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Wonkbook: This is what the Republicans were afraid of

Welcome to Wonkbook, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas's morning policy news primer. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism, or ideas to Wonkbook at Gmail dot com. To read more by Ezra and his team, go to Wonkblog.

The juxtaposition of Tuesday's two top stories was extraordinary.

The top story all day was that Republicans had shut down the federal government because President Obama wouldn't defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. The other major story was that the government's servers were crashing because so many people were trying to see if they could get insurance through Obamacare.

So on the one hand, Washington was shut down because Republicans don't want Obamacare. On the other hand, Obamacare was nearly shut down because so many Americans wanted Obamacare.

The coming days will be a major test of the IT infrastructure supporting the Affordable Care Act. The online marketplaces were flooded with eager applicants on Tuesday -- a rush that far exceeded the expectations of marketplace directors. Reuters estimates that they got more than 10 million visits. But many of those applicants faced slow pages and error messages. Some waited hours to sign up for Obamacare. Others resolved to come back later.

The Obama administration's line is that the glitches were nothing more than a new product being hit with unexpected levels of demand. "We found out that there have been times this morning where the site has been running more slowly than it normally will," President Obama said. "The reason is because more than one million people visited before 7:00 in the morning."

If that's really the reason and the technical problems were caused by nothing more serious than overwhelming traffic then the law will be fine. But if the error messages and slow pages are persistent problems in the coming weeks, that'll be a more serious problem. People will come back once or twice. But they won't struggle endlessly with a buggy web site. And if the Obama administration hasn't managed to set up a usable online marketplace given all the time they've had to prepare, then that's a tremendous failure on their part.

Sadly, the American people are still struggling with a buggy Congress -- and it's not clear any fix is in the offing. It was strange and slightly perverse to watch Obamacare open and be flooded with people desperate to sign up for health insurance even as the government closed because Republicans wanted the law ripped out, or at least delayed. In some quarters, Republicans mocked Obamacare's technical problems, but the jokes were wan: Overwhelming demand for the law is not a boon to the GOP's position.

This is, of course, precisely what Republicans were scared of: That a law they loathe would end up being enthusiastically embraced by millions of Americans -- and thus proving permanent. It's Obamacare's possible success, not its promised failures, that unnerve the GOP.

At this point, though, their fight continues even as their cause is lost. With people already signing up for insurance under Obamacare and insurers already selling insurance under Obamacare it's no longer credible to promise repeal or delay. Republicans need an actual answer for all those people.

As Tuesday proved, there are going to be problems with Obamacare, and it's nearly certain that the GOP could come up with ways to reform, improve, or even replace it if they were sufficiently committed to improving the country's health-care system. But as Tuesday also proved, millions of Americans have been waiting for something like Obamacare, and now that they've got it, they're going to want to keep it.

Wonkbook's Number of the Day: $1.4 billion. That's the amount of business that the federal government did with private contractors on your average day in 2012. A lot of that will be thrown up in the air by the shutdown. 

Wonkbook's Graph of the Day: The Republicans already won on the CR — in one graph.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: 1) all quiet on the shutdown solutions front; 2) millions query new exchange websites for health insurance; 3) immigration reform returns; 4) dude, that was my house once; and 5) new economic data on illegal-drug markets.

1) Top story: Shutdown, Day 2

Piecemeal bills go down to defeat. "The government shutdown fight in Congress took a new ugly turn Tuesday night as Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee bowed to their party leaders and took piecemeal bills to the floor under procedures designed to deny their Democratic colleagues any input...All three bills fell short of the two-thirds majority required, as Democrats held firm behind a leadership rooted strongly in the Appropriations Committee." David Rogers in Politico.

Republicans want to go to legislative conference. "With the government shut down, House Republicans are suddenly pursuing a formal House-Senate conference—something the GOP leadership has shunned all summer on the 2014 budget resolution and new farm bill...Boehner’s selection of eight Republican House conferees suggests some serious purpose. He has included Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) but also chairmen representing the Budget, Appropriations, and Ways and Means Committees." David Rogers in Politico.

@robertcostanro: That leaves us w/ a shutdown w/ no end in sight--and a pres who lacks Hill savvy, aides at war, stubborn Sen maj ldr, immobilized spkr

...And some are considering a 'clean' continuing resolution. But probably too few and not seriously enough. "Some House Republicans are beginning to crack in the early hours after the federal government shuttered its operations and are calling on fellow GOP lawmakers to pass a so-called “clean” funding bill. Reps. Scott Rigell of Virginia and Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania...Other House Republicans have called for a clean continuing resolution in recent days – including Rep. Peter King of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania." Seung Min Kim in Politico.

Quick shutdown resources:

Important explainers: The nine most painful impacts of a government shutdown. And the Republicans already won on the CR — in one graphBrad Plumer and Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Timeline: How we got to a federal-government shutdownThe Associated Press.

Interviews: National Review's Robert Costa on why Boehner doesn’t just ditch the hard right. And a small federal contractor on having her biggest client disappear.  Ezra Klein and Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.

Treasury begins using 'extraordinary measures' to buy time. "The U.S. has begun using the final extraordinary measures to avoid breaching the nation’s debt limit, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said as he urged Congress to increase borrowing authority “immediately.” Lew, in a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner dated today, repeated that the measures will be exhausted no later than Oct. 17...The so-called extraordinary measures used by the Treasury are accounting maneuvers allowing the government to avoid breaching the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. They include allowing the government to enter into a debt swap with the Federal Financing Bank and the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund." Kasia Klimasinska in Bloomberg.

Treasury: Debt-ceiling timing won't be affected by shutdown. "A short-term partial government shutdown would not impact the timing of the U.S. government's need to raise or suspend the debt ceiling in a "material way," a Treasury Department official said Tuesday, though the outlook is less certain if the impasse continues for an extended period of time." Damian Paletta and Carol E. Lee in The Wall Street Journal.

@TPCarney: The time for easy shutdown jokes is past. Any shutdown jokes after now had better be very good and original. Otherwise leave it at home.

Behind standoff, a broken process in need of a broker. "Unlike in earlier standoffs, the two sides haven't engaged in tense, closed-door talks, nor has an unexpected savior swooped in to jump-start stalled conversations, as Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did late last year. Instead, the debate has unfolded in a volley of partisan bills. On Tuesday, there were few signs the posturing would end, with no formal talks scheduled and no obvious indications of who, if anybody, might step forward to bridge the differences." Patrick O'Connor in The Wall Street Journal.

...We could be in shutdown for quite a while. "At the moment, neither side is feeling a clear imperative to end the shutdown. Republican leaders prefer keep­ing the government closed to compromising on health care. And, with polls showing that voters overwhelmingly blame Republicans for the stalemate, Democrats, too, are willing to let it drag on." Karen Tumulty and Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post.

@JimPethokoukis: Daughter, 14, just reminded me that right now our weekend DC zoo trip is canceled due to shutdown. This is beyond ...

...In fact, we might be in shutdown until we get a debt-ceiling deal. "[I]f the standoff continues to creep toward the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling, the two issues will become intertwined — and potentially intractable. House Republican leaders and top Senate Democrats privately began discussing this increasingly likely possibility Tuesday, but the two sides have yet to engage in any direct negotiations in the acrimonious budget dispute. That means a federal shutdown — which has suspended government services across the country and prompted furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers — could persist for weeks until Congress and the White House cut a deal to avoid a first-ever default on the national debt." Manu Raju, Jake Sherman, and Carrie Budoff Brown in Politico.

When the government shuts down, government things shut down. "If there was a symbol on Tuesday of America’s pent-up frustration with a gridlocked political system, it was this: Scores of aging World War II and Vietnam veterans pushing past barricades to honor their fallen comrades at a memorial closed by a government shutdown...Around the country, barricades and padlocks closed off access to federal facilities as the vast machinery of the federal government began systematically shutting down operations for the first time in nearly two decades." Michael D. Shear in The New York Times.

Government workers pack up and go home. "The shutdown rules gave most federal workers four hours to unplug, pack up and check out. Affected employees are told not to check work voice mail or email, not to tweet, write business correspondence or take work home. For the duration, they are told, they no longer work for the federal government." Elizabeth Williamson and Melanie Trottman in The Wall Street Journal.

@conorsen: Econ data we won't get during a shutdown: jobs report, retail sales, CPI, housing starts, new home sales, GDP, PCE

Businesses don't really care about the shutdown. They do care about the debt ceiling. "A shutdown alone is expected to do little economic damage to the overall U.S. economy, based on prior experience. Economists at J.P. Morgan Chase on Tuesday estimated each week of a shutdown would reduce the annualized pace of fourth quarter economic growth by 0.12 percentage point due to reduced pay to government workers. The forecast doesn't account for any private-sector effects or damage to consumer confidence." Eric Morath and Sudeep Reddy in The Wall Street Journal.

The shutdown’s effect on federal contractors is a huge source of uncertainty. "$1.4 billion in contracts each day, on average. And right now, it's still wildly unclear how all these contracts will be affected by the ongoing government shutdown. Companies will essentially have to find out as they go. And that's presently one of the largest sources of uncertainty on how the shutdown might affect the U.S. economy." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

The shutdown could prevent kids with cancer from getting treatment. "At the National Institutes of Health, nearly three-quarters of the staff was furloughed. One result: director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients, he said." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

Congress gets paid during a shutdown, while staffers don’t. Here’s why. "The government shutdown only affects agencies and employees that are funded through annual appropriations. But that doesn't apply to members of Congress. Salaries for members of the House and Senate are written into permanent law. (Members in both chambers currently make $174,000 a year.) That's why politicians get paid even in the event that Congress can't agree on a bill to fund the government." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

Being a defense contractor during a shutdown: ‘I’m going to go update my resume.’ "Day to day, you don't notice it in the work we do. I go in tomorrow, and I know I have a bunch of bugs to fix. But there is that nagging sensation of, like, should I be looking for a new job soon? What's going on? There's a lot of chatter in the office. We have employees that work on the bases themselves. So they'll work on an Air Force or Navy base. They actually don't go to work tomorrow." Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.

Australia had a government shutdown once. In the end, the queen fired everyone in Parliament. "[T]here actually is one foreign precedent: Australia did this once. In 1975, the Australian government shut down because the legislature had failed to fund it, deadlocked by a budgetary squabble...Queen Elizabeth II's official representative in Australia, Governor General Sir John Kerr, simply dismissed the prime minister. He appointed a replacement, who immediately passed the spending bill to fund the government. Three hours later, Kerr dismissed the rest of Parliament. Then Australia held elections to restart from scratch. And they haven't had another shutdown since." Max Fisher in The Washington Post.

BOEHNER: Obama owns this shutdown now. "The president isn't telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown. The fact is that Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks. And, as stories across the country highlight the devastating impact of Obamacare on families and small businesses, they continue to reject our calls for fairness for all Americans. This is part of a larger pattern: the president's scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate in bipartisan way on his health care law, current government funding, or the debt limit." John Boehner in USA Today.

@chrislhayes: Let me see if I'm getting this right. The argument is: there is no shutdown and the shutdown is Harry Reid's fault.

KLEIN: Should Senate Democrats reject any CR that doesn’t increase the debt limit? "If Democrats accept anything other than a "clean CR", it needs to include the debt ceiling. But if they get a "clean CR" -- which is to say, if Republicans fold entirely -- I'm not sure it matters, and I could even see the demand backfiring. A "clean CR" will be the GOP admitting it can't endure the pain of a government shutdown. If that's the case, then Republicans definitely can't endure the agony of a breach in the debt ceiling." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

WOLFERS: One crisis leads to another. "[N]one of this debate has been about giving the president the room to enact any major part of his program. It isn't about guaranteeing the American people fiscal stability for any reasonable period. It isn't an end to political brinkmanship, but rather a virtual promise of yet another round of demands in a couple of months. And indeed, it isn't even an offer of a couple of months of peace, given that demands are already being made in advance of hitting the debt limit later this month." Justin Wolfers in Bloomberg.

BROWNSTEIN: The Republican insulation. "[E]ven if a public backlash develops against a shutdown or potential government default, Republican members may be far more insulated against those gales than their counterparts were during the two shutdowns in the winter of 1995 and 1996. Today's GOP legislators, for the same reason, also may be less sensitive to shifts in public attitudes that could threaten their party's national image or standing in more closely contested parts of the country...All of this means that the personal electoral incentives for most House Republicans would encourage more—not less—confrontation as the standoffs proceed, notes Gary C. Jacobson, an expert on Congress at the University of California (San Diego). "The electoral threat of them angering anybody outside of their base is pretty low," he says." Ronald Brownstein in National Journal.

COWEN: A simple account of the shutdown. "By threatening a government shutdown over Obamacare defunding, the GOP is again staking out a public position against the law. Such a statement is more focal, and generates more publicity, than a 42nd vote for repeal. Everyone is talking about it, even me (sorry people). If you’ve voted 41 times for repeal, you will like the fact that everyone is concerned with this new dispute. If the GOP lets the government actually shut down, people will talk about their Obamacare stance even more. But the party, and its representatives, will bear costs from being associated with the shutdown, which is inconvenient, hurts the economy, and lowers our international status. We don’t know whether they will cross this threshold, but either way it is a purely political calculation and not especially mysterious or “irrational.”" Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution.

@daveweigel: I got an idea: Let's run the 1995 shutdown again, but in a shitty economy, with leaders who are much worse at politics.

FOURNIER: The beginning of the end for Washington. "Shutting down the government and threatening the nation's credit can only hurt the Republican Party's branding crisis. The party could close ranks for the 2014 and 2016 elections, but it's hard to see how it continues to exist without fundamental changes...Where does all this lead beyond the next election cycle or two? Nobody knows, but the best place to look for answers is within the Millennial Generation, the nation's rising leaders and voters...Millennials don't fit neatly into either the Democratic or Republican parties. They are highly empowered, impatient, and disgusted with politics today." Ron Fournier in National Journal.

DOUTHAT: Is Republican intransigence reasonable? "[D]epending on how things turn out with Year One of its implementation, it isn’t entirely crazy to to imagine that the country will be thinking much more about where the parties stand, and how firmly, on health care next fall than about whether the G.O.P. went a little too far over the brink in its budgetary tactics the year before." Ross Douthat in The New York Times.

FRIEDMAN: Our democracy is at stake. "What we’re seeing here is how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded." Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times.

@davidfrum: Good news for bad actors: e-verify closed down by govt shutdown.

SUNSTEIN: Shutdown psychology made simple. "The best explanation of the U.S. government shutdown points to two factors. The first involves information, or what people think they know. The second involves incentives, or what motivates our elected representatives. From decades of empirical research, we know that when like-minded people speak with one another, they tend to become more extreme, more confident and more unified -- the phenomenon known as group polarization. One reason involves the spread of information within echo chambers." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg.

PORTER: Why Obamacare scares Republicans. "Flawed though it may turn out to be, Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is popularly known, could fundamentally change the relationship between working Americans and their government. This could pose an existential threat to the small-government credo that has defined the G.O.P. for four decades...To conservative Republicans, losing a large slice of the middle class to the ranks of the Democratic Party could justify extreme measures." Eduardo Porter in The New York Times.

Music recommendations interlude: Andrew Bird, "Imitosis."

Shutdown humor interlude: "U.S. On Verge Of Full-Scale Government Hoedown."

2) Millions search for health insurance

Obamacare’s marketplaces are overwhelmed with traffic. "At least a few states right now are reporting pretty high traffic in their first few hours of business. New York has had more than 2 million visitors this morning, which is causing some trouble for people trying to sign up. To put that in perspective, New York has 2.5 million uninsured residents...Kentucky's new marketplace, the Kynect, had processed over 1,000 applications for insurance by 9:30 a.m. this morning. The Web site has had more than  24,000 visits from people browsing the insurance rates." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Obamacare site goes live, with some glitches. "Millions of Americans flooded government Web sites Tuesday to get a long-awaited look at insurance options available under the health law, but the high traffic contributed to widespread computer problems on what President Obama hailed as a historic day., the federal Web marketplace serving more than 30 states, was jammed for most of the day, with people encountering error messages that froze their applications. In the states operating their own marketplaces, the experience was spotty. Maryland’s site, Maryland Health Connection, was down for the morning and sluggish into the evening. Lesser problems were reported in Colorado, Washington, Hawaii and elsewhere." Sandhya Somashekhar, Sarah Kliff and Susan Svrluga in The Washington Post.

Contact us: Are you shopping for Obamacare today? Let us knowSarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Profiles: Meet some of the people investigating their health-insurance options on the exchanges TuesdayThe Wall Street Journal.

HHS Sec. Sebelius on the rollout. ""I clearly have an iPad and I also have an iPhone and about 10 days ago I got the prompt that the operating system had changed," she said. So she agreed to iOS 7 upgrade. But then a couple of days later along came a new message that said "now we have a new new upgrade and why don’t you re-upgrade your upgrade." It wasn't all that surprising. Everyone knows that a brand-new software release is usually followed by one or more rapid-fire bug fixes once it's out in the field. But people don't run around talking about how the sky is falling. Instead, she said, "everyone just assumes 'well there's a problem, they'll fix it.'"..."We’re building a complicated piece of technology," Sebelius observed, "and hopefully you’ll give us the same slack you give Apple."" Matthew Yglesias in Slate.

New federal data on the variety of health plans for sale on exchanges. "[T]he federal government released data late Tuesday showing that about 100 insurers were participating in the federally run marketplaces, offering more than 1,700 varieties of health insurance plans...Dozens of counties have limited choices. For example, for the information provided, about 100 counties nationwide have five or fewer options including just one or two within a metal tier options." Jo Craven McGinty and Reed Abelson in The New York Times.

A correct reading of poll numbers shows fewer opposed to Obamacare than thought. "Overall, 33 percent of Americans found the law favorable, 43 percent found it unfavorable, and 17 percent were unsure or did not give an opinion. But the faction that disapproved of the law broke down this way: 33 percent who said the law went too far, 7 percent who said the law did not go far enough, and 3 percent who could not say either way. So when we account for those who disapproved because they wanted more expansive reform, the poll shows that support for the law and opposition to it are much more even: 36 percent oppose the law, and 40 percent are in support of some form of federal health care transformation (if one includes the 7 percent who want a more expanded version)." Allison Kopicki in The New York Times.

Boehner, secret supporter of health-insurance subsidies on exchanges. "Boehner and his aides worked for months with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and others, to save these very same, long-standing subsidies, according to documents and e-mails provided to POLITICO. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was also aware of these discussions, the documents show...“When I was in the state legislature, we used to stick things in [bills] and no one would notice,” Boehner said during a private meeting with Reid in July to discuss this issue, the sources said. Boehner’s aides then told him this would not be possible, so the idea was dropped." John Bresnahan in Politico.

Watch: Obamacare Q&A, such as 'Will I go to jail if I don’t have insurance?' Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Explainer: The Obamacare flowchartEzra Klein in The Washington Post.

Signing up for Obamacare: ‘It will save me over $6,000. For that, I would have waited all day.’ "It took three hours, but Andrew Stryker managed to be among the first people to purchase health insurance through Obamacare's new insurance markets...Stryker first logged into California's marketplace, Covered California, at midnight last night. He couldn't get the site to load, so he tried again around 8 a.m. today." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Signing up for Obamacare: ‘Waiting for Obamacare to kick in.’ "Lori Futcher hit a glitch Tuesday morning when she tried to enroll on Tennessee's new insurance marketplace. But she was actually excited to see the error message: It said that too many people were trying to use the site, and she would need to wait a little longer. "My reaction was like 'yay, a lot of people want coverage!'" Futcher, a 42-year-old mother who was trying to buy coverage for her husband, said. "There are lots of other people like me are getting going on day one."" Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Massachusetts wants to make sure that its insured stay that way. "Massachusetts, where a 2006 law created a marketplace where uninsured people could shop for coverage, sometimes with state subsidies, estimates 97% of its 6.6 million residents have insurance. But because of different federal rules, roughly 150,000 people who got coverage through the state's exchange marketplace will have to re-enroll to avoid losing coverage next year, state officials said. Until now, their coverage automatically carried over." Jon Kamp in The Wall Street Journal. 

Watch: This Obamacare video will make you sad. For AmericaEzra Klein in The Washington Post.

Americans are fat, stressed, and unhealthy. "The World Economic Forum, sponsors of the exclusive, c-level talkfest held every year in Switzerland, knows what is wrong with us Americans. We are fat. We are stressed. We are on the verge of a coronary. So says the forum’s new Human Capital Index, which rates the United States 16th globally in how well it harnesses the power of its people. The nation gets good scores for education and opportunity. But the disappointing overall outcome is because of things like “non-communicable diseases.”" Howard Schneider in The Washington Post.

Interesting interlude: Slate shows how U.S. media would report on the government shutdown if it were unfolding in a different country.

3) And just in case enough wasn't going on right now: immigration reform returns

House Democrats to release immigration bill. "House Democrats are planning on releasing their comprehensive immigration reform bill on Wednesday, according to a Democratic aide. Key Democratic lawmakers in the chamber — including Nancy Pelosi, the top House Democrat; Xavier Becerra of California, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman Ruben Hinojosa — have been working on a comprehensive piece of legislation in recent weeks. In writing their bill, House Democrats are taking the Senate Gang of Eight bill, but erasing controversial border-security provisions known as the Corker-Hoeven amendment. In its place, Democrats are inserting a bipartisan border-security bill that passed the House Homeland Security Committee in May." Seung Min Kim in Politico.

There's apparently quite a bit of movement on immigration issues right now, amid the shutdown, Obamacare, and much else. "[A] few Republicans are working behind the scenes to advance it at a time the Capitol is immersed in a partisan brawl over government spending and President Barack Obama's health care law. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, has been discussing possible legal status for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. He's also been working with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a fellow Virginia Republican, on a bill offering citizenship to immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children. Reps. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Ted Poe, R-Texas, are working on a plan to create a visa program allowing more lower-skilled workers into the country. Goodlatte and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, hold out hopes for floor action by late October on a series of immigration bills that already have passed their committees." Erica Werner in The Associated Press.

Gutierrez book criticizes Obama on immigration. "A newly published memoir by Rep. Luis Gutierrez takes President Barack Obama to task on immigration, saying the White House tried to stifle the congressman's reform campaign, broke a promise to press the issue and took action only after being "outflanked by Marco Rubio." In "Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill," Gutierrez complains that deportations increased after his fellow Chicago Democrat took over the White House. And Gutierrez, who endorsed Obama twice for president, describes his frustration over what he viewed as Obama's unmet pledge to push for immigration reform in his first year in office...Gutierrez writes that his complaints about immigration irritated the White House so much that Obama on one occasion asked him privately in the White House's State Dining Room, "So why don't you get off my back?"" Mark Jacob in The Chicago Tribune.

Immigration courts remain partly open but political asylum cases delayed. "For tens of thousands of immigrants across the United States with pending immigration cases or legal procedures, the federal government shutdown will put some urgent matters on hold and allow others of less importance to move ahead. Petitions for political asylum and non-emergency deportation cases are among the matters that could be delayed for months if the shutdown lasts more than a few days, according to immigration lawyers and advocates." Pam Constable in The Washington Post.

Bye bye interlude: To the New York City Opera.

4) Dude, that was my house once

Boom, bust, flip. "Five years after the start of the financial crisis, the housing market has come back, and many of these investors are cashing in. According to tabulations by Redfin, an online real estate listings site, banks have already sold about 1.5 million of the nearly 2 million homes that were foreclosed on during the past half-decade. Resales are becoming more common and can be hugely profitable...The boom-bust-flip phenomenon is just one of the most obvious ways that research suggests the financial crisis has benefited the upper class while brutalizing the middle class." Catherine Rampell in The New York Times.

...And how a government shutdown could hurt the housing rebound. "Congress forced the first partial government closure in 17 years after failing to pass a budget, meaning borrowers in the process of obtaining home loans could be delayed as lenders are blocked from verifying Social Security numbers and accessing Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts. The process may also lengthen the wait for borrowers seeking approval for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration because its fulltime staff is now less than a tenth of its normal size and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which backs mortgages in rural areas, won’t take on new business during the shutdown" John Gittelsohn, Prashant Gopal and Nadja Brandt in Bloomberg.

Debate: In banking, should there be a "public option"? The New York Times.

Wells Fargo gets slapped. "[The bank] will face an enforcement action today by New York state over the bank’s alleged failure to uphold terms of a $25 billion mortgage-servicing settlement, a person familiar with the matter said. The action, in the form of a motion to compel compliance with the 2012 accord, is to be filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in federal court in Washington, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public." Christie Smythe and Andrew Harris in Bloomberg Businessweek.

This is just spectacular interlude: The Leidenfrost maze.

5) New economic data on illegal-drug market

Report: Cheaper, purer illegal substances suggest global war on drugs is failing. "The global war on drugs is failing, new research suggests, as the price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis has fallen while their purity has increased. Using seven sets of government drug surveillance data, a team of Canadian and U.S. researchers reviewed drug supply in the United States, Europe and Australia and drug production in regions such as Latin America, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia...In the U.S., the average price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by at least 80% between 1990 and 2007, while average purity increased by 60%, 11% and 161% respectively. Similar trends were seen in Europe over the same period, while in Australia the price of cocaine, heroin and cannabis fell by 14% to 49% between 2000 and 2010." Katie Hunt in CNN.

Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.

Wonkblog Roundup

This Obamacare video will make you sad. For AmericaEzra Klein.

The shutdown could prevent kids with cancer from getting treatment. Brad Plumer.

Why Boehner doesn’t just ditch the hard rightEzra Klein.

Signing up for Obamacare: ‘It will save me over $6,000. For that, I would have waited all day.’ Sarah Kliff.

The shutdown’s effect on federal contractors is a huge source of uncertaintyBrad Plumer.

A small federal contractor on having her biggest client disappearLydia DePillis.

Obamacare Q&A: Will I go to jail if I don’t have insurance? Sarah Kliff.

Americans are fat, stressed, and unhealthyHoward Schneider.

The Republicans already won on the CR — in one graph. Dylan Matthews.

Should Senate Democrats reject any CR that doesn’t increase the debt limitEzra Klein.

Obamacare’s marketplaces are overwhelmed with trafficSarah Kliff.

The Obamacare flowchartEzra Klein.

Signing up for Obamacare: ‘Waiting for Obamacare to kick in.’ Sarah Kliff.

Being a defense contractor during a shutdown: ‘I’m going to go update my resume.' Lydia DePillis.

Congress gets paid during a shutdown, while staffers don’t. Here’s whyBrad Plumer.

Et Cetera

The Washington Post closes sale to Amazon founder Jeff BezosPaul Farhi in The Washington Post.

After 40 years, prisoner released from solitary confinement, with little evidence for his original jailingAndrew Cohen in The Atlantic.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.