Tuesday, March 30, 2010

President Obama Signs Reconciliation Act

Senate bill H R 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was passed on March 21, 2010 and signed into law on March 23, 2010.

Today, President Obama signed into law H R 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which was passed by Congress on March 25, 2010.

From the White House:

"A Great Battle Pitting the Interests of the Banks and Financial Institutions Against the Interests of Students"

Today at Northern Virginia Community College, President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, the last step on health reform that provided fixes for some elements and which improved upon the core health reforms by increasing tax credits for the middle class, investing in community health centers, and strengthening efforts to fight waste and fraud. [...]

For a long time, our student loan system has worked for banks and financial institutions. Today, we’re finally making our student loan system work for students and our families. But we’re also doing something more.

From the moment I was sworn into office, I’ve spoken about the urgent need for us to lay a new foundation for our economy and for our future. And two pillars of that foundation are health care and education, and each has long suffered from problems that we chose to kick down the road.

With the bill I signed last week, we finally undertook meaningful reform of our health care system. With this bill, and other steps we’ve pursued over the last year, we are finally undertaking meaningful reform in our higher education system. So this week, we can rightly say the foundation on which America’s future will be built is stronger than it was one year ago.

President Obama Signs Historic Health Care and Education Legislation
This historic law:

  • Invests more than $40 billion in Pell Grants to ensure that all eligible students receive an award and that these awards are increased in future years to help keep pace with the rising cost of college. These investments, coupled with the funding provided in the Recovery Act and the President’s first two budgets, will more than double the total amount of funding available for Pell Grants since President Obama took office.
  • Ensures that Americans can afford their student loan payments by expanding the existing income-based student loan repayment program. New borrowers who assume loans after July 1, 2014, will be able to cap their student loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and, if they keep up with their payments over time, will have the balance forgiven after 20 years.

  • Includes $2 billion over four years for community colleges to develop, improve, and provide education and career training programs.
Making Higher Education More Affordable
This legislation means $40 billion more dollars in the Pell Grant program to ensure that eligible students receive an award, and that awards increase to keep pace with rising tuition. And a $2 billion investment over four years for community colleges to develop, improve, and provide education and career training programs. Students will be able to choose to limit their student loan payments to 10% of their income, with any remaining balance forgiven after 20 years. And public service workers can have their loans forgiven after 10 years.

Because special interests have been benefiting from taxpayer subsidies for too long, we’re cutting out the middlemen by ending government subsidies currently given to banks and other financial institutions that make guaranteed federal student loans. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, ending these wasteful subsidies will free up nearly $68 billion for college affordability and deficit reduction over the next 11 years. So these investments are not only paid for, but they’ll reduce the deficit in the long run.

Because of the legislation enacted today, we’re finally undertaking meaningful reform to our education system and making college more affordable and accessible.

For more information on these federal student aid programs, please go to www.studentaid.ed.gov, or call 1-800-4FED-AID.

Remarks by the President and Dr. Jill Biden at Signing of Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reconciliation Passed

H R 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, has been passed in the Senate by a 56 — 43 vote, and has been passed in the House by a 220— 207 vote.

This will now go to President Obama for signing.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HCR Signed

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on,

Vicki Kennedy, wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, gives President Barack Obama a "TEDSTRONG" bracelet, which shows support for cancer advocacy, in the Blue Room of the White House prior to the signing ceremony for the health insurance reform bill, March 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

the cause endures, the hope still lives,

President Barack Obama's signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

and the dream shall never die.”

~Senator Edward M. Kennedy - August 12, 1980


Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform Passes

Late Sunday evening, by a 219 — 212 vote, the House passed Senate bill H R 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

By a 220 — 211 vote, the House also passed H R 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cosmic Rosebud

“The universe is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

~Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes

WISE telescope captures space 'rose'

NASA's new infrared telescope has produced another stunning image of newly born stars emerging from dusty clouds.

NASA released the image of the "cosmic rosebud" Wednesday, showing stars in the Berkeley 59 cluster, about 3,300 light years from Earth.

The false colours in the image are meant to represent different wavelengths of infrared light captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, satellite.

The blue dots to the right of centre of the image represent stars that are just a few million years old, very young on the scale of lifetimes of stars. The red glow surrounding the stars is dust in the nebula heated by the stars.

The green material is essentially ash, chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are the result of combustion. The material is found on Earth in such places as fireplaces, barbecue pits and exhaust pipes.

The blue stars around the edges of the image are stars from our own Milky Way galaxy.

The gas and dust in this nebula have been blown outward by a supernova, giving it a flower-like shape.

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Monday, March 15, 2010

Theodore C. Olbermann, 1929-2010

Theodore C. Olbermann, the father of Keith Olbermann, died March 12, 2010 at age 80.

Keith writes:
My Dad was predeceased last year by my mother, Marie, his wife of nearly 60 years. He died peacefully after a long fight against the complications that ensued after successful colon surgery last September at the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. My sister Jenna and I were at his side, and I was reading him his favorite James Thurber short stories, as he left us.

. . .

He was my inspiration, and will always remain so. His bravery these last six months cannot be measured. He is as much my hero now, as he was when I was five years old.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

The Ed Schultz Show:

Do-or-die time for health reform


March 10: Msnbc’s Ed Shultz talks to Leslie Boyd and Heather Mroz, two women who testified on Capitol Hill about how they have suffered in the hands of insurance companies.

Pass. The. Damn. Bill.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Jobless Benefits Extended

Tuesday evening, the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, H. R. 4691, which includes in its provisions the the extending of unemployment and COBRA benefits, pay for Medicare doctors, funding for federal highway project programs and rural satellite TV, was passed in the Senate by a 78 - 10 vote.

Senate Votes Unemployment Benefits, Highway Funds

Senate approves extended unemployment benefits, highway money after Bunning backs down

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