Wonkbook: After the VA deal, Congress is back to bickering about the border crisis

July 30

Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog’s morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 64.8 percent. That's the homeownership rate in America, the lowest rate since 1995.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: The middle class is 20 percent poorer than it was 30 years ago.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) Back to border bickering; (2) the debate over costly drugs; (3) is Edward Snowden winning?; (4) the bottom line on climate policy; and (5) the newest Russia sanctions could bite.

1. Top story: After the VA deal, Congress is back to bickering

House GOP cuts funding in border proposal — again. "The plan, which would provide $659 million to help federal agencies stem the flow of illegal immigrants, seemed designed to win enough support from skeptical conservatives before the House breaks Friday for the rest of the summer. That amount is far lower than the $3.7 billion that White House officials say is needed to handle the tens of thousands of migrants massed at the border. The GOP’s proposed changes to a 2008 anti-trafficking law were met with strong opposition from key Democratic lawmakers, making it unlikely that Congress will reach an agreement by week’s end." David Nakamura and Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

Back to border funding: What happens if Congress doesn't act before recess? "U.S. border security will probably suffer if Congress fails to act on President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion request...lawmakers and congressional aides warned on Tuesday....Congress could embark on a five-week summer recess on Friday without signing off on any additional funds....The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is on pace to run out of money in mid-August, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in mid-September....If extra funding is not provided, the government will have to transfer money from other agencies....The transfer of funds is known as 'reprogramming' and can be carried out by the Obama administration without legislation." Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan in Reuters.

Is a conservative revolt in the cards? "House Republicans on Tuesday faced blistering criticism over their border crisis bill from Democrats and two less likely sources: Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Cruz and Sessions put out statements criticizing House GOP leadership for its proposal....The two senators say the crisis is President Barack Obama's fault directly, particularly because of his 2012 decision to allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. years ago to stay and work temporarily. Despite efforts from some House Republicans, no provisions to end that program (called...DACA) were included in the $659 million package introduced Tuesday. Cruz and Sessions urged Republicans to oppose the bill." Elise Foley in The Huffington Post.

The bill is light on money for judges and legal help for minors. "Just $22 million is provided to the Justice Department under the House bill — $12.9 million to hire additional immigration judges and $9.1 million for technology upgrades to expedite the hearing process....Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has proposed $123.4 million for Justice....Nearly $63 million would go to hire new immigration judges and $50 million to help the children be represented in court — something that's left out of the House bill entirely. What makes the difference most striking is that Republicans are calling for a greatly expedited deportation process with strict deadlines that will require a much faster turnaround for each case." David Rogers in Politico.

Dems to House: Pass that and we'll tack on immigration reform. "The comments are a sign of just how far apart the chambers are...Reid's suggestion is a nonstarter in the House, with Boehner ruling out putting such a measure on the floor and calling Reid's tactics 'deceitful and cynical.' Reid proposed the idea as a way to force a difficult vote on Senate Republicans, two dozen of whom had voted last year for immigration reform....Reid may want to put Republicans in a tough spot, but he's also safeguarding the position of the White House, which does not want to see any policy changes." Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim in Politico.

Americans think the U.S. should shelter — not rush to deport — migrants. "The vast majority...of people in the U.S. feel quite the opposite, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute. When asked what the U.S. government should do about all the children arriving alone at the U.S. border, some 70 percent of Americans said they favor offering the minors shelter and support while determining whether they were eligible to stay in the country." Roberto A. Ferdman in The Washington Post.

Charts: Anti-immigrant sentiment is growing despite sympathy for young border-crossers. Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

Is the border crisis endangering the GOP's Hispanic outreach? "Many Republicans say the child-migration crisis leaves them no choice but to respond forcefully....A few months ago, House Republican leaders said they were writing a bill to give legal status to young undocumented immigrants. But now, under pressure from conservatives, GOP leaders are considering a floor vote ending the DACA program....Even Republicans who support some broader immigration changes said tightening border security was a necessary precursor to any other steps to rewrite immigration laws." Laura Meckler and Kristina Peterson in The Wall Street Journal.

A policy recipe for the GOP to woo back Hispanics? "Republicans are quietly testing out...focusing on pocketbook issues that disproportionately affect first- and second-generation Hispanic families. Call it the Rubio plan, since the Florida senator has been spending the last year test-driving a potential presidential campaign message centered on economic mobility, college affordability, tackling poverty, and middle-class economic challenges....If the message resonates, it could change the conventional wisdom that immigration reform is the only way of reaching out to disaffected Hispanic voters. If not, it could cement the party's problems broadening its coalition ahead of a critical presidential campaign." Josh Kraushaar in National Journal.

Oh, and the Senate is stepping closer to the dreaded 'highway cliff.' "The Senate has passed a bill to rescue highway and transit funding that House Speaker John Boehner says he won’t accept, keeping the specter of a 'highway cliff' alive with just days before Congress is set to leave for its August recess. With both chambers having passed different versions of the bill, lawmakers will now engage in a staring contest until one side blinks. What’s at stake is federal funding for transportation projects across the country, which are in jeopardy as long as Congress is at odds. If Congress does not act before leaving at week’s end, the Transportation Department will start slashing payments to states for transportation projects on August 1." Adam Snider in Politico.

With a VA bill agreement reached, what can we expect from the newly confirmed VA chief? "Senators expect McDonald to overhaul the department by fixing a 'corrosive culture,' ensuring veterans get timely access to care, and making progress on a myriad of other issues....The vote comes as Congress is expected to pass legislation this week that would improve veterans' access to private health care, allow the VA to lease more facilities, and make it easier to fire staffers. Lawmakers hope the bill...will, as Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders said, give McDonald 'the tools to create a well-run and accountable VA.'" Jordain Carney in National Journal.

Explainer: A simple summary of the new VA bill. Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

ORNSTEIN: Is Congress on a road to nowhere? "The incipient deal between Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and his House counterpart Jeff Miller on a VA reform bill...is the first encouraging sign that the last stages of the 113th Congress will not be a total, embarrassing failure. There is also a chance, albeit not a great one, that we will see some kind of patch to deal with the border crisis. Still, with only two days left before the August break, with a minimal schedule set for the fall, and with Republicans determined not to rock their own boat by forcing votes that divide the GOP Conference between radicals and conservatives...it is hard to be very bullish. And that is profoundly depressing." Norm Ornstein in National Journal.

Top opinion

THOMA: Should the rich call for income redistribution? "Those who argue rising inequality isn’t actually a problem, a claim often made by those at the top of the income and wealth distributions who are fearful that any attempt to correct the disparities will mean they pay more in taxes, are taking a large risk. If inequality continues to rise, as it almost surely will if we do nothing about it, more and more people will come to believe the system is unfair and eventually we will hit a dangerous tipping point for society. Once that happens, those at the top will be lucky if the social changes are limited to income and wealth redistribution." Mark Thoma in The Fiscal Times.

SHARMA: Liberals love the 1 percent? "Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the central bank's goal is 'to help Main Street not Wall Street,' and many liberal commentators seem convinced that she is advancing that goal. But talk to anyone on Wall Street. If they are being frank, they'll admit that the Fed's loose monetary policy has been one of the biggest contributors to their returns over the past five years. Unwittingly, it seems, liberals who support the Fed are defending policies that boost the wealth of the wealthy but do nothing to reduce inequality. This perverse outcome is not the Fed's intent." Ruchir Sharma in The Wall Street Journal.

PORTER: Income inequality and the ills behind it. "Suddenly inequality seems to be not only at the top of the liberal agenda, but in the thoughts of concerned American voters. Yet amid the denunciations of inequity as the major evil of our era, persistent voices — mostly but not exclusively from the political right — have been nibbling away at the concern over distribution that is taking over the zeitgeist....Aside from these extreme views, the critique does add up to a coherent argument: The income gap cleaving society between the rich and the rest may, in fact, be a red herring. It is not only that the accumulation of income at the apex of the pyramid of success is not the nation’s main problem. There is little we can do to redress it anyway." Eduardo Porter in The New York Times.

TURLEY: Opposing Obamacare rulings not red and blue. "The Halbig and King decisions had little to do with health care or contemporary politics. The courts rendered decisions on an arcane area called legisprudence, the study and interpretation of legislation. For legisprudence geeks like me, the decisions were the World Cup of statutory interpretation theory. The D.C. Circuit followed a long-standing approach that closely tracks the text to avoid large alterations in federal law through judicial decision-making. The Fourth Circuit followed an equally well recognized approach that resolves conflicts in laws according to more 'holistic' readings of the law." Jonathan Turley in USA Today.

PONNURU: Compassionate conservatism is still dead. "Republicans increasingly understand that winning over the middle class is of paramount importance. Their most politically promising recent initiatives aren't primarily concerned with fighting poverty. They're about taxes, health care and higher education — issues where their policies would help people in all income groups but particularly those in the middle class. My guess is that middle-class Americans aren't looking for a president who feels 'compassion' for them so much as one who will advance their interests. Republicans should put forward policies to combat poverty because that's a moral obligation of all political leaders; Ryan's plan is a strong one that deserves support." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg View.

BERSHIDSKY: EU practiced its Russia sanctions in Cyprus. "Europe's new financial sanctions against Russia will be among the first meaningful ones the West has introduced since the Ukraine crisis started. But punishing rich Russians is not exactly new territory for the EU — it has been doing so since last year in Cyprus....Both before and after the Crimea annexation, Russians have been second-class financial citizens of the EU. It has used them as guinea pigs to test the bail-in procedure, which is now accepted as the EU's bank-rescue policy, and it won't hesitate to deal them another slap. Arguably, Europe will still be somewhat safer for Russian capital than Russia itself, where, under President Vladimir Putin, everything ultimately belongs to the state." Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg View.

WREN-LEWIS: If a minimum wage, why not a maximum one, too? "Increasing shareholder power may only have a small effect on the problem. So why not consider a maximum wage? One possibility is to cap top pay as some multiple of the lowest paid, as a recent Swiss referendum proposed. That referendum was quite draconian, suggesting a multiple of 12, yet it received a large measure of popular support....The Swiss did vote to ban 'golden hellos and goodbyes'. One neat idea is to link the maximum wage to the minimum wage, which would give CEOs an incentive to argue for higher minimum wages! Note that these proposals would have no disincentive effect on the self-employed entrepreneur."Simon Wren-Lewis.

Sibling interlude: Watch what happens when this girl finds out her baby brother will grow up.

2. A key health-care controversy not named Obamacare

Today's hepatitis C treatment of choice costs $84,000 for 12 weeks, or $1,000 a pill. "Even with insurers reluctant to pay, Sovaldi prescriptions have eclipsed those for all other hepatitis C pills combined in a matter of months....The promise of a real cure, with fewer nasty side effects, has prompted thousands to get treated. But clinical and commercial successes have triggered scrutiny for the drug's manufacturer....Two senior senators are raising questions about documents that suggest the initial developers...considered pricing treatment at less than half as much. The health insurance industry is publicly scolding Gilead, and state Medicaid programs are pushing back." Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in the Associated Press.

Explainer: The new $84,000 hepatitis C drug regimen. Jason Millman in The Washington Post.

America’s most important — and uncomfortable — health-care debate. "Expensive specialty drugs aren’t new to health care. But Sovaldi stands out because it is aimed at helping millions of Americans who carry hepatitis C, and a large share of those infected are low-income and qualify for government coverage. Its arrival also coincides with the aggressive expansion of Medicaid and private coverage under the Affordable Care Act....Sovaldi has prompted fears among insurers and state officials that the breakthrough drug...could explode their budgets. And that has sparked an urgent and highly sensitive debate in Medicaid offices....How far should society go to make sure the poor get the best available treatments?" Jason Millman in The Washington Post.

The latest state to restrict the drug's usage: Illinois. "Illinois Medicaid officials have put in place tight criteria on prescriptions for Sovaldi....A panel at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services...implemented a set of 25 criteria for prior authorization before it will pay for the drug....The aim of the list is to narrow the eligibility for Sovaldi among the state's roughly 3 million Medicaid beneficiaries and limit the state's bill for treating hepatitis C." Andrew L. Wang in Crain's Chicago Business.

We're one step closer to a new generation of cheaper drugs. "While cheaper generics now dominate the U.S. market for traditional drugs...you still can't get another version of biologic drugs in this country. That's about to change, though, because of a provision included in the Affordable Care Act that provides a pathway for copycat biologics, known as biosimilars, to enter the U.S. market....The pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, which has actively advocated for more rapid adoption of biosimilars, estimates that the United States would save $250 billion in health-care spending over the next decade if just 11 biologics had biosimilar alternatives." Jason Millman in The Washington Post.

Seniors are paying less for prescription drugs under Obamacare due to 'donut hole' provision. "The Obama administration says cost-saving measures in ObamaCare have reduced the burden of prescription drug coverage and saved seniors and people with disabilities $11.5 billion since 2010. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 8.2 million seniors and people with disabilities saved an average of $1,407 since 2010 through ObamaCare rebates and discounts to close the prescription drug 'donut hole.'" Ferdous Al-Faruque in The Hill.

Lawmakers seek to crack down on prescription drug abuse. "The House on Tuesday passed legislation by voice vote to establish enforcement standards for prescription drug abuse. Specifically, the measure would amend the Controlled Substances Act to modify the definition of "imminent danger to the public health or safety" so that it applies to drugs that pose present or foreseeable health risks. The bill would also allow prescription drug companies registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to submit a 'corrective action plan' before a drug is suspended." Cristina Marcos in The Hill.

As Ebola spreads, can U.S. scientists find drugs to cure it? "Researchers at the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas are working to produce three promising vaccines and treatments for the Ebola virus....The laboratory, operated by the University of Texas Medical Branch, is one of only about 15 facilities that are allowed to store and experiment with Ebola. The virus is classified as a biosafety level 4 agent...the most dangerous agents known to humans. The Galveston laboratory, and other biosafety level 4 labs like it, is specially equipped to handle — and contain — such agents. The researchers say they have had some success so far." Marina Koren in National Journal.

Long read: Will any drugs work against Ebola? David Kroll in Forbes.

Related: The business model for antibiotics is broken. Here are three alternatives you didn't know about. Julia Belluz in Vox.

Could Ebola reach the U.S.? Maybe, but not likely. "Ebola, the killer of more than 670 people in four West African countries since February, has spread beyond Africa only once. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, infectious disease experts warn. The symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane....Even so, no special screening is being done at U.S. airports, Martin Cetron...at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said yesterday." Simeon Bennett and Marie French in Bloomberg.

Other health care reads:

Mississippi's lone abortion clinic will stay open after ruling. Paige Winfield Cunningham.

ACA patients boost hospitals' profits. Christopher Weaver in The Wall Street Journal.

Tigers interlude: Videos in honor of International Tiger Day.

3. Is Edward Snowden winning the NSA fight?

Senate's new NSA bill gets buy-in, and opposition, from across the spectrum. "The USA Freedom Act’s sponsors include prominent liberals such as Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)...and Tea Party conservatives such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). The bill, which was spearheaded by Leahy, would restrict the NSA to narrow, targeted searches of records about people’s phone calls while pulling back the curtain on the government’s spying regime. Not everyone is on board, however...and the bill faces an uncertain path forward with time dwindling before the end of the congressional calendar." Julian Hattem in The Hill.

Bullet points: What would the Senate's NSA bill do? David Francis in The Fiscal Times.

NSA official: Less need now for Snowden deal. "'As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less,' NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett said....'It's been over a year since he had access to our networks and our information so the need for us to understand that greater level of detail is lesser and lesser.' Ledgett was the first U.S. official to public discuss the possibility of amnesty or leniency for Snowden....The discussion Saturday was framed slightly differently, focusing on obtaining a better idea of what Snowden copied from NSA systems and reportedly gave to journalists." Josh Gerstein in Politico.

A bill with a fighting chance in this Congress. "Most observers see Leahy's Freedom Act as the best chance at NSA reform in this Congress. The omnibus legislation is unlikely to earn a vote before the August recess, but it may go straight to the Senate floor when Congress reconvenes in September. Stakeholders are hopeful the bill could hit the president's desk sometime this fall. But it remains unclear if Leahy has the votes....Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has been an influential backer of the NSA's surveillance programs, and early indications are that she and other defense hawks are less than receptive to Leahy's new proposal." Dustin Volz in National Journal.

What are the costs of surveillance? Civil liberties list a lot. "Tech companies...have suffered losses estimated to be in the billions of dollars due to people’s loss of trust in their services. They could be further hurt by foreign governments who begin to distrust the current structure of the Internet....Additionally, disclosures that the U.S. had snooped on foreign leaders...have damaged the countries’ international alliances, and the friction could be felt for years....Finally, NSA operations to find vulnerability online and ensure agents have 'backdoors' to peer into people’s communications 'have undermined trust in the security of the Internet itself,' the report declared." Julian Hattem in The Hill.

Surveillance programs hinder journalists, lawyers, groups say. "Large-scale U.S. surveillance programs hinder the ability of journalists to communicate confidentially with sources and restrain lawyers from adequately representing clients, according to a report issued Monday by two advocacy groups. As a result, journalists and lawyers face challenges — both to their ability to disseminate information and to hold the U.S. government accountable — said the report....The government officials interviewed provide a counterpoint to the conclusions of the report, consistent in their view that the surveillance programs are legal and vital to national security." Felicia Schwartz in The Wall Street Journal.

Other tech reads:

The NSA wants to wiretap social media, or even hack it. Ellen Nakashima in The Washington Post.

OkCupid, Facebook not alone in studying their consumers. Mae Anderson in the Associated Press.

How data caps could reshape the economics of the Internet again. Brian Fung in The Washington Post.

Animals interlude: This highly coordinated cat knows how to use a water cooler.

4. Tackling the bottom line on climate change

Climate plan battle shifts to bottom line. "Democrats hope to shift the politics of climate change by highlighting what they say are the massive costs of failing to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. The messaging push — in the form of a new White House report and a Senate hearing Tuesday — contradicts claims by the GOP that robust policies to cut carbon dioxide will hobble the economy. Democrats insist that a much greater financial risk lies in ignoring the devastating impact of unchecked global warming." Ben Geman in National Journal.

White House warns on costs of inaction on emissions. "The analysis...comes at a time when the Obama administration is struggling to incorporate the costs associated with global warming into its energy decisions. Environmental groups have been pressing the administration...to factor in the environmental impact of increased emissions of carbon dioxide when it issues coal, oil or natural gas leases on federal lands....Even some environmental economists who support the general thesis of the report — that postponing carbon cuts will ultimately lead to costly climate-related impacts and more expensive emissions reductions — took issue with some White House calculations." Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson in The Washington Post.

When should we factor in the social cost of carbon? "In temporarily blocking a coal mine expansion, a federal judge in Denver ruled in June that the government wrongly dismissed as 'impossible' its ability to quantify the climate costs of expanding a western Colorado coal mine. The court ruled that the government should be able to calculate the project’s impact on climate change and how that would affect the total human and environmental costs associated with expanding the mine....Experts say the ruling is one of the America’s most significant court decisions regarding greenhouse gas emissions, and it could have broad implications for future fossil fuels development on land owned by the federal government." Bobby Magill in Climate Central.

General Mills unveils climate policies, citing impacts on bottom line. "General Mills has released a new set of climate policies that Oxfam says makes it 'the first major food and beverage company to promise to implement long-term, science-based targets to cut emissions.' The policy states unequivocally that General Mills believes that climate change is a big threat to global food security and its future business model." James West in The Atlantic CityLab.

Climate change could make your next train ride a bumpy one. "The transportation sector is a major contributor to climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions, and, worldwide, it’s also one of the most vulnerable sectors to the effects of climate change, according to a new report. In other words, climate change could mean 'sun kinks' could warp train tracks in the heat, airplanes will be more expensive to fly, highway surfaces could soften in heat waves, roadways and bridges could be washed away in rising seas and storm surges, and storms in the open ocean could increase the cost and risks associated with shipping." Bobby Magill in Climate Central.

Chart: The U.S. cities with the worst climate-change-related flooding. John Metcalfe in The Atlantic CityLab.

Other energy/environmental reads:

Energy Department takes steps to plug methane leaks. Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.

Feel-good story interlude: YouTube celebrity thanks his parents by paying off their mortgage.

5. These new Russian sanctions could bite more than just Russia

Sanctions target Russia's ability to develop oil resources but could cause friendly fire. "American and European leaders went beyond previous moves against banking and defense industries in an effort to curtail Russia’s access to Western technology as it seeks to tap new Arctic, deep sea and shale oil reserves....The new strategy took direct aim at the economic foundation of Russia, which holds the largest combined oil and gas reserves in the world....Even though BP announced higher quarterly profits on Tuesday, its stock was hammered by the sanctions news, falling 3 percent. BP warned investors bluntly that further sanctions 'could adversely impact our business and strategic objectives in Russia.'" Peter Baker, Alan Cowell and James Kanter in The New York Times.

...along with expanding sanctions on the banking sector. "EU governments agreed yesterday on their most sweeping sanctions against Russia to date, barring state-owned banks from selling shares or bonds in Europe, restricting the export of equipment to modernize the oil industry and barring export of equipment with military uses. That was followed hours later by U.S. penalties against three Russian banks and a state-owned shipbuilder, adding to sanctions announced two weeks ago." Bloomberg.

Quotable: "It's not a new Cold War. What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia's unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path." — President Obama. Steve Holland and Anna Yukhananov in Reuters.

Russia sweats Putin's tactics. "There is growing alarm in Russia that the festering turmoil in Ukraine and the new round of far more punitive sanctions...will have an impact on Russia’s relations with the West for years to come and damage the economy to the extent that ordinary Russians feel it. Until now, Mr. Putin’s tactics seemed to be working....But that strategy is beginning to crumble....More frequent and prominent critics are saying that Mr. Putin and the hard-line leaders in the Kremlin overreached by suggesting that Russia, far more dependent than the old Soviet Union on international trade and financial markets, could thrive without the West." Neil MacFarquhar in The New York Times.

Other economic/financial reads:

Export-Import Bank watchdog finds no proof of systemic corruption. Krista Hughes in Reuters.

Path for avoiding U.S. taxes widens with REIT blueprint. Zachary R. Mider and Richard Rubin in Bloomberg.

Ending "too big to fail" could rest on contract language. Jesse Hamilton and Silla Brush in Bloomberg.

Why the economy has done better under Democratic presidents. Brad Plumer in Vox.

U.S. home prices down in May, but consumer confidence strong. Chuck Mikolajczak in Reuters.

Baby interlude: If only getting shots could always be this easy.

Wonkblog roundup

Fast food workers score a big win against McDonald’s. Lydia DePillis.

More guns, less crime? Not exactly. Emily Badger.

Nearly three quarters of Americans think the U.S. should shelter (not rush to deport) unaccompanied minors. Roberto A. Ferdman.

Democrats want to ban government contracts for companies that leave the U.S. to avoid taxes. Danielle Douglas.

Medical marijuana opponents’ most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research. Christopher Ingraham.

The U.S. spends $15B a year to train doctors, but we don’t know what we get in return. Jason Millman.

IMF: Rising rates, emerging market slowdown could dampen global growth. Ylan Q. Mui.

Where the biggest beer, wine, and liquor drinkers live in the U.S. Roberto A. Ferdman.

The middle class is 20 percent poorer than it was in 1984. Matt O'Brien.

Et Cetera

Moms are winning the Common Core war. Stephanie Simon in Politico.

Billions in GI bill funds go to for-profit schools. Kimberly Hefling in the Associated Press.

House passes bill to speed FDA sunscreen approvals. Michelle Hackman in The Wall Street Journal.

Transit agencies are getting creative. Chelsey Dulaney in The Wall Street Journal.

Can better technology save the VA? David Pittman in Politico.

Appeals court upholds meat-labeling rule. Benjamin Goad in The Hill.

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

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

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

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