Wonkblog: Master Archives
"Sequestration is the frozen body of Han Solo hanging on the Republicans’ palace wall."
"The problem with the PlayStation 3 is that it never really made money."
"At that point, discussion of 834s entered full freak-out mode."
"Nobody’s counting the bodies.”
"No cash, no gift cards are ever okay, as gifts from a donor, they're always 'No Way!'"
"Why anyone would bring that much marijuana into the Pentagon is anyone's guess."
"It’s pretty hard to spot porkers from that height, unless the pigs can fly, too."
"In an attempt to explain foreigners' fixation with China's national symbol, the article observed that pandas are objectively 'adorable,' and also that the online broadcast of Tai Shan's birth may have led its many U.S. viewers to feel a connection to the cub."
Every day, usually about 2 p.m. or so, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hosts a half-hour-long call on the status of the insurance marketplace. Now, every day, we here at Wonkblog will update you on what the federal government told us about how Obamacare is going. Without further ado, here is what we learned today.
Here's a problem for the protesters demonstrating at fast-food restaurants across the country to demand $15 an hour: Whom are they talking to, exactly? A global megacorporation or a locally-owned small business?
The answer is both -- and each of them can use the other to say no.
The minimum wage, which has long lagged behind the cost of living and even the rate of inflation, is having a moment. After nearly a year of timidly asking for an increase to $9 an hour, President Obama appealed again for Congress to take action in a speech on inequality this week, and polling that suggests the idea is gaining widespread support.
Welcome to Health Reform Watch, Sarah Kliff’s regular look at how the Affordable Care Act is changing the American health-care system — and being changed by it. You can reach Sarah with questions, comments and suggestions here. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon for the latest edition or sign up here to receive it straight from your inbox. Read previous columns here.
It's budget time again: Lawmakers from the House and Senate are trying to nail down an agreement to keep the government funded before they leave for the holidays on Dec. 13. And, while nothing's final just yet, a deal to avert another shutdown may be in reach.
At the moment, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray are discussing a proposal to boost discretionary spending modestly in the next two years, by providing government agencies with partial relief from the automatic sequestration budget cuts.
It's not quite a victory lap, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is arguing that the battle against too-big-to-fail financial institutions is largely won. Yes, there remain enormous banks with multitrillion-dollar balance sheets and operations in all corners of the financial world. But, Lew said in a speech Thursday, the reforms implemented through the Dodd-Frank Act are making it pretty much unthinkable that one of these institutions could fail in a way that brings on a government bailout or leads to a catastrophic economic downturn.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah from your friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The November jobs numbers were very good, across the board. The unemployment rate fell to 7 percent, its lowest level in exactly five years, from 7.3 percent. The nation added 203,000 jobs last month, nearly identical to October's numbers and affirming that hiring is starting to happen at a steady clip. Revisions to previous months' data was slightly positive. Americans are working more hours, for slightly higher wages.
Let’s agree that 23andMe Inc., the Google-backed company marketing a $99 genetics test that assesses your risk for more than 240 health conditions, didn’t manage its relationship with the Food and Drug Administration well.
After “more than 14 face-to-face and teleconference meetings, hundreds of email exchanges, and dozens of written communications,” the FDA wrote in a letter to 23andMe, “you have not worked with us toward de novo classification, did not provide the additional information we requested necessary to complete review of your 510(k)s, and FDA has not received any communication from 23andMe since May.”
Welcome to Wonkbook, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas's morning policy news primer. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism, or ideas to Wonkbook at Gmail dot com. To read more by Ezra and his team, go to Wonkblog.
The U.S. economy grew 3.6 percent in the third quarter.That's the kind of number that could foretell a real recovery. Sadly, this one doesn't.
--- "I never once heard him mention God or heaven or any kind of afterlife. Nelson Mandela believed in justice in this lifetime."
--- "And he was, in fact, like a leader from another era, the pre-television era, with his courtliness, his seriousness, his indifference to the camera."
--- "The solution was to love him into acquiescence."
--- "Today we lost not only an international hero and a symbol of the resilient human spirit, but also the very first political figure ever who people actively wish was still alive and affecting world affairs."
--- "The words 'Nelson Mandela is dead' feel strange in the mouth today, almost impossible to say, given the unique way he was both martyred and canonised during his lifetime."
Nelson Mandela, the iconic freedom fighter who brought an end to apartheid in South Africa nearly two decades ago, has died. In the hail of inspirational quotes, we often forget that Mandela wasn't just a leader and crusader for justice, but also someone who thought very pragmatically about how to achieve his ends: What allies to make, which levers to pull, and when to back down.
Congress is starting to take notice of the fact that more than 1.3 million people will lose their jobless benefits on Dec. 28 unless lawmakers renew an emergency aid program for the unemployed that's set to expire this year.
House Democrats said on Thursday that they won't support a budget deal unless it includes a one-year extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which would cost roughly $25.1 billion. In response, Republican Speaker John Boehner said he would "entertain" the idea of an extension but wants to see a specific proposal from the White House first.
As a reporter who has covered the Affordable Care Act, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to uninsured Americans. Aside from the daily federal updates and traffic statistics, it’s been one of the more helpful ways to understand how the health-care law is working — and what its rocky rollout will mean.
Our friends at the Monkey Cage are starting to forecast the 2014 House election and the conclusion, basically, is that there's not going to be a wave in 2014. There won't be one for Democrats, certainly. But there probably won't be one for Republicans, either. The baseline forecast right now is that Democrats lose five seats in the House.
While the rhetoric in President Obama's big inequality speech Wednesday was characteristically soaring, the policy proposals were largely rehashes of past administration initiatives. What's more, a surprising number of them had little to do with tax or transfer programs. Things like increasing exports, reducing certain regulations, boosting spending on scientific research and other investments, and raising the minimum wage are intended to reduce inequality before taxes or transfer programs like Social Security and the Earned Income Tax Credit come into the picture.
Perhaps the most interesting paper here is economist Jared Bernstein's exploration (pdf) of whether rising income inequality in the United States is bad for economic growth. His conclusion: There are compelling reasons to believe that inequality can harm growth, but it's surprisingly difficult to prove this is happening.
The U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the government now says, much better than the 2.8 percent previously estimated.
That's the kind of number that, if it reflected the true, underlying growth rate of the economy, would be fantastic news. A couple of years of 3 percent to 4 percent growth would go a long way toward ending the long, post-crisis economic malaise that has afflicted the United States. Too bad that's not at all what the details of the new GDP report suggest is going on.
Fewer women are getting pregnant.
The pregnancy rate for American women between 15 and 44 dropped 12 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to a new Center for Disease Control report out today on pregnancy and abortion. In 2009, there were 102.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women, a drop from 115.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 1990.
I appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday to talk about the state of HealthCare.Gov. Before I came on, Mike Rogers, a Republican congressman from Michigan, delivered his take. Obamacare's effects turned out to be more dire than I'd ever imagined.
The bank-busting Sen. Elizabeth Warren, stung by an attack from the center-left think tank Third Way, responded with a salvo of her own Wednesday: She wants financial institutions to disclose their contributions to all such Beltway institutions that inform political debate with their funders shielded from view. The implication, which Warren leaves to the left-wing press, is that Wall Street is funding the anti-populist backlash.