Tag Archives: Reform

President Obama Explains Healthcare.gov

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Macon Phillips

It’s not every day that the President takes time out of his schedule to record a video about a website. But that’s just what happened with HealthCare.gov, the new consumer-oriented website from the Department of Health and Human Services. In the video, he shows how anyone can learn about new rights and benefits available to them as a result of health reform law, and, for the first time ever, see all their insurance coverage options in one place. Check it out:

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Making useful, easy-to-use information available online is a priority for this Administration. And putting power back into the hands of Americans is a primary focus for the President. HealthCare.gov accomplishes both. So, take a moment and check it out.

And don’t forget to leave your feedback in the yellow boxes throughout the site. The team at HHS is reviewing them on a regular basis and it’s a great way to help make HealthCare.gov a better resource for all of us.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Change, Health, Health Care Reform, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized

Arizona’s New Immigration Law and the Grassroots Say ‘No’ to Arizona Push Back

Posted by: Buellboy

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva

AP~U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, and civil rights activists spoke to thousands of people gathered at the state Capitol and called on President Barack Obama to fight the law, promising to march in the streets and invite arrest by refusing to comply.

“We’re going to overturn this unjust and racist law, and then we’re going to overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law,” Grijalva said.

Obama has called the new law “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it’s legal. It requires police to question people about their immigration status – including asking for identification – if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. Opponents say it would lead to racial profiling because officers would be more likely to ask people who look Hispanic.

Supporters have dismissed concerns about profiling, saying the law prohibits the use of race or nationality as the sole basis for an immigration check. Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure Friday, has ordered state officials to develop a training course for officers to learn what constitutes reasonable suspicion someone is in the U.S. illegally.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who sponsored the legislation, said it’s “pretty disappointing” that opponents would call on the federal government to refuse to cooperate with Arizona authorities.

“It’s outrageous that these people continue to support law breakers over law keepers,” Pearce said Sunday.

Protesters, some of whom came from as far away as Texas, clustered under trees for shelter from Arizona’s searing sun and temperatures that approached 90 degrees. Police said it was peaceful and there were no clashes.

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Representative Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat. He called the new Arizona immigration law a civil rights catastrophe and urged constituents to cancel vacations to Arizona

HP~One Chicago congressman has a suggestion for his constituents as to what they can do about Arizona: don’t go there.

“Why would you want to contribute to a group of people that clearly are engaged in a discriminatory act?” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat, according to Chicago Public Radio.

Gutierrez represents Illinois’s 4th Congressional District, one of the most heavily gerrymandered districts in the country, and one that covers two of Chicago’s strongly Hispanic neighborhoods. He has long been an advocate of immigration reform, and has been a persistent critic of the Obama administration for failing to act more strongly on the issue.

To that end, Gutierrez believes the new Arizona law, which requires police to question anyone they had reason to suspect was in the country illegally, has a silver lining:

“The legislative overreach by Arizona Republicans to inject harsh anti-immigrant politics into the brewing Election Year stew is focusing the President’s attention on the need for the federal government to take charge” on immigration reform, Gutierrez said in a statement.

Gutierrez was in Phoenix on Sunday, where he joined Arizona congressman Raul Grijalva in a protest at the state capitol. At a joint press conference in Washington before the rally, the two representatives decried what Gutierrez called a “civil rights catastrophe that Republicans in Arizona are unleashing on immigrants and all Latinos in the state.”

Say ‘No’ to Arizona ~ Nation’s largest Spanish-language newspaper joins boycott of Arizona over immigration legislation

Critics of Arizona’s new immigration law have been calling for a boycott of the state, and the nation’s biggest Spanish-language newspaper just joined that call.

Here’s La Opinion’s translation of its editorial:

“…The anti-immigrant bill signed yesterday in Arizona is a violation of our right to be free from police harassment based on the way we look….

There are two ways to fight this law: one is in the courts and the other is through direct action. As for the first, lawyers will be filing lawsuits challenging the law’s constitutionality. The latter, direct action, is a call to boycott the state of Arizona.

We express our outrage in the face of this abuse of power. We call for a boycott of all goods and services from Arizona and pledge to avoid tourism in the state as well. Let’s send a signal of our disgust with an arrogant state government that asserts powers it does not have in order to persecute a minority population.”

By the Time I Get to Arizona” — This Discrimination Must Stop

Written by Chuck D and Gaye Theresa Johnson

Chuck D and Gaye Theresa Johnson

HP~The Arizona immigration bill — which Governor Jan Brewer has decided to sign into law — is racist, deceitful, and reflects some of the most mean-spirited politics against immigrants that the country has ever seen. The power that this law gives to police to detain people that they suspect to be undocumented brings racial profiling to a new low. Brewer’s actions and those of Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senate are despicable, inexcusable, and endorse the all-out hate campaign that Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, and others have perpetrated upon immigrants for years. The people of Arizona who voted for this bill, as well as those who crafted it, demonstrate no regard for the humanity or contributions of Latino people. And for all of those who have chosen not to speak up, shame on you for silently endorsing this legislated hate.

In 1991 Public Enemy wrote a song criticizing Arizona officials (including John McCain and Fife Symington) for rejecting the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The same politics written about in “By the Time I Get to Arizona” are alive and well in Arizona today, but this time the target is Brown people.

These actions must stop. We are issuing a call to action, urging fellow musicians, artists, athletes, performers, academics and production companies to refuse to work in Arizona until officials not only overturn this bill, but recognize the human rights of immigrants. This should include the NBA playoffs, revisiting the actions of the NFL in 1993, when they moved the Superbowl to Pasadena in protest against Arizona’s refusal to recognize Dr. King. We all need to speak up in defense of our brothers and sisters being victimized in Arizona, because things are only getting worse. What they’re doing to immigrants is appalling, but it will be even more damning if we remain silent.

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Filed under Civil Protest, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, Immigration, Uncategorized

President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 04/17/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.gov~Holding Wall Street Accountable~The strongest consumer protections ever. Bringing transparency to financial dealings. Closing loopholes to stop recklessness and irresponsibility. Holding Wall Street accountable and giving shareholders new power in the financial system. President Obama lays out what Wall Street Reform is about, and questions whether opposition from the Senate Republican Leader might have something to do with his recent meeting with Wall Street executives.

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Flip Flopping on Obama: Democrats are Wimps

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Dr. Jeff Schweitzer


We fully expect rats to abandon a sinking ship, but even those readily disloyal rodents wait for a leak to spring before contemplating a swim. In contrast, Democrats scramble frantically to jump overboard at the first whiff of a moist towel.

Nowhere was this unpleasant characteristic more glaringly evident than during the health care debate. Because Obama did not deliver the perfect bill instantly, the punditry immediately labeled the president “ineffective” and “passive” and “drifting” and “lost” and horror-of-horrors, “another Jimmy Carter.” Obama was criticized repeatedly because he “leads more from the head than the heart” and “relies more on listening than preaching,” as if those qualities were actually somehow negative. And those were the liberal talking heads. Obama was written off as a loser by his own team simply because he could not change 50 years of social inertia in his first year in office.

George Packer of The New Yorker loudly proclaimed “Obama’s Lost Year.” Robert Parry of The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel lamented “How Obama Lost His Way.” Piling on were House Democrats who snidely disparaged the health care bill in February, but who now bask in the glory of its passage. These House members quickly toweled off after a premature dunk then tried to pretend they never panicked.

To place this cowardly behavior in context, remember that Republicans stuck stubbornly and loyally to George Bush for eight years in the face of illegal wire taps, disastrous wars, huge deficits, torture, economic collapse, environmental calamity and a terrible butchering of the English language. Democrats did not last eight months before whipping out the chains of self-flagellation because the president did not perform miracles or give us the public option (yet). That easy disloyalty is even more discouraging given that Democrats held the largest majority that either party has held in the Senate since Watergate and a 40-seat majority in the House.

Tackling legislation that has eluded every president for the last five decades is a delicate, tricky, complicated dance of nuance, strategy and hard-ball politics. The best analogy for what Obama has done, and how he achieved victory, is Dwight Eisenhower’s civil rights battle. In fact the recently-passed health care reform bill will likely prove to be similar to early civil rights legislation in many ways — breaking old barriers, creating significant social change, remapping political alliances and creating a better world with legislation that was initially deeply flawed or ineffective. Old Ike fired the first shot of civil rights legislation across the bow of a nation largely hostile to the idea. He faced fierce, nasty and sometimes violent opposition from southern Senators who wielded power far greater than anything we see today.

Consequently the resulting Civil Rights Act of 1957 was weak, flawed and largely impotent but miraculous in its passage nevertheless. The bill became law only after enduring the longest single-senator filibuster in our history. That paragon of racial intolerance, Strom Thurmond, read non-stop for more than 24 hours in a final but ultimately futile attempt to thwart passage. Ironically he read from the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, desecrating both in doing so. As with Obama and health care, what Ike did was important beyond the specific bill that passed; he breached a barrier that seemed impenetrable; he set the stage for progress.

He laid the foundation on which Lyndon Johnson built the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without Eisenhower’s pioneering legislation, no matter how weak, Johnson would have never passed his landmark bill. Likewise, the public option, which is the end-game of true reform, will eventually become law because of the foundation created with this first attempt at health care reform.

In this light, and with this history, we should be embarrassed by our impatience with Obama as he marshaled health care legislation through a reluctant legislature and a populace confused by a vitriolic misinformation campaign. We lost temporal perspective, focusing on the moment to the exclusion of the future. Obama deserved our support and instead we bickered and told tales of woe because the bill was imperfect and not implemented quickly enough for our taste for the immediate. And the opposition nearly slaughtered us because we were unable to unite.

We argued passionately about the minutiae of specific language while the GOP was plotting a grand strategy of our destruction. Our impatience and immaturity aided and abetted that effort. Many Democrats I know and respect simply gave up on the president because he did not produce fast enough or give them everything they wanted. In the euphoria of electing one of our own, we forgot that ideological purity is not a recipe for pragmatic governance. We once again almost let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and were only saved from ourselves by strong leadership which ignored our plaintive and pathetic cries. Thankfully Obama was playing chess while we were trying to figuring out how to go from one to square to another in checkers.

Well, now that the first health care bill has passed we at least learned our lesson, right? One would think, but one would be wrong. The cycle begins anew with Obama’s announcement that he will allow off-shore oil drilling. Oh the humanity!

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again.” And we’re off and running, so predictably. Here is a typical response to Obama’s announcement, this from Frank Tursi from the North Carolina Coastal Federation: “To garner support for a bill that is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the administration is willing to expand the very substance that causes those emissions in the first place. Pandering for votes that rely on a polluting fuel of the past is not the kind of change many of us expected.”

Sound eerily familiar to the dialogue on health care before the bill passed? Once again we fail to see the big picture and instead focus narrowly on our immediate interests and concerns. Passing meaningful climate change legislation will be every bit as difficult as health care reform, and will require the same type of unpleasant and disconcerting compromise. We must again choose between the easy comfort of ideological purity and the pragmatic necessity of governing if we actually want to do something about global warming. Saving the planet is probably the better option, even if less satisfying emotionally.

Obama did not choose drilling in a vacuum; the decision is part of his broader energy strategy. Yes, we must emphasize conservation and efficiency, and we must do everything possible to promote renewable and clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions. But as we transition to a green economy, we have to keep the lights on and refrigerator running. That is the reality. The energy must come from somewhere, and even as we promote renewables many conservation groups are opposing wind energy, one of the most viable alternatives. Wind turbines disrupt migratory patterns, kill birds and bats and threaten certain species like the sage grouse. So should we support or oppose wind energy?

Something has to give, some compromise must be reached; we live in an imperfect world. Demanding perfection leads to paralysis — and victory for the opposition. Withdrawing support from Obama because he proposes a solution that does not meet our every wish makes little sense, particularly in light of what the other Party has to offer.

By no means do I propose that we blindly accept Obama’s proposed solutions or draft legislation. Debate, modify, argue, disagree: all of that is healthy. But do so knowing that ugly compromise is necessary, and that in a messy democracy no result will be perfectly satisfactory. Democrats need to learn from their Republican colleagues, who seem to know when to argue among themselves and when to coalesce into a unified bloc.

Whenever you feel disappointed or angry at Obama, just close your eyes and think of George W. Bush. Then, rally around, because no matter how imperfect Obama is, he’s better than the alternative.

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Schweitzer was responsible for providing scientific and technological policy advice and analysis for Al Gore, President Clinton and President Clinton’s Science Advisor, and to coordinate the U.S. government’s international science and technology cooperation. He worked with the president’s cabinet and 22 U.S. Government technical agencies, and with countries throughout the world, in a broad range of fields including biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, agriculture, oceanography and marine sciences. He was instrumental in establishing the permanent Global Forum on Science and Technology at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to promote greater international scientific collaboration.

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President Obama Signs Largest Reform Of Student Aid In 40 Years

Posted by: Audiegrl

A Great Battle Pitting the Interests of the Banks and Financial Institutions Against the Interests of Students

President Barack Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 during a signing ceremony at Northern Virginia Community College March 30, 2010 in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Pete Souza, White House)

Today at Northern Virginia Community College, President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, the last step on health reform that provided fixes for some elements and which improved upon the core health reforms by increasing tax credits for the middle class, investing in community health centers, and strengthening efforts to fight waste and fraud.

But the legislation also include another major priority of the President’s that was often overshadowed by the health reform debate, as he explained: “But what’s gotten overlooked amid all the hoopla, all the drama of last week, is what happened in education — when a great battle pitting the interests of the banks and financial institutions against the interests of students finally came to an end.” The President was referring to reform of student loans to make higher education more affordable, allowing students to get loans without relying on large banks as unnecessary middlemen, and saving American taxpayers $68 billion in the coming years.

The President explained that the government will reinvest the savings back into education by upgrading community colleges, increasing Pell Grants, and making it easier for responsible students to pay off their loans. Brian Levine from the Middle Class Task Force explains how the Income Based Repayment program will benefit students and help borrowers avoid unmanageable debt burdens here. The Act will also invest savings in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.

Joined by Dr. Jill Biden, who spoke on the boost for community colleges in a video here earlier today, the President explained that this law takes another important step to invest in the country’s future through education:

For a long time, our student loan system has worked for banks and financial institutions. Today, we’re finally making our student loan system work for students and our families. But we’re also doing something more.

From the moment I was sworn into office, I’ve spoken about the urgent need for us to lay a new foundation for our economy and for our future. And two pillars of that foundation are health care and education, and each has long suffered from problems that we chose to kick down the road.

With the bill I signed last week, we finally undertook meaningful reform of our health care system. With this bill, and other steps we’ve pursued over the last year, we are finally undertaking meaningful reform in our higher education system. So this week, we can rightly say the foundation on which America’s future will be built is stronger than it was one year ago.

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What Health Reform Does This Year: In 3 Minutes

While it will take about 4 years for health reform to be fully implemented, there are several benefits you can expect to see this year. Learn about them in just 3 minutes.
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Senate will have to return health bill to House

AP~A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the bill making changes in President Barack Obama’s newly enacted health care overhaul will have to go back to the House for final congressional approval, something top Democrats were trying to avoid.

Spokesman Jim Manley said Republicans consulting with the Senate parliamentarian had found “two minor provisions” that violate budget rules. The two provisions, dealing with Pell grants for low-income college students, will have to be removed from the bill.

Once those provisions are deleted and the Senate passes the measure, the House will have to approve the legislation before sending it to Obama for his signature. Manley said he was confident the House would do so with no problems.

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, Congress, Democrats, Health Care Reform, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Senate