* The Obama administration made a Friday afternoon announcement that it will be delaying a decision on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. Embattled Louisiana Democratic senator Mary Landrieu grabbed at the opportunity to rail against the administration’s lack of affection for that sweet, sweet crude and prove her independence from those Pelosi-Reid-Obama national Democrats.
* Now that we’ve hit eight million sign-ups, Lucia Graves chronicles some of the conservative punditry’s most outlandish predictions about the certain collapse of the Affordable Care Act. Too bad there’s no such thing as pundit accountability.
What do you do with … the 24 million Americans who are projected to be on the exchanges by 2017 (the next time there’s the possibility of a GOP president)? What about the millions more who have insurance via expanded Medicaid or via their parents’ insurance?…Come 2015 and 2016, Republican presidential candidates could very well find themselves in an unsustainable position — having to campaign on a repeal message in the primaries (because that’s what GOP voters want), but then having to face a general electorate that’s more hostile to the idea (because repeal doesn’t poll well outside the GOP).
* After rumors sprouted today that House Republicans may at last be ready to move on immigration, Speaker Boehner’s spokesman rushed to put the kibosh on it as quickly as he could: “Nothing has changed. As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law.”
Once again, the question is whether House Republicans will act on their own proposals.
* This very interesting ad from a pro immigration reform group goes after Congressman Steve King by telling the story of an undocumented immigrant, brought here as a child, who excelled in ROTC and only wants to serve in the military, but can’t because of his immigration status, juxtaposed against a few of King’s most inflammatory statements. The kicker: “Don’t let Steve King speak for you.”
That message, of course, is aimed at Republican Members of Congress, who, by not acting on immigration reform, risk persuading Latino voters to see the GOP as the party of people like Steve King.
* Relatedly, Heather Digby Parton makes the link between the immigration line of House Republicans, particularly Eric Cantor, and extremist commentators like Ann Coulter. The angry rhetoric on the right, Parton argues, is scaring GOP members into inaction. The party of Steve King and Ann Coulter?
* Ylan Q. Mui has a very sobering look at the severe challenges facing the long-term unemployed, including factors that risk turning them into a permanent underclass. It’s not clear that cutting UI, and getting rid of that Hammock of Dependency Paul Ryan talks about, is the solution to the problem. — gs
* Meanwhile, Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller (who has taken the lead on UI for the GOP) are expressing renewed optimism that John Boehner may be open to a deal to extend it. Good to see Congress is right on top of this: Only three and a half months have passed since UI ended just after Christmas. — gs
* Mitch McConnell, locked in a tough Senate race in which women will be pivotal, has offered as evidence of his women-friendliness his chairmanship of the ethics committee in the 1990s when serial harrasser Bob Packwood was booted from the Senate. But Mother Jones’ Molly Redden has the real story:
The bulk of the ethics probe against Packwood took place when the committee was chaired by a Democrat. When Republicans regained a majority in the Senate after the 1994 elections and McConnell became chair of the committee, he transformed the Packwood investigation into a partisan mess.
Expect this to resonate in the race.
* Yesterday, New Hampshire narrowly avoided becoming the 19th state to get rid of the death penalty when a bill to do so deadlocked in the state senate (it had already passed in the house and had the support of the governor). Over at The American Prospect, I offered some context about where the death penalty stands in America today and how we compare to other countries.
At the center of the dispute is the 68-year-old rancher Bundy, who said in a radio interview, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” A real patriot, this guy. You would think that kind of anarchist would draw a raised eyebrow from the Tea Party establishment that provides Bundy his media oxygen. After all, wasn’t the Tea Party born in a rant by Rick Santelli of CNBC about deadbeat homeowners? He complained about taxpayers’ subsidizing “losers’ mortgages” and he said we should “reward people that can carry the water instead of drinking the water.” Believe me, Bundy’s cattle are drinking an awful lot of our water, and not paying for it.
So why is Bundy a hero to so many on the right and not a contemptible “taker”? Well, as Egan points out, he does wear a cowboy hat.
* And finally, in an early contender for the dumbest prediction made about 2016, Andrew Ross Sorkin says that Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy is “gonna change the dynamic of the campaign.” We look forward to lots of fascinating commentary on the electoral effect of Clinton’s pants suits.