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March 10, 2014

In what is likely a sign that ObamaCare is extending health insurance to more Americans as intended, the uninsured rate fell markedly to start the year, according to Gallup data released Monday. In a little more than six months, the percentage of Americans without insurance has fallen to 15.9, down from the record high of 18 percent Gallup recorded last year.

More from Gallup:

The uninsured rate for almost every major demographic group has dropped in 2014 so far. The percentage of uninsured Americans with an annual household income of less than $36,000 has dropped the most — by 2.8 percentage points — to 27.9 percent since the fourth quarter of 2013, while the percentage of uninsured blacks has fallen 2.6 points to 18.3 percent. Hispanics remain the subgroup most likely to lack health insurance, with an uninsured rate of 37.9 percent. [Gallup]

In other words, demographics with some of the highest uninsured rates — the very demographics ObamaCare is intended to benefit most — are seeing significant improvements in their rates of coverage.

Now, it's still too early to peg all of the drop on the health care law. But the clear trend over the past few months strongly points to the fact that ObamaCare is indeed reducing the number of people without coverage. A continuation of that trend will only make the link that much stronger. And that's why Democrats aren't, despite what Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may say, in any rush to abandon the law: As it begins to take hold, and more people get covered, support for the law could well become an asset for Democrats. Jon Terbush

1:10 p.m. ET

Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo doubled down on a claim that former president Obama "masterminded" a plot to unearth disparaging information on President Trump, voicing a theory that government agencies were politically weaponized during a Monday segment on the network.

"President Obama, basically it appears to me, politicized all of his agencies: the DOJ, the FBI, the IRS, the CIA — they were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump" said Bartiromo.

Bartiromo previously alleged that Obama or Hillary Clinton had been "masterminding" FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign, which drew criticism. When Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News judicial analyst, said that any FBI surveillance would constitute "extraordinary political use of intelligence and law enforcement by the Obama administration," Bartiromo escalated the claim, roping in multiple government agencies. Watch the full discussion below, via Fox Business Network. Summer Meza

12:24 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have "entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix," the streaming service announced Monday. The content will "potentially" include "scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features."

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the move is "unprecedented in media" and that "no previous former president has ever made such a deal," with post-White House productions typically limited to autobiographies.

In a statement, Obama said he and Michelle "hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world." Earlier this year, Obama appeared on David Letterman's Netflix talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Jeva Lange

12:11 p.m. ET

The White House has issued an informational statement echoing President Trump's controversial use of the word "animals" to describe members of the MS-13 gang. Trump's initial comments came under fire when he apparently used the dehumanizing word to describe some immigrants in sanctuary cities, although he later clarified he was using "animals" specifically to refer to violent gang members.

The press release issued Monday is titled "What you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13." The release uses eight different statements like, "In Maryland, MS-13's animals are accused of stabbing a man more than 100 times and then decapitating him, dismembering him, and ripping his heart out of his body," and "MS-13's animals reportedly saw murder as a way to boost their standing in the gang." The statement ends by vowing that "President Trump's entire administration is working tirelessly to bring these violent animals to justice."

Writing for The Week, Paul Waldman recently argued that Trump "has used a particular strategy to justify his immigration policies: Focus on crimes committed by individual immigrants as a way of ginning up fear and hatred, creating animus toward all immigrants. And when necessary, use dehumanizing language — like calling them 'animals' — to make sure that your target audience feels no empathy or hesitation about supporting the cruelest policies to target them." Jeva Lange

11:49 a.m. ET
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia were arrested last week, reports The Washington Post, just weeks before the nation lifts a ban on women driving.

Several of the seven activists who were jailed were leaders in the campaign to allow women to obtain driver's licenses, which the Saudi government approved last year. Five women and two men were detained on charges of "suspicious contact with foreign parties" and "undermining the country's stability and social fabric," the Post reports.

One of the detainees, Loujain Hathloul, was arrested in 2014 after driving into Saudi Arabia to protest the driving ban. Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef have also vocally opposed the nation's male guardianship system, which requires men to accompany women to access government services, reports BuzzFeed News.

Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have denounced the arrests, calling the activists victims of a "chilling smear campaign" by government officials. The Saudi government has pledged to reform many of its laws regarding its social structure and women's rights, but activists and advocacy groups say the reality of the kingdom's advancements is far from what officials have claimed. Summer Meza

11:11 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton spoke at Yale's Class Day on Sunday, referencing the university's tradition of wearing silly (typically DIY) hats for the occasion by bringing a Ushanka hat along for a predictable joke about President Trump. "A Russian hat," she said, waving but not actually wearing it. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Clinton also revisited her loss to Trump in a more serious tone. "I'm not over it," she said. "I still think about the 2016 election. I still regret the mistakes I made. I still think, though, that understanding what happened in such a weird and wild election in American history will help us defend our democracy in the future."

Watch the hat moment below. Bonnie Kristian

10:55 a.m. ET

In a survey of 87 cybersecurity experts published Monday, The Washington Post found they overwhelmingly believe state election systems are vulnerable to hacking in the 2018 midterms.


(The Washington Post)

"We are going to need more money and more guidance on how to effectively defend against the sophisticated adversaries we are facing to get our risk down to acceptable levels," Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and one of the experts polled, told the Post. "I hope Congress continues to work to address this vital national security issue," Langevin added. He argues the $380 million allotted for election cybersecurity in March is not enough.

On a more positive note, the experts who spoke with the Post generally agreed systems are more secure than they were in the last election, and there is "no evidence that Russian hackers actually changed any votes in 2016," though they did access some voter data. Bonnie Kristian

10:41 a.m. ET
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 along ideological lines on Monday to rule that federal arbitration law allows employers to prevent their employees from banding together in class-action lawsuits and require them to go through individual arbitrators for disputes. The ruling, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing the majority, is a "big win for businesses" and "a major blow to workers," New York's Cristian Farias tweeted.

While supporters of arbitration argue it is cheaper, "critics say companies are trying to strip individuals of important rights, including the ability to band together on claims that as a practical matter are too small to press individually," Bloomberg writes, adding that "about 25 million employees have signed arbitration accords that bar group claims."

Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the 30-page dissent, which is five pages longer than the majority decision, SCOTUSblog reports. She called the ruling "egregiously wrong" and said the Federal Arbitration Act "demands no such suppression for the right of workers to take concerted action for their 'mutual aid or protection.'"

Gorsuch said that the "policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written." Read more about the decision on Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis at SCOTUSblog. Jeva Lange

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