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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 25,890

Journal Archives

Luckovich: The man behind the curtain

Luckovich: Ho ho ho!

Doc fix? Hell, Yes! Extension of unemployment benefits? No way!

We have the highest paid doctors in the world, yet the House Republicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits--which is the second most effective stimulative benefit to the economy--after food stamps! Do not profess your concern for the economy and job creation, Speaker Boehner. It rings hollow!

December 12, 2013, 06:00 am
House to vote on budget deal

By Russell Berman and Erik Wasson

The House is expected to vote Thursday on a two-year deal that would represent the first bipartisan budget compromise of the new divided-government era.

GOP leaders expect their measure will pass, despite complaints from House Democrats that it includes a fix to prevent a cut in doctor payments but does not extend federal unemployment benefits set to expire this month.


Senate Invokes Cloture On Mel Watt Nomination To Lead Housing Agency

Source: Talkingpointsmemo

Senate Invokes Cloture On Mel Watt Nomination To Lead Housing Agency

IGOR BOBIC – DECEMBER 10, 2013, 12:20 PM EST

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 57 - 40 to invoke cloture and end debate on the nomination Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

A final vote on confirmation, which is expected to pass, is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/senate-invokes-cloture-on-mel-watt-nomination-to-lead-housing-agency

Great news!

TPM: Third Way Co-Founder Explains Op-Ed Criticizing Warren (and makes it worse)

The Third Way--the DLC dressed up with a new name, but with apparently the same old Wall Street, deficit obsessed agenda.

Third Way Co-Founder Explains Op-Ed Criticizing Warren


Third Way Co-Founder Jim Kessler on Friday explained the group's Monday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing a plan backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to expand Social Security.

"That Social Security plan was the final moment for us," he said in an interview on Sirius XM with Ari Rabin-Havt, as recorded by the Huffington Post. "That Social Security plan had been out there but really languishing -- because Senator Warren has such a powerful compelling voice, she started talking about it, and it suddenly it became much more talked about and viable alternative."

Kessler said that the op-ed was not meant as a personal attack on Warren, but that she gave a popular voice to a plan that concerns Third way.

"She is a very compelling elected official and national figure," he said. "Her involvement in that particular bill, we just looked at it and said 'okay, this seems to be starting to get out of hand.'"

The group's op-ed incited a negative response from progressives and Warren herself. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee called on multiple Democrats to cut ties with Third Way, and Warren said the group was "flatly wrong" about its belief that Social security is insolvent.


Fred Kaplan: We Have a Deal With Iran. A Good One. It's everything Obama hoped to achieve in Geneva.

We Have a Deal With Iran. A Good One.
It's everything Obama hoped to achieve in Geneva.

By Fred Kaplan

President Obama addresses the nation after an interim deal to preventing Iran from creating a nuclear weapon was reached. Photo by Brendan Smailowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Iranian nuclear deal struck Saturday night is a triumph. It contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest. Had George W. Bush negotiated this deal, Republicans would be hailing his diplomatic prowess, and rightly so.

A few weeks ago, a “senior administration official” outlined the agreement that President Obama hoped to achieve in Geneva. Some reporters who heard the briefing (including me) thought that the terms were way too one-sided, that the Iranians would never accept them. Here’s the thing: The deal just signed by Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany) is precisely the hoped-for deal laid out at that briefing.

It is an interim agreement, not a treaty (which means, among other things, that it doesn’t require Senate ratification). It is meant as a first step toward a comprehensive treaty to be negotiated in the next six months. More than that, it expires in six months. In other words, if Iran and the other powers can’t agree on a follow-on accord in six months, nobody is stuck with a deal that was never meant to be permanent. There is no opportunity for traps and trickery.

Meanwhile, Iran has to do the following things: halt the enrichment of all uranium above 5 percent and freeze the stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent; neutralize its stockpile of uranium that’s been enriched to 20 percent (either by diluting it to 5 percent purity or converting it to a form that cannot be used to make a weapon); stop producing, installing, or modernizing centrifuges; stop constructing more enrichment facilities; halt all activities at the Arak nuclear reactor (which has the potential to produce nuclear weapons made of plutonium); permit much wider and more intrusive measures of verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily inspections of all facilities.



Political Wire: Healthcare Plan Enrollment Surges in Some States

November 19, 2013

Healthcare Plan Enrollment Surges in Some States

"Despite the disastrous rollout of the federal government's healthcare website, enrollment is surging in many states as tens of thousands of consumers sign up for insurance plans made available by President Obama's health law," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November... The growing enrollment in those states is a rare bit of good news for backers of the Affordable Care Act and suggests that the serious problems with the law's rollout may not be fatal, despite critics' renewed calls for repeal."


Lukovich: Empathy

Luckovich: Takers

Rep. Chris Van Hollen on MSNBC: ACA Allows Insurance Companies to Renew Current Plans for Next Year

Thank you, Rep. Chris van Hollen for setting the record straight about what's actually going on here.

HALL: Right, absolutely. Let me ask you, though, about some of your colleagues. Some Democrats, who, as we've played, now, and including Dianne Feinstein, she is co-sponsoring a bill with Senator Mary Landrieu that would require insurance companies to continue offering the existing health care plans that people have. Basically, the promise that the President made, turning it into a reality here. It's seen as an abandoning of ship, if you will, by some Democrats who could be in political peril.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, two things. One, we want to look for ways right away to address the concerns that have been raised. But you want to make sure your remedy is not worse than the problem. And the proposals that have been put on the table, some in the Senate and some in the House, would increase premiums significantly as you go into next year. So, trying to find a way to fix a problem right now by creating an even bigger problem down the road is not the way to go.

The other thing I would point out, Tamron, I think there has been a lot of confusion about this. Which is there's nothing in the Affordable Care Act itself that prevents any of these insurance companies from extending any of their insurance policies for another year, so long as they do it before the end of this year. And so, these notices that are going out from insurance companies are decisions that are being made by the insurance companies. And I think that is the source of much confusion, because those decisions are not being forced by the Affordable Care Act. There are some states that have accelerated the movement in that direction, but the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit those insurance companies from renewing for a year, so long as they do it by the end of this year.

HALL: Right. So then what is the proper fix here that would, if people want to keep their insurance plan, what is the proper fix to make certain that that happens, if that is the goal?

VAN HOLLEN: Well I think one thing we should do immediately is begin to go to the insurance commissioners in the various states and ask them to look into why these insurance companies are not using the authority they have to extend these policies for one more year, so long as they do it before the end of this year? Because a lot of these insurance companies have sent out letters saying that the Affordable Care Act was making them terminate these policies, but that's just not the case. In some cases, you have states that have passed state laws that would prevent that, but the Affordable Care Act does not prevent that, so long as the insurance companies do it this year and it's for one more year.

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