Wonkbook: Two weeks before recess, Congress still has a few key policy battles

July 17

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(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/ EPA)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 17 percent. That's the percentage of Americans who now view immigration as the most important issue, more than triple what it was in a previous recent survey.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: These charts show why plummeting millennial home ownership isn't as troubling as it may seem.

Wonkbook's Top 4 Stories: (1) Two weeks to recess, a long way to go on legislation; (2) international business news extravaganza; (3) it's tough being a millennial; (4) all the climate stops executive power can buy.

1. Top story: Two weeks before recess, Congress as gridlocked as ever

With two weeks to go, Congress is still fighting over migrant-crisis legislation. "In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee will begin hammering out a supplemental bill on Thursday, according to a Democratic aide. The funding will be roughly at the $3.7 billion level that President Barack Obama has asked for, or slightly less and it’s unclear whether it will include policy changes. House leaders, meanwhile, are debating whether to move forward on legislation that would provide significantly less funding than Obama is seeking and attaching policy language that would change a 2008 anti-trafficking law to make it easier to return children to their home countries if they’re not from Mexico or Canada." Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett in Politico.

Is the tide starting to ebb at the border? "There’s anecdotal evidence that the tide is ebbing as efforts are made to intercept the young migrants crossing Mexico. As many as six deportation buses a day are now arriving in El Salvador from Mexico — a big increase over this spring. At the same time, the daily rate of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border has dropped significantly from what it was in late June and early July....But as early as March, Democrats pressed the White House to be more forthright about the crisis....Perhaps most striking, the delay testifies to the real human costs that result from what’s become a destructive alienation between the executive branch and an often dysfunctional Congress." David Rogers in Politico.

Children fare better in immigrant courts with an attorney. "Nearly half of all minors represented by lawyers in immigration court in the past decade eventually won permission to remain. But nine out of 10 without legal representation were sent back to their home countries, according to the report....The findings are likely to fuel the debate in Congress over whether to expedite deportations....In the nation's immigration courts, children aren't legally entitled to attorneys, but judges often delay cases in order to give the children time to find lawyers, who are sometimes provided by advocacy groups. As caseloads have climbed over the last decade, children have been more likely to appear without an attorney." Ana Campoy and Laura Meckler in The Wall Street Journal.

Primary source: This is the wildly complicated form young migrants are trying to make sense of as they seek asylum. Rachel Roubein in National Journal.

Not on the table at Obama's briefing with Latino lawmakers: Cornyn-Cuellar. "President Barack Obama said hello to Rep. Henry Cuellar Wednesday afternoon and shook his hand. And then, for the rest of a two-hour meeting between the president and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that all sides describe as productive, the two didn’t say a word to each other. Nor, said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), did they discuss the bill that the Texas Democrat has proposed with Republican Sen. John Cornyn to address the border crisis — legislation that the White House doesn’t want." Edward-Isaac Dovere in Politico.

Obama lays down a marker: Migrant children will get due process. "President Barack Obama, who’s bound to be hammered no matter what action he takes on the Texas border crisis, tried to reassure skeptical allies Wednesday, telling members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that Central American migrants’ rights to due process would be honored even as he’s pushing to accelerate the process for deporting them. Obama faced a caucus almost unanimously opposed to changing a 2008 human trafficking law granting children rights to see a judge and contest deportation — and they left the meeting sounding happy Obama had at least heard their concerns." Steven T. Dennis in Roll Call.

Related: Schools a haven for kids who crossed border alone. Kimberly Hefling And Juan A. Lozano in the Associated Press.

Obama still isn't calling the migrants refugees. Here's why. "It's a rhetorical choice that says much about the way President Obama and the White House view the politics of the situation. While conceding that the dangers faced by the tens of thousands of children who have fled countries such as Honduras and Guatemala are real and significant, the White House, from Obama on down, has consistently played down the prospect of the United States offering them safety and protection, instead focusing on ways to accelerate removal proceedings." James Oliphant in National Journal.

Why those politics matter: Now public support for pathway to legal status is slipping. "Overall support for giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status fell to 68% in July from 73% in February, according to the survey released Wednesday....Republicans, who supported a path to legalization by nearly a two-to-one margin in February...now favor it by a much narrower margin, with 54% in favor and 43% opposed. Among Republicans who identify with the Tea Party, 41% believe undocumented residents should be put on a path to legal status, down from 56% early in the year. Support among Democrats and independents dropped only slightly, by four points each since February." Miriam Jordan in The Wall Street Journal.

Poll: Immigration's share of most important issue triples, but economy and government take the cake. "That jump — from 5% last month to 17% — appears striking, but perhaps just as surprising is that the poll shows that, despite the large volume of publicity over the border situation, the overwhelming majority of Americans say they are focusing more on other problems, including dissatisfaction with government and economic issues. Perhaps less surprising is that two other polls, by the Pew Research Center and for the Washington Post-ABC News, give President Obama low marks for how he handled the crisis at the border. Congressional Republicans fare even worse." Michael Muskal in the Los Angeles Times.

Congress may even go to recess without VA reform. Because money. "House and Senate lawmakers negotiating a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs are being weighed down over questions about how much the overhaul will cost. Conference committee members are working with the Congressional Budget Office to get a score that lawmakers can find credible. The nonpartisan office initially put the cost of the reform bills at more than $50 billion — an estimate lawmakers dispute — but has recently reduced that figure to under $33 billion....Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said cost is the 'big impediment' for the committee to reach a deal before Congress leaves on its annual summer recess." Lauren French and Burgess Everett in Politico.

Acting VA chief tells Congress he needs $17.6 billion to cut wait times. "Without increasing the number of doctors, staffers and beds in VA facilities, Gibson warned...'the wait times just get longer.'...From the $17.6 billion requested, more than $10 billion would go to providing private care for veterans while the agency continues its investigations and institutes new safeguards. As the capacity of VA hospitals increases, Gibson said, less money would go for private care. And $6 billion would go toward opening new VA clinics.The remainder of the money would be used to hire an additional 10,000 clinical-care staff members and other 1,5000 doctors to work in existing VA facilities." Wesley Lowery and Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

Explainer: 5 ways the VA is handling its other burgeoning crisis over benefits data manipulation. Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

The Senate looks to be throwing in the towel on highway funding and will just pass the House GOP's short-term patch. "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will attempt to forgo the potentially time-consuming process of merging a Senate-authored bill to finance the highway trust fund with the one passed by the House, two leadership sources told The Huffington Post. Instead, Reid will bring to the floor the measure that passed the lower chamber on Tuesday, aiming to have it quickly pass the Senate and move to the president’s desk to be signed into law." Sam Stein in The Huffington Post.

What that means: No jobless benefits legislation will be tacked on. "It’s been a bad week for those seeking renewal of long-term unemployment benefits. On Tuesday, the House voted to patch over a decaying Highway Trust Fund with money that had been earmarked by Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) for a five-month extension of benefits that expired in December. Then, on Wednesday, it became clear that jobless aid won’t be hitching a ride on the Senate’s transportation legislation — the type of must-pass bill that UI advocates have been eyeing." Burgess Everett in Politico.

Other legislative news:

U.S. Senate Democrats' Hobby Lobby bill fails to move forward. Annika McGinnis and Emily Stephenson in Reuters.

ORSZAG: Do-nothing Congress is your fault. "The most important problem facing our national government is political polarization, because it makes governing virtually impossible — unless one party can dominate the House, Senate and White House....One view, favored by political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, is that Americans are growing more polarized and their increasingly extreme differences are reflected in Congress. Another view, associated with Morris Fiorina of Stanford University, is that polarization in Congress stems more from a disconnect between politicians and the general public....I have long put my chips down on the Abramowitz side. And two new analyses suggest I've made a good bet." Peter R. Orszag in Bloomberg View.

Top opinion

SUMERLIN AND SWAGEL: Investors heed the Fed at their peril. "Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in her testimony on Capitol Hill this week was candid, as she has been in the past, in telling lawmakers that the biggest economic risk she sees facing the country is the possible emergence of a new permanent class of unemployed workers. To head off this possibility, the Fed is holding monetary policy accommodative longer than traditional monetary models would recommend. Opinions on the wisdom of this policy are split, but the Fed's openness about its policy is heralded almost universally as a desirable development. We are not so sure." Marc Sumerlin and Phillip Swagel in The Wall Street Journal.

CHAIT: Democrats can't be the party of business. "It is certainly true that the business lobby has some bitter recriminations against the GOP. The House Republican takeover in the 2010 election, to which the business lobby lent its overwhelming support, went off the rails almost immediately. In their mania for confrontation, Republicans kept shooting at President Obama and hitting the economy where their business allies live. They have repeatedly ratted markets by threatening default, and then, as the price of avoiding full calamity, received budget sequestration cuts that have cost around a million jobs. The costly government shutdown likewise impaired the federal government’s basic functioning." Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine.

FISMAN: Sweden's school-choice disaster. "Advocates for choice-based solutions should take a look at what’s happened to schools in Sweden, where parents and educators would be thrilled to trade their country’s steep drop in PISA scores over the past 10 years for America’s middling but consistent results....Researchers and policy analysts are increasingly pointing the finger at many of the choice-oriented reforms that are being championed as the way forward for American schools. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that adding more accountability and discipline to American schools would be a bad thing, it does hint at the many headaches that can come from trying to do so by aggressively introducing marketlike competition to education." Ray Fisman in Slate.

ENGELHARD: Pick your poison: Cost vs. choice in ACA marketplace plans. "Narrow provider networks are not a new feature of the healthcare landscape....Without sufficient oversight and competition, they can inhibit access to timely high-quality care. The ACA put forward a regulatory and financial framework to encourage the blending of efficiency and care coordination and health insurers are promising to provide greater transparency and options in their narrow networks. However, right now it is unclear whether or not these system reforms will be enough of an antidote to the choice versus cost trade-off for many Americans who, when it comes to health care, want it all." Carolyn Long Engelhard in The Hill.

SAMUELSON: A part-timer boom, or blip? "There may be a dark lining to the sunny June employment report....Most — or all — of the increase may have been part-time jobs. If that’s a trend, it could signal a weaker economy. It could also vindicate critics of the Affordable Care Act....They have argued that the added costs of providing health insurance for full-time workers would cause many firms to emphasize part-time employment. Is it a trend? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mortimer Zuckerman — real estate developer and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report — says yes....The administration differs....Who’s right? Unfortunately, we don’t know. The official job statistics aren’t conclusive. The BLS does two job surveys. They don’t always agree. That’s the case here." Robert J. Samuelson in The Washington Post.

Movie interlude: A brief history of movies.

2. Will Congress stop tax inversions?

Lew, citing 'economic patriotism,' asks Congress to stem tax inversions. "Calling for a new sense of 'economic patriotism,' U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Congress on Wednesday to take steps quickly to discourage U.S. companies from moving their tax domiciles abroad to avoid federal taxes....Lew's remarks came amid a wave of corporate deals known as inversions, in which a U.S. company shifts its tax home base to a lower-tax country by combining with a company based in that country....Congress is unlikely to take action on inversions until after November's midterm elections, but political momentum for some legislation is building, policy analysts said." Jason Lange and Kevin Drawbaugh in Reuters.

Explainer: Lew on the tax inversions. "Politically, Mr Lew’s letter seems to be a win-win. Either the Obama administration obtains the legislation it wants to halt the practice, or at least it will be able to demonstrate that the US Treasury was not standing idly by while a string of US companies moved abroad under its watch. Mr Lew is not proposing anything new....The flood of inversion deals is likely to continue, unless the mere noise on Capitol Hill has a chilling effect on corporate boardrooms and their bankers. US companies will keep trying to escape America’s 35 per cent corporate tax rate, one of the highest in the developed world, and its worldwide system of taxation, which taxes foreign income when it is brought back into the country." James Politi in The Financial Times.

At stake: tens of billions of dollars. "Corporations paid an average effective tax rate of roughly 17 percent last year....And that’s done little to keep companies from looking for more attractive tax rates overseas...whether these inversions are a sign of oppressive tax rates or a loophole that needs closing....Calculating just how much the U.S. government stands to lose is made difficult by the murky nature of corporate tax reporting and other factors. But researchers for Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation earlier this year estimated that a bill to curtail tax inversions and could raise roughly $20 billion over the next decade. That estimate does not include the latest announced or potential inversion deals." Phil Terrigno in The Fiscal Times.

Add 2 more companies to the inversion list. "In recent months, several big companies have reached deals that will allow them to reincorporate in countries like Ireland and the Netherlands, where corporate taxes are lower. This week alone, two such arrangements appeared sealed, with AbbVie, the drug maker based in Chicago, winning tentative approval from Ireland-based Shire for a $53 billion acquisition; and Mylan, the generic drug maker based outside Pittsburgh, paying $5.3 billion for the European assets of Abbott Laboratories." David Gelles in The New York Times.

Inversions never used to be this common. What happened? "Since the beginning of last year, 19 inversion deals have been announced, with 14 coming this year alone....The tax-friendly moves have a domino effect, leaving executives at other companies worried about being left behind....Inversion deals have been around since the 1980s, but had been used less frequently. Companies that wanted a lower overseas tax rate could just reincorporate in, say, Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. But recent rules have made that type of tax strategy virtually impossible. The latest rule tightening, in 2012, left foreign takeovers as the only clear path to gaining a new, lower-tax home....Effective tax rates for many companies can drop to percentages in the teens, or lower, from the mid-20s." Liz Hoffman and Hester Plumridge in The Wall Street Journal.

What ideas are on the table in Congress? None that are politically viable just yet. "The quick fix that some Democrats favor would close the exit doors for almost all firms seeking to leave by imposing a higher threshold of foreign ownership. But other lawmakers argue that a temporary patch could actually hurt U.S. companies by making them more vulnerable to a takeover. It also could lead corporations to move valuable headquarters jobs overseas. Meanwhile, the longer-term solution favored by many lawmakers — a politically difficult rewrite of the much-maligned U.S. corporate tax rules — already is dead for this year, and likely faces long odds next year." John D. McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal.

Another international business fight: Governors press for Ex-Im Bank renewal. "The Export-Import Bank is the subject of the latest battle between business and conservative factions within the House Republican Conference, two sides that take dramatically different views on the bank’s value. But at least 15 Republican governors — including at least one considering a run for president — are siding with business interests in urging Congress to reauthorize the bank. In a letter...a group of 29 governors, including nine Republicans, urged Congress to reauthorize the bank ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline." Reid Wilson in The Washington Post.

What effect will the latest round of Russia sanctions have? "The Obama administration, acting in concert with the European Union, imposed sanctions on Russian banks, energy companies and defense firms in the latest attempt to punish the country over Ukraine. The U.S. and EU, which say Russia is supporting the rebels in Ukraine, sought to squeeze the country’s $2 trillion economy by limiting access to financing. Among the companies hit by the U.S. penalties were OAO Rosneft (ROSN), Russia’s largest oil company, natural gas producer OAO Novatek (NVTK), OAO Gazprombank, the country’s third-largest lender, and state economic development lender Vnesheconombank, the U.S. Treasury Department said." Margaret Talev and Indira A.R. Lakshmanan in Bloomberg.

Other business/financial reads:

Justice Department, Bank of America remain at odds over mortgage settlement. Danielle Douglas in The Washington Post.

CFPB looks to go public with consumer complaints. Benjamin Goad in The Hill.

Visa makes big move to boost consumer spending online. Aarti Shahani in NPR.

GRAETZ: Inverted thinking on corporate taxes. "Mr. Lew and many senators and representatives want to tighten the 2004 law. The Treasury secretary calls also for companies to demonstrate 'a new sense of economic patriotism.' Make no mistake: Such proposals would do nothing to make the U.S. a more favorable place to locate multinational headquarters or investments. If they succeed — which is unlikely, given the creativity of tax planners and the potential large tax savings at stake — the most likely outcome will be more foreign takeovers of U.S. companies. No anti-inversion legislation will block this route for garnering the large tax savings that U.S. companies are now seeking." Michael J. Graetz in The Wall Street Journal.

BERSHIDSKY: Lew's unpatriotic tax fix. "U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew admits that the way to stop U.S. companies from reincorporating overseas is to lower the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax system. As ever, there's a 'but': Lew wants Congress to ban tax inversions, as the practice is known, rather than pursue the correct solution from the start....There's no point introducing ineffective stopgap measures if the goal is to stop tax inversions. Both Lew and U.S. executives would be happy if the corporate tax rate were lowered to make the U.S. more globally competitive in a world where national borders mean less and less. That, then, is the issue that legislators should tackle urgently." Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg View.

McARDLE: We don't need a corporate income tax. "But while I don’t agree that we need to make corporations pay their 'fair share,' I do agree that jettisoning the corporate income tax would be expensive. So here’s my proposal: Eliminate the corporate income tax and take the money from people. That’s what you’re doing anyway, so do it in a simpler, fairer and more progressive way, by raising income taxes on the wealthy and taxing capital income (dividends plus capital gains) more like ordinary income. And stop wasting everyone’s time and money on this insane, unwinnable chess game." Megan McArdle in Bloomberg View.

Happy animal interlude: This dog is so happy he wags his tail in his sleep.

3. It's not easy being a millennial

Has millennial homeownership hit rock bottom? Maybe not. "The Census Bureau's homeownership rate...reflects the share of all households that own their own home....But as the recession kicked in, many families began to double up, as multiple generations combined under one roof, or as young adults moved back in with their parents. Today, that process is reversing. Household formation is increasing....This is particularly true for young adults setting out now on their own. What happens...? The homeownership rate goes down. It's possible, in other words, that the homeownership rate may decline even as the number of young adults buying a home increases. Or rather: The young adult homeownership may decline not because fewer people are buying homes, but because more are becoming renters." Emily Badger in The Washington Post.

Here's what else the analysis says. "Mr. Kolko’s analysis also says demographic changes among young adults, including delaying marriage and parenthood, account for nearly all of the declines in homeownership among young adults. Many of those changes, he says, were well underway even before the recession hit. This undercuts the popular narrative that millennials have been irrevocably scarred by the housing bust. Rather, it suggests the subprime-mortgage bubble of the past decade fueled purchases that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place due to demographic changes that were already well underway." Nick Timiraos in The Wall Street Journal.

The incredible disappearing summer job. "The idea of spending a summer bagging groceries or taking movie tickets as a rite of passage may be a fiction at this point. July is the peak of the summer job season, but that peak has been getting smaller and smaller — and the decline predates the recession. The share of teens who are working in any given July has been on the decline since 1990. And while recessions may hasten this loss of jobs, it never seems to rebound afterward." Danielle Kurtzleben in Vox.

Charts: The 8 industries that create the most summer jobs. Matthew Yglesias in Vox.

Reduced 'job churn' is hurting millennials' career prospects. "One of the key questions about this phenomenon is whether it’s the temporary result of an especially severe recession, or if some sort of structural changes in the U.S. economy are making the labor market permanently less dynamic....The labor market clearly gets less dynamic during recessions. That’s no surprise. There’s less hiring and less voluntary quitting that go on when the economy is bad. But there’s another trend in this data over the last 15 years: Even when the economy is in recovery periods and adding jobs at a brisk clip, dynamism just hasn’t picked up very much." Josh Zumbrun in The Wall Street Journal.

Lesson for everyone going to college. "Consensus is a rare commodity on the higher-education beat, as you might expect when journalists are sifting through reams of data covering the costs and outcomes of millions of people (with dramatically varying skills and ambitions) moving in and out of thousands of institutions (with dramatically varying resources and reputations). But if there's anything close to a consensus on the college beat, it's this. Going into debt to attend college and then dropping out is a really risky move." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

As feds crack down on colleges' handlings of sexual-assault cases, will enrollment be affected? "College applicants select schools for myriad reasons. But does the handling of sexual assault by institutions of higher learning play a part in those decisions? While admissions officers are careful not to point to it as the sole reason for the decline, applications to two elite colleges — Dartmouth and Amherst — fell by 14 percent and 8 percent, respectively, after recent high-publicity sexual assault cases on their campuses. But one year’s numbers, though significant in these examples, don’t make a trend. How the new national attention affects applicants’ decisions in the next admission cycle and beyond remains to be seen." Stephanie Haven in McClatchy Newspapers.

Could affirmative action be returning to the Supreme Court? "A high-stakes affirmative action case may soon return to the Supreme Court for a final judgment after a federal appeals court upheld the University of Texas's diversity-seeking admissions program on Tuesday....The case implicates the legal underpinnings of the use of race as a factor in admissions, which the Supreme Court crafted in 2003 with a 5-4 majority led by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has since been replaced by the more conservative Justice Samuel Alito. Rick Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine predicted that if the case returns to the Supreme Court, it will rule 5-4 against the school's affirmative action program." Sahil Kapur in Talking Points Memo.

Other education reads:

Amid Common Core debate, North Carolina opts to tweak, not abandon, standards. Lyndsey Layton in The Washington Post.

College students challenge N.C. voting law. Harmeet Kaur in USA Today.

Animal whisperer interlude: He calls out to some cows and they come over to him.

4. Obama pulls out all the executive stops on climate

Obama's sideways climate plan. "President Obama's big second-term push on climate change is drawing in federal agencies that historically haven't been front-and-center on global-warming policy. That was clearer than ever Wednesday when the White House rolled out executive actions to help states and communities build their resilience to more intense storms, high heat, sea-level rise, and other effects of climate change. Agencies involved include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Housing and Urban Development Department, and the Agriculture Department." Ben Geman in National Journal.

Among the tools Obama announced: 3-D maps. "As part of his plan to help U.S. communities prepare for climate change, President Obama is unveiling initiatives Wednesday that include 3-dimensional mapping to better identify flood risks, landslide hazards and coastal erosion. The U.S. Geological Survey is launching a $13 million 3-D Elevation Program to develop advanced mapping that it says could, among other things, make it quicker to update flood maps and easier to find ideal sites for wind turbines and solar panels. It's relying on lidar (light detection and ranging) technology that uses light from lasers to give the elevation of any spot — from the tree tops to the ground." Wendy Koch in USA Today.

GOP-controlled House is going the opposite direction. "The measures, both introduced by Rep. David McKinley, a Republican from coal-rich West Virginia, aim to limit spending that would help 'pursue a dubious climate change agenda,' McKinley said on the House floor earlier this month. 'Congress should not be spending money to pursue ideologically driven experiments.' While the amendments aren’t likely to survive the Democratic-controlled Senate, they underscore the longstanding tensions between Republican leaders, who generally oppose sweeping government climate policies, and President Barack Obama's administration, which is leading a broad effort to address the effects of man-made global warming." Maria Gallucci in International Business Times.

Other energy/environmental reads:

Australia kills off its carbon tax. Lenore Taylor in The Guardian.

Wildlife officers step up wetland-protection efforts. Kirsti Marohn in USA TODAY.

Coal plant carbon pollution injects life in old oil wells. Joe Carroll in Bloomberg.

Astronomy interlude: We still don't know what Pluto looks like. That's about to change.

Wonkblog roundup

Will regulators buy Airbnb’s new story about "belonging"? Emily Badger.

An exhausting day in the life of a New York City cab. Emily Badger.

"Takers" just as likely to vote Republican as "makers," data show. Christopher Ingraham.

Why plummeting Millennial homeownership isn’t as alarming as it seems. Emily Badger.

The EPA’s carbon plan asks the least from states that pollute the most. Philip Wallach and Alex Abdun-Nabi.

Republicans really don’t like atheists and Muslims. Christopher Ingraham.

Wall Street banks are having a tough time trading. But it could be worse. Danielle Douglas.

Do you live near a natural gas leak? Google Street View cars are finding out. Steven Mufson.

The young and poor are keeping big American tobacco alive. Roberto A. Ferdman.

Et Cetera

Experts say the threat of wildfires is already above normal in Western states. Reid Wilson in The Washington Post.

U.S. factory output surges in second quarter, housing improving. Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.

The FDA found more than just smallpox vials in that storage room. Brady Dennis and Lena H. Sun in The Washington Post.

Calif. death penalty system ruled unconstitutional. Edvard Pettersson and Alison Vekshin in Bloomberg.

Lawmakers, lawyers spar over Boehner lawsuit. Annika McGinnis in Reuters.

House votes to save bans on city Internet service. Brendan Sasso in National Journal.

Now hiring: An Obamacare website contractor. Dustin Volz in National Journal.

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

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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