“How Obama is shoring up federal authority over Medicaid”

Hi guys,

Some stuff from the last few days. Have a great weekend.

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A quick look at the week of May 30th on WhiteHouse.gov:

Joplin: President Obama visits Joplin, MO to meet with those in the community who lost so much in the tornados last week and participate in a Memorial Service at Missouri Southern University.

Small School, Big Dreams: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis delivers the Commencement address at Bridgeport High School in Washington, one of the top three finalists in the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.

West Wing Week: “One Step at a Time” takes you to Joplin, Poland, Arlington and inside the Situation Room with President Obama.

LGBT Pride Month: Kicking off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, the Office of Public Engagement has launches a new webpage. And here’s the Presidential Proclamation.

#UrbanSummit: Russell Simmons gives his thoughts on entrepreneurship and small business in America, in anticipation of Urban Entrepreneurship Summit. Join the conversation on twitter #UrbanSummit.

What’s on Your Plate?: First Lady Michelle Obama and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin unveil the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new food icon, MyPlate.

Cutting Red Tape: The U.S. Department of Energy encourages cities to cut the red tape that can push up the price tags on solar energy projects.

Youth Round Tables: The Office of Public Engagement wraps up  the “100 Youth Round Tables” Initiative, ensuring that young people’s voice is heard in government.

Memorial Day: The President honors our nations fallen, speaking at a Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery: “Honor the Sacrifice of Those We’ve Lost”.

Get Prepared: The Federal Emergency Management Agency announces June 1st as the start of hurricane season, and gives tips on how to keep you and your family safe.

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Ezra Klein:

At the heart of Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicaid is a tectonic shift in the federal government’s authority over the entitlement. In the Wisconsin Republican’s proposal to “block grant” the program, states would receive a fixed amount of federal money for Medicaid — and much greater leeway to change the program’s structure — rather than an uncapped, formula-based contribution with many strings attached. The Ryan plan, along with other more incremental GOP proposals, would fundamentally alter the federal government’s role in structuring, overseeing, and administering Medicaid, abdicating much of this authority to the states.

In the face of such challenges, the Obama administration is quietly taking steps to reassert and strengthen the federal government’s authority over Medicaid. A few weeks ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rolled out a proposal that could make it more difficult for states to cut rates for doctors, hospitals, and other providers in Medicaid—one of the many ways that cash-strapped statehouses are trying to save money.

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Ron Klain: Give Obama a Victory Lap for Auto Rescue

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Of all the policy challenges I saw Obama tackle in my two years in the White House, none was more complex than turning around the U.S. auto industry. When the president took office, the industry was in free fall. Sales of cars and trucks, which had topped 17 million in 2006, fell to 10.6 million in 2009. Two of America’s three major automakers were insolvent, kept alive by weekly inflows of federal cash. U.S. automakers had an unsustainable cost structure, were badly trailing their foreign competitors in the production of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, and seemed unable to make the hard choices needed to arrest their downward spiral.

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Booman: Who Saved Michigan, Who Wanted it to Fail?

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If Mitt Romney goes on to win the Republican nomination and face the president in the fall of 2012, I hope the voters of Michigan see an unending loop of that New York Times headline. “Who saved Michigan? Who wanted it to fail?”

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Administration to Indiana: Fund Planned Parenthood

Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood on the state level took a big hit yesterday when the administration finally weighed in and deemed Indiana’s effort to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding illegal. A letter from Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) head Donald Berwick made clear that “Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice. Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries ‘ ability to access family planning providers.”

Indiana was the first to sign a funding ban into law, but it’s not the only state considering it. To those states HHS also issued a memo re-iterating the point that denying Medicaid funding because of the services a clinic provides violates the Social Security Act.

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For us, polls-obsessed:

PPP: For Obama, Iowa 2012 looks like Iowa 2008

Raleigh, N.C. – When PPP polled Iowa last month, President Obama was tied with 2008

caucus winner Mike Huckabee and four points ahead of second-place finisher Mitt

Romney in a state he ended up winning over John McCain by almost ten points. But in

the intervening weeks, with Huckabee bowing out of consideration, the president has

moved into a much more comfortable position.

His current 49-40 lead over Romney (up from 45-41) is exactly the margin by which poll

respondents report having voted for Obama over McCain, meaning these voters are just

as ready to re-up the president as they were to give him his first term. Against everyone

else, the president leads by larger margins than his victory over McCain, topping Sarah

Palin, 55-35 (53-36 in April), and two candidates not tested previously: Tim Pawlenty,

49-37, and Herman Cain, 50-32. Obama leads by 19 to 38 points with independents, and

takes 7-13% of the GOP vote while losing only 5-10% of his own party.

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That’s more like it:

Democrats Break Down Impact Of GOP Medicare Plan District By District

House Democrats have broken down the massive changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by the House GOP into a convenient take home size.

Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (CA) and Frank Pallone (NJ), voters can now see what Democrats say is the direct impact of the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system on every congressional district in the country.

The map is here.

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This is what change looks like. Health Care reform gets better and better

Sometimes I just want to kick someone from the WH in the butt. How is that not big news today?

The Department of Health and Human Services today announced new steps to reduce premiums as much as 40 percent in 17 states and the District of Columbia, for those enrolling into the federally-administrated Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) programs:

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This, too, is what change looks like:

Obama cracks down on abuses by big-city police departments

In a marked shift from the Bush administration, President Obama’s Justice Department is aggressively investigating several big urban police departments for systematic civil rights abuses such as harassment of racial minorities, false arrests, and excessive use of force.

In interviews, activists and attorneys on the ground in several cities where the DOJ has dispatched civil rights investigators welcomed the shift. To progressives disappointed by Eric Holder’s Justice Department on key issues like the failure to investigate Bush-era torture and the prosecution of whistle-blowers, recent actions by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are a bright spot.

In just the past few months, the Civil Rights Division has announced “pattern and practice” investigations in Newark, New Jersey and Seattle. It’s also conducting a preliminary investigation of the Denver Police Department, and all this is on top of a high-profile push to reform the notorious New Orleans Police Department — as well as criminal prosecutions of several New Orleans officers.

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Beautiful:

Standing When the First Lady Pays a Call

On Memorial Day, Michelle Obama made an unannounced trip to visit the wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Joao Silva of The New York Times was among those on whom she paid a call. “She came across as a kind and attentive person,” Mr. Silva said. She asked about the progress of his recovery and gave yo-yos, Frisbees and White House candies to his children, Isabel, 6, and Gabriel, 5.

Perhaps the most telling moment occurred before Mrs. Obama arrived. On learning of her pending visit, Mr. Silva made a point of putting on his prosthetic legs.

“I wanted to be able to greet her standing up,” he said.

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Chrysler’s repaying the bailout, Romney and Pawlenty are, well, idiots

I’m trying to remember how many Dems actually had PBO’s back when he took that courageous decision to save the auto-industry. Oh well…:)

Dems take victory lap, jab Republicans, on positive Chrysler news

Democrats took a victory lap Tuesday to celebrate Chrysler’s repaying of its bailout, and hit the Republicans who opposed the rescue of the Detroit automaker.

As Chrysler prepared to pay the remaining $7.5 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) celebrated, arguing that Detroit would have gone bankrupt if not for the actions of President Obama.

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“Two years later, after President Obama made the tough choices to put the American auto industry on firmer financial footing and save millions of American jobs … it’s important to remember that Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingtich and other leading Republicans would have simply ‘Let Detroit go Bankrupt.'” the DNC said. “Put simply, Republicans got it wrong – and had they had their way millions of additional Americans would be unemployed and car making states would have been devastated.”

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Here’s the awesome ad, that should go viral.

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Seriously, give yourself these 30 minutes

President Obama’s speech today in Dublin:

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For me, the 0:47 mark of this short clip is what Barack Obama all about. Look at this emotional woman, and see what he’s doing:

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I totally and shamelessly stole this comment from some other side. I just had to, because it always better to let someone else do the screaming (and some cursing) – especially when the screaming (and some cursing) is so righteous:

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How fucking STUPID are we in this country???

The response the President received in Ireland is typical. The REST OF THE WORLD sees his greatness. But here? Not so much. And I’m not just talking about Repubs/Tea party/Wingnuts.

Don’t people GET what he’s up against??? Racist fuckwads. Dummies who can’t read their tax statements. ‘Get your hands off my Medicare!’ And whiny Democrats who seemingly don’t remember what happened between Jan.20 2001-Jan.20 2009!

HE IS PLAYING THE CARDS HE’S BEEN DEALT AND HE’S DOING THE BEST THAT HE CAN! And I know typing in all cap means that you’re shouting. Well guess what? I AM SHOUTING!!!!!

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A mishmash worth $2000 :)

Hi guys,

I don’t remember exactly when we launched our own fundraising page, but it wasn’t that long ago and I’m so proud that we’re already touched the $2000 target. Next goal: $3000. :)

With this, here’s a lengthy Saturday mishmash.

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Weekly Address:

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Some really good stuff to read:

Roger Cohen (NYT):

On the eve of an election year, with Jewish donors and fund-raisers already restive over his approach to Israel, President Obama made a brave speech telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation” and urging him to accept Israeli borders at or close to the 1967 lines.
The president got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Perhaps those words will cost him some of those votes — although sentiment toward Israel among American Jews is slowly shifting. But true friends are critical friends. And the American and Israeli national interest do not lie in the poisonous Israeli-Palestinian status quo.

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Peter Beinart (The Daily Beast):

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The real difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama actually is what Bush said he was: a moral universalist.

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By embracing all—rather than only some—of the Arab spring, Obama also powerfully distanced himself from Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who supports Arab democracy so long as it never impairs his ability to forestall Palestinian democracy. Obama put himself on the side of Palestinian democracy, too.

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Still Obama allied America with those Arabs and Iranians thirsting for freedom, and he did so in a subtle but remarkable way. He invoked, as he so often does, the civil-rights movement. Not World War II, where American power served the cause of freedom. Not the Cold War, where American power did as well, at least in Europe. But the civil-rights movement: where an oppressed people struggling for freedom confronted American power, and won. It’s a more subversive analogy than we generally acknowledge, and one that should make everyone battling oppression in the Middle East—in Sana, Damascus, Cairo, Tehran, and Ramallah, too—smile.

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Juan Cole:

President Obama’s major policy address on the Middle East got many things right. He pointed to al-Qaeda and terrorism, which targets civilians, as a dead end. He sided rhetorically with the grassroots movements for greater democracy in the region. He condemned outright the longstanding regimes, like that of Hosni Mubarak, that had been US allies, which ruled through sordid police states. He pledged US support for democracy movements. He avoided hypocrisy by condemning US allies such as the king of Bahrain and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen for repressing their own movements. He acknowledged the importance of ending the Palestinian people’s long sojourn in the wilderness of statelessness. He pointed to the constraining by corrupt elites of the economic and educational opportunities of young people in the Middle East as among the central discontents leading to the Arab Spring. He underlined the importance of women’s rights, and rights for minorities such as Christians and Shiites.

The courage of Obama’s speech should be recognized.

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A bolder speech would have announced that the US would be moving its naval base from Bahrain because we refuse to be in bed with a repressive sectarian monarchy. It would have supported the push for Palestinian statehood at the UN as a wedge against the Likud Party’s intransigence. And it would have mentioned democratization in Riyadh along with the other capitals that were mentioned.

Still and all, it was a fine speech, a courageous speech because it challenged US allies as much as it did US foes, and it put the US on the side of Bourguiba Avenue and Tahrir Square and Benghazi and Deraa and Taizz. That is the side of history on which the US needs to stand. As a set of ideals, it was a big stride in the right direction. As practical policy, it is hard to see how it would be implemented effectively (upbraiding Israel and Bahrain slightly won’t change those crises). But, well, at least Washington is finally not standing in the way of the people in the region.

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Michael Tomasky:

Bibi Netanyahu could have reacted any number of ways to Barack Obama’s mention of the “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Let’s say, actually, four ways: embrace, circumspection, suspicion, tantrum. That he chose the last tells us a lot about the man’s shortcomings and (lack of) political instincts. All political is local, and Netanyahu undoubtedly scored points with his Likud base back home. But he has a base here in America too, and I think he misjudged that base badly.

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His behavior these last 48 hours has verged on, if not been, petulant. A foreign leader (no less one of a state whose existence depends on the United States) isn’t supposed to talk like that to a president. Add to the bargain: Obama’s a stronger president now on foreign affairs than he was in 2009, partly because of the bin Laden coup and partly because the speech was generally well received across the American political spectrum.

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Things just feels better when David Plouffe is around:

When Barack Obama traveled to Texas this month to talk immigration, David Plouffe, his top message guru, decided to stay home and watch Twitter instead. While Obama spoke, Plouffe sat before two flat-screen televisions in the White House complex. One showed live footage of Obama in El Paso. The other flickered with a lightning-quick vertical ticker tape of people tweeting with the #immigration hashtag, reacting line by line to the President in real time. “I find it useful,” Plouffe says, “to see what’s penetrating.”

When Obama went off script to joke that Republicans would soon demand a border moat filled with alligators, a blur of Twitter messages showed people sending the quote to friends and followers, signaling a messaging victory of sorts. “It’s kind of the next evolution,” Plouffe explains. “Remember back in 2008, you’d have the presidential debate, and then most of the networks would have some sort of dial going up and down. That seems very Jurassic Park–like compared to this.”

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Interesting NYT story about the progress in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan’s military and police have become increasingly reliable and effective

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I really can’t wait to see PBO in Ireland. The place is going crazy!

O’bama fever strikes tiny Irish village

(CBS News) MONEYGALL, IRELAND – CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports it’s easy to spot the village of Moneygall in the rolling hills of central Ireland. It’s the one where the flags are flying, and where every surface in the place has been given a fresh coat of paint.
It’s the on where they’ve written a new song as a tribute to their new favorite American president, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama’s visit to this village of 300 people next week may be the most anticipated in this corner of Ireland apart from the Second Coming.

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But when church records were first revealed the link four years ago, an Irish Barack Obama was incomprehensible here.

“I’ve been calling him ‘Abracadabra’ because I didn’t know how to pronounce his name,” resident Carey Wilde said in 2007.

In an interview this week, Wilde said she’s learned his name since. “I did indeed, and grown to love him.”

Everybody’s grown to love him in Moneygall – especially Henry Healy. “He’s going to find everyone crawling out of his family tree to meet him when he arrives.”

The celebration of Irish roots is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Sooner or later, all American presidents seem to end up in Ireland. Maybe it’s those 40 million or so Irish-American votes. But maybe it’s because the Obama connection was so unexpected, that he has been so warmly embraced.

At Ollie Hayes’ pub, they’re expecting him. “If he’s coming to Moneygall, he’s coming in here,” Hayes says.

It’s not the party they’re worried about. It’s the morning after.

Sinead Culliton says it’s “so huge, there might be the anti-climax after.” Laughing, she said she’s worried about a “post-Obama stress disorder.”

There’s a cure for that here in Moneygall.

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President Obama Thanks the Intelligence Community:

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Finally: This is such a great quotes from Michelle Obama:

Here’s the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we’re all sweating it, when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we’re playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow—it doesn’t happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.