Tag Archives: Washington

10 things you need to know today: April 6, 2014

Kentucky celebrates after clinching a spot in the NCAA Tournament title game

Kentucky celebrates after clinching a spot in the NCAA Tournament title game |Tom Pennington / Getty Images

The Week

Search crews investigate potential pulse signals from Flight 370, Kentucky and UConn advance to the NCAA Tournament final, and more

1. Searchers detect possible signals from Flight 370

Raising hopes that Flight 370 will yet be found, search crews over the weekend detected three faint signals that may have come from the plane’s flight recorder. A Chinese ship picked up two signals, one on Friday and another Saturday, and an Australian ship picked up another signal Sunday. Australian Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, who is leading the search operation, said the discoveries were “important and encouraging,” though he cautioned that the news “does not confirm or deny the presence of the aircraft locator on the bottom of the ocean.” [CBSCNN]


2. Kentucky, UConn make NCAA tournament history

The seventh-seeded UConn Huskies and the eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament title game with victories Saturday night, setting up a final showdown with the highest combined seed total ever. The previous high came in 2011 when No. 3 seed UConn defeated No. 8 seed Butler. UConn bested top overall seed Florida on Saturday 63-53, while Kentucky topped No. 2 seed Wisconsin 74-73. Of the 11 million brackets filled out through ESPN, only 1,780 — or 0.016 percent — correctly predicated the final matchup. [Yahoo Sports]


3. Protesters rally nationwide for immigration reform

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Saturday calling on Congress to pass immigration reform and demanding that President Obama curb deportations. Organizers said protests were held in about 70 cities across the country, including one in Washington, D.C., that attracted a few hundred participants. In addition to protesting the federal government’s immigration policies, demonstrators also said they were showing solidarity with the hundreds of detainees in Washington and Texas who are engaged in a hunger strike to draw attention to the conditions of their facilities. [NBCAl Jazeera]


4. U.S. sends two warships to support Japan

The United States on Sunday announced it would send two missile defense ships to Japan to allay that nation’s mounting security concerns over North Korea and China. The move comes after North Korea vowed to conduct a “new form” of nuclear test. Yet in announcing the decision, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also warned China, which he called a “great power,” that with that power “comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power.” [ReutersNBC]


5. Israeli PM warns of ‘unilateral’ response to Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his nation would take unspecified “unilateral moves” should Palestine continue its push for United Nations recognition. Netanyahu said Palestine threatened to derail peace talks between the two nations when it last week appealed to join 15 UN agencies and treaties. Netanyahu said Palestine could “achieve a state only through direct negotiations and not through empty proclamations or unilateral moves.” [HaaretzBBC]


6. Mormon leader reaffirms church’s opposition to gay marriage

A top leader with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday reiterated the church’s staunch opposition to same-sex marriage. “While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not,” Neil Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve — the church’s second-highest governing body — said at the church’s biannual conference in Salt Lake City. [Christian Science MonitorAssociated Press]


7. Atlanta Archbishop to sell $2.2 million mansion

Acknowledging that his residence’s opulence does not jibe with “the phenomenon we have come to know as Pope Francis,” Atlanta’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory said Saturday he would soon move out of and sell his $2.2 million mansion. The 6,000 square-foot home was built with the help of a fortune donated to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta by Joseph Mitchell — nephew of the author of Gone with the Wind — that was intended for “general religious and charitable purposes.” [Los Angeles Times]


8. Funerals begin for Washington mudslide victims

Mourners gathered on Saturday for the memorial services of three victims of the deadly March 22 Washington mudslide. So far, 30 people have been confirmed dead in the colossal landslide, and more than a dozen remain missing. [The Washington Post]


9. The Goonies may finally get a sequel

Hey you guys: A sequel to the 1980s cult classic The Goonies may be on the way. Richard Donner, the producer and director of the 1985 hit, told TMZ he’s making a follow-up film. Still, the remark was made somewhat extemporaneously, and Goonies sequel rumors have been floating around for years so it’s uncertain whether a new film will truly ever hit theaters. [TMZVariety]


10. Craig Ferguson guaranteed Letterman’s job — or millions of dollars

The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson may seem like an apt replacement for David Letterman, who announced Thursday he would retire from The Late Show sometime next year. And if Ferguson doesn’t get the job, he is reportedly in line to receive a payout anywhere in the range of $5 million to $12 million thanks to an “out” clause in his contract with CBS that stipulates he be given the vacant seat or cash once Letterman leaves. [New York PostNew York Daily News]


Filed under 10 things you need to know today

10 things you need to know today: March 24, 2014

Obama arrives in the Netherlands. 

Obama arrives in the Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong/POOL)

The Week

Obama arrives in The Hague to discuss Russia, 18 remain missing after a deadly Washington mudslide, and more

1. Western leaders join forces to counter Russia’s power play
Ukraine ordered its last troops out of Crimea on Monday after Russian forces seized a Ukrainian marine base in the contested region. Also on Monday, President Obama arrived in The Hague planning to discuss the Ukraine crisis with other G7 leaders on the sidelines of an official nuclear summit. The meeting was expected to focus on coordinating sanctions against Moscow for annexing the Ukrainian region after a secession referendum passed under a heavy Russian military presence. [Voice of AmericaThe New York Times]

2. Eighteen remain missing after Washington mudslide that killed eight
At least 18 people remained missing Monday two days after a Washington state mudslide that left eight people confirmed dead. Heavy rains triggered the landslide, which buried homes and cars under as much as 15 feet of mud and debris and swept away at least six houses. Crews searching the treacherous quicksand-like terrain found “no signs of life,” and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he expected “hard news” to come. [Reuters]

3. Chinese search-plane crew reports possible Flight 370 debris
A Chinese plane hunting for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished on March 8, spotted “suspicious objects” in the southern Indian Ocean on Monday, but a sophisticated U.S. military reconnaissance plane was unable to relocated them. A reporter aboard the Chinese aircraft said the crew saw “two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones” scattered across an area that was many kilometers wide. [CNN]

4. Obama beefs up the team hunting for Kony
President Obama has sent 150 more Special Forces and other military resources into Uganda to search for warlord Joseph Kony. Obama first ordered about 100 Special Operations fighters to helphunt for Kony in 2011, but now for the first time he has called for dispatching aircraft — at least four CV-22 Ospreys along with refueling aircraft. In all, there will be about 300 U.S. forces in Uganda when the reinforcements arrive this week. [The Washington Post]

5. Oil spill blocks ships and threatens wildlife in Galveston Bay
An oil spill in Galveston Bay blocked the busy Texas shipping channel and threatened a nearby wildlife sanctuary. Local emergency managers called the spill “significant” and the Coast Guard estimated that as many as 168,000 gallons might have been spilled from a barge. Crews tried to skim up oil and prevent the slick from spreading using absorbent booms as about 60 vessels, including cruise ships, were told to stay out. [Los Angeles Times]

6. Train derails at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, injuring 32
A commuter train derailed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Monday, crashing through the end of the platform at an underground station. The eight-car train came to rest after plowing part of the way up a set of stairs and escalators. The accident left 32 passengers injured, although police said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. [The Associated Press]

7. Egypt condemns 529 Muslim Brotherhood members to death
An Egyptian court has sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood members to death, marking an escalation of the military-backed interim government’s crackdown on the Islamist organization. The ruling was part of a larger trial against 1,200 people charged over clashes in southern Egypt last August after security forces broke up Cairo camps where Brotherhood members were demanding the return of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. [TIME]

8. Venezuela arrested 15 police officers for alleged abuses
Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega said Sunday that prosecutors were pursuing 60 investigations into accusations of human rights violations committed by security forces against anti-government protesters. Most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, but some armed activists have fought with police and soldiers. Ortega said the 15 police officers had already been arrested. [The Associated Press]

9. Hard-right National Front makes gains in France
France’s far-right National Front party gained strength in the first round of municipal elections on Sunday. Analysts said voters were fed up with both conservatives and Socialists, and angry over the country’s limping economy. The anti-immigration National Front still might wind up controlling just a couple of cities after next Sunday’s second round, but that would be an improvement for the party, as it runs none now. [The New York Times]

10. Kentucky ends Wichita State’s unbeaten streak
The upsets continued in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Sunday, with Kentucky knocking off previously unbeaten No. 1 seed Wichita State by a score of 78-76 to advance to Friday’s Sweet 16 round in Indianapolis. Kentucky was the pre-season No. 1 but had a disappointing 26-10 season. Now the Wildcats will face defending champions Louisville for a shot to move into the Elite Eight. [USA Today]


Filed under 10 things you need to know today

Sunday Talk: Everybody’s a critic

Daily Kos

With only a few days remaining in the ACA’s open enrollment period, time is running out for President Obama to enslave Americans with his socialist health care coverage.Much to the delight of Death Panel advocates, thus far,  pool of enrollees has skewed older than originally projected.

And so, in an effort to reach the “Young Invincibles” considered crucial to his plan’s success, Obama answered some planted questions from comedian Zach Galifianakis.

Although I’m not a presidential scholar like Bill O’Reilly, I find it impossible to believe that Abraham Lincoln would’ve agreed to do an interview like this while Confederate General Robert E. Lee was watching.

But, really, the worst part of the whole unmajestic episode is that the president wasn’t even as funny as Galifianakis’ previous guestCanadian menace Justin Bieber.

In my humble opinion, Obama shouldn’t quit his day job.

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer; Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Sen.Dick Durbin (D-IL); RoundtableJon Ralston (Ralston Reports), Former White House Press Secretary Robert GibbsCarolyn Ryan (New York Times) and Israel Ortega(Heritage Foundation).Face The Nation: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; “Miracle on the Hudson” Pilot Chesley Sullenberger; Former NTSB Chairman  Mark RosenkerBob Orr (CBS News); RoundtableMichael Gerson (Washington Post), Anne Gearan (Washinton Post), Bobby Ghosh (TIME) and Margaret Brennan (CBS News).

This Week: Rep. Peter King (R-NY); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates;  Roundtable: Republican Strategist Matthew Dowd, Georgetown University Prof. Michael Eric DysonWilliam Kristol (Weekly Standard), Katrina Vanden Heuvel (The Nation) and Greta Van Susteren (Fox News).

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); Former Managing Director of the NTSBPeter Goelz; Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN); Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); RoundtableGeorge Will (Washington Post), Judy Woodruff (PBS), Republican Strategist Karl Roveand Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; Air Crash Investigators Colleen KellerSteven Wallace and Richard AboulafiaCommander William Marks of the USS Blue Ridge; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); RNC Chairman Reince PriebusRoundtableCharles Blow (New York Times), Republican Strategist Ana Navarro and Ron Brownstein (National Journal).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: an interview with Bassem Youssef, the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” (preview); a report on the future of drones (preview); and, a look inside Tabasco’s hot sauce empire (preview).


Filed under Sunday Talks Shows

West Wing Week: 12/20/13 or “26 Candles”

The White House

This week, the White House honored those lost at Sandy Hook on the one year anniversary. The President met with newly elected mayors and executives from America’s leading technology companies, discussed the benefits of health care reform with a group of moms, and celebrated the holidays with Christmas in Washington.




Filed under West Wing Week

JFK’s America

President John F. Kennedy speaking at a conference on March 29, 1962. (© Bettmann/CORBIS)

Fact Tank – News in Numbers

As America marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, his life, family, strengths and weakness have been pored over in recent weeks, but little has been said about how the public viewed the country during the Kennedy years.  The Gallup polls of that period illustrate how different a time this was. The mood of America then had few parallels with modern era.

First, as 1963 began, Americans were pretty upbeat in any number of ways:

  • Having survived the Cuban Missile Crisis, they were confident about their country – 82% thought America’s power would increase in 1963! And most (63%) thought it possible that the West could achieve a peaceful relationship with Russia.
  • Americans were remarkably internationalist. Gallup1 found 82% of the public thinking it would be better if US worked with other nations. Just 10% said keeping independent was the right course. No fewer than 87% favored the common market. They even liked foreign aid – 58% said they were for it. Can you imagine?
  • Americans were optimistic about the economy – 64% said that local business conditions would be good that year.  And that attitude prevailed throughout the year. Two thirds (68%) said they were satisfied with their income. Many credited the president. By a margin of 50% to 37%, the public thought Kennedy kept his promise to stimulate economic growth.
  • Indeed, JFK was enormously popular in early 1963. In February, he enjoyed a 70% approval.  His ratings for handling foreign policy and handling domestic problems were equally high (64%) and most (56%) were satisfied with the way he was handling the situation in Cuba, where he had stumbled badly in 1961. And unlike modern presidents, Kennedy was a cultural phenomenon. In 1963, Gallup estimated that 85 million Americans had seen or heard a Kennedy imitator.

In March 1963, 74% expected him to be reelected – He held a whopping 67% /27% lead over Goldwater in Gallup test election. The country was heavily Democratic (54% compared with 25% Republican) as it had been that way since the 1930s and would remain until the Reagan years. The Democrats were seen as more likely to keep the country prosperous than the Republicans (49% to 20%), but they were not as dominant as the party that would keep the country out of a war (32% to 23%)….  And very unlike the modern era, as many people said they were liberals (49%) as conservatives (46%).

But liberalism had its limits when it came to integration and civil rights. Over the course of 1963, particularly following JFK’s call for civil rights legislation in mid-June, a growing number came to the view that the president was pushing racial integration too fast. A third of the public held that view in June (36%) but that number inched up to 41% in July, and soared to 50% in a Gallup survey following the March on Washington.

Indeed, the March on Washington was poorly regarded by the American public.  In August, 69% had heard of the planned March on D.C. – and 63% of those aware of the march had an unfavorable opinion of it. Even though most Americans outside of the South (55%) favored equal rights legislation that would give “Negroes” the right to be served in hotels, restaurants and theaters, a large majority thought mass demonstrations by African Americans would hurt their own cause.

There is little doubt that race had become the issue at the end of the Kennedy administration.  In September, 52% told Gallup that racial tensions were the most important problem facing the nation. Just 25% of Gallup’s respondents cited international problems, which had been the dominant issue of 1962.

And race took a toll on President Kennedy’s popularity rating. His approval score slipped from 70% in February to 59% in October. Most of the decline occurred after the JFK’s June civil rights speech and most of it occurred in the South. Between March and September that year, his ratings fell from 60% to 44%. There was less slippage outside of the South over this period- 76% to 69%.

Clearly, as the Kennedy years came to a close, a public that had begun the year in an upbeat mood turned about and the country was squarely confronting a new challenge. While the Cold War tensions had abated, internal divisions on the mega problem of race were front and center.

The public rallied to President Lyndon Johnson upon taking office, with a 79% approval rating.  And all of Gallup’s test election questions showed him way ahead of his likely Republican rivals. But much of the public remained Kennedy loyalists. Robert F Kennedy was their top choice by far to be LBJ’s running mate in 1964.


Filed under JFK

Morning Maddow: November 15, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Wisconsin Assembly votes in a late-night session to reinstate voter ID. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

House Speaker Boehner continues to insist that ENDA is not necessary. (The Hill)

Anti-abortion forces pressure vulnerable Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) to take a stand on the 20-week ban. (News&Observer)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) won’t let the World Congress of Families meet in a Senate room. (BuzzFeed)

Louisiana elects a new Congressman tomorrow. (AP)

Washington state woman arrested for carrying a bomb, leaving another one behind at home. (Kitsap Sun)

China will loosen its one-child policy, abolish re-education camps. (NY Times)


Filed under Morning Maddow

Ted Cruz: ‘Nigerian Email Scammers’ Hired to Run Obamacare Website

I already disliked this guy immensely, now I dislike him even more.  He knows exactly how to feed his vitriolic  base what they want to hear…


Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) received a boisterous welcome from a hometown crowd in Houston, Texas on Monday, and repaid their enthusiasm with a shot at the Affordable Care Act’s troubled website launch.

“You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately,” Cruz told the crowd. “They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website.”

The reception was a marked change from Cruz’s treatment among colleagues and in the polls, after the Senator’s strategy to link stopping Obamacare to government funding led to a two-week-plus government shutdown and disastrous approval numbers for Republicans.

Cruz clearly felt the change. “I’ve spent the past month in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “It is terrific to be back in America.”

The Houston Chronicle, which reported the comments, recently rescinded its endorsement of Cruz.


Filed under Affordable Care Act, Tea Party Bullies

Million Vet March Organizers Condemn Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and the Tea Party



The tea party, Sarah Palin, and Ted Cruz tried to hijack the Million Vet March for political and personal gain, and event organizers condemned them for politicizing the march.

According to a message on their website, the problem began when a local DC organizer turned the march into a tea party rally, “The political agenda put forth by a local organizer in Washington DC was not in alignment with our message. We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain. The core principle is about all Americans honoring Veterans in a peaceful and apolitical manner.”

In a post on their Facebook page, organizers went into more detail,

It is our official position that the purpose of this march and the accompanying rallies is focused on the re-opening of the Veterans memorials and keeping them open. While we understand that a Constitutional republic requires the equilibrium of checks and balances to maintain the democratic process, the memorials, monuments and parks built in honor of Veterans should NEVER be closed, blocked or restricted from use. We take the official position that no government office holder shall have ability to abridge the freedom of access to these hallowed grounds.

We have, as a group, been prevented from certain groups that have piggy-backed off our grassroots efforts, to effectively create a comprehensive media message campaign. We made the mistake of trying to partner with some Washington insiders that thwarted many of our genuine concerns for keeping this apolitical and grassroots. While we support many of those groups common causes for Veterans, we do not support the manner in which they go about it. We chose instead to not incite or create panic.

We chose to listen to all Americans and all Veterans that have asked us to keep going on despite the disingenuous politicians, political action committees, talking heads on the televisions and press reports attempting to hijack the message. This included many threats of personal and political attacks on our group’s character, businesses, colleagues and our true intentions. While our hearts were heavy by the disheartening acts of a few powerful Washington elite and political extremists jumping on the opportunity to make money, we decided to stay true to our message of a non-partisan effort to assist Veterans.

Here are Palin and Cruz making the march all about Obama hate:

A few powerful Washington elites? I believe that would be Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and the political extremists are Sarah Palin and the tea partiers. The “incite or create panic” line refers to those tea partiers who tore down the barricades at the WWII memorial and marched to the White House. The extremists waved the confederate flag in front of the White House and chanted things like impeach Obama.

I suspect that Cruz and Palin were not invited, and a Facebook account of their behavior for one vet who was there fits the description of using the event for political gain, “I was disappointed when Ms. Palin and Mr. Cruz walked up to us to say hello but then walked down to the center to try to use us for they’re own purpose so I left to visit the viet nam memorial ty Brats.”

Tea partiers are proud of themselves for taking an event about veterans and turning it into another platform to showcase their hatred of this president, but they should be ashamed of themselves. The people who turned the march into an anti-Obama rally shamed and humiliated our veterans. Every vet knows that it doesn’t matter what political party a president is from, they are still the Commander in Chief. The organizers of this event may or may not be conservatives, but it is clear that they didn’t want the tea party mob, or Palin and Cruz’s grandstanding at their event.

Veterans are about honor and sacrifice. The Republicans who politicized the event brought dishonor to the very values that our veterans embody. To self-promoters like Palin and Cruz, veterans are nothing more than props to be used for political and financial gain, and they have proud to have tarnished our nation’s veterans with their selfish extremism.



October 14, 2013 · 6:56 AM

World prepares for U.S. debt default

The Chinese are calling us “dangerously irresponsible.” Chew on that a bit.

The Raw Story

Phillip Inman, The Observer

Without a budget in place, the US government has run out of the cash needed to pay thousands of government workers in Washington and keep national parks open. But this week an even more critical issue comes to the fore. On Thursday, the country will be forced to default on its $16.8 trillion in borrowings if it does not secure a rise in the debt ceiling.

Republican leaders, aware that their intransigence over the budget has hit the party’s popularity, last week proposed a six-week postponement of the deadline. John Boehner, leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, has dropped a previous demand that talks could only take place following a Democrat concession to review President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act – or “Obamacare” – although a format for discussions has yet to be agreed.

How did we get here?

The road towards a default that would risk plunging the world economy into recession began last year in the wake of Obama’s return to the White House. The radical Tea Party wing of the Republicans decided that the only way to block Obamacare, which for them exemplifies hated “big government”, was to hold up the president’s entire budget plan.

Why has Washington suffered a shutdown?

A six-month fight over the budget between the two houses of government – the Republican lower house and the Democrat-controlled Senate – has meant no formal funding has been agreed and left government departments struggling to pay their bills. For the first time in 17 years, parts of government spending have been shut down. Some 800,000 government workers were initially sent home – equivalent to the combined workforces of Exxon Mobil, General Motors, Google and giant US retailer Target.

Even the Pentagon sent home 350,000 staff in that initial wave, though it later called them back when funds were made available. National parks remain closed and applications for most permits and licences are being badly delayed. Schools are open and hospitals are unaffected, though health research has been disrupted.

What is the debt ceiling?

This is the government borrowing limit set by Congress. The government actually bumped up against the $16.7 trillion limit five months ago as the budget dispute got under way. Ever since, the treasury department has taken a series of “extraordinary measures” to raise an extra $303 billion. But that money will not last much longer.

Why is October 17 significant?

US treasury secretary Jack Lew has warned that this is when the treasury will exhaust those extraordinary measures. Without the means to pay both multibillion-dollar interest payments and social security bills, it will default.

What are the implications?

Nobody knows what a default would mean in practice. Investors around the world have lent the US money by buying its treasury bonds. In theory, a failure to pay a single interest payment on a tranche of debt will trigger a demand from all bondholders for their money back. In practice this is unlikely.

What will happen to the US economy?

American businesses with public-sector contracts will suffer a delay in payments and could go bust – unemployment has already risen as a result of the shutdown. More broadly, the US economy has been the main driver of global growth. Should the government be forced to default, it could trigger an estimated 4.5% fall in GDP and the rest of the world would fall back into recession.

The extent of nerves in the markets was shown when the news of a possible six-week extension of the borrowing limit sent the Dow Jones index of leading shares soaring by more than 300 points.

What about the UK?

Britain would be hit hard by a US recession. Many of our exports go to America, especially manufactured goods. Without growth in the US, the UK could see its still-fragile recovery snuffed out. Already, BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest manufacturing employer, is warning of problems ahead should the two-week-old shutdown become a crisis. BAE has half its business in the US and has already frozen the wages of 1,200 staff in Washington. Fellow arms firm Chemring saw its shares plummet on Friday after it warned the shutdown would affect its profits. Meanwhile, outsourcing firms G4S and Serco have US staff unable to work.

And the rest of the world?

The Chinese are panicked. China’s Xinhua news agency labelled US domestic politicians “dangerously irresponsible” for wrangling over debt. In an editorial, the state-run media organisation said the rest of the world had been “kidnapped” by American politics, which was involved in “a game of chicken”. The Germans are also anxious. Anton Böner, president of the Federal Association for German Wholesalers and Foreign Trade, warned: “If the Americans shoot themselves in the foot right now, it is highly dangerous for the entire global economy, and of course for the German export economy.”

Why are the Republicans proposing a six-week delay to the debt ceiling?

An opinion poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal last week gave the Republican party the lowest standing in the history of the poll. It showed that more than twice as many Americans had a negative view of it than a positive one. While 31% held Obama responsible for the shutdown, 53% blamed Republicans. Boehner said he wanted six weeks to debate all aspects of the budget, but White House sources said they were convinced his aim was still to scupper Obamacare.



Filed under Debt Ceiling, GOP Cluelessness, GOP Extremism

Ten days into ‘Obamacare’

This is very good information…

The Maddow Blog

It’s been 10 days since Americans could start signing up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s exchange marketplaces, and as you’ve probably heard, there have been some technical troubles. And while I don’t doubt it’s been incredibly frustrating for those who’ve struggled with online glitches, let’s not forget that we’ve seen troubles like this before.

Twelve days after Medicare Part D became the law of the land in 2006, the system was “plagued by problems” and “many of the most vulnerable elderly and disabled patients” were unable to get medicine. Several states were forced to pay for temporary supplies of medicine for Medicare patients because the Bush/Cheney administration was falling short on a systemic level.

The same year, Mitt Romney’s health care reforms in Massachusetts — which later served as the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act — started out with all kinds of problems. Stephanie Mencimer reported this week that in the early months, the state system saw “lost paperwork, computer glitches, confusion over who was eligible for what, and not enough staff to handle the workload.” It led to consumers waiting “several months after submitting an application to finally get coverage.”

In other words, “Obamacare” in good company. In time, the kinks plaguing Medicare and Romneycare got worked out and the public was quite pleased with the results, and chances are pretty good that the Affordable Care Act will follow a similar trajectory. Impatience, whether it’s politically motivated or not, is understandable, but judging a new and complex system after 10 days has never been an especially good idea.

What’s more, let’s also not forget that the negative experiences are not universal.

Robyn J. Skrebes of Minneapolis said she was able to sign up for health insurance in about two hours on Monday using the Web site of the state-run insurance exchange in Minnesota, known as MNsure. Ms. Skrebes, who is 32 and uninsured, said she had selected a policy costing $179 a month, before tax credit subsidies, and also had obtained Medicaid coverage for her 2-year-old daughter, Emma.

“I am thrilled,” Ms. Skrebes said, referring to her policy. “It’s affordable, good coverage. And the Web site of the Minnesota exchange was pretty simple to use, pretty straightforward. The language was really clear.”

Why was her experience so much easier? It wasn’t just luck.

The original plan for the Affordable Care Act to rely on state-based exchanges — rather than have one big federal marketplace, Obamacare intended for states to set up their own exchanges, invite insurers to compete, and trouble-shoot as necessary.

Many states did exactly that, but a variety Republican governors balked — to set up a marketplace for consumers, they said, would be cooperate with a law they don’t like. It meant a sweeping federally run exchange for everyone in those states.

It’s created disparate experiences based on where Americans live.

In Washington State, the state-run exchange had a rocky start on Oct. 1, but managed to turn things around quickly by adjusting certain parameters on its Web site to alleviate bottlenecks. By Monday, more than 9,400 people had signed up for coverage. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange does not require users to create an account before browsing plans.

“The site is up and running smoothly,” said Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the Washington exchange. “We’re seeing a lot of use, a lot of people coming to the Web site. If anything, I think it’s increasing.”

Other states reporting a steady stream of enrollments in recent days include California, Connecticut, Kentucky and Rhode Island.

Some states are having more success than others — as Sarah Kliff explained, ease of use and online registrations matter. But I can’t help but wonder how much easier the last 10 days would have been if more Republican governors weren’t intent on keeping their constituents from signing up for the health care benefits they’re entitled to?


Filed under Affordable Care Act, Obamacare