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Shout out to Pittsburgh

President Barack Obama mentioned Pittsburgh in his big speech on the economy and inequality last week. He announced “targeted programs for the communities and workers that have been hit hardest by economic change and the Great Recession” and went on to say: “These communities are no longer limited to the inner city. They’re found in neighborhoods hammered by the housing crisis, manufacturing towns hit hard by years of plants packing up, landlocked rural areas where young folks oftentimes feel like they’ve got to leave just to find a job. There are communities that just aren’t generating enough jobs anymore.

“So we’ve put forward new plans to help these communities and their residents, because we’ve watched cities like Pittsburgh or my hometown of Chicago revamp themselves. And if we give more cities the tools to do it — not handouts, but a hand up — cities like Detroit can do it, too. So in a few weeks, we’ll announce the first of these Promise Zones, urban and rural communities where we’re going to support local efforts focused on a national goal — and that is a child’s course in life should not be determined by the ZIP code he’s born in, but by the strength of his work ethic and the scope of his dreams.”

Obamacare will survive

Via Atlantic Wire: Jonathan Chait at New York magazine says Obamacare still lives: “The pessimistic takes [on] don’t really deny that the site is better, or that it can become [better] still. The fact that some states that built their own exchanges (like Kentucky) are enjoying a smooth enrollment process shows pretty clearly that the model is fundamentally workable,” Mr. Chait writes.

Most importantly, he says, “There is no existential threat to Obamacare. The failure of the website rollout raised the possibility that the law itself might unravel. Conservatives still believe that will happen. But, then, they thought it would happen even before the website rollout, because they think Ayn Rand novels are an accurate gauge of how government programs generally function.”

GOP health care plan

Carbolic Smoke Ball: “WASHINGTON – GOP lawmakers say President Obama’s proposed fix for the Affordable Care Act doesn’t go far enough. House Speaker John Boehner unveiled the GOP’s alternative: Scrap Obamacare in favor of a first aid kit in every home. ‘It’s affordable, and it covers pre-existing conditions,’ Boehner explained. ‘Each kit will be required to have bandages, headache medications, and pills for stomach aches.’

“Boehner said the GOP’s plan would render treatment ‘more accessible than ever.’ He explained: ‘No more waiting to get in to see your physician. Now, just open the first aid kit and reach for the cure.’ ”

Rahm, do something

Steve Malanga at PublicSectorInc: “Reading the Chicago Tribune these days evokes memories of the New York Post in the early 1990s, when its coverage of New York’s many crises — high crime, deteriorating schools, dirty streets, aggressive panhandling —prompted the paper finally to cry out to Mayor Dinkins after one particularly bloody week, ‘Dave, Do Something!’

“The Tribune is running a series about Chicago’s many problems and is so down on the city’s leadership (‘Decades of abuse and neglect by its political class leave Chicago with insufficient funds for necessities, let alone for smart extras’) that the paper is now asking readers (‘Your Proposals Needed’) for their ideas on how to fix the city.

“Meanwhile … just days after running an editorial about families leaving the city . . . the Tribune featured a story about noted Chicago radio host Erich ‘Mancow’ Muller selling his fashionable co-op and moving his family out of Chicago, which Mancow called ‘unlivable.’ ”

Congress seeks aliens

Abby Ohlheiser at The Wire: “The House science committee carved out two hours of time on Wednesday to discuss the search for extraterrestrial life. Because the House has just seven days of work left before the end of the year, this hearing … has generated some pretty harsh criticism. But laments about an unproductive Congress finding time to look for aliens of all things are sadly misguided. [The alien] hearing is a great idea, and it’s doing something remarkable: getting the Republican-led, scientifically challenged committee to seriously discuss an important field of research and the funding needed to keep it going. So stop making fun of it.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (

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