Politics

The Two-Way
11:50 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Federal Reserve Nominee Yellen Navigates Confirmation Hearing

Janet Yellen, President Obama's nominee to become the next chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is sworn in Thursday on Capitol Hill for her confirmation hearing.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 3:58 pm

Janet Yellen cleared a key hurdle Thursday, as her confirmation hearing to become the next chair of the Federal Reserve went smoothly. There were only a few snags in roughly two hours of questions and discussions between Yellen and members of the Senate banking committee.

Many of the senators lauded Yellen's extensive experience, as well as her adherence to views they heard her discuss in private meetings on Capitol Hill in recent weeks.

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It's All Politics
11:15 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Democrats Try To Stanch Political Bleeding From Obamacare

President Obama speaks about his signature health care law Thursday at the White House.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 1:21 pm

Among the Affordable Care Act's accomplishments is that it took the remarkable Democratic Party unity that existed during the government shutdown and smashed it to smithereens in near record time.

In sharp contrast to the image of Democrats standing shoulder to shoulder with President Obama during the recent fiscal fight, it's distance from Obama, not proximity to the president, that many Democrats are now seeking.

The problems of the HealthCare.gov site and the poor first-month enrollment numbers released Wednesday are bad enough.

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It's All Politics
7:51 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Obamacare Fallout Hits Senate Democrats, But Not Equally

Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 12:18 pm

The Republicans have dubbed them the "Obamacare Dozen," the 12 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, all of whom voted for the president's health care and insurance overhaul law.

In GOP world, each one of those senators managed to provide the "deciding vote" for the Affordable Care Act.

And each one, in the wake of the law's online rollout debacle, is in a "panic" — the GOP buzzword of the week — over its political implications.

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It's All Politics
7:19 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Thursday Political Mix: Obamacare's Data Dump Fallout

Insurance agents in Miami, Fla. help people with information about policies that are available to them under the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 5, 2013.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 8:25 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

Well, the Obama administration warned us that the enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act would be low and (surprise!) they were.

Still, it's one thing to get an abstract, data-free warning, another to see actual numbers, 27,000 people enrolling for private insurance through the federal portal, 106,185 overall if you throw in the states.

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Politics
3:39 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Contractors Lobby For Alternatives To Military Cuts

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 4:53 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Congress and the Pentagon are facing an important deadline. In just under two months, the second wave of congressionally mandated sequestration - budget cuts - will kicked in, and Pentagon spending is scheduled to be slashed by $20 billion. Military contractors say that it would be catastrophic, and they're lobbying hard to make those cuts fall somewhere else, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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Politics
3:36 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Senate Considers Ways To Address Military Sexual Assaults

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 4:53 am

Members of Congress are unlikely to adopt one measure that many victims say is essential: taking away from commanders the ability to decide whether to pursue assault cases. Members of Congress say that step would undermine order and discipline in the ranks, and the Pentagon agrees.

It's All Politics
1:03 am
Thu November 14, 2013

6 Ideas Being Floated To 'Fix' Obamacare Sign-Up Woes

On Sept. 28, just days before enrollment opened for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, this outreach event was hosted by Planned Parenthood for the Latino community in Los Angeles. But in the first month of the troubled HealthCare.gov website saw just a fraction of those expected to sign up had managed to do so.
Jonathan Alcorn Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 4:53 am

As technical problems with the government's new health insurance marketplace slow the pace of sign-up, a variety of "fixes" have been proposed. But some of these would create their own challenges. In rough order from least to most disruptive, here are some of the ideas:

1) Fix the website on schedule
This is everyone's favorite idea. The Obama administration says it hopes to have HealthCare.gov working smoothly for most users by the end of November, though it's not clear that target will be met.

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The Two-Way
4:08 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

'Holy Cow' And 'Kangaroo Court': Panel Grills HealthCare.gov Officials

Todd Park, U.S. chief technology officer, answers questions in a House Oversight Committee hearing about problems with the federal HealthCare.gov site. One Democrat on the committee called the hearing "a kangaroo court."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 4:46 pm

A House oversight hearing examining the troubled start of HealthCare.gov was contentious from the start Wednesday, as Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sought to cut short the opening remarks of one of the first officials to speak, Frank Baitman, the deputy assistant secretary for Information Technology in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked Baitman to conclude his statement, noting that the panel's time was short. The interruption came as Baitman discussed the work of his agency to save taxpayers money.

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It's All Politics
4:05 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

How Obama's Response To NSA Spying Has Evolved

President Obama's response to the NSA spying revelations has changed over the past five months.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:01 pm

A team of surveillance experts on Wednesday delivered preliminary recommendations to the White House on whether and how to amend U.S. spying policies.

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It's All Politics
3:52 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

The Map Of Gay Marriage: Hawaii Becomes Latest To Legalize

Proponents of gay marriage rally outside state House chambers at the Hawaii Capitol in Honolulu on Nov. 8.
Oskar Garcia AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:49 pm

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed legislation Wednesday making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Abercrombie, who called a special session in August to address the issue, moved quickly after the state Senate passed the bill, 19-4, Tuesday. The House approved it by a 30-19 vote Friday. Gay and lesbian couples in Hawaii will be eligible for marriage licenses starting Dec. 2.

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Health Care
3:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

The Health Care Numbers Are Out, And They're Disappointing

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 9:46 am

The Obama administration released its much anticipated enrollment numbers for the first month of the troubled HealthCare.gov website Wednesday. And as predicted, the numbers were disappointing.

Just over 100,000 people managed to navigate the process and choose a health plan between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2 — 106,185 people, to be precise.

But barely a quarter of those, 26,794, enrolled through the federal website that's signing up people in 36 of the states. The rest enrolled through state marketplaces.

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National Security
3:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Who Gets The Blame For NSA Spying? NSA Says Not Us

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:01 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Over at the NSA, officials say they welcome the president's policy review on surveillance. But they and other intelligence leaders bristle at the idea that they've overstepped their bounds in gathering information, both here and abroad. For months, the NSA has been on the defensive as a result of the Snowden disclosures.

NPR's Tom Gjelten says the agency is now trying to get out in front of the story.

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Politics
3:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

The Health Exchange Rollout Was A Mess But Plan B Is Not So Easy

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:01 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The Obama administration released its first hard numbers today on how many people have signed up for health insurance through new online exchanges, and the numbers are even lower than had been reported. The administration blames a problem-plagued federal website for much of the difficulty.

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Politics
3:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Obama's Choice For Homeland Security Chief Testifies In Senate

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:01 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security faced some tough questioning today about the nation's borders. During his confirmation hearing, Jeh Johnson told the Senate panel his top priority was filling some of the many vacancies at the sprawling agency. He would not answer questions about how the department measures border security, leading one Republican senator to say he won't support Johnson until he does.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

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The Two-Way
2:08 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

More Than 106,000 Chose Health Plans Under Affordable Care Act

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a report Wednesday revealing that 106,185 Americans selected a health plan in the new marketplace from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 4:47 pm

More than 106,000 Americans selected health plans in the first reporting period of open enrollment for the new health insurance marketplace, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

That number is only "about 20 percent of the government's October target," as NPR's Scott Horsley reports for our Newscast unit.

Less than 27,000 people used the federal HealthCare.gov site to select a plan. The overall number includes enrollments made via federal and state marketplaces from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2, the agency says.

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Politics
12:04 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Death Penalty Delayed But Not Denied By Drug Problems

An April 2005 photo of the death chamber at the Missouri Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon has halted the execution of convicted killer Allen Nicklasson, citing concerns about the use of propofol as an execution drug.
JAMES A. FINLEY AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 5:48 pm

Like many states, Missouri is struggling to obtain the drugs it normally uses to carry out the death penalty.

Last month, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon stayed an execution under pressure from the medical community and the European Union, which threatened to hold up supplies of propofol, the anesthetic the state intended to use.

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The Two-Way
11:56 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Obama's Surveillance Review Panel Issues Initial Findings

Former chief counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke is a lead member of a panel appointed by the president to review the country's surveillance policies.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 1:34 pm

A team appointed by President Obama to review U.S. spying policies in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations about National Security Agency programs has delivered an interim report to the White House.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an email to news organizations that the review group "has orally provided their interim report to the White House, with their final report due by Dec. 15." She said the results would be made public "in some way" once the finished review is submitted.

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The Protojournalist
9:13 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Who Were You When JFK Was Shot?

A composite image of Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Randall Kennedy and James Billington.
Courtesy of Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Randall Kennedy and James Billington

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:53 pm

The usual question for Americans on an Anniversary of National Significance is: Where Were You When...?

Where Were You When you learned that: Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot on April 4 in 1968? Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on July 21, 1969? The twin towers of the World Trade Center were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001?

But there is another question of orientation: Who Were You When ... a certain nation-changing event occurred?

This is who I was — 50 years ago this month — when I heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

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It's All Politics
6:49 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Wednesday Political Mix: Obamacare IT Officials Face Issa

On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, finally got its turn to pummel the Obamacare rollout. The photo is from a Benghazi hearing in September 2013.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 7:12 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

Pressure continues to rise on congressional Democrats with every new story about someone whose health plan was cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

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Afghanistan
3:11 am
Wed November 13, 2013

What Happens To Guantanamo After The War In Afghanistan Ends?

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 5:18 am

U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan are set to end after next year. So if the fighting stops, does the war on terror end? What does the end of the war mean for the detention center in Cuba and on drone strikes in Afghanistan?

Health Care
3:11 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Democrats Join Calls To Rectify Canceled Health Insurance

People protest President Obama's "If you like your insurance you can keep it" comment during a presidential visit to Dallas last week.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 12:57 pm

In Washington this week, calls to fix the problem of people getting insurance cancellation notices are getting louder and coming from all sides. But turning back the clock on health insurance cancellations turns out to be a lot harder than it sounds.

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It's All Politics
1:17 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Congressional Odd Couple Could Be Key To Any Budget Breakthrough

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., prepare to meet reporters on Capitol Hill on Oct. 17, after a breakfast meeting when the leaders of the bipartisan budget conference say they pledged to seek "common ground."
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 3:11 am

Twenty-nine lawmakers are supposed to come up with a long-term budget deal by mid-December. They meet again Wednesday around a conference table, led by two people who couldn't be more different: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

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Politics
3:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

A Week After Polls Closed, Va. AG Race Still Too Close To Call

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

Discouraged by the Republican candidate for governor's showing in the polls, GOP donors begin pouring money into the Virginia attorney general race. Now, that contest is showing a 117 vote margin with Democrat Mark Herring ahead, though there have been several lead changes as provisional ballots have been tallied.

Politics
3:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

First Numbers From Health Exchange Expected To Be Low

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

The administration is expected to report on the number of Americans who have signed up for health insurance on the federal exchange this week.

The Two-Way
3:02 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Administration Invites HealthCare.gov Users To Try Again

A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange internet site October 1, 2013.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:11 pm

If at first you don't succeed, try again.

That's the message from the White House on Tuesday, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) asking more than 275,000 people who tried and failed to sign up for health plans on the stalled HealthCare.gov website to give it another shot.

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NPR Story
2:46 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Kerry's New Mission: Convince Congress To Take Iran Deal

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

Secretary of State John Kerry is back in Washington to defend the proposed nuclear deal with Iran to skeptical members of Congress. He and his colleagues from other major powers failed to reach a deal with Iran during talks over the weekend in Geneva. Iran blames France's hard line for blowing up the deal, though Kerry has tried to downplay that.

NPR Story
2:46 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Obama Taps Treasury's Bailout Lawyer To Lead Derivatives Watchdog

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

Timothy Massad is nominated to head the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. He would replace Gary Gensler, whose four-year tenure was marred by questions of his professional ties to Jon Corzine and the downfall of MF Global.

It's All Politics
2:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Close, Closer, Closest: A Guide To Election Photo Finishes

Democrat Al Franken, with his wife, Frannie, meets reporters and a small gathering of supporters at their house in Minneapolis on June 30, 2009, after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Democrat in the Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman.
Andy King AP

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:36 pm

The Virginia attorney general's race, which cut a relatively low profile heading into Election Day, now has a chance to end up as part of history.

With more than 2.2 million ballots cast and Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring leading Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain by a mere 117 votes, the election is shaping up as one of the closest statewide contests in decades.

With a recount looming, the winner isn't expected to be officially declared until December. But in the meantime, here's a look back at some of the closest statewide elections of the past five decades:

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Shots - Health News
1:47 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Clinton To Obama: Honor Promise That People Can Keep Coverage

Bill Clinton says President Obama should figure out a way to honor his promise that people who like their insurance can keep it.
OZY via Facebook

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:38 pm

If you haven't heard about it yet, President Clinton sounds off on all things Obamacare during a provocative video interview with OZY, an online magazine.

Right off the bat, Clinton affirms his support for the law, despite its problems. "The big lesson is that we're better off with this law than without it," he says.

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Commentary
11:11 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 3.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 2:31 pm

Even taken together, the charges didn't seem to amount to that big a deal — just a matter of quoting a few factual statements and a Wikipedia passage without attributing them. But as Rand Paul discovered, the word "plagiarism" can still rouse people to steaming indignation. Samuel Johnson called plagiarism the most reproachful of literary crimes, and the word itself began as the name of a real crime. In Roman law, a plagiarius was someone who abducted a child or a slave — it's from "plaga," the Latin word for a net or a snare.

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