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GOP gets more fuel in fight against Obamacare

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

GOP gets more fuel in fight against Obamacare
New recordings feature MIT economist Jonathan Gruber saying Affordable Care Act deceptively labeled tax penalties

Right-Wing Media Revive Myth That Immigration Hurts American Workers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Right-Wing Media Revive Myth That Immigration Hurts American Workers

Right-wing media resurrected the myth that increased immigration hurts American workers in response to President Obama’s plans for executive action on immigration. In fact, studies consistently find that immigration does not lead to higher unemployment or lower American wages and that it actually helps the economy.

Obama Announces Plan To Take Executive Action On Immigration

NY Times: Obama To Announce Plan For Executive Actions On Immigration Reform. On November 13, The New York Times reported on President Obama’s plan to take executive action to protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants “from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits.” Under the plan, deportations will continue for convicted criminals as well as “foreigners who pose national security risks and recent border crossers”:

Asserting his authority as president to enforce the nation’s laws with discretion, Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.

Extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, could affect an additional one million or more if they are included in the final plan that the president announces. [The New York Times, 11/13/14]

Right-Wing Media Respond By Pushing Myth That Increased Immigration Hurts American Workers

Radio Host Laura Ingraham: Executive Action Proposal Is “A Formal Declaration Of War Against The American Working People.” On the November 13 edition of her radio show, host Laura Ingraham said that Obama’s executive action proposal constitutes a “declaration of war” against the “working class, people who have traditionally held those jobs”:

INGRAHAM: I tweeted this last night: the president’s executive amnesty, the draft that was floated yesterday, is a formal declaration of war against the American working people — [unintelligible] the working poor and the middle class and the people who’ve traditionally held these jobs. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 11/13/14]

Fox’s Tucker Carlson: “Allowing Millions More Low-Wage Workers To Work Legally In The United States Will Depress Wages For Working Americans.” During a November 14 appearance on America’s Newsroom, Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief and Fox News co-host Tucker Carlson asserted that allowing more low-wage workers into the United States would “depress wages for working Americans.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 11/14/14]

Fox’s Tantaros: Immigration Reform Would Hurt African-Americans Disproportionately, And American Workers, And A Lot Of Union Jobs. On the November 13 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros claimed that Obama’s executive action plan would “hurt African-Americans disproportionately and American workers and a lot of union jobs.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/13/14]

Ingraham: “We Have To Take Care Of American Workers And Legal Immigrants First.” On the November 12 edition of The O‘Reilly Factor, Ingraham claimed that it was “fanatical” to push for immigration reform given the state of the economy:

INGRAHAM: Right now, Bill, I think the fanatical position is when we have stagnating wages, right, and we have 92 million Americans operating outside of the workforce, the fanatical position is to say we need more cheap labor, we need doubling the number of guest workers, as it says so in the Senate bill, and we need to work with Obama on an immigration solution.

The mainstream position is to say, look, we are a nation of immigrants, absolutely. We should have legal immigration when it works for the country. But we have to take care of American workers and legal immigrants first. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/12/14]

Studies Find Immigration Does Not Increase Unemployment

Immigration Policy Center: “There Is Little Apparent Relationship Between Recent Immigration And Unemployment Rates.” The Immigration Policy Center found that immigration has no apparent correlation with unemployment statistics (emphasis original):

  • If immigrants really “took” jobs away from large numbers of native-born workers, especially during economic hard times, then one would expect to find high unemployment rates in those parts of the country with large numbers of immigrants — especially immigrants who have come to the United States recently and, presumably, are more willing to work for lower wages and under worse conditions than either long-term immigrants or native-born workers. Yet there is little apparent relationship between recent immigration and unemployment rates at the regional, state, or county level.
  • An IPC analysis of 2011 data from the American Community Survey found that, at the county level, there is no statistically significant relationship between the unemployment rate and the presence of recent immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later. [Immigration Policy Center, 6/12/13]

WSJ‘s Riley: Labor Economist “Found That Higher Levels Of Immigration Coincided With Lower Levels Of Unemployment.” Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley explained that higher levels of immigration actually helps the economy, pointing to research by labor economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University, who “looked at the relationship between immigrant and U.S. unemployment throughout the 20th century and found that higher levels of immigration coincided with lower levels of unemployment.” From Riley’s column:

But if immigrants, legal or illegal, displace U.S. workers, why was there less unemployment in the U.S. during the Clinton and Bush administrations, when we had higher levels of immigration, than we have today, when net migration from Mexico is zero? Nor is this a new phenomenon. The labor economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University looked at the relationship between immigration and U.S. unemployment throughout the 20th century and found that higher levels of immigration coincided with lower levels of unemployment.

Immigrants to the U.S. not only seek jobs but also increase demand for goods and services, thus providing incentives for businesses to invest in capital, expand operations and hire more workers. Moreover, the immigrants who come here typically aren’t replicas of Americans in terms of their education level and skills. They are concentrated at the high end and low end of the skills spectrum and are much more likely to be competing with other immigrants for jobs than to be displacing natives in the workplace. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/18/12]

Immigration Policy Center: “Immigrants Are Not The Cause Of High Unemployment And Low Wages Among Minority Workers.” In a study conducted for the Immigration Policy Center, Rob Paral and Associates found “no correlation between the size of the foreign-born population and the African-American unemployment rate in U.S. metropolitan areas.” [Immigration Policy Center, 3/1/11]

Immigrants Do Not Compete For Same Jobs As Most Americans

Foreign-Born And Native-Born Workers Generally Compete For Different Jobs. According to the American Immigration Council, “native-born and immigrant workers fill different kinds of jobs” (emphasis original):

Immigrants and native-born workers fill different kinds of jobs that require different skills. Even among less-educated workers, immigrants and native-born workers tend to work in different occupations and industries. If they do work in the same occupation or industry — or even the same business — they usually specialize in different tasks, with native-born workers taking higher-paid jobs that require better English-language skills than many immigrant workers possess. In other words, immigrants and native-born workers usually complement each other rather than compete. [Immigration Policy Center, 6/12/13]

Immigration Has a Long-Term Positive Impact On U.S. Wages And The Economy

Brookings Institution: “Many Immigrants Complement The Work Of U.S. Employees And Increase Their Productivity.” The Brookings Institute reported similar findings, that “immigrants and U.S.-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs; instead many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity”:

The most recent academic research suggests that, on average, immigrants raise the overall standard of living of American workers by boosting wages and lowering prices. One reason is that immigrants and U.S.-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs; instead many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity. For example, low-skill immigrant laborers allow U.S.-born farmers, contractors, or craftsmen to expand agricultural production or to build more homes — thereby expanding employment possibilities and incomes for U.S. workers. [The Brookings Institute, September 2010]

Economic Policy Institute: Immigration Has “Positive Impact On The Wages Of Native- Born Workers.” A February 2010 study by the Economic Policy Institute found that immigration has a “positive impact on the wages of native-born workers overall: although new immigrant workers add to the labor supply, they also consume goods and services, which creates more jobs.” [Economic Policy Institute, 2/4/10]

National Bureau Of Economic Research Paper: Immigrants Have Positive Long-Term Impact On Wages Of Native-Born Workers. A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that from 1990 to 2006, immigration had a positive long-term effect on the wages of native-born workers. [National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2008]


Obamacare vs. Scaliacare

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Obamacare vs. Scaliacare
E.J. Dionne, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — Republican leaders in the House and Senate have made clear that they’ll deploy every weapon in the legislative arsenal to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They’ll try to chip away at the taxes that support it and abolish the mandates that make its insurance markets work. They might even stand on their heads and stop breathing if that would do the trick. It’s a shame they are approaching matters this way. Various provisions of the ACA have helped well over 100 million Americans, including about 20 million who gained coverage or got new insurance under the law. In a rational…

The Big Questions in Iraq
David Ignatius, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — As the United States advances into its third war in Iraq in a quarter-century, it’s important to have a mental checklist to assess whether U.S. strategy there can succeed. Right now, because of Iraq’s continuing corruption and sectarianism, it’s hard to be optimistic. President Obama’s basic strategic framework seems right, in theory. Obama reiterated Monday in Beijing: “It’s not our folks who are going to be doing the fighting. Iraqis ultimately have to fight [the Islamic State] and they have to determine their own security.” As Obama pledged again that America’s role will be…

Calling the Bluff on Obamacare
Froma Harrop, RealClearPolitics
There’s this game in American politics where folks who fancy themselves conservative often condemn programs that they in fact want very much. Obamacare is one such example. We face a possible moment of truth in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court. If the justices rule a certain way, Americans in the 36 states covered by the federal exchanges would lose their federal subsidies. Gone would be guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Gone would be affordable premiums for families buying their own insurance. Millions would be thrust back into the health care…

25 Years After the Wall Fell, Challenges Remain
Cathy Young, RealClearPolitics
The festivities for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a turning point in the collapse of Soviet communism, have passed in the shadow of troubling events around the world. In Moscow, a KGB-bred strongman plots to build a new Kremlin-ruled empire as a nervous Europe looks on. Meanwhile, the specter of radical Islamic fundamentalism is haunting the Middle East. Has the promise of freedom that looked so bright in 1989 faded—or are there grounds for cautious hope, in place of the wild-eyed optimism of a quarter century ago? Re-reading an essay penned a few months after the…


Leaders gather in Brisbane for G20

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Leaders gather in Brisbane for G20
World leaders arrive in Brisbane, Australia for this weekend’s G20 summit, with global growth the focus of the talks.

MPs: ‘Not job’ to pick abuse chair
MPs rebuff Theresa May after she asks them to suggest new candidates to chair the inquiry into historic child abuse.


Opinion: The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Opinion: The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth
The Abe government is determined to rewrite the imperial military’s history of wartime sexual slavery.

City in Ukraine Tied to Masochism Finds Link Painful, Sure, but Some Like It
Residents of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv are of two minds on the reputation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.






E.U. Accuses Starbucks and Netherlands of Making Unfair Tax Deal
The arrangement helped lower taxes for the coffee company, creating unfair advantages over other European Union countries, authorities said.






Rare Vaccine-Derived Polio Discovered in 2 Countries
Cases of paralysis caused by mutating polio vaccine have been found in South Sudan and Madagascar, the World Health Organization said Friday.






Indian State Recalls Pills Linked to Sterilization Deaths
Officials in Chhattisgarh State issued an urgent warning to practitioners to cease distribution of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin after at least 15 deaths were linked to contaminated pills.







Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average

Increased competition in the exchanges helped to keep premiums low.

The post Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Meghan O’Toole is the Policy Analyst for Health Policy at the Center for American Progress.

shutterstock_obamacare money

CREDIT: Shutterstock

For the second year in a row, Obamacare premiums are lower than anticipated and millions of Americans can expect to find affordable health insurance options during the second open enrollment period.

A Center for American Progress analysis of 2015 premium rates for the individual market in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces shows that premiums will increase by an average of only 3.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. This average is for individual coverage for a 27 or 40 year old across all plans in each metal level in each state and weighted by each state’s enrollment by metal level in 2014.

Silver plans, the most popular type of plan in 2014, will increase even less –- by only 3.45 percent on average. While there is wide variation around the average growth in different geographic areas, the low national average is a testament to the popularity and affordability of the health insurance plans on the exchanges, where more than 7 million Americans purchased health insurance in 2014.

Increased competition in the exchanges, with about 25 percent more issuers offering plans on the exchanges in 2015 than 2014, helped to keep premiums low. Some of the nation’s biggest insurers will now be participating in the exchanges for the first time.

To put this premium increase into perspective, an average increase of 3.9 percent is much less than historical premium growth. From 2008 to 2010, the national average rate of premium increase was 10.9 percent, which is 179 percent greater than the increase between 2014 and 2015.

The post Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Alabama Defends Marriage Ban With ‘Largely Unbelievable’ Expert

Alabama is relying on experts and arguments that other courts have already disregarded.

The post Alabama Defends Marriage Ban With ‘Largely Unbelievable’ Expert appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R)

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R)

CREDIT: AP Photo/Dave Martin

There are still same-sex marriage lawsuits playing out in several states, and state officials are parading some of the same tired claims that have failed elsewhere. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) is the latest to rely upon biased experts to defend refusing same-sex couples the right to marry.

In his latest brief, Strange cites the research of both Mark Regnerus and Loren Marks. Regnerus’ study claiming that children of same-sex couples have poorer outcomes has been largely debunked, which is perhaps why Strange relies more on Marks, who he has also retained as an expert witness. Marks emphasizes that none of the studies that have found positive results for children of same-sex couples are valid simply because they utilized convenience samples to find the families they studied.

“Dr. Marks concludes that the field is too new and the studies too limited to make broad empirical conclusions,” Strange wrote. “This is yet another reason why courts should defer to the States. It is reasonable for a State to conclude that the social science is inconclusive at least, and therefore to be hesitant to change the definition of an institution that has formed the bedrock of civilization for centuries.”

In his attached testimony, Marks explains that he “cannot offer a high confidence, data-based ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response” to whether the children of same-sex couples fare as well as different sex couples. “The available data,” he concludes, “which are drawn primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalizable claim either way.”

But Marks, like Regnerus, has also had his claims disavowed — in court. Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, had the opportunity to hear testimony from both Regnerus and Marks and two other anti-gay experts when considering a challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. He concluded that “Marks’s testimony is largely unbelievable,” because he and other researchers all “failed to concede the importance of ‘convenience sampling’ as a social science tool.” Marks and Regnerus, he wrote, “represent a fringe viewpoint that is rejected by the vast majority of their colleagues across a variety of social science fields,” pointing out that there is no “credible evidence showing that children raised by same-sex couples fare worse than those raised by heterosexual couples.”

Strange’s primary argument otherwise is that Alabama’s man-woman definition of marriage doesn’t discriminate against same-sex couples because it’s focused on child-rearing. Invoking a slippery slope, he complains that the suing same-sex couples “do not explain why… marriage must involve sexual intimacy, why it must be limited to two loving, committed people, or why indeed they must be committed.” This ignores, of course, that there are over 1,300 same-sex couples in Alabama already raising children. In fact, in Alabama, an estimated 27 percent of same-sex families include children, higher than in most other states.

Alabama may end up being one of the last states where marriage equality arrives, but it won’t be because the state’s arguments against same-sex couples marrying are any stronger than any other states’.

The post Alabama Defends Marriage Ban With ‘Largely Unbelievable’ Expert appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Surprise: Whole Foods Is Not the World’s Greatest Employer

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Surprise: Whole Foods Is Not the World’s Greatest Employer
From: Michelle Chen

San Francisco employees of the green-capitalism giant are organizing themselves to fight for livable working conditions.

How the North Pole Could Become the World’s Next Battlefield
From: Foreign Policy In Focus

As the climate warms and the ice melts, the Arctic could become the next great theater of global cooperation—or a battlefield.


26-Year-Old Women Discover They’re Identical Twins

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 14th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

26-Year-Old Women Discover They’re Identical Twins
Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman have the same laugh and the same freckled cheeks. They wear their hair the same way and have since they were babies. They share a hatred of cooked carrots, a love of the same color nail polish and the need to sleep 10 hours a day. The pair tease, poke and prod each other like they’ve grown up together, but they didn’t. Neither woman knew she had an identical twin sister until less than two years ago.

Robin Williams Suffered Dementia, Autopsy Reveals
Robin Williams had a difficult to diagnose condition known as Lewy Body Dementia which may have contributed to his decision to commit suicide last August, according to autopsy report documents. People with the condition have dementia and sometimes appear confused and exhibit unusual behavior, said Angela Taylor of the Lewy Body Dementia Association. According to the coroner’s report, the 63-year-old actor and comedian had been acting strangely before his death, reportedly keeping several watches in a sock that he was concerned about keeping safe.


Kuwaiti Cartoonist Battles ISIS Death Threats, U.S. Bigots

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 14th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Kuwaiti Cartoonist Battles ISIS Death Threats, U.S. Bigots
Naif al-Mutawa, creator of comic book series "The 99," spoke with Al-Monitor about the recent death threat by the Islamic State.

USAID urges emergency funds for Ebola hot spots
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official estimates there are 3,000 active cases of Ebola in West Africa, many of them in small clusters dotted throughout the countryside that require a more rapid and flexible response.


WH hints Obama immigration action will be broad

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 14th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

WH hints Obama immigration action will be broad
Top administration official also says timing could be linked to concern about prompting gov’t shutdown next month

Russian bomber missions over Gulf of Mexico would be “significant”
A brief history of Russia’s long-range bomber missions