Wonkbook: House Republicans hate Obamacare. But they also kind of need it.

May 17, 2013

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.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) stands next to a printed version of Obamacare during a news conference on May 16. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) stands next to a printed version of Obamacare during a news conference on May 16. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the House of Representatives cast its 37th vote to repeal all or part of the health-care law. Or possibly its 38th vote. And I've heard some say its 36th vote. It depends how you count.

Why try another? Because a number of freshmen haven't yet had a chance to vote on a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And the House Republican Conference feels that repealing Obamacare is something every House member should get to do at least once. It's a rite of passage, like dry-heaving after Paul Ryan's P-90X class, or offering your first amendment in committee.

The repeal passed the House though it will, as usual, be ignored by the Senate. But these news stories that put the words "repeal" and "Obamacare" near to one another have had an effect. As my colleague Sarah Kliff writes, "Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation polled Americans on whether the Affordable Care Act is still law. Twelve percent of Americans — that's about one in eight people — think that Congress repealed the Affordable Care Act. Another 23 percent aren't sure or refused to answer the question."

Another seven percent, by the way, thought the Supreme Court had overturned it. There are going to be a lot of surprised people come 2014.

This vote had another interesting side effect, though. "It also repeals a central deficit-reduction component of the GOP’s own budget by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which was released in March with much bravado and projections that it would balance the budget within a decade," writes TPM's Sahil Kapur.

The Ryan budget gets trillions of dollars from Obamacare. It repeals all of its spending but it keeps both its spending cuts and its new tax revenues. Repealing the law would, as the budget does, eliminate the new spending. But it would also get rid of spending cuts and the new taxes -- which equal almost $2 trillion over the next decade. Absent those, Ryan's budget is far from reaching balance.

It's also a reminder that three years after the passage of Obamacare, the Republican Party still hasn't made good on its oft-repeated promise to repeal-and-replace. It's done the "repeal" part, of course. But it's no closer to offering a replacement than it was in 2010. In fact, it might even be further. A few weeks ago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suffered a surprising and humiliating defeat on the House floor when Republicans beat back a modest bill he offered to fund high-risk pools for patients with preexisting conditions. Even that was too much replacement for the Republican Party.

Just as their balanced budget relies on the cost savings in Obamacare, their health-care policy relies on the existence of Obamacare. If it wasn't there to repeal, what would they have to say?

House Republicans desperately want to rid the world of the Affordable Care Act. On that, their sincerity cannot be doubted. But as both their budget and their health-care record show, they are woefully unprepared for a world in which they actually succeeded.

Wonkbook's Number of the Day: 20 percent. That's how much House Republicans want to cut spending on Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services for next year. Those reduction would come on top of sequestration.

Wonkblog's Graph of the Day: FRED database has huge data upload of 392 Penn World Table data series.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: 1) Are the scandals petering out?; 2) House reaches immigration deal; 3) Fed debates exit; 4) DEFCON level rising for 'nuclear option' filibuster fix; and 5) fracking regs drafted.

1) Top story: Will scandalmania continue next week?

Obama tries to regain footing amid scandals. "If ever a White House news conference fit the metaphorical moment, it was Thursday’s rainy-day affair in the Rose Garden. From the I.R.S. scandal to the seizure of journalists’ phone records; from Benghazi, Libya, to Syria, all the president’s problems were on vivid display — swirling over his head like, well, storm clouds on a showery spring day." Mark Landler in The New York Times.

The GOP is trying to figure out how hard to push. "The most pressing question for Congressional Republicans is no longer how to finesse changes to immigration law or gun control, but how far they can push their cases against President Obama without inciting a backlash of the sort that has left them staggering in the past...Republicans say they are mainly determined to get at the truth, and they question efforts to put their intensifying pursuit of the administration in political terms. Even the most ardent conservatives have adopted a tone of sobriety." Jonathan Weisman in The New York Times.

@dkthomp: Finally reading about this show "Scandal" makes me think its fans' expectations for Washington scandals have been managed hopelessly up

...But do the scandals hurt Republicans, too? "These confrontations’ most predictable effect will be to enrage the GOP base, which will strengthen the party factions most dubious about any compromises with Obama. In that way, these storms will likely weaken not only the president but also Republicans who believe the party must reboot to restore its competitiveness for the White House...[S]uch a breakdown would also endanger the GOP’s need to expand its unsustainably narrow electoral coalition. Republicans could find that stoking the flames of scandal may sear not only Obama’s hopes but also their own." Ron Brownstein in NationalJournal.

IRS:

Daniel Werfel is the new acting IRS commissioner. "Daniel Werfel, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget, has been named acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, according to a White House official...It is not clear whether Werfel will be nominated to fill the vacancy full-time, but he is considered to have a good relationship with Senate Republicans and has won confirmation from from the upper chamber before." Zachary A. Goldfarb and Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

@ekwasson: Werfel has agreed to serve at IRS until Sept. 30

...Who's that? "Werfel, 42, rose through the ranks at the Office of Management and Budget and the Justice Department as a budget analyst and lawyer before Obama tapped him to serve as OMB controller in 2009. As controller he was responsible for the government’s financial management, contracting, information technology and personnel policy...Werfel moved to Washington after earning degrees from Cornell University, Duke University and a law degree from the University of North Carolina. He worked at the OMB before serving briefly as a career attorney at the Justice Department." Ed O'Keefe and Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

IRS official who oversaw during time of Tea Party targeting now running the IRS's Obamacare office. "The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation. Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today." John Parkinson and Steven Portnoy in ABC News.

@samsteinhp: At risk of sounding soft, can we wait and see what role Sarah Ingram played in IRS scandal b4 demanding her head? She's not in IG report.

...And another top IRS official is leaving. "Joseph Grant, the commissioner of the agency’s tax exempt and government entities division, will retire June 3, according to an IRS statement...Grant heads the division of the agency responsible for tax-exempt organizations, where Lois Lerner works beneath him." Zachary A. Goldfarb and Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

Lawmakers to focus on whether IRS mislead Congress over screening procedures. "Senior lawmakers investigating what went wrong at the Internal Revenue Service are planning to focus on whether IRS officials misled Congress about a policy that targeted conservative groups for extra screening when seeking a tax exemption, congressional aides say. With the first high-profile hearing on the topic set to begin Friday morning, congressional aides say lawmakers in both chambers will seek answers about why they weren’t told that the IRS had singled out conservative groups for scrutiny despite multiple inquiries in recent years." Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

Explainer: What we still haven't learned about the IRS scandalLauren French and Rachael Bade in Politico.

Obama: No need for special counsel in IRS probe. "President Obama said Thursday that he does not believe a special counsel needs to be appointed to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s practice of targeting conservative groups, saying congressional hearings and a federal criminal investigation should be enough to determine what happened." Scott Wilson in The Washington Post.

@AlecMacGillis: Serious q: if we required disclosure of major c4 donors, would there be further need to "fix the IRS"? What more would be required?

...But the GOP is seeking a broader probe. "GOP members of the Senate Finance Committee want the IRS watchdog to learn how ProPublica, the Human Rights Campaign and The Huffington Post obtained confidential information conservative groups provided to the agency as part of the application process for tax-exempt status...Republicans are pointing to several instances in which they say the IRS improperly handled sensitive tax information from conservative groups." Lauren French in Politico.

IRS stalled conservatives, but it gave speedy approval to Obama group. "When the Barack H. Obama Foundation sought tax-exempt status to raise money for good works in Kenya, the Internal Revenue Service provided quick help...The 34 days the IRS’s Cincinnati office took to process the foundation’s application stands in contrast to the waits of several months — and sometimes longer than a year — that several conservative groups say they experienced with the same office." Carol D. Leonnig in The Washington Post.

Does the IRS scandal jeopardize tax reform? "The unfolding scandal over the agency improperly targeting conservative groups is forcing the chief tax writers in Congress to shift attention away from the comprehensive tax code overhaul they’ve been aggressively pursuing. Both lawmakers have said they want to move on tax reform this year, a tough challenge even before the IRS developments came to light. But the scandal throws that timeline even further into doubt as precious time — and political capital —  that would have been dedicated to seeking reform could now be co-opted by the IRS probe." Kelsey Snell in Politico.

AP:

Obama: 'No apologies' for leak investigation. "President Obama on Thursday strongly defended the Justice Department leaks investigation that secretly gathered private phone records of Associated Press journalists, suggesting that protecting U.S. personnel overseas outweighs press privileges in this case." Scott Wilson in The Washington Post.

Senate GOP divided over media shield law. "Senate Republicans are divided over whether Congress should pass a shield law for the press, which would protect reporters from having to turn over information to government investigators. Sen. Jeff Sessions doesn’t think the law should have blanket protections, particularly given the number of foreign media outlets working in the U.S... On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he is signing on to co-sponsor the legislation, which was reintroduced this week by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the request of the White House. “I’m going to be the chief co-sponsor,” Graham said. He added with a laugh, “As much as I hate ya’ll, I think you should do your jobs. And my hate and disgust can’t describe it. I’ve run out of adjectives. But you should be able to be the annoyance you are.”" Ginger Gibson in Politico.

Holder endorses warrants for email. "The law has long protected Americans against warrantless wiretapping of their phone calls. But the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — ”ECPA” to nerds — enacted in 1986 provides much weaker protection for e-mail. People have been calling for ECPA reform for years. Holder’s comments are a sign that Congress might actually do it." Timothy B. Lee in The Washington Post.

Scandal opinion roundup:

KLEIN: The scandals are falling apart. "On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing. Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out. There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

KRAUTHAMMER: GOP is mishandling the scandals. "Note to GOP re Benghazi: Stop calling it Watergate, Iran-contra, bigger than both, etc. First, it might well be, but we don’t know. History will judge. Second, overhyping will only diminish the importance of the scandal if it doesn’t meet presidency-breaking standards. Third, focusing on the political effects simply plays into the hands of Democrats desperately claiming that this is nothing but partisan politics." Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post.

@RonBrownstein: The issue for GOP in #scandal focus isn't so much overreach as opportunity cost. If this blocks action on other priorities, they lose too.

WEIGEL: How the IRS scandal is changing political debate. "The IRS scandal (or its spinners) are quickly creating a new right, a right no politician should take away—the right to start a tax-free organization that can play in politics. For the moment, anyone on the left who challenged this status quo is being ret-conned into an accomplice of the most hated Cincinnati IRS office in American history." David Weigel in Slate.

DICKERSON: I was promised a cover-up. Benghazi isn't. "I was told there was going to be a cover-up. After reading the 100 pages of emails related to the Benghazi media talking points, I’m hard-pressed to find evidence for the most damning accusations against the president and his staff. If they were involved, they were once again leading from behind." John Dickerson in Slate.

BROOKS: When government goes bad. "Most government workers are amazingly dedicated and talented, and they put in a level of commitment that is far out of proportion to their salaries. But we’re also seeing government workers, who, far from checking their own desire for control, have taken it out for a romp." David Brooks in The New York Times.

STRASSEL: It started at the top. "Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was. President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse...Short of directly asking federal agencies to investigate these groups, this is as close as it gets." Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal.

MACGILLIS: Big-government liberalism not to blame for these scandals. "It’s becoming less and less clear just what the scandal is around Benghazi, and to the extent that grave mistakes were made there, they involved a government that had insufficient reach when it mattered...The scandal where the new narrative seems most apt is, of course, the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. But it, too, does not sustain a grand indictment of government’s capacity to do its job. Saying it does requires overlooking a rather basic distinction: between fundamentally sensible or even half-sensible laws and regulations, and unworkable and absurd ones. It also means overlooking how the laws and regulations that were being so buffoonishly enforced in this instance came about." Alec MacGillis in The New Republic.

NOONAN: This is a big deal. "We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they're seeing. The Justice Department assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration's credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged. They don't look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone. Something big has shifted. The standing of the administration has changed." Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal.

Music recommendations interlude: The Eagles, "Lyin' Eyes," 1975.

Top op-eds

KLEIN: If Obama went Bulworth. "Right now sequestration is cutting unemployment checks by 10 or 11 percent. Do you hear anyone talking about that? Or doing anything about it? No. You hear Republicans aides telling Politico, anonymously, that the speaker is quote “obsessed” with Benghazi. You know, I don’t think most of the Republicans screaming about Benghazi could find Libya on a map." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

@ModeledBehavior: The American people don't want governance. We want excitement, titillation, scandal, outrage. Go Bulworth, President Obama. Go Bulworth.

MATTHEW C. KLEIN: How to pick the next Fed chair. "Yes, some scholars are trying to learn from experience and advance our knowledge by incorporating the financial sector into their models of the economy and monetary policy. Many of those same scholars are also trying to improve how we measure systemic risk. Others are using new computational techniques to explain why we endure cycles of growth and contraction. These reformers and revolutionaries are in the minority." Matthew C. Klein in Bloomberg.

SCHWARTZ: How medical malpractice lawsuits can do good. "New evidence, however, contradicts the conventional wisdom that malpractice litigation compromises the patient safety movement’s call for transparency. In fact, the opposite appears to be occurring: the openness and transparency promoted by patient safety advocates appear to be influencing hospitals’ responses to litigation risk...My study also shows that malpractice suits are playing an unexpected role in patient safety efforts, as a source of valuable information about medical error. Over 95 percent of the hospitals in my study integrate information from lawsuits into patient safety efforts. And risk managers and patient-safety personnel overwhelmingly report that lawsuit data have proved useful in efforts to identify and address error." Joanna C. Schwartz in The New York Times.

Serious art interlude: The faces of soldiers before, during, and after war.

2) House reaches immigration deal

House reaches immigration deal. "A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives has reached an immigration deal “in principle.” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) tweeted Thursday afternoon. A senior House GOP leadership aide confirmed the outline of a deal, but did not provide any details of the agreement." Rachel Weiner in The Washington Post.

Senate bets on bipartisan support for immigration reform. "The bipartisan Senate group behind a comprehensive immigration bill is working privately to satisfy concerns raised by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), hoping he will support the legislation and influence fellow GOP lawmakers. The bid to bring Hatch into the fold highlights the strategy of Senate immigration proponents who believe that building as much bipartisan support for the bill is crucial to improving its chances in the Republican-led House...If the immigration bill were to pass the Senate with more than the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster, proponents say, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) would be motivated to allow a vote on the legislation even if a majority of his caucus opposed it." David Nakamura and Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

GOP bid to strengthen border protections yet further gets nixed. "Democrats touted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of three Republican amendments to crack down on the future hiring of illegal immigrants but senior Republicans on the panel were left disgruntled by the failure of stronger proposals." Alexander Bolton in The Hill.

Hilarious what if Sartre wrote a cookbook interlude: "I keep creating omelets one after another, like soldiers marching into the sea, but each one seems empty, hollow, like stone. I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness of existence, and instead they taste like cheese." (Bonus: Another Sartre parody here.)

3) Fed debates exit

To buy bonds or not to buy bonds, that is the Fed's question. "The flurry of commentary, given in various speeches over the past two days, show Fed officials debating when to scale back the bank's so-called quantitative-easing program, but not in agreement, as is often the case. The willingness of Mr. Williams to consider the first stages of a retreat this summer suggests key decisions about the program's fate could be made in the next few months." Victoria McGrane and Michael S. Derby in The Wall Street Journal.

...They differ on how to steer the recovery. "Federal Reserve officials are grappling with how to decipher the economy’s mixed signals and what to do with the central bank’s multibillion-dollar stimulus effort. The past two days have brought an unusual but uncoordinated flurry of speeches by the central bank’s top brass. Six Fed officials outlined diverse — and sometimes opposing — interpretations of the direction of the recovery and the appropriate response." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.

Permits, not starts, tell story of housing. "Housing starts fell 16.5% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 units, the lowest level since last November but still up 36% from the level of a year earlier...Building permits, which are less volatile and serve as a leading indicator of future construction, rose to the highest level since June 2008. They increased 14.3% to an annualized rate of 1.02 million in April." Nick Timiraos and Alan Zibel in The Wall Street Journal.

Jobless claims rise by 32,000. "Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000 in the week ended May 11, The Labor Department said Thursday. It was the largest one-week gain in new benefit requests since November 2012. The prior week's level was revised up by 5,000...The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths week-to-week volatility, increased by 1,250 to 339,250. The prior week's average, which was revised up slightly, was the lowest level since January 2008, just after the most recent recession started." Eric Morath and Jonathan House in The Wall Street Journal.

Low inflation is a problem at home... "Consumer prices fell 0.4% in April, the second straight month of declines, the Labor Department said Thursday. Over the past year, prices have risen just 1.7%, omitting food and energy, below the roughly 2% level that Federal Reserve officials consider healthy for the economy. While tame inflation is good news for consumers, it also reflects the considerable slack in the economy—including factories with spare capacity that isn't being used and the nearly 12 million Americans who are looking for work but can't find it." Neil Shah and Jonathan House in The Wall Street Journal.

...Just as it is all around the world. "That was the astoundingly consistent theme out of a range of data released Thursday. Prices rose 1.1 percent over the 12 months that ended in April in Germany, 0.8 percent in France and 1.3 percent in Italy. In the United States, the consumer price index rose 1.1 percent over the last year. Japan reported surprisingly strong first-quarter growth this week as its aggressive new stimulus policies took effect, but that came against a backdrop of continued falling prices; its consumer price index fell 0.9 percent in the year that ended in March" Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

SEC under pressure to give up on corporate disclosure. "During a three-hour hearing, lawmakers said they were disturbed to learn that the SEC is considering a petition that would require publicly traded companies to disclose their political contributions. They described the initiative as highly partisan and said it would undermine the agency’s credibility if adopted, especially in light of the controversy that has recently enveloped the Internal Revenue Service." Dina ElBoghdady in The Washington Post.

How Apple CEO Tim Cook wants to overhaul corporate taxation. "Apple chief executive Tim Cook plans to propose a “dramatic simplification” of corporate tax laws when he testifies for the first time before Congress next week, just as lawmakers are considering an overhaul of the tax code... He will speak at a Senate hearing Tuesday that is taking aim at companies that shift profits overseas to lower their tax bills." Cecilia Kang in The Washington Post.

Is God dead? interlude: Christianity is undergoing a historic collapse in Britain

4) DEFCON level rising for 'nuclear option' filibuster reform

Will the Senate finally change its rules for Cabinet nominees? "Democrats say that Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, in recent days has been trying to gauge whether there is sufficient support among Democrats to force a rule change that would limit the filibuster on presidential nominees. He could conceivably try to enact a rule change with a simple majority — a tactic known as “the nuclear option.” Any revisions to Senate rules usually require 67 votes, a threshold that is impossible to obtain without significant Republican support...“The showdown is coming,” said Senator Jeff Merkley." Jeremy W. Peters in The New York Times.

Senate confirms Moniz as Energy Secretary. "The Senate unanimously confirmed Ernest Moniz, a scientist and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to be secretary of energy Thursday...The Senate vote was 97 to 0." Al Kamen in The Washington Post.

Senate committee approves McCarthy nomination. "President Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency was quickly approved by a Senate committee Thursday when Republicans abandoned their boycott of a vote on the career environmental administrator, after what Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) described as “significant steps forward” on transparency issues important to the GOP. The Committee on Environment and Public Works voted 10 to 8 along party lines in favor of Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s assistant administrator in charge of air and radiation. The vote sends McCarthy’s nomination to the Senate floor. However, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) still has a hold on her nomination that will have to be withdrawn before a floor vote can occur." Lenny Bernstein in The Washington Post.

...And Perez also clears his hurdle. "Members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee voted 12-10 along party lines, with all Republicans opposing the nomination while the Democrats supported it." Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

Biological interlude: This beautiful drawing of the tree of life is worth having in poster form.

5) Draft of fracking regs out

Obama administration releases draft of fracking regs. "The Obama administration drew sharp criticism from environmental and oil industry groups Thursday when it issued a new draft of regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands...In its first update of hydraulic fracturing regulations in three decades, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management would require wider disclosure of chemicals used in drilling. It would also require that companies have a water-management plan for fluids that flow back to the surface and take steps to assure wellbore integrity and prevent toxic fluids from leaking into groundwater." Steven Mufson in The Washington Post.

97 percent of scientists recognize global warming, say it is anthropogenic. "Ninety-seven percent of scientists say global warming is mainly man-made but a wide public belief that experts are divided is making it harder to gain support for policies to curb climate change, an international study showed on Thursday...Experts in Australia, the United States, Britain and Canada studied 4,000 summaries of peer-reviewed papers in journals giving a view about climate change since the early 1990s and found that 97 percent said it was mainly caused by humans. They also asked authors for their views and found a 97 percent conviction from replies covering 2,000 papers. The data will be released at (www.skepticalscience.com). The report said it was the biggest review so far of scientific opinion on climate change." Alister Doyle in Reuters.

EPA will review concerns of anti-conservative bias. "The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general will review claims the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuses to waive public records fees for conservative groups while granting the waivers for environmental organizations.Acting Administrator Robert Perciasepe asked the agency’s inspector general to review claims after GOP lawmaker accusations of a double standard...Perciasepe told lawmakers he’s asking the inspector general to help conduct a “programmatic audit” of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request fee decisions." Ben German in The Hill.

Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.

Wonkblog Roundup

The federal government wants to change the definition of 'drunk'Dylan Matthews.

The more remote the state capital, the more corrupt. Brad Plumer.

Eric Holder endorses warrants for e-mail. It’s about timeTimothy B. Lee.

If Obama went Bulworth, here’s what he’d sayEzra Klein.

Why the health cost slowdown is great for grandparentsSarah Kliff.

Inflation is too low almost everywhere on earthNeil Irwin.

U.S. retailers aren’t signing a new safety agreement for Bangladesh. Here’s whyBrad Plumer.

Yes, the 37th Obamacare repeal vote mattersSarah Kliff.

The scandals are falling apartEzra Klein.

Et Cetera

GOP plans to offer huge cuts to spending on HHS, Labor, and Education DepartmentsDavid Rogers in Politico.

A bipartisan House group identifies $200b in savings in bill based on GAO reportPete Kasperowicz in The Hill.

Second appeals court invalidates NLRB recess appointmentsJosh Gerstein in Politico.

Who benefits from the mortgage interest deduction? Lisa Prevost in The New York Times.

Sequestration forcing Air Force to work in the darkPete Kasperowicz in The Hill.

House votes to repeal Obamacare for 37th timeDavid A. Fahrenthold in The Washington Post.

What #ObamacareInThreeWords reveals about health reformRachel Weiner in The Washington Post.

Sebelius can cut costs in place of IPAB if no IPAB existsSam Baker in The Hill.

A stronger regulatory standard for childcare? Julian Hattem in The Hill.

Dems put forward gun control measure inspired by James Bond moviePete Kasperowicz in The Hill.

Future retirees at risk of downward mobility, Pew findsMichael A. Fletcher in The Washington Post.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.

SECTION: {section=business, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=business, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read Business
Next Story
Timothy B. Lee · May 16, 2013