First, the breaking news: The budget deal sailed through the House this evening, passing in a bipartisan 332-94 vote. On to the good stuff:
1. Where the state government is behind it, the Affordable Care Act appears to be working just fine — or at least, it’s certainly popular. Another 50,000 Californians selected plans in the first week of December.
2. But as Jeffrey Young reports, the Obama administration is still trying to figure out how to prevent anyone from being harmed by the October fiasco and the continuing difficulties with Healthcare.gov. A new initiative today might help. Remember, what’s at stake isn’t the success or failure of Obamacare, much less the success or failure of the Obama presidency — but for individuals affected, and there may be quite a lot of them, it’s still extremely important.
3. And efforts are still in the works to figure out exactly how to maximize enrollment, including one from the Urban Institute and the National Academy for State Health Policy. More evidence that the question is “better or worse” rather than “success or failure” and that “worse” will probably improve over time.
4. Jonathan Cohn on the real differences on health care between liberals and conservatives.
5. Although Jonathan Chait argues that a more pressing differences is that conservatives’ health-care plans may not actually exist.
6. Meanwhile, Tom Coburn becomes the second Republican senator to switch back to rhetoric support for the concept of insurance exchanges — or at least to the idea that exchanges are a viable concept. Sabrina Siddiqui has the details.
7. “Generally speaking, you’re always being conned when people talk about ‘entitlements.‘ ” Kevin Drum explains.
8. Here’s the full poll from Stan Greenberg from battleground House districts that Greg talked about earlier.
9. Excellent preview of 2014 Senate elections from Sean Trende, who sees anything from a huge GOP landslide to a small two-seat gain for the Democrats.
10. While Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman now projects Republican House gains of up to 10 seats. Also sounds about right to me.
11. Will the GOP get in trouble for look-alike Web sites mocking Democrats? Shane Goldmacher reports.
12. Steny Hoyer pulled support from a resolution calling for new Iran sanctions. Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan have the story.
13. More on how Hoyer’s flip delayed the resolution, from Tim Alberta and Stacy Kaper.
14. Brendan Nyhan has a nice column about boom-and-bust coverage of the president.
15. Dollar bills or dollar coins? It’s way more complicated than you think. Neil Irwin explains the latest evidence.
16. And Jamelle Bouie on, well, Santa.