Wonkbook: Washington is reducing the deficit but abandoning the unemployed

December 11, 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.

(Photo by J. Scott Applewhite)/AP)
(Photo by J. Scott Applewhite)/AP)

There's one big thing left out of the Murray-Ryan budget deal: unemployment insurance.

On December 28, federal jobless benefits expire for 1.3 million workers. These aren't normal unemployment benefits. These are the extended, emergency benefits meant to help the long-term unemployed.

A little-known fact about the economy is that short-term unemployment — the percentage of the labor force unemployed for five weeks or less — is back down to where it was before the recession. It's long-term unemployment — which lasts more than 27 weeks — where the crisis lingers.

No one has a very good answer for these workers. They're often stuck in areas of the country where jobs are scarce. They face a vicious cycle of employment discrimination in which employers don't want to hire them because they've been unemployed for so long, which in turn extends their unemployment and makes it even harder for them to find a job. And now we're just cutting them loose.

"If there was ever time to err on the side of overextending jobless benefits, it would be now," wrote Jim Pethokoukis at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

But the political system isn't erring on the side of extending jobless benefits. It's erring on the side of further deficit reduction. The deal Murray and Ryan struck replaces a bit less than half of sequestration for this year and a lot less than half of sequestration for next year but it adds about $20 billion in fresh deficit reduction to the top.

Democrats wanted to add unemployment insurance to the deal but found Republicans implacably opposed. Which is to say that Republicans were able to add extra deficit reduction to the deal but Democrats weren't able to add help for the long-term unemployed to the deal. It's a reminder of where the political system's priorities are — and a reminder that they're grossly out of line.

Wonkbook's Number of the Day: $85 billion. That's the size of Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan's budget deal.

Wonkbook's Graphs of the Day: Here’s how the safety net has — and hasn’t — reduced poverty in the U.S.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) a Wonkbook primer on the budget deal; (2) another primer on the Volcker rule; (3) Obama nominees get confirmed; (4) light at the end of the Obamacare tunnel; and (5) where we stand on an Iran deal.

1. Top story: Everything you need to know about the Ryan-Murray budget deal

Patty Murray and Paul Ryan reach a deal. "House and Senate negotiators unveiled an $85 billion agreement late Tuesday to fund federal agencies through the fall of 2015, avoiding another government shutdown and ending the cycle of crisis that has paralyzed Washington for much of the past three years. In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stood side by side in the Capitol with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to announce the deal, which would cancel half of the sharp spending cuts known as the sequester for the current fiscal year." Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post.

@BCAppelbaum: Folks on the Hill seem awfully pleased that they've finally managed to perform one of their most basic responsibilities.

Here’s what’s in it. "The total deal is $85 billion. About $45 billion of that replaces sequestration cuts in 2014. About $20 billion replaces sequestration cuts in 2015. About $20 billion is deficit reduction atop sequestration...The new policies in the deal are split between revenue through fees -- travelers will see higher prices on airline tickets and federal workers will have to contribute more to pensions -- and spending cuts." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Primary sources: The document that lays out exactly what's in the dealThe Washington Post.

Budget deal protects current feds, while new workers will pay more toward retirement. "Under the agreement reached by the Budget Conference Committee, the new workers would pay an additional 1.3 percent of salary toward retirement, saving the government $6 billion over 10 years...The agreement would create a three-tier system for employee contributions to their civil service pensions. Those hired before this year pay 0.8 percent of their salary, those hired in 2013 pay 3.1 percent and those hired after Jan. 1 would pay 4.4 percent under the budget agreement." Joe Davidson in The Washington Post.

@MichaelSLinden: For FY14, the budget deal will roll back almost 2/3 of the nondefense discretionary sequester. That's not nothing.

Meet the new Paul Ryan. "The House Budget chairman, who has spent years penning budgets fit for conservatives’ dreams, has morphed into a man willing to take modest steps...[I]n abandoning his years’ long quest to re-imagine American society and settling for a bipartisan deal, the Wisconsin Republican took the first steps to emerge as a House power center — a Republican willing to take baby steps to curb the nation’s trillions in debt, normalize the budget process and protect a Pentagon pilloried by cuts...If the budget passes, it sets up a helpful message for Ryan as he considers both his future in the House and the 2016 presidential race — he can claim he is as a man in tune with the realities of governing. Sure, he is a conservative, but Ryan is willing dispense with the perfect in favor of the good." Jake Sherman in Politico.

@MikeGrunwald: GOP conservatives furious that budget deal adjusts their beloved sequester that they used to claim was all Obama's idea.

This budget deal isn't guaranteed to work. "The budget deal that Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray reached today will be a tough sell in the House of Representatives...Ryan and Speaker John Boehner will have a considerable challenge persuading a large number of House Republicans to back the deal. The Tea Party-backed, anti-government, wing of the Republican House caucus opposes any measure that dilutes the cuts from sequestration." Albert R. Hunt in Bloomberg.

@damianpaletta: The Ryan/Murray deal began as a traditional 29-member budget conference but instead ended up a one-on-one like everything else.

...But the obstacles to scuttling it are pretty big. "It would take a sizable movement to sink the budget deal — likely requiring more than five Senate Republicans, or more than half of House Republicans, since many Democrats are expected to back the deal — which aides on both sides think is unlikely to happen. But it doesn’t mean that a handful of strident opponents couldn’t scuttle an agreement, or at least make a lot of noise about it." Ginger Gibson in Politico.

@JimPethokoukis: This budget deal may be the single most boring political event of 2013

SOLTAS: Don't double air-travel fees. Raise them tenfold. "The case for raising the air-travel fee, then, is merely that travelers should pay the pollution costs of air travel. And that expense, by almost any reckoning, is far greater than $2.50...Suppose, dear Bloomberg reader, you're flying solo from Newark to Heathrow in an economy seat. (Both the tickets and the pollution are more expensive in business class or first, mind you.) A rough calculation1 suggests that you should pay something near $22 for your part in the pollution. Tack on the full costs of aviation security, and you're well over $25." Evan Soltas in Bloomberg.

Music recommendations interlude: Andrew Bird, "Imitosis."

Top opinion

BLINDER: The Fed's plan to revive high-powered money. "[T]hink back to the good old days, when excess reserves were zero. When the Fed injected reserves into the banking system, banks would use those funds to increase lending, thereby creating multiple expansions of the money supply and credit. Bank reserves were called "high-powered money" because each new dollar of reserves led to several additional dollars of money and credit. The financial crisis short-circuited this process. As greed gave way to fear, bankers decided to store trillions of dollars safely at the Fed rather than lend them out. High-powered money became powerless money." Alan S. Blinder in The Wall Street Journal.

PORTER: Government has given up on raising wages. "[C]an the minimum wage be raised significantly without prompting employers to dump workers, close franchises and replace cashiers with computers? Second, could the minimum wage play a significant role in mitigating poverty and, perhaps, slowing the widening gap in American incomes? Neither has an easy answer. Perhaps the most compelling argument for raising the minimum wage is simply this: It is worth a try. It might not be the most effective tool to raise the incomes of the working poor. But given the erosion of collective bargaining and the absence of other labor market regulations, it is one of the few we have." Eduardo Porter in The New York Times.

KLEIN: Can a presidency ever really be 'finished'? "This is a time when it helps to think less about public opinion and more about the powers of the presidency -- what it can do and what it can't. What matters, in terms of potential accomplishments, is what's left that a president can do. A presidency is finished when it no longer has plausible mechanisms for achievement." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

EMANUEL, WHITEHOUSE AND ORSZAG: Now Obama can target healthcare quality. "President Obama should step forward with bold national goals. One would be a dollar-and-date target for total health-care savings, based on the above projections for improvements in the quality and coordination of care. Or, to make the goal easily measurable, the president could declare that, starting in 2020, health-care spending per person should rise no faster than general inflation...President Obama could also set specific goals for reforming payment systems and digitizing medical information -- both crucial strategies for lowering costs while improving care. By 2020, at least 75 percent of Medicare payments should be assessed in some way other than fee-for-service." Ezekiel Emanuel, Sheldon Whitehouse and Peter Orszag in Bloomberg.

COHN: The Obamacare flaw that worries me most. "A significant chunk of low-income Americans would struggle to pay the costs associated with serious [chronic] illness, even after factoring in the law’s protections and subsidies. Isn’t this a flaw with the Affordable Care Act? You bet it is. In fact, of all the law’s elements, this is the one that bothers and worries me the most." Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.

WILKINSON: There will never be a Republican alternative to Obamacare. "Pretending Republicans are noodling over a health-care policy is, by now, a game enjoyed by both journalists and Republicans themselves. Yet the Journal reports today that the smooth path to a Republican alternative, which, like the horizon, is forever just over the next hill, has suddenly gotten bumpy. The political and systemic complexities of Obamacare have alerted Republicans to the perils of transforming the nation's complex health-insurance system. It seems it's not as easy, practically or politically, as it looks." Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg.

YGLESIAS: Ignore Carl Icahn. "Carl Icahn, the 77-year-old billionaire investor, has an idea for Apple. It’s an idea he believes so strongly in that he’s bought 4.7 million shares in the company—a stake worth more than $2.5 billion. And he’s using every tool at his disposal to get Apple to use his idea, from social media to dinner dates to his latest move, a formal shareholder resolution. The only problem is the idea stinks...Icahn’s call for buybacks reflects a malignant streak running through American corporate culture, one that emphasizes financial engineering and trading over tangible investments...[Apple] either need[s] to invest the money in something real or stop soaking it up so quickly by cutting prices." Matthew Yglesias in Slate.

WOLF: Asset managers could blow us all up. "The most sobering lesson of the global financial crisis was that developments expected to increase resilience – in that case, the “originate and distribute” model of finance – turned out to reduce it. Does a similar danger now threaten stability? Yes. The next round of global illiquidity might derive from foreign currency bonds of non-financial companies of emerging economies. The centre would be asset managers, not banks...Why did turmoil follow the mere possibility of a twitch towards tightening in Fed monetary policy? At a conference on Asia at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Hyun Song Shin of Princeton University, among the world’s foremost financial economists, suggested an answer: the growth of demand for the private sector bonds of emerging economies." Martin Wolf in The Financial Times.

SUNSTEIN: How did the one percent get ahead so fast? "Americans certainly don’t believe in equal results, but they do believe that whether or not your parents are rich, you should have a fair chance to get ahead. The troubling fact is that in the top and bottom 10 percent, U.S. families show a degree of economic “stickiness.” If a child has rich parents, there is a good chance he will stay in the economic elite, but if his parents are poor, he has a decent chance of remaining poor." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg.

MACGILLIS: Democrats shouldn't be scared to talk about inequality. "[E]ven if income inequality is not as much of an instant political winner as some liberals would wish it to be, why should Obama and other Democrats therefore play down the issue? Parties need a purpose and identity, and soaring inequality strikes as close to the animating core of the party of the New Deal as any other issue. Obama is talking up inequality not just because he’s grasping for an issue to ride into a midterm election year but because he seems to have genuinely believed it is a serious problem with a clear moral dimension." Alec MacGillis in The New Republic.

EDSALL: Does rising inequality make us all hardhearted? "[A] 2008 study of public attitudes during periods of mounting inequality found that “when inequality in America rises, the public responds with increased conservative sentiment.” This conservative shift applies to all income groups, including the poor, according to the political scientists Nathan Kelly of the University of Tennessee and Peter Enns of Cornell. “Rather than generating opinion shifts that would make redistributive policies more likely,” Kelly and Enns write, “increased economic inequality produces a conservative response in public sentiment.”" Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times.

Late-night comedy interlude: Under this plan, if you like your NSA spy, you get to keep your NSA spy.”

2. Why the Volcker rule matters 

Regulators adopt final Volcker rule limits on bank trading. "Government regulators ushered in a new era of oversight Tuesday aimed at reining in Wall Street risk-taking, voting to prevent big banks from trading for their own benefit. The “Volcker rule,” named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, also bars banks from owning hedge funds and private-equity funds...Lawmakers devised the measure to prevent banks with government backstops such as deposit insurance from making risky trades for their own benefit, arguing that the bets could endanger taxpayers. The challenge for regulators has been restricting such proprietary trading without impeding acceptable practices, such as firms trading on behalf of clients as market-makers or hedging their risk against fluctuations in interest rates." Danielle Douglas in The Washington Post.

Explainer: Everything you need to know about the Volcker RuleNeil Irwin in The Washington Post.

Primary source: The Volcker Rule draft regulations and fact sheetThe Washington Post.

There are six big arguments against the Volcker Rule. Here’s why they’re wrong. "In order to limit the government’s need to act as a safety net during a crisis, regulators are creating various tools that try to do three big things: First, the financial sector will have to internalize some of the costs of crises and insurance. Second, there’s more supervision of banks through things like capital requirements. Third, there are limits on the sorts of activities the banks can do. The Volcker Rule mainly focuses on the third component — it prevents banks from engaging in “proprietary trading,” which essentially removes the parts of banks that gamble and act like hedge funds, because those parts can blow up quickly." Mike Konczal in The Washington Post.

How to make the Volcker rule work. "The third strategy is to find new ways to hide the essence of proprietary trading – and this is an important open issue. Will there be enough disclosure and observable behavior for either the regulators or people on the outside to see whether the spirit of the Volcker Rule is being followed? For example, how exactly will traders be compensated and how much of this will be disclosed? Will data be available on trading activities, allowing independent researchers to look for patterns that might otherwise elude officials? The Volcker Rule could be a major contribution to financial stability. Or it could still flop. The devil now is in the details of implementation and compliance – and how much of this becomes public information and with what time lag." Simon Johnson in The New York Times.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley shares rise as Volcker Rule is enacted. "Wall Street seemed to have liked the final details of the rule. Two of the firms that have the most to lose from an aggressively enforced Volcker Rule gained on the day, with Goldman Sachs shares up 1.23 percent and Morgan Stanley shares up 1.25 percent...[T]his is a big enough move that it suggests investors concluded that the trading profits of Goldman and Morgan won't be quite as badly damaged as they had supposed." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

POSNER AND WEYL: How to make sure the Volcker rule survives in court. "Vocal opposition from banks didn’t stop U.S. financial regulators from approving the so-called Volcker rule, which bans proprietary trading. Yet the real threat to the rule never came from Wall Street. It is coming from the courts. Unless regulators can defend the rule based on principles of economics, it could go down in flames...The SEC, unlike the Environmental Protection Agency and other nonfinancial regulators, had never been required to perform cost-benefit analyses of its rules. Nor had the Commodity Futures Trading Commission or the Federal Reserve." Eric A. Posner and E. Glen Weyl in Bloomberg.

Graphs: The most important economic stories, as told in graphs. (Your humble Wonkbooker contributed one.) Matthew O'Brien in The Atlantic.

GM appoints the U.S. auto industry’s first female CEO. "The auto industry had been a holdout, however, overseas as well as in the United States. That is until Tuesday, when, right after the news that the U.S. Treasury had sold the last of its General Motors stock, the company announced it had chosen 30-year veteran Mary Barra as its first female chief executive -- and the entire sector's first, as well. Of course, Barra has lots to recommend her besides her gender. An electrical engineer by training, she's served in most departments at GM, most recently as chief product officer, where she's taken on the company's high cost structure for making stuff that isn't necessarily better than its competition. Before that, as head of human resources, she attacked the reams of red tape around what people could and couldn't do while at work (including wearing jeans)." Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.

An impasse between the U.S. and Japan is a real problem for Pacific Rim trade talks. "Japan, the last country to enter the talks, formally joined the TPP negotiations in July. To win support for its participation, it initially made a series of concessions, including easing restrictions on U.S. beef imports and allowing the U.S. more time to phase out its tariffs on Japanese auto shipments. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has faced opposition from lawmakers at home who want Japan to continue to protect local agriculture...Analysts following the talks say they believe Japan wants to be able to reduce tariffs but to limit agricultural imports through quotas." William Maudlin and Natasha Brereton-Fukui in The Wall Street Journal.

And you thought you had seen it all interlude: How to fail your driver's test in under ten seconds (flip the car as you're pulling out).

3. Everybody's getting confirmed

Under new rules, Senate confirms Millett and Watt. "Under new rules requiring just a majority of senators to agree to proceed to final debate on most confirmation votes, senators voted 56 to 38 to confirm Patricia A. Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Later, senators confirmed Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), 57 to 41, to serve as the next head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and federal home loan banks." Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

The Senate finally confirmed the most powerful man in housing. Here’s what he might do. "The one definitive thing Watt did say was that he favors bringing private capital back into the housing finance system, on which he says there's "broad consensus," even though there's no consensus on how that ought to be done." Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.

Many nominees, though, are still chilling in Washington purgatory. "For the past 900 days—nearly three years—Ken Kopocis has been languishing in the bureaucratic equivalent of Guantánamo Bay: The longtime congressional staffer is waiting to be confirmed as President Barack Obama’s nominee to oversee clean water regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency. And for that entire time, the exceedingly low-profile pick (“whitest white bread” is how a pal describes him) has had his nomination held up by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who was concerned that Clean Water Act enforcement would slow big private-sector project." Glenn Thrush in Politico.

What John Podesta will being doing in the White House. "Podesta will serve in the White House for one year. He will advise Mr. Obama on a host of issues and also suggest ways to improve the workings of the executive branch, a person familiar with the matter said...Podesta will help implement "executive actions where necessary when we can't get cooperation out of Congress to help advance an agenda that helps the middle class thrive," Mr. Carney said...The environment has been a long-standing interest of Mr. Podesta's." Peter Nicholas in The Wall Street Journal.

...Importantly, he'll recuse himself on Keystone. "“In discussions [with White House chief of staff] Denis [McDonough], John suggested that he not work on the Keystone Pipeline issue, in review at the State Department, given that the review is far along in the process and John’s views on this are well known,” the official said. “Denis agreed that was the best course of action.”" Justin Sink in The Hill.

...Fun fact: Podesta thinks aliens are real. "Left unmentioned, for some reason, is an important factor that might have moved Podesta. Ever since he left the White House, he's wanted public disclosure of what we know about alien life...Since then, Podesta has written the foreword for at least one book about UFOs, pronouncing himself a "curious skeptic" of the official story." David Weigel in Slate.

Senate panel expected to vote on DHS nominee over Republican objections. "Two Republican senators ratcheted up their objections Tuesday to the Obama administration’s nominee for the No. 2 job at the Department of Homeland Security, saying he should not be confirmed because of an ongoing internal probe. The nominee, Alejandro ­Mayorkas, is expected to be approved Wednesday on a party-­line vote in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee...The investigation focuses on allegations that Mayorkas mismanaged the operation of a visa program for wealthy foreign investors. He denies the charges." Tom Hamburger in The Washington Post.

Oh my god this is so great interlude: A glossary of gestures for critical discussion.

4. Is there light at the other end of the Obamacare tunnel?

Support for Obamacare, and Obama, may be rebounding. "President Obama’s approval ratings, which hit his all-time low last month, have returned to where they were before the rollout of the health care law’s enrollment process, but Americans still lack confidence in the White House’s management of the Affordable Care Act, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The public’s opinion of the law itself has improved after repairs to the enrollment website...42 percent of Americans now approve of Mr. Obama’s overall performance, and 50 percent disapprove...[H]alf of the respondents disapproved of the Affordable Care Act, while 39 percent approved, the poll found. But Americans seem to view the law more favorably now than a month ago, when 61 percent disapproved and just 31 percent approved." Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Alison Kopicki in The New York Times.

A permanent fix to Medicare fees is coming. "[L]awmakers are soon set to recess for Christmas, most observers expect them to pass another short-term fix this month. But they say the new CBO projection offers promise for a permanent fix in 2014...Most proposals for a fix aim to prod doctors to save money for Medicare, which traditionally has allowed physicians to earn more by performing more procedures regardless of patient outcomes. The Senate proposal, written with the help of House Ways and Means members, would freeze current Medicare rates over the next decade, but give extra payments to doctors who meet certain performance measures." Amy Schatz in The Wall Street Journal.

The feds sign off on expanding Medicaid to 100,000 Iowans. "The federal government gave Iowa the go-ahead on Tuesday to expand its Medicaid program -- and, in the process, gave the state a new flexibility to tweak the public program's benefit package...Iowa had proposed using public funds to purchase private coverage for the Medicaid-eligible...Health and Human Services essentially split the difference with the state here: They're allowing premiums for those who earn between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty line, but not for those who earn below that. The premiums are limited at 2 percent of income (for someone at the poverty line, this is about $19 a month), and enrollees have the chance to reduce their payment by participating in a wellness program. The other, and arguably bigger, difference between the Iowa and Arkansas plan is that Iowa has gotten more leeway in tweaking Medicaid's benefits package." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Tennessee wants to expand Medicaid too. But it can't figure out how. "The Republican governor of Tennessee on Monday said he’d be open to expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare if a system is found that the state's GOP-led legislature approves of. Gov. Bill Haslam, in a letter sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius, expressed optimism that a solution could be found." Jonathan Easley in The Hill.

100,000 have signed up on New York health exchange. "As of Monday, about 69,500 people had selected a private insurance plan through the exchange, in addition to 31,400 who have signed up for Medicaid, the government insurance for the poor, the state health department said. In mid-November, the Medicaid to private insurance ratio was about 50-50, but began tipping toward the private side after that...State officials said they are on track to reach their enrollment goal of 1.1 million people by the end of 2016." Anemona Hartocollis in The New York Times.

Explainer: The ultimate guide to buying insurance on Healthcare.govSarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Obamacare backers not relying on White House to meet law's challenges. "Like many of the law's backers, foundation leaders have decided they and their local partners must take responsibility for educating consumers about their new coverage and responding to questions and complaints because the Obama administration has shown little ability to do it. Many physician groups, hospitals and insurers have come to the same conclusion." Noam N. Levey and Kathleen Hennessey in The Los Angeles Times.

Cracks emerge in the wall of Obamacare opposition. "[J]ust over the last couple of weeks, unexpected cracks have started to emerge. The Republican approach to “Obanacare” has started to evolve, at least a little...[Sen. Ron] Johnson has devoted much of his brief political career to condemning the Affordable Care Act, and he’s now telling one of the more important news outlets in conservative media that he’s comfortable with state-based exchange marketplaces – which is not only one of the key elements of Obamacare, but is also one of the provisions conservative Republicans have been fighting against." Steve Benen in MSNBC.

NYC interlude: 100 ways to improve the subway, on a Tumblr blog.

5. Where we stand on an Iran deal

The Obama administration is working very hard to prevent Congress from imposing new sanctions on Iran as talks continue. "The White House effort achieved some success on Tuesday, when Senator Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said the administration had made a strong case for a “pause” in congressional action, and that he was inclined not to move sanctions legislation forward in his committee. But other prominent Democrats, including Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, support new sanctions, with deferred imposition, and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is said to be sympathetic." Mark Landler and Michael R. Gordon in The New York Times.

John Kerry faces skeptical House on Iran sanctions. "Kerry faced heavy skepticism in a hearing that occasionally turned sarcastic and brusque, tangling with committee members about whether he or they were being naive and failing to see the full depth of the situation." Edward Isaac-Dovere in Politico.

Republican says Iran deal must halt enrichment. "“The key issue is whether a final agreement would allow Iran to manufacture nuclear fuel,” the chairman, Ed Royce of California, said during a hearing that included testimony by Secretary of State John Kerry. “It simply can’t be trusted with enrichment technology, because verification efforts can never be foolproof.” Comments by Mr. Royce and other panel members effectively shifted the terms of the debate from the interim accord that the United States and five other world powers negotiated last month, which involved freezing much of Iran’s nuclear program, to the more comprehensive one that international negotiators now plan to pursue." Michael R. Gordon in The New York Times.

Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.

Wonkblog Roundup

Read President Obama’s powerful eulogy for Nelson MandelaWonkblog.

Does Upworthy show media outlets are hurting themselves by publishing so much contentEzra Klein.

What ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ got wrong about the AIDS crisisDylan Matthews.

Here’s how the safety net has — and hasn’t — reduced poverty in the U.S. Brad Plumer.

Here’s the full summary of the budget dealBrad Plumer.

Everything you need to know about the Volcker RuleNeil Irwin.

It’s ridiculous to declare Obama’s presidency ‘finished.’ Ezra Klein.

This is a big deal: GM appoints the U.S. auto industry’s first female CEOLydia DePillis.

There are six big arguments against the Volcker Rule. Here’s why they’re wrongMike Konczal.

The ultimate guide to buying insurance on HealthCare.govSarah Kliff.

The feds sign off on expanding Medicaid to 100,000 IowansSarah Kliff.

The Volcker Rule draft regulations and fact sheetNeil Irwin.

Here’s what’s in Paul Ryan and Patty Murray’s mini-budget dealEzra Klein.

The Senate finally confirmed the most powerful man in housing. Here’s what he might do. Lydia DePillis.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley shares rise as Volcker Rule is enactedNeil Irwin.

Et Cetera

NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hackingAshkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson, and Barton Gellman in The Washington Post.

Report: US solar installations skyrocketPeter Sullivan in The Hill.

Debate: How can we expand the appeal of math and science in schoolsThe New York Times.

EPA rules on interstate air pollution get warm Supreme Court receptionRobert Barnes in The Washington Post.

Study finds that flagrant violators of labor laws are given federal contractsSteven Greenhouse in The New York Times.

Watch this video: Blame geography for more political dysfunctionSam Tanenhaus in The New York Times.

Biden announces new funds for mental healthScott Wilson in The Washington Post.

Tea party threat again hangs over Republicans’ efforts to take SenatePaul Kane in The Washington Post.

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

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.

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Andrea Peterson · December 11, 2013