In the USA...United Surveillance AmericaMajor companies tell Obama they won’t discriminate against the long-term unemployed
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, January 31, 2014 12:37 EST
President Barack Obama unveiled in an interview aired Friday an initiative designed to help the long-term unemployed as part of his drive to boost the sluggish US economy.
Obama said 300 major companies including so far Walmart, Apple and Ford had agreed with him to establish a code of best practices not to brush off jobseekers just because they have been out of work for some time.
The president said he would be meeting with representatives of some of the companies soon.
Obama unveiled the plan in an interview with CNN, his first since he delivered his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.
In that speech, he said he wanted to work with the deeply divided US Congress but will now not hesitate to use executive orders to try get things done. He said he would order, for instance, a rise in the minimum wage for people working for federal contractors.
The US jobless rate now stands at 6.7 percent, the lowest level since Oct. 2008. But many Americans face an uphill battle in the job market because of the stigma of having been out of work for an extended period during the recession and afterwards.
On the long-term unemployed, Obama told CNN that employers “are looking at that gap in the resume and they’re weeding them out before these chance get a chance for a interview”.
“We gathered together 300 companies just to start with, including some of the top companies in the country, to say ‘let’s establish best practices. Do not screen people out of the hiring process just because they’ve been out of work for a long time’,” Obama said.
He added that it would be helpful if Congress acted and did something like raise the minimum wage nationwide, as opposed to his just acting on a much more limited basis through executive orders for federal contract workers.
“And that’s why I’m going to keep on reaching out for them,” he said of lawmakers. “But I’m not going to wait for them.”
*************With Republicans Screaming Impeachment, Obama Is Not Backing Down on Jobs
By: Sarah Jones
Saturday, February, 1st, 2014, 8:41 am
Instead of backing down in the wake of Republicans cries for impeachment, President Obama is doubling down with increased pressure on them to finally take action for American workers. He is not giving up his demands for Congress to take action to remedy the outrageous disparity between the haves and the have nots.
The President already announced that he’d take to the Executive Order to do what he can, since Republicans clearly want no part in helping the average worker. But the executive branch can only do so much. To change laws, we need the legislative branch to do its job. When Obama announced that he was going to start using the power of his office to advance the cause of jobs for Americans, Republicans immediately commenced screeching about impeachment.
The only way to make Congress do their job is to use the advantage of it being an election year to drill them on why they refuse to pass anything related to jobs, the minimum wage, unemployment extension, etc.
And that is precisely what President Obama did today in his weekly address, which echoes his State of the Union address. Watch here:
The President said (my bold):
After four years of economic growth with eight million new private sector jobs, our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than five years. And with the economy speeding up, companies say they intend to hire more people this year.
But while those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Too many Americans are working harder and harder just to get by. And too many still aren’t working at all.
Our job is to reverse those trends. It’s time to restore opportunity for all people – the idea that no matter who you are, if you work hard and live up to your responsibilities, you can make it if you try.
President Obama then laid out his “opportunity agenda” and how it related to the workers he spoke with this week in various states:
Job one is more new jobs: jobs in construction and manufacturing, jobs in innovation and energy.
In Wisconsin, I talked with plant workers at GE about part two: training more Americans with the skills to fill those new jobs.
In Tennessee, I talked with students about part three: guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education, from early childhood, through college, and right into a career.
And with steelworkers in Pittsburgh, and retail workers in Maryland, I laid out part four: making sure hard work pays off for men and women, with wages you can live on, savings you can retire on, and health insurance that’s there for you when you need it.
The President, who already called Republicans on their impeachment bluff, noted that some of these ideas do require Congress to act, but that’s not going to stop him from doing what he can. He said, “But wherever I can take steps to expand opportunity for more families on my own, I will.” He’s going to go around Congress by taking his case right to business leaders, education leaders, and philanthropic leaders, asking them to partner in order to advance these goals.
And here’s POTUS’ parting shot for Republicans who have been wailing impeachment like the useless obstacles they are since Obama announced that he would do what he could to get something done without them since they refuse to legislate, “And every single day, I’m going to fight for these priorities – to shift the odds back in favor of more working and middle-class Americans, and to keep America a place where you can always make it if you try.”
In other words, he’s not backing down; he’s just getting warmed up.
Enjoy the 2014 pressure cooker, Republicans.
*************President Obama’s Message To House Republicans Talking Impeachment: Bring It On
By: Jason Easley
Friday, January, 31st, 2014, 2:49 pm
During his CNN interview President Obama not only shrugged off Republican claims of an imperial presidency, but he appeared to challenge the Republicans who are talking lawsuits and impeachment to bring it on.
TAPPER: And let’s talk about House Republicans, because – and – and Senate Republicans. There has been a large contingency of Republicans critical of your new approach. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who might run for president, calls this the imperial presidency. And in the House, there is this thing, as you know, called The Stop Act. They want to rein in what you’re trying to do.
How do you respond to that?
OBAMA: Well, I don’t think that’s very serious. I mean, the truth of the matter is, is that every president engages in executive actions. In fact, we’ve been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we have taken. We make sure that we’re doing it within the authority that we have under statute. But I am not going to make an apology for saying that if I can help middle class families and folks who are working hard to try to get in the middle class do a little bit better, then I’m going to do it.
And, you know, I think it’s – it’s a tough argument for the other side to make that not only are they willing to do an – not do anything, but they also want me not to do anything in which case I think the American people who’s, right now, estimation of Congress is already pretty low might might have an even lower opinion.
TAPPER: The Stop Act is not something you take seriously?
OBAMA: I – I am not particularly worried about it.
Yesterday, Paul Ryan appeared to be laying the groundwork for impeachment by claiming that President Obama routinely violates the Constitution by exercising powers that he doesn’t have.
The president’s point was that House Republicans can pass their little legislation. They can cry about imperial powers all they want, but he is not going to apologize or back off because he is trying to help people who are working hard and getting the short end of the economic stick.
President Obama is calling the GOP’s bluff. He seems to be coming from a belief that that this is all just election year hot air from the GOP, but if they want to sue him, pass legislation to stop him for helping the American people, or talk impeachment, he isn’t afraid. This president isn’t going to fall for the Republican bully routine and back down.
Obama is treating the Republicans like they are irrelevant, because that is what they have earned through their obstructionist behavior. The president knows that they aren’t going to pass anything, or lift a finger to help the American people, so he is doing what he can by himself.
If Republicans don’t like it, they should do something about it. If they are too scared to do something about it, then they need to shut up and get out of the way.
***************In 120 Years Republicans Only Cry Tyranny When the Black President Uses Executive Orders
Friday, January, 31st, 2014, 10:00 am
For five years Republicans and their teabagger cohort have thrown around the word tyranny and dictator to ramp up opposition to President Obama for leading the Executive Branch of government while being Black. Leading up to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, there were indications by the White House that the President would announce his intent to use his authority to, among other measures, raise the minimum wage for government contractors to $10.10 per hour through the use of an executive order. Republicans are opposed to any American earning enough to stay out of poverty, and the paltry amount does little more than lift contractors from dire poverty to just poverty. Although President’s have been issuing executive orders for over 120 years, Republicans consider it the height of tyranny and dictatorial power because this President happens to be African American; a cardinal and impeachable sin in conservative circles.
The hypocritical outrage over an African American President issuing executive orders was swift and absurd from Republicans within minutes of the President’s State of the Union, and there were accusations that the President is shredding the Constitution and circumventing Congress, but what Congress? Do Republicans mean the Congress that cannot do its Constitutional job and work for the general welfare of the people, or do they mean congressional Republicans shredding the Constitution by passing a preponderance of biblical laws targeting women for being women and gays for expecting protections guaranteed in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment?
If Republicans had done their jobs and followed the will of the people on a rash of topics important to Americans such as equal pay for women (90%), repeal oil industry subsidies (74%), raising the minimum wage (71%), not shutting down the government (80%), or passing legislation to put more Americans to work in the tech manufacturing sector (90%), President Obama would not have to issue executive orders that admittedly cannot take up the slack from an obstruction-minded and do-nothing Republican caucus. What the President revealed in his State of the Union address was that he is concentrating on what can be done, by himself, instead of what Congress should do if they were not motivated by obstructionism to thwart economic recovery and grind governance to a halt. His effort drew a plethora of accusations of “dictator” from Republicans and conservative pundits alike.
Perennial dunce Michele Bachmann threatened the President with a frivolous lawsuit and stated conservatives in the House might sue him because, “He may think he’s a king, he may declare himself king, but that’s not what he is under our Constitution.” Conservative loudmouth Glenn Beck professed that the president is “America’s first dictator,” and Mark Levin proposed that Republicans in Congress pass a resolution nullifying executive orders as if such a measure would pass the Senate or earn the President’s signature.
Teabagger Ted Cruz said, “Over and over again this president has disregarded the law, has disregarded the Constitution and has asserted presidential power that simply doesn’t exist and that ought to worry regardless of whether you agree with his policies or not.” Libertarian Rand Paul sent out a message on social media outlet Twitter saying, “Mr. President we are a nation of laws & we are supposed to follow our Constitution. You do not get to ‘act alone.’” Texas Republican Steve Stockman actually stood up and walked out of the State of the Union address and said, “I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers.” To listen to Republicans and conservative pundits, Barack Obama is the first President in history to issue an executive order, but Republicans know that is hardly the case.
President Obama has only signed 168 executive orders thus far in comparison to George W. Bush, a white president, who signed more executive orders, 173, in his first four years than President Obama, a Black President signed in just over five years. However, Republicans complain that the President is overstepping his constitutional authority by issuing executive orders that are out of the bounds of his purview that has led them to intimate they may have grounds to file articles of impeachment, but it is something they never considered when George W. Bush signed exactly the same orders.
For example, on December 23rd the President signed an order titled “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay” that mirrors an order Bush signed in December 2008 titled “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay.” On May 21, 2013 the President signed an order titled “Providing an Order of Succession within the Department of Agriculture” that Bush called “Amending the Order of Succession Within the Department of Agriculture” and signed it in January 2009 days before leaving office. President Obama signed an order titled “Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees” on September 20, 2013, and Bush signed the “Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees” on September 28, 2007. On December 7, 2012 President Obama signed an order titled “Establishing the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force” that Bush signed on November 1, 2005 only titled “Creation of the Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding Council.” The executive orders are nearly identical, but when a Black President signs them he is a dictator, oversteps his authority, and thinks he is a king.
Regarding presidential executive orders making adjustments to implementing established laws, Bush signed “Further Amendments to Executive Orders 12139 and 12949 in Light of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008,” “Waiver Under the Trade Act of 1974 with Respect to Turkmenistan,” and “Delegation of Certain Authorities and Assignment of Certain Functions Under the Trade Act of 2002” among many others. When the Black man in the Oval Office signs executive orders dealing with implementation of established laws, he is “circumventing the legislative process” and shredding the Constitution that the previous white president signed with Republicans’ blessings.
As far as President Obama’s intent to sign an executive order dealing with federal government contractor pay that has Republicans threatening legal action, Bush issued, and signed four executive orders including one titled “Preservation of Open Competition and Government Neutrality Towards Government Contractors’ Labor Relations on Federal and Federally Funded Construction Projects,” and “Revocation of Executive Order on Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers under Certain Contracts” plus at least two others. No Republican accused white president Bush of tyranny, dictatorial overreach, circumventing Congress, or overstepping his constitutional authority. Obviously in Republican circles, whiteness has its privilege the current crop of Republican racists and conservative bigots do not extend to the Black man sitting in the Oval Office issuing nearly identical executive orders as the previous white president.
If Republicans are so adamantly averse to a president issuing and signing executive orders, they had 291 opportunities to assail George W. Bush for being a dictator, threaten him with lawsuits, and accuse him of overstepping his constitutional authority. If congressional Republicans had spent one-tenth the time working for the American people that they spent investigating the Affordable Care Act, Benghazi, the I.R.S., Benghazi, or voting 40 times to repeal the ACA, the President would not have to issue executive orders doing the work Republicans fail to do. However, this is not about this President doing everything in his power to address the income inequality crushing the economic life out of Americans and everything to do with his race. From the minute President Obama took the oath of office up until today, Republicans have sought any reason to lambaste him as a tyrant and dictator they claim is shredding the Constitution that in their racist minds is the crime of leading the Executive Branch while Black and nothing more.
****************Rebel Conservatives Lead Way in G.O.P. Fund-Raising
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
FEB. 1, 2014
Insurgent conservative organizations raised more money last year than the leading Republican establishment outside groups, whose bulging bank accounts and ties to major donors have been their most potent advantage in the struggle over the G.O.P.'s future, according to interviews with officials and new campaign filings.
The shift in fortunes could have an enormous impact in 2014, as warring Republican factions prepare to square off in a series of Senate and House primaries around the country and Republican leaders seek to rein in activists who they believe have fractured and endangered the party with policies that alienate independent-leaning voters.
Emboldened by activists’ fury over compromises Republican leaders have struck with Democrats on federal spending, the conservative groups are preparing to muster political spending — in formidable amounts — to augment their grass-roots muscle in a challenge to Republicans aligned with party regulars.
The boom in conservative fund-raising is already playing out in the broader struggle for control of the Senate. Americans for Prosperity, the free-market advocacy group founded by the libertarian billionaire David Koch, has become by far the biggest single spender on early-campaign issue advertisements against Democratic incumbents: Since October, it has spent more than $23 million, chiefly on attacks on Democrats for supporting President Obama’s health care law.
That spree underscores the shifting balance in power within the party. During the 2012 campaign, Republican leaders counted on Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, the political nonprofit set up by the G.O.P. strategist Karl Rove, to soften Democratic candidates with issue ads during the early campaign season. Now that job is falling largely to Americans for Prosperity, which has often been critical of Republican leaders’ strategy on issues like the debt ceiling, and which has worked aggressively to reshape the party.
“The model that we have been building for the past eight years — a state-based organization with a supportive home office but a permanent infrastructure on the ground, with real troops, and with real support behind it — is one that our supporters believe in,” said Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity.
Four Republican-leaning groups with close ties to the party’s leadership in Congress — Crossroads and its “super PAC” affiliate, the Congressional Leadership Fund, and Young Guns Action — raised a combined $7.7 million in 2013. By contrast, four conservative organizations that have battled Republican candidates deemed too moderate or too yielding on spending issues — FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth Action Fund, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Tea Party Patriots — raised a total of $20 million in 2013, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed on Friday.
“This is by far the biggest nonelection year we’ve ever had,” said Matt Hoskins, the executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “It shows how committed people are to electing true conservatives and to advancing conservative principles.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund has feuded bitterly with party organizations, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and has financed challenges to incumbent senators who it does not believe adhere sufficiently to conservative orthodoxy.
In Kentucky, the fund is backing Matt Bevin, a businessman, in his bid to unseat Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican leader.
“If Mitch McConnell wins, the party will continue to drift away from its conservative principles and become increasingly hostile to the grass-roots,” the Senate Conservatives Fund states on its website. “But if Matt Bevin wins, the establishment’s stranglehold over the party will be broken and power will be restored to the people who elect these politicians.”
Because some of the biggest groups are not required to report their fund-raising to the Federal Election Commission and declined to volunteer the information, the figures do not include some major spenders on both sides, including Americans for Prosperity, and the American Action Network, which focused on House races and is affiliated with the Congressional Leadership Fund.
And the party-oriented organizations, which were organized and remain oriented toward helping Republicans win general elections, typically raise most of their revenue later in the election cycle.
“Our pledges are on track with previous cycles and we are increasingly enthusiastic about prospects for winning a majority in the Senate and holding the majority in the House,” said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads.
Moreover, major trade associations with ties to the Republican establishment have signaled they will spend heavily in this year’s election cycle, in part to help elevate candidates who can perform strongly in matchups against Democrats. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traditionally one of the biggest players in campaigns, is forecasting that it will spend about $50 million on a mix of general election and primary races.
Yet there are signs that some of the establishment-oriented groups are being particularly careful with their cash. American Crossroads, the American Action Network and the YG Network announced a joint $1.2 million advertising campaign in the special election for a congressional seat in Florida, suggesting that the groups were taking care to pool their spending to achieve greater impact.
Some of the decline in fund-raising by major Republican groups is also being driven by the fragmentation of the party’s outside spending infrastructure. Mr. Rove’s battles with rebellious conservatives have drawn enough controversy that some candidates do not want to be openly associated with Crossroads. Instead, they are being backed by smaller groups, often founded by the candidates’ donors and former aides, that focus on a single race.
Such groups, in states like Texas, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina, have raised several million dollars between them, easing some of the gap with conservative groups.
“We still see ourselves as the serious underdogs,” Mr. Hoskins said.
**************GOP House Candidate Calls Hillary Clinton the Anti-Christ and Passes out Bullets at Event
By: Keith Brekhus
Friday, January, 31st, 2014, 7:14 pm
Montana Republican Ryan Zinke campaigned at a small town event in Big Fork Montana on Monday. Though the event only drew about thirty people, Zinke’s comments should give pause to the state of Montana as they contemplate who to elect to Congress in 2014. Zinke referred to Hillary Clinton as the anti-Christ and described her as the “real enemy”. The ex-Navy SEAL also engaged in some thinly veiled insurrectionist rhetoric by stating:
Who trusts the U.S. government? No one in this room. I’ve served in 25 nations. I’ve seen where people don’t trust their government. We’re there. In the military, the last option is to send in the SEALs.
While these views should be relegated to the political fringe, Zinke leads the six Montana GOP House candidates in fundraising. His rhetoric seems to unite the “End of Times” evangelical religious right with the conspiracy oriented gun enthusiasts into a coherent narrative that regards Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and other Democrats as an enemy to be eliminated.
As if to emphasize his latent desire for “second amendment solutions”, Zinke was joined by author Scott McEwen, who wrote the book American Sniper. After completing his speech to about thirty GOP partisans, Zinke handed out 50-calibre bullets to each of the four men who sponsored the event.
In 2012, Zinke launched the Special Operations For America Political Action Committee, with the goal of defeating Barack Obama in the 2012 election. His current rhetoric however seems to be drifting deeper into a more apocalyptic world view where the Democrats are demonic figures. In this dangerous fantasy land armed insurrection may eventually become necessary as a last resort to save the Republic.
While it would be easy to dismiss such far-fetched paranoia, Zinke’s successful fundraising suggests that his conspiratorial world view is shared by many Republican primary voters. The current Tea Party-flavored Congress is already populated with a number of right-wing extremists. Adding Ryan Zinke to Congress would only further drive a wedge between reasonable lawmakers and the extremists who seek to destabilize the country through violent rhetoric and malicious hyperbole.
*************Conservatives boycott Girl Scout cookies over perceived support for empowered women
By Travis Gettys
Friday, January 31, 2014 11:34 EST
Conservatives are calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies because the group linked to an article endorsing Texas lawmaker Wendy Davis as a candidate for woman of the year.
The Girl Scouts shared the link Dec. 18 to a Huffington Post article titled, “These Are The Women Who Dominated 2013,” on its official Twitter account.
“The ladies in contention ran the gamut from Beyonce to Wendy Davis to the millions of intelligent women airing their views on Twitter, but one name that continued to pop up was the woman many said deserved to be named Time Magazine’s person of the year — youth activist Malala Yousafzai,” the article said.
Davis, a Democratic state senator, became a target for Republican ire after she led a 13-hour filibuster of a Texas anti-abortion bill and then launched a campaign for governor.
The Girl Scouts then posted a link Dec. 30 to a Washington Post article, “Seven Women Who Made a Difference in 2013,” that included U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Those offenses against political correctness were just too much for John Pisciotta, head of Pro-Life Waco.
Breitbart News helped the anti-abortion activist publicize his call for a boycott of the Girl Scouts’ major annual fundraising drive.
“The Girl Scouts were once a truly amazing organization, but it has been taken over by ideologues of the left, and regular folks just will not stand for it,” Pisciotta said.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly hosted a panel to discuss the boycott, as well.
This year’s boycott is just the latest effort by conservatives to marginalize the Girl Scouts for its support of perceived liberal causes, including its policy on transgender members and its promotion of feminist role models.
The Girl Scouts responded to the call for boycott by apologizing Wednesday on its blog, saying “to be clear, Girl Scouts has not endorsed any person or organization.”
**************Republicans blitz four states with five creationism bills so far this year
By Travis Gettys
Friday, January 31, 2014 15:19 EST
Republican legislators in four states have introduced five bills so far this year that would allow teachers to teach creationism alongside the theory of evolution.
South Dakota Republicans introduced a Senate bill on Wednesday that would that would forbid school boards or administrators from acting to prohibit teachers from “providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.”
The broadly worded statute clearly violates federal law, according to the head of a science education advocacy group.
“A federal court already ruled in 2005 that teaching ‘intelligent design’ in the public schools is unconstitutional, so (Senate Bill) 112 is a recipe for disaster,” said Ann Reid, executive director of the National Center for Science Education. “If enacted, school districts are going to find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place — and they’ll wind up in court.”
The bill is the fifth such measure introduced this month alone that would allow creationism to be taught, the group said.
Lawmakers in Oklahoma and Virginia are considering similar measures, while Missouri has two separate bills under consideration.
Virginia’s broadly written measure encourages teachers to present scientific controversies and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a scientific theory without interference from school officials.
Similar measures in Oklahoma and Missouri would encourage teachers with “idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased,” the NCSE said.
A House bill in Missouri would mandate equal class time for “intelligent design” alongside science instruction in public schools, including introductory courses at colleges and universities.
*************‘New’ Republican Healthcare Plan Sticks It To Everyone Except Insurance Companies
By: Adalia Woodbury
Friday, January, 31st, 2014, 11:38 am
Republicans loved the Affordable Care Act, when it was proposed by the Heritage Foundation and when it was known as Romneycare. That all changed when Barack Obama proposed it. Suddenly, the healthcare plan Republicans proposed as an alternate to Bill Clinton’s attempt at healthcare reform became “socialized medicine” and a host of other terms that Republicans clearly don’t understand. For example, it isn’t “government run health care” when the insurers, hospitals, pharmacies and clinics are privately owned and healthcare providers are not government employees. Naturally, calling it government run healthcare scares people. That always matters more to Republicans than niceties like facts and integrity.
Back in 2012, failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Since then, Congressional Republicans voted to repeal the ACA 40 times and tried to blackmail the President into repealing it by shutting down the government. The Republican propaganda machine continues to manufacture hairy scary myths about the law, despite the fact that most of the people they keep claiming to represent want the bill fixed, but not repealed.
After 3+ years of obstruction, failed stunts and propaganda, Republicans finally came out with the “replace” part of Romney’s “replace and repeal.” Actually, it’s amazing that it took them 3 years to propose something even worse than what we had before the ACA became law.
It goes without saying that the “new” Republican proposal will take health insurance away from the millions of Americans who have insurance for the first time under the ACA. Naturally, the Republican plan doesn’t include any consumer protections such as free annual physicals or requiring coverage for mammograms and AIDS testing.
In the name of making healthcare cheaper for corporations, the Orwellian titled Patient CARE Act places a cap on the federal tax exclusion for employees’ healthcare. This is a double whammy because it means a tax hike for 150 million Americans who have employer based health insurance, and as a consequence it means more people will be stuck with junk insurance because that’s all they will be able to afford with this huge tax hike. Between that and the reduced subsidies, more Americans will pay higher premiums for inferior coverage. Fewer Americans will be able to afford any insurance at all. It will be back to the emergency rooms, which will also increase healthcare costs under the Republicans “new” plan because people will not have preventative care, and will postpone getting medical intention until an ailment gets more serious (and costly.)
While discussing the Republicans “new” proposal with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), didn’t dispute the fact that the Republicans idea of making healthcare more affordable is to make it less affordable for seniors most likely to have age related health issues.
Partial Transcript via Think Progress:
CHUCK TODD: One of the assumed benefits in your new plan would allow for cheaper policies for young folks. At the same time, you would allow insurers to sell insurance at varying rates. So if you allow for a cheaper policy for younger, healthier people, right, this has been among the issues, the translation is you’re going to see — how do you prevent a spike for older Americans who, maybe just by default of genetics, are starting with a lot of health care problems, and because of that, end up getting charged more? How do you prevent that spike in rates for them?
ORRIN HATCH: Well, we have a formula in there that it can’t go beyond a certain position. But the fact of the matter is, somebody has to pay for these things. And the Obamacare bill doesn’t pay for things, they pushed them into — into Medicaid, which is non-functioning and not doing what it should do right now.
Aside from throwing grandma and grandpa under the bus, the Republicans “new” plan resurrects blackballing people with pre-existing conditions, because having a pre-existing condition, (like being a woman) is your fault and someone has to pay for “these things.”
They want to resurrect the gender penalty, by charging women higher premiums for maternity care because in Republican land everyone knows that women get pregnant all by themselves and “someone has to pay for these things.” That’s in addition to other gender based penalties like having the IRS investigate IF a rape victim was “legitimately” raped and in some states, requiring women to buy rape insurance.
I guess when Republicans said they are waging a war “for” women, this is some of what they were talking about.
All in all, the Republicans’ “new” plan is really more of the same social Darwinism they always chant. Corporate sick care insurers benefit as they push more junk policies on Americans who will pay a lot more to get a lot less. Americans with employer based insurance will see a tax hike, because while the rich are too poor to pay their share of taxes, the poor are way too rich. They’re throwing Granny and Grampy under the bus with higher premiums. If you have a pre-existing condition, you’ll be priced out of the market if you’re allowed to be insured at all. Women will pay more for basic coverage, and rape insurance. Of course, the state will regulate our uteruses and make our reproductive healthcare decisions for us, also driving up costs, both human and financial.
Since fewer people will be insured and that insurance will cover next to nothing, it means people who are insured will see their premiums go up, just like they did before the ACA. But the Republican plan is all about Patient CARE because the name of their bill says so.
************Alison Lundergan Grimes Mocks Mitch McConnell’s Poor Job Creation Record with New Tumblr
By: Sarah Jones
Friday, January, 31st, 2014, 12:23 pm
It’s almost like Republican Mitch McConnell agrees that Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is the better person for the job in the Kentucky Senate race. He’s making this so easy. The Grimes campaign launched a tumblr mocking Mitch McConnell for not coming up with a jobs plan in over 30 years. This means that Grimes is going to force McConnell to discuss his dismal record on jobs; she is going to make this a central issue of the campaign, and that is bad news for Mitch.
McConnell hasn’t proposed a jobs bill for 30 years. Yes, you read the correctly. He also voted against raising the minimum wage and pay equity for women. Of voters polled in Kentucky, 57% want the minimum wage raised and 42% percent don’t want to vote for Mitch McConnell if he voted against raising the minimum wage.
If only someone would tell them… How to force that discussion?
Grimes already launched her first jobs missile at McConnell. But she’s far from done. Another way Grimes is going to force this discussion is by launching the tumblr website she launched this week, called www.wherearethekyjobs.com
. On the tumblr, her campaign points out that McConnell hasn’t proposed a jobs plan for 30 years, accompanied by the image of a blank word document and a waiting cursor- underneath, it says, “30 years is a long time to have writer’s block.”
Gosh, it sure is a long time. Seems kinda ridiculous that Mitch McConnell hasn’t been able to come up with a plan for Kentucky in 30 years. The Grimes campaign points out, “Kentucky’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average and far too many Kentuckians are still looking for work. The Commonwealth’s middle-class families can no longer afford to pay the price for McConnell’s failed leadership.”
The fact that the state took a big hit in the coal industry is not McConnell’s fault, but he has failed to come up with new solutions. He has failed to even grasp the importance of jobs. He seems to think he’s above minimum wage workers, in that he obviously isn’t in DC to represent them or anyone else who isn’t a top 2%er. McConnell’s kind of out of touch entitlement is getting old.
The tumblr invites readers to “Share on Facebook, Tweet at Mitch, Email to Friends, and Sign the Petition.” In other words, if you want to be represented by someone who has a jobs plan, do the above things in order to force McConnell to have this discussion. Finally. After 30 years.
Maybe he just needed a push? Good thing Ms. Grimes came along to wake Mitch up from his 30 year jobless slumber. They are, after all, in a statistical dead heat per the latest poll, which the Grimes campaign pointed out marked “the ninth recent poll showing Alison Lundergan Grimes tied or ahead of Mitch McConnell.”
If I were Mitch, I’d be nervous, because a determined southern woman who is standing up for her family/constituents is a force to be reckoned with. I’m not sure McConnell is up to the task.
Alison Grimes has a jobs plan. She actually has a plan for the people of Kentucky, and it involves more than just vague complaints about how deregulating coal would trickle down (that’s Mitch McConnell’s “job plan”). So like the Steel Magnolia she is, Alison Grimes is going to have this jobs discussion no matter how quickly McConnell ducks and dodges.
Game on, Mitch. “Where are the jobs?”
***************Christie Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes
By KATE ZERNIKE
JAN. 31, 2014
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” that the governor knew about the closings when they were happening.
A lawyer for the former official, David Wildstein, wrote a letter describing the move to shut the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.
During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey knew about the lane closings as they were happening, a letter released on Friday by the lawyer of David Wildstein said.
The letter, which was sent as part of a dispute over Mr. Wildstein’s legal fees, does not specify what the evidence is. Nonetheless, it marks a striking break with a previous ally. Mr. Wildstein was a high school classmate of Mr. Christie’s who was hired with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.
Mr. Christie’s office responded late in the day with a statement that backed away somewhat from the governor’s previous assertions that he had not known about the closings in September, which appeared to have been carried out as political retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, until they were reported in the news media. Instead, it focused on what the letter did not suggest — that Mr. Christie knew of the closings before they occurred.
“Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along: He had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with,” the statement said. “As the governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and, as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th.
“The governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other assertions.”
Mr. Christie, a Republican in his second term, made a brief appearance on Friday night at Howard Stern’s 60th birthday party in Manhattan and introduced Jon Bon Jovi; the governor did not respond to reporters who shouted questions as he left. He has repeatedly said that he did not know about the lane closings until they were first reported by The Record, a North Jersey newspaper, on Sept. 13, the day a senior Port Authority official ordered the lanes reopened.
The letter was sent from Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer, Alan L. Zegas, to the Port Authority’s general counsel. It contested the agency’s decision not to pay Mr. Wildstein’s legal fees related to investigations into the lane closings by the United States attorney’s office and the State Legislature. The allegations about Mr. Christie make up just one long paragraph in a two-page letter that otherwise focuses on Mr. Wildstein’s demand that his legal fees be paid and that he be indemnified from any lawsuits.
But Mr. Wildstein, a former political strategist and onetime author of a popular but anonymous political blog, seemed to be making an aggressive move against the governor at what should have been a celebratory moment for Mr. Christie, who had anticipated the playing of the Super Bowl in New Jersey this weekend.
The Legislature has sent subpoenas to Mr. Wildstein and 17 other people as well as the governor’s campaign and administration seeking information about the lane closings. That information is due back on Monday.
The scandal broke on Jan. 8, when documents turned over by Mr. Wildstein in response to a previous subpoena from the Legislature revealed that a deputy chief of staff to the governor, Bridget Anne Kelly, had sent an email to Mr. Wildstein in August saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the town at the New Jersey end of the bridge and where Mr. Christie’s aides had pursued but failed to receive an endorsement from the mayor.
“Got it,” Mr. Wildstein replied.
He then communicated the order to bridge operators. The closings caused extensive gridlock in Fort Lee. Mr. Christie fired Ms. Kelly the day after those emails were revealed, and his administration has tried to portray the closings as the actions of a rogue staff member.
But the documents from Mr. Wildstein were heavily redacted, leaving clues but no answers as to who else might have been involved. The documents included, for example, texts between Mr. Wildstein and Ms. Kelly trying to set up a meeting with the governor around the time the plan for the lane closings was hatched. It is unclear, however, what the meeting was about.
Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer has promised to turn over full versions of those emails to the committee investigating the matter, but as of Friday evening, a spokesman for the committee said they had not been received.
Mr. Zegas did not respond to requests to discuss the letter.
Mr. Wildstein resigned from his position as the director of interstate capital projects at the agency in early December, saying the scandal over the lane closings had become “a distraction.”
In his two-hour news conference, Mr. Christie said his friendship with Mr. Wildstein had been overstated; that while the governor had been class president and an athlete, he did not recall Mr. Wildstein well from that period and that he had rarely seen him in recent months. The Wall Street Journal has since published photos showing the two men laughing together at a Sept. 11 anniversary event — which happened during the four days the lanes were closed. A high school baseball coach also recalled them being on the same team.
His lawyer’s letter suggests that Mr. Wildstein was irritated, if not provoked, by Mr. Christie’s dismissiveness.
“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him, and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.
Also on Friday, the lawyer for another aide to Mr. Christie sent a 19-page letter to Reid J. Schar, the special counsel leading the legislative committee’s investigation into the lane closures, asking him to withdraw a subpoena seeking a wide range of documents and other materials from the aide, saying it violated his Fifth Amendment rights.
The aide, Bill Stepien, the governor’s two-time campaign manager and former deputy chief of staff, was among those who lost their jobs or resigned when emails about the closings were made public last month. He had just been retained as a consultant to the Republican Governors Association and was poised to head the state’s Republican Party.
“Bill Stepien has not broken any laws,” the lawyer, Kevin H. Marino, wrote, arguing that the subpoena violates his client’s rights against self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure. “He is one of the most well-respected political consultants in America.”
The panel, the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation, released a statement about the letters from the lawyers representing Mr. Marino and Mr. Wildstein.
“We have read the letter from Mr. Wildstein’s attorney and will consider it as our investigation moves forward,” the statement said. “We just received Mr. Marino’s letter this afternoon. We are reviewing it and considering our legal options with respect to enforcing the subpoena.”
**************Republican 2016 Hopes Evaporate as David Wildstein Says Christie Knew About Bridgegate
By: Sarah Jones
Friday, January, 31st, 2014, 4:22 pm
The house of cards is crashing down around Chris Christie and taking the Republicans best hope for 2016 with them, as David Wildstein is spilling the beans and admitting the governor knew about Bridgegate.
Kate Zernike at the New York Times reported:
In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.
“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.
The letter marked the first signal that Mr. Christie may have been aware of the closings, something he repeatedly denied during the news conference.
This is the dynamite that Christie invited when he held a presser in which he denied all knowledge of bridgegate and threw his staffers under the Christie bus. As Jason Easley so accurately pointed out then, Christie’s remarks meant that reporters would keep digging and if he wasn’t telling the truth, it would be game over:
Reporters and media will likely keep digging. If/when they find evidence that Christie knew about this, the governor of New Jersey’s political future will be toast. Christie flatly stated that he had no knowledge of this issue. It’s planning, or its execution. The governor took a big risk, and if he is not being totally honest, he will be caught.
If it’s true that Chris Christie knew about bridgegate and Mr. Wildstein can prove it as he claims he can, then Christie not only abused his power but lied about it. And you know what they say about the coverup.
While Republicans spent years trying to turn Benghazi into something to harm Hillary Clinton in 2016, it looks like Chris Christie was busy destroying his own 2016 dreams. Americans might have forgiven the abuse of power, but they won’t forgive the lie, and they won’t forgive the way Christie tossed old friends under the bus to save himself.