* Keep an eye on this one: The real debt ceiling deadline is getting pushed back as late as June of 2014, thanks to Treasury “extraordinary measures,” which means that if there is another extortion drama, it could come only months before the election. Dems have anticipated this possibility all along.
State-run enrollments are mostly going pretty well; Medicaid expansion is going very well (and it’s expanding even in states that have rejected the expansion, because more people are learning they’re eligible.) And healthcare.gov, while still pretty bad, is starting to look as if it will be good enough in a few weeks for large numbers of people to sign up, either through the exchanges or directly with insurers. If all this is right, by the time open enrollment ends in March, millions of previously uninsured Americans will in fact have received coverage under the law, and reform will be irreversible.
* Jon Terbush has a nice look at Obamacare’s success in Kentucky, and why the fact that lots of Kentucky residents are now getting health coverage could put Mitch McConnell in a political bind, even in an Obamacare-hating red state.
* Rick Klein gets this exactly right:
Lost in the Democratic angst over Obamacare is a simple fact of 2014 politics: They don’t really have any choice but to own it. If the new health care law is anywhere close to its current unpopularity in 10 or 11 months, it will be the biggest issue, and perhaps close to the only issue, that Republicans push in the midterm elections. No quantity of votes on “fixes” now will matter in the broad messaging wars later…The only path for Democrats now is to fix, not fret.
That’s why Dems are trying a new strategy designed to reframe the choice as one between “fix” and “repeal,” which they see as a better frame than “support or oppose.”
* Health care spending increases have hit a new low, and as Steve Benen notes, you’d ordinarily think this would be a development Republicans would welcome, given their fiscal preoccupations. But of course there’s that niggling problem of what may have caused this development…
* Kevin Drum runs through the record of GOP obstructionism, and aptly explains why Dems may have no choice but to go nuclear: “Republicans have no intention of allowing Obama to govern normally.”
* Jamelle Bouie, on why it’s not an exaggeration to call out Republican obstructionism as “nullification,” and why that leaves only the nuclear option. This seems hard to argue with:
If Republicans win the Senate, I have a hard time believing they won’t end the filibuster as a matter of course, regardless of what Democrats do.
After all, imagine the pressure from the right on GOP Senators to repeal Obamacare.
* David Dayen has a scalding takedown of the JPMorgan settlement, noting that it shows that real Wall Street accountability, an emerging priority for newly energized Dem populists, is very far away indeed.
* Julia Preston has a deeply reported piece revealing that many immigrants are prepared to accept immigration reform without citizenship. As I’ve noted here before, advocates privately say there are ways to get to reform that don’t include citizenship but come close to something comprehensive.
* A new Post poll finds more than two in three Americans support easing Iran sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuke program, as the Obama administration is pushing for, suggesting opposition to negotiations and engagement is getting marginalized.
* And Illinois legalizes gay marriage, making it the 16th state to do so. One more and we’ve crossed the one-third mark.