Chancellor Merkel at the White House (Photostream)

Hi guys,

It’s Germany day at the WH. A joint press conference is scheduled to 11:35 ET. The State Dinner is 7:35 PM ET. All day is life here. I’ll try to update throughout the day, and I’m guessing that with the media in its Obama-Is-Done agenda at full force, we can train our not-very-strong no-drama muscles, and to use the link on the right to harass the media. Have a good day.

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“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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