Happy Hour Roundup

* Obamacare signups have now hit 3.3 million, with more than one million people signing up in January, exceeding a monthly projection for the first time. Still unknown: how many people have paid.

While overall signups are still somewhat behind schedule, this could reflect lag from the terrible rollout, which is receding in the rear view mirror. And the larger story is that we are inexorably moving into the realm of the concrete when it comes to the most important Obamacare metric of all — how many people are gaining coverage.

* Sam Baker has a measured take on what the new numbers do and don’t tell us, including this overall assessment: “Obamacare enrollment is on track to hand the White House a significant win over the law’s critics.”

* Larry Levitt offers some key context:

For ACA crystal ball gazing, March enrollment is the X factor. There will likely be a surge in sign-ups as the deadline nears. How big?

And so the ACA could conceivably catch up with projections. Or maybe they’ll fall a bit short! Either way, what matters most is how the law works over time. By the way, if you aren’t following Larry Levitt for matters health care related, you’re doing it wrong.

* Jonathan Cohn also has a balanced take on the new numbers, with all the appropriate and important caveats. His cautious bottom line: the evidence is more consistent with the idea that the law is working than that it is collapsing.

* Steve Benen has a good big picture take on the politics of these numbers, with an important reminder: Republicans are basing many important political and policy decisions on the premise that Obamacare’s implosion is already underway.

* Here’s a shocker: The debt limit hike passed the Senate today, easily breakng the GOP filibuster after Mitch McConnell, among others, voted Yes. McConnell is already being hailed for his “leadership” in bucking the Tea Party, but come on: GOP leaders have been putting us through this for literally years, and only cut the Tea Party loose when Dems simply refused to play the game any longer, leaving them no choice.

* Very good catch by Jonathan Bernstein: Even the Tea Partyers were just fine with the debt limit bill getting to the floor for the House vote. There just wasn’t any great act of courage from GOP leaders here.

* Brian Beutler has a good piece noting the crucial role Dems played in putting an end to GOP debt limit extortion, though he also sees a way it could come back from the dead.

* Jonathan Chait with a great takedown of all the flimsy arguments against Republicans acting on immigration right now, with the kicker:

Once the midterms pass, the presidential primary will quickly command attention. Republicans again will be competing for the loyalty of a heavily white, distinctly anti-immigrant electoral base, and the candidates will again face pressure to lock themselves into positions that will alienate Latino and Asian voters. They could still win anyway if the economy is weak enough, or some other major scandal envelopes the Obama administration. But in an electorate that is both increasingly hardened in its partisan inclinations, and growing steadily more Democratic-leaning in its basic shape, the GOP’s outlook is, if not hopeless, decidedly grim. Getting right with immigrant communities may not be sufficient for Republicans, but it’s surely necessary. In place of a step in the right direction, they’re taking no step at all.  

* Ben Armbruster has the latest on the fading Iran sanctions bill: More than 100 House Democrats have now signed a letter supporting diplomacy. This makes it less likely that any House sanctions push will have significant bipartisan support — reducing it to a partisan exercise.

* And Adam Serwer on a new study whose findings will surprise no one: It finds that North Carolina’s recent voting changes will disproportionately impact black voters.

What else?

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