Bloomberg Starts Anti-Gun Organization to Rival the NRA

Sourced from AlterNet.org

The Guardian / By Dan Roberts

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Photo Credit: Lev Radin / Shutterstock

A new gun control campaign backed by $50m from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged on Wednesday to focus its efforts outside Washington, claiming to be the first nationwide movement to rival the National Rifle Association.

Despite initial attention on wealthy backers such as Bloomberg and Warren Buffett, leaders of the group, Everytown For Gun Safety, insisted their strategy differs from previous attempts at reform because they would seek to influence politicians through grassroots campaigning rather than primarily by lobbying Congress.

“Everytown will continue to push for change in Washington, but will also move beyond Congress and bring the fight for commonsense gun policies to state capitals, to corporate boards, and to state and federal elections,” said its president John Feinblatt.

“These are fields of play formerly occupied almost solely by the gun lobby,” he added in a conference call with reporters.

But Feinblatt, who is also a policy adviser to Bloomberg, bristled at the media focus on the former mayor’s involvement after he announced the initiative in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday.

The two groups merging to form Everytown – Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – already have 34,000 smaller donors, insisted Feinblatt, who rejects the top-down characterisation of the group by its opponents.

Everytown aims to grow the groups’ combined membership from 1.5m to 2.5m over the next year, through a range of initiatives from a traditional political action committee through to “stroller jams” and “diaper-dumps” outside city hall offices, said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

“This is the first time there has ever been a grassroots network in the states, on the ground,” said Watts, whose group started as a Facebook page after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

“We can get people to act not just online, but offline as well. That has never happened in the history of this country.”

The tension between challenging the NRA’s giant membership with grassroots political activism and countering its money by relying on divisive corporate donors like Bloomberg and Buffett is seen at the heart of the dilemma now facing the US gun control movement.

A year ago on Thursday, attempts to pass limited background checks on gun buyers fell five votes short of the 60 needed to make progress in the US Senate despite a wave of national revulsion following the Newtown shooting.

All but three of the 45 senators who blocked passage of the bill had received campaign contributions from firearms lobbyists, and they raised record sums from their members and gun manufacturers in the months following Newtown.

Bloomberg’s latest pledge to spend at least $50m will go a long way to countering such money spent directly by the NRA and other pro-gun groups.

Latest election disclosures by the NRA for the 2014 midterm election cycle shows it has just $13.7m cash on hand and has only spent $241,000 so far on directly supporting candidates.

But senators who voted against last year’s background check bill, particularly four rebel Democrats, fear the negative political consequences of crossing the NRA far more than direct campaign contributions.

Some of this is due to spending on attack ads against reformers running in conservative states, but Everytown concedes much of it is also due to the effective political mobilisation of gun rights campaigners.

“This is a battle for the hearts and minds of Americans,” Bloomberg told NBC on Monday.

The NRA has not issued a formal response to the new initiative, and did not respond to requests for comment, but its supporters have been quick to point out the challenge facing Bloomberg in matching their passionate campaign base.

“He’s got the money to waste,” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told the New York Times. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”

Koch Brothers Wealth Surges Past $100 Billion as They Try to Buy the Senate With Expensive Lies

Sourced from AlterNet.com

Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Koch Brothers Wealth Surges Past $100 Billion as They Try to Buy the Senate With Expensive Lies

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Photo Credit: Graphic by Rachel Dooley. Copyright In These Times magazine. All rights reserved.

The wealth of the Koch Brothers has surged past $100 billion dollars, a boost of $1.3 billion to their collective fortune based on a new industrial production forecast. To put that in perspective, that’s enough money to buy 1,000 Boeing 757s or every NFL and MLB team. Together Charles and David Koch are majority shareholders in Koch Industries, a privately held corporation.

The brothers have been criticized for using their vast wealth to change laws in order to fit their political views and to tilt the playing field in their favor. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says that their efforts “are undermining our democracy” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that their political activities are “un-American.”

Reid was particularly upset by a television commercial featuring a leukemia patient who said she would die without medication and blamed the cancelation of her previous policy and another with a woman saying her policy costs rose $700 a month under Obamacare. When fact checked, both ads were found to contain spurious content.

The Koch’s are attempting to win the Senate back for the Republicans by airing a barrage of targeted television through their Freedom Partners fundraising network. Americans for Prosperity, one of those groups backed by Freedom Partners has been far outspending the top Democratic super PACs in nearly all of the Senate races the GOP is targeting this year. It has aired more than 18,000 broadcast TV commercials those states.

More ads have been outed for proven falsehoods by many media watchdogs. One ad showed “real” residents of Louisiana opening letters from health care companies warning them of the evils of Obamacare. But no such letters were sent out and the people shown opening them aren’t concerned residents of Louisiana, they’re paid actors. In an opinion column for The Hill, columnist Mark Mellman noted:

Were this an ad for Stainmaster carpet, a Koch product, Federal Trade Commission guidelines would require the ad to “conspicuously disclose that the persons in such advertisements are not actual consumers.” Moreover, the FTC would require them to either demonstrate that these results of ObamaCare are typical or make clear in the ad that they are not.

Needless to say, the ad meets none of these requirements, thereby conforming to the legal definition of false advertising.

Koch Industries is a multinational corporation based in Wichita, Kansas. Under its umbrella are Invista, Georgia-Pacific, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals and Matador Cattle Company. Koch companies are involved in core industries such as the manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, fertilizers, paper,  chemical technology equipment, ranching and commodities trading.

Cliff Weathers covers environmental and consumer issues for AlterNet. He is a former Deputy Editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers.

Sourced from wapo.com

  1. BY CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM
  2. April 17

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UnitedHealth Group said it’s likely to join more Obamacare exchanges in 2015.(Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

After taking a pretty cautious approach to the launch of the health insurance marketplaces in 2014, the nation’s largest insurer said it’s looking to expand its Obamacare footprint in 2015.

UnitedHealth Group, which is participating in just five public exchanges this year, said it’s likely to join more insurance marketplaces in 2015 but didn’t offer specifics. Executive vice president Gail Boudreaux, on an earnings call with investors Thursday morning, said the company “has a bias to increase” the company’s participation in Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2015 after seeing encouraging trends in the program’s first year.

“The size of the overall market is positive,” Boudreaux said. She said consumers’ large interest in “silver” health plans – mid-level insurance plans in which insurers cover 70 percent of the care costs – is another positive sign for the young exchanges. Almost two-thirds of customers selecting health plans through the exchanges have chosen silver plans.

Chief executive Stephen Hemsley cautioned that the insurer is still evaluating the insurance marketplaces, noting that it won’t have to make a final decision until September. “We have time to see how this plays out a bit,” he said.

Though UnitedHealth has limited participation in exchanges this year, its health-care technology division, Optum, has emerged as a major player in the marketplaces. It helped repair HealthCare.gov, as well as a few broken state-run exchange Web sites. The company said the unit saw revenue rise 29 percent from this quarter a year ago, and it expects to take on more business as a result of its work to rescue HealthCare.gov.

Still, the insurance giant saw its earnings fall 7.8 percent this quarter, which the company partially attributed to Medicare Advantage cuts and Obamacare taxes. The change driven by the health-care law has been “immediate and significant,” Hemsley said.

UnitedHealth is the first major insurer to report quarterly earnings since the full launch of the ACA’s coverage expansion, so it will be interesting to watch how bigger players in the Obamacare marketplaces view their early experience. But UnitedHealth’s comments come shortly after a Politico story noted insurers are optimistic about exchanges in 2015.

Obamacare Headline in Rural Arkansas

Sourrced from DailyKos.com

ArkshepFollowRSS

WED APR 09, 2014 AT 07:03 AM PDT

In a real life example of how Obamacare is changing everything, our local newspaper ran an article about the closing of the 9th Street Ministry Medical Clinic.

“It was announced last week that 9th Street Ministries will be concluding their medical clinic mission, which had been ongoing monthly to offer free medical services to those in need since first starting in 1998. The final day for the medical clinic will be Thursday, April 24, and that will conclude the mission that has been in place for almost 16 years.”

The article tells how the ministry has been operating once a month for years to give people healthcare on a first come, first served basis.  This care was provided by volunteers. My mother actually volunteered at the clinic and they would see as many as 300 a day.  Many of these people would wait all day for the chance to see a doctor.  Most of the patients were people who could not afford to see a doctor, but were not eligible for medicaid or medicare.  Why would they close this clinic down?

“We’ve gone from seeing around 300 people a month on a regular basis, but as people were enrolling in Obamacare, the numbers we were seeing have dropped. We were down to 80 people that came through the medical clinic in February, all the way down to three people at the medical clinic in March. Our services won’t be needed anymore, and this will conclude our mission.”

We live in one of the most conservative places in Arkansas.  The Repub’s want to tell those people that once a month waiting all day for a chance to see a doctor was good enough.  Thankfully, President Obama did not think so.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.menastar.com/

8:26 AM PT: In addition to the normal newspaper, a weekly paper that is mostly far right wing articles ran this article:

http://mypulsenews.com/…

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO ARKSHEP ON WED APR 09, 2014 AT 07:03 AM PDT.

ALSO REPUBLISHED BY OBAMACARE SAVES LIVES.

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Why We Need A 10.4 Million Jobs Plan

Sourced from:OurFuture.com

By Dave Johnson

APRIL 4, 2014

It doesn’t matter what Friday’s report of the March job numbers shows. If you listed our national problems in order of priority and immediacy, jobs has to be at or near the top.

While America’s political, media and business elites are all doing fine in their personal situations, much of the rest of the country is not. Here are some things that would add at least 10.8 million jobs to our economy right now.

With more jobs available several things happen:

  1. Every job creates jobs, because people are again participating in the economy. Local stores, restaurants, and other businesses are hiring to keep up. People can buy houses, cars, and other goods.
  2. When more people are working, wages rise because employers are competing to find people to work for them.
  3. Government “safety net” costs go way down because people can afford food, and other necessities.
  4. Tax revenue increases because more people are getting wages and other taxable income.
  5. People’s lives are generally better.

So yes, jobs solve a lot of problems. The thing is, it really isn’t hard to do what it takes to create millions and millions of jobs. The problem is that these things are being obstructed by a Republican Party that plans to campaign this fall on complaints that there aren’t enough jobs. For example, they are telling people that Democrats can’t deliver on their “empty promises” – even though the reason they can’t deliver is Republican filibusters in the Senate and Republican leadership in the House refusing to bring bills to the floor for votes.

How To Create Millions Of Jobs

First, there is a budget in front of the Congress right now that creates 4.6 million jobs and boosts gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.8 percent within its first year of implementation. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ (CPC) 2015 budget proposal, called the “Better Off Budget,” creates jobs in building and construction industries to repair and modernize our ailing roads, bridges and water infrastructure and provides assistance to states to allow them to hire and rehire public employees such as police, firefighters and health care workers.

It does this right away and “pays for” it with a financial transaction tax that reduces dangerous Wall Street speculation, a higher top tax rate on the wealthiest, closing loopholes that allow the giant multinational corporations pay little or no taxes, and other measures that are very popular with the public.

Every Democrat should vote for this budget when it comes before the House next week.

Another proposal for creating jobs is a national energy-retrofit project that would hire people to go to government and commercial buildings and to residences and simply seal up drafts and paint roofs white. A broader program could install double-paned windows, apply insulation and fix up broken, inefficient heaters and air conditioners (using American-made parts and supplies). This would pay for itself both through the benefits of full employment and the later savings from reduced energy use.

5.8 Million More Jobs

One more simple proposal is to confront countries that manipulate their currencies. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), titled “Stop Currency Manipulation and Create Millions of Jobs,” the United States could create up to 5.8 million new jobs, reduce our trade deficits by up to $500 billion per year by 2015 and increase U.S. gross domestic product by up to $720 billion per year if we act to end global currency manipulation.

So that’s 4.6 million jobs in one year just from passing the CPC “Better Off Budget” and another 5.8 million from confronting currency manipulation. How many more jobs would come from an energy-retrofit program? As many as we need after those two proposals put 10.4 million people to work.

This just shows how simple it would be to create full employment right now, and how it would pay for itself. That is what public investment does. But proposals like these being obstructed by Republicans.

sourced from: OurFuture.com

APRIL 4, 2014
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BILL MOYERS

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wpid-2702649_75x75-2014-04-5-13-33.jpg Bill Moyers on the McCutcheon Decision
from BillMoyers.com

Fortunately for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman [co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has helped organize fast-food-worker protests for higher wages] and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster.

And so we are, because the fight to save our democracy from the clutches of plutocrats just got harder.

Here in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo, of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and legislators from both parties killed a commission investigating political corruption. They also killed a promising plan for a more level playing field in state elections. And they did so while handing wealthy individuals in wealthy communities – those are the biggest contributors to elections – some very big tax breaks.

And in Washington, as you’ve heard by now, in the McCutcheon case, the Supreme Court five, the pro-corporate bloc, struck down limits on how much money can be given to candidates, parties and political action committees.

One prominent right-winger says the justices merely “reinstated the First Amendment for all Americans.” Sure. By doubling down on their earlier ruling in the infamous Citizens United case equating money with speech, the justices have actually decreed that you’re entitled to all the free speech you can buy. You’ll be on equal footing with the Koch brothers if you have their money.

The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, more cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure, but they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court just laid that myth to rest, and the new Gilded Age roars in triumph.

But we, the people, shouldn’t cower or give in to despair. Those restaurant workers — they’re not quitting. And they’ve summoned a spirit from deep within our past, when those early insurgents stood against imperial authority, convinced that when injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty.

Staunch-Republican-ObamaCare-Works

Sourced from DailyKos.com

 

“Staunch” Republican: ObamaCare Works!

by Joan Mar

Mar 28, 2014 

This is precisely what Ted Cruz feared; this is what he warned about: Once people knew what it meant to have health insurance, and what ObamaCare can do for them, they will not allow the GOP to take it from them. A Fox-loving, “staunch” Republican gives his testimony below:

Good afternoon,

I am a staunch Republican, a self-proclaimed Fox News addict, and I didn’t vote for the President. And I’m here to tell you that Obamacare works. I’m living proof.

I’m a chemotherapy patient, and was previously paying $428 a month for my health coverage. I was not thrilled when it was cancelled.

Then I submitted an application at HealthCare.gov. I looked at my options. And I signed up for a plan for $62 a month.

It’s the best health care I have ever had.

So right now, here’s what I want to tell anyone who still needs health insurance, or knows someone who does:

Sign up. Follow the instructions on the website. Apply, and look at your options. You still have time, and take it from me: This is something you want to do.

I wrote a letter to President Obama this past February to tell him about my experience with the Health Insurance Marketplace. I hoped he’d read it, and he did.

I may not be a supporter of the President. But now, I get mad when I see Obamacare dragged through the mud on television.

And even though I regularly tune in to conservative pundits, I’d like to tell them they’re getting it wrong. Obamacare works.

So one more time: If you still need health insurance, you have just three days to get it. Do what I did. Go to HealthCare.gov, submit an application, and pick a plan that works for you.

It just might change your life.

Mark D. Bearden, Ph.D.

Monroe, North Carolina

http://www.whitehouse.gov/…

Visit WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Let’s help to spread the word. Six million and counting, baby!

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