OBAMA: Now, having said all that, you'll remember when I made that speech a couple of weeks ago about the need for us to shift out of a perpetual war mind-set, I specifically said that one of the things that we're going to have to discuss and debate is how are we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy because there are some tradeoffs involved.
I welcome this debate and I think it's healthy for our democracy. I think it's a sign of maturity because probably five years ago, six years ago we might not have been having this debate. And I think it's interesting that there are some folks on the left but also some folks on the right who are now worried about it, who weren't very worried about it when it was a Republican president.
I think that's good that we're having this discussion but I think it's important for everybody to understand, and I think the A merican people understand that there are some tradeoffs involved. You know?
The thing you need to remember, when you watch the video (at the link)? Obama was one of "those folks" on the Left who were very worried when it was a Republican President. Why not explain to us how you have evolved, and why something you once so vocally opposed is now not a big deal?
Also, take note of his body language/facial expressions-is it me, or does he seem happy with himself as he lectures about this?
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.
The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.
You guys on the Left keep telling us how different he is though, ok? I recall you being pissed when Bush did this on a much smaller scale. I'm interested to see your reactions to this by Obama.
“One reason for the misplaced expectations may be that actuaries have been making worst-case assumptions, even as insurers—eyeing the prospects of so many new customers—have been calculating that it’s worth bidding low in order to gobble up market share. This would help explain why premium bids in several other states have proven similarly reasonable. “The premiums and participation in California, Oregon, Washingtonand other states show that insurers want to compete for the new enrollees in this market,” Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said via e-mail. “The premiums have not skyrocketed and the insurers that serve this market now are continuing. The rates look like what we would expect for decent coverage offered to a standard population.”
Cohn is saying that, despite the political naysayers, the healthcare exchange concept appears to be working very well indeed in states like California, Oregon and Washington—the first states to publish the expected health exchange prices for purchasing coverage. These are also states that are actually committed to seeing the program work as opposed to those states whose leaders have a vested political interest in seeing the Affordable Care Act fail.
Keep in mind that the entire idea of the exchanges is to require health insurance companies to compete openly with one another by offering identical coverage programs in the three created classes—each offering insurance coverage that actually delivers meaningful protection to customers—and then openly disclosing the price each insurance company will charge for that policy. Thus, shoppers can clearly see which company has the best price on an apples-to-apples basis.
Lee’s claims that there won’t be rate shock in California were repeated uncritically in some quarters. “Despite the political naysayers,” writes my Forbescolleague Rick Ungar, “the healthcare exchange concept appears to be working very well indeed in states like California.” A bit more analysis would have prevented Rick from falling for California’s sleight-of-hand.
Here’s what happened. Last week, Covered California—the name for the state’s Obamacare-compatible insurance exchange—released the rates that Californians will have to pay to enroll in the exchange.
“The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”
That’s the sentence that led to all of the triumphant commentary from the left. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” exulted Peter Lee.
Except that Lee was making a misleading comparison. He was comparing apples—the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market—and oranges—the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group. The difference is critical.
If you’re a 25 year old male non-smoker, buying insurance for yourself, the cheapest plan on Obamacare’s exchanges is the catastrophic plan, which costs an average of $184 a month. (By “average,” I mean the median monthly premium across California’s 19 insurance rating regions.)
The next cheapest plan, the “bronze” comprehensive plan, costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH), the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92.
In other words, for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.
Under Obamacare, only people under the age of 30 can participate in the slightly cheaper catastrophic plan. So if you’re 40, your cheapest option is the bronze plan. In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261.
But on eHealthInsurance, the median cost of the five cheapest plans was $121. That is, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.
So which is it? Are premiums for most going to rise significantly, or will they drop?
I often try and point out that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I'm guessing that people will interpret what they want to believe from these stories. Those on the Left will say the first report is spot on, and those on the Right will gravitate towards the second article.
If I lived in California, regardless of political affiliation, I'd plan for the worst, and hope for the best. Set aside a few extra bucks, just in case the second report is the correct one, and if that comes to pass, you are ready. If not, hey, you have a few extra bucks to play with.
We'll see what happens, and I'm guessing the final outcome will look more like the second article.
In Dan Brown’s new novel, Inferno, the lead character is struck with amnesia, unable to remember critical events even as he’s trying to save the world. Let’s borrow that useful plot device and imagine if American journalists woke up and couldn’t remember who was president. It would be interesting to ask them a few questions:
What would you think of a president under whom the IRS targeted his harshest political opponents, during his reelection campaign?
What would you think of a president whose obsession with leaks and secrecy was so great that he used the Justice Department to obtain phone records of reporters, in violation of Justice’s established procedure?
What would you think of a president whose head of the Department of Justice signed a criminal warrant against a leading journalist working for the news organization most critical of the president—and monitored the movements of the journalist and even went after his mother’s phone records?
What would you think of an administration that directed the president’s press secretary repeatedly to deliver false information concerning the death of an American ambassador?
These are not hypothetical questions—and yet there is an entire class of journalist so invested in a certain moral and ethical image of the president its members are unable to entertain facts that might tarnish that image. They are the pro-Obama equivalent of Birthers, never letting emerging facts cloud the conclusion they’ve already committed to hold.
In a March 22, 2007 Time Magazine piece co-bylined with Massimo Calabresi, then-Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney attacked the Bush administration for “its deliberate and aggressive efforts to expand and protect Executive power.”
In the piece, Carney and Calabresi charged that “[President George W.] Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have spent six years expanding presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the judiciary, from authorizing domestic wiretapping to limiting habeas corpus and changing bills through signing statements.”
Carney also complained about the resistance from Bush administration officials to testify on those matters, which at the time included then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
“Just getting Karl Rove and other top White House officials to testify could be as important as anything they might say, since it would set a precedent of sorts as Democrats push to investigate internal White House deliberations on everything from Iraq-war contracting to the use of prewar intelligence,” Carney and Calabresi wrote.