December 29, 2013 |
This was the year that millions of Americans learned that health insurance is complicated. The landscape they discovered is ugly. Paying a premium doesn't mean your costs are over. Lower premiums mean higher deductibles, higher fees at the doctor's office, higher prescription costs. You may have to pay more to see a certain doctor or go to a certain hospital. After New Year's Day 2014, the discoveries will keep coming, when many of the newly insured use their policies for the first time.
December 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, attributes much of his success as an attorney to a nine-year stint as a child actor on "Sesame Street" in the 1970s. The unusual resume item brought him a kind of mini-celebrity and was a surprisingly frequent focus of job interviews, Adegbile has said, even as he climbed the legal ranks to join a big New York corporate law firm. But as he faces Senate confirmation hearings next month, Adegbile is drawing a different kind of attention from conservative activists.
December 19, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Senate headed for a bitter conclusion to an often-acrimonious year, with Democrats vowing to remain in session until they confirmed Janet Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve along with other pending nominees, despite delaying tactics by Republicans who are upset over new filibuster restrictions. Rather than adjourn Thursday, as many members had hoped, the Senate was due to remain in session overnight and probably hold a rare weekend vote after Republicans spurned a request from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
December 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Senate appeared set to approve a budget deal this week after a handful of Republicans announced they would vote to advance the bill, which has deeply divided the party. Their backing, along with that of most Democrats, would be enough to break a tea-party-backed filibuster during a crucial vote Tuesday and boost the package across the 60-vote threshold needed for consideration. Final passage could come as soon as Wednesday. But the sharp Republican divisions over the $85-billion deal, which was approved last week by the House with a robust bipartisan majority, has turned the Senate procedural vote into a high-stakes battle between the Republican tea party wing and establishment conservatives.
December 12, 2013 |
On the day after declaring war on the conservative groups that helped propel his party to power in the House, Speaker John Boehner on Thursday was advancing a two-pronged strategy - delivering another brush-back pitch at them while arguing that everyone needs to just move along to more fertile territory for Republicans. Boehner said during a Thursday news conference that outside groups pressuring members to vote down the new budget deal were “misleading their followers. I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. And frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility.” The speaker blamed the groups for pushing Republicans in Congress into their unpopular decision to shut down the government - “My members know,” he said, “that wasn't exactly the strategy that I had in mind” - and defended himself as “as conservative as anybody around this place.” As Boehner objected again to the tactics employed by moneyed groups like Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, who have warned members that they are expecting “no” votes on the deal, he also sought from his opening words to shift attention back to the rocky rollout of the president's healthcare plan.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 12, 2013 |
Rape insurance? Is that really a thing? Well, yes, though the anti-abortion legislators in Michigan who passed a law Wednesday making it necessary don't really call it that. They call it the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.” From now on in Michigan, all public health insurance plans and most private ones will not be able to automatically include coverage for abortion services in their comprehensive policies. Women will have to purchase separate riders in order to be covered for any sort of elective abortion.
December 10, 2013 |
In a speech last week, President Obama declared that income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time.” Conservatives, however, seem to think talk about the gap between the super rich and everyone else is nothing more than the whining of society's losers. Obama said he would push for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Unfortunately, this will be yet another piece of legislation that has about as much chance getting passed in the Republican-controlled House as a bill to ban country music, gun shows and Sunday schools.
December 10, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In a regional air pollution battle with partisan overtones, the Obama administration appeared to make headway Tuesday in persuading the Supreme Court to allow tougher federal environmental standards to prevent ozone and other emissions from coal-producing Midwestern and Southern states from wafting over Northeastern states. The politically charged dispute pits the Obama administration and environmentalists against mostly Republican-led states with less stringent industrial pollution controls, as well as the electric power industry.
December 7, 2013
Re "Obama focuses on income inequality," Dec. 5 House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is disingenuous in blaming President Obama for the inability of workers to make economic gains. On a graph of inflation-adjusted incomes over the last 30 years, workers' wages show a relatively flat line. By contrast, the incomes of CEOs and other already wealthy people went up by 200% or more (my source is the U.S. Department of Labor). If the president's policies were responsible for that, we should see some kind of downward trend in workers' incomes over the last five years.
December 7, 2013 |
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - Not long ago, the Republican National Committee did something out of the ordinary: The party issued a formal statement marking Diwali, an important Hindu holiday. "Diwali and the lighting of the Diya celebrate the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance," read the salutation from GOP headquarters in Washington, which bid good tidings to "our Hindu, Jain and Sikh friends" and ended with the traditional greeting "Saal Mubarak!" It was a small step toward addressing a big concern.