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E.g., 4/21/2014
E.g., 4/21/2014

Jobless claims drop to nearly seven-year low

04/10/14 08:38AM

Going into this morning, economists projected a slight improvement in initial unemployment claims, but the new figures from the Labor Department were far better than expected.
The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week fell to a nearly seven-year low of 300,000, a sign the labor market might be experiencing a spring revival. Initial claims in the seven days ended April 5 sank by 32,000 from a revised 332,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday.... Economists polled by MarketWatch expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 320,000.
 
The average of new claims over the past month dropped by 4,750 to 316,250, marking the second lowest read since the end of the recession.
To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it's worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it's best not to read too much significance into any one report.
Internal Revenue Service Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner leaves a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after refusing to testify May 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigating allegations that the...

The manufactured IRS 'controversy' turns farcical

04/10/14 08:00AM

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday asked Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday to investigate Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS's tax-exempt division, the latest in a series of desperate moves intended to pretend this is a legitimate "scandal."
 
But it's not. In fact, the most striking thing about yesterday's House antics was the shamelessness with which Republican lawmakers conducted themselves. Dana Milbank was right to call out Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) for organizing a pointless circus.
The House Ways and Means Committee chairman was ready to send the panel's files on former IRS official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for a possible prosecution -- a handover that could have been accomplished with a simple phone call to the attorney general. Instead, Camp put on a show.
 
The Michigan Republican invited the press and the public to the committee's storied hearing room Wednesday, only to call an immediate vote to kick them out. This way, the panel could meet in a closed session to debate Lerner's fate -- a dramatic but meaningless gesture because the sole purpose of the secret meeting was to authorize releasing the committee's files on Lerner to the public.
Good political theater can at least occasionally be entertaining, but the Ways and Means Committee put on an elaborate show for no reason, struggling to maintain the facade that this fiasco had substantive value.
 
Milbank added, that Camp, who recently announced he would not seek re-election after his own party ignored the tax-reform plan he spent three years writing, was "on course to retire with dignity -- at least until he allowed his committee room to be turned into a circus tent Wednesday. It was a folly wrapped in a charade and shrouded by farce."
 
If the point was to generate some media attention for a "controversy" that was discredited several months ago, Camp's manufactured drama had some of the intended effect.
 
But GOP members of the Ways and Means Committee, which has traditionally been home to a slightly more serious approach to policymaking, went through the motions while hoping that no one asked some pretty obvious questions:

Marriage equality test and other headlines

04/10/14 07:49AM

The House vote on the Paul Ryan budget today is a test of party unity. (WSJ) Russia didn't share all details on Boston bombing suspect, report says. (NY Times) Marriage equality's winning streak to be tested in higher court. (AP) GOP Connecticut mayor criticized for leaving gun control group. (TPM) Judge slaps State Department over Blackwater. (AP) We are one step closer to "Mount Reagan." (The Hill) read more

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.

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