Anna Chu, Guest Blogger on May 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm
Last week, ThinkProgress spoke to directors of Meals on Wheels programs across the country, and they detailed how sequestration is cutting meal delivery and on-site meal services to needy seniors who may now have to go hungry. Since then, stories about sequestration’s harmful cuts to seniors have continued to pour in from across the country. The stories from Florida and Maine have been particularly wrenching:
• Throughout Florida, meal services for seniors have been cut. In the Orlando area, five senior meal sites are closing, another 20 seniors are losing their home support services, and other seniors will lose their transportation services, including help getting to medical appointments. Similarly, Aging Matters in Brevard had to close two of its lunch sites. In Ocala, Marion Senior Services will serve 6,000 fewer meals in 2013. Meanwhile, Holly Hill, Ormand Beach and six other locations from Deland to New Smyrna Beach had to cut its on-site meals from 5 days a week to 4 days a week while the waiting list for home-delivered meals is at 2,356 and growing. These may just be numbers to some, but not to the seniors who depend on the meals. Sometimes, these meals are seniors’ “only hot meal of the day.”
• The same stories are playing out in Maine. In central Maine, Spectrum Generations has had to cut its meal delivery service to just once a week, while Eastern Agency on Aging in Bangor had to furlough its employees once a week. “It is having a tremendous impact on people who need services…These are services that help to keep people — the elderly and the disabled — living in their homes and in their communities rather than living in institutions, which are much more expensive,” said Jessica Maurer, executive director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Meanwhile, in midcoast Maine, the Meals on Wheels program is facing funding shortfalls that may impact its on-site meal service program.
But losing crucial nutrition support services is not the only way sequestration is hurting seniors. It is also robbing $75 million from Aging and Disability Services programs. These include programs that protect vulnerable adults from elder abuse, that support services for people experiencing Alzheimer’s disease, and that provide home and community-based services that allow seniors to live at home for as long as possible. These drastic cuts are funneled down to the local level in various forms, from funding cuts to senior centers in Missouri to layoffs at a hospice in Kentucky.
In total, sequestration is cutting more than $230 million to four critical programs that support seniors. It cuts $117 million from Social Services Block Grants, which fund Meals on Wheels and other important initiatives, $75 million from Aging and Disability Services programs, $23 million from Community Service Employment for Older Americans programs, and $19 million from Housing for Elderly programs. But while Congress rushed to stop flight delays right before they flew home for recess, they have done nothing to ease the pain of these cuts on seniors.May 8, 2013 at 9:09 am #87558
Republicans struggle to justify vote against expanded background checks
Posted by Greg Sargent on May 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm
submit to reddit
CNN made a splash earlier today by reporting that GOP Senator Jeff Flake may be prepared to switch to Yes on Manchin-Toomey if its sponsors agree to change the provision relating to internet sales. If that happened, that would obviously be a big boost to the prospects of revisiting the bill.
However, after talking to Flake’s office, I’m not convinced he’s anywhere near switching his vote, though in one sense his office’s response does suggest progress of a narrow kind. Asked for a detailed explanation of his position, Flake spokesperson Genevieve Rozansky emailed me this:
He opposed Manchin-Toomey because it would have expanded background checks far beyond commercial sales to include most private transfers – including between friends and neighbors – if the posting or display of the ad for a firearm was made public in any way. He believes that the language in Manchin-Toomey regarding commercial sales was too broad, which is one of the reasons he didn’t support the amendment.
She added that he objected to Manchin-Toomey because ”it placed undue burdens on all firearms dealers, including smaller retailers” and “would have increased dealers’ liability, record keeping requirements, and expenses leading to high transfer fees on buyers and sellers.”
Taken all together, this is a good deal to overcome. Manchin-Toomey only requires checks on private sales done via commercial portals — at gun shows or on the Internet. But Flake thinks that the measure could end up requiring checks on certain types of internet transfers among friends and neighbors. Whether that’s true or not, it could probably be addressed with a legislative tweak. But Flake also sees “undue burdens” on dealers and onerous “expenses” on buyers and sellers, which would be much harder to fix with a tweakMay 8, 2013 at 9:10 am #87559
From the Appalachian Trail to the halls of Congress
By Steve Benen
Wed May 8, 2013 8:00 AM EDT
In the end, South Carolina’s congressional special election wasn’t that close after all. Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) overcame his scandals and won by nine points over Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D), 54% to 45%. In the process, we witnessed one of the more unexpected political comebacks in recent memory.
As we discussed in March, after serving three unremarkable terms in Congress, Sanford was elected governor twice, and in 2008, was widely considered a top contender for his party’s vice presidential nomination. By early 2009, the governor appeared to be laying the groundwork for a likely presidential campaign. Those plans were derailed in June 2009, when Sanford, a “family-values conservative,” confessed to having an extra-marital affair with an Argentinian woman. The governor had lied about his activities, misused public funds, violated state ethics guidelines, and was censured by state lawmakers from his own party.
That didn’t stop him, though, from running for Congress again when a House vacancy opened up unexpectedly. Sanford was far from the ideal candidate — he was caught trespassing at his ex-wife’s home — but managed to overcome his many problems, thanks in large part to the “R” after his name.
And that’s ultimately why this race was a fascinating drama, which doesn’t really amount to much. Ordinarily, pundits love to ponder the “what does this mean” question, but it’s hard to draw any sweeping conclusions from the results.May 8, 2013 at 9:12 am #87560
Why you should care about 2016 right now
Posted by Jonathan Bernstein on May 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm
The pollsters at Quinnipiac are preparing their first Iowa polling for 2016, and will release the results in a few weeks. If you think that’s too soon — and everyone but the most extreme political junkies thinks that — you’re right! But it’s not too soon to be thinking about and working for the 2016 presidential nomination contest, because now is when it’s really possible to push the candidates on policy, which is what’s really important.
What does polling tell us, nearly three years out from the Iowa caucuses? Almost nothing. It tells us name recognition, which we also know from common sense. (Lots of voters know who Hillary Clinton is; hardly anyone knows who Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is.) And it might possibly tell us a bit more about who is popular and who isn’t, but it’s far too early for that to be especially predictive of what will happen on a cold night in January or February 2016. My advice? Ignore those polls!
But that doesn’t mean that it’s too early to pay attention to the nomination battles. After all, the candidates are actively running now. Sometimes, that means actually organizing a full campaign, as we saw with Rand Paul last week. Mostly, however, it’s about impressing party actors and donors, and putting oneself in a position to be viable once the calendar turns to 2015 and 2016.
A large part of that is finding good issues to run on. And that’s where what happens now matters. Candidates — potential candidates — are looking around to determine which stances all party candidates must take, and are also looking for good issues to help differentiate themselves from the pack. What party actors — everything from think tankers to activists — can do, at this point, is to push the candidates to adopt their pet issues and make them central to the campaignMay 8, 2013 at 9:14 am #87561
House Republicans are locked in a debate over what they should demand from President Obama for hiking the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling.
The GOP conference will meet May 15 to discuss the idea of linking tax reform to the debt limit, but early indications suggest that would be a tough sell with many in the party’s rank and file.
Some Republicans say that framework is insufficient and that they’ll need spending cuts as well as tax reform to raise the debt ceiling. Others in the conference say that only the full enactment of tax reform will be enough to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and that incremental progress toward completing tax reform is not enough.
Conservatives in the GOP conference say they are evaluating debt-ceiling proposals against a deal they struck with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his lieutenants during the annual retreat in January. That deal says increases in the debt ceiling will only come about once debt-reducing laws are enacted, they said.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has discussed developing a plan that would fast-track a rewrite of the tax code and tie it to raising the debt ceiling over multiple stages.May 8, 2013 at 9:15 am #87562
Charles Ramsey talks to Anderson CooperMay 8, 2013 at 9:17 am #87563
Democrats are Freaking Out about Obamacare. Good.Questions about implementation are no sign of distress: They mean Congress is doing its job.
BY JONATHAN COHN
Democrats are worried about the implementation of Obamacare. And their angst is making news. Today Jackie Calmes of the New York Times reports that Democrats have been peppering the White House with questions—and demanding the administration start putting out more information, so that the law’s critics don’t soak up all of the oxygen on the airwaves. “There’s clearly some concern” among Democrats “that their constituents don’t yet have all facts on how it will work, and that Republicans are filling that vacuum with partisan talking points,” Representative Steve Israel of New York, head of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, told the Times. “And the administration must use every tool they have to get around the obstructions and make it work.”
I happen to think that’s good advice, purely for practical reasons. Implementing the law is a massive enterprise, one that requires the administration to work with officials and organizations across the country. Administration officials know this as well as anybody. They have been thinking about and working on the roll-out ever since Obamacare became law two-and-a-half years ago. But the administration hasn’t done a particularly good job of sharing those plans. In conversations over the last two weeks, about this very question, I’ve been struck by how little even some of the administration’s allies know about what the White House has in mind.
That appears to be changing now. As the Times story noted, the administration just brought on Tara McGuinness, who used to work at the Center for American Progress, to lead a communications team on health care reform. The president himself will start talking more about the law: On Friday, for example, he’ll be giving a speech about the benefits it will bring to women. And much more is in store for the summer, when the administration will inform people about the law’s benefits and encourage people who need insurance to sign up. Administration officials need to maintain that kind of campaign. Their allies on Capitol Hill need to start speaking up as well. (Kevin Drum makes that case today, in less gentle terms.)May 8, 2013 at 9:19 am #87564
The Future of White People
May 7, 2013
The next “flavor” of white ethnicity
Writing for Reuters, Reihan Salam has an excellent take on the evolution of Hispanic identity. He doesn’t try to relate this with the current push for immigration reform, but it’s useful to consider in the broader context of American politics. Here’s the key passage:
<I>The Census Bureau relies on individuals to self-identify with a given ethnic category. We now know, however, that many individuals who could identify as Hispanic, by virtue of a parent or grandparent born in a Spanish-speaking country, choose not to do so. In recent years, Brian Duncan, an economist at the University of Colorado Denver, and Stephen Trejo, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin, have been studying this “ethnic attrition rate” among U.S. immigrants and their descendants. And their findings suggest that while a given generation of Americans might identify as Hispanic, there is a decent chance that their children will not</I>
This squares with what I found last year, in my piece for The American Prospect magazine on potential demographic paths for the United States. Hispanics have one of the highest rates of intermarriage in the country, and are on a general path of upward mobility. In other words, they have all the hallmarks of a group moving towards assimilation. Salam highlights this: “Almost 80 percent of third-generation Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans have no more than two grandparents born in Mexico or Puerto Rico respectively,” he writes, “The same is true of 90 percent of third-generation Americans of Cuban, Dominican, Chinese, and Filipino ancestry.” By the time you reach the third-generation of Latino and Asian Americans, only a small minority identify primarily with their ethnic or national background.
This isn’t an unusual trajectory—Italian immigrants and their descendants followed it, as did Irish immigrants and other European immigrants. For those groups, their national and cultural distinctions fell away until—by and large—they were just “white.” Assimilation had cleansed “Italian-ness” and “Irish-ness” of its stigma, giving Irish and Italian Americans a chance to participate in the full range of national life.
Pundits routinely predict a “majority-minority” America, on account of large waves of Latino and Asian American immigration. But that depends on the emergence of a durable Latino and Asian identity. There are signs of it happening—the partial result of right-wing nativism and anti-immigrant policies—but it’s no guarantee. And if it doesn’t, assimilation and high intermarriage rates are likely to give us a repeat of the 20th century—today’s “Hispanics” and “Asians” will be tomorrow’s white people with a different flavor of ethnic last name.May 8, 2013 at 9:21 am #87565
House GOP takes a new message to ‘mommy blogs’
By Steve Benen
Tue May 7, 2013 11:45 AM EDT
Republicans have struggled with a gender gap for quite a while, but in 2011 and 2012, the problem intensified. Indeed, the phrase “Republican war on women” did not materialize out of thin air.
In a short period of time, we saw GOP officials restricting contraception; cutting off Planned Parenthood; requiring state-mandated, medically-unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds; forcing physicians to lie to patients about abortion and breast cancer; fighting equal-pay laws; and temporarily defeating the Violence Against Women Act. When it came time for House Republicans to pay for lower student loan interest rates, GOP officials decided to get the funding by cutting access to breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings.
But that was before. USA Today reported last week that the party has a new idea, included in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) rebranding campaign, it hopes will resonate with some of the women who ran away from the party in recent years.
House Republicans are targeting popular “mommy blog” websites in a digital ad campaign beginning Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to repair the GOP’s image with certain voting blocs — in this case swing female voters — who have sided decisively with Democrats in recent elections.
The banner ads will be featured on over 100 websites popular among women and geo-targeted to be viewed by residents in 20 Democratic-held congressional districts targeted by the GOP for 2014…. The $20,000 ad buy, running on sites including Ikeafans.com and MarthaStewart.com through Friday, will call on Democrats to vote with House Republicans next week on a bill to give hourly private sector workers more flexibility to choose between compensatory time and cash payment for overtime work.
Yes, the rebranded, new-and-improved Republican Party thinks private-sector flex time is the key — or at least, a key — to closing the gender gap.
There are, of course, a couple of problems. For one thing, this is a pretty modest policy step, which doesn’t come close to compensating for the rest of the GOP’s regressive social agenda.
For another, the proposal itself isn’t any good.
The basic idea behind the “Working Families Flexibility Act” is empowering private-sector employers to make a trade with workers — instead of giving employees overtime pay for extra work, businesses can compensate workers with some additional time off.May 8, 2013 at 9:22 am #87566
Shadow Lobbyists and the Revolving Door, or what Anthony Weiner and Newt Gingrich Have in Common
by John Sides on May 6, 2013 · 0 comments
in Interest Groups,Legislative Politics
What do Anthony Weiner and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both served in Congress. While there, they both became outspoken partisans, albeit on opposite sides of the aisle. They both abruptly resigned from Congress due to revelations of what I will graciously call “personal indiscretions.” They then went on to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year consulting corporations on the inner workings of Washington’s policy process.
And neither of them have ever registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) as a lobbyist.
Indeed, they both went so far as to stipulate in their contracts that they were not “lobbying.” And they were right. Kind of. I think we can all assume that these two weren’t sought after for their keen business acumen. After all, they both had primarily earned a living on a government salary up to the point they became lobbyists strategic policy consultants.
Gingrich was called out for his non-lobbying “historical advice” during the 2012 Republican nomination contest, which prompted columns and op-eds like this and this. And just yesterday Micheal Barbaro’s profile of Weiner noted how his “rapid rise from disgraced lawmaker to in-demand strategic consultant demonstrates the enduring power of Washington’s revolving door.”
Cases like these motivate pundits to write opinion pieces condemning the revolving door and shadow lobbyists by pointing out what is often referred to as the “Daschle Loophole” in the LDA. They can elude the law’s registration requirement by simply interpreting the strict statutory definition of “lobbyist” as not applying to them. That is, so long as they are not spending 20% of their time—think one full day in a normal work week—on behalf of any single client for an entire quarter, then they do not need to register or report their lobbying activities. Think about that: do you ever spend one full day per week for three months straight working on any one project at work? As law professor William V. Luneberg, Jr. notes, “You can do a hell of a lot of lobbying for somebody when you’re only doing 19 percent of your time for the client.”May 8, 2013 at 9:24 am #87570
And then there were 11
By Steve Benen
Wed May 8, 2013 8:30 AM EDT
Less than a week after Rhode Island became the 10th state to approve marriage equality, Delaware became the 11th yesterday afternoon. Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed it within minutes of the bill passing the legislature, declaring, “I am signing this bill now because I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer.”
During a lengthy floor debate, state Sen. Karen Peterson (D) told her colleagues she’s a lesbian who has lived with her partner for 24 years. “If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, then you need to work on your marriage,” she said, eliciting cheers and laughter.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, responded to developments in Delaware by saying, “We’re not discouraged.”
They should be — they’re losing, the number of states approving equal marriage rights keeps growing, and the pendulum is not going to swing back. Indeed, Minnesota appears likely to become the 12th state to approve marriage equality later this week, and Illinois will probably be close behind.
What’s more, while the early victories were the result of judicial intervention — court rulings mandated equal rights under the law, before politicians were prepared to act on their own — note that all of the recent progress has come from policymakers and voters advancing the cause of equality, not because a judge said so, but because they realized it’s the right thing to do.May 8, 2013 at 9:30 am #87573
Aw, That’s Cute: Republicans Dreaming About Using ObamaCare to Win in 2014
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 | Posted by Spandan C at 2:36 PM
For a while now, I have argued that in 2014, the Democrats’ most potent electoral weapon will be a fully implemented Affordable Care Act. By October, the health insurance exchanges will be set up all across this country, and people will be able to start signing up for coverage, with the help of the largest refundable tax credit for health care in history. This president has outsmarted Republicans and humiliated them time and again when they tried to play politics with people’s lives. Republicans, of course, will never learn. They are readying attacks for 2014 just in case the man responsible for taking out Osama bin Laden and securing all of the world’s loose nuclear material screws up while trying to implement his most prized domestic policy achievement.
<I>“There are very few issues that are as personal and as tangible as health care, and the implementation of the law over the next year is going to reveal a lot of kinks, a lot of red tape, a lot of taxes, a lot of price increases and a lot of people forced into health care that they didn’t anticipate,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “It’s going to be an issue that’s front and center for voters even in a more tangible way than it was in 2010.</I>
With spokesmen like these, is it any wonder that the people in charge of Republican senate campaigns keep introducing us to talents like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Todd Akin? Not that it merits any sort of a serious policy response, but let’s point out first of all that in 2014, Republicans will have to run against actual health care people are getting – people who never would otherwise get such care, and their families and neighbors and friends. Unlike 2010, Republicans will not be able to run against a caricature of Obamacare, they have to run against the real thing.
The president’s people have fired back, succinctly:
<I>“If they think they’re going to run the 2014 election on refighting the political battles of 2010, they’re going to fare very poorly,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist. “We’re going to implement the law well, and we don’t worry.”</I>
I am beginning to think that this now has less to do with political smarts (not that you should expect a whole lot of that from the party of birthers and climate change deniers), but with true believerism. The idea that the Republicans can ever run and win again by running against the Affordable Care Act is only marginally more plausible than the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was staged in Hollywood (obviously by liberals, but that’s redundant). But that’s exactly the point. The signal is directed far less toward a national audience and more toward the Republican primary voter, even if the New York Times insists on picking up the meme and some Democrats insist on being scared.
Look, the Republican party has run against the President’s health care reform for three elections now: 2008, 2010 hand 2012. Did I say 2008? Yep, I did. Sure, there was no law yet, but the scare tactics were all the same about how the Kenyan Gay Muslim usurper would pull the plug on grandma so the .. ahem… welfare queens could get free government cheese… I mean, health care. The GOP has been running against health care for three election cycles and two of them have been catastrophic losses for them.
And frankly, the GOP should have figured this out by now. Their approach to opposing health care reform isn’t much different from their rhetoric of opposing many other social legislation, including immigration reform and their fearmongering against the president himself. For a long time now, Republicans have been trying to win elections by scaring white people that minorities are getting too powerful and demanding a piece of “their” American dream.
There is nothing new under the sun. Nothing, that is, except the makeup of the American electorate. The Republicans’ attempt to use white resentment got them 60% of the white vote in 2012, and they still lost the election in a landslide. From that election, the Republicans tell they learned that something needed to be done about immigration, lest they lose the vote of the Hispanic population the same way they lost the African American vote. Yet, they seem incapable of understanding why Americans of color, young people, LGBT people and women voted against them in droves last year: It isn’t simply because we want a humane and effective immigration policy. It is because we want a different kind of society. We are tired of being pitted against each other and being told that we should resent others for getting a hand up while the elite rob our wages, our safety net, our safety and our wallets.
We rejected the GOP and embraced Barack Obama not because he looks like us but because he thinks like us. We do not believe that health care is a privilege tied to one’s employment, but that it is a right of every single one of us. Contrary to GOP’s scare tactics, we do believe that government has a positive role to play in preserving and expanding access to that right.
But they did do well in 2010, a midterm year, you say, running against Obamacare. Sure. The difference this year is two-fold: first and foremost, the policy reason: Republicans will have to run telling people they want to take their health care away. Second, the political reason: the Right wing had an ally in 2010 in smearing the newly passed health care law, namely the Left’s radical reactionaries who decided to pout and scream on Fox News because they didn’t get their public option pony. With the debate not being so fresh on the blogosphere on the Left, the faux-Leftists have lost their interest in capitalizing on this as it’s no longer a money maker for them. Without that, Republicans cannot succeed on the strategy to depress Democratic turnout.
So if the Republicans want to come at us with Obamacare in 2014, I say bring it on. We will be able to tell voters that this president and his allies in Congress have brought an economy back from the wreckage of Republican destruction, while they can tell voters why it’s the moochers’ fault. We will run on actual health care reform actually helping millions of people gain and retain coverage, while they can run on why it should be taken away from those people because… Kenya! Or Death Panels! Or something like that. If that’s how they want to fight this, they are even dumber than I thought
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.