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US attorney in NY not investigating Samson

US attorney in NY not investigating Samson

04/09/14 10:46PM

Rachel Maddow reports conclusively that David Samson, former head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is not being investigated by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York at this time. watch

Why the GOP should back a minimum wage hike

Why the GOP should back a minimum wage hike

04/09/14 10:45PM

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, talks with Rachel Maddow about why raising the minimum wage would also serve the goal of reducing the need for food stamps, and also discusses the importance of immigration reform to American farmers. watch

Ahead on the 4/9/14 Maddow show

04/09/14 07:25PM

Tonight's guest include:

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, (D) New Jersey, co-chair of the investigation committee into the George Washington Bridge lane closures

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, member of President Obama’s cabinet

A little tune for Wednesday -- after the jump, a preview of tonight's show featuring executive producer Bill Wolff:

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Koch Industries and its 'Obamacare' subsidies

04/09/14 04:32PM

When we talk about beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, we tend to focus on certain groups of people: the uninsured who can now get coverage, seniors who can now better afford prescription medication, young adults who can now stay on their family plans; small businesses receiving tax breaks to cover employees; consumers benefiting from new protections related to pre-existing conditions, annual and lifetime caps, medical-loss ratio, etc.
But there are large businesses that benefit, too. In fact, the AP's Charles Babington reported yesterday on some notable enterprises have received "Obamacare" subsidies.
Several big corporations have reaped millions of dollars from "Obamacare" even as they support GOP candidates who vow to repeal the law. This condemn-while-benefiting strategy angers Democrats, who see some of their top congressional candidates struggling against waves of anti-Obamacare ads partly funded by these companies.
Among the corporations is a familiar Democratic nemesis, Koch Industries, the giant conglomerate headed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
There was a temporary program within the ACA called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, intended to help businesses cover health care cost for retired employees who are not yet covered by Medicare. Among others, Koch Industries applied for subsidies under the program and received $1.4 million in taxpayer money.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seemed only too eager to highlight these details on the chamber floor this week, wondering aloud why "it's OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare," even as the company's principal owners help finance a political movement against the health care law.
"If the Affordable Care Act is so awful," Reid added, "why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?"
That need not be a rhetorical question.
Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC, speaks during

Don't know much about history, DeMint Edition

04/09/14 03:24PM

In theory, Jim DeMint's understanding of slavery and the Civil War is the sort of thing that should bother those who describe themselves as "constitutional conservatives."
Heritage Foundation head Jim DeMint appeared on Vocal Point with Jerry Newcombe of Truth In Action Ministries last week, where he insisted that "no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves."
DeMint, a former US senator from South Carolina, told Newcombe that "the conscience of the American people" and not the federal government was responsible for the end of slavery.
I suppose it's possible DeMint wasn't prepared to discuss the topic during this interview, listening to the clip, the former senator made an effort to sound like an authority on the subject.
"[T]he reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution," the Heritage chief said. After noting court rulings like Dred Scott, DeMint added, "[T]he Constitution kept calling us back to 'all men are created equal and we have 'inalienable rights' in the minds of God."
For the record, it was the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, that says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."
Wait, it gets much worse.
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.

Senate Republicans again kill Paycheck Fairness Act

04/09/14 12:52PM

The third time was not the charm. Democratic efforts to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to overcome Republican opposition in the 111th Congress and the 112th Congress, and as of this morning, it failed once again at the hands of a GOP filibuster.
Senate Republicans filibustered a debate on a Democratic pay equity bill backed by President Barack Obama Wednesday.
Sixty votes were needed to allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor, but Republicans refused to allow the bill to come up for debate after complaining Democrats weren't allowing votes on their amendments.
The roll call from the vote is online here. Note that the final tally was 54 to 43 -- six votes shy of the supermajority needed to end Republican obstructionism -- but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote for procedural reasons, leaving it at 53 to 44.
The legislation received exactly zero Republican votes, as was the case with previous efforts to pass the bill.I
In case anyone needs a refresher, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a perfectly credidble piece of legislation that would "enhance the remedies available for victims of gender-based discrimination and require employers to show that wage differences are job-related, not sex-based, and driven by business necessity. The measure would also protect employees from retaliation for sharing salary information, which is important for deterring and challenging discriminatory compensation."
As we've discussed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was an important step forward when it comes to combating discrimination, but it was also narrowly focused to address a specific problem: giving victims of discrimination access to the courts for legal redress. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a broader measure.
Republicans have responded that they endorse the idea of equal pay for equal work, but in recent years, much of the party remains opposed to policymakers' efforts to do something about it. (This morning, some GOP senators also raised procedural objections about amendments.)
As for the electoral considerations, aren't GOP lawmakers worried about rejecting measures like these in an election year?
Activists Demonstrate In Support Of Medicaid Expansion And The Affordable Healthcare Act

'Almost awesome in its evilness'

04/09/14 11:38AM

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber brings a unique perspective to the health care debate. He's not only an expert in health care policy and the director of the health care program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, he's also one of a small number of wonks who helped design both Mitt Romney's health care system in Massachusetts and President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
Gruber sat down for a fascinating chat yesterday with Harold Pollack about where the broader policy debate stands, and while the whole discussion is worth your time, I was struck by their focus on Medicaid expansion in particular. Gruber insisted we "cannot talk enough" about the "life-costing tragedy [that] has taken place in America."
"...I'm offended on two levels here. I'm offended because I believe we can help poor people get health insurance, but I'm almost more offended there's a principle of political economy that basically, if you'd told me, when the Supreme Court decision came down, I said, 'It's not a big deal. What state would turn down free money from the federal government to cover their poorest citizens?' The fact that half the states are is such a massive rejection of any sensible model of political economy, it's sort of offensive to me as an academic. And I think it's nothing short of political malpractice that we are seeing in these states and we've got to emphasize that. [...]
"[Conservative policymakers in these states] are not just not interested in covering poor people, they are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness."
Those are, to be sure, strong words. They're also words that easy to defend.
Take, for example, the increasingly heated fight over Medicaid expansion in Virginia, where Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) campaigned on Medicaid expansion as a key element of his 2013 platform, but where Republican lawmakers in the commonwealth are prepared to do practically anything to block the policy -- including a possible shutdown of the state government.
Voters cast ballots inside a polling station at Cross Community Church in Elyria, Ohio, on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012.

Ohio Dem calls for investigation into voting restrictions

04/09/14 11:09AM

When it comes to imposing new restrictions on voting rights, Ohio Republicans haven't exactly been subtle. In February, GOP policymakers in the state ended the so-called "Golden Week," when Ohioans can register and vote on the same day, and at the same time, they also made it harder for voters to receive absentee ballots.
Soon after, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) curtailed early-voting opportunities and announced Sunday voting would be eliminated entirely statewide.
More recently, Ohio Republicans moved towards penalizing the state's largest county for making it easier for voters to participate in elections through absentee ballots. Zack Roth reports today, however, that on this front, state GOP policymakers appear to have backed off.
A spokesman for House Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that the GOP would drop a measure that would have cut funding by 10% for any county that doesn't follow state law regarding absentee ballots. The proposal, inserted Monday into a larger budget bill, was a direct shot at the state's largest county, Cuyahoga, which has asserted the right to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters -- in defiance of a recently passed state law barring counties from doing so.
Hours later, the Cuyahoga council voted to assert its "home rule" power, giving it the authority to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the county.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat running against Gov. John Kasich (R) this year, told Roth that Ohio Republicans had defended the policy, but stopped "after we had our press conference in front of federal court this morning."
And what a press conference it was.