Tag Archives: Congressional

President Obama’s Call to the International Space Station

Post by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama, along with Congressional leaders and middle school children, congratulate astronauts aboard the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour during a call from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, February 17, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President congratulates astronauts on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour on their successful ongoing mission. He is joined by Congressional leaders and middle school students from Michigan, Florida, and Nebraska.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Children, Computers, Education, Media and Entertainment, nasa, Presidents, Space Station, Students, Technology, Video/YouTube, Young Men, Young Women

Why Progressives Are Batsh*t Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill

Op-ed by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com

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Pick your sub-headline:

a) It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real.
b) Here’s hoping a picture is worth 1,000 words.



Any questions?

OK, I imagine that there will be a few. Here’s how I came up with these numbers.

Senate Bill. These estimates are straightforward — they’re taken directly from the CBO’s report on premiums for people at different income levels. A family of four earning an income of $54,000 would pay $4,000 in premiums, and could expect to incur another $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The $4,000 premium represents a substantial discount, because the government is covering 72 percent of the premium — meaning that the gross cost of the premium is $14,286, some $10,286 of which the government pays.

One caution: this reflects the situation before the public option was removed from the bill. But, provided that the subsidy schedule isn’t changed as well, that shouldn’t change these numbers much.

Status Quo. In 2009, the average premium for a family in the individual market was $6,328, according to the insurance lobbying group AHIP. However, this figure paints an optimistic picture for two reasons. Firstly, the average family size in the AHIP dataset is 3.03 people; for a family of four, that number would scale upward to $7,925, by my calculations. Secondly, the CBO’s estimates are based on 2016 figures, not 2009, so to make an apples-to-apples comparison, we have to account for inflation. According to Kaiser, the average cost of health coverage has increased by about 8.7 percent annually over the past decade, and by 8.8 percent for family coverage. Let’s scale that down slightly, assuming 7.5 annual inflation in premiums from 2009 through 2016 inclusive. That would bring the cost of the family’s premium up by a nominal 66 percent, to $13,149. And remember: these are based on estimates of premiums provided by the insurance lobby. I have no particular reason to think that they’re biased, but if they are, it’s probably on the low side.

Not only, however, would this family paying a lot more under the status quo, but they’d be doing so for inferior insurance. According to the CBO, the amount of coverage in the individual market would improve by between 27 and 30 percent under the Senate’s bill. Taking the midpoint of those numbers (28.5 percent), we can infer that there would be about $1,427 in additional cost sharing to this family in the status quo as compared with the Senate bill; this would bring their cost sharing to $6,427 total.

Add the $6,247 to the $13,149 and you get an annual cost of $19,576 — for a family earning $54,000! Obviously, very few such families are going to be able to afford that unless they have a lot of money in the bank. So, some of these families will go without insurance, or they’ll by really crappy insurance, or they’ll pay the premiums but skimp on out-of-pocket costs, which will negatively impact their fiscal and physical health. But if this family were to want to obtain equivalent coverage to that which would be available to them for $9,000 in the Senate bill, it would cost them between $19,000 and $20,000, according to my estimates.

Status Quo with SCHIP. Fortunately, some families in this predicament do receive some relief via the SCHIP program. SCHIP eligibility varies from state to state; a family earning income at 225 percent of the poverty line, as this family does, is eligible for SCHIP in about half of the country.

Premiums are fairly cheap under SCHIP — for a family at 225 percent of poverty, generally on the order of about $60 per month to cover two children. We’ll assume that this will inflate slightly to $75 per month, or $900 per year, by 2016.

The two adults in the household will still have to buy insurance in the individual market, which will cost $7,684 by 2016. That makes the family’s total premium $8,584.

For the adults, we assume that the cost sharing component runs proportional to premiums, and totals $3,756. For the children, this calculation is a little bit more ambiguous. Out-of-pocket costs under SCHIP are capped at 5 percent of family income, which would be $2,700 for this family. But that’s a cap and not an average — we’ll assume that the average is half of the cap, or $1,350. Total cost-sharing, therefore, is $5,106 between the adults and the children.

This means that premiums plus out of pocket costs will equal $13,690 for this family. I estimate the subsidy by subtracting this figure from the cost of unsubsidized insurance in the individual market; the difference is $5,885.

Caveat/Disclaimer. There are, obviously, some simplifying assumptions here, especially with regard to SCHIP. The only thing I can promise you is that I’m “showing my work“. I would actively encourage people to pick apart these numbers and come up with their own, more robust estimates. One thing that should probably be accounted for is that the families in both the status quo and the status quo + SCHIP cases will frequently be able to deduct their health care expenses from their taxable income, especially if they’ve incurred substantial out-of-pocket costs. That means that the difference in net costs is slightly exaggerated by my figures.

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Read the rest @

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The closing…

Nate SilverI understand that most of the liberal skepticism over the Senate bill is well intentioned. But it has become way, way off the mark. Where do you think the $800 billion goes? It goes to low-income families just like these. Where do you think it comes from? We won’t know for sure until the Senate and House produce their conference bill, but it comes substantially from corporations and high-income earners, plus some efficiency gains.

Because this is primarily a political analysis blog, I think people tend to assume that I’m lost in the political forest and not seeing the policy trees. In fact, the opposite is true. For any “progressive” who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement. The more compelling critique, rather, is that the bill would fail to significantly “bend the cost curve“. I don’t dismiss that criticism at all, and certainly the insertion of a public option would have helped at the margins. But fundamentally, that is a critique that would traditionally be associated with the conservative side of the debate, as it ultimately goes to mounting deficits in the wake of expanded government entitlements.

And please do pick apart my numbers: I’m sure that you will find some questionable assumptions and possibly some outright errors. But if you found a persuasive, progressive policy rationale against the bill, I’d be stunned.~~Nate Silver

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, Government, Health, Health Care Reform, Media and Entertainment, Medicine, Nate Silver, Obama Administration, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Public Option, Senate, Uncategorized, United States

Former Senator Edward Brooke Receives the Congressional Gold Medal from President Obama

Brooke was the 1st African-American elected to US Senate

brookeobamahandshake

Former Senator Edward William Brooke shakes hands with President Barack Obama

AP—US President Barack Obama paid tribute on Wednesday to fellow political trailblazer Edward Brooke, who in 1966 became the first African-American elected to the Senate by popular vote.

In the US Capitol rotunda, Obama presented Brooke, 90, with the Congressional gold medal, the highest civilian award given by the government’s legislative branch.

Today’s honor bears a unique significance: bestowed by this body of which he was an esteemed member; presented in this place where he moved the arc of history; surrounded by so many — myself included — who have followed the trail that he blazed,” said Obama as he stood next to the former senator from Massachusetts.

brooke

The Senator from Massachusetts

Brooke, who served as a Republican from 1967 to 1979, was the first of just three blacks popularly elected to the Senate in the modern era, including Carol Mosely Braun (1993 to 1999) and Obama himself (2005-2008).

Other African-Americans had previously served in the Senate before Brooke, but they were chosen by state legislatures.

Obama, a Democrat, hailed Brooke as someone who managed to navigate a fiercely segregated America and “spent his life breaking barriers and bridging divides.”

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More @ Associated Press

white house gov logoRemarks by the President at Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in Honor of Former Senator Edward William Brooke

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Filed under African-Americans, Culture, Democrats, History, Politics, Republicans, Uncategorized, Washington, DC

Washington Watch – Roland Martin’s Perspectives

Posted by Buellboy

rolandsitemartinrTV One political editor, CNN and Tom Joyner Morning Show analyst Roland Martin hosts a new weekly public affairs series on TV One that focuses on issues that are critical to African Americans, through interviews with officials from the Administration, Congress and other policymakers who represent black communities, as well as discussions with journalists and commentators, and a wide range of policy experts.

Each week Roland Martin and a rotating panel of journalists and experts, including American Urban Radio Networks White House Correspondent April Ryan and Comcast Network host and Philadelphia Tribune columnist Robert Traynham, will discuss the top stories in Washington. The show will also feature regular appearances by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In addition, Martin will conduct a one-on-one interview with a key newsmaker each week.

The show, debuted on Sunday, Sept. 27 and will air weekly at 11 AM and 5 PM ET.

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More @ tvonelogo

The issue of gay marriage is coming to a head in the nation’s capital and DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is ready to fight — FOR gay marriage. Roland asks her how she thinks this controversial issue will play with strong voices on both sides speaking up and out.

Question: Do you think gay marriage will be legal in Washington, DC?

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While discussing the horrible beating death of a Chicago honor student, Roland asks a provocative question that gets everyone talking.

Question: Do you think that Pro-Life supporters should also get involved in matters of life beyond the womb?

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Filed under Democrats, Media and Entertainment, Opinions, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Television, TV Shows, Uncategorized, Washington, DC

Democrat Rush Holt Wins Congressional Approval For Measure To Mandate Videorecording Of Interrogations

Posted by HershelWellingtonIV

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)

ThinkProgress/Zaid Jilani—Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed as part of the 2010 Defense Authorization conference report a new requirement that would mandate the videorecording of all interrogations of anyone in a Defense Department facility:

Congress is moving to require videotaping of interrogations of detainees held by the military, a step proponents say will prevent abuse and create a valuable intelligence record.

The provision, which the House passed on Thursday as part of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act conference report, would apply to interrogations of anyone held at a Defense Department facility. Because the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret overseas prisons have been closed, it would most likely cover terrorism suspects whether they were questioned by a military or a C.I.A. officer.

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Filed under Al-Qaeda, Democrats, Law, Middle East, Military, News, Politics, Terrorism, Violence, War

Obama Addresses Congressional Black Caucus on Health Care

Posted by Audiegrl

President Barack Obama is seen at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. dinner on Saturday Sept. 26, 2009 in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/Earl Gibson III)

President Barack Obama is seen at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. dinner on Saturday Sept. 26, 2009 in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/Earl Gibson III)


Associated Press—President Barack Obama on Saturday resumed his push to overhaul the health care system, telling a Congressional Black Caucus conference that there comes a time when “the cup of endurance runs over.”

“We have been waiting for health reform since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. We’ve been waiting since the days of Harry Truman,” he said in remarks at the caucus foundation’s annual dinner. “We’ve been waiting since Johnson and Nixon and Clinton.”

“We cannot wait any longer,” Obama said.

Obama spent the past week largely focused on global and economic issues in meetings with world leaders in New York and Pittsburgh.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, wave as they arrive at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Phoenix Awards dinner, in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, wave as they arrive at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Phoenix Awards dinner, in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


At the G-20 economic summit that wrapped up Friday in Pennsylvania, Obama told a story about an unnamed foreign leader who privately told the president he didn’t understand the at-times contentious debate over changing the health care system.

“He says, ‘We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you. That doesn’t make sense to me,'” Obama said, quoting the world leader he declined to identify.

The reference to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was to signs some people have waved outside of often testy town hall meetings around the country this summer where lawmakers discussed Obama’s health care plan.

In the speech, Obama described his plan as one that would not require people with coverage to change anything but would make health insurance affordable for the millions of people who don’t have any. Republicans dispute those claims.

More @Associated Press

Part One

Part Two

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Filed under Democrats, Economy, Politics, Republicans, Uncategorized, United Nations