Since the White House dropped an expected executive order preventing workplace discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors, activists have been planning a "We Can't Wait", campaign, co-opting a slogan the White House has used in recent[...]
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In an earlier interview, Romney says essentially the same thing about cutting the Department of Education and fighting against teachers' unions.
At a private fund raiser in Florida Sunday evening, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told donors that he would likely eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development and that he would cut or consolidate the Department of Education with another government agency.
"I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I'm probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go," Romney said. "Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I'm not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we've got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states."
Asked about the fate of the Department of Education in a potential Romney administration, the former governor suggested it would also face a dramatic restructuring.
"The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," Romney said, explaining that part of his reasoning behind preserving the agency was to maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers' unions. Romney added that he learned in his 1994 campaign for Senate that proposing to eliminate the agency was politically volatile.
At that time, Sen. Ted Kennedy ran ads against Romney ? then a political neophyte ? accusing him of being uncaring for saying he wished to eliminate the agency.
Romney told the audience here tonight (along with the Weekly Standard in an interview in early April) that that experience remains fresh in his mind. It's contributed to his caution in publicly naming federal agencies and programs he would eliminate or dramatically curtail.
In other words, Romney would tell people what he's going to cut, but he doesn't want people to use his actual policy positions against him. Romney surrogate, Sen. Jim Talent, walked backed the candidate's position even further, suggesting Romney was just spitballing ideas:
"He was just discussing ideas that were coming up on the campaign trial," Talent said about Romney's closed door comments. "he talks about ... different ideas as they've come up on the stump. He wasn't announcing a policy yesterday."
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Mitt Romney is heading into the general election with “the weakest favorability rating on record for a presumptive presidential nominee” since 1984. He’s 21 points behind President Obama in personal popularity, and deep underwater — the first likely nominee to have an unfavorable rating higher than his favorable rating in the poll’s history. Just 35 percent of Americans see Romney favorably, while 47 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the candidate. And only 12 percent see him “strongly” favorably, suggesting a persistent enthusiasm gap.
In 2010, San Diego police officers investigated the death of a Mexican man who border patrol agents shocked with a Taser and struck with a baton at the Mexican border. Although the San Diego coroner’s office ruled the death a homicide, the federal officers said the 32-year-old undocumented immigrant, Anastacio Hernández-Rojas, was not handcuffed and resisting deportation when he was Tasered, and no one has yet be charged in Rojas’ death. Rojas was one of several immigrants killed by border patrol agents.
But almost two years later, a new video of Rojas’ death counters the border patrol agents’ account, according to a PBS and Nation Institute joint investigation. Rather than showing him resisting arrest, Rojas is seen lying on the ground with several agents surrounding him when he is shocked by the Taser. Watch a clip of the report from PBS’ Need to Know:
When Rojas’ family saw him in the hospital, they could tell he had been beaten. His family filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government after Rojas’ death. They argue that ?at one point, there were approximately 20 to 25 agents, taking part in beating, kicking or punching? Rojas.
But because border patrol agents work under the Department of Homeland Security, they are not subjected to the same scrutiny as police officers. No one has been charged with Rojas’ death. And the lack of prosecution in cases like Rojas’ death and others raises more questions about if agents are properly trained to safely protect the border.
The Romney campaign’s efforts to win women voters with a ginned-up controversy last week over a Democratic strategist’s comments on Ann Romney appears to have fallen short, as new CNN poll taken this weekend finds President Obama with a formidable 16 point lead among women over his presumed GOP challenger:
– Among women, Obama has a 16 point lead over Romney, 55 percent to 39 percent — virtually unchanged from last month.
– Asked to the name the candidate who “is in touch with the problems facing women today,” 55 percent said Obama, 27 percent said Romney. That’s a 28 point gap.
Obama is also ahead on almost every other key issue. For instance, 51 percent saying Obama “is in touch with the problems facing middle class Americans today,” compared to just 33 percent who said Romney. Meanwhile, a wide margin pick Obama as the best candidate who “can handle the responsibilities of commander in chief,” 52 percent to 36 percent.
By a greater than ten points margin each, respondents picked Obama over Romney as more “likable,” “honest and trustworthy,” inspiring, admirable, and as the “strong and decisive leader.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has staked out a hawkish position on Iran. The PM has warned that world-powers who just completed a round of nuclear negotiations with Iran in Istanbul could be falling into “a trap” if they continue to pursue diplomacy with Tehran.
But while both Obama and Netanyahu have kept all options — including the military one — on the table, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor publicly warned today that an attack on Iran could prove damaging to Israeli security interests. Meridor spoke with Metro International’s Elisabeth Braw at the Israeli embassy in London:
ELISABETH BRAW: What about ending it with a military strike?
DAN MERIDOR: That option was recently mentioned by President Obama in a positive way. He said he ruled in this possibility. It’s possible that we have to use force. All this pressure should persuade Iran to end its nuclear program. But I don’t think Israel should use the military option. I don’t agree with some of my colleagues who support a military strike. An attack on Iran wouldn’t add anything to our security.
The Deputy PM’s views closely match those expressed by former Israeli spy agency Chief Meir Dagan last month. Dagan warned that bombing Iran would “ignite, at least from my point of view, a regional war,” and that no military attack would be able to permanently halt the Iranian nuclear project. The opinion that military action won’t be able to stop Iran’s nuclear program is shared by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Meridor went on to emphasize that a military strike on Iran would be nothing like the Six-Day War, a comparison occasionally floated by Iran hawks, and emphasized that Iran might be persuaded, through rational self-interest, to accept a diplomatic solution to the standoff over their nuclear program:
In the past, at least once or twice, the Iranians took to reason. For example, when [Ayatollah] Khomeini stopped the war with Iraq, he did so with a very illuminating statement that hade nothing to do with God but with a practical approach: “we can’t afford this war.” I hope the Iranians will engage in this kind of thinking again.
Top U.S. officials and the IAEA agree that Iran is making progress on its nuclear capabilities and warn that some of their activities may have a military dimension. But the IAEA, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran has not yet made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon.
As the Supreme Court decides the fate of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, what had been most often overlooked amid all of the fierce rhetoric and debate is the inescapable truth that the financial security and potential health outcomes for millions of ordinary Americans who have already benefited from the health reform law also hang in the balance.
PBS NewsHour profiled the five-member Hill family, who were forced to go uninsured for three months as they could not afford to pay the $7,972.25 per month (just shy of $100,000 per year) premium for health coverage. The astronomical fee was due in large part to the pre-existing conditions of their 17-year-old son, who struggled with leukemia, autism, and epilepsy. At the time of his diagnosis, the family had reasonably priced, high-quality employer based health insurance coverage through MetLife. But as the title agency started shopping around for better deals, the Hill family’s health plan changed to one with significantly higher deductibles and co-pays, where the maximum out-of-pocket was $8,000 per person and $35,000 for the family.
As her son’s health gradually deteriorated, Lisa Hill eventually quit her job and purchased coverage through COBRA. Still, the bills were overwhelming:
“And there are some of them that I will say we walked away from,” she said. “I had to say, ‘we’re not going to pay it. He is 18, he’s legally responsible himself and you’re going to have to write it off.’ With a $9,000 bill … I mean, how do you afford that?”
After Lisa had been unemployed for 18 months, the COBRA coverage eventually ran out, and the family’s only option became to transfer to a plan in the individual health care market — the one costing nearly $8,000 per month. But just when the Hill family became uninsured, debate erupted over health reform, and the Hills were gifted a glimmer of hope in “the part of the bill would prohibit insurance companies charging higher premiums to people with health problems or restricting coverage of pre-existing conditions.”
Three months after they lost coverage, the laborers’ union extended their plan to the Hill family. That allowed the Hills to pay $1,200 per month for a plan that includes dental, vision, and health. Doctor visits are $15. Prescriptions are $25.
And a few months after that, President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, allowing Adam to stay on the family plan through age 26. He can go to his oncologist, neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and primary care physician as needed. All for $15 per visit. And after the age of 26, Adam won’t be charged higher premiums because of his disorders. Insurance companies will be barred for charging higher rates for pre-existing conditions starting in 2014.
At least 2.5 million younger Americans now have health insurance as a result of the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows adults to stay on their parents? health care plans until 26 years of age, but should the Supreme Court strike down the ACA’s individual mandate on the basis of its ‘unconstitutionality,’ the pre-existing condition rule might also be jeopardized and millions of families like the Hills could end up without access to affordable coverage.
According to data from the International Monetary Fund analyzed by Tim Vlandas, there are at least 30 countries with unemployment benefits that are more generous than those that go to American workers. The University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Kenneth Thomas broke the data down:
The metric used is the gross replacement rate (GRR) the ratio of unemployment benefits to a worker’s previous wages. The United States gives, on average, a miserly 27.5% of previous wages in unemployment benefits, behind 17 OECD members, though ahead of 11 others (no data was given for OECD members Iceland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia). Not only that, the U.S. falls behind 13 non-OECD members, including Algeria, Taiwan, and Ukraine, all of which have at least double the replacement rate of the U.S.
The U.S. does rank ahead of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia, but trails Egypt, Azerbaijan, and Tunisia in terms of the amount of income replaced by unemployment insurance. And in the wake of the Great Recession, instead of fashioning a better unemployment insurance system, Republicans across the country have slashed benefits, even while some, such as Florida, have high unemployment rates. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Congress have blocked and voted against several benefit extensions.
But it remains the case that there are nearly four unemployed job seekers for every available job opening, making unemployment benefits a critical source of income for those who can’t find work through no fault of their own. And contrary to conservative claims that unemployment benefits are a “lifestyle,” those unemployed workers receiving UI stay unemployed less than two weeks longer than those who receive no benefits at all, according to research by the San Francisco Federal Reserve.
In 2009, average unemployment benefits were just $310 per week, with some states paying much less (like Mississippi, with its $192 weekly benefit). As the IMF data shows, that simply isn’t keeping up with the standard set by other developed (or not so developed) nations.
Watch as Senate Republicans stand by their man.It's tax fairness day, as the Senate votes on the Buffett Rule, the first vote of what Senate Democrats promise to be many. It will also hopefully be the beginning of Democrats making the case for real tax fairness and the end of the Bush tax cuts at the end of this year, when they're set to expire.
Republican after Republican has stood on the Senate floor today, mouthing the same old saws we've heard over and over: the harm that will be done to small business, the "pitting Americans against each other" argument (that's rich, coming from Republicans), the "job creators" arguments. It's a gimmick, a waste of time, and it will raise just a "meager" sum of $47 billion. Of course, if it were $47 billion being cut from education, or from Medicaid, or from food stamps, Republicans would be crowing about their "signficant" deficit reduction. It's all a matter of which side of the ledger you're talking about.
For all Republicans' excuses for voting against tax fairness, which they will today, they're not saying that their vote is protecting their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and his 13.9 percent tax rate on hundreds of millions in income. They're also not talking about these two basic reasons: Grover Norquist and the Chamber of Commerce. The implied threats from Norquist and the Chamber must weigh very heavily with Republicans to counter this, from today's CNN/ORC poll [pdf].
No opinion 1%
3:10 PM PT: Did you all catch the clerk having to explain to some Senator what it was they're doing there? "This is cloture," she said. Greatest deliberative body in the world....
3:14 PM PT: What a shock. On the first round of voting, no GOP "ayes."
3:16 PM PT: And no Dem "naes," yet. Scott Brown, standing up for the millionaires. (Snowe, too.)
3:18 PM PT: Ok, Pryor (D-AK) is the first Dem "nae." Collins (R-ME) first GOP "aye."
3:24 PM PT: With us on everything but the war.
3:27 PM PT: For what it's worth, he also can't spell "Buffett."FWIW, Lieberman isn't casting a vote. he's not there today
3:30 PM PT: Hunter: Lieberman is "just being a jerk remotely. telewanking."
3:35 PM PT: Apparently they're holding the vote open for some reason. It's clearly not going to reach a 60 vote threshold for cloture. So now is just the hanging around waiting for somebody to show up to vote.
It's a day ending in Y, which means if you glance around, you'll find yet another piece of evidence showing the persistence of the gender wage gap, and Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, which means there's an actual study on pay disparities. The Institute for Women's Policy Research has released an analysis showing that:
[W]omen have lower median earnings than men in all but one of the 20 most common occupations for women, 'bookkeeping and auditing clerks,' where women and men have the same median earnings. In one of the twenty most common male occupations, 'stock clerks and order fillers,' women out-earned men by 3 percent of median male earnings.Occupations dominated by men pay more, and then within occupations, men are paid more. But wait?it's a day ending in Y, which means that comment threads everywhere on the internet will be inundated with men mansplaining about how women just care less about money, or how various unexplained factors that are definitely not sexism account for any and every piece of evidence that no matter what factors you control for, the gender gap persists. Because sexism is not a science, or even a keen analysis. It's a belief system.