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Wonkbook: The shutdown is about taxes

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This shutdown was supposed to be about Obamacare. But like everything major showdown in Washington these days it's actually, at least at this point, all about taxes, as Rep. Paul Ryan explained in the Wall Street Journal:

Here are just a few ideas to get the conversation started. We could ask the better off to pay higher premiums for Medicare. We could reform Medigap plans to encourage efficiency and reduce costs. And we could ask federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement.
The president has embraced these ideas in budget proposals he has submitted to Congress. And in earlier talks with congressional Republicans, he has discussed combining Medicare's Part A and Part B, so the program will be less confusing for seniors. These ideas have the support of nonpartisan groups like the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and they would strengthen these critical programs. And all of them would help pay down the debt.

As Ryan notes, these are President Obama's ideas. Most of them are in his budget. Right now. The budget he wants to pass. Which raises the obvious question: If Obama supports these ideas and these ideas are what the Republican Party needs to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling then what's the problem?

The problem is taxes. The deal Obama proposes in his budget is he'll agree to those entitlement reforms and more (Ryan doesn't even mention chained-CPI) if Republicans agree to raise tax revenues by cutting various tax breaks. This is also the kind of deal proposed by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

But Republicans don't want to raise taxes. They want to get the spending cuts they support in return for nothing. And that's what the shutdown/debt-ceiling fight is about now. The Republicans believe that instead of trading taxes for entitlement cuts they can trade reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling for entitlement cuts. Since they actually support reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling that means they're not trading anything at all.

Ross Douthat had an interesting article last week arguing that the White House has confused matters by refusing to do this thing called "negotiating" until the shutdown ends.

What could the president say instead? Well, he could say something like this: I join with Congressional Republicans in favoring further steps to reduce the budget deficit in advance of the debt ceiling vote. I have made an offer, embodied in my budget, to combine entitlement cuts with a tax reform that closes loopholes and deductions and uses the savings to reduce the deficit. I await a reasonable counteroffer from Speaker Boehner: I am open to many possible deals, but as I have said on many occasions, I will not let the Republicans balance the budget while exempting the wealthy from their fair share of the burden. My preference is always to compromise, but in the event that the Speaker cannot present a reasonable counteroffers, and continues to make unreasonable demands, I trust that the House will fulfill its duty and raise the debt ceiling cleanly, rather than throwing the American economy into a recession and threatening the full faith and credit of our republic.

Perhaps that's a better communications strategy. Perhaps not. But it does get to a fundamental truth here which is that the budget side of this showdown is really about the Republican Party's refusal to 1) strike a budget deal that includes higher taxes and 2) accept that if they won't agree to higher taxes there can't be a budget deal. If the GOP was open to higher taxes then the negotiations could've happened long ago and we'd already have had a grand bargain on the budget.

Wonkbook's Number of the Day: 28 percent. Those are the Republican Party favorables in the latest Gallup poll. It's the lowest on record for either party since Gallup began asking it in 1992.

Wonkbook's Quote of the Day: “We took an unpopular law and chose a more unpopular tactic to deal with the law," said Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Wonkbook's Graph of the Day: Here's the master chart with all of the Treasury yields in 2013.

Wonkblog's Daily Default Dashboard: Now ‘getting kind of scary.'

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: 1) A possible debt ceiling endgame, finally; 2) Yellen arrives; 3) have you tried turning Obamacare on and off again?; 4) bye bye Mr. Snowman; and 5) two states, two directions on abortion.

1) Top story: Here it is -- the Republican surrender

As pressure mounts, House GOP weighs a short-term debt deal. "House Republicans, increasingly isolated from even some of their strongest supporters more than a week into a government shutdown, began on Wednesday to consider a path out of the fiscal impasse that would raise the debt ceiling for a few weeks as they press for a broader deficit reduction deal...In a meeting with the most ardent House conservatives, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, laid out a package focused on an overhaul of Medicare and a path toward a comprehensive simplification of the tax code." Jonathan Weisman in The New York Times.

Key Republicans signal willingness to back down on effort to defund health-care law. "Key GOP figures on Wednesday sent their clearest signals that they are abandoning their bid to immediately stop the federal health-care law — the issue that forced the government to shut down — and are scrambling for a fallback strategy. Republican Party leaders, activists and donors now widely acknowledge that the effort to kill President Obama’s signature initiative by hitting the brakes on the government has been a failure. The law has largely disappeared from their calculus as they look for a way out of the impasse over the shutdown and for a way to avoid a possible default on U.S. debt." Karen Tumulty and Tom Hamburger in The Washington Post.

@TheStalwart: If WH could credibly say that the first thing that must happen in a debt ceiling breach is no Social Security, we never get this far.

...Here's what they're saying about it. "“I’d like to get rid of Obamacare, no question about that, but I think that effort has failed,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the veteran member of the Senate Finance Committee. “And we’re going to have to take it on in other ways.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said bluntly: “We took an unpopular law and chose a more unpopular tactic to deal with the law.”...In a private meeting Wednesday between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Cantor, Pelosi expressed discontent with having to accept sequester-level spending in a government funding bill. Boehner shot back that it was the “law of the land.” “So is Obamacare,” Hoyer responded." Jake Sherman in Politico.

For Boehner, surrender may be only way out of shutdown and debt-ceiling mess. "As the government shutdown and the threat of a federal debt default begin to merge into a singular Washington crisis, the only way out for House Speaker John A. Boehner may be something he disparaged earlier this week as “unconditional surrender.”...[O]ne possible path appears less uncomfortable than others: agreeing to short-term measures to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling with no strings attached to get the policy negotiations for which he has lobbied intensely." Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post.

Republican favorability numbers are tanking. "With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in a tense, government-shuttering budgetary standoff against a Democratic president and Senate, the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by 28% of Americans, down from 38% in September. This is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992." Gallup.

@yeselon: short term debt ceiling hike is nuts--just Ground Hog day in six weeks. Debt ceiling is absurd anachronism--should not be used like this.

Obama to meet with lawmakers on shutdown. "House Democrats were invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW on Wednesday afternoon, and House Republicans were asked to attend a meeting Thursday. Senate Democrats are also scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Thursday, and Senate Republicans are being invited separately to a similar session on a date to be announced." Lori Montgomery, Zachary A. Goldfarb and William Branigin in The Washington Post.

Wonks, get out your schedule: Today matters a lot in terms of debt-ceiling and shutdown stuff. "10 a.m., House Republican Conference meets...11 a.m., Boehner and his leadership team hold a news conference after the caucus meeting...12:30 p.m., Senate Republicans meet. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) caucus holds the usual party gathering on Thursdays...Early afternoon, Senate Democrats head to the White House...2:30 p.m., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hosts her weekly news conference...Late afternoon, House Republicans head to the White House." Paul Kane in The Washington Post.

Senate Dems recall staff. "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office is bringing back some furloughed employees to deal with the “accumulating workload” that a cessation in government funding has brought, according to an email sent by Reid deputy chief of staff David McCallum to top aides for rank-and-file Senate Democrats...Senate staffing decisions during the shutdown have been left to individual offices with little guidance from leadership, which has resulted in some senators cutting to the bone while others like Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have left their full staffs on." Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan in Politico.

...Another hint: Heritage Action just threw in the towel on the debt ceiling. "Michael Needham, CEO of the powerful group Heritage Action, said that he opposed conditioning a crucial vote to increase the government's borrowing authority on the group's main goal: defunding Obamacare." Howard Fineman in The Huffington Post.

Treasury’s Lew to warn lawmakers: No payments guaranteed if debt ceiling breached. "Treasury Secretary Jack Lew plans to warn lawmakers Thursday that he will be unable to guarantee payments to any group — whether Social Security recipients or U.S. bondholders — unless Congress approves an increase in the federal debt limit. With Washington in gridlock and a key deadline in the debt-limit debate just one week off, Lew plans to tell a Senate panel that he would do all he can to minimize the pain of breaching the $16.7 trillion debt limit, according to Treasury officials briefed on the testimony. But Lew will also note that in an unprecedented situation in which he would be relying entirely on the erratic flow of incoming revenue, the economy would suffer and there would not even be certainty that the government could make all interest payments." Zachary A. Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post.

When is a default a 'default'? "Republicans on Capitol Hill are circulating a memo by the credit ratings agency Moody’s that says that if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17, the nation wouldn’t actually be at risk of default. That’s because the Treasury would still have plenty of revenue to pay interest to owners of U.S. government bonds...The Obama administration says that a “default” occurs whenever it can’t make any of its required payments. So if the Treasury can pay interest to lenders but not Social Security recipients, it believes it’s “defaulting” on its obligations to seniors. Financial firms — in particular the credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s — have a more specific definition of default. That definition is missing a payment to a creditor." Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

What's the exact date that all heck is scheduled to break loose? "Oct. 17 is the day the Treasury Department expects to exhaust its so-called extraordinary measures to keep paying the country’s bills, putting it on the precipice of default. But officials in Washington and traders on Wall Street have a second, yet more dire deadline in mind: Nov. 1. That is when more than $55 billion in federal payments come due, almost certainly more than enough to use up whatever cash the Treasury might still have on hand. The three weeks between now and then — should Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling — would most likely be ones of market turbulence, plummeting confidence and a slowing economy." Annie Lowrey in The New York Times.

@AnnieLowrey: Oglala Sioux say the government shutdown is close to denying "basic essentials of life" to the poverty-plagued reservation.

The Treasury bill market is beginning to panic. "The clearest sign of the changing perceptions has come in the prices for the bills that the Treasury Department is supposed to repay in the days right after the debt ceiling is set to be reached...The discount on bills to be paid on Oct. 24 has grown by 400 percent since the beginning of the month; on Wednesday, it jumped 24 percent. That has brought the price that the government has to pay to borrow money for a month to three times what the average AA-rated American company has to pay, according to Federal Reserve data. Typically, the United States government can borrow money for less than big corporations." Nathaniel Popper in The New York Times.

IMF warns that U.S. uncertainty could scramble world markets. "Confusion over U.S. economic policy could wipe out trillions of dollars of investments around the world and risk the equivalent of a bank run in parts of the U.S. home mortgage market, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday. The warning came in the fund’s semiannual report on global financial stability, a heavily technical document that delves into the risks facing — and sometimes generated by — world banking, insurance, government debt and related markets. And it highlighted the IMF’s growing unease over the deadlock on Capitol Hill." Howard Schneider in The Washington Post.

...And finally, IGM does their economist survey on the debt ceiling. "The Initiative on Global Markets, established by the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, recently queried a panel of 36 economic experts on the subject, asking if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “If the United States fails to make scheduled interest or principal payments on government debt securities, even as an unintended consequence of political brinkmanship, U.S. families and businesses are likely to suffer severe economic harm.”" Catherine Rampell in The New York Times.

As U.S. approaches debt ceiling, fears of global recession increase. "Analysts in London’s financial district fret that a U.S. default could derail Britain’s recovery...Political analysts also worry about the impact a default could have on the United States’ diplomatic standing and the broader implications for global security and geopolitics...A default also would undercut tenuous signs of recovery in some European countries and in Japan, which is on the upswing after nearly two decades of recession. Japan and China are the top foreign creditors of the United States, and Japan’s share — about $1.14 trillion — is equivalent to nearly 20 percent of its gross domestic product." Chico Harlan and Howard Schneider in The Washington Post.

If Congress only reopens the government piece by piece, it could take until next spring. "In all, these bills from the Republican House would provide about $83.1 billion in funding, or about 18 percent of the government. That would still leave much of the government closed however, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration (to name a few)." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

Obama expects to resolve freeze on death benefits paid to families of fallen U.S. troops. "President Obama expects the freeze on death benefits paid to the families American military personnel who have died on active duty to be resolved Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters...The Pentagon says 26 military personnel have died or been killed since the shutdown began, and their families have not received the “death gratuity” of $100,000 the Defense Department deposits in their bank account within 24 to 36 hours...The House unanimously approved its bill ensuring death benefits, but the Defense Department around the same time entered into an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation to pay the gratuities and then get reimbursed after the shutdown." Scott Wilson in The Washington Post.

@brianbeutler: If Boehner needs a concession to end shutdown, Dems could give him device tax, but on condition he up CR to 1.058t. Can't reward reneging.

What if this all leads to repealing the tax on medical devices? "House Republicans had made repeal of the 2.3% tax a proxy for their bigger fight against the health-care law championed by President Barack Obama , and device makers stepped up their lobbying efforts. The White House ruled out a tax repeal as a condition for raising the debt ceiling or reopening the government. But even though Republicans have shifted toward seeking spending and tax concessions, rather than changes to the health law, the administration signaled Wednesday it might be willing to include repeal of the device tax later in a different context. White House officials said the administration would be willing to review the tax in a broader discussion of the ACA, provided Republicans found a credible way to replace the $30 billion in funding the tax was projected to raise over the next decade." Alicia Mundy and Joseph Walker in The Wall Street Journal.

But all some Republicans can think about is 2016, baby. "During the federal government shutdown, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has appeared guided by one goal: sticking as close as possible to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas...Mr. Rubio is not the only Republican using the shutdown to position himself for a presidential candidacy. These Republicans’ actions, as the crisis drags on, offer an early glimpse of the contours of the 2016 primary: some in the emerging field are desperate to avoid being seen as standing to the left of Mr. Cruz and his fervent Tea Party supporters, while others are charting a different course." Jonathan Martin in The New York Times.

KLEIN: The problem with President Obama’s shutdown strategy. "Obama is trying to marshal public opinion against the GOP. If enough Republicans are getting angry calls from their constituents and seeing polls that look disastrous for their party, they'll find a way to back down. But it can backfire badly. Every second Obama stood at that podium made it a bit harder for the Republican Party to retreat. The more he repeats that this is their shutdown and they need to end it, the more their party suffers if they can't find a way to prove the president wrong. Obama's efforts to move public opinion toward him also moves Republican opinion against him." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Music recommendations interlude: Cheap Trick, "Surrender."

Top opinion

WESSEL: Yellen's challenge is finding a safe exit. "Mr. Bernanke wrote the first half of the new monetary-policy textbook. It's called: How to use monetary policy to prevent a Great Depression and avoid deflation after short-term interest rates hit zero. Ms. Yellen is in line to write the second half. It will be called: How to return monetary policy to something near normal without creating the next financial crisis as elected politicians make a mess out of tax and spending policy." David Wessel in The Wall Street Journal.

MCCARTY, POOLE, AND ROSENTHAL: Gerrymandering didn't cause the shutdown. "What if we told you that the gerrymandering of congressional districts has nothing to do with political polarization in Washington? Gerrymandering didn’t have anything to do with the shutdown, or the battles over the debt ceiling, or Obamacare. In fact, the accepted view that politically based redistricting led to our state of intransigence isn’t just incorrect; it’s silly." Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, and Howard Rosenthal in Bloomberg.

JOHNSON: The big-bank subsidy. "At the instigation of Senators Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, and David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, the Government Accountability Office is assessing the extent to which big banks and others receive advantages because they have implicit backing from the government...,I recommend “The End of Market Discipline? Investor Expectations of Implicit State Guarantees,” by A. Joseph Warburton, Deniz Anginer, and Viral V. Acharya...Their paper finds, “The implicit subsidy provided large institutions an annual funding cost advantage of approximately 28 basis points on average over the 1990-2010 period, peaking at more than 120 basis points in 2009.” This means that large institutions could borrow more cheaply from private lenders, presumably because the implicit government guarantee lowered the credit risk for those firms relative to their smaller competitors. They also find that “passage of Dodd-Frank did not eliminate expectations of government support” — meaning this advantage in credit markets persists in the data...Another paper, presented by Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, a finance professor at N.Y.U., uses options data to show that, at the peak of the crisis, the risk that the financial sector would collapse as a whole was substantially underpriced relative to the risk of failure of individual financial firms." Simon Johnson in The New York Times.

The Internet is a strange place interlude:

2) Yellen it from the rooftops

Obama nominates Janet Yellen to lead the Fed. "President Obama on Wednesday nominated renowned economist Janet Yellen to become the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, calling her a tough, proven leader. In a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Obama said that Yellen is a role model for other women. He pointed to her work on unemployment as one of the key challenges facing the economy and to her early warnings of the impending housing crash as an example of the clear-eyed thinking required at the head of the nation’s central bank." Ylan Q. Mui and Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

Interviews: Janet Yellen in her own words in November. And that time Yellen interviewed herself in her high school newspaper back in 1963Jim Tankersley in The Washington Post.

Reading list: Seventeen academic papers of Janet Yellen’s that you need to readDylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Explainer: Nine amazing facts about Janet Yellen, our next Fed chair. Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Yellen to inherit a tough job that has only gotten tougher. "When Yellen takes over on Feb. 1 (barring unexpected problems during her Senate confirmation hearing), she will probably inherit an organization more like this: A $4 trillion balance sheet stuffed with all manner of financial exotica, from mortgage-backed securities to portfolios acquired as part of the 2008 bailouts. Policy statements are now north of 700 words, explaining not just the Fed’s policy stance but what the central bank expects to do far into the future. Yellen will be expected to continue the practice of quarterly news conferences, or maybe even to turn them into an every-meeting, eight-times-a-year affair. And the organization she will run has the power to regulate any financial company, bank or otherwise, that endangers stability." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

How Yellen went from a liberal academic economist to a Fed leader. "For Ms. Yellen, who was drawn to study economics as a path into public service and aspired as a college student to work at the Fed, the top job at the central bank would be a logical if – until only recently – unexpected culmination. Her confirmation also would reinforce the Fed’s evolution from an institution run by market-wise bureaucrats focused on controlling inflation to an institution run by academics committed to a broader mission of steady growth and minimal unemployment...She has expressed greater concern about the economic consequences of unemployment, a stronger conviction in the Fed’s ability to stimulate job growth and a greater willingness to tolerate a little more inflation in order to reduce unemployment more quickly. Until recently, her emphasis on unemployment would likely have disqualified her for the job." Binyamin Appelbaum in The New York Times.

For Janet Yellen, Obama’s Federal Reserve nominee, quiet patience paid off. "Janet Yellen’s official interview to become the nation’s economist in chief lasted less than an hour. The academic from Brooklyn had visited the White House only one other time in the three years since she was appointed vice chairman at the Federal Reserve, according to visitor logs. She had not testified before Congress since her confirmation hearing. She thought her interview with President Obama early this summer was unexpectedly brief, according to two people familiar with the discussion. Both left the meeting without an expectation that she would get the job." Ylan Q. Mui and Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

The Yellen Fed? Precise and predictable. "Even before President Obama nominated her to lead the Fed on Wednesday, Ms. Yellen advocated a rigorous, predictable approach to steering the nation’s economy. In speeches in 2012, for instance, she talked about the virtues of using a mathematical formula to help determine when the central bank should raise or lower interest rates. Plug in economic growth, inflation and the like — and you have a decent guidepost for what policy should look like...But in public speeches and academic work, she has suggested that the Fed should be more systematic, predictable and transparent — in short, that it should lay down some rules and stick to them." Catherine Rampell in The New York Times.

Janet Yellen will be the most powerful economist in the world. What does that mean for women in economics? "According to the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, about 35 percent of candidates for an economics doctorate are women. But at each stage of the profession — from assistant professor to tenured full professor — fewer women are represented, with fewer than 15 percent of women holding the rank of professor." Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

That one time Janet Yellen ran a half-marathon at age 57. "Take the time she ran a half-marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. At age 57. It was 2004, when Yellen was a professor at the University of California-Berkeley. Though the university was her academic home, the life of a professor felt sleepy after five years in Washington as a Federal Reserve governor and chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, a person close to her said. So she decided to take up running … and running and running." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.

America’s strange trade policy makes your jeans more expensive than they should be. "America doesn't make much clothing anymore. But the government doesn't act like it: We throw up trade barriers on imported goods from baseball caps to socks, making them 10 to 30 percent expensive for U.S. consumers. Why would we do that, when Americans don't get many jobs out of the bargain? This contradiction -- trade protection for an industry that is hardly one where the United States competes -- is a study in how economic change can outpace policy." Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post.

Got the blues? interlude: Name which company uses that oh-so-corporate shade of blue.

3) Hello, IT. Have you tried turning Obamacare on and off again?

Some say health-care site’s problems highlight flawed federal IT policies. "Problems with the federal government’s new health-care Web site have attracted legions of armchair analysts who speak of its problems with “virtualization” and “load testing.” Yet increasingly, they are saying the root cause is not simply a matter of flawed computer code but rather the government’s habit of buying outdated, costly and buggy technology. The U.S. government spends more than $80 billion a year for information-technology services, yet the resulting systems typically take years to build and often are cumbersome when they launch...They say most government agencies have a shortage of technical staff and long have outsourced most jobs to big contractors that, while skilled in navigating a byzantine procurement system, are not on the cutting edge of developing user-friendly Web sites." Craig Timberg and Lena H. Sun in The Washington Post.

Explainer: How well is Obamacare working? Depends on where you liveSarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Explainer: Here’s everything you need to know about Obamacare’s error-plagued websites. Timothy B. Lee in The Washington Post.

HealthCare.Gov was originally built in a garage. "You may be surprised to learn that when you arrive at HealthCare.Gov the first page you see on the Web site was not built in a bland office park somewhere in Virginia. It was built in the District of Columbia. By a team of 12 engineers. Their offices are in a garage, and they wanted to use the site to buy themselves health insurance in 2014. Really. Before large contractors took over, a small firm called Development Seed laid much of the groundwork for the site that millions of Americans are trying to access today. It spent four months, starting in March, as a government sub-contractor, building the version of HealthCare.Gov that launched in June. Their work remains the home page of the newly launched Web site." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Oh my god this is so terrible interlude: Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started.

4) Bye bye Mr. Snowman

By 2047, coldest years will be warmer than hottest in past. "If greenhouse emissions continue their steady escalation, temperatures across most of the earth will rise to levels with no recorded precedent by the middle of this century, researchers said Wednesday. Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa calculated that by 2047, plus or minus five years, the average temperatures in each year will be hotter across most parts of the planet than they had been at those locations in any year between 1860 and 2005. " Justin Gillis in The New York Times.

You have to hear the Los Angeles Times' policy on climate-change letters to the editor. "I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying "there's no sign humans have caused climate change" is not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy." Paul Thornton in The Los Angeles Times.

So hungry right now interlude: "I attended an exclusive McDonald's tasting menu dinner & ate Kung Pao McNuggets."

5) Two states, two directions on abortion

It's getting harder to get an abortion in Ohio. "Under a law that took effect in Ohio this month, the Cleveland abortion clinic she visited had to offer her a chance not only to view an ultrasound of the fetus but also to watch its beating heart, which she said she resented...Ohio has become a laboratory for what anti-abortion leaders call the incremental strategy — passing a web of rules designed to push the hazy boundaries of Supreme Court guidelines without flagrantly violating them. Many of the rules, critics say, are designed to discourage women from getting abortions or to hamper clinic operations, even forcing some to close. The mandated discussion of fetal heartbeats is one of a cascade of abortion restrictions adopted in Ohio over the years, from a waiting period to curbs on the medication-induced abortions preferred by many women." Erik Eckholm in The New York Times.

...While California is making it easier. "Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday expanded access to abortion in California, signing a bill to allow nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants to perform a common type of the procedure, an aspiration abortion, during the first trimester...But the new California law goes further, allowing a wider range of nonphysician practitioners to perform surgical abortions. While other states have passed a tide of laws restricting abortion access, California has gone against the political tide." Ian Lovett in The New York Times.

Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.

Wonkblog Roundup

Seventeen academic papers of Janet Yellen’s that you need to readDylan Matthews.

Fed chair is always a hard job. Yellen is inheriting an even harder oneNeil Irwin.

The problem with President Obama’s shutdown strategyEzra Klein.

How well is Obamacare working? Depends on where you liveSarah Kliff.

HealthCare.Gov was originally built in a garageSarah Kliff.

If Congress only reopens the government piece by piece, it could take until next springBrad Plumer.

That one time Janet Yellen ran a half-marathon at age 57Ylan Q. Mui.

America’s strange trade policy makes your jeans more expensive than they should be. Lydia DePillis.

Janet Yellen will be the most powerful economist in the world. What does that mean for women in economicsZachary A. Goldfarb.

Janet Yellen in her own words: An exclusive interview. Jim Tankersley.

The Daily Default Dashboard is now ‘Getting kind of scary’. Zachary A. Goldfarb, Neil Irwin, and Darla Cameron.

Nine amazing facts about Janet Yellen, our next Fed chairDylan Matthews.

Forget the haters. Grocery self-checkout is awesomeLydia DePIllis.

Et Cetera

Florida defends its voting overhaul from charges of a purge. Lizette Alvarez in The New York Times.

Polls: Immigration reform could help the GOPSeung Min Kim in Politico.

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

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.