Posts Tagged ‘cost


afternoon all

President Barack Obama holds Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office, Feb. 1, 2012. Arianna’s mother, Angela Holmes, is a departing Special Assistant in the International Economic Affairs office of the National Security Staff. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


Text of the President’s remarks here

President Obama holds up a book that he was given by author and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast



Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been setbacks. Last week, for example, was a step in the wrong direction. This week’s report, however, was a little more heartening:

U.S. jobless claims dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ended Jan. 28, the Labor Department said Thursday….

…. when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.

More here


The Week


Washington Post (editorial): Higher education is both crucial to America’s economic competitiveness and hard for many students and their families to afford … As President Obama quite rightly insisted in his State of the Union address, institutions of higher learning must do more to hold down their costs if college education is to remain affordable for the next generation of young people. What’s more, he’s talking about using the federal government’s financial clout to encourage cost containment.

…. he is proposing long-overdue reforms to existing formulas for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in campus-based aid, such as Perkins loans and work-study funds. Current policy skews in favor of better-off students at relatively pricier colleges. The president wants to shift dollars in favor of schools that restrain tuition and graduate more low-income students. Meanwhile, he would establish a $1 billion fund to encourage cost-saving innovations, complemented by $55 million for research, evaluation and dissemination of the best practices….

Needless to say, a lot depends on how the president and Congress would end up defining what constitutes a good value in higher education … what’s important is that the president has put the prestige and power of his office behind this effort.

More here




Jonathan Cohn: Romney’s political strategy here seems clear to me: He’s trying to drive a wedge between the poor and the middle class, convincing the latter that they lose out to the former when Democrats are in charge. And the strategy may work. It’s certainly helped Republicans before. But the big beneficiary of Romney’s plan to reorder fiscal priorities is not the middle class. It’s the very wealthy, who would get substantial tax benefits and who will usually be fine with weakened public services.

More here





MSNBC: ….. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took a hard line on Wednesday against government getting involved in offsetting the cost of drug prices. Before exiting the stage, Santorum was prodded by members of the 300-person crowd to take one last question from a young boy standing in the front row. The child asked what the candidate would do to lower the cost of medicine. But the former Pennsylvania senator said it was the cost of drugs that allowed for the innovation that keeps Americans with life-threatening illnesses alive.

“People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900. But paying $200 for a drug they have a problem with – that keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned in thinking health care is something you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profitability, because if they don’t, then how are we going to regulate costs?…..”

While some of in the audience applauded Santorum’s tough stance against government involvement in drug prices, others protested. The mother of the child yelled out that she was going bankrupt just to pay for her child to keep breathing.

More here



Charles P. Pierce (Esquire) read a a swooning piece about Fox ‘News’ in Politico…. he didn’t like it very much:

“Stuff in Politico That Makes Me Want to Guzzle Antifreeze…. I say only that, in my own, personal, constitutionally protected opinion, this may very well be the worst bag of pulverized, unexpurgated, beat-sweetening chickenshit in the history of American political journalism. It makes Peggy Noonan read like Thuycidides….

More here


Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): No matter what Willard Romney said on Tuesday night, a tough primary can really damage you. If these latest PPP numbers are in any way accurate, the rockfight between Romney and N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of the Civilizing Forces, has pushed Romney’s unfavorability ratings in Ohio northward toward 60 percent……

….. Eighty-four percent of the respondents are white and, even with that, Romney is six points down with a 57 percent disapproval rating. He better tack like hell, is all I’m saying.

More here


this is a shock: the right wing hates the first lady.

MediaMatters: The axe-grinding good-government poseurs at Judicial Watch are in a twist over First Lady Michelle Obama’s June trip to Africa, calling it “a nice taxpayer-funded ‘working’ vacation.” According to documents they obtained via FOIA requests (and their own “calculations”), the trip cost taxpayers $425,000 in travel and food expenses. Their “report” has already been picked up by Drudge, and it’s being flogged by the dimmer corners of the right-wing media.

….. First, it’s ridiculous to criticize the First Lady for the travel costs of an official trip to Africa. She’s the First Lady; if she travels anywhere, it’s going to be funded with public money. She can’t exactly fly stand-by on Southwest.

Second, the South Africa safari was paid for with the Obama’s private funds. What’s more, in taking her daughters on safari in Africa, Mrs. Obama was following in the footsteps of her predecessor. (Read here about Laura Bush and her daughters’ safari in Africa)

(A quick peek at Judicial Watch’s press release archive doesn’t turn up any outraged denunciations of Laura Bush’s safari-going ways.)

…. to say that the trip “was as much an opportunity for the Obama family and friends to go on a safari as it was a trip intended to advance the administration’s agenda in Africa” is absurd. The six-day trip was dominated by official events and meetings with world leaders…..

…. Judicial Watch doesn’t really explain how a meeting with Nelson Mandela constitutes “tourism.” Also, the other events Judicial Watch considers “tourism” – visits to museums and historical landmarks – are standard fare for visiting dignitaries. Laura Bush, during the same Africa trip noted above, toured museums and memorials dedicated to victims of apartheid and genocide…..

Full post here

Soweto, June 22


ABC:  ….. The White House says a number of assertions made by conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch are in error:

The group calculated that the use of the C-32A aircraft cost taxpayers $424,142 (34.8 flight hours x $12,188 per hour).

“The number stated is misconstrued and out of context,” says a senior White House official. “The hourly rate is not the marginal cost of operating the plane – it is an accounting figure that prices in a number of fixed costs from maintaining the Air Force fleet for this kind of plane over a year. For example, it includes estimated replacement parts, depreciation, repairs, and costs that would have been incurred regardless of this flight.”

Judicial Watch says that Sasha and Malia Obama are listed as “Senior Staff.” Not true, says the White House.

“The Obama daughters were not listed as Senior Staff – that only designates the area of the plane where they were seated,” says the official. “The Air Force categorizes the passengers by compartment on the plane.”

…. The senior White House official says that private safari “was designated as a private event and paid for personally.”…. “It was an official trip with a 5-7 official events each day,” the official says.




Mrs. Obama began her day by traveling to Pretoria where she met with President Zuma’s wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma …..  she then attended a reception with South African leaders organized by the U.S. Embassy … She then visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation, meeting with Graca Machel, Former First Lady of Mozambique, and wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela. She also met with former President Mandela, before touring the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.


Mrs. Obama visited Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, where she delivered the keynote address to a U.S.-sponsored Young African Women Leaders Forum. She then visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial, honoring the twelve year-old boy who protested apartheid and was shot and killed by apartheid government police. In the afternoon, Mrs Obama attended two sessions of a forum of Young African Women Leaders. Mrs. Obama completed her visit to Johannesburg by leading the final group of forum participants in a community service project.


Mrs. Obama began her day in Cape Town by thanking United States Consulate employees and their families. She then visited Robben Island – where former President Mandela was held for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned. She then delivered remarks and took questions from students at the University of Cape Town. She then visited the Cape Town Soccer Stadium where she met with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and organizations dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS in South Africa.


Mrs. Obama visited the Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic Center of Excellence’s Teen Club that was assembled to teach leadership among teens and encourage young people to teach others about HIV/AIDS. Mrs. Obama joined Teen Club members in a service project. She then had a meeting with President Ian Khama.


Mrs. Obama began her day by thanking U.S. Embassy employees and their families. Following this event, Mrs. Obama and her family departed for private family safari events.


Mrs. Obama and her family left Botswana to return to the United States.


But this trip was okay:

Laura Bush in Cape Town, South Africa, July 12, 2005

July 2005: After a safari weekend, Laura Bush stepped out of a dusty SUV with her twin daughters on Monday to serve as a goodwill ambassador in Africa for President Bush.

The first lady’s whirl through South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda this week comes on the heels of a Scotland summit where British Prime Minister Tony Blair made alleviating Africa’s mass suffering the top agenda item for Bush and leaders of other wealthy countries.

Mrs. Bush and her 23-year-old daughters, Barbara and Jenna, spent the weekend at the Madikwe Game Reserve on the South African-Botswana border….

The first lady’s staff asked photographers to refrain from shooting the twins as they boarded the plane in Gaborone, Botswana, for the flight to Cape Town, on grounds that they were not part of the official delegation.


In 2010 Judicial Watch released its list of ‘Washington’s ten Most Corrupt Politicians’ – the list included President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, Jesse Jackson, Jr, Barney Frank, Barbara Boxer and Maxine Waters.

It didn’t, for example, include Darrell Issa.



What can we conclude from all of this?

Well, two things:

(1) Laura Bush is a Republican and she’s white.

(2) Michelle Obama is a Democrat and she’s black.

That’s all, really.


the costs of repealing health reform

Las Vegas Sun: Voting on Nonsense – House Republicans are expected to approve the inanely titled “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” It is a futile and foolish act because it will be defeated by Senate Democrats who have the common sense to realize that this country had a broken health care insurance system that was badly in need of reform.

The bill’s title not only confirms the immaturity of the new Republican majority but it is also a flat-out lie not supported by any facts.

It is simply the latest in a long line of scare tactics, topped by the spurious claim the law would create “death panels,” that have been employed by Republicans who apparently want to make it as difficult as possible for tens of millions of Americans to access medical care.

…There’s no evidence that the health care law will “kill” jobs. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, correctly points out that an increasing number of small businesses are taking advantage of tax credits in the law to offset the cost of providing health benefits to workers. Reid was also on the mark when he said that repeal of the law would take away free preventive care for seniors and would bring back the Medicare donut hole that would force elderly recipients to pay more for prescription drugs.

Let’s not forget the conclusion from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which reported last month that the law will reduce the federal budget deficit by $143 billion by 2019. It is difficult to make sense of Tea Party adherents who would vote to repeal this law when they also claim to be in favor of reducing the nation’s deficit…..

Republicans are demonstrating that they couldn’t care less whether consumers are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or don’t have freedom and control over their health care. The House majority is also setting out to prove that they would rather waste time on empty legislation than confront the real issues facing this nation.

Full article here

MSNBC: With House Republicans today set to vote on — and pass — their legislation to repeal President Obama’s signature health-care law, a brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the American public is divided on the law and the repeal effort.

Thirty-nine percent believe the health plan that Obama signed into law last year is a good idea, versus another 39 percent who think it’s a bad idea.

But those saying it’s a good idea is at its highest level since September 2009, and those saying it’s a bad idea is at its lowest level since June 2009.

The poll also finds that 46 percent of respondents are opposed to repeal (with 34 percent strongly opposed), while 45 percent support the repeal effort (with 35 percent strongly in favor).


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ah, more lies

No, President Obama’s trip to Asia is not going to cost $200 million a day

USA Today: That figure — first thrown out by a single Indian media outlet and now viral on conservative talk radio — is wildly, wildly off the mark.

The problem is that the costs for these trips are impossible to determine, for many of the president’s expenses would be incurred whether he was visiting India or Atlanta or simply hanging around the White House….

….. “The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. “Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it’s safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated.”

To be sure, these trips do cost millions of dollars per day. Whenever a president travels, he or she takes a mini-White House with them, from bulletproof limousines to gaggles of aides. This can come in awfully handy when trouble happens, such as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 when George W. Bush was in Florida. Ronald Reagan was traveling in Asia when the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Russia blew up in 1986.

Foreign trips are expensive but are a staple of presidential duties. India is a rising economy power. It is next to — and has an intense rivalry with — one of the world’s most dangerous countries, Pakistan. It can be a counterweight to threats from China. Any president is going to deal with India.

There’s no evidence that Obama’s team is spending any more money than its predecessors….Yes, these gigs will cost money. But $200 million a day? Not even close.

One other thing to keep in mind: The Secret Service is not going to let anything happen to a president overseas if they can help it. They’re going to do — and spend — whatever it takes. That’s just a fact of life.

Full article

A man walks his camel past a sand sculpture of President Barack Obama on a beach in Puri in the eastern Indian state of Bhubaneswar November 4

Full schedule for the President’s trip to Asia here







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