Wonkbook: Healthcare.gov is looking for a CEO

November 27, 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.

Wonkbook's Number of the Day: 39 percent. That's more or less the goal for the share of enrollees in Obamacare exchange plans who are young and healthy. Missing this number to the downside could mean higher premiums next year.

Wonkbook's Graph of the Day: What good predictioneers look like (in graphs).

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) Healthcare.gov after Zients; (2) NSA punches, Microsoft punches back; (3) the Pope is not a conservative Republican; (4) the costs of an Iran deal; and (5) and Obama said, let there be immigration reform.


(Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

1. Top story: Healthcare.gov is looking for a CEO

Who's the next Jeff Zients? And should Healthcare.gov have a permanent CEO? "Senate Democrats are asking President Barack Obama to swiftly appoint a new point man for the beleaguered HealthCare.gov website. Obama’s current lead on the “tech surge,” Jeff Zients, is headed toward the exit in January to become the National Economic Council director. And with Senate Democrats fearing website debacles after Zients’s departure, a group led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote Obama on Monday to urge him to swiftly find a replacement who can steer the site to functionality through 2015. “A project of this size and scope demands the sustain leadership and day-to-day management of a chief executive officer."" Burgess Everett in Politico.

...Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been assigned the job of being Joe Biden. "Speaking to longshoremen, local politicians and health care activists last week in Houston, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. variously quoted his grandfather Ambrose Finnegan, his father, Joe Sr., and the poet William Butler Yeats. “Joey,” he recalled his grandfather hollering, “keep the faith!” Mr. Biden can certainly talk, and he is talking a lot these days. As discouraged Democrats face the debacle over the Affordable Care Act and worries about the midterm elections next year, Mr. Biden’s job is rallying the fearful and operating as a backup to a distracted President Obama." Jackie Calmes in The New York Times.

What matters for Obamacare's success is the mix, more than the number, of people who sign up in 2014. "Back in July, when Sarah Kliff and I asked the White House how they defined "success" in 2014, they always defined it as a function of the mix of people in the exchanges -- the "ratio" -- rather than the number of people in the exchanges. On this, the administration was clear: More wasn't necessarily better. Twenty million enrollees would be a disaster if only 1 million of them were young and healthy...The law is in much better shape going into 2015 if it has an actuarially sound pool of 4 million than an actuarially disastrous pool of 9 million." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Obama: HealthCare.gov working ‘pretty well now.' ""I think it’s fair to say I’m not happy about the fact that we didn’t have a Web site that worked on the day it was supposed to work -- although it’s actually starting to work pretty well now, and it’s going to be working even better in the coming weeks," Obama said in Beverly Hills, Calif. Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said the White House was "on track" for meeting the Nov. 30 goal for having the Obamacare Web site work for the "vast majority" of users, citing information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services." Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

@PeterBeinart: Was the obamacare website designed by the people who installed internet "access" on Amtrak?

...That's a good thing, because time's up. "After setting a deadline to fix the website, administration officials have offered largely inexact measures of success, expressed with varying degrees of confidence. That has prompted Republicans to accuse the White House of moving the goal posts, making it difficult to determine whether the objective has been met. Meanwhile, some Democrats have fretted that even a vague but optimistic goal might have been too much to promise. The administration announced its self-imposed deadline Oct. 25." Colleen McCain Nelson in The Wall Street Journal.

Democrats eagerly seeking signs of success with health-care law. "The political battle over the future of the national health-care law is about to become a media faceoff between Republican accounts of mishap and failure vs. Democratic stories that hint at eventual success. In a pre-Thanksgiving messaging memo, Democratic senators are being urged to use the holiday break to find success stories and “aggressively publicize them so that people can see the law is delivering on its promise.” The memo was prepared and distributed by the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, the Senate Democrats’ political messaging operation." Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

...Yet the White House just decided to postpone a marketing effort Healthcare.gov. "White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users. At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the still-fragile HealthCare.gov." Michael D. Shear and Robert Pear in The New York Times.

@samsteinhp: Sebelius urges state+local elected officials "to not hesitate to recommend that people go to healthcare. gov and sign up."

The Spanish version of Healthcare.gov will go online next month. "The Obama administration is planning a soft launch for the Spanish-language version of HealthCare.gov in early December, after a two-month delay, a senior administration official told TPM Tuesday. The site's enrollment tools will go live in the near future, and the administration plans to ask key outreach groups -- Enroll America, Planned Parenthood, Voto Latino among them -- to guide users through the process and provide feedback, the official said. It will be live for anyone to use, but, at first, the launch won't be widely advertised. Instead, the administration is hoping to identify any problems with the site's performance by testing it with select organizations and their constituents." Dylan Scott in Talking Points Memo.

New York enrolls 75,000 in Obamacare. "Around 28,000 New Yorkers enrolled in ObamaCare over the past two weeks, the state’s health department announced. There are now 76,177 New York residents enrolled in the healthcare program, up from 48,162 on Nov. 12. It’s unclear how many of the enrollees signed up for Medicaid, the government’s health program for low-income individuals, as opposed to private health insurance. Over the same two-week period, 60,403 completed applications for ObamaCare. A total of 257,414 New York have now applied, according to the health department." Rebecca Shabad in The Hill.

South Carolina isn't expanding Medicaid eligibility. But enrollment has risen 16 percent nonetheless. "South Carolina officials say publicity for the Affordable Care Act and its requirement that most people get insurance will attract tens of thousands of people who are currently eligible for Medicaid but have not enrolled...South Carolina is not the only state expecting a large Medicaid enrollment jump even though its political leaders opposed expanding eligibility. Utah and Idaho each project a 14 percent increase. Again, most of that increase is expected to be children." Phil Galewitz in Kaiser Health News.

Three things we learned from Tuesday’s Obamacare update. ""Don't hesitate to recommend people go to HealthCare.gov and sign up." This was a pretty strong statement from Sebelius encouraging people doing state-level outreach to direct the shoppers to the federal exchange. At the same time, there are some reports that, privately, the White House is encouraging outreach groups to push for a gradual return to the HealthCare.gov Web site. But, going on a national conference call and encouraging local officials across the country to direct shoppers to the Web site seems to be a pretty strong vote of confidence from the Obama administration that HealthCare.gov should be working reasonably well by the end of the month." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

@asymmetricinfo: What's the purpose of uploading a copy of your DL or SS card to Healthcare.gov ? It's not like the image would be hard to fake.

One criticism of Obamacare was that it may be forcing workers into part time. Yet Obamacare is making part-time workers better off. "Many part-time workers will have more options for better coverage starting in January. If their employer doesn’t offer a health plan, they can shop for insurance on the online marketplaces, and subsidies will be available to those with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013)...In addition, part-timers may be eligible for Medicaid if they live in a state that’s expanding coverage to adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for an individual in 2013)." Michelle Andrews in Kaiser Health News.

Obamacare’s birth control mandate is headed to the Supreme Court. "The Supreme Court will hear two challenges to the requirement that all employers provide birth control coverage to their workers. One comes from craft store chain Hobby Lobby and the other from Conestoga Wood Specialties, a custom cabinet-making company in Pennsylvania. The owners of both companies have argued that the requirement to provide employers with contraceptive coverage is a violation of their religious liberty. And, in Hobby Lobby's case, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed...Right around the same time, Conestoga Wood Specialties lost a similar challenge in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

White House seeks to control ObamaCare message with health groups. "The Obama administration is seeking to coordinate a press strategy with the healthcare stakeholders who were invited to the White House on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...The email went to representatives from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Group Association, the American Osteopathic Organization, the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Doctors for America. The email is a clear indication that the White House, which is seeking to rally partners in the healthcare community who have been discouraged by the botched ObamaCare rollout, is keenly aware of the politically sensitive nature of every news event surrounding the ACA." Jonathan Easley in The Hill.

KHULLAR: Are our brains wired for Obamacare? "The exchanges are based on a laudable idea: that competition, transparency and consumer choice will lead to higher-quality, more affordable products. The decisions consumers make will thus have significant implications for their own personal and financial health, as well as the overall sustainability of the exchanges. But despite the good intentions behind the website, behavioral science research suggests that many consumers may be ill equipped to make good decisions in the insurance marketplaces." Dhruv Khullar in Politico.

FRAKT: It will take both parties to save Obamacare. "Some conservative policy pundits are starting to imagine a detente over Obamacare, in which Republicans recognize the conservative nature of the law and support it in return for tweaks that advance their ideas. Liberals should be open to such a deal. Even though Democrats passed it, the Affordable Care Act offers a hospitable environment for conservative reform. That’s not just because it incorporates aspects of a proposal from the conservative Heritage Foundation, closely resembles the health-care-reform bill that Mitt Romney signed in Massachusetts, and bears striking similarities to earlier proposals by Republican members of Congress. No, the reason the ACA may be good for conservatives is that it provides a sound chassis for many of their health-policy proposals." Austin Frakt in Bloomberg.

LERMAN: What Medicare can teach us about the future of Obamacare. "Conservative opposition to the ACA is partly driven by fears that, once fully implemented, the program will prove popular and thus be difficult to roll back. My new research suggests that these fears may be justified. The research, conducted with Princeton’s Katherine McCabe, builds on a long-standing finding from political science: Policies, once created, generate constituencies who benefit from those policies and will therefore oppose efforts to reform or repeal them. This “policy feedback” is what Republicans want to avoid and Democrats want to cultivate." Amy Lerman in The Washington Post.

HILTZIK: The Obamacare success stories you haven't been hearing about. "Last summer Ellen Holzman and Meredith Vezina, a married gay couple in San Diego County, got kicked off their long-term Kaiser health plan, for which they'd been paying more than $1,300 a month. The cause wasn't the Affordable Care Act, as far as they knew. They'd been living outside Kaiser's service area, and the health plan had decided to tighten its rules...But they were lucky, thanks to Obamacare. Through Covered California, the state's individual insurance marketplace, they've found a plan through Sharp Healthcare that will cover them both for a total premium of $142 a month, after a government subsidy based on their income. They'll have a higher deductible than Kaiser's but lower co-pays. But their possible savings will be impressive." Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

Music recommendations interlude: The Shins, "The Rifle's Spiral," 2012.

Top opinion

DAVIDSON: Why mayors can't combat income inequality. "[Benjamin] Barber and [Edward] Glaeser agreed that however powerless de Blasio may be over these historic global trends, he does have one crucial power that he has already begun using: He can set a tone for the city as a place open to the poor and the middle class. His campaign to fight inequality could, paradoxically, make New York even more unequal. But if that inequality is a byproduct of New York’s serving as a global symbol of opportunity, de Blasio’s landslide victory suggests that most New Yorkers will be thrilled." Adam Davidson in The New York Times.

KLEIN: The Senate killed the filibuster to save itself. "Heritage Action, the angry conservative id that has swallowed the Heritage Foundation (and much of the House Republican Conference) whole, just announced that it will treat Janet Yellen’s nomination for chairman of the Federal Reserve as a “key” vote. The designation is intended to pressure Republican senators, who presumably risk being labeled soft on monetarism if they vote to elevate Yellen. A week ago, this might’ve been big news. Today? Yawn. In the interim, use of the filibuster in executive-branch nominations was eliminated. Yellen’s nomination now needs 51 votes to succeed, not 60 -- a threshold she can pass without a single Republican vote. But Heritage’s announcement is a good window into both why the rule was changed and how the Senate will work in the future." Ezra Klein in Bloomberg.

YGLESIAS: Fannie and Freddie's most devious scheme yet. "You see, of the $52 billion in private money that Fairholme says is needed to execute their plan, Fairholme plans to raise about $17.3 billion in a new offering. An additional $34.6 billion would come “from conversion of existing preferred stock,” which in context means “as a gift from the federal government.”...If private capital is to rescue the mortgage market, then it should be genuinely private—not public money passed to private citizens for private gain." Matthew Yglesias in Slate.

CHEN: Much ado about bitcoin. "Bitcoin is built on a weird mix of the most old-fashioned kind of speculative greed, bolstered by a contemporary utopian cyberlibertarian ideology. Boosters say that bitcoin is the currency of the future. I’d argue that the phenomenon is a digital gold rush perfectly emblematic of the present." Adrian Chen in The New York Times.

SUNSTEIN: Would you hold the mayo if the receipt suggested it? "Here is a famous finding from social psychology. If you want to encourage people to get vaccinated against some disease, it helps to educate them about the benefits of vaccination. But you’ll have a much bigger impact if you give people a map, showing them exactly where to go to get a shot. Elementary though it is, this finding is important, because it demonstrates that when people don’t respond to a suggestion, it may be because they need some help in identifying the specific steps they are being asked to take. People pay a lot more attention if they are given something like a map." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg.

WOLF: Why green growth? "A particularly important aspect of [climate] uncertainty is tipping points...It is irrational to play in the climate casino without seeking to eliminate worst-case outcomes. Some people are excited about the possibility of geoengineering. But that is to add yet another gamble. It is surely more sensible to limit excessive accumulations of greenhouse gases, provided it can be done at less than crippling costs." Martin Wolf in The Financial Times.

Great things on the Internet interlude: A Tumblr full of slightly wrong quotes put onto t-shirts.

2. NSA punches. Microsoft punches back.

Microsoft, suspecting NSA spying, to ramp up efforts to encrypt its Internet traffic. "Microsoft is moving toward a major new effort to encrypt its Internet traffic amid fears that the National Security Agency may have broken into its global ­communications links, said people familiar with the emerging plans...They said top Microsoft executives are meeting this week to decide what encryption initiatives to deploy and how quickly...Though several legislative efforts are underway to curb the NSA’s surveillance powers, the wholesale move by private companies to expand the use of encryption technology may prove to be the most tangible outcome of months of revelations based on documents that Snowden provided to The Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper. In another major shift, the companies also are explicitly building defenses against U.S. government surveillance programs, in addition to combating hackers, criminals or foreign intelligence services." Craig Timberg, Barton Gellman, and Ashkan Soltani in The Washington Post.

Primary sources: Did the NSA target Microsoft too? and evidence of Microsoft's vulnerability, from NSA documents. The Washington Post.

The NSA spied on porn habits as part of plan to discredit 'radicalizers.' "The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority." Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim in The Huffington Post.

Inside the tubes interlude: When Twitter spambots attack.

3. The economics of the Pope

Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality. "Pope Francis on Tuesday sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a wide-ranging and decidedly populist teaching that revealed how he plans to reshape the Catholic Church. In his most authoritative writings as pontiff, Francis decried an “idolatry of money” in secular culture and warned that it would lead to “a new tyranny.”...On Tuesday, he showed a willingness to use tough language in attacking what he views as the excesses of capitalism. Using a phrase with special resonance in the United States, he strongly criticized an economic theory — often affiliated with conservatives — that discourages taxation and regulation." Zachary A. Goldfarb and Michelle Boorstein in The Washington Post.

Explainer: Pope Francis has a few thoughts about the global economy. We added these 13 chartsNeil Irwin in The Washington Post.

SeaTac, WA passes $15-an-hour minimum wage. "Labor union officials who focused on SeaTac as a template for wage battles yet to come around the country said the results would be a thunderbolt and a call to action. The vote means thousands of airport workers here, the host city to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, could see substantial pay raises starting next year. It also sets the stage, union organizers said, for a battle to advance a $15 wage in Seattle, where the mayor-elect, Ed Murray, has pledged support for the idea." Kirk Johnson in The New York Times.

The IMF is planning to change the way it does bailouts. "The International Monetary Fund, convinced that Europe erred in forcing debtor countries like Greece and Portugal to bear nearly all the pain of recovery on their own, is pushing hard for a plan that would impose upfront losses on bondholders the next time a country in the euro area requests a bailout...[T]he proposal — which is still being hashed out behind the scenes by top economists and lawyers at the fund — is encountering stiff resistance, not just from the powerful global banking lobby, but also from European policy makers, and more recently, the United States government, which is the I.M.F.’s largest financial contributor." Landon Thomas Jr. in The New York Times.

S&P says banks may have to spend extra $104 billion on mortgage cases. "Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, estimates the banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, may need to pay between $56.5bn and $104bn on legacy mortgage settlements with investors and counterparties...Payments at the upper end of the estimates would wipe out about two-thirds of the $154.9bn litigation buffer estimated to be held by the banks but would not cut into their regulatory capital." Tracy Alloway, Camilla Hall, and Gina Chon in The Financial Times.

Home permits and prices rise, despite jump in mortgage rates. "Building permits jumped 6.2 percent last month to an annual rate of 1.03 million units, the highest since June 2008, the Commerce Department said. It was only the second time since mid-2008 that permits breached the one-million-unit mark. Last month’s increase exceeded economists’ expectations for a 930,000-unit rate. Permits, which lead housing starts by at least a month, rose 5.2 percent in September and were up 13.9 percent from a year earlier in October. A separate report showed that the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas jumped 13.3 percent in September from a year earlier, the best gain since February 2006." Reuters.

Housing is looking just fine, thank you very much. "We asked earlier this morning if higher interest rates are killing the housing recovery. The answer provided by the latest data out Tuesday morning? A resounding 'No...Add up the good news on permits and the solid results on home prices, and this looks like a housing sector that will keep on plugging in 2014." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

...And the contrary opinion. "Rising values are essential for the roughly 7 million Americans whose mortgages are larger than their homes are worth. But housing affordability has suffered as a result, just as interest rates have moved significantly higher. New regulations slated to take effect in January could also make it more difficult for many potential home buyers to qualify for a loan. “It’s pretty clear that the recovery in home sales has at least stalled,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.

Are higher rates killing the housing recovery? "[W]hen and how higher rates will affect those different parts of the housing market is less certain--as is the question of whether this housing recovery is robust enough to take the hit and continue nonetheless...For example, people who struck deals to buy houses in the spring, before the rate rise, typically wouldn't have closed on those houses until summer. Some home sales activity and prices would be expected to only be affected with a lag. Similarly, homebuilders may have waited to see the impact on purchase activity and prices before adjusting their plans for construction. Finally, when rates first were spiking, some buyers may have rushed into the market to get in while the getting was good, distorting the numbers." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

Here comes the next boom in subprime lending. No, really. "Wall Street and private equity firms, hedge funds and other opaque financing pools have grown frustrated by low returns on other forms of debt and turned instead to riskier but more lucrative bets on ever-smaller companies. The Learfield case is notable for the leverage involved — the company was able to borrow more than eight times its earnings — and that has raised eyebrows in some credit circles...The type of leveraged loans that Learfield took out are known as covenant-lite, financial lingo for loans that lack the tripwires that could alert investors to any potential financial troubles at the company that could affect repayment." Lynnley Browning in The New York Times.

What is really going on at the Minneapolis Fed? "The Freshwater school gained enormous clout in the ‘80s. But in the ‘90s, there was a counterattack from the coast. The Saltwater macroeconomists believed that recessions were economic failures, and that monetary policy was important in fighting them. Led by Michael Woodford, they adopted the tools and language of the Freshwater economists, and managed to convince many of their Freshwater brethren to reluctantly agree that monetary policy can, in fact, boost the economy. But one bastion of hard-line freshwater thinking held firm: “Minnesota macro.” The researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Fed have largely hung onto the belief that monetary policy can affect inflation, but can’t fight recessions. But there is good reason to think that this view is losing credibility at the Fed. Narayana Kocherlakota is an influential Fed official, and as such is an important bellwether of Fed thinking. His views have shifted decisively." Miles Kimball and Noah Smith in Quartz.

Who's the best forecaster of them all? "The only reliable method is to conduct a forecasting tournament in which independent judges ask all participants to make the same forecasts in the same timeframes. And forecasts must be expressed numerically, so there can be no hiding behind vague verbiage. Words like “may” or “possible” can mean anything from probabilities as low as 0.001% to as high as 60% or 70%. But 80% always and only means 80%. In the late 1980s one of us (Philip Tetlock) launched such a tournament. It involved 284 economists, political scientists, intelligence analysts and journalists and collected almost 28,000 predictions. The results were startling." The Economist.

Meet the best forecaster: The "Good Judgment Project." It's a fitting nameMichael Horowitz in The Washington Post.

Holiday sales are a dirty lie. "In an analysis for The Wall Street Journal, price-tracking firm Market Track LLC looked at the online price fluctuations of 1,743 products in November 2012. Prices climbed an average of 8% in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving for 366, or about a fifth, of the products; the items were then discounted on Black Friday. Toys and tools had the biggest pre-Black Friday price increases—about 23%." Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.

Tour the world interlude: Brazil, explained in 100 images.

4. The costs of an Iran deal

U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia weaken amid Iran talks. "The Obama administration saw the nuclear talks in a fundamentally different light from the Saudis, who fear that any letup in the sanctions will come at the cost of a wider and more dangerous Iranian role in the Middle East. Although the Saudis remain close American allies, the nuclear accord is the culmination of a slow mutual disenchantment that began at the end of the Cold War...The United States has also been reluctant to take sides in the worsening sectarian strife between Shiite and Sunni, in which the Saudis are firm partisans on the Sunni side." Robert F. Worth in The New York Times.

Debate: Does the U.S. need to choose between its allies? Does making new friends estrange you from your old onesThe New York Times.

Obama blasts ‘tough talk and bluster’ of Iran deal critics. "President Obama on Monday defended the historic accord reached over the weekend with Iran, saying “we cannot close the door on diplomacy” despite criticism from Republican lawmakers and the Israeli government. “We cannot close the door on diplomacy and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems,” Obama said. He added, “Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security.”" Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.

Iran deal further tests Obama’s credibility. "[T]he decline in the public’s opinion of his trustworthiness presents a particular set of challenges for his diplomacy with Iran, highlighted this weekend by an agreement that will temporarily freeze the country’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief...For U.S. allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia who will likely never trust Iran, Obama’s credibility will matter even more. Will Obama — eager for a legacy-shaping foreign policy achievement — end talks he celebrated as “a new path toward a world that is more secure?” Or will he allow Iran more time — freezing in place what Israeli officials and others say is an advanced uranium enrichment program?" Scott Wilson in The Washington Post.

Internet memes interlude: Microsoft wants to help you make GIFs.

5. ...And Obama said, 'Let there be immigration reform.' 

White House won't rule out future executive action on immigration. "The White House on Tuesday would not categorically rule out future executive actions to address immigration, while continuing to maintain "there is not" anything the president could do in lieu of congressional action on comprehensive reform...Obama has come under pressure from immigration activists, who have challenged the president to act unilaterally now that a comprehensive immigration bill appears stalled in the House." Justin Sink in The Hill.

More immigration hecklers for Obama. "Hecklers interrupted President Barack Obama during a speech on Monday to demand he halt deportations, which have risen to record levels during his time in the White House..."So the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws," he continued. "What I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic process to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done."" Elise Foley in The Huffington Post.

Immigration advocates' last-ditch pitch. "For now, the argument will be pressed directly to ambitious members by advocates armed with their own polls and demographic data cross-referenced to voter trends — as well as the unspoken suggestion of support from soon-to-be-less-occupied billionaire Michael Bloomberg and other individuals and groups backing reform. Those pushing for fast action on reform argue that failing to back immigration reform — and allowing the issue to bleed into 2014, and therefore probably into 2015 and beyond — could serve as a disqualifying factor for House Republicans in races for governor or senator or even attorney general and other statewide positions." Edward-Isaac Dovere in Politico.

Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.

Wonkblog Roundup

The turkey pardon is America’s dumbest traditionBrad Plumer.

These are the real reasons the Redskins (still) can’t win a gameNeil Irwin.

How high will sea levels rise? Let’s ask the expertsBrad Plumer.

H&M says it will pay factory workers a ‘fair living wage.’ It doesn’t say what that meansLydia DePillis.

Pope Francis has a few thoughts about the global economy. We added these 13 chartsNeil Irwin.

Don’t blame the Founding Fathers for California having 66 times the population of WyomingEzra Klein.

Three things we learned from Tuesday’s Obamacare updateSarah Kliff.

Obamacare’s birth control mandate is headed to the Supreme CourtSarah Kliff.

Obamacare won’t get 7 million enrollees in 2014 — and that’s okayEzra Klein.

Housing is looking just fine, thank you very muchNeil Irwin.

Holiday sales are a dirty lieLydia DePillis.

Are higher rates killing the housing recoveryNeil Irwin.

Et Cetera

Obama administration proposes new rule curtailing political activities by nonprofit groupsMatea Gold in The Washington Post.

We're starting to get the first debates on what the ultra-secretive tax reformers are talking aboutBernie Becker in The Hill.

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

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

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Brad Plumer · November 26, 2013