Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May 1st, 2012

The New York Times

Published: May 1, 2012

Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than seven thousand miles from home, but for over a decade it has been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.

Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries – a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.

Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

And so, ten years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe-havens in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set – to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild – is within reach.

Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

First, we have begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

Second, we are training Afghan Security Forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force.

Third, we are building an enduring partnership. The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: as you stand up, you will not stand alone. It establishes the basis of our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions. It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people. And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans – men and women, boys and girls.

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

TPM

Sahil Kapur May 1, 2012, 6:16 AM

In the first two years after “Obamacare” was signed, Medicare reforms in the law saved seniors a total of $3.4 billion in prescription drug costs by bridging a coverage gap, according to official figures.Over 220,000 beneficiaries have saved an average of $837 in the first three months of 2012, the Medicare agency said Monday. That’s on top of $3.2 billion in savings enjoyed by some 5.1 million seniors in 2010 and 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to the advisory on the new figures.The savings were wrung through a combination of discounts on Medicare prescription drugs — 50 percent on brand names, 7 percent on generics — and rebates for seniors who fell under a coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”

“The Affordable Care Act is helping millions on Medicare save billions of dollars on care and prescription drugs,” top Medicare official Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. “The Affordable Care Act gives people on Medicare the relief they need from medical costs and more resources to stay healthy.”

The figures, circulated to reporters, reflect the administration’s latest attempt to highlight the successes of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Just last week, they released data showing that an “Obamacare” insurance regulation is yielding rebates for consumers and businesses who provide employees health care.

Republicans have instead seized on cost projections and some of the law’s failures, such as the now-neutered long-term care CLASS program, to paint the law as an expensive monstrosity. The dedicated stream of attacks from the law’s opponents, and ensuing partisan shouting matches that have defined debates of the law, has painted the legislation in a negative light.

Polls say Americans continue to view “Obamacare” unfavorably on balance. With a Supreme Court decision looming on its constitutionality, the law is shaping up to be an important issue in the November elections.

Image from Shutterstock

SOURCE

Read Full Post »

George W. Bush’s economy was terrible. (ANDY CROSS - AP)

TheWashingtonPost

Posted by

at 09:09 AM ET, 05/01/2012

There’s not much in politics that allows me to say, “I’m old enough to remember when.” But here’s one: I’m old enough to remember when George W. Bush was president.

It was, after all, only four short years ago. And it didn’t go so well. The Bush economy is one of the worst on record. Median wages dropped. Poverty worsened. Inequality increased. Surpluses turned into deficits. Monthly job growth was weaker than it had been in any expansion since 1954. Economic growth was sluggish. And that’s before you count the financial crisis that unfurled on his watch. Add the collapse to the equation, and Bush’s record goes from “not so good” to “I can’t bear to look.”

Was all that his fault? Of course not. No economy is entirely under the president’s control. He didn’t create the tech bubble or 9/11. His responsibility for the financial crisis is, at best, partial. But Bush’s economic policies — including massive, deficit-financed tax cuts, and his reappointing of Alan Greenspan to lead the Federal Reserve — mattered. And, rightly or wrongly, the American people blame him for the aftermath. He left office one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history. And the anger has stuck: A recent YouGov poll found that 56 percent blame Bush “a great deal” or “a lot” for economic problems. Only 41 percent said the same about President Obama.

Given all that, you’d think Republicans would be running from anything or anyone who even vaguely reminded Americans of our 43rd president. In fact, the GOP seems eager to get the old gang back together.

Last week, when CNN asked House Speaker John Boehner whom Mitt Romney, the likely GOP presidential nominee, should choose as his vice presidential running mate, he named Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Daniels and Portman served as budget directors in the Bush White House. Perhaps more surprising, a variety of big-name Republicans have openly yearned for Jeb Bush to get the nod — and before that, to run for the nomination itself.

Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign staff is thick with Bush administration veterans. Two of his economic advisers — N. Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard — served as chief economists for Bush. His policy director, Lanhee Chen, worked on health policy in the Bush White House.

Some of this is unavoidable: Presidential administrations tend to suck up a political party’s best talent. The Obama White House, for instance, is full of Clinton veterans. But in the Obama White House, the Clinton veterans haven’t really acted like Clinton veterans.

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: