Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: The impacts of climate change in three charts, as per a new U.N. report.
Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) The end of Obamacare open enrollment; (2) explosive new CIA revelations; (3) the never-ending politics of Obamacare; (4) climate report produces yawn from Washington; and (5) Yellen's reassurances.
1. Top story: 7 million sign-ups in sight for Obamacare despite glitch-filled final day.
HealthCare.gov stumbles on deadline day as consumers race to sign up for insurance. "The first six-month window for Americans to gain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act closed on Monday with large numbers of consumers speeding to get coverage at the last minute. Some of them encountered obstacles as HealthCare.gov, the main enrollment Web site, faltered on and off throughout the day. Union halls, shopping-mall kiosks and insurance company lobbies across the country were jammed with people racing to get insurance on the final day before the law required most Americans to choose health insurance or risk a financial penalty." Amy Goldstein and Lena H. Sun in The Washington Post.
How do we know Obamacare is a success or a failure? Charles Ornstein in ProPublica.
What's next for Obamacare? Sam Baker in National Journal.
The ACA enrollment surge, by the numbers. Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.
State-by-state breakdown of the final open-enrollment day. Jaime Fuller in The Washington Post.
Obamacare's 4-year checkup. Elise Viebeck and Jonathan Easley in The Hill.
What we know and don't know about Obamacare. Megan McArdle in Bloomberg View.
Still, Obamacare was on target to hit 7 million signups by midnight. "Beating expectations, President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance on deadline day Monday, government officials told The Associated Press. The 7 million target, thought to be out of reach by most experts, was in sight on a day that saw surging consumer interest as well as vexing computer glitches that slowed sign-ups on the HealthCare.gov website. Seven million was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office for enrollment in taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance through new online markets created under Obama's signature legislation. That was scaled back to 6 million after the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov last fall. Several state-run websites also had crippling problems." Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Josh Lederman in the Associated Press.
Quotable news lede: "The first phase of Obamacare ended yesterday much the same way it began: The federal website drew 1.2 million visitors by noon and crashed at least twice." Caroline Chen, Margaret Talev and Alex Wayne in Bloomberg.
So far 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid first premiums, Sebelius says. "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday cited insurance company estimates that say between 80 and 90 percent of those who have selected a plan under ObamaCare have completed the critical final step of making a first premium payment....Experts have estimated that as many as 20 percent of enrollees haven’t paid their first month's premium, and Sebelius’s comments on Monday are in line or slightly better than those analyses. The administration has said that 6 million people had selected plans through mid-March, meaning that between 600,000 and 1.2 million of those counted as enrollees do not actually have insurance coverage, using Sebelius’s estimates. " Jonathan Easley in The Hill.
Lesson's learned from year one of Obamacare. "If Obamacare enrollment was President Obama's 'last campaign,' Election Day is Monday. In a bid to get enough Americans — particularly young, healthy Americans — to enroll in the Affordable Care Act's exchanges, Obama mobilized much of the same army of organizers and volunteers that won him two terms in the White House. Now, with their work largely over, the team is looking back, sorting their triumphs from their failures. But even as the number of sign-ups crossed 6 million last week and open enrollment is all but closed, the law's unofficial volunteer corps is already strategizing for what's to come: yet another long, hard push to get citizens to sign up before the next enrollment period." Clara Ritger in National Journal.
Obamacare has led to health coverage for millions more people. "President Obama's healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show. As the law's initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states....Rand has been polling 3,300 Americans monthly about their insurance choices since last fall. Researchers found that the share of adults ages 18 to 64 without health insurance has declined from 20.9% last fall to 16.6% as of March 22. The decrease parallels a similar drop recorded by Gallup, which found in its national polling that the uninsured rate among adults had declined from 18% in the final quarter of last year to 15.9% through the first two months of 2014. Gallup's overall uninsured rate is lower than Rand's because it includes seniors on Medicare." Noam Levey in the Los Angeles Times.
But could Obamacare miss another CBO projection? "The big health care news this morning — besides renewed troubles with HealthCare.gov — was a report from the L.A. Times that 9.5 million people had been newly insured under the health care law....If that holds up, that means the administration could miss a Congressional Budget Office target that’s received less attention. The CBO and Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation in February projected that 13 million previously uninsured people would gain coverage in 2014." Jason Millman in The Washington Post.
Other health care reads:
Congress moves to cut physician pay for medical procedures deemed overvalued. Peter Whoriskey in The Washington Post.
Doctors are unhappy about the 'doc fix' legislation. Clara Ritger in National Journal.
Wash. state: A 'no-frills' Obamacare success story. Jennifer Haberkorn in Politico.
Long read: A growing number of primary-care doctors are burning out. How does this affect patients? Roni Caryn Rabin and Kaiser Health News in The Washington Post.
How artists, actors are benefiting from Obamacare. Paige Winfield Cunningham in Politico.
Quick gains after a smoking ban. Catherine Saint Louis in The New York Times.
COHN: It's OK to feel good about Obamacare again. "Whatever the final tally, you can count on law's critics to keep saying the number is less impressive than it seems....All of these arguments have some truth. And you should think about them when, inevitably, the Administration celebrates the final enrollment statistics. But if the real story about Obamacare is a lot more complicated than the signup figures indicate, it’s also a lot more complicated than the conservative caricature of Obamacare would have you believe. The Affordable Care Act has unleashed a great many changes — some good, some bad, some in between. And it’s going to be a long time before there's enough evidence to assess them carefully. But the available data points offer hints about what is happening. And while they don’t add up to a clear, definitive vindication of the law, they are enough to justify some real optimism — the kind that hasn’t been possible since October 1, the day healthcare.gov launched, crashed, and nearly took the whole liberal cause into cyberhell with it." Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.
DOUTHAT: Obamacare lives! "We don’t know yet what the paid enrollment looks like or how successfully the program is actually enrolling the uninsured. (After some grim estimates, this Rand study is making liberals feel a little more optimistic, but still suggests a below-expectations result.) We don’t know what the age-and-health-status composition of the enrollee pools looks like or what that means for premiums next year and beyond. We don’t know if any of the suspended/postponed provisions of the law will actually take effect. And we certainly don’t know what any of this means for social policy in the long run. But we do know that there won’t be an immediate political unraveling, and that we aren’t headed for the kind of extremely-low-enrollment scenario that seemed conceivable just a few months ago, or the possible world where cancellations had ended up outstripping enrollment, creating a net decline in the number of insured. And knowing that much has significant implications for our politics. It means that the kind of welfare-state embedding described above is taking place on a significant scale, that a large constituency will be served by Obamacare (through Medicaid as well as the exchanges) in 2016 and beyond, and that any kind of conservative alternative will have to confront the reality that the kind of tinkering-around-the-edges alternatives to Obamacare that many Republicans have supported to date would end up stripping coverage from millions of newly-insured Americans." Ross Douthat in The New York Times.
SUROWIECKI: Young, healthy and not so important for Obamacare. "The fear is that if enough young people don’t enroll, the program is headed for what economists call a 'death spiral': health-care costs will be too high relative to premiums, which will force insurance companies to raise premiums, which will make young people even less likely to sign up, raising costs even more, and so on, until the whole thing implodes. It’s a grim prospect, but there isn’t much reason to think that we’re headed for it. Getting more young people to enroll in Obamacare would be a good thing for the program (and for them — a 2011 Commonwealth Fund survey found that sixty per cent of uninsured young adults had foregone care because of costs, and half reported medical debt or trouble paying medical bills). But the fate of the law doesn’t depend on the young invincibles. As long as enough reasonably healthy people, regardless of age, sign up for health insurance, the imagined death spiral will never materialize. Everyone may be obsessed with what twenty-four-year-olds are doing, but having healthy forty-year-olds enroll in Obamacare could be just as important for the health of the program." James Surowiecki in The New Yorker.
ROY: Obamacare underperforming on one key metric. "The Congressional Budget Office, in its original estimates, predicted that the vast majority of the people eligible for subsidies on the exchanges would be previously uninsured individuals. Instead, the vast majority are previously insured people, many of whom are getting a better deal on the exchanges because they either qualify for subsidies, or because they’re older individuals who benefit from the law’s steep rate hikes on the young. This is a problem that may get worse over time, as the cost of plans continues to go up." Avik Roy in Forbes.
VEIGA AND WEYL: The answer for Obamacare? Oligopoly. "Our proposal is simple if surprising: Regulators should limit competition by only allowing only the biggest health insurance companies to participate in the exchanges. In short, we need an Obamacare oligopoly. The problem is that free competition can easily ruin insurance markets. To see why, imagine there were just two plans: bronze and platinum, the lowest- and highest-quality plans available under the ACA. If almost all healthy people opt for bronze, as preliminary numbers suggest is likely, leaving the older and sicker in platinum, the cost of platinum plans will become prohibitive because the health care costs of the sick are so high. This would drive the platinum plans out of the market, leaving only .bronze. That’s better than nothing, but it is a far cry from the aims of the law’s drafters, to give every America access to good health insurance and fair prices. This problem is a special feature of insurance markets." André Veiga and E. Glen Weyl in Slate.
TOMASKY: Obamacare crosses the finish. "Brace yourself, friends, for the new hate-and-snicker-fest on the right about the Obamacare numbers. It started over the weekend — actually, it’s been more or less ongoing since last fall — but it’s going to crescendo now that the enrollment deadline has been reached. Six million, eh? Bah. A million below expectations, they’ll say, and in any case a fake number. That’s what Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said Sunday on Fox; the administration is 'cooking the books.' He didn’t reveal how he knows this, but of course he wasn’t pressed on the point. " Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Monday is the Obamacare deadline — sort of. "Today, a one-question Obamacare quiz: Monday (a) is or (b) isn't the final day Americans can sign up for the first year of Obamacare coverage. OK, that was too easy. The answer is, of course, (b). After a flurry of Obamacare delays (38 by The Wall Street Journal's count) and innumerable rules changes, Monday isn't the final day that Americans can sign up for Obamacare. No matter what the law says." Editorial Board.
SUNSTEIN: Why political partisans often reject facts. "A revealing body of research, coming largely from Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan, finds that 'cultural cognition' shapes our reactions to science — and that our values affect our assessment of purely factual claims, even in highly technical areas. As a result, Americans predictably polarize on factual questions involving, for example, the effects of gun control, nuclear waste disposal and nanotechnology. Consider current debates over genetically modified organisms and climate change. The strong majority of scientists (of course, not all) accept two propositions. First, GMOs generally don't pose serious threats to human health or the environment. Second, greenhouse gases are producing climate change, which does pose serious threats to human health and the environment....With respect to GMOs, Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to reject the prevailing scientific judgment. With respect to climate change, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to reject the prevailing scientific judgment." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg View.
FELDSTEIN: The Fed's missing guidance. "Janet Yellen, like Ben Bernanke before her, believes that the Federal Reserve should communicate the reasons for its current policies and the strategy of its future policy actions. And so we have been told the basic plans are for gradually reducing the volume of large-scale asset purchases, and for keeping short-term interest rates low —'for some time,' as she said in her speech on Monday — in order to stimulate employment and raise the inflation rate toward 2%. But the Fed's leaders should also be telling the public and financial markets what they think about the risk that future inflation could rise substantially above the Fed's 2% target — and what the Fed would do to prevent such inflation or reverse it if that occurs." Martin Feldstein in The Wall Street Journal.
O'BRIEN: The trillions that companies are hoarding overseas. "There are a lot of bad policy ideas, but there aren't many worse than a tax repatriation holiday. It's exactly what it sounds like: Instead of paying the difference between what they were taxed overseas and what they would be taxed here, companies can bring foreign earnings home and just pay a nominal rate. The theory is that all this incoming capital will turn into investment and jobs—but in practice we know that's not true. We tried it in 2004, and as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, it failed by any metric....But the biggest cost was the if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie effect. If you give companies a tax repatriation holiday, they're going to expect another one. They're going to shift even more earnings abroad, which creates a perverse kind of logic: The more they avoid taxes, the more they say we need a tax holiday to 'get that cash off the sidelines.' Our corporate income tax does need fixing, but this isn't the one we're looking for." Matthew O'Brien in The Atlantic.
Obama administration underestimating Putin's ambitions. "President Obama has dismissed Russia as a “regional” power that “leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology.” But the Obama administration has consistently underestimated Vladimir Putin and continues to do so by asserting that Russia is isolated. Putin has laid the groundwork to assemble a powerful alternative to the transatlantic alliance. Russia stands at the center of dozens of nations uncomfortable with or unsuited to the Western principles that President Obama described as “self-evident.” They chafe at Western control of global institutions and norms. Putin aims to offer them alternatives and is strengthening key relationships that will allow him to do so — with disgruntled mid-powers such as India, with regimes that have been kept at arm’s length for their behavior and with certain European political elites." Molly K. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis in The Washington Post.
ORSZAG: The real problem with the 'doc fix' proposal. "As policy-making disgraces go, last week’s House of Representatives vote for a temporary 'doc fix' to avoid a cut in Medicare payments to doctors is hard to beat: It's financed in part through accounting gimmicks, and the vote was so rushed that most members of Congress didn’t even realize it had been held. A permanent fix is offered as an alternative, and it would indeed be better, but this option, too, could be much stronger. Even middling structural reforms are apparently out of reach in this age of diminished expectations. And yet, as Medicare costs overall continue to decelerate, lawmakers should seize the opportunity to reform health-care financing so that payments are based on value rather than volume. Doctors and hospitals need some clarity about how and when this evolution will proceed; the House legislation, which will be voted upon by the Senate [Monday], provides none." Peter R. Orszag in Bloomberg View.
BERNSTEIN: Who the real job creators in Washington are. "If you want to protect someone in Washington, call them a 'job creator.' Such wonderful, rare creatures must be insulated from taxes, regulation, and especially unfriendly rhetoric. But it’s not clear who the job creators really are. Of course they’re employers who hire people, and bless ‘em for it. We want them brimming with confidence and animal spirits. But they’re not hiring people to save America. They’re doing so because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to meet the demand for the goods or services they produce, and they’d be leaving profit on the table to be scooped up by a competitor." Jared Bernstein in The New York Times.
EMANUEL: Those who wait for 95 percent confidence on climate risks do so at their peril. "As someone who has spent some time looking at changes in the incidence of hurricanes around the planet, I have been asked to provide a response to Roger Pielke Jr.’s article 'Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change,' published at FiveThirtyEight earlier this month....I am sympathetic to Pielke’s emphasis on the role of changing demographics in increasing damages from natural disasters. This is a serious problem that could be addressed by wiser policies....Having said that, I’m not comfortable with Pielke’s assertion that climate change has played no role in the observed increase in damages from natural hazards; I don’t see how the data he cites support such a confident assertion." Kerry Emanuel in FiveThirtyEight.
The thorny politics of higher education reform. "The politics of higher education policy are actually less hospitable to reform than those in K-12. Some argue that partisan polarization is to blame, which is typically code for 'the Democrats want to change things but Republicans won’t let them.' To others, resistance to reform is the work of an all-powerful 'higher education lobby' that uses money and influence to thwart well-intentioned efforts to improve the system. These accounts aren’t wrong so much as they’re incomplete. The root of the problem is both more mundane and more problematic than partisanship or special interests: it’s our geographic system of representation. Because every congressional district benefits from federal student aid, most legislators have little incentive to do anything that could put their slice at risk." Andrew Kelly in Forbes.
Science interlude: Watch what happens to this sample of water.
2. Revelations from Senate's CIA report could reignite debate over interrogation techniques
Post exclusive: CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says. "A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques. The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document."
"Current and former U.S. officials who described the report spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue and because the document remains classified. The 6,300-page report includes what officials described as damning new disclosures about a sprawling network of secret detention facilities, or 'black sites,' that was dismantled by President Obama in 2009. Classified files reviewed by committee investigators reveal internal divisions over the interrogation program, officials said, including one case in which CIA employees left the agency’s secret prison in Thailand after becoming disturbed by the brutal measures being employed there. The report also cites cases in which officials at CIA headquarters demanded the continued use of harsh interrogation techniques even after analysts were convinced that prisoners had no more information to give. The report describes previously undisclosed cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan — a method that bore similarities to waterboarding but never appeared on any Justice Department-approved list of techniques." Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima in The Washington Post.
Feinstein moves to make the report public. "Sen. Dianne Feinstein is racing toward declassification of a long-awaited report which sharply criticizes the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation policies and disputes the agency’s claims that the tough tactics helped foil terrorist plots.The Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman said Monday that she plans to hold a committee vote Thursday to make public the key findings and summary of the full 6,300-page report, which the panel has been working on for five years." Burgess Everett and Josh Gerstein in Politico.
Another revelation: Enhanced tactics didn't help U.S. nab Osama bin Laden. "A hotly disputed U.S. Senate torture report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the investigation. The CIA still disputes that conclusion. From the moment of bin Laden's death almost three years ago in what was America's biggest counterterrorism success, former Bush administration and some senior CIA officials have cited the evidence trail leading to the al-Qaida mastermind's compound in Pakistan as vindicating the 'enhanced interrogation techniques' they authorized after the September 11, 2001, attacks. But Democratic and some Republican senators have disputed that account." Bradley Klapper in the Associated Press.
Slow-motion interlude: Bursting balloons.
3. As the Obamacare dust settles, a lot lies ahead for the politics of health care
Interview: "Everybody was surprised by Oct. 1." Sam Baker in National Journal.
No break from politics on Obamacare deadline day. "The political bickering is focused on the administration's estimate that it will exceed its first-year goal of enrolling 6 million people in health care exchanges, and on whether the law has hit its target: the nation's uninsured. 'We know that there are going to be more people in this country, in the millions, who have insurance than would have had it before,' White House spokesman Jay Carney said....Critics, however, don't appear terribly hobbled by Carney's argument, and have ramped up a political assault on Obama's signature legislation that began when he signed the Affordable Care Act four years ago." Liz Halloran in NPR.
Explainer: 5 charts that explain the politics of Obamacare. Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post.
Poll: Democrats rallying around Obamacare. "Overall, 49 percent support and 48 percent oppose the health-care law in the new poll, hardly changed from January (46-49 support-oppose) but clearly better than November, when 40 percent expressed support and 57 percent were opposed. The growth in support has been concentrated among those who 'somewhat' support the law, with strong opponents still outnumbering strong supporters by a 36 to 25 percent margin. Democratic support has surged to a record-tying 76 percent, jumping 11 percentage points since January to the highest level since March 2010, immediately after the law was passed. Currently at 78 percent, Republican opposition has outpaced Democratic support by double digits in nearly every poll over the past two years, but in the latest survey they are within three percentage points." Scott Clement and Peyton M. Craighill in The Washington Post.
But there's also an enthusiasm gap. "Irony alert: The Democrats’ biggest challenge this fall is to get their voters excited about a law that they asked for. Obamacare will be a huge voting issue for Republicans — that’s already clear. They’ll turn out in droves because they hate the law. What’s less clear is how Democrats will get their supporters to the polls to say, 'hey, thanks for health reform.' And yet, the Affordable Care Act only exists because Democrats and their supporters had pushed for health reform for decades." David Nather in Politico.
Democrats try to keep hopes alive with ACA mantra. "The rebound after last fall’s website disaster is more proof for the White House of what it’s been telling nervous Democrats: Have faith. According to administration officials, Democrats on Capitol Hill and other strategists who’ve been in touch with the White House, President Barack Obama’s team is sure the health care law’s problems will fade in people’s minds by November, months after the website rollout. They believe the intense attacks Republicans are using to stoke their own base won’t completely depress Democratic turnout. And they’re confident that independents will see the GOP’s 50 votes to repeal all or parts of Obamacare as a sign of Washington dysfunction." Edward-Isaac Dovere in Politico.
Obamacare rolls into N.H. like a political campaign, and wins. "Half a dozen people sit around a table in a downtown Concord office, mapping out the final push to get people to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Karen Hicks sits at the head of the table. She's the project manager for Covering New Hampshire, which got federal funding to promote the law. 'We used all of the learnings from the last two or three presidential cycles and really applied it to this campaign,' Hicks says. Hicks was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2008 and is a seasoned grass-roots political strategist. She and her team used commercial databases to identify and target 50,000 households most likely to be uninsured. They did polling and focus groups to hone their message." Tamara Keith in NPR.
In Kentucky, Obamacare's success did nothing to change the law's politics. Perry Bacon Jr. in Yahoo News.
Remember 'Unskewed Polls'? New parody site applies that idea to Obamacare enrollments.
Musical interlude: Happy sad songs and sad happy songs.
4. How the new U.N. climate report is affecting policy (or not)
U.N. climate panel: Time to act is now. "A United Nations science panel issued its most dire warnings yet Monday on the dangers of climate change, saying the impacts already being felt on every continent threaten to reduce crop yields, wipe out poor people’s livelihoods, inundate low-lying lands, worsen droughts and possibly even increase the risks of wars. The new scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for immediate action to head off the worst of the damage, writing that 'adaptation and mitigation choices in the near-term will affect the risks of climate change throughout the 21st century.' The report, with a 44-page summary for policymakers, arrives at a crucial moment: The U.S. and other nations face a deadline by the end of 2015 to agree on a new global climate agreement that would take effect starting in 2020. To have any substantial impact, the agreement would need the cooperation of the United States — which never ratified the 1997 Kyoto climate accord — as well as major polluters from the developing world, such as India and China." Alex Guillén in Politico.
Primary source: The 44-page summary for policymakers.
UN Climate report: Dissecting the key messages, from the dire to the less direct. Jason Samenow in The Washington Post.
Climate report authors answer 11 basic questions. Andrew C. Revkin in The New York Times.
Climate report is changing very little on Capitol Hill. "A United Nations report that concludes climate change is negatively affecting every continent arrived with a predictable thud Monday in Washington. Democrats and the Obama administration saw the report as more evidence that leaders must take quick, decisive action on the issue, while skeptics, including much of the Republican Party, held fast in their position that the science is wrong. Eric Smith, a professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, predicted that 'remarkably little will change, especially in the short term,' in terms of the climate-change debate." Timothy Cama in The Hill.
Exxon warns climate targets unlikely to be met. "ExxonMobil, the US oil group, said it was 'highly unlikely' that the world would cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to keep global warming within the internationally agreed limit of 2C....It accepted that carbon dioxide emissions created by burning fossil fuels were raising global temperatures, and that warming created risks, but argued that the threat needed to be weighed against other objectives, including the need for energy in developing countries." Ed Crooks in The Financial Times.
Clockwork interlude: This rolling ball-operated pendulum clock is highly accurate.
5. How Yellen sought to undo her recent slip-up
Yellen seeks to reassure investors. "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen offered new assurances the Fed intends to keep interest rates low, describing in unusually personal terms why the economy needs these policies to support a weak job market....Ms. Yellen's comments, coming less than two weeks after a Fed policy meeting where officials discussed the path to rate increases, were a notable affirmation of her commitment to low rates until the economy is much stronger. Some investors had taken Ms. Yellen's remarks at a news conference after that meeting to mean rate increases might come sooner than they expected....Ms. Yellen said several indicators suggest the labor market is operating well short of its potential, including the high number of long-term jobless, the seven million Americans who are working part time and want full-time work, and slow wage growth. She also said the relatively low number of workers willing to quit their jobs compared with historical levels indicate a lingering insecurity about other employment prospects. She also emphasized how she believes the Fed's policies benefit the economy, a point debated by other economists inside and outside the Fed." Pedro Nicolaci da Costa and Jon Hilsenrath in the Wall Street Journal.
Explainer: 5 Yellen arguments that the economy still has slack. Jon Hilsenrath in The Wall Street Journal.
Stock markets breathe a sign of relief. "U.S. stocks rose on Monday, with the S&P 500 ending both March and the first quarter of 2014 with moderate gains, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen relieved concerns about a rate hike coming earlier than expected." Chuck Mikolajczak in Reuters.
Yellen goes Main Street. "The address amounted to an impassioned argument for continuing the Fed’s unprecedented support of the American economy in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Yellen described in detail the challenges facing unemployed workers, from exhausted savings to strained marriages. She even recounted the stories of three people by name: Dorine Poole, who was discriminated against because she is unemployed; Jermaine Brownlee, who took a job making less money than he did before he was unemployed; and Vicki Lira, who is working part-time but wants more hours....Yellen’s speech seemed tailored to help the Fed shed the cloistered reputation it earned in the decades leading up to the financial crisis. The central bank’s top officials have made transparency and communication with the public a priority since the Great Recession, and nearly every aspect of Yellen’s event was steeped in the real economy." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.
Other economic/financial policy reads:
Problem of big banks seen as 'too big too fail' still unsolved, says IMF. Robin Harding and Ralph Atkins in The Financial Times.
Act of kindness interlude: YouTube pranksters take a break from their escapades to feed the homeless.
How the administration could miss a CBO Obamacare target. Jason Millman.
Janet Yellen goes Main Street. Ylan Q. Mui.
In Singapore, citizens don’t want babies — or foreign workers, either. Lydia DePillis.
This is what companies should be doing to protect your data. Amrita Jayakumar.
Obamacare enrollment is almost over. What just happened? Jason Millman.
Justices seem wary of software patent case. Adam Liptak in The New York Times.
Auto-safety agency to require rear-view mirrors in vehicles by 2018. Mark Clothier in Bloomberg.
Hagel acts to improve POW-MIA accounting effort. Robert Burns in the Associated Press.
Feds mull DNA testing for security clearances. Josh Gerstein in Politico.
Wi-Fi is about to get faster. Brendan Sasso in National Journal.
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Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.