Did you see: “Obama Sets Gas Prices? Just Another G.O.P. Myth”

The New York Times debunked the “widespread misunderstanding” that President Obama controls gas prices—and laid out the progress America is making to build a secure energy future:

“Because oil is a global commodity, increasing domestic production will do very little to bring down retail prices, although it does help narrow the trade deficit as America spends less on imports. On this score, America is doing much better than the Republicans will admit. In 2005, oil imports accounted for nearly 60 percent of America’s daily consumption. In 2010, for the first time in recent memory, imports were less than half of consumption, and last year, imports were only 45 percent—8.6 million barrels a day of the 19 million consumed. There are two reasons for this welcome shift: production is up and oil consumption is down. Production of crude oil and other liquid fuels, onshore and offshore, reached about 10.3 million barrels daily in 2011, its highest level since the late 1980s.

“The most encouraging news is on the consumption side. Americans are getting more miles to the gallon, which means there’s that much less carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere. We used 20.8 million barrels a day in 2005, the highest level in history. That dropped to just under 19 million barrels last year, and, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, is likely to stay there awhile. The recession has had a lot to do with the decline, but so has fuel efficiency. Ten years ago, cars and light trucks (including S.U.V.’s) averaged 24.7 miles a gallon. In 2011, the figure rose to 29.6 miles a gallon as consumers chose more efficient cars. Two landmark agreements between the administration and the automakers—aimed at improving efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases—could raise it to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.”

Read the full article for more on gas prices and steps the President is taking toward American energy independence.

National Day of Honor

President Obama has proclaimed today, March 19, a National Day of Honor to mark the nine-year anniversary of our troops entering Iraq and recognize the sacrifices of all who served.

“Nine years ago, members of the United States Armed Forces crossed the sands of the Iraq-Kuwait border and began one of the most challenging missions our military has ever known. They left the comforts of home and family, volunteering in service to a cause greater than themselves. They braved insurgency and sectarian strife, knowing too well the danger of combat and the cost of conflict. Yet, through the dust and din and the fog of war, they never lost their resolve. Demonstrating unshakable fortitude and unwavering commitment to duty, our men and women in uniform served tour after tour, fighting block by block to help the Iraqi people seize the chance for a better future. And on December 18, 2011, their mission came to an end.

“Today, we honor their success, their service, and their sacrifice. In one of our nation’s longest wars, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history. When highways became mine fields and uncertainty waited behind every corner, service members rose to meet the task at hand with unmatched courage and determination. They learned languages and cultures, taking on new roles as diplomats and development experts to improve the communities where they served. Their strength toppled a tyrant, and their valor helped build opportunity in oppression’s place. Across nearly nine years of conflict, the glory of their service—as well as the contributions of other members of the U.S. government and our coalition partners—always shone through.

“The war left wounds not always seen, but forever felt. The burden of distance and the pain of loss weighed heavily on the hearts of millions at home and overseas. Behind every member of our military stood a parent, a spouse, or a son or daughter who proudly served their community and prayed for their loved one’s safe return. For wounded warriors, coming home marked the end of one battle and the beginning of another—to stand, to walk, to recover, and to serve again. And, in war’s most profound cost, there were those who never came home. Separated by time and space but united by their love of country, nearly 4,500 men and women are eternally bound; though we have laid them to rest, they will live on in the soul of our nation now and forever. To them, to their families, and to all who served, we owe a debt that can never be fully repaid.

“When we returned the colors of United States Forces-Iraq and the last of our troops set foot on American soil, we reflected on the extraordinary service and sacrifice of those who answered our country’s call. Their example embodied that fundamental American faith that tells us no mission is too hard, no challenge is too great, and that through tests and through trials, we will always emerge stronger than before. Now, our nation reaffirms our commitment to serve veterans of Iraq as well as they served us—to uphold the sacred trust we share with all who have worn the uniform. Our future is brighter for their service, and today, we express our gratitude by saying once more: Welcome home” President Obama said.

By the Numbers: $4200

The average senior on Medicare will save $4,200 on their health care by 2021 because of the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama’s health reform law strengthens Medicare for seniors in a few ways.  It gives them access to preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, with no co-pay or deductibles, as well as a free annual wellness visit. Nearly 32.5 million people have already received a free preventive service.

And, the Affordable Care Act is making it easier for seniors to pay for the medications they need, by providing a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs for seniors once they hit the prescription coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” By 2020, that donut hole will be closed completely.

Already, more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities saved over $3.2 billion in drug costs. That comes to an average savings of $635 per person.

Breaking It Down: The Health Care Law and Seniors

The President’s health law gives hard working, middle-class families the security they deserve. The Affordable Care Act forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy through annual or lifetime limits, and, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

For seniors, the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, not only means more time with their doctor and important new benefits like free preventive services like cancer screenings and annual wellness visits, but it also means more money in their pocket. The new health care law strengthens Medicare. Already, more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities saved over $3.2 billion in drug costs. That comes to an average savings of $635 per person for seniors caught in the coverage gap known as the donut hole. And, 32.5 million people with Medicare have received preventive service without a deductible or copay, thanks to the new law.

Here are more ways the law helps seniors:

  1. You get free preventive services. Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies, with no cost sharing. You also can get a free annual wellness visit.
  2. You get cheaper prescription drugs. If you’re in the donut hole, you will receive a 50 percent discount when buying brand-name prescription drugs covered by Medicare Part D. The discount is applied automatically when you fill your prescription—you don’t have to do anything to get it. These changes are already saving seniors billions of dollars. And by 2020, the donut hole will be closed.
  3. Your doctors are supported to better coordinate your care.  Many doctors, hospitals, and other providers are taking advantage of new programs to help them work better as teams to provide you the highest quality care possible. They are working to get you the care you need at the time you need it.
  4. The law fights fraud and strengthens Medicare. The Affordable Care Act builds on our efforts to combat fraud and abuse. These efforts are saving billions of dollars in money that was being stolen from people with Medicare. And thanks to these efforts and other improvements, the life of the Medicare Trust fund has been extended.
  5. Your Medicare coverage is protected. Under the new health care law, your existing Medicare-covered benefits won’t be reduced or taken away. As always, you will be able to choose your own doctors.

Visit http://www.healthcare.gov/seniors to learn more.

You can also access a print-ready, one pager (PDF- 11 MB) with these points, and there is a brochure available with more details about the preventive services (PDF – 1.22 MB).

Paul Martinez Announces for Magistrate Judge

In a letter to Doña Ana County Democrats and other supporters longtime civil rights advocate Paul A. “Pablo” Martinez formally announced his candidacy for Doña Ana County Magistrate Judge today. In his  announcement Martinez outlined his strong background in criminal justice and community service along with civil rights.

Martinez, has a professional legal training and educational background, and a professional background in corrections. Martinez is seeking to fill the vacancy left at the Magistrate Court by the resignation of Olivia Garcia earlier this year.

His statement of candidacy follows:

“After careful review and consideration, I have decided to run for this position and will formally submit my paperwork this coming Tuesday, March 20, 2012. I desire to earn this position through the democratic and electoral process. I am seeking your support as fellow Democrats and leaders of our county’s party. All I yearn for is a fighting chance to earn this position through your trust and confidence. I will be the people’s judge, elected by the people and for the people.”

“Most of you who know me are cognizant of my record or involvement in human and civil rights. I have always been loyal and faithful to our party, since I have lived and resided in New Mexico. My involvement in civil rights has always been consistent within our own party’s platform and values. I have always believed and raised my own children on those democratic principles of contributing back to our society by becoming involved and engaged in civic duties and responsibilities.

“I am a retired law enforcement and corrections administrator with the New Mexico Corrections Department. I was the former Superintendent of the J. Paul Taylor Center with the Juvenile Justice Service of the Children, Youth and Families Department. I was a Unit Administrator at Southern New Mexico Correctional Facilities and had oversight over the operations of custody levels III, IV and VI housing units. I was active in drafting unit management plans and several NMCD policies and procedures. I was on various appeals review committees for inmate formal and informal grievances and discipline. I served on the NM Gang Task Force (NMGTF) and was a former chairperson of the Legislative Committee for the NMGTF. I am one of founding members of the International Latino Gangs Investigator’s Association (ILGIA). This is a professional gang investigators and training organization. I have experience in dealing with disruptive and security threat groups during my law enforcement careers in both New Mexico and California. I have provided international training with Mexican counterparts to combat security threat and disruptive groups domestic and abroad.

“I am a family man. I have been married for almost 25 years. I have two sons and one daughter. All have attended public education through the Las Cruces Public Schools.

“I received formal education and training at Fullerton College, Cal State Fullerton and Western State University College of Law. This legal training was to enhance my law enforcement career. I also received Paralegal Certification at the University of New Mexico when I lived in northern New Mexico.

“I have a comprehensive understanding of the civil and criminal justice process. I am a firm believer in public safety, but at the same time, I will not compromise one’s civil rights with respect to violating the fundamental principles and constitutional guarantees, which are due process rights. I possess a professional aptitude and temperament required to properly administer sound and prudent judgment. I am fair, firm and consistent. My belief is not about rendering decisions influenced by popularity or what may be considered politically correct. It is all about justice and doing the right thing. That is, following the letter and spirit of the law, not acting arbitrary or capricious. Politics does not belong in the judiciary. It is about providing fair and impartial hearings. Justice is determining facts as opposed to conjecture and administering applicable laws to base a just outcome” Paul Martinez said.

March 19: News Roundup

Paul Ryan and the Republican Congressional leadership prepare to launch fresh assault on Medicare. There’s more at the Los Angeles Times.

Susana Martinez and New Mexico Tourist Board: Only light-skinned persons need apply. There’s more at the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Rush Limbaugh’s antics taking a toll in talk radio. There’s more at the Washington Post.

John McCain warns Republicans to back off it’s war against contraception. There’s more at TPM.

In battle with Santorum, Mitt Romney makes an about-face on contraception, courts moderate Republican women in Illinois. There’s more at the New York Times.

Republican Party administration of caucuses shows a record of failure. There’s more at TPM.

Rick Santorum exploits a fresh wedge between rural and urban voters. There’s more at the New York Times.

After crushing loss in Puerto Rico, Santorum doubles-down on English only. There’s  more at Politico.

Report shows success of Romneycare model as Romney repudiates it. There’s more at ThinkProgress.

C-Span founder Brian Lamb retires from the network’s CEO spot. There’s more at the New York Times.

Clovis, New Mexico Mayor Lansford under fire for anti-Obama rant. There’s more at the Clovis News-Journal.

Georgia Republican compares women to cows, pigs and chickens. There’s more at ThinkProgress.

Opinion: Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs explains why he is leaving the investment giant. Read it at the New York Times.

Opinion: Paul Krugman declares “Hooray for Health Reform!” Read it at the New York Times.

Mitt Romney Profits From China’s Surveillance of its Own Citizens

On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney rails against China’s trade policies and its record on human rights, and he promises that as president, he would take a hard line against the Chinese government.

But his actions—and his investments—tell a very different story.

The New York Times is reporting that Romney has financial holdings in a company that claims to be the largest supplier to China’s monitoring system—which lets the government keep tabs on university campuses, hospitals, mosques, and movie theaters.

In other words, Romney is financially invested in the Chinese government keeping tabs on its own citizens—and the implications are serious:

“Human rights advocates say in China [the surveillance cameras] are also used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents. ‘There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel feer,’ says Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Providence. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.”

Romney has made “confronting China” part of his case for the presidency, and he has criticized China for denying its people—in his words—”basic political freedoms and human rights.”

But through his investments, he’s enabling China to do just that.

Romney’s clearly got one set of rules for the campaign trail, and another set of rules for himself. That’s not what the American people are looking for in a leader.