Washington Bureau Chief Has History of Plagiarism 1


James "Jim" Williams, the Washington bureau chief for Genesis Communications, appears to have plagiarized in more than a dozen of his articles according to a TKNN analysis. The TKNN analysis was not exhaustive and did not search every one of his articles, but a clear pattern emerged of Williams's plagiarism.

The plagiarism ranged from a few sentences to almost an entire article copy and pasted. In one unusual instance, he lifted from AV Club, but he copied from Snopes's quoting of AV Club. Williams's sources also differed from CNN to Politico to local news outlets. Williams also has an interesting habit of sometimes acknowledging that quotes in a story are from different outlets, but does not cite or link to the original source for the rest of the lifted material. On a few of the articles TKNN looked at, he provided a link to Politico, saying that the following portion of the article was "according to Politico." However, he did not quote the material that Politico wrote versus his and the link to Politico was to Politico's homepage, not the actual article in question.

Williams's habit is indeed an old one as his first articles from 2013 also feature lifted passages. While similar headlines are not rare and were not the focus of this investigation, Williams's second article features the nearly identical headline as the Politico article he copied from. The Politico article in question featured the headline of "Senate Dems to W.H.: Fix Obamacare" while Williams's article had "Dems to the President:” Fix Obamacare.”

Genesis Communication owns several radio stations in Florida and has two dedicated to news, WIXC and WWBA. Williams also hosts a podcast, The Politically Incorrect Podcast, that has boasted guests like Representative Charlie Crist (D). TKNN reached out to Genesis Communications for comment and there was a request for examples. TKNN provided three examples of the nineteen articles found and Steve Kyler responded by saying, "While I do not agree with your characterization of plagiarism. I would agree that in some instances, specifically the Napolitano story, it's too close not to have been cited and sourced."

"We are in the news business and the facts of a story are the facts of a story. In many of the cases you have mentioned (beyond the Napolitano story) you seem to be taking issue with Jim doing similar reporting on events. We are going to address this issue with Jim and our staff as a whole and make sure we understand what's really playing out here."

Williams's bio describes him as the Washington bureau chief for Genesis Communications with over 40 years of experience in media. GlassDoor, a website that allows employees to rate their employers, has a review of Genesis Communications from March of 2017 that is from the current Washington bureau chief and whose years working matches up with Williams, all but confirming his identify. As a pro for Genesis, the person wrote, "Total freedom to do whatever I wish!"

The Vote on the repealing and replacing of Obamacare is on - Live Coverage (3/24/17)

For seven years Republicans has run on the message that they were going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Well today is the vote and the debate has started with Republicans looking for the 216 needed to pass their new healthcare plan.

The goal is to get an up or down vote on the bill sometime before six tonight. If the bill passes, then it goes to the Senate where they will likely rip it up and start all over again.

President Donald Trump’s ultimatum to Republicans to overturn the Democratic health care law and no one, not even the people in charge of counting the votes, can say what will happen.

The intense jockeying leading up to what they hope will be an afternoon vote has produced a rare moment of genuine uncertainty in Congress. A win would be a big confidence boost for the new president, as well as for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has staked much of his own political capital on passing the bill.

Eleventh-hour attempts to corral wavering Republicans led to some expensive deal making as the bill gets its final touches in committee. A handful of moderate Republicans — including New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy — hailed the addition of $15 billion for maternity care, as well as mental health and substance.”

Already more than a dozen moderate Republicans have staked out positions against the measure. Several, including Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, New York Rep. Dan Donovan, New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance and Iowa Rep. David Young, reiterated that opposition late when speaking to the press this morning. Several hardline House conservatives are promising to join them, from Michigan Rep. Justin Amash to Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks.

The drumbeat of anti-Ryan commentary among conservative media commentators has reached a new intensity and has spread beyond Breitbart, the news organization once run by Trump advisor Steve Bannon that has long been critical of the Speaker.

(Archived Article)

Obamacare repeal vote too close to call (Politico, 3/24/17)

...

The intense jockeying leading up to the expected Friday afternoon vote has produced a rare moment of genuine uncertainty in Congress. A win would be a big confidence boost for the new president, as well as for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has staked much of his own political capital on passing the bill.

Eleventh-hour attempts to corral wavering Republicans led to some expensive dealmaking as the bill gets its final touches in committee. A handful of moderate Republicans — including New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy — hailed the addition of $15 billion for maternity care, as well as mental health and substance."

...

(Original Article)

Keystone XL Pipeline is now a go after State Department clears the way (3/24/17)

TransCanada Corp.  announced that the U.S. Department of State has signed and issued a Presidential Permit to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. President Donald Trump, will speak to the press about the Keystone XL Pipeline, something he wanted to get started as soon as possible.

Reviving a big oil project which environmentalists had hoped was dead and buried, the Trump administration plans to announce Friday that it has issued a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The project, which would ship 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, had been rejected by the Obama administration last year, a move heralded by climate activists. The rejection came just before the former president signed an international agreement on global warming in Paris.

But Trump vowed to undo the previous administration’s work on climate change. He announced soon after taking office that he would seek to restart the pipeline project, a clear signal that he would move aggressively to promote oil development.

The Keystone Pipeline is owned by Calgary-based TransCanada. Phase 1 of the pipeline began operating in 2010 and had the capacity to move 590,000 barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil from the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta to hubs and refineries in the US. In 2011, Phase 2 of Keystone connected Steele City, Nebraska to the major oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Phase 3 connected the Cushing hub to Gulf Coast refineries with a capacity of 700,000 BPD and began operating in January 2014. Phase 3 was the project that President Obama famously endorsed from the campaign trail in 2012, promising to “cut through the red tape” and to expedite the project. (President Obama’s approval was not required for that leg of the project).

The Phase 4 expansion of the Keystone Pipeline is the one the world came to know as the Keystone XL (“XL” stands for export limited.) Like Phase 1, this expansion would add pipeline from Alberta and cross the US-Canadian border. The pipeline would have a capacity of up to 830,000 BPD and terminate in Steele City, Nebraska. Because the proposed route would cross the international border, the State Department was required to determine that the project was in the national interest to grant a permit (as the agency did with Phase 1).

There is plenty more to come to over the next year on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

OPEC meets this weekend in Kuwait, and are expected to extend the deal beyond its June end.

(Archived Article)

Trump administration to give green light to Keystone XL pipeline (LATimes, 3/24/17)

Reviving a big oil project which environmentalists had hoped was dead and buried, the Trump administration plans to announce Friday that it has issued a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The project, which would ship 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada's tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, had been rejected by the Obama administration last year, a move heralded by climate activists. The rejection came just before the former president signed an international agreement on global warming in Paris.

But Trump vowed to undo the previous administration’s work on climate change. He announced soon after taking office that he would seek to restart the pipeline project, a clear signal that he would move aggressively to promote oil development.

...

(Original Article)

Getting Up To Speed On The Keystone XL Pipeline (Forbes, 3/24/17)

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The Keystone Pipeline is owned by Calgary-based TransCanada. Phase 1 of the pipeline began operating in 2010 and had the capacity to move 590,000 barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil from the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta to hubs and refineries in the US. In 2011, Phase 2 of Keystone connected Steele City, Nebraska to the major oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Phase 3 connected the Cushing hub to Gulf Coast refineries with a capacity of 700,000 BPD and began operating in January 2014. Phase 3 was the project that President Obama famously endorsed from the campaign trail in 2012, promising to “cut through the red tape” and to expedite the project. (President Obama's approval was not required for that leg of the project).

The Phase 4 expansion of the Keystone Pipeline is the one the world came to know as the Keystone XL (“XL” stands for export limited.) Like Phase 1, this expansion would add pipeline from Alberta and cross the US-Canadian border. The pipeline would have a capacity of up to 830,000 BPD and terminate in Steele City, Nebraska. Because the proposed route would cross the international border, the State Department was required to determine that the project was in the national interest to grant a permit (as the agency did with Phase 1).

(Original Article)

President Trump is done trusting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (3/24/17)

President Donald Trump trusted Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) when he told him that he could deliver a healthcare bill that would pass the House without problems. President Trump got a bill that was total mess with opposition from both the Conservative Freedom Caucus as well as Centrists who come from the swing states that the president won by slim margins.

After spending most of the week doing all he could save Ryan’s plan last night President Trump had enough. The man who wrote The Art of the Deal, knows when to walk away from a bad one.

So, the White House told Congress they wanted a vote that make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave Obamacare in place and move on to other issues if Friday’s vote fails.

The risky move, part gamble and part threat, was presented to GOP lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday night after a long and intense day that saw a planned vote on the health care bill scrapped as the legislation remained short of votes amid cascading negotiations among conservative lawmakers, moderates and others.

For seven years now, House Republicans and their wealthy donors have been desperate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which established the principle of universal coverage, and came with new taxes that hit the country’s top earners. To the likes of Ryan and Tom Price, who is now President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, the A.C.A. amounted to a new entitlement program, one that, over the years, was likely to get bigger and bigger.

After President Trump won the election, there were still some reasons to doubt whether Ryan and Price would get what they wanted—or, at least, whether they would get it this quickly. To be sure, Trump promised to repeal the A.C.A. during his campaign. But he also promised to renegotiate trade agreements, rebuild America’s decaying infrastructure, construct a wall across the southern border, crack down on Wall Street, and reduce taxes for corporations and the middle class.

This was always Ryan’s healthcare bill and now it totally belongs to him as President Trump is bailing on a bill that does not meet his campaign promises. Speaker Ryan can’t count on the support from President Trump because he betrayed his trust.

(Archived Article)

Has Paul Ryan Suckered Donald Trump Into Making Health Care His Top Priority? (The New Yorker, 3/22/17)

...

For seven years now, House Republicans and their wealthy donors have been desperate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which established the principle of universal coverage, and came with new taxes that hit the country’s top earners. To the likes of Ryan and Tom Price, who is now Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, the A.C.A. amounted to a new entitlement program, one that, over the years, was likely to get bigger and bigger. The only solution was infanticide: the A.C.A. had to be killed before it was fully grown.

After Trump won the election, there were still some reasons to doubt whether Ryan and Price would get what they wanted—or, at least, whether they would get it this quickly. To be sure, Trump promised to repeal the A.C.A. during his campaign. But he also promised to renegotiate trade agreements, rebuild America’s decaying infrastructure, construct a wall across the southern border, crack down on Wall Street, and reduce taxes for corporations and the middle class.

...

(Original Article)

Judge Napolitano benched by Fox News (3/21/17)

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano  is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Barack Obama. Judge Napolitano has been used by both President Donald Trump and the White House as a source.

Fox News has not officially suspended him not has the network announced that he has been taken off the air. However, Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the Fox News coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday.

The trouble for Napolitano came after the he made several on-air statements advancing the White House narrative that supporters of Obama, through foreign intelligence, listened in on Trump conversations at Trump Tower.

Last week, Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, reported on the morning show “Fox and Friends” that the Obama administration had asked British intelligence to wiretap Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The White House continued to use Napolitano’s comments to defend their wiretap allegations. The problems began to start when President Trump from citing Napolitano as a source again when he was asked about the wiretapping claims at a Friday news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You shouldn’t be talking to me; you should be talking to Fox News,” said Trump, who described Napolitano as “a very talented lawyer.”

That brought rebukes from the highest levels of both British intelligence agencies as well as requests for apologies from 10 Downing Street.

Anchor Shepard Smith saying on Friday: “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, anyway. Full stop.”

During a congressional hearing on Monday, Comey said there was no evidence that President Obama had wiretapped then candidate Trump as well as Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.

During that same hearing yesterday Director Comey stated that there was no evidence that the British had been asked to intercept conversations, as Mr. Napolitano had asserted.

There is no time table given for the return to air for Napolitano but best guess is that he will return Fox News in a couple of weeks. But for the judge has been benched.

(Archived Article)

Fox News pulls Judge Napolitano over his Trump wiretap claims (LATimes, 3/20/17)

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama.

Fox News did not respond to inquiries about Napolitano’s status Monday. Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the network’s coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday.

People familiar with the situation who could speak only on the condition of anonymity said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future. Napolitano was not available for comment.

On March 4, President Trump first tweeted the accusation that Obama ordered his “‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”

“Nothing found,” Trump tweeted. “This is McCarthyism!”

The tweet has been widely discredited, but last week, Napolitano heightened the controversy — and caused a major embarrassment for Fox News — when he presented a scenario on several programs that backed the accusation.

The former New Jersey Superior Court judge, citing unnamed sources, said that the British foreign surveillance agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, “most likely” provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s recorded calls.

“By bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints,” Napolitano wrote in a column on FoxNews.com.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano’s charge last week when asked why President Trump continues to stand by his initial claim. The British spy agency sharply denounced Napolitano’s allegations, saying they are “utterly ridiculous and should be ignored."

That rebuttal did not stop President Trump from citing Napolitano as a source again when he was asked about the wiretapping claims at a Friday news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You shouldn’t be talking to me; you should be talking to Fox News,” said Trump, who described Napolitano as “a very talented lawyer.”

...

(Original Article)

Speaker Ryan admits his Obamacare replacement plan needs help (3/19/17)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) says he will seek changes to a divisive GOP health care bill to provide more help to older people hard hit by the plan.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis last week concluded that older people would likely pay higher premiums under the proposal to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s health care law.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Ryan says he believes the CBO analysis is not accurate but agreed that people in their 50s and 60s experience higher health care costs.

The Wisconsin Republican says “we believe we should offer more assistance than what the bill currently does” and that it’s one of several possible revisions to help round up enough House votes for the bill.

A House vote on the plan is scheduled for Thursday.

Meanwhile, there was an all-out war on the Sunday political talk shows over the Republican health care bill.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he does not believe proposed Republican healthcare legislation will pass through Congress.

“I don’t believe so. I think there’s enough conservatives that do not want ‘ObamaCare lite,’ ” Paul said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Paul during the interview stressed a clean repeal of ObamaCare.

“None of us ran on this plan. We ran on repealing ObamaCare because it doesn’t work,” Paul told ABC’s “This Week.”

Another major conservative voice that is not happy with Speaker Ryan’s plan was on CNN.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said Sunday the Republican healthcare proposal will not pass Congress “without improvements.”

DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina, told CNN’s “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper that President Trump is open to improvements.

“He’s very engaged and very open to improve the bill, but he’s very supportive of the idea of getting this repeal through,” DeMint said.

(Archived Article)

Paul predicts GOP healthcare plan will fail (The Hill, 3/19/17)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he does not believe proposed Republican healthcare legislation will pass through Congress.

"I don't believe so. I think there's enough conservatives that do not want 'ObamaCare lite,' " Paul said on ABC's "This Week."

Paul during the interview stressed a clean repeal of ObamaCare.

“None of us ran on this plan. We ran on repealing ObamaCare because it doesn’t work,” Paul told ABC’s “This Week.”

...

(Original Article)

Chuck Berry was the true “Father of Rock n Roll’ (3/19/17)

It has been said by everyone from Erick Clapton to Bruce Springsteen that Chuck Berry invented “Rock in Roll,” as we know it. I would say at the least he added the element of showmanship to the new style of music.

Over the course of my career I directed three of his concerts and he never disappointed. He knew what the crowd wanted and he gave them everything he had.

During a series of concerts I directed in the 1980’s with The Stray Cats, I once asked Lee Rocker who jumped, jived and wailed on the upright bass for rockabilly about the bands love for Berry’s music. They often saluted Berry by playing at least one or two of his song every performance they ever gave. Rocker loved to praise his long time idol.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore of rock ‘n’ roll, Chuck Berry would be dead center,” said Rocker.

“He’s one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll,” Rocker said. “And in addition to his music, I have to say that one of the things he brought to rock ‘n’ roll was incredible lyrics. I don’t know if he’s [ever] been equaled.

“When you look at ‘Memphis, Tennessee,’ with ‘Last time I saw Marie she’s waving me good-bye / With hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye,’ it just doesn’t get better,” Rocker said.

Chuck Berry came on the scene with “Maybellene” and it shot out of America’s radios like a rocket in the  summer of 1955, one hard, true thing remains clear after those 62 years:

Nothing like it ever existed before.

Berry’s opening solo on “Johnny B. Goode” is the single most iconic performance in rock history. Every rock guitarist since is in his debt. In addition, Berry wrote and sang at least two dozen rock ’n’ roll classics, including “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Back in the U.S.A.,” many of them recorded at Chicago’s Chess Studios in the 1950s and ’60s and later covered by countless artists, including the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones.

“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry,”‘ John Lennon once said.

Here’s why: There was no category that could safely contain it. It charted No. 1 on the rhythm and blues charts, which was where most black recording artists such as Berry could be found. But its beat and its sensibility were just as deeply rooted in the predominantly white traditions of country blues and western swing.

Berry was the most innovative of rock ‘n’ roll’s founding big daddy’s pushing the boundaries to their limits in the 1950s to full boil, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were great showman but not like Berry.

Rolling Stone magazine once declared that rock guitar began with Berry and, once again, it’s not hard to make the case. Berry’s licks and riffs, fluid, supple and multi-tiered, remain electrifying enough to empower wave upon wave of guitarists seeking more blues in their rhythms and more rhythms.

As matter of fact Rolling Stone, also listed Berry as the 6th greatest rock and roll guitarist of all time. Berry’s rapid style and rhythmic drive was derived from swing jazz and the hybrid boogie-woogie played by another St. Louis musician, pianist Johnnie Johnson, who would become his often-unsung collaborator.

The teens of the 1950’s and early 1960’s identified with Berry’s lyrics and their endless struggle with adult authority, and championed the idea that fun was just as much a part of growing up as preparing to be an adult. He was able to use upbeat songs to point out racism (“Brown Eyed Handsome Man”) and satirized the workday runaround (“Too Much Monkey Business”).

Berry was a one of a kind entertainer and he will be missed.

For those who aren’t familiar with Berry’s work allow me to share these few songs with you.

(Archived Article)

Chuck Berry didn't just cross barriers -- he obliterated them (CNN, 3/18/17)

Whatever else that can be said about Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" when it shot out of America's radios like a Redstone rocket in the bright late summer of 1955, one hard, true thing remains clear after those 62 years: Nothing like it ever existed before. 

Here's why: There was no category that could safely contain it. It charted No. 1 on the rhythm and blues charts, which was where most black recording artists such as Berry could be found. But its beat and its sensibility were just as deeply rooted in the predominantly white traditions of country blues and western swing.
...
Well, that ... and his guitar. Rolling Stone magazine once declared that rock guitar began with Berry and, once again, it's not hard to make the case. Berry's licks and riffs, fluid, supple and multi-tiered, remain electrifying enough to empower wave upon wave of guitarists seeking more blues in their rhythms and more rhythms.
...

CPB budget cuts from President Trump could kill Big Bird (3/16/17)

Well cutting the budget is tough on everyone but looking at the first budget presented in the last 24 hours by President Donald Trump, could kill Big Bird. The White House budget would eliminate the money allocated to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB. Federal funding for CPB amount to about $500 million per year—or about $1.35 per citizen, annually.

Trump’s 2018 budget, called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” requests increases in defense spending and reduction of domestic programs.

Truly eliminating funding from PBS and NPR would take a while due to “the nature of contracts,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters during a briefing Wednesday

“We proposed ending funding, but technically what you’ll see—it’s an elimination—but you’ll see an amount of money in the budget, and it is some amount of money that’s necessary for us to unwind our involvement with CPB,” Mulvaney said. “So you won’t see a zero next to it, but the policy is that we’re ending federal involvement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

The vagaries of public TV and radio funding make for a more complicated question of what “privatization” would actually mean for the non-profit group. The Corporation receives $445.5 million from the government every year, about half of which goes to the nation’s roughly 350 public television stations.

They, in turn, give the money in fees to the non-profit PBS, which distributes ad-free content like PBS NewsHour, and Frontline […] The rest of the stations’ money, totaling roughly half of their operating budget, comes from public support, in the form of charitable donations and the ever-present pledge drive.

A similar setup exists over in radio, although NPR was “weaned” off of federal cash back in the ’80s, meaning only about 10 percent of the system’s money comes directly from the government.

Without federal funding it is very possible that PBS would have to go into the traditional television business and sell ads. They could also become a cable network where they could be like an AMC, TNT, FX and other cable outlets.

It is possible that shows like Masterpiece Theatre’s Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Elizabeth. Children’s shows like, Sesame Street, educational programming like Nova and the very popular News Hour, could end up on other broadcasting outlets.

As you might expect that cut was not well received by the folks at PBS across the Potomac at their Alexandria, Virginia offices.

“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB in a statement. “The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions for Americans in rural and urban communities alike.”

Let’s be clear here getting rid of spending on both PBS and NPR is nothing new. Every Republican since President Ronald Reagan has slowly but surely cut money from the two public broadcasting outlets over the years.

For the record during the Reagan’s presidency, public television lost its funding but found a way to survive. One Republican who was a fan happened to be Mitt Romney was criticized for saying that he was a fan of PBS. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I’m not going to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Congress has the final say over all discretionary budgets, so President Trump faces a tough fight to get rid of agencies like the NEA and the NEH, even though many Republicans don’t believe the federal government needs to fund arts projects, especially those seen as subversive or frivolous

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has the votes needed to make the drastic cuts to both PBS and NPR. Ryan has previously supported a budget sans funding for both outlets.

So, if CPB’s federal funding were to be completely eliminated, the organization would lose $445 million annually. About $298 million of this is appropriated to public television, $99.1 million to public radio and the rest to system support and operating costs.

A look at a 2012 CPB report on alternative sources of funding, which is the last time it’s addressed the issue, estimated that elimination of federal funding at the time would have put stations in 54 markets in 19 states at risk of shutting down.

“The federal appropriation is vital seed money that helps local stations raise additional funds,” Letitia King, CPB’s SVP of communications, said. “If that funding was discontinued the entire public media service would be debilitated.”

Besides PBS and NPR the budget would also stop funding for some other popular items. The budget would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.

(Archived Article)

Is Trump Planning on Killing PBS and NPR? (Snopes, 1/27/17)

...

The vagaries of public TV and radio funding make for a more complicated question of what “privatization” would actually mean for the non-profit group. The Corporation receives $445.5 million from the government every year, about half of which goes to the nation’s roughly 350 public television stations.

They, in turn, give the money in fees to the non-profit PBS, which distributes ad-free content like PBS NewsHour, and Frontline […] The rest of the stations’ money, totaling roughly half of their operating budget, comes from public support, in the form of charitable donations and the ever-present pledge drive.

A similar setup exists over in radio, although NPR was “weaned” off of federal cash back in the ’80s, meaning only about 10 percent of the system’s money comes directly from the government.

...

(Original Article)

(AV Club article that Snopes was quoting and was then lifted)

Trump's Budget Won't Kill Big Bird, But It May Make Him Endangered (Forbes, 3/16/17)

...

The Paul Ryan-led House Republican caucus likely has no more warm and fuzzy feelings toward public television than Romney. Ryan has previously supported a budget sans funding for the CPB.

 

If CPB’s federal funding were to be completely eliminated, the organization would lose $445 million annually. About $298 million of this is appropriated to public television, $99.1 million to public radio and the rest to system support and operating costs.

CPB’s most recent budget request (which would provide funds for 2019) calls for $222.8 million in TV funds that would be allocated to Direct Station Grants. Station Grants (also called CSGs, or community service grants) allow local stations—which are independently owned and operated—to produce and acquire content. As of 2013, these grants made up an average of 13% of public television stations’ revenues, but in rural or poor areas, this percentage was significantly higher.

It would be these areas—which often have less local funding and fewer affluent viewers to donate—that would be hit hardest by the proposed cuts. A 2012 CPB report on alternative sources of funding, which is the last time it’s addressed the issue, estimated that elimination of federal funding at the time would have put stations in 54 markets in 19 states at risk of shutting down.

“Small and rural stations serving underserved populations would be the first to feel that impact and would be hit hardest,” Anne Brachman, CPB’s VP of government affairs, told Forbes.

For each dollar the CPB provides, local stations can raise another six dollars, Brachman added. The small stations hit hardest by cuts would have to put even more of a focus (and dedicate even more resources) to fundraising.

 

“The federal appropriation is vital seed money that helps local stations raise additional funds,” Letitia King, CPB’s SVP of communications, said. “If that funding was discontinued the entire public media service would be debilitated.”

...

(Original Article)

Trump Budget Proposes Killing All Funding for PBS, NPR and National Endowment for the Arts (The Wrap, 3/16/17)

...

The budget would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.

...

(Original article)

“Ryancare,” would cause 14 million to lose health insurance (3/13/17)

The new Congressional Budget Numbers have come in and they are bad news for the American Health Care Act. The Republican replacement for Obamacare that has been pitched by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) would lead to 14 million more people being uninsured in 2018 alone. Conservative groups are calling the replacement law Ryancare and with the new CBO numbers it will be a tough sell.

The nonpartisan scorekeeping office also forecast the GOP plan would cut the deficit by $337 billion over a decade, primarily because of the legislation’s cuts to Medicaid and private insurance subsidies. That was the only good news that came from the scoring of the bill.

Roughly 24 million more people would be uninsured over a decade if the House Republican Obamacare repeal bill is enacted, according to a much-anticipated Congressional Budget Office analysis that could threaten GOP hopes of getting the measure through the House in the coming weeks.

Premiums in the individual market for health insurance would increase before 2020 and decrease after that, according to the CBO report.

CBO finds that people’s out of pocket costs, including deductibles, “would tend to be higher” under the GOP bill than under ObamaCare, because of a loosening of requirements on insurers. High deductibles have been one of the GOP’s main lines of attack against ObamaCare.

The report also notes that financial assistance for low-income people under ObamaCare to help them pay their deductibles would be repealed and therefore would be hurt by the new law.

Right now there are not enough votes in either the House or the Senate to get the bill passed and the CBO numbers aren’t going to help. Plus Conservative news outlets like Brietbart, The Daily Caller, plus The Freedom Caucus are slamming both Speaker Ryan and the bill.

President Trump is starting to distance himself from Speaker Ryan (R-Wisc.) as support for the American Health Care Act begins to unravel. The Republican replacement bill for Obamacare is about to be scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Committee and the numbers are going to be bad.

A growing number of Republicans in both the House and the Senate don’t like the what many are dubbing “Ryancare.” Things are getting so bad that the Conservative website Brietbart has been panning the bill nonstop for the past four days.

The Republicans, frankly, are putting themselves in a very bad position — I tell this to Tom Price all the time — by repealing Obamacare,” Trump said during a White House listening session. “Because people aren’t gonna see the truly devastating effects of Obamacare. They’re not gonna see the devastation. In ’17 and ’18 and ’19, it’ll be gone by then. Whether we do it or not, it’ll be imploded off the map.”

Trump accused the media of undermining the GOP’s repeal effort by misrepresenting the health care law, which he slammed for its premium hikes and limited insurers.

“The press is making Obamacare look so good all of a sudden,” Trump said. “They’re showing these reports about this one gets so much and this one gets so much. First of all, it covers very few people, and it’s imploding. And ’17 will be the worst year. And I said it once; I’ll say it again: because Obama’s gone.”

Contrary to Trump’s comment that Obamacare covers few people, 20 million Americans gained coverage under it. The real problem for Trump is in swing states like Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia because of Medicaid expansion, many people who would be the big losers.

The CBO report found that elimination of ObamaCare’s individual mandate under the Republican bill would entice fewer healthy people to sign up for insurance, which could cause premium costs to increase 15 to 20 percent in 2018 and 2019.

But starting in 2020, the increase in average premiums would be offset by a number of provisions in the GOP plan: grants to states, a younger mix of enrollees and the elimination of some insurer requirements.

(Archived Article)

CBO: 24 million fewer insured under House bill repealing Obamacare (Politico, 3/13/17)

Roughly 24 million more people would be uninsured over a decade if the House Republican Obamacare repeal bill is enacted, according to a much-anticipated Congressional Budget Office analysis that could threaten GOP hopes of getting the measure through the House in the coming weeks.

The legislation would lead to 14 million more people being uninsured in 2018 alone. The nonpartisan scorekeeping office also forecast the GOP plan would cut the deficit by $337 billion over a decade, primarily because of the legislation's cuts to Medicaid and private insurance subsidies.

...

(Original Article)

Some Florida GOP lawmakers are not on-board with American Health Care Act (3/16/17)

Florida lawmakers are not on board at least now with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) American Health Care Act. At least three are saying no to Speaker Ryan’s plan.

A well respected Republican Congresswoman from South Florida has said that she can’t support the GOP’s current plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents part of Dade County said in a statement to the Miami Herald that she would vote no on the bill “as currently written.”

Florida is the home to many elderly Americans, with about 20 percent of its population 65 and older. The CBO found elderly Americans would see some of the highest increases in their premiums among those in the individual marketplace. Unlike other states, Florida did not expand Medicaid coverage leaving many people in the state, including many Latinos, without coverage that is available in other states.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen pointed out that “The bill’s consequences for South Florida are clear: too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there will be less funds to help the poor and elderly with their healthcare.”

Several Republicans have expressed discomfort with the bill after an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released Monday showed it could cause 24 million people to lose health insurance over the next 10 years.

The CBO also said older people would face steep price hikes.

According to an example provided by the CBO, a 64-year-old who earns $26,500 a year would see her premiums increase from $1,700 to $14,600

Less you think that Ros-Lehtinen is not a true Conservative, “I voted to repeal Obamacare many times because it was not the right fix for our broken health care system and did not live up to its promise to the American people, but this plan is not the replacement South Florida needs,” the Congresswoman said. “We should work together to write a bipartisan bill that works for our community and our nation without hurting the elderly and disadvantaged among us.”

While Rep. Ros-Lehtinen feels the replacement law goes too far there are some Florida lawmakers that feel it does not go far enough. Rep. Ted Yoho who represents Central Florida in the Gainesville area. “My reservations are many,” the House Freedom Caucus member told PBS’s Judy Woodruff on March 14. “I like the direction we’re moving in, but I could not support the bill as it is right now.”

Finally, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is still not on board with the plan: “Obviously it’s not 100 percent of what I would want to see,” Rubio told WJNO Radio on March 8, without detailing exactly what he’s concerned about.

(Archived Article)

Republican Latinos Troubled by GOP’s Obamacare Replacement (NBC News, 3/14/17)

...

Ros-Lehtinen's state is the home to many elderly Americans, with about 20 percent of its population 65 and older. The CBO found elderly Americans would see some of the highest increases in their premiums among those in the individual marketplace. Unlike other states, Florida did not expand Medicaid coverage leaving many people in the state, including many Latinos, without coverage that is available in other states.

...

(Original Article)

The GOP Congress hopes to vote on Obamacare replacement on Thursday (3/17/17)

House Republicans will vote Thursday on Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement bill, two senior GOP sources told POLITICO. The move shows that GOP leaders are confident they have the 216 votes needed to pass the bill, even as the far-right and centrist Republicans continue to press for changes.

GOP leaders and President Donald Trump spent much of Friday morning talking to critics of the plan. Trump called a number of lawmakers concerned about the bill to the White House, where Majority Whip Steve Scalise and his chief deputy whip Patrick McHenry also huddled with wary members.

President Trump on Friday declared his “100 percent” commitment to the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal plan, adding that “ObamaCare is dead.”

“I want people to know ObamaCare is dead, it’s a dead healthcare plan,” Trump said in the Oval Office during a meeting with conservative lawmakers.

According to Roll Call it was President Trump who in a meeting at the White House this morning won support from key members of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) by agreeing to give states the option to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients and the option to block grant Medicaid instead of the cap system in the bill.

The bill remains far from a slam dunk in the House as the all -important Freedom Caucus still has strong objections to the bill. The group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), told the press this morning that the work requirements being optional, was not a major change and only moves the ball “a couple of yards” down a very large field.

There remains a great deal of work left to get the replacement bill the 216 votes it needs to pass in the House next Thursday. Even if the bill were to get the votes to pass the Senate remains a much more difficult hurdle.

“People say it’s like herding cats. It’s not herding cats. It’s herding ravenous tigers,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), a conservative who has yet to give his support to the House bill.

“There’s a lot on the line here — not only for Paul Ryan as speaker, but for us as a conference, for us as a party and obviously for the president,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) “The president’s much better off with a strong speaker than a damaged speaker — and vice versa — the speaker’s better off with a strong president.”

But with opposition rising from both moderate Republicans and the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, Ryan’s best hope now seems to be amending his widely panned bill in order to ensure at a minimum that it passes the House.

But for the moment there is a full court press in the House to get the 216 votes needed to pass the replacement bill. They will worry in the Senate when it gets there.

(Archived Article)

House to vote Thursday on GOP Obamacare replacement (Politico, 3/17/17)

House Republicans will vote Thursday on Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement bill, two senior GOP sources told POLITICO. 

The move shows that GOP leaders are confident they have the 216 votes needed to pass the bill, even as as the far-right and centrist Republicans continue to press for changes. 

 

GOP leaders and President Donald Trump spent much of Friday morning talking to critics of the plan. Trump called a number of lawmakers concerned about the bill to the White House, where Majority Whip Steve Scalise and his chief deputy whip Patrick McHenry also huddled with wary members.

(Original Article)

GOP speeding toward vote on altered healthcare bill (The Hill, 3/17/17)

...

The White House on Friday won support from conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) leaders by agreeing to give states the option to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients and to block grant Medicaid instead of the cap system in the bill.

...

But the far-right Freedom Caucus still has strong objections to the bill. Its chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), took issue with work requirements being optional, saying that provision only moves the ball “a couple of yards” down a very large field. 

...

(Original Article)

Michael Savage attacked after dinner Tuesday night (3/15/17)

Michael Savage, who is heard week nights on WWBA 820 AM, part of the News Talk Florida family, says he was assaulted by a man as he was leaving a restaurant in Tiburon, a town in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tuesday night.

The man shouted something at Savage and made fun of his legal name before knocking him to the ground, Savage’s attorney Daniel Horowitz said Wednesday. Another restaurant customer, who intervened in the fracas, was punched in the face.

In a statement released Wednesday morning to the 415 Media blog, Savage said the man called out to him: “Are you Michael Weeener (sic)?” Savage said he turned to the man and said, “Go away, I don’t know who you are.”

Horowitz said it’s still not entirely clear what motivated the alleged assault but his office is looking into whether it was a hate crime or whether it had anything to do his client’s political views and his support of Trump, both of which he frequently talks about on his “Savage Nation” nationally syndicated radio show.

Savage has been described as the “Godfather of Trumpmania” for encouraging his 10 million listeners to vote for the new president. Savage’s support of Trump made headlines last month when the president said of him, after an hour-long dessert meeting at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida: “I wouldn’t be president without this man.”

After Savage told the man to “go away,” he started to turn. Horowitz said it appears that the man knocked Savage to the ground while also pushing 12-year-old Teddy out of the way.

At that point, another customer from the restaurant intervened, and Savage’s alleged assailant punched him in the face, Horowitz said. Savage was somehow able to get back up and help the Good Samaritan while also calling police.

No one fled the scene, with the involved parties staying to give their statements to officers. Nilsen said the officers were working on the report to send to prosecutors for review.

Horowitz said Savage wasn’t hurt in the fight, and it doesn’t appear anyone else was either. He said Savage may have seen his alleged assailant earlier in the bar of the restaurant.

“He called me from the scene,” Horowitz said, referring to Savage. “Truthfully, I think he was more furious than anything. He was saying he had just wanted to go out and have a nice dinner. He said, ‘This guy can’t get away with that.’”

Horowitz suggested it’s unlikely his client was the aggressor, given that he’s 5 foot 6 inches tall and 75 years old. Savage denied he provoked the attack: “He moved toward me to push me down, and he shoved my 10-pound poodle out of the way to get to me. He has lied and said I pushed him. That is absurd. Both of my hands were holding onto things.”

Horowitz said his client, who lives in Marin County, had finished up a quiet dinner alone at Servino Ristorante. He had a bag of leftover food in one hand and his constant companion, his toy poodle Teddy, in another.

(Archived Article)

Pro-Trump radio host claims he was assaulted outside Marin County restaurant (Bay Area News Group, 3/15/17)

TIBURON >> Michael Savage, the popular right-wing radio personality and fierce Donald Trump supporter, says he was assaulted by a man as he was leaving a Marin County restaurant Tuesday night.

According to Savage’s attorney, Daniel Horowitz, the man shouted something at Savage and made fun of his legal name before knocking him to the ground. Another restaurant customer, who intervened in the fracas, was punched in the face.

In a statement released Wednesday morning to the 415 Media blog, Savage said the man called out to him: “Are you Michael Weiner?” (referring to his given name). Savage said he turned to the man and said, “Go away, I don’t know who you are.”

Horowitz said it’s still not entirely clear what motivated the alleged assault, but his office is looking into whether it was a hate crime or whether it had anything to do his client’s political views and his support of Trump, both frequent subjects of his “Savage Nation” nationally syndicated radio show.

Savage has been described as the “Godfather of Trumpmania” for encouraging his 10 million listeners to vote for the real estate mogul and reality TV star. Savage’s support of Trump made headlines last month when the president said of Savage, after an hourlong dessert meeting at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida: “I wouldn’t be president without this man.”

Savage has also sparked controversy over the years with his remarks denigrating Muslims, gays, feminists and others.

A Tiburon police spokeswoman said officers arrived on the scene on Tiburon’s Main Street at about 8:25 p.m. Both men involved in the fight claimed the other started it, according to an incident log. Spokeswoman Laurie Nilsen said the two men placed each other under citizen’s arrest and were released at the scene. A follow-up police report will be sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review to see if any charges will be filed.

Horowitz suggested it’s unlikely his client was the aggressor, given that he’s 5 feett 6 inches tall and 75 years old.

Horowitz said Savage, who lives in Marin County, had finished up a quiet dinner alone at Servino Ristorante. He had a bag of leftover food in one hand and his constant companion, his toy poodle Teddy, in the other.

Outside the restaurant, the man, who stands around 6 feett 5 inches, came at Savage, “yelling insults,” Horowitz said.

After Savage told the man to “go away,” he started to turn. Horowitz said it appears that the man knocked Savage to the ground while also pushing his dog out of the way.

 

At that point, another customer from the restaurant intervened, and Savage’s alleged assailant punched him in the face, Horowitz said. Savage was somehow able to get back up and help the good Samaritan while also calling police.

No one fled the scene, with the involved parties staying to give their statements to officers. Nilsen said the officers were working on the report to send to prosecutors for review.

Horowitz said Savage wasn’t hurt in the fight, and it doesn’t appear anyone else was either. He said Savage may have seen his alleged assailant earlier in the bar of the restaurant.

“He called me from the scene,” Horowitz said, referring to Savage. “Truthfully, I think he was more furious than anything. He was saying he had just wanted to go out and have a nice dinner. He said, ‘This guy can’t get away with that.’ ”

This month, Savage releases in 31st book, “Trump’s War,” which is described in its Amazon.com posting as offering a “detailed but accessible plan” for “restoring the nation” after eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency and for overcoming “the relentless opposition” Trump has encountered since announcing his candidacy.

(Original Article)

Gov. Scott and Speaker Corcoran continue their battle over the Lottery (3/6/17)

There is a big time showdown between new Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is heading to court.

A Leon County judge will consider today whether the Florida Lottery broke the law when it approved a contract worth over $700 million.

Corcoran sued the state’s lottery secretary last month, arguing the contract with IGT Global Solutions to run lottery games is illegal because it exceeds the Florida Lottery’s authorized budget.

Attorneys representing the lottery say the agency followed the law because the contract states that it is contingent on state funding.

The Florida House budget director is among the witnesses scheduled to testify Monday.

Since becoming speaker in November, Corcoran has sparred with Scott over the state’s tourism marketing and economic development agencies. In response, Scott’s political committee labeled Corcoran a “career politician.”

Gov.Scott, the “jobs, jobs, jobs” politician in the middle of his second term, and House Speaker Corcoran, a GOP firebrand who’s turned the capital city establishment upside down, have engaged in a public war in advance of the 2017 session that kicks off Tuesday.

“I’m doing this 44 year. This is as adversarial as I think I remember ever seeing it,” veteran lobbyist Ron Book said in a recent interview.

The duel between Scott and Corcoran is rooted in state spending on economic incentives and tourism marketing, issues the governor — first elected in 2010 as a Tallahassee outsider — has established as a cornerstone of his legislative agenda this year.

Gov. Scott is pushing for $85 million for Enterprise Florida for business incentives and $76 million for Visit Florida. Corcoran opposes the funding and has gone so far as to back abolishing the public-private agencies, though the House has offered a bill that would keep alive Visit Florida with changes and leave a question mark about funding.

Gov. Scott has taken the unprecedented approach — at least for nearly four decades — of targeting, with robo-calls and speeches Republican lawmakers who’ve crossed him.

“I’m never going to understand politicians,” Gov. Scott said Monday in an interview with The News Service of Florida from Washington, where the governor’s schedule included a private visit with President Donald Trump.

“As I go around the state and explain how House members are voting, their constituents are shocked,”Gov. Scott continued. “I look at this as we’ve got a whole bunch of politicians in Tallahassee that, I don’t know why they do what they do. I know how I was brought up. I know that I’ve revamped both Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. I know I’ve brought in leadership that is focused on doing the right thing. So my job is to keep doing what I got elected to do. I can never understand why somebody would take the position they are taking.”

Along with his attack on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, Corcoran has upset the Tallahassee establishment with what he calls an effort to shine a light on relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers.

And he’s alienated not only the lobbying corps and the governor but Senate leaders by changing the House’s budget process regarding local projects, sometimes called “turkeys.”

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, characterizes Gov. Scott’s sought-after tax incentives as “corporate welfare” undeserving of money from working-class Floridians.

“What we’re saying, from a House standpoint is these are our principles. We’ve laid them out for you guys over and over and over. These are our principles. This is what we believe. This is our philosophy. And we’re going to govern according to that philosophy. That’s what we’re going to do,” Corcoran said in a recent interview.

Corcoran, a lawyer, recently credited Scott with hiring him after what the speaker referred to as a crushing defeat in a state Senate race years ago. He blamed the antipathy between the two leaders on perception, rather than reality.

(Archived Article)

Judge sides with House Speaker in Florida Lottery lawsuit (AP, 3/6/17)

Attorneys for the Florida Lottery and House Speaker Richard Corcoran squared off in court on Monday for several hours. Judge Karen Gievers did not immediately rule.

Corcoran sued the state's lottery secretary last month, arguing the contract with IGT Global Solutions to run lottery games is illegal because it exceeds the Florida Lottery's authorized budget.

Attorneys representing the lottery say the agency followed the law because the contract states that it is contingent on state funding.

Since becoming speaker in November, Corcoran has sparred with Scott over the state's tourism marketing and economic development agencies.

(Original Article)

President Trump willing to listen to improvements on the new Obamacare replacement bill (3/8/17)

President Donald Trump is not yet ready to commit that the Republican leadership’s first effort at their version of the Affordable Care Act replacement plan. Yes, he is supportive of the law but knows that it has as many critics in the GOP as it does supporters at this point in time.

Yesterday, Human Services Sec. Tom Price, a former Georgia congressman who has long sought to upend Obamacare, kicked off the White House press briefing by calling the bill “a work in progress,” indicating that the administration was open to edits from Capitol Hill.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer passed on a chance to call the plan Trump’s, saying, “We’re not jamming it down anyone’s throats.”

And Vice President Mike Pence, who met on Tuesday with Republican senators, told reporters that Trump “supports” the bill, describing it as a “framework for reform.”

The White House will be the final hurdle for Republicans, who have spent years agitating to undo Obamacare.

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,”President Trump told the Washington Post in January, promising the new product would arrive “in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

At the moment it is up to Congress to help President Trump jeep his promise to voters and so far, it is early in the process. So, as you can imagine there is plenty of people within the Republican party making their voices heard.

The most vocal opposition to date has come from the tea party and its descendants in the House. Many of them campaigned on promises of “full repeal.” But the bill on the table right now is closer to a restructuring, then eliminating Obamacare.

Though it would scrap the current mandate, the new proposal includes an inducement to stay insured, in the form of a 30% surcharge on a year’s premium, for anyone who allows their coverage to lapse or drops it, then seeks to re-enter the market. Conservatives also view the prospect of a refundable tax credit to help pay for insurance as another “entitlement,” or government spending program.

There is plenty of money from Republican groups outside Washington, D.C. that are interested tanking the law before it even gets out of committee.

Many of the groups, think tanks and donors that helped bolster the GOP congressional majority are now openly at odds with the leadership.

FreedomWorks, a conservative group that provided early support to the tea party, has called the bill’s “surcharge” on people who let their coverage lapse a “Republican Individual Mandate.”

They announced on Tuesday evening plans to spend “well into six figures” on a “digital and social media ad campaign to mobilize conservatives in key districts and nationwide to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose ObamaCare Lite.”

The Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity tweeted a message for Speaker Paul Ryan: “Our advice: Take it back to the drawing board.”

Another key player the Heritage Foundation tweeted that “the House Republican health care bill falls short of the Obamacare repeal that Republicans have long promised.”

And in a statement, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham argued that the plan is so similar to Obamcare that it effectively enshrines its principles.

“In many ways, the House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them,” Needham said, then joining the chorus asking to divide the replacement process from the repeal.

“Rather than accept the flawed premises of Obamacare,” he continued, “congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system that empowers patients and doctors.”

So, look for President Trump to be careful not make the same mistake President Barack Obama and the Democrats

(Archived Article)

Washington unites -- in early opposition to Obamacare replacement bill (CNN, 3/8/17)

...

The most vocal opposition to date has come from the tea party and its descendants in the House. Many of them campaigned on promises of "full repeal." But the bill on the table right now is closer to a restructuring, then eliminating Obamacare.

Though it would scrap the current mandate, the new proposal includes an inducement to stay insured, in the form of a 30% surcharge on a year's premium, for anyone who allows their coverage to lapse or drops it, then seeks to re-enter the market. Conservatives also view the prospect of a refundable tax credit to help pay for insurance as another "entitlement," or government spending program.

 

...

Many of the groups, think tanks and donors that helped bolster the GOP congressional majority are now openly at odds with the leadership.

FreedomWorks, a conservative group that provided early support to the tea party, has called the bill's "surcharge" on people who let their coverage lapse a "Republican Individual Mandate."

They announced on Tuesday evening plans to spend "well into six figures" on a "digital and social media ad campaign to mobilize conservatives in key districts and nationwide to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose ObamaCare Lite."

The Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity tweeted a message for Speaker Paul Ryan: "Our advice: Take it back to the drawing board."

In a letter to Ryan, and the architects of the plan, Reps. Kevin Brady and Greg Walden, AFP and Freedom Partners said on Tuesday that "as the bill stands today, it is Obamacare 2.0"

"We urge you to keep your promise," they write, "reject the House bill, and pass the full Obamacare repeal that Americans deserve."

Also on Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation tweeted that "the House Republican health care bill falls short of the Obamacare repeal that Republicans have long promised."

And in a statement, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham argued that the plan is so similar to Obamcare that it effectively enshrines its principles.

"In many ways, the House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them," Needham said, then joining the chorus asking to divide the replacement process from the repeal.

"Rather than accept the flawed premises of Obamacare," he continued, "congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system that empowers patients and doctors."

Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price, a former Georgia congressman who has long sought to upend Obamacare, kicked off the White House press briefing on Tuesday by calling the bill "a work in progress," indicating that the administration was open to edits from Capitol Hill.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer passed on a chance to call the plan Trump's, saying, "We're not jamming it down anyone's throats."

And Vice President Mike Pence, who met on Tuesday with Republican senators, told reporters that Trump "supports" the bill, describing it as a "framework for reform."

The White House will be the final hurdle for Republicans, who have spent years agitating to undo Obamacare.

"We're going to have insurance for everybody," Trump told the Washington Post in January, promising the new product would arrive "in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better."

(Original Article)

Rubio To Lose His Fight On Defunding Obamacare (7/29/13)

Senator Marco Rubio has a plan to end Obamacare but the idea crafted with his Senate colleagues Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah is about to come crashing down around them.

The Rubio plan is based on having the majority of the American people following the Republicans and supporting them in forcing President Barack Obama into a corner over his healthcare reform law, commonly called Obamacare, which Congress passed in 2010. The ultimatum: sign a 2014 continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare or veto it and be responsible for a government shutdown.

Rubio and 11 other senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week, announcing they won’t back a temporary appropriations bill come Sept. 30 if it funds the healthcare law. A similar push is under way in the House. Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution or a regular budget to fund government agencies next fiscal year in order to avert a shut down.

“I didn’t come to Washington to shut down the federal government; I came to help bring it back to its proper role,” Rubio wrote. “This role should create an environment where America is the easiest and best place in the world to create better paying jobs by starting a business or growing an existing one. One way to do that is by ending failed programs like ObamaCare that hurt our people, waste their money and scare businesses away from opening or growing.”

Rubio’s backers in the Senate have suddenly began to distance themselves for the junior Senator from Florida.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MI) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R- IL) all withdrew their signatures, leaving the letter with nine supporters, including Rubio, Paul, and Lee.

Meanwhile, other Republican Senator’s were more vocal in their opposition.

It’s the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). “Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable by shutting down the federal government,” he added. “At some point, you’re going to open the federal government back up, and Barack Obama is going to be president.”

It’s a “dishonest” promise to make, said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), if it succeeds, will backfire on the GOP. “The strategy that has been laid out is a good way for Republicans to lose the House.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was against the move from the start, explaining that Americans are tires of these “shenanigans.”

Coburn accused the letter’s signers of “destroying the Republican party.”

What looked like an interesting plan offered by Senator’s Rubio, Lee and Paul now seem to be headed nowhere fast. We will keep you posted on the the progress of the plan.

(Archived Article)

Rubio: Let Obama Choose Between A Government Shutdown And Defunding Obamacare (IBTimes, 7/29/13)

Republicans are hoping Americans will support them in forcing President Barack Obama into a corner over his healthcare reform law, commonly called Obamacare, which Congress passed in 2010. The ultimatum: sign a 2014 continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare or veto it and be responsible for a government shutdown.

...

(Original Article)

National focus on Virginia and New Jersey (11/4/13)

Two races with four very different candidates but both races will focus on candidates and issues that will be center stage in both the 2014 mid term elections as well as the 2016 Race to the White House. Let’s start with the race in the Commonwealth of Virginia were  Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, has maintained a lead over conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite who gained national fame as the first state attorney general to litigate against Obamacare.

Baring a total disaster McAuliffe will become the governor of Virginia come Tuesday night. A final poll from Quinnipiac University, conducted over the past week and released Monday, shows McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 6 percentage points, 46 percent to 40 percent, with libertarian Paul Sarvis at 8 percent.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, is expected to cruise to reelection in his race against Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono. If current trends hold, Christie could be the first Republican statewide candidate to win more than 50 percent of the vote since 1988. His percentage could be the highest for any gubernatorial candidate since 1985, which was long before New Jersey turned blue.

So what will these races teach us about up coming elections?

The  McAuliffe win in Virginia will bring to light the importance of women’s issues, something that we will see repeated in the 2014 mid term elections.  Abortion and women’s reproductive rights have become a dominating issue in the Virginia race. Planned Parenthood’s political organizations have been highly active in the state since February with a campaign called “Keep Ken Out” that aims to educate voters, especially women, on the stances of Ken Cuccinelli II, the Republican candidate who opposes abortion in nearly all cases, even when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Advantage goes to  McAuliffe.

For Christie it is about the future and a possible run at the White House in 20126.

He and his advisers hope that the outcome will send a message to a divided Republican Party about how it can win in places where its presidential candidates have been losing.

In one way, Christie is taking a page from the playbook of former president George W. Bush, who used his 1998 gubernatorial reelection campaign in Texas to make himself the favorite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Like Bush, Christie is trying to win by the biggest possible margin and show that, despite his conservative positions, he can attract support from constituencies long tied to the Democrats.

The bottom-line for tomorrow’s gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia will highlight both strains of Republican conservatism, with Christie representing one approach and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II — a tea party favorite and underdog in his race against Democratic businessman and fundraiser Terry McAuliffe — representing the other.

A loss by a tea party favorite in a swing state and a victory by Christie in a Democratic stronghold would probably set the terms for the next phase of the debate within the Republican Party about the way forward. If Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) has become the symbol of the GOP’s tea party wing, Christie is poised to become the anti-Cruz.

(Archived Article)

New Jersey’s Chris Christie looks to send a message to GOP with his reelection campaign (Washington Post, 11/3/13)

...

The road test was for a possible campaign for president in 2016. Christie’s gubernatorial reelection campaign is about much more than winning a second term to enhance his power in New Jersey. He and his advisers hope that the outcome will send a message to a divided Republican Party about how it can win in places where its presidential candidates have been losing.

In one way, Christie is taking a page from the playbook of former president George W. Bush, who used his 1998 gubernatorial reelection campaign in Texas to make himself the favorite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Like Bush, Christie is trying to win by the biggest possible margin and show that, despite his conservative positions, he can attract support from constituencies long tied to the Democrats.

But the Republican Party that will pick its next presidential nominee in three years is far different from the one that nominated Bush. Christie should emerge from Tuesday’s election as a top-tier candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, but also as one fully stamped as a favorite of the establishment wing who has not been afraid to criticize hard-liners on the right.

“I said this to the RNC last summer,” Christie said aboard his bus later that day, referring to the Republican National Committee, “I’m in this to win, because if you don’t win, you can’t govern. If you can’t govern, you can’t move the country, the state, the city — whatever you’re running for — in the direction it needs to be moved in. I think we’ve had too many people [in the Republican Party] who’ve become less interested in winning an election and more interested in winning an argument.”

 

Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia will highlight both strains of Republican conservatism, with Christie representing one approach and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II — a tea party favorite and underdog in his race against Democratic businessman and fundraiser Terry McAuliffe — representing the other.

A loss by a tea party favorite in a swing state and a victory by Christie in a Democratic stronghold would probably set the terms for the next phase of the debate within the Republican Party about the way forward. If Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) has become the symbol of the GOP’s tea party wing, Christie is poised to become the anti-Cruz.

...

(Original Article)

Dems to the President:” Fix Obamacare.” (11/4/13)

 

According to Politico the Senate Democrats are urging the White House and President Barack  Obama to fix the issues with Obamacare. There is a fear that if things are not fixed then the democrats could be in real jeopardy of losing the Senate in the 2014 mid term elections.

The Politico story paints a picture that democratic senators from red states — the most vulnerable incumbents up for reelection next year — voted for Obamacare and have been among the law’s biggest champions, believing that voters would embrace it once they experienced its benefits. They could end up being some of the law’s most prominent casualties if its unpopularity continues to grow.

If voters continue experiencing problems like a balky website, canceled policies and higher premiums, the fallout could be brutal next November, Democrats acknowledge.

The Senators most at risk according to Politico are  Democrats: Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina — all have defended the law in the face of GOP attacks. But their frustration with the White House is showing, whether it’s Pryor and Hagan backing an extension of Obamacare’s enrollment period,or  Landrieu proposing legislation to ensure insurance policyholders won’t lose their existing coverage.

While acknowledging problems, the White House says it is making an enormous push to ensure that the law’s hangups will soon be fixed and that millions of uninsured Americans will eventually be able to receive low-cost, quality health care coverage.

Senior administration officials argue that Democrats will be able to sell a positive story to the public over the insurance reforms enacted in the landmark law — and that the hiccups now being experienced will be largely forgotten by next year. At a private meeting last week between Senate Democrats and senior administration officials, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough reiterated that message: The law is fundamentally sound and the administration is working overtime to fix the problems, attendees said.

(Archived Article)

Senate Dems to W.H.: Fix Obamacare (Politico, 11/4/13)

If voters continue experiencing problems like a balky website, canceled policies and higher premiums, the fallout could be brutal next November, Democrats acknowledge. 

For that reason, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) issued some blunt advice to the administration: “Fix it.” 

Asked how it would affect Senate Democratic candidates in 2014, the No. 2 Senate Democrat said: “If it’s fixed, and when it’s fixed, that will decide whether the issue is a big issue next year.” 

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, added this when asked whether the law would be a problem for his candidates next year: “It all depends on the implementation.” 

Democrats are clearly anxious to see the issue resolved because their most at-risk senators in 2014 voted for the measure on Christmas Eve 2009. Those Democrats — Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina — all have defended the law in the face of GOP attacks. But their frustration with the White House is showing, whether it’s Pryor and Hagan backing an extension of Obamacare’s enrollment period, Landrieu proposing legislation to ensure insurance policyholders won’t lose their existing coverage or Begich voicing his fury with the White House. 

Asked whether the White House’s credibility had been shot through this latest episode, one Democratic senator said: “You got to have it, to lose it.” 

Even publicly, some aren’t afraid to vent. 

“Very high,” Begich said when asked about his frustration with the White House over Obamacare. “Personally, I spend time going to this website, going on it — giving criticism — trying to push the envelope on some of these issues and yelling at them more than once. It’s frustrating because we should be able to get through this. I really do believe we will.” 

Asked how it could affect his bid for a second term next year, Begich said: “We’re a year out. … I’ve always said this: ‘This bill needs work, has always needed work.’” 

While acknowledging problems, the White House says it is making an enormous push to ensure that the law’s hangups will soon be fixed and that millions of uninsured Americans will eventually be able to receive low-cost, quality health care coverage. 

Senior administration officials argue that Democrats will be able to sell a positive story to the public over the insurance reforms enacted in the landmark law — and that the hiccups now being experienced will be largely forgotten by next year. At a private meeting last week between Senate Democrats and senior administration officials, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough reiterated that message: The law is fundamentally sound and the administration is working overtime to fix the problems, attendees said.

Senate: We can do bi-partisan healthcare reform (3/28/17)

It is clear that if meaningful healthcare legislation it is coming from the Senate and not Congress. Both Republican’s and Democrats are crafting bi-partisan healthcare plans to fix the present Affordable Care Act issues.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R- Tenn.) said he is open to holding a hearing on legislative suggestions to fix the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) from Republicans or Democrats.

“I don’t think the House action has changed a thing for me and the urgency of our need to deal with it,” the Tennessee Republican told reporters. “I intend to introduce legislation to try to solve the problem of people who may be without insurance in 2018 and I’m looking for bipartisan suggestions about how we move forward.”

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of the upper chamber Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) said Democrats are aware that the ACA has its problems. He pointed to issues in the private insurance market and substantial out-of-pocket costs due to high insurance deductibles.

“Anybody that wants to sit down legitimately and fix it, count me in,” Manchin said.

“I know many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle do care deeply about fixing our nation’s health care problems. And we’re ready to do that with them in a bipartisan way,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. “But of course, repeal must be taken off the table and the president must stop hurting citizens by undermining the Affordable Care Act.”

While the House is moving on to other issues and promising to reconsider healthcare reform at a later date.

Two well respected Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine pushing their bill and they are finding senators and stakeholders willing to talk about their bill, the Patient Freedom Act, which they believe is a rare avenue for bipartisan cooperation.

“I like to think the Cassidy-Collins bill is well-positioned as a path forward,” Cassidy said Monday.

The bill’s co-sponsor Sen. Cassidy pointed out that his bill gives states the option to keep key Obamacare provisions in place. States would have two other options under their bill: adopt a market-based insurance system or design its own system with help from the federal government.

“I would to like think that we’re not going to get stuck on semantics,” Cassidy said.

Over at the White House President Donald Trump has been getting calls from high ranking Democrats and Republicans willing to work in a bi-partisan way. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that “absolutely” the president is willing to work with Democrats to pass legislation in the wake of the failed GOP-crafted health bills.

So, while healthcare seems to be a dead issue in the House as they move on to Tax Reform that is not the case in the Senate. They are working hard on some bi-partisan meaningful healthcare legislation.

(Archived Article)

The Search for Intelligent Bipartisanship on Health Care (Roll Call, 3/28/17)

Asked about Democrats’ conditions, Cassidy pointed out that his bill gives states the option to keep key Obamacare provisions in place. States would have two other options under their bill: adopt a market-based insurance system or design its own system with help from the federal government.

“I would to like think that we’re not going to get stuck on semantics,” Cassidy said.

Schumer has blasted the Patient Freedom Act as “an empty facade that would create chaos.” But Cassidy and Collins could find common ground with more moderate members of the Democratic caucus.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine led a group of Senate Democrats in a letter to GOP leaders to work with them on improving the 2010 law. A Kaine spokesperson said Monday that “his offer still stands to sit down at the table with Republicans and discuss common sense changes.”

Kaine’s colleague from West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin III, has said he is willing to work with Cassidy, and suggested that the failure of the House GOP bill could spur bipartisan talks.

“If it goes down, then let’s sit down, because we still have to fix it,” Manchin said on Thursday. “It’s still not right.”

“Bill Cassidy’s the only one that reached across the aisle — Bill Cassidy. And I told Bill, I said, ‘Bill, here’s the thing: you want to get four or five Republicans, I’ll get four or five Democrats and we’ll all sit down,’” Manchin said the day before the House pulled the GOP health care measure.

“But we will not sit down until you, your group, says they will not vote to repeal,” Manchin said. “That means you’re sincere about fixing it.”

Manchin said Democrats are aware that the 2010 law has its problems. He pointed to issues in the private insurance market and substantial out-of-pocket costs due to high insurance deductibles.

“Anybody that wants to sit down legitimately and fix it, count me in,” Manchin said.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said he is open to holding a hearing on legislative suggestions to fix the 2010 health care law from Republicans or Democrats.

(Original Article)

President Obama Gives His Farewell Speech (1/11/17)

President Barack Obama has bid farewell to the nation in an emotional speech that sought to comfort a country on edge over rapid economic changes, persistent security threats and the election of Donald Trump. Even if you disagree with President Obama and his policy, there is no doubt that he served the United States with class and dignity.

He went out on a very high and personal note. Forceful at times and tearful at others, Obama’s valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago was a public meditation on the many trials the U.S. faces as Obama takes his exit. For the challenges that are new, Obama offered his vision for how to surmount them, and for the persistent problems he was unable to overcome, he offered optimism that others, eventually, will.

“Yes, our progress has been uneven,” he told a crowd of some 18,000. “The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.”

Yet Obama argued his faith in America had only been strengthened by what he’s witnessed the past eight years, and he declared: “The future should be ours.”

Brushing away tears with a handkerchief, Obama paid tribute to the sacrifices made by his wife – and by his daughters, who were young girls when they entered the big white home on Pennsylvania Avenue and leave as young women. He praised first lady Michelle Obama for taking on her role “with grace and grit and style and good humor” and for making the White House “a place that belongs to everybody.”

Soon Obama and his family will exit the national stage, to be replaced by Trump, a man Obama had stridently argued poses a dire threat to the nation’s future. His near-apocalyptic warnings throughout the campaign have cast a continuing shadow over his post-election efforts to reassure Americans anxious about the future.

Indeed, much of what Obama accomplished during his two terms – from health care overhaul and environmental regulations to his nuclear deal with Iran – could potentially be upended by Trump. So even as Obama seeks to define what his presidency meant for America, his legacy remains in question.

Even as President Obama said farewell – in a televised speech of just under an hour – the anxiety felt by many Americans about the future was palpable, and not only in the Chicago convention center where he stood in front of a giant presidential seal. The political world was reeling from new revelations about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about Trump.

Earlier, as the crowd of thousands chanted, “Four more years,” he simply smiled and said, “I can’t do that.”

Still, Obama offered what seemed like a point-by-point rebuttal of Trump’s vision for America.

He pushed back on the isolationist sentiments inherent in Trump’s trade policies. He decried discrimination against Muslim Americans and lamented politicians who question climate change. And he warned about the pernicious threat to U.S. democracy posed by purposely deceptive fake “news” and a growing tendency of Americans to listen only to information that confirms what they already believe.

Get out of your “bubbles,” said the politician who rose to a prominence with a message of unity, challenging divisions of red states and blue states. Obama also revived a call to activism that marked his first presidential campaign, telling Americans to stay engaged in politics.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet,” President Obama said pointedly, “try to talk with one in real life. ”

With Democrats still straining to make sense of their devastating election losses, President Obama tried to offer a path forward. He called for empathy for the struggles of all Americans – from minorities, refugees and transgender people to middle-aged white men whose sense of economic security has been upended in recent years.

Paying tribute to his place as America’s first black president, Obama acknowledged there were hopes after his 2008 election for a post-racial America.

“Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic,” Obama said, though he insisted race relations are better now than a few decades ago.

He staunchly defended the power of activists to make a difference – the driving factor behind President Obama’s optimism in the face of so much anxiety, he said. Though the coalition of young Americans and minorities who twice got Obama elected wasn’t enough to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton to replace him, Obama suggested their day was still ahead.

Steeped in nostalgia, President Obama’s return to Chicago was less a triumphant homecoming than a bittersweet reunion bringing together loyalists and staffers, many of whom have long since left Obama’s service, moved on to new careers and started families. They came from across the country – some on Air Force One, others on their own – to be present for the last major moment of Obama’s presidency.

Unexpectedly absent was President Obama’s younger daughter, Sasha, who had been expected to join sister Malia at the speech. The White House said Sasha stayed in Washington due to a school exam Wednesday morning.

After returning to Washington, President Obama will have less than two weeks before he accompanies Trump in the presidential limousine to the Capitol for the new president’s swearing-in. After nearly a decade in the spotlight, Obama will become a private citizen, an elder statesman at 55. He plans to take some time off, write a book – and immerse himself in a Democratic redistricting campaign.

(Archived Article)

'Yes we did' - Obama bids farewell in nostalgic last speech (AP, 1/11/17)

President Barack Obama has bid farewell to the nation in an emotional speech that sought to comfort a country on edge over rapid economic changes, persistent security threats and the election of Donald Trump.

Forceful at times and tearful at others, Obama's valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago was a public meditation on the many trials the U.S. faces as Obama takes his exit. For the challenges that are new, Obama offered his vision for how to surmount them, and for the persistent problems he was unable to overcome, he offered optimism that others, eventually, will.

"Yes, our progress has been uneven," he told a crowd of some 18,000. "The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back."

Yet Obama argued his faith in America had only been strengthened by what he's witnessed the past eight years, and he declared: "The future should be ours."

Brushing away tears with a handkerchief, Obama paid tribute to the sacrifices made by his wife — and by his daughters, who were young girls when they entered the big white home on Pennsylvania Avenue and leave as young women. He praised first lady Michelle Obama for taking on her role "with grace and grit and style and good humor" and for making the White House "a place that belongs to everybody."

Soon Obama and his family will exit the national stage, to be replaced by Trump, a man Obama had stridently argued poses a dire threat to the nation's future. His near-apocalyptic warnings throughout the campaign have cast a continuing shadow over his post-election efforts to reassure Americans anxious about the future.

Indeed, much of what Obama accomplished during his two terms — from health care overhaul and environmental regulations to his nuclear deal with Iran — could potentially be upended by Trump. So even as Obama seeks to define what his presidency meant for America, his legacy remains in question.

Even as Obama said farewell — in a televised speech of just under an hour — the anxiety felt by many Americans about the future was palpable, and not only in the Chicago convention center where he stood in front of a giant presidential seal. The political world was reeling from new revelations about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about Trump.

Obama made only passing reference to the next president. When he noted he would soon be replaced by the Republican, his crowd began to boo.

"No, no, no, no, no," Obama said. One of the nation's great strengths, he said, "is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next."

Earlier, as the crowd of thousands chanted, "Four more years," he simply smiled and said, "I can't do that."

Still, Obama offered what seemed like a point-by-point rebuttal of Trump's vision for America.

He pushed back on the isolationist sentiments inherent in Trump's trade policies. He decried discrimination against Muslim Americans and lamented politicians who question climate change. And he warned about the pernicious threat to U.S. democracy posed by purposely deceptive fake "news" and a growing tendency of Americans to listen only to information that confirms what they already believe.

Get out of your "bubbles," said the politician who rose to a prominence with a message of unity, challenging divisions of red states and blue states. Obama also revived a call to activism that marked his first presidential campaign, telling Americans to stay engaged in politics.

"If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the internet," Obama said pointedly, "try to talk with one in real life. "

With Democrats still straining to make sense of their devastating election losses, Obama tried to offer a path forward. He called for empathy for the struggles of all Americans — from minorities, refugees and transgender people to middle-aged white men whose sense of economic security has been upended in recent years.

Paying tribute to his place as America's first black president, Obama acknowledged there were hopes after his 2008 election for a post-racial America.

"Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic," Obama said, though he insisted race relations are better now than a few decades ago. 

The former community organizer closed out his speech by reviving his campaign chant, "Yes we can." To that, he added for the first time, "Yes we did."

He staunchly defended the power of activists to make a difference — the driving factor behind Obama's optimism in the face of so much anxiety, he said. Though the coalition of young Americans and minorities who twice got Obama elected wasn't enough to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton to replace him, Obama suggested their day was still ahead.

"You'll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands," he said.

Steeped in nostalgia, Obama's return to Chicago was less a triumphant homecoming than a bittersweet reunion bringing together loyalists and staffers, many of whom have long since left Obama's service, moved on to new careers and started families. They came from across the country — some on Air Force One, others on their own — to be present for the last major moment of Obama's presidency.

Unexpectedly absent was Obama's younger daughter, Sasha, who had been expected to join sister Malia at the speech. The White House said Sasha stayed in Washington due to a school exam Wednesday morning.

After returning to Washington, Obama will have less than two weeks before he accompanies Trump in the presidential limousine to the Capitol for the new president's swearing-in. After nearly a decade in the spotlight, Obama will become a private citizen, an elder statesman at 55. He plans to take some time off, write a book — and immerse himself in a Democratic redistricting campaign.

(Original Article)


About Tyler

Tyler is the Chief Political Anchor and the Chief Political Reporter for TKNN. He can often be seen breaking news stories, and hosting TKNN's special coverage.


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One thought on “Washington Bureau Chief Has History of Plagiarism

  • Jason Burke

    Great Work TKNN! This is the type of work we need in Washington. You DO act as the 4th branch of government.Keep up the hard work or REAL investigative journalism!!!!