Keeling Pilaro is a 13-year old boy who grew up playing field hockey in Ireland. He is now being told that, after two years of playing on a girls' high school team following his family's move to New York, he will not be allowed to compete next year due to his gender. There are no boys' field hockey teams in the area, leading Pilaro to seek an exemption under Title IX allowing him to play...
Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Judges Jacqueline Nguyen, Kristine Gerhard Baker, and John Lee to the Ninth Circuit and to federal trial courts in Arkansas and Illinois — bringing to a close a 14 judge deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) forced Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to strike when Reid threatened to force 17 votes to break Senate Republican filibusters of 17 different nominees. As we explained two months ago when this deal was struck, the deal represents a significant uptick in the rate of confirmations under President Obama, but it is far from enough to undo the three year campaign of obstructionism McConnell led the minute President Obama took office.
According to the Federal Judicial Center, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both had very similar judicial confirmation rates — 201 lower court judges were confirmed during Clinton’s first term, and 204 judges were confirmed under Bush. President Obama, by contrast, has seen only 142 judges confirmed so far according to the FJC’s data — or less than four judges for each month of his presidency. In order to catch up to his two predecessors, Obama will need to double that rate to about 7.5 judges a month for the rest of his current term.
The recently completed deal, however, proves that this rate is achievable. Indeed, 7.5 judges a month is almost exactly the rate of confirmations achieved under this deal. There is simply no reason why the Senate cannot repeat its recent performance and catch up to a normal rate of confirmations by the time either Obama or Mitt Romney takes the oath of office next January.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Wisconsin — At a town hall meeting last Friday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was confronted by a constituent over his endorsement of “premium support,” a plan that would give future retirees a voucher with which to purchase coverage from private insurers or traditional Medicare. When asked whether he would alter the plan in light of experts “backing away” from it, Ryan claimed that prominent scholars – including Henry Aaron – still supported the general framework of his proposal:
CONSTITUENT: The two men that were your co-creators of your privatization of Medicare plan, Robert Reischauer and Henry Aaron, were on the hill last week. I think they spoke to the House Ways and Means Committee. [...] What’s interesting though, Brennan was on and they’re backing away from your plan, privatization of Medicare, basically because they’re saying it’s going to cost more and give us fewer services than the traditional plan. [...] Are you going to change your plan or how do you stand on that?
RYAN: Hank [sic] Aaron is an economist at Brookings Institute who has been in favor of a different version of what we call “premium support.” [...] Henry Aaron doesn’t agree with the way we’re doing it, but these other Democrats that have been working on the Medicare law for literally a couple of decades, would come to agreement on the best way to save and strengthen Medicare.
Ryan claims that his differences with Aaron are only in the implementation of the policy. In fact, Aaron has said that he no longer believes “premium support” is good policy at all. In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee on April 27, Aaron conceded that there is no strong evidence the plan would lower the growth of health care costs; in fact, he claimed, private “Medicare Advantage plans are more expensive than is traditional Medicare.” Last year, he also said that ?gains from being able to choose among competing insurance plans have been exaggerated.” In an email to ThinkProgress, Aaron confirmed that he has totally backed off the plan.
Instead, Aaron now believes that the Affordable Care Act can do a better job reducing costs and protecting beneficiaries. As he told the Ways and Means Committee, “The passage of the Affordable Care Act means we have put in place a key element of the premium support idea for the rest of the population, namely health insurance exchanges.” Aaron noted that those exchanges are similar to what advocates of “premium support” want to see for Medicare, except these do not put “the burden of cost control on beneficiaries.”
ThinkProgress intern Zachary Bernstein contributed to this post.
A new Gallup poll shows support for marriage equality steady at 50 percent nationwide. Both Democrats (65-34) and Independents (57-40) want same-sex marriage to be legal, but as David Badash notes, Republicans are becoming increasingly anti-gay (22-74). Again proving that the Bishops do not speak on behalf of their congregants, 51 percent of Catholics said they support marriage equality. Respondents who were younger were much more likely to endorse the freedom to marry, as were individuals with more advanced educations.
In his first year and a half as Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage (R) has made headlines time and again for his extremist views and hateful rhetoric. This was to be expected from the man who, during his 2010 campaign, promised voters that they see headlines saying “Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell!”
But even given his history of obnoxious bluster and stupid comments, a line from his Sunday speech to the Maine Republican State Convention revealed just how callous and clueless he is about the problems facing his constituents.
A Dirigo Blue video of LePage’s speech includes a section in whcih he talks about the need for welfare reform. He told the assembled convention delegates:
LePAGE: There is such thing as a free lunch, but you?re picking up the tab. Maine?s welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government. I am compassionate and committed to our children, our elderly, and our disabled. But to all you able-bodied people out there, get off the couch and get yourself a job.
Watch the video:
If LePage had done his research, he would know that even with the job growth the nation has seen in recent months, there are still 3.4 job seekers for every one job opening. And this has been made worse by public sector job cuts — LePage’s Maine reduced its public sector workforce by five percent over the past year, the second largest reduction in the country.
Later in the speech, LePage promised he and his allies in the legislature would tackle the issue, boasting “Republicans are not the party of kicking the can down the road.” Apparently, they prefer kicking the unemployed and insulting them in the process.
Veep, HBO’s half-hour comedy about a flailing Vice President starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, has been on the air for three weeks, but it’s only the beginning of what promises to be a glut of Washington-based and politically-themed television shows. Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, about a DC PR fixer based on Judy Smith, seems likely to be back for a second season. USA has a stacked cast behind its show Political Animals, in which Sigourney Weaver will play a former First Lady who’s now Secretary of State. And NBC just picked up 1600 Penn, a family comedy in which father had better know best because the fate of the free world depends on it. Despite being set in Washington, it’s not clear how much these shows actually have to say about contemporary American politics?I tend to agree with critics who say that Veep is more an office comedy where the employees happen to work for the Vice President than an examination of the specific and hilarious cravenness of our current political system. If you want to get at that, though, you might have to move beyond the White House and the Old Executive Office Building. Here are five Washington locations that would be perfect settings for television shows that would actually get at what it’s like to work?and fight for what you believe?in the Nation’s Capitol.
1. Congressional Offices: Most of the time, Hollywood loves to portray Congressmen as minor figures who get in the way of the President’s agenda, and who can be dismissed or shamed with a single big speech. It would be much more interesting to flip the script and focus on a Senator or Representative who often serves as a swing vote. You could have legislative fights that come down to the wire in a realistic way, told from the perspective of people who are getting lobbied rather than doing the lobbying, and decisions that are either genuinely heroic or transparently self-interested. And if it’s a Representative, you get a big reelection subplot every two years.
2. Agencies: Pop culture forgets almost all the time that the executive branch isn’t limited to the White House, though it makes an exception for the FBI and national security agencies. You could set an awesome drama in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights, or Treasury’s Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes division, or a hilarious Parks and Recreation-like comedy at a minor agency like the Office of Personnel Management, whose preternaturally cheery director John Berry is essentially a real-life Leslie Knope.
3. Political Publications: The hell with the noble, Watergate journalistic tradition of the Washington Post, or the kind of supposed truth-telling Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom will try to celebrate. If you want a sense of how stories blow up in Washington and minor gaffes become huge stories only to be forgotten again, set a show at a political tabloid like Politico or a website like Huffington Post. Young reporters party hard, scrap hard for stories, and have hilarious stories from the campaign trail. And it’s a setting that lets a show tackle everything from elections, to sex scandals, to legislative fights.
4. Advocacy Groups and Trade associations: Has no one learned the lessons of Thank You For Smoking? If, God forbid, Parks and Recreation comes to an end, someone really should snap Rob Lowe up, make use of his surprisingly excellent comic timing, and write a show where his character is the head of some hilarious or malevolent advocacy group or trade association. Want to know why Washington is messed up? It’s not because of a lack of rhetorical force by the president. It’s about money and distractions, some of them provided by
these kinds of organizations.
5. Think Tanks: Friend of the Blog Chris Marcil actually got me thinking about this list when he tweeted “Has anyone pitched a Washington show set at a think tank? They seem like places where people do nothing but have B-stories and go on NPR.” Some of that’s true, but if you want episodes about where political ideas come from, you could do worse than think tanks. Plus, there’s the hilarity of think tank softball.
Three years ago, Mitt Romney was a naysayer on the auto bailouts, warning that they would result in the destruction of the American auto industry. But now that President Obama is running on the success of the bailout, Romney has decided that he?s responsible for the revival of auto manufacturing:
?I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,? Romney told a Cleveland TV station while visiting a local auto plant Monday. ?So, I?ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.?
On this, Mitt Romney is the Winklevii to Obama?s Zuckerberg; sure, Obama developed and implemented the auto bailouts, but Romney had the same idea and therefore, he should receive the credit. My guess is that this won?t catch fire with voters, or anyone who has experience with the naysayer who claims retroactive credit for success.
Romney?s decision to reverse himself on the bailouts?or at least, deemphasize his opposition?is a sign that Obama?s emphasis is an effective political tool. As I argued a few weeks ago, there?s no chance that Romney will convince voters that he?s responsible for the bailouts, but at the very least, he can try to muddy the waters and deny Obama the full advantage.
Indeed, this might be key to improving his position in states like Ohio, where the auto bailouts saved thousands of jobs. According to the most recent survey from Public Policy Polling, Obama leads Romney in the Buckeye State, 50 percent to 43 pecent. Ohio voters don?t love Obama as much as they strongly dislike Romney?37 percent have a favorable opinion of him to 53 percent with a negative one. Among independents, his favorables drop to 33 percent, and his unfavorables increase to 59 percent.
Barring a national shift in Romney?s favor, Obama should maintain a modest lead in Ohio, and sharply limit the Republican nominee?s path to 270 electoral votes. With that in mind, I can see why Romney is eager to change his mind.
Picture. A thousand words. Etc. The instant any Democrat uses this chart showing that between 1961 and 2012, the United States added 42 million private-sector jobs under Democratic presidents and 23.9 million private-sector jobs under Republican presidents, despite Republicans holding the presidency for 28 years during that period compared with 23 years for Democrats, PolitiFact will doubtless devote hundreds of words of dubious "context" to label it some form of untruth despite the clarity of the comparison. But whatever the relationship between correlation and causation here, this is a stark contrast:
Through April, Democratic presidents accounted for an average of 150,000 additional private-sector paychecks per month over that period, more than double the 71,000 average for Republicans.Republican presidencies, though, saw slightly greater creation of public-sector jobs, which rose by 7.1 million under Republicans and 6.3 million under Democrats?a difference that would be entirely irrelevant if Republicans weren't always running around wailing about big government and demonizing public workers.
The presidents who averaged the most jobs created per month were Bill Clinton, at 217,000; Jimmy Carter, at 188,000; and Ronald Reagan, at 153,000. That's right. Jimmy Carter beat Ronald Reagan. The only president to preside over a cumulative loss of private-sector jobs was, of course, George W. Bush.
"C'mon guys, can't you at least give me this much credit?" (Brian Snyder/Reuters)Mitt Romney yesterday in Ohio on how he deserved credit for saving the auto industry:
I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So, I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.Mitt Romney today in Michigan on how he deserved credit for saving the auto industry:
No, that's not a typo. That blockquote was intentionally left blank?because in his 2,250 word speech delivered in Michigan, the home to America's big three auto companies, Mitt Romney didn't say a single word about how he deserves credit for saving the auto industry. The reason is obvious: he doesn't deserve credit, and he knows it.
In a recent segment from Current TV‘s show “Viewpoint,” host Eliot Spitzer interviewed three National Security Agency whistleblowers: William Binney, a former technical director; Kirk Wiebe, former senior analyst; and Thomas Drake, a[...]
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