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Obama talks health care with Zach Galifinianakis


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By Lars Gesing
CU News Corps

After national unemployment rates slightly rose from 6.6 percent in January to 6.7 percent in February, Bloomberg reports that job openings in the U.S. increased less than expected in January. According to Bloomberg writer Jeanna Smialek, this was likely a sign that “labor-market cooling from late 2013 persisted as severe winter weather hammered the eastern and midwestern U.S.”

Smialek quotes Ryan Weng, an economist at HSBC Securities USA Inc. in New York. “Hiring was delayed during the winter due to bad weather, and I think we’ve started to see some catch-up already in the February figures,” Weng said.

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Good news for Vincent Viola. The founder and majority shareholder of New York high-frequency market trader Virtu will soon be the latest Wall Street billionaire as his firm gets ready to go public on NASDAQ. Viola, who owns 65 percent of Virtu’s shares, is projected to make more than $2 billion from the move, according to Forbes.com.

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Bad news for Barack Obama. UNITE Here, a hospitality workers union representing workers in the United States and Canada, put out a new report predicting that the president’s key legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, would hasten income inequality, thereby undermining Obama’s policy approach to narrow the income gap.

The union, a group that has been critical of the new health care law before but usually supports the president’s policies according to Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, says in the report that “the promise of Obamacare was the right one and the hope for extending health care coverage to the un- and under-insured a step in the right direction. Yet the unintended consequences will hit the average, hard-working American where it hurts: in the wallet.”

The report was published prominently on conservative media outlet’s websites such as foxnews.com, which has been critical of the new legislation for months.

Meanwhile, Obama himself made a rather unorthodox campaign stop during his promotion of the ACA. In order to urge young, healthy Americans to sign up for the new health care program by the March 31 deadline, the president sat down with comedian Zach Galifinianakis in an episode of the social media satire interview series “Between two Ferns.”  

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In the political fight over the right policy approach toward tackling inequality, Republicans and Democrats don’t find a lot of common ground, which makes the issue so hotly debated and omnipresent in the media. Upworthy, a news website determined to publish viral content, now announced that they will form an uncommon alliance with the public interest investigative journalists of ProPublica and advocacy media groups such as Human Rights Watch to push coverage of income inequality, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

The site cites an Upworthy blog post that indicates the direction of the planned coverage the alliance plans to produce: “Too many media companies assume the worst about their communities — they think just because they’ve seen starlet scandals get more site traffic than foreign revolutions, that’s what their audience really wants to see. We couldn’t disagree more, and we think that the millions of you who make up the Upworthy community help prove it every day.”

The blog post also determined that according to Upworthy readers, income inequality was the second-most important topic, led only by “climate change and clean energy.”

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In a recent The New York Times column, Paul Krugman challenged the prevalent belief that income redistribution would negatively affect the gross domestic product.

“Taking action to reduce the extreme inequality of 21st-century America would probably increase, not reduce, economic growth,” Krugman wrote, acknowledging that “the very affluent would lose more from higher taxes than they gained from better economic growth,” but also pointing out that “it’s pretty clear that taking on inequality would be good, not just for the poor, but for the middle class.”

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Explanatory multimedia reporting from CU Boulder journalism students
Obama talks health care with Zach Galifinianakis