Tag Archives: Obama Administration

House GOP Leaders Take Up The Banner Of Obamacare Trutherism

China-currency-boehner

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Anything to cast aspersion on the POTUS’ signature achievement.  Looks like a simple case of ACA envy to me…

TPM DC

“After two delays by the Administration, on March 31st Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges ended open enrollment with a purported 7.1 million signed up,” McCarthy’s release begins. “President Obama declared that ‘the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’ But this is hardly the end of the story.”

McCarthy’s office then outlined five data points it wanted to know about, alleging that the Obama administration “has refused to provide key information that would shed light on the true number of enrollees.” Those are:

  • How many effectuated enrollment (signed up and paid a premium)
  • How many paid their first month’s premium but not their second or third
  • How many were previously uninsured
  • How many young and healthy signed up (affecting rates)
  • How many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)

At least two of those have been explicitly explained in the enrollment reports released by the Obama administration — and updated data will presumably be included in the March report expected Thursday.The February enrollment report included information on the last two: the demographics of enrollees and data on how many were eligible for financial assistance. First, 25 percent of the 4.2 million people who had enrolled through February were ages 18 to 34, the crucial “young and healthy” group. Second, 83 percent of those who signed up for a plan were eligible for financial help.

On the premium question, the administration has insisted that, because people pay insurance companies directly, only insurers have that information. Outside estimates have put the number at 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid. As for how many enrollees were previously uninsured, HealthCare.gov and most of the state websites didn’t collect that particular data point. Independent estimates put the number at one-third or so, although it seems that the uninsured comprised a bigger share of the late enrollment surge. They were also covered via Medicaid, which isn’t included in the 7 million number.

The question about whether people paid their second and third premiums appears new, and it’s unclear why that has now become a concern for the GOP.

Some of these questions are not wholly without basis. The demographics of Obamacare enrollees are important for the law’s long-term fiscal sustainability. People do need to pay their premiums for their coverage to take effect. One of the law’s stated goals was covering the uninsured.

But the framing of the House GOP’s release — “Debunking Obamacare’s 7 million Enrollees ‘Success’ Story”, insinuating that “the true number of enrollees” isn’t known — makes clear that its goal is to undermine the law’s unexpected patch of good news since open enrollment ended.

TPM raised these issues with McCarthy’s office, which still asserted that the administration “cannot let the American public know how many were previously uninsured, how many actually signed up for coverage they need, and how many weren’t kicked off of coverage they previously enjoyed.”

“Just because they gave us some data two months ago does not mean they gave us any clear and final data on enrollment when the President trumpeted the law as a success in the Rose Garden on live television,” Mike Long, a McCarthy spokesman, said in an email. “To proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished’ based solely on the number of clicks, without regard of knowing how those 7.1 million were affected, makes light of the seriousness that is health coverage of Americans.”

“House Republican leadership and various Committees have requested this information through hearings and by passing legislation. We’ve been stonewalled each time.”

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Fox News Pundit Shuts Down Network’s Hysteria Over Benghazi: ‘It’s Gone, Baby. It’s In Your Head’

Juan Williams

Fox News contributor, Juan Williams

It’s about time Juan Williams stop playing a “shill” and stand up to Fox News’ pundits.

Think Progress

Fox News’ Juan Williams tersely dismissed the GOP’s year-long effort to implicate the Obama administration in a so-called “cover-up” of the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sep. 11, 2012, telling off a panelist who suggested that the debate over the incident was still ongoing.

During a heated discussion on Fox News Sunday, former Bush administration official Karl Rove regurgitated GOP claims that “someone constructed a lie” that the incident resulted from “a spontaneous reaction to a video no one saw” and suggested Obama refused to scramble necessary military assets to save the U.S. personnel. Conservative commentator Brit Hume agreed, adding, “the list of questions that remain unanswered to this day are what make this a legitimate topic of conversation. I’m sorry to say this is not over.”

Williams disputed these charges point by point and explained that months of Republican-led Congressional hearings had been unable to uncover any evidence of a cover up. “It’s gone, baby. It’s in your head. That’s the only place,” he added. Watch it:

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Rick Perry Seeks Obamacare Funding For Texans – While Continuing Attack On Obamacare

rick perry obamacare funding

Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues his strident attack on Obamacare as he seeks funding under the law for Texans. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)

Ooops

The Huffington Post

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), a longstanding Obamacare critic, is negotiating a $100 million health care deal with the Obama administration, Politico reported on Tuesday.

The Community First Choice Program, aimed at improving the quality of health services for the elderly and disabled, was approved by the Texas legislature earlier this year. Perry health aides are now looking to the Obama administration for funding.

Perry has been a strident Obamacare critic from the beginning, but his spokesman explained that the funding pitch is about aiding people with disabilities, independent of a health insurance mandate.

“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives, at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Havens said in a statement. “The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”

According to Politico, 12,000 Texans are expected to benefit from the program in its first year, beginning in September 2014.

 

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Obama Administration Becomes The Third To Install Solar Panels On White House Grounds

Think Progress

The White House will soon be one of the newest — and certainly most high profile — home in D.C. with solar panels.

A White House official confirmed to the Washington Post Thursday that installation had begun on fitting the President’s residence with solar panels, an effort the official said was “part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.” The panels will be American-made, though the official did not confirm which company they would be purchased from.

The Obama administration announced in Oct. 2010 that it would install 20 to 50 solar panels on the residence after a campaign headed by 350.org and solar company Sungevity urged the president, along with other world leaders, to add solar panels to government buildings.

On Thursday, 350.org leader Bill McKibben commended the president on the move, despite the nearly three years it took for installation to begin.

“Better late than never — in truth, no one should ever have taken down the panels Jimmy Carter put on the roof way back in 1979,” McKibben said. “But it’s very good to know that once again the country’s most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.”

Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the White House roof when he was president in the late 1970s. When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, one of hisfirst actions as president was to have the panels, which his chief-of-staff allegedly said Reagan felt were “just a joke,” removed. The panels ended up at Unity College in Maine, where they were installed on the roof of the school’s cafeteria.

But as famous as the Carter installation — and subsequent Reagan removal — was, it was George W. Bush administration that installed the first active solar electric system at the White House (Carter’s panels were largely symbolic, though they were used for heating water). In 2002, multiple solar grids were installed on the White House grounds. The installation was done quietly, with far less fanfare than Carter’s, but the panels provided energy to several White House operations. According to a New York Times article from 2003, “a grid of 167 solar panels on the roof of a maintenance shed has been delivering electricity to the White House grounds. Another solar installation has been helping to provide hot water. Yet another has been keeping the water warm in the presidential pool.”

It’s unclear still how much power the Obama administration’s solar panels will provide to the White House, but the White House official said the panels will help which will help “demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades,” and that the panels are estimated to pay for themselves in energy savings within eight years.

Obama pledged during his June climate speech at Georgetown University that the federal government would consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and admittedly, 20 to 50 solar panels won’t contribute a substantial amount to that goal. But the administration’s decision to begin installation now is well-timed: a new report has found Americans who want to install solar power on their households are facing record-low costs, so Americans who might be inspired to install solar panels themselves can do so historically inexpensively.

 

A Brief History of White House Solar Panels

1. 1979 – President Jimmy Carter Installs 1st White House Solar Panels

The White House

President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the presidential mansion amid the Arab oil embargo, which had caused a national energy crisis. The Democratic president called for a campaign to conservative energy and, to set an example to the American people, ordered the solar panels erected in 1979, according to the White House Historical Association.

Carter predicted that “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

2. 1981 – President Ronald Reagan Orders Solar Panels on the White House Removed

The White House

President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, and one of his first moves was to order the solar panels removed. It was clear Reagan had a completely different take on energy consumption. “Reagan’s political philosophy viewed the free market as the best arbiter of what was good for the country. Corporate self-interest, he felt, would steer the country in the right direction,” the author Natalie Goldstein wrote in “Global Warming.”

George Charles Szego, the engineer who persuaded Carter to install the solar panels, reportedly claimed that Reagan Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan “felt that the equipment was just a joke, and he had it taken down.” The panels were removed in 1986 when work was being done on the White House roof below the panels.

3. 1992 – White House Solar Panels Moved to Maine College

Jimmy Carter Library

Half of the solar panels that once generated energy at the White House were installed on the roof of the cafeteria at Maine’s Unity College, according to Scientific American. The panels were used to warm water in summer and winter.

 

4. 2010 – President Barack Obama Orders Solar Panels Reinstalled on White House

The White House

President Barack Obama, who made environmental issues a focus of his presidency, planned to install solar panels on the White House by spring of 2011. He also announced he will also install a solar hot water heater on top of the living quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States,” said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Administration officials said they expected the photovoltaic system will convert sunlight into 19,700 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

 

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‘He’s 47 percent Negro’: Anti-Obama Arizona protest turns racist

Anti-Obama protesters in Arizona use racist language [KNXV-TV]

 

So, when does this end?  When he has completed his term?  Perhaps, as some have speculated, those exhibiting Obama Derangement Syndrome will make it their life’s work to discredit every productive act he has been credited for during his time in office.

The Raw Story

A protest against an appearance by President Barack Obama in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday was marked by several instances of racist language directed at Obama, theArizona Republic reported.

“He’s 47 percent Negro,” 77-year-old Ron Enderle shouted at one point, later telling the Republicthat he was “ashamed” to have Obama as Commander-in-Chief.

According to the Republic, at one point critics of Obama sang “Bye Bye Black Sheep” and at least one sign in the crowd read “Impeach the Half-White Muslim.”

While Obama’s appearance at Desert Vista High School dealt with mortgage finance reform, one demonstrator told KNXV-TV that she didn’t think the president could solve that situation.

“I’ve got friends that they had to give their homes up because they have to go to foreclosure, and that’s not right,” Terri Ballway said to KNXV.

But while the demonstration also drew opponents of the Obama administration’s heavy deportation policy against undocumented immigrants and the Keystone XL pipeline, there were also supporters of the president in the crowd.

“He’s already helped me tremendously, personally because my daughter is a freshman in college and she was able to get the one-time money, and also my son is able to continue his health insurance until he’s 26 years old,” another resident, Delia Donlon, told KMSB-TV.

Watch KNXV’s report on the demonstrations both for and against Obama, aired Tuesday.

 

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Fox Host Explodes At Guest For Disagreeing With His Scandal Coverage: ‘Cut His Damn Mic’

Fox Noise has never shied away from looking like jackasses 99.99% of the time…

Think Progress

Fox Business host Neil Cavuto yelled at producers to cut the mic of a liberal pundit who dared to say that not all of the ‘scandals’ plaguing President Obama are created equal.

On Friday, Cavuto attempted to link the recent revelations about the extent of the National Security Agency’s collection of American’s cell phone metadata with several other scandals that the Obama administration has had to face in recent weeks. “You see one incident after another that comes up, and it all comes back to the same basic issue,” Cavuto said. “Privacy is invaded or potentially invaded, institutions of all sorts doing pretty much the same thing. There is a pattern,” he went on to say.

His guest, liberal commentator Julian Epstein, attempted to counter the idea that all of the issues Cavuto listed — including the Department of Justice’s probe of news agencies tied to national security leaks and the IRS’ heightened scrutiny of conservative groups — were exactly the same as the NSA issue. “If you want to conflate or combine all of these issues, then make these general statements you can do that,” Epstein said. “I just don’t think that’s a very thoughtful way of approaching it.”

Cavuto exploded over Epstein’s comments, calling on Epstein to “drop the liberal thing, focus on the reality thing.” Epstein tried in vain to inform Cavuto that it was worth taking each of the issues separately rather than lumping them all together:

EPSTEIN: Because I want to talk facts, and you want to make these general broadsides, Neil.

CAVUTO: Julian, you’re saying nothing and it’s offensive! Because Ben Stein —

EPSTEIN: Okay, why don’t we speak about them specifically?

CAVUTO: Julian, why don’t you talk facts? It’s annoying how obnoxious you can be on the reality.

EPSTEIN: I am talking the reality.

CAVUTO: I’m not going to play this game with you, Julian. You play the same damn game dismissing.

EPSTEIN: Neil, you’re playing the game too and —

CAVUTO: Cut his mic! Cut his mic, he’s going nowhere fast. Cut his mic! Ben, I want to be very clear to you — cut his damn mic!

Watch the full freak-out here:

Cavuto is one of many of the network’s hosts and contributors who have gleefully covered the recent actions for which the Obama administration is taking heat from both liberals and conservatives. In many of these instances, however, they’ve taken them beyond the limits of proven fact into the realm of rampant speculation. From last year’s attack Benghazi, Libya, to the IRS’ heightened scrutiny of conservative groups, Fox has condemned all of them as evidence of a greater problem with the Obama administration, even as the facts in several of those instances proved the issues to be far less sweeping that conservatives sought to make them.

 

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In the battle between privacy and security, security always wins.

As I recall, when the Bush administration conducted data mining of phone calls, it was a matter of national security and therefore accepted by the GOP.  Of course the thought process reverses when the Obama administration  merely continues the policy.

Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

The revelation that the National Security Agency is gathering millions of phone calls every day re-stokes the ongoing debate the country has been having since the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001: What is the right balance between protecting our privacy and protecting our country?

A phone. AP photo.

It’s the same argument that happened around the passage (and reauthorization) of the Patriot Act, the use of drones against American citizens and the targeting of leakers by the Obama Administration. And, time and again, the American public makes clear that their desire to feel safe from attacks foreign and domestic trumps their desire for privacy.

President Obama made quite clear where he comes down in this push-and-pull between security and privacy during a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan last month.

Here’s what he said in response to a question about the Department of Justice’s seizure of a large number of phone records from Associated Press reporters (it’s long but worth reading the whole thing):

“I can talk broadly about the balance that we have to strike.  Leaks related to national security can put people at risk.  They can put men and women in uniform that I’ve sent into the battlefield at risk. They can put some of our intelligence officers, who are in various, dangerous situations that are easily compromised, at risk.

U.S. national security is dependent on those folks being able to operate with confidence that folks back home have their backs, so they’re not just left out there high and dry, and potentially put in even more danger than they may already be.  And so I make no apologies, and I don’t think the American people would expect me as Commander-in-Chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.

Now, the flip side of it is we also live in a democracy where a free press, free expression, and the open flow of information helps hold me accountable, helps hold our government accountable, and helps our democracy function.”

Read between the lines of that answer –and, in truth, you don’t have to do all that much interpretation — and it’s quite clear that Obama has, and will continue to, default to the desire to protect the country rather than protect peoples’ privacy.

(Civil libertarians will argue that choosing between security and privacy is a false choice — and that always citing national security concerns as a justification for the gathering of so much private information puts the government, whether controlled by a Democrat or a Republican, on a very slippery slope.)

So, why do majorities of the country express support for the gathering of phone calls, the use of drones and, to a lesser extent, the Patriot Act? (A February 2011 Pew poll showed that 42 percent said the Patriot Act was “a necessary tool that helps the government find terrorists” while 34 percent said it “goes too far and poses threats to civil liberties”.)

Because fear is a very powerful motivator when it comes to public opinion.  And because most Americans, while they value their privacy, tend to view themselves as people with little to hide. The general attitude is “I’m not breaking any laws so why should I worry about the government collecting some phone calls if it helps them stop an attack?” (You can almost hear civil libertarians’ minds blowing over that line of thinking.)

The “security > privacy” equation has governed decisions made by a Republican and now a Democratic Administration since Sept.11, 2001.  Barring a wholesale change in public sentiment, which seems extremely unlikely, that same approach is likely to predominate not only through the final three years of Barack Obama’s presidency but also in the next administration — no matter which party wins the White House in 2016.

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Rachel Maddow Reveals More Scandalous Details About IRS Tea Party Targeting

Mediaite

Rachel Maddow tonight highlighted another potential problem in the growing IRS targeting scandal plaguing the Obama administration this week. The tax-collecting agency provided private tax information about several conservative groups, including ones whose applications had not been fully processed yet, to the website ProPublica. Maddow said that strictly speaking, this was illegal, and will only make things worse for the IRS.

Maddow claimed that the Tea Party now suddenly “wants to be back on the wings of the IRS scandal,” and said that things are awkward politically because essentially everyone else agrees with them on this scandal. She acknowledged the “improper scrutiny” being given to conservatives groups that seemingly eluded their liberal counterparts.

Maddow highlighted how the same IRS Cincinnati office involved in the targeting scandal released documents to ProPublica for the site’s series of posts on groups misleading the IRS about their political activities. Documents were provided for a number of conservative groups, even from nine that were not approved yet by the IRS, which is technically illegal because “it’s supposed to be secret” if an application has not been approved.

When ProPublica attempted to find out why exactly they were given the documents, Maddow said the IRS’s response was basically “We shouldn’t have done that!” She admitted that the agency “screwed up here” and could end up making its level of scrutiny worse after this week.

Watch the video below, courtesy of MSNBC:

 

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Benghazi Review Board Chair Says Notion Of Cover Up Is ‘Pulitzer Prize Fiction’

The GOP in congress and their sycophants on Fox News  are espousing the Benghazi conspiracy theories and in fact holding “Benghazi” hearings (on the taxpayers dime) based on those conspiracies theories.  The following article tells a different side to the story…

Think Progress

The co-chair of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board on the Benghazi terror attacks last year said on Wednesday criticized those claiming the Obama administration’s response to the attacks has the elements of some kind of Watergate-style cover-up.

“I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it,” former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said on MSNBC. He also rebutted claims that the review board tried to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from scrutiny:

PICKERING: I saw no evidence of it. She did publicly take responsibility for what happened below her and indeed one of the things the Congress did in preparing the legislation that established the Accountability Review Board was to say we don’t want a situation where heads of agencies take responsibility and then nobody who made the decision in the chain has to suffer any consequences for failure for performance. I believe in fact the Accountability Review Board did it’s work well. I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it.

Watch the clip:

Pickering wanted to testify at today’s House Oversight Committee hearings on the Benghazi attacks, which was billed as letting State Department officials expose an Obama administration cover-up of wrong-doing in handing the aftermath of the attacks. “I am willing to testify,” Pickering said. “I made that clear yesterday and the White House I understand made that clear to [Committee chair Rep. Darrell] Issa [R-CA]. He declined. I don’t know the reasons for that.” Pickering also countered claims that the military could have done more to respond to the attacks:

PICKERING: The aircraft at Aviano were 2 to 3 hours away but there were no refueling aircraft available. I think that speaks for itself. It has all along. I don’t see any contradiction. … There should be no controversy over that. Aircraft were there but they were not available in a time span that could have made any serious difference in connection with the issue.

Earlier on Wednesday, Republican Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) shot down his colleagues’ conspiracy theory laden claims about the Obama administration and Benghazi. “We need to know were these people culpable or not. If they were, why are they still on the payroll? Other than that, I’ve been able to read all the cables. I’ve seen the films,” Corker said. “I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied.”

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Top Republican ‘Fairly Satisfied’ With White House’s Account Of Benghazi

This was unexpected…

TPM LiveWire

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) said Wednesday that he’s “fairly satisfied” with the Obama administration’s account of events that led to the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi last year.

“We need to know were these people culpable or not. If they were, why are they still on the payroll? Other than that, I’ve been able to read all the cables. I’ve seen the films,” Corker told MSNBC. “I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied.”

He cautioned House Republicans to be “respectful” if they probe the issue further.

“Look, if the House wants to have hearings,” he said, “I hope they’re done in a respectful way and hopefully it will shed some light on what happened.”

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