* With four days to go before the (sort of) end of open enrollment, the White House has announced that 6 million Americans have signed up for private insurance through the state and federal exchanges.
“The truth is that whether it takes six weeks or six months to meet the next arbitrary benchmark, the health care law is now embedded in the society, and it’s not going anywhere. So the only important, longer-term question, and the one that almost no one is talking about, is whether our ailing political system can actually function well enough to make it work.”
* The Senate cleared a procedural hurdle, voting to allow debate to begin on an extension of long-term unemployment benefits, which means it will pass that chamber. That’s a win for Dems, but now it will be sent to the House, where John Boehner will kill it.
* Mitch McConnell voted today against moving the UI extension forward, and Alison Lundergan Grimes responds:
“This issue couldn’t be more clear. As Kentucky’s unemployment rate continues to climb, it is appalling that Mitch McConnell has abandoned unemployed Kentuckians yet again. McConnell remains determined to turn his back on the thousands of Kentuckians who lost their unemployment insurance benefits at the end of last year, including our laid-off coal miners. And without an extension, thousands more of our families across the Commonwealth will struggle to make ends meet. Unlike my opponent, in the Senate I will fight for our fellow Kentuckians who face economic hardships beyond their control.”
Look for Dems to use this issue to sharpen the economic contrast with Republican candidates, even in hard-fought red state Senate races. — gs
* Salon’s Brian Beutler writes that what has Republicans really mad about the latest Obamacare deadline extension is that more Americans will be able to get insurance. “One way to infer that the extension is good policy is that conservatives responded with a familiar ritual: First, mockery; next, unsupported claims of lawlessness or unconstitutionality (somehow the republic survived this healthcare law delay just fine); and finally, barely veiled threats that a Republican president use executive discretion to sabotage the law.”
* Earlier today I wrote about House passage of another “doc fix,” which happened on an unusual voice vote. Conservatives in the House got really, really mad. “I think it’s outrageous,” said Louie Gohmert of Texas. “Bullshit,” said South Carolina’s Mick Mulvaney.
* The Post’s Robert Costa has a good piece detailing how Rand Paul has done more work than any other candidat to lay the foundation of a presidential campaign. No, really. Over at The American Prospect, I make the case for why this means we may now have to take Paul seriously.
* An appeals court has upheld Texas’ controversial abortion law that led to the shuttering of many of the state’s abortion clinics.
* Nate Silver and Paul Krugman are sort-of feuding, by which I mean writing some mildly critical things about each other. Jonathan Chait thinks he figured out why Krugman turned on Silver: “The real cause of Krugman’s disdain is the sheer ambition of Silver’s new venture…Silver’s role, at least in its crudest form, represents the kind of auto-didactism that Krugman rose to fame decrying.”
* A new poll from the Associated Press finds President Obama’s approval at 41 percent, a new low for that poll.
* Tonight, Connecticut governor Dan Malloy will sign a bill giving the state the nation’s highest minimum wage, at $10.10 an hour — making it the only state that offers the minimum wage Obama and Dems want on the federal level.
* And more on that crazy Georgia Senate race: Benjy Sarlin has an excellent profile of Paul Broun, who is not only the wingnuttiest of the candidates, he’s a relentless politician who will shake hands until the cows come home. And on a trip to Washington in 1989 to lobby for hunters’ rights, Broun was personally called by God to run for office. As of yet, however, the Almighty has not weighed in on the GOP Senate primary.