Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough after anxious Senate Democrats met privately on Capitol Hill with Obama administration officials about Obamacare, Oct. 31, 2013.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite - AP Photos J. Scott Applewhite / AP
It's one month since the Affordable Care Act's health-exchange website went live and many Democrats would clearly love a do-over.
While that won't be forthcoming, they did get some handholding from Obama administration officials Thursday. But it will take more than that to quell the jitters as Democrats see what they had hoped would be a political asset in 2014, their signature healthcare legislation, threaten to become a liability.
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Biden at a White House event in October 2011. A new book says President Obama's aides were then studying whether to replace Biden with the former first lady on the 2012 ticket.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 9:52 am
"President Obama's top aides secretly considered replacing Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Hillary Rodham Clinton on the 2012 ticket, undertaking extensive focus-group sessions and polling in late 2011 when Mr. Obama's re-election outlook appeared uncertain," The New York Times reports.
Senate Republicans have once again blocked President Obama's nominees. Despite a deal in July to let several of the president's picks go through, the rancor has returned with a fresh batch of appointments. Two nominations failed within less than an hour on Thursday, and Democrats may once again threaten to change Senate rules so Republicans can't easily derail another nomination.
Acura MDX sport utility vehicles roll off the assembly line at a Honda plant in Lincoln, Ala., in May. Overseas investors have U.S. assets totaling nearly $4 trillion, including auto plants, banks and mines.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 11:44 am
When many Americans hear the word "globalization," they think: "jobs going overseas."
And sometimes it does mean just that.
But as globalization knits nations closer together, foreign companies increasingly are creating jobs in the United States, not luring them away. Despite the Great Recession, slow recovery and political dysfunction in Washington, the United States remains a top destination for the world's wealth.
Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker was sworn in Thursday, making him only the fourth African-American elected by popular vote to the United States Senate, and only the second in the chamber currently. This is in contrast to the 41 blacks who represent House districts.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:06 am
More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will be getting a bit less starting Friday when a temporary benefit enacted as part of the federal stimulus expires.
The Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, as the food stamp program is formally known, says a family of four receiving $668 per month in benefits will see that amount cut by $36. One in 7 Americans receives food stamps.
The Obama administration is defending the Affordable Care Act over its faulty website, and reports that Americans are losing insurance coverage because of the law. To sort out the truth from the rumors, host Michel Martin speaks with Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News and technology developer Clay Johnson.
Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 7:35 am
Happy Halloween, fellow political junkies.
It was predictable that President Obama would face more political tricks than treats as a re-elected president than he did as a new one if only because, unlike his first term, he started his second with a Republican House largely hostile to him and his agenda.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
The trouble with an Obamacare website is taking on the never-ending quality of some earlier crises this administration has faced. It resembles, for example, the BP oil spill, where the administration needed a technical solution, and until that arrived, could do nothing but wait.
Even as Sebelius testified, we brought two pollsters into our studios: one Republican, one Democrat. Both of these political pros spoke of Obamacare in intensely personal terms. Republican Whit Ayres spoke of someone unhappy at having to pay more for insurance. Democrat Anna Greenberg spoke of her brother getting insurance for the first time. She says the Obama administration has done a poor job selling the law for years.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 5:19 pm
The U.S. government ran a deficit of $680 billion in the financial year that ended last month — the first time since 2008 that the annual shortfall has been under $1 trillion. It represents a fall from $1.09 trillion in 2012, but as the AP reports, "It's still the fifth-largest deficit of all time."
The Treasury Department announced the news along with the White House budget office Wednesday.
One person who got a letter canceling his health insurance was Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. He holds up the letter during a congressional hearing Wednesday on insurance problems. He says his family chose to buy private insurance rather than use the congressional plan.
President Obama repeated this line or a variation of it many times during the campaign to pass his landmark health care bill: "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period."
But while that might be true for people who get health insurance through their employer, it's not true for many people who buy their policies in the individual market — about 5 percent of the nation's policyholders.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, an unlikely scene unfolded as a bust of Winston Churchill was unveiled in Statuary Hall Wednesday. The entertainment: Roger Daltrey. Who? Yes, Roger Daltrey of the 1960s rock band The Who.
President Obama traveled to Boston Wednesday, where he spoke at Fanueil Hall about the Affordable Care Act. The site of his speech is significant as the hall where then-governor Mitt Romney signed the state's health law, which was the model for the federal plan. Like Obamacare, the Massachusetts plan had a rocky rollout. Its an analogy the president touts, though one that only goes so far.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified on the Affordable Care Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She began with an apology for the plan's troubled rollout — but then defended the law and rejected calls to extend the enrollment deadline.
The latest complaints about the health law center around the question of whether you can keep your current health plan if you like it. There actually are rules associated with the law that try to protect that right. Here's a primer on those rules.
Marta Rangel Medel vacuums the stage in preparation for the Texas Democratic Party 2012 election watch party in Austin. The state's controversial voter ID law is unexpectedly hindering women at the polls.
In 2012 a federal court struck down Texas' ID law, ruling it would potentially disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority voters.
But that federal decision was invalidated when the Supreme Court last year ruled part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. So now Texas is test-driving its voter ID law — one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program, we'll speak with a roundtable of educators about school safety. That's a subject that's on our minds a year after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and weeks after two more teachers were killed in their schools. That conversation is coming up.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 10:30 am
As lawmakers grill Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the botched startup of HealthCare.gov and other issues related to the Affordable Care Act, nonpartisan fact checkers are giving failing grades to President Obama's oft-repeated pledge to Americans that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt (left) and <em>Wall Street Journal</em> editorial board member Stephen Moore argue in favor of the motion "For A Better Future, Live In A Red State" at an <em>Intelligence Squared U.S.</em> debate on Oct. 18.
Credit Rob Andrew / Intelligence Squared U.S.
Former California Gov. Gray Davis argues against the idea that people are better off living in red states.
When it comes to things like the economy, taxes, health care and education, is it better to live in a red state or a blue state?
Some argue that red-state tendencies toward lower taxes and less regulated, more free-market systems make them ideal places to work and raise a family. But others counter that residents of blue states are wealthier, have more educational opportunities and benefit from a commitment to a social safety net.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:17 pm
Two wily veterans of Congress' fiscal wars will lead the budget talks scheduled to start Wednesday: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the heads of the House and Senate budget committees.
As the 29 lawmakers on the budget conference committee — 22 from the Senate and seven from the House — sit down to begin negotiations, they'll have in Ryan and Murray two lawmakers who from most accounts get along well despite their many differences.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. More hearings come today on the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face questions from the House, Energy and Commerce Committee. Now, yesterday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testified before a different committee. Marilyn Tavenner offered consumers an apology for the problems at the health care.gov website.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Today, something uncommon is happening on Capitol Hill. Not one, but two conference committees are meeting to work out the differences between House and Senate on the budget and the farm bill. This is the way Congress was designed to work. These days, those sorts of committees are quite rare.
To talk about what's at stake, we're joined by NPR congressional correspondent, Tamara Keith. Good morning.
President Obama would like you to remember that Obamacare was based on Massachusetts legislation signed in 2006 by then governor and Republican Mitt Romney, pictured at the signing ceremony. And that rollout started slowly, too.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 9:40 am
Good morning, fellow political junkies.
The Affordable Care Act should dominate Wednesday's news cycle thanks to scheduled high-profile appearances by President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to defend the law.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Secretary Sebelius on who's responsible for 'this debacle'
(We last added to this post at 4:10 p.m. ET.)
"You deserve better. ... I apologize. ... I'm accountable to you."
That's what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Americans on Wednesday morning during a Congressional hearing into problems with the Obama administration's HealthCare.gov website and Republicans' concerns about the Affordable Care Act.
While Congress tries to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Affordable Care Act website, it's got other problems on its mind. Leading the list is the inability of lawmakers to carry out their most fundamental constitutional responsibility: appropriating the money needed to run the government in a timely fashion.
This month's shutdown was only the most recent fallout of the breakdown in appropriations. Some lawmakers say the Republican ban on earmarks nearly three years ago has only made things worse.
Parents arrive to pick up their children from a school in Montgomery, Ala. After a tough immigration law was enacted in 2011, Hispanic students began to disappear from classrooms in the state's public schools.
Opponents of Alabama's strict immigration law are declaring victory Tuesday, as the state agreed not to pursue key provisions of a measure critics had called an endorsement of racial profiling. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of a federal court's ruling that gutted the law.