* The top story tonight is the swelling panic Democrats are feeling over the botched Obamacare rollout. The exchanges have enrolled only 106,000 people. Jonathan Cohn explains here how to interpret those numbers.
Congressional Democrats are reportedly frantic for the president to propose some kind of fix: a “Democratic aide warned that if the administration doesn’t provide such a substitute by Friday, many members will ‘go crazy.'” So tomorrow Democrats will hold a full caucus meeting tomorrow to discuss the problems.
I can understand why Democrats feel this way. Their polls are cratering, they’re taking a colossal pounding in the press, and their consultants are undoubtedly itching for them to something, anything, that they can put in campaign ads to show they protected their constituents. But the truth, as always, is that Obamacare is now stapled into the Democratic hide. There’s no changing that fact, and the anxious swing-staters like Mary Landrieu who are up for reelection next cycle will be the first on the chopping block if Obama can’t fix the website, no matter what positioning they engage in right now.
* Alec MacGillis has a great profile of Obamacare’s single most relentless opponent: A Cato Institute scholar named Michael Cannon. He’s also traveled all over the country convincing many Republican states to refuse to set up an exchange, reasoning that if the federal exchange is ruled illegal, then the whole law will collapse — making him the leading reason some states do not have their own exchanges.
* Paul Waldman digs into some exchange websites from the states and private experiments, and finds some work just fine. One depressing speculation that is all too plausible:
My guess is that despite how hard everyone is working to fix it, this is still being produced by big government contractors for whom complexity is the path to profits and simplicity is a threat to their business model…I strongly suspect that Healthcare.gov is never going to be easy to use.
If nothing else, the Obamacare debacle should inspire a hard look at government contracting procedures.
* Ed Kilgore whips out five true, positive promises Demos could have made about the Obamacare rollout. Was that so hard? Not noticing that the “you can keep your insurance” line was going to come back to haunt the president was a big mistake. Very often the less palatable truth is the better thing to say in the long run.
* On a related note, here are five shiny baubles the president can use to distract people from the Healthcare.gov mess. The sports subsidy angle is actually very much worthy of attention.
* Chuck Schumer just emailed out this brutal response to John Boehner’s declaration that the House will not adopt any part of the Senate’s immigration reform bill:
I believe the House will come to its senses and realize that we have to fix our immigration system in a bipartisan way. You cannot pass any bill with just Democratic or Republican votes. They cannot possibly end this Congress only having passed legislation to deport all of the Dream Act kids.
* Matt Miller refocuses the Obamacare debate on the moral angle, through the lens of Typhoon Haiyan: “A typhoon is obviously beyond anyone’s control. But so is a preexisting condition.” For all these problems, the health law is still the best chance (and the last one for decades) to seriously improve the lives of millions of people.
* Tim Lee has some details on the new Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, and so far it looks to be loaded with Hollywood and Big Pharma goodies. What is the point of this again?
* Excellent piece from Rick Perlstein chronicling how the Tea Party is just the latest in a very long line of apocalyptic, paranoid conservative organizations. (To put it another way, the Crazification Factor holds over time.) The major difference this time is that this bunch has nearly complete control over the party elite.
* Speaking of which, check out a Tea Party group is going to try and primary every single House Republican who voted for the deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. If the GOP establishment gets involved on the other side, there could be a real fight.
* Sheldon Whitehouse has been holding a speech about climate every week the Senate is in session. The fact that I only just now heard of this is a sign of how much people pay attention to Senate speeches these days. Still though, good for him.
* Erik Wemple nails this: Politico has been warning about a “brain drain” at the New York Times, but what about the scads of people leaving Politico?? Breaking: Journalists tend to change jobs a lot.