Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 3:43 pm
The final chapter in the history of bombshells of the closeted gay politician variety may have been written Monday by Rep. Mike Michaud, a Maine Democrat running for governor.
Michaud, 58, announced in a column published in two state newspapers and by The Associated Press that he is a gay man, and followed it with the question: "But why should it matter?"
Judging from immediate reaction in Maine, where Michaud next year will be competing to become the first governor in U.S. history elected as an openly gay man, the answer seemed to be that it probably won't.
Tomorrow in Colorado, voters will decide on an ambitious ballot measure that would overhaul the state's public education system. It could become the first state to combine an income tax hike with education reforms all in one proposal. From Colorado Public Radio, here's Jenny Brundin.
The Senate voted Monday to move ahead on legislation that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill won the approval of enough Republican senators late Monday to cross the 60-vote threshold and move onto a floor vote. Such a thing would have been impossible even a few years ago.
Aja Brown made history this past summer when she became the youngest mayor in the history of Compton, Calif. There is a lot of buzz there around the charismatic 31-year-old.
The city of about 100,000 people just south of Los Angeles has long struggled with gangs and street violence. But it wasn't always that way. Compton flourished in the '50s and '60s, when its factory jobs were a beacon for African-Americans fleeing the South.
At 7 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, the Bedford Diner, in Bedford, Pa., is jumping.
Way in the back, some tables have been pushed together for a weekly prayer breakfast that's really a gathering of old friends — all military veterans, some of whom are retired. Art Halvorson, a 58-year-old regular here, is a real estate developer, a former career coast guard pilot and now a Tea Party-backed candidate going after seven-term Rep. Bill Shuster in next year's Republican primary.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll get an update on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. But first, we turn to an issue that affects one out of every seven humans in America, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. Back in 2009, in the depths of the recession, President Obama increased SNAP benefits using stimulus funds, but the temporary increase expired this past Friday.
Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 7:15 am
Good morning, fellow political junkies.
This week, the political headlines are expected to be dominated by several important off-year elections whose outcomes seem a foregone conclusion, if you believe the polls.
Democrat Terry McAulliffe in Virginia and Republican Chris Christie in New Jersey have significant polling leads in their governor's races. In New York City, Democrat and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio appears poised to win in a blowout.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
Last month's government shutdown could deliver its first political victim tomorrow. Republican Ken Cuccinelli is trailing in the Virginia Governor's race. During a campaign appearance this weekend, President Obama tried to tie Cuccinelli to the shutdown, and also to the Tea Party. Cuccinelli, in turn, tried to link his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, to the troubled rollout of Obamacare.
Now, during the government shutdown, many House Republicans said the policy was unwise, but persisted for weeks in voting with their speaker, John Boehner. One reason was party loyalty. Another reason, according to analysts, was fear. Lawmakers did not want to run the risk of a challenge in a Republican primary from candidates saying they weren't trying hard enough.
Voters in Virginia and New Jersey go to the polls Tuesday to pick their next governor. NPR's Scott Horsley joins host Arun Rath from Northern Virginia, where President Obama just held a rally for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor.
Tuesday's election is seen as a key off-year contest, and a test of strength for both parties leading up to the 2014 elections. But it's beginning to look like a rout. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli by as much as 12 points. The race appears to have turned into a referendum on Cuccinelli's conservative views.
This week, the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, testified before Congress about the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. It was the latest attempt at damage control by the Obama administration since the site went live a month ago.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: The website has never crashed. It is functional but at a very slow speed and very low reliability - and has continued to function.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:04 pm
The Affordable Care Act's early travails are yielding some lessons for future presidents and lawmakers. Here are three:
1) Presidents can't be too careful about making high-profile promises. President Obama dented his credibility significantly by repeatedly promising that the Affordable Care Act would allow Americans with insurance they liked to keep those policies.
Food stamp recipients will see a cut in their benefits starting Friday. For the hungry and unemployed, more cuts may be coming. That's a challenge for the affected families, but it could also be a drain on the broader economy.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:06 pm
A federal appeals court has sided with the owners of a fruit and vegetable distributor who challenged part of the 2010 health care law requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control. Federal courts have split on the issue, which is the subject of dozens of similar cases.
According to the National Women's Law Center, "a total of 88 lawsuits have been filed" over the issue of contraceptive coverage. Of that number, 63 cases are still pending; the other 25 have been closed.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:12 pm
If the Republican establishment doesn't get its preferred candidate in Tuesday's Alabama special congressional runoff election, it won't be for want of an overwhelming cash advantage.
Bradley Byrne, a former head of the state's community college system, has outraised Tea Party favorite Dean Young $689,000 to $260,000, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings. And Young's total includes $175,000 the real estate developer and political consultant has lent himself, meaning the actual fundraising ratio is more like 8 to 1.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 11:48 am
News outlets are all over this story today:
Documents released by a congressional committee reveal just how few people successfully enrolled in health insurance plans on the troubled HealthCare.gov website in early days after its Oct. 1 launch. (That summary is courtesy of our colleagues on the NPR Newscast Desk.)
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. Joining us from Boston, healthcare consultant and contributor to National Review magazine, Dr. Neil Minkoff. Here in our Washington, D.C. studios, Dave Zirin. He is sports editor at The Nation. And Corey Dade is a contributing editor for The Root. Take it away Jimi.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're going to spend the first part of this hour talking about a case in Florida that drew so much national attention at the end of last year and the first part of is one. And that's the killing of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by the neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Now the new police chief in Sanford, Florida has made some big changes in the Neighborhood Watch Program there and we'll tell you about those.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 10:41 am
Here's an email that caught my eye Thursday. It's from Republican Bill McInturff, one of the best pollsters around and not someone known to hyperbolize. He was discussing the results of this month's NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, which he conducts with Democrat Peter Hart.
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.
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.