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Our thoughts and prayers go out to those hurt by yesterday's bombing.
Wonkbook's Number of the Day: 15 percent. That's how much the value of gold has fallen in futures trading over just the last two trading sessions -- that is, on Friday and Monday. It's the steepest two-day decline for gold since 1983, as a selling panic begins. Gold now stands at $1,360.60 an ounce as of early Tuesday morning.
Wonkblog's Graphs of the Day: 5 to make you feel better about paying your taxes.
Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: 1) Gang of Eight reveals reform package; 2) background checks falling short of 60 votes; 3) an easier Tax Day is possible; 4) bad news for the long-term unemployed; and 5) Gosnell and the push to restrict abortion.
1) Top story: Immigration reform debuts
The debut of immigration reform. "Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on a bill to make the most substantive changes to immigration laws in nearly three decades. The bipartisan Gang of Eight plans to file its bill as early as Tuesday...The proposal, which is expected to be officially unveiled this week is titled the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” according to a copy of the summary provided to POLITICO. The massive piece of legislation will undergo its first public vetting on Friday at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee." Manu Raju, Carrie Budoff Brown, and Anna Palmer in Politico.
@jeffzeleny: Immigration bill to be introduced Tuesday. No press conference now, but Schumer and McCain will brief Obama at WH, @
ABC News has learned.
Senate group delayed its immigration reform plan announcement. "A group of Senators has delayed a high-profile announcement of a sweeping immigration reform proposal set for Tuesday because of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The eight-member group was scheduled to appear at an 11 a.m. news conference at the Dirksen Senate Building, joined by immigration advocates and other stakeholders, to lay out the details of the legislation that would represent the most ambitious overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in three decades...The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled two hearings on the bill for Friday and Monday." David Nakamura in The Washington Post.
@mkraju: undocumented immigrants $2k, ramp up H-1b visas, spend billions on border, give Dreamers 5-year path
Sen. Sessions is already not a fan of immigration reform. "Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said the border-security requirements in legislation drafted by the Senate’s Gang of Eight appear weaker than those included in the 2007 immigration reform legislation that failed." Alexander Bolton in The Hill.
LANE: The EB-5 immigration program is flawed. "Simply put, it is corporate welfare — yet another attempt to subsidize the flow of capital into politically favored channels. The standard objection to EB-5 is moral: The United States should not be in the business of selling the right to live in this country. Though a fair point, it is also a slight misconception. In effect, the government gives away the visas — to profit-making businesses that have jumped through the program’s requisite bureaucratic hoops. Then the companies “sell” them, by soliciting investment based on the promise of permanent residency." Charles Lane in The Washington Post.
Music recommendations interlude: Santana playing at Woodstock in 1969.
SUNSTEIN: Why the well-informed are also close-minded. "The first [reason] is that if you know a lot about politics, you are more likely to be emotionally invested in what you believe. Efforts to undermine or dislodge those beliefs might well upset you and therefore backfire. The second explanation is that if you have a lot of political knowledge, you are more likely to think you know what is really true, and it will be pretty hard for people to convince you otherwise." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg.
YGLESIAS: The IRS should file your taxes for you. "How would the IRS do your taxes for you? It would work in much the way that most jurisdictions collect property taxes. The tax authority would tell you how much it thinks you owe in taxes, and you’d write a check. The main difference would be that thanks to tax withholding, many people overpay their income taxes and would receive a check from the government rather than write one. If you looked at your tax bill and thought you were being overcharged, there’d be a dispute process through which you could plead your case." Matthew Yglesias in Slate.
PONNURU: Obama's second term already looks like a failure. "President Barack Obama’s second term has so far been a story of high liberal hopes and scant liberal achievements...[L]iberal policy gains have been sparse, and mostly unrelated to Obama." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg.
BROOKS: What you'll do next. "The theory of big data is to have no theory, at least about human nature. You just gather huge amounts of information, observe the patterns and estimate probabilities about how people will act in the future...One of my take-aways is that big data is really good at telling you what to pay attention to. It can tell you what sort of student is likely to fall behind. But then to actually intervene to help that student, you have to get back in the world of causality, back into the world of responsibility." David Brooks in The New York Times.
Cartographic interlude: A poverty map of India.
2) Background checks don't have the votes
As debate begins, Senate background-check proposal lacks votes. "Debate on a major overhaul of the of the nation’s gun-control laws is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the U.S. Senate, but there were still not enough votes late Monday to assure expansion of the national gun background check program for gun sales, which is the centerpiece of the proposal." Ed O'Keefe and Tom Hamburger in The Washington Post.
...So they want to revise it. "One approach designed to entice lawmakers representing large rural areas, particularly in Alaska, would exempt residents who live hundreds of miles from a gun dealer...In a possible complication for supporters, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, will introduce his own background check measure. It would mandate universal background checks through the Internet without the paper trail that law enforcement says is needed to track illegal guns." Jennifer Steinhauer in The New York Times.
Explainer: A detailed review of the votes in play for background checks. Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.
Some Senate Democrats may not go along. "Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) began a whip count on Monday, Democratic aides said, and Biden has been pressuring his fellow Democrats to fall in line...Reid is likely to lose three of his 55 Senate Democrats — Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.). All three Democrats said on Monday that they were still reviewing the proposal and would not commit to backing it. Several other Democratic swing votes include Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.)" John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman in Politico.
What's next on gun control? "Reid hopes to hold a vote on a Democratic plan to limit the size of ammunition magazines, another proposal expected to fail, aides said. From there, he could proceed to a host of proposed amendments, including a bipartisan plan to provide more federal funding for mental health programs that assist military veterans, a Coburn proposal to establish an online portal for gun buyers to conduct their own background checks, a Republican plan to change the legal definition of mentally ill people when it comes to gun crimes." Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.
Stupid things we believe interlude: Conspiracy, American style.
3) How government can make Tax Day easier
Why doing your taxes is much harder than it ought to be. "Here is the most exasperating thing about Tax Day: It may be a stressful time of elaborate paperwork and large sums paid to a tax preparer — but it doesn’t have to be that way. For millions of Americans, the IRS already knows most, or even all, of what it needs to know to enable you to complete your income taxes...What stands in the way, according to a persuasive investigation last month by ProPublica and NPR, is in no small part lobbying by “Big Tax,” the companies that sell tax preparation software and services." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.
WonkTalk: Why the income-tax system doesn't work. Neil Irwin and Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.
Tax returns fall due to fiscal-cliff deal. "As of April 5, the number of refunds issued fell more than 2 million, or about 3.2%, compared with the number filed by around the same date last year, the Internal Revenue Service said Monday, as many Americans were rushing to file their forms by the midnight deadline. The amount of money refunded by April 5 declined 4.5% to $214.5 billion, from the same date last year...Tax receipts jumped about 12% to $1.197 trillion in the first six months of the government's fiscal year, which ended in March, compared with the same period the year before, the Treasury Department reported last week." John D. McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal.
Explainer: 5 charts that will make you feel better about paying your taxes. Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.
What your tax dollars are buying. "Given how much we pay to Washington every year, it seems only fair that we ask for a receipt. The White House and research organizations including Third Way have made it easy to do just that: Go to their online widgets and input a little tax and income information, and they will tell you just what you bought with your federal tax dollars. The widgets all operate on the same principle. They take the amount you paid in taxes and then divide that money up into separate piles that are proportionate to the spending categories of the federal budget." Annie Lowrey in The New York Times.
Take a sad song and make it sadder interlude: "Hey Jude" in minor scale.
4) Bad news for the long-term unemployed
Companies won't even look at the résumés of the long-term unemployed. "Here’s one big reason why America’s unemployment crisis may be here to stay. Thanks to the lasting effects of the recession, there are currently 4.7 million workers who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. And new research suggests that employers will almost never consider hiring them." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.
Housing trends, short- and long-term. "First, the short-term trend: based, at least, on a report on Monday morning, it appeared to be taking a zigzag path rather than a straight line upward...The short-term trend for the housing market seemed clear and strong enough for Michael E. Feroli, chief United States economist at JPMorgan Chase, to conclude in a report on April 10 that residential investment – including homebuilding, repairs, renovation and brokers fees – would rise enough this year to add 0.5 percent to G.D.P. growth." Jeff Sommer in The New York Times.
Interview: Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren on unemployment and the outlook for QE. Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.
Gold tumbling in value. "Gold futures fell more than $140 an ounce, to $1,360.60, on the second straight day of steep declines. Gold, which had experienced a sharp run-up over the past decade, has fallen about 15 percent in just two trading sessions. It is the steepest two-day decline for the metal since 1983...There have been anecdotal reports of falling gold prices triggering a vicious cycle of panic selling as those who had bought the metal with borrowed money face margin calls." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.
Banks pressed to expand 'living wills.' "The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. want more information from banks on how different market scenarios could affect their operations in times of crisis, including how a liquidity crisis would affect a bank's ability to access funding. The 11 banks that originally submitted their so-called living wills last year will now have three additional months, until Oct. 1, to submit the next round of resolution plans." Michael R. Crittenden and Jeffrey Sparshott in The Wall Street Journal.
OK, this is the best thing ever interlude: 90-year-old blown away by virtual reality.
5) Gosnell and the push to restrict abortion
Will Kermit Gosnell change the abortion debate? "It’s too early to tell how the attention around Gosnell, who is now standing trial for the deaths of one woman and seven infants, will affect elected officials as they consider an array of new restrictions on abortion providers. But the shocking nature of Gosnell’s alleged crimes has provided abortion opponents with new ammunition as they seek to impose new regulations on abortion clinics across the country." Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.
Explainer: What you need to know about the Gosnell case. Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.
Report: States ramp up abortion restrictions. "This year could bring an especially strong push in the states to restrict abortion access, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute. Several states have passed measures in the past few years requiring women to obtain ultrasounds before receiving an abortion, or imposing new restrictions on clinics. But Guttmacher — which supports abortion rights — said states seem to be going further this year. The focus now appears to be on restricting access to abortion after — or, in some cases, during — the first trimester of pregnancy." Sam Baker in The Hill.
You ask, Sarah Kliff answers: Here's how Obamacare's employer mandate works. Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.
It's a huge day for Obamacare in Arkansas. "The Arkansas House of Representatives is likely to vote Monday on whether to fund the legislation that would allow the private Medicaid expansion. We don’t know whether it will pass.There was another important vote Thursday, where the House voted 62-37 in favor of enabling legislation for the Medicaid expansion." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.
Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.
5 shocking facts about child care in the United States. Brad Plumer.
The Gosnell case: Here’s what you need to know. Sarah Kliff.
Interview: Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren on unemployment and the outlook for QE. Ylan Q. Mui.
It’s a huge day for Obamacare in Arkansas. Sarah Kliff.
WonkTalk: Why the income-tax system doesn’t work. Ezra Klein, Neil Irwin.
We'd be remiss not to recommend Jonathan Cohn's latest longread, "The Hell of American Day Care." The New Republic.
GOP embraces Obama plan to trim Social Security benefits. Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post.
Pew survey: Public trusts state, local governments over feds by wide margin. Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.
Can energy-efficiency legislation be revived? Zack Colman in The Hill.
EPA reports decline in greenhouse-gas emissions. Julian Hattem in The Hill.
Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.