May 7

* As Republicans have increasingly found their predictions of Obamacare doom falling by the wayside, they’ve placed their chips on the allegation that, sure, millions of people may have signed up for insurance, but many aren’t paying premiums. Today, insurance company executives testified on Capitol Hill, and Republicans were no doubt hoping they’d report that that is indeed what’s happening. But no such luck:

Republicans were visibly exasperated as insurers failed to confirm certain assumptions about ObamaCare, such as the committee’s allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium.

Four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate.

May I remind the witnesses that we brought them here for the purpose of a partisan media circus, and we expect them to cooperate!

* And there’s this pleasing detail from Dylan Scott:

A little while later, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, one of the more outspoken Obamacare critics in Congress, got audibly flustered as she continued to press insurers to reveal their business plans in front of their competitors, pressing the witnesses to give some indication of what Obamacare’s 2015 premiums will be.

Skyrocketing premiums, of course, are the Next Big Obamacare Disaster Republicans are waiting for.

* Jonathan Cohn has a good piece on the larger meaning of today’s farce, and how it shows that this angle on the law — which Republicans have invested heavily in promoting — is increasingly a non-story.

* You really should watch Thom Tillis’ full interview with Chuck Todd from this morning, which is being circulated by Dems as evidence he may not be the sterling candidate the GOP establishment anticipated. Note that he says states should set the minimum wage, and then on top of that refuses to take a stand on what his own state’s minimum wage should be. — gs

* David Firestone argues that in the wake of Thom Tillis’ primary victory yesterday, there are officially no more mainstream Republicans left in North Carolina.

* Alison Lundergan Grimes is launching a 50-county bus tour to highlight her jobs plan for Kentucky, and pegging it to Mitch McConnell’s recent claim (which he says was taken out of context) that it isn’t his job to create jobs. It’s another sign the Grimes camp is determined to find new ways to keep that story going — and to make this battle all about who has the best job creation plan. — gs

* DCCC chair Steve Israel is urging House Dems to boycott the #Benghazi probe, and Jed Lewison makes the case for following Israel’s advice:

If this were an issue like Obamacare where Democrats have both an opportunity and obligation to make their case, it would be a mistake. But the GOP’s Benghazi conspiracy theories are so disconnected with reality that you can’t even have a debate about them. They believe what they believe and they believe it with religious fervor, evidence be damned. In some ways, I’d enjoy seeing a Democrats make that point directly to Republicans, but it wouldn’t do any good. Given that fact, Israel’s approach of having nothing to do with it makes a lot of sense. And in the end, perhaps voters will realize that the GOP’s Benghazi hearings say more about the GOP than they do about Benghazi.

* Jonathan Bernstein with a smart point: If Dems are hoping that boycotting the probe will deny it legitimacy, it doesn’t really matter, because this is only aimed at the GOP base: “Boycotting can’t discredit something that isn’t seeking legitimacy in the first place.”

* Fun times: Derek Willis examines floor speeches and congressional press releases, and finds that Republicans haven’t actually been talking about Benghazi as an issue much lately, at least in low profile settings. Meanwhile, according to one congressman, no fewer than 206 House Republicans have lobbied to be on the Benghazi select committee, which will be an extremely high profile affair. It’s almost like they think this might be an excellent opportunity for grandstanding.

* Michael Hiltzik highlights a study of “business-friendly” state economic policies as defined by conservatives, which finds that they have no positive effect on economic growth. They do, however, give a lot of benefits to the wealthy. Surprise!

* The New York Times tells the awful story of a German exchange student who entered a neighbor’s garage on a dare and was killed when the neighbor, who allegedly had been waiting up nights to catch someone coming in through the door he left open, started blasting away with his shotgun.

* And finally, over at the American Prospect, I explain to all the young’uns hating on Star Wars what it was that made the film so revolutionary when it was released, and why its cultural import has been so long-lasting.

What else?