February 13

* The top story tonight: the collapse of the deficit scolds. With the deficit having vanished from the national radar, a “young people” (LOL) affiliate of Fix the Debt called “the Can Kicks Back” is running short of cash. Why? Alex Pareene has the answer:

[A] problem The Can Kicks Back has faced is the entirely accurate perception that it is not actually a grass-roots organization of young people deeply concerned with reckless entitlement spending and unsustainable long-term debt, but rather yet another front group…for the small network of billionaires who have spent decades advocating tax cuts and the rolling back of Social Security and Medicare benefits, in the name of fiscal responsibility.

* Steve Benen catches Obamacare critics in some contradictions: it steals money from deserving job creators and exacerbates income inequality. Enrollment numbers are both too high and too low. Why, it’s almost as though there’s no coherent objection and conservatives are just picking any counter-argument to hand!

* Sherrod Brown says any hike in the minimum wage should include a boost for restaurant servers. Those employees get an exemption — they can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour (plus tips) which hasn’t been changed in over 20 years. Brown would raise it to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, which he would put at $10.10 and indexed to inflation. Great idea.

* Republicans are surprisingly amenable to President Obama’s “MyRA” retirement plan. Color me skeptical on this one. The MrRA thing, or nudging people into defined contribution plans (as discussed in the piece) is all well and good, but doesn’t address the fact that millions of people ain’t got money enough to save, or are about to retire right now with practically no savings.

* Paul Rosenberg has a great piece looking at the danger of Tea Party paranoia. It’s hard to govern a diffuse, Madison style presidential democracy with 27 percent of the population totally immune to logic and evidence.

* Aaron Carroll has a good follow-up on the big new mammogram study. Time to mark your beliefs to market on this one, folks.

* Matt Yglesias gets it on the Keystone XL pipeline. “They’ll just ship the oil by rail” is highly dubious, given all the, you know, exploding oil trains.

* Six Republican senators switched their votes on the debt limit vote. Safety in numbers, I guess? But interesting nonetheless for just a glimpse at the grimy functioning of our legislature.

* Check out the racist history of felony disenfranchisement laws. They’re holdouts from the Jim Crow era, when keeping blacks from voting was an explicit policy goal.

* Alec MacGillis has a map of Chris Christie’s raw power politics in New Jersey. The Garden State and political corruption, man — it’s one of those topics where it’s so vast you can’t even begin to get a handle on it without reading several books. (Who’s written The Power Broker for New Jersey?)

* And the thing to know about these recent winter ice storms is that they used to happen much more often. See also xkcd.

What else?