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Sebelius bearer of good news, then needed to go; former White House budget director takes her job


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By Lars Gesing
CU News Corps

It was quite a week for Kathleen Sebelius. On April 7, the then U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services visited the CU-Boulder campus to deliver the keynote speech for the 2014 Conference on World Affairs.

On March 31, the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act had ended with a last-minute signup frenzy, which prompted the White House to announce that 7.1 million people had enrolled for the federal health care plan – meeting a goal the administration had set early on in the process.

One and a half weeks later, on the morning of April 10, Sebelius appeared in front of the Senate finance committee for a testimony. She stunned her audience, announcing the enrollment numbers were even higher than the originally celebrated 7.1 million. Now, the administration believed that 7.5 million Americans had signed up for the Affordable Care Act, according to The Washington Post.

But that wasn’t the only stunning news that day. Only hours later, NBC News and other media reported that Sebelius would resign shortly over the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare website, and that President Obama would nominate Sylvia Matthews Burwell, until then director of the White House office of management and budget.

Friday, Obama announced the appointment of Burwell as the new secretary of health and human services. According to The New York Times, during the ceremony in the Rose Garden, the president had some warm words for Sebelius as he bid her goodbye: “What Kathleen will go down in history for is serving as the secretary of Health and Human Services when the United States of America finally declared that quality, affordable health care is not a privilege but it is a right for every citizen.”

You can watch President Obama’s speech here.

In a blog post for the Huffington Post, Clarence B. Jones, a professor at the University of San Francisco and a scholar writer in residence at Stanford University, wrote that the positive enrollment numbers were a needed course correction for democrats in the wake of the 2014 midterm elections.

Finally, a joint poll conducted by USA Today and the Pew Research Center found that the Affordable Care Act is likely to play a major role in the 2014 midterm elections, and likely to the favor of Republicans. The study found that those who oppose the health care law are more likely to vote in the fall.

To find out about which other factors are likely to affect the ballot decisions in the midterms, make sure to read this CU NewsCorps story.

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As the Associated Press reports, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday signed a bill that works contrary to the broad push the Obama administration is making to increase the minimum wage. According to the new law, cities across Oklahoma are now prohibited from establishing mandatory minimum wage hikes, or vacation and sick day requirements, while we’re on it. The Bloomberg Businessweek and various other media picked up the original AP story.

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According to new data, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies make about 331-times the salary of an average American worker. Ezra Klein’s Vox explains how one section of the U.S. tax code implemented under former President Bill Clinton fails to curb top-level executive’s pays because, as it turns out, the section is a giant loophole that is costing the government a lot of money.

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As Eduardo Porter writes in a column for The New York Times, the International Monetary Fund in a change of policy now takes on the issue of income inequality. Porter interviewed the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, about the policy change. She insisted that the fund cared about the issue earlier too, but, “Because inequality rose, we had to look at it more carefully and look at whether rising inequality in those societies in the post-crisis period in particular was relevant for the macroeconomic analysis that we do,” Lagarde said.

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Sebelius bearer of good news, then needed to go; former White House budget director takes her job