Barack Obama Administration
Remember George W.
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
November/ December 2012 Obama’s Game of Chicken The untold story of how the administration tried to stand up to big agricultural companies on behalf of independent farmers, and lost. By Lina Khan I n May 2010, Garry Staples left his chicken farm in Steele, Alabama, to take part in a historic hearing in Normal, an hour and a half away. The decision to go wasn’t easy. The big processing companies that farmers rely on for their livelihood had made it known that even attending one of these hearings, much less speaking out at one, could mean trouble.
The move would allow significant variations in benefits from state to state, much like the current differences in state programs and the . By giving states the discretion to specify essential benefits, the Obama administration sought to deflect one of the most powerful arguments made by Republican critics of ’s health care overhaul — that it was imposing a rigid, bureaucrat-controlled health system on Americans and threatening the quality of care. Opponents say that the federal government is forcing a one-size-fits-all standard for and usurping state authority to regulate the industry. This criticism has inspired legal challenges to the new law — with the Supreme Court set to decide next year whether the government can require Americans to buy health insurance — and helps explain why public opinion of the law remains deeply divided.
The new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, holds health insurance companies accountable to consumers and ensures that American families are reimbursed if health insurance companies don’t meet a fair standard of value. Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies now must reveal how much of premium dollars they actually spend on health care and how much they spend on administration, such as salaries and marketing. This information was not shared with consumers in the past. Not only is this information made available to consumers for the first time, If an insurance company spends less than 80% of premiums on medical care and quality (or less than 85% in the large group market, which is generally insurance provided through large employers), it must rebate the portion of premium dollars that exceeded this limit.  This 80/20 rule is commonly known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rule.
HHS and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) believe in fairies and insurance markets The notion that the health insurance exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act would reduce health care costs using “competition” between concentrated health insurers was always one or more unbridgeable chasms away from a plausible theory. But the myths of competitive markets are so deeply ingrained in our political discourse it was inevitable that a nominal Democratic President not constrained by conceptual coherence and a corrupt Congress would try to sell us the conceit as the only politically feasible model for health care reform. The economists — not to mention international experience — told us it was gibberish, but nobody cared.
On March 29, 1989, at a time when many of his fellow first-year law students were beginning to prepare for the spring semester’s looming examinations, Barack Obama paid a visit to the office of eminent constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe . Obama had not dropped by to brush up for a test. In fact, he had yet even to enroll in an introductory constitutional law course, a gratification Harvard Law School denies its students until the second year of study. Obama’s call was purely extracurricular: He wanted to discuss Tribe’s academic writings.
A fter 9/11, Rudy Giuliani went on Saturday Night Live to give New Yorkers permission to laugh again. But Mayor Bloomberg never did tell us when we could resume conspicuous consumption after the crash of 2008. And so, as we stumble through the second year of the official “recovery,” it’s been an improvisational return to high-end carousing in Manhattan. A case in point was the late-May celebration of the centennial rededication of the New York Public Library. Surely no civic institution could be a more unimpeachable beard for a blowout. The dress code—no black tie—was egalitarian.
Those first acts of that first shining full day in the Oval Office are now so forgotten, but on January 21, 2009, among other things, Barack Obama promised to return America to “the high moral ground,” and then signed a straightforward executive order “requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year.” It was an open-and-shut case, so to speak, part of what CNN called “a clean break from the Bush administration.” On that same day, as part of that same break, the president signed an executive order and two presidential memoranda hailing a “new era of openness,” of sunshine and transparency in government. As the president put it , "Every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known." Of course, nothing could have been more Bushian, if you were thinking about “clean breaks,” than America’s wars in the Greater Middle East.
<img height="249" border="0" width="350" src="/images_blogs/threatlevel/images/2009/02/04/obama_mail_500px.jpg" title="Obama_mail_500px" alt="Obama_mail_500px" style="margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px; float: right;" /> President Barack Obama finds himself in a quandary of sorts over his public position opposing torture and secret detentions. The new U.S. president has renounced those Bush administration practices, but government lawyers continue to defend the previous administration’s top officials accused of authorizing and carrying out those policies. "The Obama administration, from day one, said waterboarding is torture," says Mary Dryovage, a civil rights lawyer who represents federal employees suing the government.
By Steven T. Dennis Roll Call Staff Dec. 23, 2011, 4:50 p.m. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo President Barack Obama warned Congress this afternoon that he considers numerous provisions of the megabus spending bill to be unconstitutional, including provisions relating to detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “My Administration has repeatedly communicated my objections to these provisions, including my view that they could, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles,” Obama wrote in a signing statement today as he departed for his family vacation in Hawaii. “In approving this bill, I reiterate the objections my Administration has raised regarding these provisions, my intent to interpret and apply them in a manner that avoids constitutional conflicts, and the promise that my Administration will continue to work towards their repeal.”
In a new report (PDF) by the Open Society Institute, human-rights researcher Jonathan Horowitz contrasts the official prison system that the Pentagon has constructed in Afghanistan—where they often arrange press briefings and invite journalists on tours—with the super-secret facility run on the periphery of Bagram Air Base, the “Tor” or “Black Jail.” [M]edia outlets in late 2009 and 2010 reported allegations of detainee abuse at a smaller facility on Bagram Air Base which Afghans refer to as the “Tor Jail” or “Black Jail” that is physically distinct from DFIP or the BTIF. (“Tor” is Pashtu for “black”). These reports included accusations of sleep deprivation, holding detainees in cold cells, forced nudity, physical abuse, detaining individuals in isolation cells for longer than 30 days, and restricting the access of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)—all of which raise serious concerns about U.S. compliance with domestic and international rules on detainee treatment.
When Barack Obama took office, drone strikes were a once-in-a-while thing, with an attack every week or two. Now, they’re the centerpiece of a global U.S. counterterrorism campaign. Obama institutionalized the strikes to the point where he could hand off to the next president an efficient bureaucratic process for delivering death-by-robot practically on autopilot. Only now he’s the next president. Welcome to Obama’s second-term agenda for dealing with the world. As the Ramones sang: second verse, same as the first.
Earlier this week, Ezra Klein of The Washington Post published a column titled “Obama Revealed: A Moderate Republican.” Mr. Klein argued that the president’s policy preferences in some key areas, including health care, resemble those of a Republican from the early 1990s: President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican of the early 1990s. And the Republican Party he’s facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him.
Obama's war by drone