The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, dating back to 1938.
Today's minimum wage is on par with what it has been, adjusted for inflation, over the last 20 years. But the flattening of the minimum wage is part of a generational decline.
In short, as fast-food workers protest their wages today across the country and urge a minimum-wage increase, public policy has not kept up with how much things cost.
The minimum wage peaked in 1968. Even though it was just $1.60, it had the buying power today of $10.74. But from then on, despite the raw minimum wage being increased 14 times, it has not kept pace with inflation.
Someone working full time - 40 hours a week - at the minimum wage today of $7.25 an hour, would make just $15,080 for the year.
In his State of the Union in February, President Obama called for a minimum-wage hike to $9 an hour, declaring, "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty."
The government considers any individual making less than $11,490 a year to be in poverty. A single mother supporting two children, however, would be considered poor if she made less than $19,350 a year, certainly below the minimum wage.
Even at $9 an hour, she would only make $18,720 for the year.
The minimum wage back to its federally mandated inception in 1938 side by side with what that amount would be in 2013 terms.
President Obama plays Hardball tonight and then hosts Hannukah receptions at the White House.
The Hill looks at the potential problem of young people not signing up for the health-care law.
National Journal also notes that “white women” have soured on the law in the past month: “Polling provided to National Journal by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that white women have soured considerably on the law, especially in the month since its botched rollout. The skepticism runs especially deep among blue-collar women, sometimes known as “waitress moms,” whose deeply pessimistic attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act should riddle Democratic candidates with anxiety.”
USA Today: “The 20 states choosing not to expand Medicaid will lose billions of dollars in federal funds, according to a new study released Thursday. By 2022, Texas could lose $9.2 billion by not expanding Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, while Florida could lose $5 billion over that period, the study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund shows. Commonwealth was founded in 1918 to improve health services for Americans.”
USA Today: “The number of visitors to the HealthCare.gov website Wednesday hit 310,000 by noon, an 80% increase from the same day last week, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
Politico: “The U.S. has transferred two Guantanamo prisoners to their home country of Algeria, rejecting pleas from the men that they not be released because they were likely to be tortured or mistreated in that country.”
Former President George H.W. Bush, who loves his socks, wore a pair yesterday adorning his own face.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell talks to "Outside" magazine about her experiences inside and outside of the office. She's climbed Antarctica's Vinson Massif and summated Mount Rainier seven times, but now she faces a very different uphill climb--a hostile Congress, recent government shutdown and President Obama's wavering commitment to environmental issues. But, as Obama notes, "For Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk."
Obama will talk about income inequality today. He won’t call for new policy initiatives, but he will again stress the importance of raising the minimum wage – as there is a renewed fight going on about that in Congress – and he will again tout the economic benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
After his speech at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, the president holds another health-care event, what the White House is calling a “Youth Summit.” For the Affordable Care Act to work the way it is intended White House officials have said they need a ratio of one young and healthy person to sign up for every three older and sicker people.
Gallup: “Most Americans who currently lack insurance say they are likely to get it for next year, as required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act… But a substantial minority, currently 28%, say they are more likely to pay the government fine imposed for not having insurance.” Incredibly, the biggest difference isn’t by age, it’s by party: “45% of uninsured Republicans plan to pay the fine, compared with 31% of independents and 15% of Democrats.”
Bill Clinton explained his comments last month about President Obama and health care in an interview with CNN Espanol: “I was trying to be supportive of it. I don’t think you can find anybody in America who has worked harder for (Obama’s) re-election or supported this bill or went out of his way to explain the bill to the American people more than I did.” He added, “"I've got a lot at stake here personally. And the work I have done for health care and the work I've tried to support and the support I've tried to give the President - and Hillary does, too. We've been working on this health care thing for 20 years."
The L.A. Times after yesterday’s Obama health-care event: “The White House's renewed effort to tout the law has two aims: to encourage Americans to sign up for coverage and to reassure nervous Democratic lawmakers and other allies who have watched Obama's so-far unsuccessful efforts to contain the political damage.”
The New York Times notes the location Obama is doing his event today – Anacostia in Southeast DC, one of the most impoverished and hard-hit sections in America: “Mr. Obama chose an arts and education town-hall-style meeting in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington to lay out his proposals. The location symbolizes his message: Federal and local governments, corporations, foundations and philanthropists shared the $27 million cost of the community campus, which is intended to help residents seeking to escape poverty.” More: “The prospects for Mr. Obama’s aspirations in his final three years is hardly promising. His speech on Wednesday comes at the close of a year in which none of his other economic legislative initiatives have made it through Congress.”
Vice President Biden’s meeting with China’s Xi lasted an hour longer than scheduled, “but they've made no public comments about a new Chinese air defense zone that’s become a major friction point in Asia,” AP notes. Biden and Xi have another meeting and working dinner scheduled today.
As the U.S. deals with a growingly bold and confident China, Pew finds that Americans see the country’s power in decline: “For the first time in surveys dating back nearly 40 years, a majority (53%) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.” More: “An even larger majority says the U.S. is losing respect internationally. Fully 70% say the United States is less respected than in the past, which nearly matches the level reached late in former President George W. Bush’s second term (71% in May 2008). Early last year, fewer Americans (56%) thought that the U.S. had become less respected globally.”
And by a 56%-34% margin, Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of foreign policy. There’s also a growing isolationism, but not when it comes to economics: “Currently, 52% say the United States ‘should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.’ Just 38% disagree with the statement. This is the most lopsided balance in favor of the U.S. “minding its own business” in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.” But: “Fully 77% say that growing trade and business ties between the United States and other countries are either very good (23%) or somewhat good (54%) for the U.S. Just 18% have a negative view. Support for increased trade and business connections has increased 24 points since 2008, during the economic recession.”
Americans want to give the recent U.S. deal with Iran a chance before passing new sanctions and are opposed to military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, a poll conducted by Hart Research for liberal group Americans United for Chance. (Hart Research is the Democratic half of the NBC/WSJ poll.) Here's the full poll.
By a 34-22 percent margin, people are in favor of the Iran deal with 41% having no opinion or haven’t heard enough. When the terms of the deal are described, that jumps to 63-24 percent with Democrats, independents and Republicans all in favor, though the GOP is split:
Here is the description:
“Under this agreement, Iran will freeze its nuclear development program and will neutralize its entire stockpile of uranium that has already been enriched at a level that is close to what is needed to make a nuclear weapon. Iran will submit to international inspections to verify that it is living up to the terms of the agreement. In return, the United States and other countries will reduce some economic sanctions on Iran, while leaving most economic sanctions in place, and agree not to place any new sanctions on Iran while the agreement is in force. This agreement is for six months, during which time there will be negotiations to reach a long-term, comprehensive solution that would ensure that Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. If a permanent deal is not achieved during this period, sanctions could be reinstated and toughened.”
Some disagree with the notion that this deal is a "freeze," because they say Iran could be developing without the world knowing and they don't believe any Iranian nuclear enrichment will be used for "exclusively peaceful" purposes.
But even when told the criticism that the U.S. is “giving away too much” and that Saudi Arabia and Israel are against the deal, a majority still support it, 54-41 percent.
The clear message, according to the poll -- which should send a message to wavering Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) -- is to closely monitor how the agreement is being implemented but don’t pass new sanctions – 68-21 percent.
The poll also finds that people would support members who are in favor of the efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran (64-16 percent), wants to give the agreement a chance to work before doing anything else (58-18 percent), and supports the Obama administration’s effort to negotiate an agreement (57-23 percent).
More than two-thirds (67-25 percent) agree more with members of congress who want to give the agreement and further negotiations a chance to work versus ones who want to pass new economic sanctions. And that holds true across party lines and even with those who are strongly pro-Israel.
Strongly pro-Israel: 52-37
Americans are not in favor of military action – 27-52 percent. When read the best arguments on both sides, they are even more opposed to military action – 70-22 percent.
If Democrats are looking for talking points, the best one in favor of the deal is: “Must try to reach negotiated resolution preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; alternative likely to be military action, U.S. in another Mideast war.”
Second-best, and a close second: “Six-month agreement is best opportunity to negotiate a permanent ban on Iran's development of a nuclear weapon; in U.S. interests to give it a chance to work.”
The least convincing argument: “Part of agreement is Iran makes important concessions beyond freezing its nuclear program; Iran agreed to dilute/neutralize entire stockpile of uranium.”
“Seeking to move past its website woes, the Obama administration is launching a two-pronged health care strategy this month aimed at avoiding enrollment snafus come January while also trying to refocus the public’s attention on broader benefits of the sweeping law,” AP writes.
Politico: “After two months of intense coverage of the botched HealthCare.gov rollout, the president will host a White House event kicking off a three-week drive to refocus the public on the law’s benefits, senior administration officials” said.
National Journal: “Insurance companies are still waiting for key parts of HealthCare.gov to be built—and still having trouble with the parts that are in place. Important pieces of the Obamacare site are still glitchy, or missing altogether. And the site’s botched rollout is hardly boosting confidence in the vital components that still need to be built, including the systems for processing payments to insurers and squaring away the details of who has enrolled in which plans.”
That said…USA Today: "A software bug that caused 80% of the problems with information forms insurers received from the HealthCare.gov website has been fixed, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Monday."
USA Today: “President Barack Obama is hosting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House, just days after the Latin American leader announced his intent to seek re-election in the midst of peace talks with the nation's leading rebel group.”
AP: “U.S. Vice President Joe Biden voiced strong opposition Tuesday to China’s new air defense zone above a set of disputed islands, showing a united front with an anxious Japan as tension in the region simmered.”
Don’t send packages by drone in Deer Trail, CO.
First Read confirms that about 100,000 Americans successfully selected health-insurance plans in the federal exchange in November -- up from the nearly 27,000 who did so in October, according to a source familiar with the numbers.
The source adds that the enrollment data is still being scrubbed, but it will either be at 100,000 or slightly above it. And the source emphasizes that the administration is still expecting most enrollment will occur towards the end of the six-month enrollment period, which expires on March 31.
Bloomberg News was the first to report on the 100,000 figure -- and it doesn't include those who have enrolled in states (like California, Kentucky, and Washington) that have set up their own exchanges.
For October, 26,794 had selected plans through the federal exchange, while 79,391 had picked plans through state-based marketplaces.
If that same ratio holds true for November, it's possible that a total of 300,000 to 400,000 Americans could have enrolled last month -- in federal and state exchanges.
But that would still be behind the administration's earlier projections.
Obama’s rough year… How to tell if HealthCare.Gov is truly better: 1) watch the advertising spending, and 2) watch the red-state Dems… Website 2.0’s very soft launch so far… What’s better with the site (error rates are down, more can use it)… What’s not better (the backend information)… Bloomberg News also reports that enrollment is up, but it’s still lagging behind earlier projections… Watching Ryan and Murray before the Dec. 13 deadline to get a budget conference report… Watching the possible retirements for 2014… RNC declared racism has ended?... And other stories you might have missed over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mike Segar / REUTERS
A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website.
*** Obama’s rough year: Now that we’re into the final month of the year, it’s worth recapping how rough 2013 has been for President Obama. The struggles with the federal website (more on that below) have dominated the last two months, and have sent his approval ratings to new lows. But before that, it was the damaging NSA/Snowden leaks. Before that, it was the IRS-Benghazi-leak stories (which have definitely lost their punch since the summer). And before that, it was the failure to get gun-control through the U.S. Senate. As the Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes, “This is hardly what Obama could have envisioned as he looked toward his second term in the weeks after his reelection. He took his 51 percent popular vote … as a mandate to press forward with a progressive agenda (although some around him warned not to over-interpret the voters’ message). With much to accomplish, he sounded a note of impatience in his inaugural address as he sketched out his ambitions.” And expect to see more and more examinations of Obama’s tough first year of his second term -- and even the “pre-obituaries” of his presidency. Just how bad are things, perception-wise, even among high-powered Democrats in Washington? Check out this blind quote from a supposed Clinton and Obama supporter who apparently turned down a job at the Pentagon. “Why take the risks of working in a second Obama administration, when you can make $300,000 in the private sector and then go work for Hillary?” But here’s the thing about politics: It can change in the blink of an eye. Who’s up can go down; who’s down can go up. And as we found out on Saturday, someone can run back a missed field goal kick 108 yards for an improbable come-from-behind victory.
The Obama administration says it met its December 1 deadline to improve the Healthcare.gov website, and some insurance professionals are still having trouble gathering patient information. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.
*** How to tell if the website is truly better: The Obama administration’s Nov. 30 deadline to have a better-functioning federal website for the “vast majority” of consumers has come and gone, and here’s what we know: The website is significantly better than what it was back in October (of course, that was a very low bar). Yet two months after its initial rollout, it’s still far from a perfect product, especially the information insurance companies are receiving on the backend. Beyond that, however, what you’re likely to see over the next several days are mostly anecdotes and spin. Democrats will point to examples of Americans having success with the website (and there are more and more of those). And Republicans will point to examples of continued problems (and those still exist). But to gauge if the website is truly better, there are two things to watch for in the next two weeks. One, are the insurance companies and government beginning to air their multi-million TV ad campaigns? “The big tell of if/when people finally believe it's working is when you see the states, insurance companies, etc., restart their ad buys and outreach programs that they put on hold to drive people to the site,” a Democrat paying close attention to health care’s implementation told First Read. Two, are skittish Democratic politicians -- especially those from red states -- a little less skittish than they were last month? Or more skittish? That will be another tell.
*** Website 2.0’s soft launch: Still, our read from the White House is that they are nervous. If anything, the Website Rollout 2.0 is a VERY soft launch. President Obama isn’t out there telling Americans to check out HealthCare.Gov; the health insurance companies aren’t bombarding Americans with TV ads; and Katy Perry isn’t tweeting to promote the site.
*** What’s better and what’s not: On Sunday, the Obama administration held a conference call to list the improvements to the website. They said page-response times are now under a second; error rates are below 1%; the site can serve 50,000 simultaneous users and 800,000 total visits a day; and the site’s “uptime” is now consistently above 90% -- up from a paltry 42.9% on Nov. 2. “The bottom line: HealthCare.Gov on Dec.1 is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1,” Jeffrey Zients, who is overseeing the administration’s website recovery effort, said on the conference call. But all of those statistics about the improvements were on the consumer-side end. As the Washington Post writes, “There were no details yet on the back end of the system, the part that sends out enrollment data to insurance plans when someone signs up for their products.” And then there are the enrollment numbers. Bloomberg News is reporting that about 100,000 people signed up for health insurance on the federal website in November -- a four-fold increase from October. So that’s the good news; the bad news is that’s still below where the administration hoped it would be at this point. That’s why it needs a well-functioning website -- at both the frontend and backend -- to begin driving up enrollment in December. Right now, it’s hard to imagine they’ll get to 1 million non-Medicaid enrollees by the end of the years, and even if they did get to 1 million, they’d still be behind schedule.
*** Watching Murray and Ryan: Meanwhile, we’re now 11 days away until House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D) are supposed to produce their conference report on a budget. And the chatter we’ve heard is there’s some optimism about reaching a very small deal. House Republicans would like to buy down sequester; Senate Republicans are less itchy on that. But what’s being debated between Ryan and Murray is a very small deal.
*** Watching the possible retirements: The holiday season also brings another story to watch: retirement season. It’s typically this time of year -- after Thanksgiving and into Christmas -- when some politicians announce they won’t be running for re-election for next year. It’s something to keep an eye on. We already know Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is going to announce a GO or NO-GO for a seventh term sometime this month -- perhaps this week. But his announcement is expected; it is the unexpected to watch.
*** RNC declares racism has ended? For all of the political problems that President Obama and Democrats have had since the government shutdown ended in mid-October, it’s worth reminding everyone that the Republican Party’s long-term political problems -- especially when it comes to race and demographics -- are far from over. The latest example: The Republican National Committee yesterday tweeted the following: “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.” Ending racism? That remark due ridicule on Twitter, and the RNC later issued this clarification: “Previous tweet should have read ‘Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.’”
*** Stories you might have missed over the holiday: Lastly, these are some of the stories you might have missed over the Thanksgiving holiday:
- Tensions in Asia are high after the U.S. sent two B-52s to protest China’s attempt to control airspace over disputed Pacific islands, and Vice President Joe Biden is now headed to the region.
- The New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton is wooing the African-American community (it’s the latest sign that she’s more than thinking about a presidential bid).
- And Obama said he might live in DC after his presidency ends -- due to the fact that youngest daughter Sasha would still be in high school come 2017.
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Maggie Fox: “Two months after its disastrous launch, HealthCare.gov is much better, working more than 90 percent of the time and up to the promised capacity of 50,000 users at any given time, government officials said Sunday. But it’s not at 100 percent yet, with the final steps of enrollment still glitchy. While the site looks better to consumers, the final steps of signing up with an insurer and making sure a policy is paid for are still a work in progress, officials said. ‘The bottom line: HealthCare.gov on December 1 is night and day from where it was on Oct 1,’ Jeff Zients, the new White House economic adviser who’s heading the site repair effort, told reporters on a conference call.”
Politico: “The Obama administration said Sunday that it achieved its goal of making HealthCare.gov work for the ‘vast majority’ of users after the disastrous start of enrollment in the president’s signature health law.”
USA Today: "The White House announced Sunday it has met its goal to make its troubled Healthcare.gov website operate smoothly for most users, fueling hope among Democrats that attention can now turn to successes of the underlying health care law."
Washington Post: "After a series of technical fixes and capacity upgrades, many of which were made over the past week, HealthCare.gov is now working more than 90 percent of the time — a big improvement over October, when the site was operating only about 43 percent of the time and frequently crashed, said Jeffrey Zients, the administration official overseeing the improvements."
New York Times: "Weeks of frantic technical work appear to have made the government’s health care website easier for consumers to use. But that does not mean everyone who signs up for insurance can enroll in a health plan. The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed. And with coverage for many people scheduled to begin in just 30 days, insurers are worried the repairs may not be completed in time."
Wall Street Journal: "Insurers and some states are continuing to look for ways to bypass the balky technology underpinning the health-care law despite the Obama administration's claim Sunday that it had made "dramatic progress" in fixing the federal insurance website. Federal officials said they had largely succeeded in repairing parts of the site that had most snarled users in the two months since its troubled launch, but acknowledged they only had begun to make headway on the biggest underlying problems: the system's ability to verify users' identities and accurately transmit enrollment data to insurers."
Roll Call: “Sometimes to save the patient, you have to chop off a limb. The Obama administration is doing just that with the underperfoming HealthCare.gov website, announcing Wednesday that it will give up on opening the exchange for small businesses for another year and will rely on direct enrollment through insurance companies and brokers instead.”
The Hill: "Former administration officials and Democratic operatives say President Obama is ill-served by his current White House staff and must reboot his second term team following the disastrous ObamaCare rollout. First-term insiders argue the White House’s weakness was defined by a lack of preparedness, messaging blunders and failure to keep the president informed."
The Boston Globe: “Vice President Joe Biden, keeping up a tradition spanning nearly four decades, is back on the shores of Nantucket for Thanksgiving.”
“As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Asia on Monday for a visit to Japan, China and South Korea, the relationship between America’s two biggest allies in Northeast Asia isn’t merely bad, it’s toxic,” AP writes. “This matters to Washington because it’s poisoning efforts to forge a unified front as China challenges U.S. military pre-eminence in the region. China recently alarmed its neighbors and Washington by announcing a new maritime air defense zone in the East China Sea partly to assert its claims over disputed islands controlled by Japan.”
Biden will visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea Satuready.
December is for deadlines: Three deadlines to watch next month… Reid appears to give Obama wiggle room on sanctions… Obama: “We cannot close the door on diplomacy”… As Karzai moves goalposts, U.S. threatens 100% withdrawal… Liz Cheney up with another TV ad featuring daughters… FL GOP calls on Radel to resign. Does Boehner follow?... And Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be back on Monday.
New statements from Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, are putting the new security pact between U.S. and Afghanistan keeping American troops in the country for more than a decade from being implemented.
*** December is for deadlines: As you begin preparing for your Thanksgiving meal, all the leftovers (plus the extra weight), and your holiday shopping lists, here is a helpful reminder: December is for deadlines. Indeed, there are at least three key political deadlines coming up next month. The biggest, of course, is the Obama administration’s self-imposed deadline to have the federal health-care website working better for a “vast majority” of users after Nov. 30 -- so come Dec. 1, it needs to prove to jittery Democrats and insurance companies that things are better. (Cyber Monday, in particular, won’t just be about ordering holiday gifts on Amazon, but seeing if one can use the health insurance marketplace.) The next deadline is Dec. 13, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D) are supposed to produce the compromise conference report on the budget negotiations; By the way, congressional appropriators are very itchy to get at least a topline number from Ryan-Murray to find out if Sequester 2 is really going to kick in. And the third December deadline that’s in the news is National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s threat that if Afghan President Karzai doesn’t sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of the year, then the United States would prepare for 100% withdrawal from the country in 2014. More on Karzai below…
*** Reid appears to give Obama wiggle room on sanctions: Yesterday, we wondered if Congress would soon send President Obama additional sanctions on Iran (which he would be forced to veto to uphold the short-term deal with that Middle East nation), or if the sanctions would be triggered in a way to come AFTER the six-month deal expires. Well, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared to give the Obama administration a little wiggle room. “I said when we come back we will take a look at this to see if we need stronger sanctions, and that’s why when we come back I am going to look at Tim Johnson, chairman of the banking committee that has jurisdiction over this, and Bob Menendez of the foreign relations committee, and they will do what they are supposed to do,” Reid told NPR’s Diane Rehm. “They will study this, they will hold hearings if necessary, and if we need work on this, if we need stronger sanctions I am sure we will do that. So I look forward to input from both the majority and minority when I get back there and we will move forward appropriately.” Pay attention to Reid’s “if we need stronger sanctions” line. That’s good news if you’re the White House, because all they’re hoping for is a little more time.
*** “We cannot close the door on diplomacy”: Meanwhile, before he spoke on immigration yesterday (and before he got heckled), Obama defended the short-term deal Western countries cut with Iran. “I firmly believe in what President Kennedy once said: He said, ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.’ I believe that... we cannot close the door on diplomacy. And we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict. And tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security. It is not the right thing for our security. Don’t miss this tick tock about John Kerry’s role in the secret back channel talks with Iran. It appears Kerry got some early practice at being secretary of state when he was still in the Senate, dispatched on a secret mission to Oman back in 2011.
*** As Karzai moves goalposts, U.S. threatens 100% withdrawal: Regarding that other thorny international story -- Afghanistan -- it appears that President Karzai is attempting the blow up the deal that APPEARED to be green-lighted last week. “Efforts by the United States and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2014,” the Washington Post writes. “In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have ‘no choice’ but to prepare for withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council in Washington.” More from the Post: “Karzai told Rice that he would sign only after the United States helps his government begin peace talks with the Taliban and agrees to release all 17 Afghan citizens being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.” Remember, Karzai needs U.S. troops to stay simply for security reasons. What he may not understand is how little political support there is for the U.S. to keep a significant presence in the country. It’s not like the public would be upset at lawmakers or the president if there somehow was no military presence in Afghanistan post 2014.
*** All in the Family: Liz Cheney is up with her second-straight TV ad featuring her daughters as a way to emphasize her Wyoming roots in her Republican primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). Remember, Liz Cheney and her family had previously lived in Northern Virginia before returning to Wyoming. Strikingly, Cheney highlighting her family in her TV ads comes as she finds herself in a high-profile dispute with her gay sister, Mary Cheney, over gay marriage.
*** FL GOP leader calls on Radel to resign: Last week, we poised the question why House Republican leaders forced ex-Rep. Chris Lee (the shirtless photo guy) to resign, but hadn’t done the same to Rep. Trey Radel (the cocaine possession guy). Well, last night the Florida Republican Party became the first notable GOP institution to call on Radel to give up his office. "The people of Florida's 19th Congressional District need a congressman who is 100% focused on the needs of Southwest Florida. Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family," Florida GOP Chair Lenny Curry said in a statement. A couple of local FL GOP leaders followed suit. Don’t be surprised if House leadership now jumps on board, too. After all, Boehner said it was up to Radel’s constituents what happened next. Well, high profile constituents are now calling for resignation. Hard for Boehner et al to stay quiet now.
*** Happy Thanksgiving: With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, your morning First Read/First Thoughts column will be off Wednesday through Friday. We’ll be back next Monday, but -- as always -- we’ll update the website if news warrants. Have a great holiday.
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“The president visits DreamWorks Animation to meet with film industry representatives, tour the studio, and give a speech on the U.S. economy,” USA Today notes. Obama returns to the White House tonight.
The Hill: “Administration officials said Monday that some visitors to ObamaCare's federal enrollment site would experience outages, slow response times or messages to try again later during the month of December. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delivered the message in the latest attempt to downplay expectations surrounding Nov. 30, the administration's self-imposed deadline for fixing HealthCare.gov.”
A CMS spokeswoman said, “The system will not work perfectly on Dec. 1, but it will work much better than it did in October.”
In a new CNN/ORC poll, President Obama takes hits in personal categories with majorities saying Obama is not/does not:
- A strong and decisive leader (down 8 points)
- inspires confidence (down 11 points)
- being honest and trustworthy (down 9 points), and
- can manage the government effectively (down 14 points).
Most people (56%) now say they don’t agree with Obama on issues they care about (down 16 points from May) and they no longer consider him a person they admire (down 23 points from 2011).
The Supreme Court Is expected to wade into the Affordable Care Act/birth control debate… MSNBC’s Irin Carmon: “Last year, the debate over insurance coverage for birth control was held on the presidential campaign trail and in Congress. This week the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether it will take up the controversy. The Court is considering several cases brought by private, for-profit employers, among 43 such cases that have been filed. The employers say the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to fully cover birth control in insurance plans violates religious liberty – the company’s religious liberty. Most Court watchers expect it to accept the case brought by Hobby Lobby, a craft-store chain that won at the Tenth Circuit of Appeals, and which the solicitor general requested the Court hear.
Wall Street Journal: "The Obama administration is mounting an aggressive campaign to head off new congressional sanctions against Iran, arguing they would jeopardize the high-stakes deal sealed this past weekend to curb Tehran's nuclear program. After arguing for weeks that sanctions would hurt the prospects of reaching a deal, senior administration officials are now asking lawmakers to hold off for another six months while negotiators try to achieve a long-term accord."
New York Times: "The weekend ended with the first tangible sign of a nuclear deal with Iran, after more than three decades of hostility. Then on Monday came the announcement that a conference will convene in January to try to broker an end to the civil war in Syria. The success of either negotiation, both long sought by President Obama, is hardly assured — in fact the odds may be against them. But the two nearly simultaneous developments were vivid statements that diplomacy, the venerable but often-unsatisfying art of compromise, has once again become the centerpiece of American foreign policy."
Washington Post: "President Obama’s credibility problem has battered his approval ratings, complicated his relationship with foreign allies and harmed his party’s prospects in next year’s midterm elections. But the decline in the public’s opinion of his trustworthiness presents a particular set of challenges for his diplomacy with Iran, highlighted this weekend by an agreement that will temporarily freeze the country’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief."
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on the U.S.-Iran deal on Nightly News.
NBC’s Suzanne Gamboa: “President Barack Obama took his immigration message to the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco Monday telling an audience the issue goes beyond the nation’s southern border. Reaching out to those in the country of Asian descent, another racial group that has increasingly voted Democratic, the president said it is ‘long past time to reform an immigration system that does not serve America as well as it should.’”
NBC News: "Obama repeated on Monday that he will not take executive actions to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants, saying that such unilateral action would 'violate our laws'...Confronted during remarks in San Francisco by a heckler who advocated for an executive order to stop deportations, Obama firmly insisted that he does not have the constitutional power to bypass Congress on the issue."
Phil Rucker: “Hecklers have become a staple at Obama’s public events, but it’s rare that one underscores the message that the president is trying to deliver — in this instance, that the American people support a path to citizenship for those here illegally but that Congress is blocking comprehensive immigration reform.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta reported that heckler at Obama’s event is an undocumented immigrant.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on another potential problem regarding Karzai and Afghanistan: “Even as a group of diplomats and advocates tries to shift the storyline on Afghanistan to focus on the gains the country has logged this past decade, a blast from the country’s brutal past has resurfaced to further complicate already difficult US-Afghan relations: Stoning may once again become the law. ‘It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,’ said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a press release. Added his colleague Heather Barr in an interview: The ‘Karzai government cannot think that an effort like this can go ahead unnoticed and without a response from international actors.’”