Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog’s morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: More than 1 million. That's how many Americans are listed in the U.S.'s database of known or suspected terrorists.
Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: This chart shows how, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans don't like their own member of Congress.
Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) U.S.-Africa economic opportunities; (2) health-care dichotomies; (3) Obama's immigration limits; (4) what the future holds for the U.S. in the Ebola scare; and (5) government transparency woes.
1. Top story: The policy takeaways from the new push to shore up ties with Africa
U.S., World Bank and businesses pledge billions for Africa. "President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that the U.S. government, World Bank and businesses will invest a combined $33 billion in Africa’s economy, showcasing America’s economic ties to a continent where trade and investment are increasingly dominated by China and Europe. Obama said the United States will finance $7 billion in business exports and investments in Africa, while U.S. companies have inked $14 billion in deals with the continent. And the World Bank, Sweden and private sources have pledged another $12 billion in funding for Obama’s Power Africa energy initiative, bringing the electrification program’s total funding to $26 billion." Eric Bradner in Politico.
Primary source: We have "a moral obligation to support Africa's progress." Barack Obama in McClatchy Newspapers.
The new approach to Africa is more about partnering than aid. ""We recognize Africa for its greatest resource, which is its people and its talent and their potential. We don’t simply want to extract minerals from the ground for our growth," Obama said, an apparent dig at China, Africa's largest trading partner. "We want to build genuine partnerships that create jobs and opportunity for all our peoples and that unleash the next era of African growth. That’s the kind of partnership America offers." Katie Zezima in The Washington Post.
Electrification holds major key to Africa's development. "Now boasting more than $26 billion in commitments, Power Africa aims to add 30,000 megawatts of additional capacity and expand electricity access to at least 60 million households and businesses.....The U.S. government is adding $300 million a year to the initiative, which began as a $7 billion, five-year federal program in June 2013....Even as the administration touted the business opportunities beckoning there, experts and government officials say an adequate power supply remains the biggest obstacle to economic development." Juliet Eilperin and Katie Zezima in The Washington Post.
$7B for agriculture highlights Obama food-aid policy shift. "The commitments — which are being made as part of this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and include a $5 billion pledge by Coca-Cola to source more of its products from Africa by the end of the decade — highlight how U.S. food aid policy has shifted under President Obama. Rather than relying primarily on federal funds to support small farmers overseas, the administration has enlisted African companies and major multinationals to help address some of the development challenges Africans still face." Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.
U.S. can try to catch up with China on Africa economic ties. "The world’s biggest economy is stepping up efforts to forge closer ties in Africa after China’s trade with the continent exceeded $200 billion last year, more than double that of the U.S. China overtook the U.S. as the Africa’s biggest trading partner five years ago. The U.S.-Africa economic relationship is essential for mutual prosperity, Pritzker said. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made similar comments at the forum. Africa offers a massive opportunity to American companies that have been slow to invest there, he said during a panel discussion." Laura Curtis and Gordon Bell in Bloomberg.
And other countries are scrambling to shore up ties with Africa too. "There is a 21st-century scramble for Africa, where dozens of nations — now on a more even footing — are engaging a host of old powers and emerging economies. In 1992, for example, Brazil, China and India accounted for just 3 percent of Africa's trade; now they represent a quarter of it. " Ishaan Tharoor in The Washington Post.
Charts: Neither U.S. nor China has clear advantage when it comes to hearts, minds of African people. Pew Research Center.
China also says it wants to partner with U.S. in Africa. "China has invited the U.S. to co-operate in financing and building infrastructure in Africa and other parts of the developing world, an unprecedented proposal that has potentially sweeping implications for the future of international development aid. Chinese officials first approached Washington last year to discuss working together on a $12 billion dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, U.S. officials said, but the talks gathered momentum at the annual China-U.S. summit in July in Beijing. The putative partnership is challenging: a bid for what could be the world's largest hydropower complex, in one of the world's least developed countries." Geoff Dyer in The Financial Times.
Is Africa's economic ascendancy for real this time? "Africa has stood on the verge of prosperity before only to see its opportunities fizzle. Yet never before has it stood to benefit as it does now....Analysts note hopefully that the current resurgence is built on foundations sturdier than the ups and downs of commodity prices. Many African nations have become more democratic, making it easier for entrepreneurs to do business, and have boosted investment in education and infrastructure. A decade of solid growth has created a middle class with more spending power....Armed conflicts are down....The improved environment has benefited even countries without bounteous natural resources." Paul Wiseman in the Associated Press.
Gridlocked Congress sees common ground on Africa. "In the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building, Republicans and Democrats met with the visiting African leaders here....Attendance was held down because of the congressional recess, but 23 members signed up for the session, 16 Democrats and seven Republicans, according to the office of Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., chairman of the Foreign Relations Africa Subcommittee. For Coons, the event simply makes public what he sees as the reality of American policy-making affecting the continent. 'One of the great things about U.S.-Africa engagement is that it is truly bipartisan.'" George E. Condon Jr. in National Journal.
Audio: Shadow events hope to skim some attention from the main event. Gregory Warner in NPR.
Except, maybe, on the Export-Import Bank. "This week’s historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit...wasn’t supposed to be about partisan politics. But at the summit’s headline event, a business forum on Tuesday, President Obama and Bill Clinton brought up the summer’s political hot potato anyway. In afternoon remarks detailing a series of initiatives designed to strengthen ties between U.S. and African companies, Obama made a pitch to Congress to keep the embattled U.S. Export-Import Bank alive." Rebecca Robbins in The Washington Post.
GERSON: Bet on Africa rising. "While 'Africa needing' and 'Africa rising' are both true, they are not equally true. The trajectory of much of Africa is toward rapid economic growth, greater trade and direct foreign investment. And this requires a shift from a donor mentality to a model of business networking — which is a stated intention of the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit. Give credit to the Obama administration for broadening the U.S. approach to Africa beyond humanitarian emergencies to sustainable investments in the drivers of economic growth: agriculture and energy....For all its needs — some pressing — Africa is rising. And the savvy will buy in early." Michael Gerson in The Washington Post.
MIHM: U.S. can end its losing streak in Africa. "'This is not charity; this is self-interest' is how President Barack Obama described the new approach. In other words, growth in Africa can generate growth in the U.S. The candor is refreshing. As the participants assemble, though, they should be mindful of the history of self-interested business dealings in Africa. While that history may be lost to Americans, Africans have a longer memory, and some sensitivity to past relationships may pay significant dividends for American business leaders operating now....There’s real potential for sustained economic growth that will benefit Africa and the U.S." Stephen Mihm in Bloomberg View.
ORSZAG: Expensive hospitals aren't any better. "Doyle 2 and the Institute of Medicine report underscore the potential to achieve substantial savings in Medicare without harming beneficiaries....And that view seems conservative to me, given that most hospital managers I speak with say they can achieve meaningful savings within their own walls without harming quality. What's needed is a payment system that provides stronger financial incentives to pursue better value — and squeezes costs where possible without worsening care. To reap the benefits of the ongoing deceleration in health costs, the U.S. health-care system needs a clearer path away from fee-for-service payment and toward fee-for-value." Peter R. Orszag in Bloomberg View.
PETHOKOUKIS: Cutting jobless benefits didn't really promote work. "What happens to the unemployed in the worst labor market in living memory when their long-term jobless benefits end? Some people, including many Republican lawmakers, had a theory: ending benefits would give the unemployed a nudge. With no more government checks coming, these folks would start looking harder — much harder — for a job or perhaps accept a job they wouldn’t have earlier. This is the logic behind Congress declining this year to renew the federal program funding extended jobless benefits. Two pieces of evidence suggest this 'bootstraps' theory might be wrong." James Pethokoukis in AEIdeas.
PORTER: Population curbs as a means to cut carbon emissions. "By 1994, when the U.N. held its last population conference, in Cairo, demographic targets had pretty much been abandoned, replaced by an agenda centered on empowering women, reducing infant mortality and increasing access to reproductive health....Well, concerns about population seem to be creeping back. As the threat of climate change has evolved from a fuzzy faraway concept to one of the central existential threats to humanity, scholars like Professor Cohen have noted that reducing the burning of fossil fuels might be easier if there were fewer of us consuming them." Eduardo Porter in The New York Times.
EDSALL: The value of political corruption. "Effective governance is currently running head-on into growing public skepticism about the legitimacy of political maneuvering and compromise. This reflexive skepticism makes it hard to recognize that politics is a process of negotiation and concession. The perverse consequence is that the art of politics is held in contempt. Both the court decisions regarding campaign finance and the ban on earmarks betray a certain naïveté about the reality of governing. The expectation of a government free of bribery may be legitimate — but...the legal presumption of legislators who are 'impartial, disinterested and unbiased in the routine carrying out of daily business, in the context of a system imbued with favoritism, may possibly stretch a democratic form of government beyond its credible limits.'" Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times.
SALAM: Deferred action for almost everyone? "Since the federal government has long had a semi-official policy of allowing unauthorized immigrants to remain in the United States if they do not commit serious crimes, Posner maintains that President Obama’s proposal would do little more than officially recognize this current practice. This strikes me as incorrect. Yet it is incorrect in a more interesting manner than I had originally suggested....The American constitutional order doesn’t rest solely on statutes, or on judicial efforts to restrain the executive branch. It also rests on norms. And the president’s apparent willingness to violate these norms is setting a dangerous precedent." Reihan Salam in National Review.
McARDLE: The bankruptcy code is bankrupt. "We should never have carved the special exemption for student loans out of bankruptcy protection; it makes the law more complex, and as I’ve written many times before, the proliferating complexity of the regulatory state has huge costs and should be fought at every opportunity. Now that we have a special exemption for student loans, we should definitely not increase the complexity even further by enacting a special exception to the exception. Instead, we should reduce the complexity — and the number of people sweating under unsustainable debt loads — by undoing our initial mistake." Megan McArdle in Bloomberg View.
WILHELM: VA reform must come from the inside. "Deeply rooted cultural problems, seemingly endemic within the Department of Veterans Affairs, have put veterans health care at the forefront of our national news cycle this summer. Last week, Congress passed a bill to address a culture of dysfunction that built for years under a layer of red tape. Will this rare compromise defeat the bureaucratic demons that led to some in the VA neglecting their mission? Probably not on its own. That will take a cultural shift at VA. But it’s likely a step in the right direction, at least in the short-term, if VA uses the tools it gives them properly." Colin Wilhelm in The Atlantic.
FLAVELLE: Every state can become a solar state. "Start with the international comparison. The U.S. will get just 1.6 percent of its electricity from solar this year, according to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In Japan, that figure is 2.4 percent; among most European countries, it's 6.1 percent. But the more compelling data comes from looking at how states already use solar power....The takeaway is that geography and political affiliation are only so important to a state's ability to generate solar power. As the EPA fight continues, it's worth remembering that moving away from coal doesn't have to be as hard as the critics say it is." Christopher Flavelle in Bloomberg View.
Animals interlude: Bare-chested Russian man orders ducks into a barn — and they comply.
2. An examination of some Obamacare dichotomies
A tale of two Americas. "States that fully embraced the law's coverage expansion are experiencing a significant drop in the number of uninsured residents....States whose leaders still object to 'Obamacare' are seeing much less change. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found an overall drop of 4 percentage points in the share of uninsured residents for states accepting the law's core coverage provisions. Those are states that expanded their Medicaid programs and also built or took an active role managing new online insurance markets. The drop was about half that level — 2.2 percentage points — in states that took neither of those steps, or just one of them." Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in the Associated Press.
Map: The Not-So-United States of Obamacare. Jeffrey Young in The Huffington Post.
Charts: Who are the remaining uninsured? Urban Institute.
As doctors opt out of Obamacare, two-tiered system is born. "Gerard's decision to reject two plans is something officials in Connecticut are concerned about. If reimbursement rates to doctors stay low in Obamacare plans, more doctors could reject those plans. And that could mean that people will get access to insurance, but they may not get access to a lot of doctors. That worries Kevin Counihan, who runs Connecticut's health insurance marketplace. 'I think it could lead potentially to this kind of distinction that there are these different tiers of quality of care,' Counihan says. His agency recently approved rules geared at getting more providers into plans on the exchange." Jeffrey Cohen in Kaiser Health News.
How much will your ACA premiums go up? There's a divide here too. "Why the disparities? One likely factor is how diligently officials have worked on implementing the law. California’s were enthusiastic about Obamacare from the get-go. They created their own marketplace for buying insurance and adopted an 'active purchaser' model, which means the marketplace’s managers can bargain aggressively with carriers to get low premiums. In addition, California regulators have long had the authority to review and reject insurance premium increases that seem excessive....Another key variable is how insurers priced their plans last year — in effect, whether they underbid or overbid....One final issue is the Obama Administration’s 'keep your plan' fix." Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.
Primary source: A preliminary look at 2015 individual market rate filings. PricewaterhouseCoopers.
If you like your Obamacare plan and stick with it, it could cost you more money. "And some people won't even know their costs went up until they get a bill from the IRS. Insurance plans generally raise their premiums every year, but those costs are just the tip of the iceberg for millions of Obamacare enrollees. A series of other, largely invisible factors will also push up many consumers' premiums. In some cases, even if an insurance company doesn't raise its rates at all, its customers could still end up owing thousands of dollars more for their premiums. It's all a byproduct of complicated technical changes triggered, ironically enough, by the law's success at bolstering competition among insurers." Sam Baker in National Journal.
Maybe those ACA subsidy calculations weren't so inaccurate, after all? "The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) might have a better track record in determining ObamaCare premium subsidies than previously thought, a new audit suggests. A government investigation released Tuesday found that the agency was 100 percent accurate in calculating the maximum monthly subsidy for all requests in the first two weeks of October. While the report did not track activity throughout ObamaCare's first enrollment period, it hints that reports of more than 1 million incorrect subsidy determinations may overstate the problem." Elise Viebeck in The Hill.
Hospitals cash in on the newly insured. "A rush of newly insured patients using health services has boosted hospital operators' fortunes but has racked up costs that insurers didn't anticipate, corporate filings and interviews with executives show. People are getting more back surgeries, seeking maternity care and showing up at emergency rooms more frequently, executives say, boosting income for hospital operators....The winners and losers in the health law's early rounds are beginning to emerge from companies' financial disclosures. Providers of services are in the lead for now, with some of those who pay for health care — insurers and employers — losing some ground." Christopher Weaver in The Wall Street Journal.
Other health care reads:
Hobby Lobby ruling may have poked hole in corporate veil. Wade Goodwyn in NPR.
A hospital reboots Medicaid to give better care for less money. Sarah Jane Tribble in NPR.
KLEIN: One of Obama's big ideas for reforming health care failed a test in California. "Obama was articulating what would become one of the key payment reforms in his health care law — a proposal aimed at giving incentives to providers to control costs by rewarding them for providing less expensive care. But a study published in the journal Health Affairs looked at an ambitious three-year pilot program of bundled payments in California that was funded by a $2.9 million grant from Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package — and found that the program was such a massive failure, it could hardly get off the ground." Philip Klein in the Washington Examiner.
3. How far can Obama go with executive actions on immigration?
Administration has limitations on executive power in mind. "Obama won’t be able to make the fundamental changes he’s been pushing for since taking office....Obama has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to review his options for executive action on immigration, in the absence of legislation from Congress....Earnest said Holder and Johnson would report back by 'the end of summer' and expects to act 'relatively quickly.' Among the actions being considered is granting some of the 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally work permits that would allow them to stay in the country." Roger Runningen and Lisa Lerer in Bloomberg.
Explainer: Why letting millions of illegal immigrants stay would be a huge gamble. Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.
Is Obama's main barrier political instead of legal? "Legal scholars say the president has the discretion to go much farther than he’s likely to choose, given his political constraints. That could include granting 'deferred action.'...Obama, says UCLA Law Professor Hiroshi Motomura, 'has legal authority to exercise discretion in the way that all prosecutors do,' choosing which cases to pursue and how....The White House has already taken steps in this direction when it comes to immigrants....In 2012, the administration inaugurated a policy of deferred action for many people who were brought to the U.S. as kids....The politics, though, are more complicated." Josh Eidelson in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Republicans have little incentive to act on immigration until 2016 primaries. "Even before Cantor lost, there wasn't a lot of political incentive for Republicans to move on policy this year....Looking at it cynically, most of the closely contested races this year are in states that have very small Hispanic populations. But compared to the 2016 primary season, 2014 is practically a bonanza of diversity. If the metric is how much will this help me win my next election, there's very little incentive for the next Republican nominee to embrace reform until he or she has already accepted the party's nomination." Philip Bump in The Washington Post.
Administration shifts $405M to deal with border crisis. Is it enough? "The rerouted money is a far cry from President Obama's request of $3.7 billion. It's dramatically less than the $2.7 billion proposal that failed in the Senate and even the $694 million bill the House passed. 'It begs a big question,' said Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress, 'because you're seeing a massive shortfall of what they were asking and what they could possibly get from reprogramming.' That question — How long will this Band-Aid last? — doesn't have a definitive answer, said Kelley, the center's vice president for immigration policy." Rachel Roubein in National Journal.
Other immigration reads:
Long read: Central America’s gang problem began in Los Angeles. Tim Johnson in McClatchy Newspapers.
Border action spurs Perry from also-ran to 2016 contender. Wade Goodwyn in NPR.
Another election interlude: 5-year-old mayor loses his re-election bid, but he doesn't seem too bummed about it.
4. What does the future hold for the U.S. in the Ebola scare?
Why not give that experimental serum to West African Ebola sufferers? "The news of Kent Brantly’s and Nancy Writebol’s improved conditions is wonderful. But it leads inevitably to the next question: How fast can we get some to the people dying in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria? The answer, at least from the information I’ve been able to gather so far, is: Yes, this can be done. It would be expensive. It would take a few months to produce. It would be complicated. No one could even remotely guarantee it would work. But there’s little doubt it’s possible." Lenny Bernstein and Brady Dennis in The Washington Post.
Explainer: Why vaccines are not the answer for Ebola. Olga Khazan in The Atlantic.
Hospitals will be on high alert for Ebola-like symptoms. "If you show up at a hospital emergency department with a high fever and you just happen to have been traveling in Africa, don't be surprised if you get a lot of attention. Hospitals are on the lookout for people with symptoms such as a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea who had been traveling in parts of West Africa affected by Ebola....The CDC's health advisory gives very specific advice on whom to screen for possible exposure and when to test people's blood for antibodies to the Ebola virus. The CDC recommends that hospitals only test people who get a high fever within 21 days of having a 'high-risk exposure,' defined as contact with blood or bodily fluids of someone known to have or suspected of having Ebola." Nancy Shute and Maanvi Singh in NPR.
Explainer: Fear, treatment and a serum: The U.S. and the Ebola outbreak. Mark Berman in The Washington Post.
The U.S. has training in containing hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. "You might not know that we’ve already experienced patients coming into the United States with deadly hemorrhagic fever infections. We’ve had more than one case of imported Lassa fever, another African hemorrhagic fever virus with a fairly high fatality rate in humans (though not rising to the level of Ebola outbreaks)....All told, there have been at least seven cases of Lassa fever imported into the United States — and those are just the ones we know about, people who were sick enough to be hospitalized, and whose symptoms and travel history alerted doctors....How many secondary cases occurred from those importations? None." Tara C. Smith in Slate.
Analysts ask: Why no in-depth discussion at the U.S.-Africa summit? "The global community has 'no strategic plan' for handling a real epidemic if it spreads to an urban area, some analysts say. It's 'deplorable' that the summit has not formally addressed the subject, said John Campbell, senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Though it might have been hard to add agenda items on such short notice, he said, the Ebola crisis could have been incorporated into the overall theme of economic development." Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey in the Los Angeles Times.
One factor undercutting Ebola fight in Africa: Poor enforcement of quarantines. "In Sierra Leone, the nation with the most cases of the disease, the government has decreed a broad state of emergency — telling families to stay at home on Monday...and has ordered strict new measures, like bans on many public gatherings and the quarantine edict....But that tough stance is being accompanied by loose enforcement that is deeply worrying to doctors and health care workers trying to stem the rapid spread of the virus." Adam Nossiter in The New York Times.
Other public health reads:
Drug-resistant malaria is spreading across Southeast Asia. Michaeleen Doucleff in NPR.
How USAID-Cuba revelations could threaten global health programs. Brianna Lee in International Business Times.
Thrill-seeking interlude: Jumpers parachute from a zipline in Panama, the world's longest urban zipline.
5. The government's latest transparency troubles
Watchdogs say their access to government records delayed or denied due to agency woes. "In the letter to the bipartisan leadership of major committees across Capitol Hill, the inspectors general complain that the access issues have impeded investigations and threaten the ability of the fraud-waste-and-abuse hunters to do their work....The watchdogs complain that some agencies, in particular the Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department, and the Peace Corps, have given a narrow reading to the 1978 law that created the inspector general mechanism. The interpretation of those agencies has allowed management to delay or prevent access to agency records sought by IGs, the letter says." Josh Gerstein in Politico.
GAO: U.S. failed to report $619 billion in spending to its transparency site. "The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006...required the Office of Management and Budget to set up a Web site with data on federal awards and develop guidance on reporting requirements. President Obama later set a goal of 100 percent accuracy by the end of 2011. But the legislation is not working as well as lawmakers and the administration had hoped. The GAO said a review of the 2012 data found 'significant underreporting of awards and few that contained information that was fully consistent with the information in agency records.'" Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.
How transparency issues are hindering release of long-awaited CIA interrogation-tactics report. "Senate Intelligence Committee members protested Tuesday over the Obama administration’s censorship of a report on the CIA’s use of 'brutal' interrogation methods, charging that the deletions hid key facts and blacked out information that was made public years ago. The senators raised their objections to the redactions in emailed statements sent within minutes of each other, indicating a coordinated effort to drive home their anger...Relations between the committee and the CIA also have soured over the agency’s admission last week that it had broken into a computer database." Jonathan S. Landay in McClatchy Newspapers.
On the other hand, FCC gives public new way to analyze public comments. "The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday released 1.4 gigabytes of comments received about Chairman Tom Wheeler’s controversial net neutrality proposal in machine-readable form so data crunchers can show us all in greater detail how many people oppose the plan. Thus far, the agency has received 1.1 million comments about the proposal rules, which would allow Internet providers to sell prioritized, fast-lane service to content companies.Thus far, the agency has received 1.1 million comments about the proposal rules." Amy Schatz in Re/code.
Is there a new Edward Snowden? "The federal government has concluded there's a new leaker exposing national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden....Proof of the newest leak comes from national security documents that formed the basis of a news story published Tuesday by the Intercept, the news site launched by Glenn Greenwald, who also published Snowden's leaks. The Intercept article focuses on the growth in U.S. government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the Obama administration." Evan Perez in CNN.
Other tech reads:
Why open access advocates aren’t thrilled with the DOE’s plan to expand public access to its research. Andrea Peterson in The Washington Post.
Video games interlude: The evolution of video games, as described via a cappella.
People don’t get the new Obamacare lawsuits, but they think all exchanges should provide subsidies. Jason Millman.
Strict rules in Beijing on who can own and drive a car could be a boon for Uber. Andrea Peterson.
About 100 million Americans are now using credit unions. Should you join them? Jonnelle Marte.
Why abortion "patient safety" laws may actually hurt women. Jason Millman.
Where Americans smoke marijuana the most. Christopher Ingraham.
Why the U.S. should start taxing soda like cigarettes and alcohol. Roberto A. Ferdman.
Money for fighting fires to run out. Kevin Freking in the Associated Press.
U.S. regulators reject bankruptcy plans of 11 big banks. Danielle Douglas in The Washington Post.
Colorado compromise on fracking could serve as model for other states. Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.
Sanctions on Russia failing to staunch energy deals with Japan. Chou Hui Hong, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Tsuyoshi Inajima in Bloomberg.
Sturdy U.S. services, factory data boost growth picture. Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.
Double-punch for tax inversion deals as Treasury seeks ways to stem them and Walgreen's rules out move. Damian Paletta and Dina Mattioli in The Wall Street Journal.
Tea party's last stand? Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli in the Los Angeles Times.
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Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.