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: 1,477,301. That's the number of public comments that the FCC has received about its proposed net-neutrality rules, surpassing the record held by the Janet Jackson wardrobe-malfunction controversy.
Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: Health insurance premiums are eating workers' raises, these charts show.
Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) The new front in the Islamic militant fight; (2) go abroad, young fossil fuel; (3) Obamacare's complex effect on workers' insurance; (4) a record-setting public push on net neutrality; and (5) new social, financial problems in an aging society.
1. Top story: On the eve of 9/11, a new front in the fight against Islamic militants
Obama announces ‘Broad coalition’ to fight Islamic State extremists. Operations will involve expanded airstrikes, additional U.S. personnel in Iraq and new support for moderate Syrian rebels. "The president also sought to assuage the concerns of Americans who are wary of another foreign entanglement, insisting that the offensive against the militant group will not involve combat troops but will rather be a 'steady, relentless effort' conducted through airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq, and by supporting military partners on the ground....Obama did not give a fixed date for when the operation might end....The president says he has the legal authority to conduct the expanded military operations without new congressional approval....Still, he has asked Congress to explicitly authorize U.S. military personnel to train Syrians, Iraqis and others to combat the Islamist militants in both countries." Juliet Eilperin and Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.
Primary source: The full text of President Obama's speech. The Washington Post.
Islamic State not an immediate threat to U.S. homeland, officials believe. "Top U.S. intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday that the organization does not pose an immediate threat to the country. The Department of Homeland Security is 'unaware of any specific credible threat to the U.S. homeland' from the Islamic State, said Francis X. Taylor, the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis. However, Taylor cautioned that the group 'constitutes an active and serious threat within the region and could attempt attacks on U.S. targets overseas with little or no warning.'" Adam Goldman in The Washington Post.
Has the ISIS threat been exaggerated by the media? "Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East. Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a 'farce,' with 'members of the cabinet and top military officers all over the place describing the threat in lurid terms that are not justified.'” Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler in The New York Times.
Easier said than done in Iraq — and even tougher in Syria. "In Iraq, dissolved elements of the army will have to regroup and fight with conviction. Political leaders will have to reach compromises on the allocation of power and money in ways that have eluded them for years. Disenfranchised Sunni tribesmen will have to muster the will to join the government’s battle. European and Arab allies will have to hang together, Washington will have to tolerate the resurgence of Iranian-backed Shiite militias it once fought, and U.S. commanders will have to orchestrate an air war without ground-level guidance from American combat forces....But defeating the group in neighboring Syria will be even more difficult, according to U.S. military and diplomatic officials." Rajiv Chandrasekaran in The Washington Post.
Explainer: Here’s how the U.S. military could carry out strikes in Syria. Dan Lamothe in The Washington Post.
Key risk: Relying on U.S.-trained local forces. "But the U.S. has a poor track record of taking or keeping control in areas such as Iraq and Libya for extended periods, experiences that underscore the risks of depending on moderate rebels in Syria and state security forces in Iraq. Relying on local forces and eschewing the use of American combat troops has become a favorite strategy of President Barack Obama as a way to reduce the risk of being dragged into a protracted foreign conflict. But some defense officials and experts say that approach also can heighten the risk of failure. In Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere, results have been mixed at best." Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman in The Wall Street Journal.
So much for Obama's anti-war aims. "Make no mistake: Obama’s escalation of airstrikes and the use of U.S. personnel to help 'degrade and destroy' the extremist Sunni group represents a major setback for a commander in chief whose early international appeal was built on a pledge to remove the United States from “permanent war footing.'" David Nakamura in the Washington Post.
Explainer: 5 potential pitfalls in the Obama plan to combat the Islamic State. Hannah Allam in McClatchy Newspapers.
No ground troops, right? Well, not unless... "Kerry reiterated that Obama has said no U.S. combat troops would be deployed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, before adding, 'Unless, obviously, something very, very dramatic changes.' That formulation hasn’t been used previously by administration officials in discussing the growing U.S. confrontation with the Islamic State, and it’s sure to feed concerns that the United States may be making a greater commitment to a new conflict in the Middle East than it first intended." Roy Gutman in McClatchy Newspapers.
ISIS efforts could use Yemen and Somalia campaigns as a template, which may not be a good thing. "Obama said his template against Isis – “taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the frontlines” – was one he has “successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years”. Yet despite years of strikes and billions spent on shoring up local forces, no end is in sight against either al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen or al-Shabaab in Somalia – an ominous indicator for a war against the far more capable and financially flush Isis." Spencer Ackerman in The Guardian.
Explainer: How Congress has changed since the last war authorization vote, way back in 2001. Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.
Will Congress give Obama the $5B blank check he wants? "For the last four months his administration has stifled calls from inside and outside the government for the White House to specify exactly what the money is for. The White House’s lack of urgency led to some to believe they weren’t actually invested in seeing the fund become a reality, but just wanted to create the appearance of doing something....Now, looking for a quick way to pay for what the White House is promising will be a long struggle against ISIS, the fund is back in vogue both inside the administration and on Capitol Hill. Similar to the overall plan to defeat ISIS, details of the fund remain scarce, yet the process is moving forward due of a mix of fear and confusion." Josh Rogin and Tim Mak in The Daily Beast.
The public may be war-weary, but wants to do something. "This was not a moment in which Obama’s principal task was to rally a reluctant country....Fresh public opinion polls this week showed both universal public alarm over the threat posed by the militants and a sharp spike in support for precisely what the president outlined....But if the public had reached a conclusion that military action is needed, those same polls also revealed the depth of the doubts many Americans have about the commander in chief and his leadership....The president’s to-do list Wednesday night no doubt included putting those doubts to rest as much as possible." Dan Balz in The Washington Post.
Poll: But Americans still don't view terrorism as the biggest problem facing the U.S. Rebecca Riffkin in Gallup.
U.S. reviewing how foreign air passengers are screened for terror ties. "Concerned about a potential terrorist attack, U.S. authorities are reviewing systems used to screen airplane passengers with Western passports before they board flights to the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday....Under current rules, passengers from so-called visa waiver countries must complete an information form 72 hours before they depart. But not all the forms are checked for accuracy and some security officials would like more details collected before a flight. Johnson said his department has enhanced aviation security overseas in the last three months after evidence suggested militant groups based in Syria and Iraq could target U.S.-bound aircraft." Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times.
The groundwork for Obama's post-9/11 national security policy. The Washington Post.
9/11 observances to be mostly private. Greg Toppo in USA Today.
ORNSTEIN: 13 years later, bring presidential succession act up to speed. "The United States has gone for 13 years without another devastating terrorist attack. But as the rise of the Islamic State underscores, the threat has not disappeared....While the United States has taken many steps to stay one step ahead of terrorists, there is one area in which multiple efforts to protect us have been sidestepped, ignored or abandoned. That area is in continuity of government — ensuring that our fundamental institutions, including Congress, the presidency and the judiciary, are able to immediately reconstitute themselves if shattered by a terrorist attack." Norm Ornstein in The Washington Post.
SCHATZ : To beat the Islamic State, follow the money. "ISIL now possesses the financial means to support a long-term fight....At the same time, ISIL’s preferred fundraising methods and many financial commitments create vulnerabilities. The organization was badly damaged by late 2009...and it can be badly damaged again. But without the establishment of a widely accepted, legitimate political order in Iraq, ISIL cannot be eradicated — and will continue to seek out and mete out cash. ISIL raises most of its money domestically in Iraq and Syria. Its income streams include oil smuggled to other countries in the region, extortion, taxes — especially on non-Muslim minorities — and other essentially criminal activities." Howard J. Schatz in Politico Magazine.
PIERRET and HOKAYEM: Forget about working with Assad. "Realism, former ministers, ambassadors, generals and wonks say, dictates that the West hold its nose and engage Assad. The problem is that — setting aside the morality of working with a man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians — Assad remains the worst possible partner in the fight against the Islamic State (also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS). The gains of such tactical cooperation are massively outweighed by its strategic downsides and political costs. The truth is that Assad doesn’t have much to offer." Thomas Pierret and Emile Hokayem in Politico Magazine.
DICKERSON: 2016 hopefuls may take the wrong message from the war. "The public mood has switched quickly in favor of military action....In the latest Washington Post poll, the president hit a new low on the question of leadership....The signals to show strength in order to survive politically are coming in much stronger than the signals to evaluate foreign policy action based on the merits, an evaluation of national interest and prudence. If the public thinks the unpopular president is too contemplative and cautious, you must do the other thing. Or at least you must sound like you are, through pledges of action and boasts of resolve, all of which reaffirm the underlying move toward displays of strength." John Dickerson in Slate.
FRUM: Don't ally with Iran. "The trouble with the policy of aid-Iran-but-don’t-admit-it is that the United States receives nothing in return — and specifically, no abatement of the Iranian nuclear program. The Obama administration may hope that by acting as Iran’s air force today, the United States may somehow gain Iranian goodwill tomorrow. Instead, the bizarre real-world effect of the administration's deny-the-obvious messaging is to empower the Iranians to act as if they were doing the United States a favor by allowing the United States to whomp their enemies for them." David Frum in The Atlantic.
BLOW: The cost of war. "We are doing this at a time when many of our roads and bridges are crumbling beneath us....The Department of Agriculture released a report this month saying that the percentage of Americans who are 'food insecure'...has remained relatively unchanged (14.3 percent) since the numbers spiked during the recession in 2008....We are still arguing about the cost of the Affordable Care Act and Republicans are still wasting time and money trying to repeal it. We, as Americans, must think long and hard about what it will really mean for us to engage in another foreign war and weigh that against the urgent needs we have right here at home." Charles M. Blow in The New York Times.
DIONNE: The new politics of foreign policy. "The emergence of the Islamic State and its barbaric beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff have shaken public opinion again. It is, of course, possible that the public’s guardedly increased hawkishness is another short-term reaction to an enraging news event. But there is a strong case that, after all the gyrations in policy and popular attitudes, we are on the verge of a new politics of foreign policy based on a steadier, more sober and more realistic view of our country’s role in the world and of what it takes to keep the nation safe." E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post.
KEAN AND HAMILTON: A cyberthreat grows amid shades of 9/11. "We are at war in the digital world. And yet, because this war lacks attention-grabbing explosions and body bags, the American people remain largely unaware of the danger. That needs to change. Only public attention can create the political momentum for needed reform. There are a number of cyber-related legislative initiatives pending in Congress....Given the dimension of the problem, however, a larger-scale effort is needed to elevate public awareness and get out in front of this rapidly changing threat. Simply put, the country needs a national cyber strategy, covering all aspects of the problem." Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in The Wall Street Journal.
GALSTON: What the new fight means for 2016. "ISIS’ beheading of two Americans has moved Republican sentiment back toward its longstanding hawkishness, boosting the prospects of neo-Reaganites such as Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and complicating Sen. Paul’s path. As for the Democrats, there was restive grumbling among liberals as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became more open about her disagreements with Mr. Obama’s foreign policy, notably on Syria. But now, as the president toughens his stance in the Middle East, the breach is narrowing....She will be able to run as the heir of a foreign policy that has moved sharply in her direction, and as the leader of a party whose major factions are in alignment." William A. Galston in Brookings.
AARON, CUTLER AND ORSZAG: Stop the anti-Obamacare shenanigans. "The record is unambiguous: Congress, in 2010, understood and endorsed the links connecting the sale of insurance, the requirement to carry insurance and the financial aid to make it affordable. Opponents who lost in the democratic process are now seeking to vitiate the law through a perverse reading of it. If the full District of Columbia Circuit takes up the case, it should reject this sophistry. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court should wait to see what the lower courts do before deciding whether to intervene. Whatever one thinks of the Affordable Care Act, it is absurd to argue that its drafters intended to make insurance unaffordable." Henry J. Aaron, David M. Cutler and Peter R. Orszag in The New York Times.
BENNETT: The conservative case for Common Core. "Critics accused President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan of dangling federal money to encourage states to adopt the Common Core. The administration never should have done this. It made a voluntary agreement among states look like a top-down directive from the federal government. But remember: The original Common Core standards were separate from the federal government, and they can be separated once again. Conservatives have reason to be upset by this federal overreach....But the federal intrusion into Common Core, however unwelcome and unhelpful, does not change a basic truth: Common, voluntary standards are a good, conservative policy." William J. Bennett in The Wall Street Journal.
PORTER: A simple equation — more education, more income. "Imagine if the United States government taxed the nation’s one-percenters so that their post-tax share of the nation’s income remained at 10 percent....If the excess money were distributed equally among the rest of the population, in 2012 every family below that very top tier would have gotten a $7,105 check....But it pales compared to the gap between the wages of a family of two college graduates and a family of high school graduates. Between 1979 and 2012, that gap grew by some $30,000, after inflation. This clever calculation by Lawrence Katz, a labor economist from Harvard, amounts to a powerful counterargument to anybody who doubts the importance of education in the battle against the nation’s entrenched inequality. But in the American education system, inequality is winning, gumming up the mobility that broad-based prosperity requires." Eduardo Porter in The New York Times.
SUTHERLAND: Anti-immigrant sentiment stems from misinformation. "On both sides of the Atlantic, anti-immigrant politics are undermining democracies and damaging lives. Far-right nationalist parties are gaining traction in Europe, while millions of undocumented migrants suffer in the shadows. In the United States, President Barack Obama, concerned about his party’s ability to retain control of the Senate, has decided to put off immigration reform until after the election in November. Yet that may be the wrong approach." Peter Sutherland in Project Syndicate.
CASTRONOVA AND FAIRFIELD: The digital wallet revolution. "The really exciting part is the fast-emerging future that it points toward, in which virtual assets of all sorts — traditional currencies, but also Bitcoin, airline miles, cellphone minutes — are interchangeable, opening up enormous purchasing power for consumers and creating tough challenges for governments around the world. Moving toward a digital wallet for dollars (or yen, or euros) is only a marginal step forward; throughout history, money’s value has been largely virtual anyway....The real change is how the digital wallet technology facilitates the parallel emergence of virtual purchasing power, like loyalty points." Edward Castronova and Joshua A.T. Fairfield in The New York Times.
Wacky sports interlude: Not pool, not bowling, but pool bowling.
2. It's time to lift our outdated ban on oil exports
Oil exports would boost economy, lower gas prices: Brookings-NERA study. "Eliminating or ending some of the restrictions in the near-ban of crude oil exports could yield an economic infusion of between $600 billion and $1.8 trillion, the joint...study said. Removing the export ban also would reduce gasoline prices by 9 cents per gallon in 2015, largely by encouraging more oil and gas production, the study found....The export restrictions were established following the 1973 oil crisis and currently allow just a trickle of unprocessed crude to be shipped overseas. Lawmakers and Obama administration officials...have called for a re-look, given a gusher of new domestic supplies." Zack Colman in the Washington Examiner.
Summers makes case for ending crude-export ban. "Summers...made his case for ending the oil export ban during a speech at the Brookings Institution. For nearly an hour, he outlined a host of benefits to selling U.S. oil overseas, describing broad geopolitical gains around the world as well as economic growth and the prospect of more drilling at home....One of those gains, Summers said, would be gasoline prices that would be driven lower as an influx of U.S. oil on the world market sends international crude costs downward. Even in the U.S., where oil sells at a discount, gasoline prices closely track the higher cost of Brent crude." Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.
Refiners, producers battling over exports. "The battle between oil producers and refiners over exporting U.S. crude is heating up. It started when four refiners blasted the government’s decision to green light some exports of minimally processed condensate, suggesting the private rulings ran afoul of the 1975 law that bars most U.S. crude from being sold overseas. United as Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy, the refiners...asked the Commerce Department to effectively overrule the previous orders on the exportability of that ultra-light oil and send a warning to other companies that no more would be in the offing. On Monday, an association of oil producers fought back." Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.
GOP cool to oil exports so far. "The studies showing that lifting the 39-year-old restrictions would benefit the economy are piling up, and the political will to kill the export barriers is growing....But lifting the ban is a minefield for some Republicans who don't necessarily want to go home and tell their constituents they want to send new bounties of domestic oil abroad after years of warning them about the dangers of being tethered to supplies from unfriendly nations — not to mention the potential ramifications of gasoline-pump politicking." Zack Colman in the Washington Examiner.
LNG exports get boost from DOE. "Wednesday’s action came in the form of the Department of Energy finalizing Cameron LNG’s existing conditional license to export up to 1.7 billion billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to Taiwan, Japan and other countries that do not have free-trade agreements with the United States....Separately Wednesday, the Energy Department gave a final export license to Carib Energy LLC....The two projects now are part of an elite club, joining only one other would-be LNG exporter in the continental United States to be fully authorized." Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.
How LNG exports could change gas market. "Before the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine dominated the headlines in recent months and shook up forecasts for the European natural gas market, the motive for U.S. exports of natural gas fracked from shale formations such as in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas was clear: the high price of LNG in Asia....But in the past six months, spot prices in Asia dropped dramatically to about $10, underscoring the uncertainty and complexity of the global gas market. Before committing billions of dollars to U.S. export projects conditionally approved by the Energy Department, companies have several years ahead to watch the global market and geopolitical complexities that will come into play." Randy Leonard in Roll Call.
Other environmental/energy reads:
U.S., EU ready new sanctions to stop oil exploration in Russia. Timothy Gardner in the Reuters.
Fossil fuels stir debate at endowments. Dan Fitzpatrick in The Wall Street Journal.
Climate change accelerating death of Western forests. Trevor Hughes in USA Today.
Scientists say the ozone layer is recovering. Seth Borenstein in the Associated Press.
Japanese plant declared to be safe to operate for first time since Fukushima disaster. Martin Fackler in The New York Times.
Adorable interlude: Toddler and Basset hound have spirited outdoor dance party.
3. You're paying a lot more for your employer health plan -- blame your employer
Yes, you are paying a lot more for your employer health plan than you used to. "It's not your imagination. If you have employer health insurance, you're probably paying more and more out of your own pocket. High-deductible plans have been under the microscope during the past year, given their prevalence among new individual coverage plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. But it's also a trend that's also playing out under employer-sponsored health plans covering about 150 million people, as illustrated by the annual survey on employee health benefits from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust." Jason Millman in The Washington Post.
Well, in some ways, maybe you aren't. "Employer-based health care — the system that serves about half of all Americans — is seeing modest premium increases, but employers are passing more and more costs on to their workers. The average premium for employer-based coverage rose by 3 percent this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation....That's slightly more than the average increase in wages, but still a pretty nominal increase. Premiums have grown significantly slower over the past five years than they did in the preceding five years, and a 3 percent increase is a big improvement over the double-digit hikes employers saw in the late 1990s, Kaiser said in its report." Sam Baker in National Journal.
Charts: Health insurance premiums are eating American workers' raises. Sarah Kliff in Vox.
The get-more, pay-less era of health care? "While we were covering less people, we kept spending more on health care. National health spending, over that time period, rose from 12 percent of the economy in 1990 to 17.2 percent in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, health-care spending rose from $1.1 trillion to $2.8 trillion over those 22 years. That's been the typical story of American health care: a lousy deal where we get less and spend more. But there's a growing body of evidence that this trend is changing; that we're starting to get a shockingly better deal in a way that has giant consequences for how America spends money. Call it the 'get more, pay less' era." Sarah Kliff in Vox.
Utah may be the latest GOP-governed state to expand Medicaid in unconventional way. "The Obama administration has agreed in concept to Utah’s novel alternative to expanding Medicaid, including the notion that able-bodied people who get insurance subsidies should accept the state’s help with finding work, Gov. Gary Herbert said late Tuesday....HHS did not agree that insurance subsidies would be contingent on recipients holding a job or looking for work, but the agency did agree that employment can be a goal of Utah’s program, Healthy Utah." Kristen Moulton in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Other health care reads:
New discord brews on over-the-counter contraceptives. Thomas M. Burton and Natalie Andrews in The Wall Street Journal.
States brace for enterovirus sickening Midwest. Jessica Durando in USA Today.
U.S. prepares worker surge to aid Ebola effort in Africa. Alex Wayne in Bloomberg.
Stabbing with syringe raises concern about Ebola as bioterror weapon. Andrew Pollack in The New York Times.
New drug for obesity gains approval by FDA. Is the third drug the charm? Andrew Pollack in The New York Times.
Inspector general says VA officials lied. Richard A. Oppel Jr. in The New York Times.
Musical performance interlude: A vintage '50s doo-wop cover of "Problem" by Ariana Grande.
4. The record-setting pressure the FCC faces on net neutrality
Google's studied silence on net neutrality has finally broken. "After a long silence, one of the Internet's biggest companies has finally weighed in on the latest net neutrality debate. On Wednesday, Google said it would oppose efforts by large Internet providers to speed up, slow down or manipulate Internet traffic that their customers request. Although Google has recently spoken out on net neutrality through industry groups and think tanks, this marks the first time since 2010 that Google has staked out an explicit position of its own on the policy." Brian Fung in The Washington Post.
Explainer: How Wednesday's Internet "slowdown" by key websites was supposed to work. Nancy Scola in The Washington Post.
FCC could apply rules to cellphone data. "Cellular operators like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have thus far been largely exempted from rules meant to ensure that consumers' Internet traffic isn't slowed, blocked or manipulated, though the carriers are subject to a no-blocking rule as well as a transparency rule. But as part of an ongoing FCC effort to draw up new rules for broadband providers, chairman Tom Wheeler has asked whether that policy should be revised....Data speeds have gotten faster, allowing for new capabilities and applications. In some circumstances, wireless data now offers an alternative to fixed broadband. That has federal regulators wondering whether the wireless industry still deserves special treatment." Brian Fung in The Washington Post.
Move over, Janet Jackson. There's a new record holder in town. "The net neutrality debate has generated a record 1,477,301 public comments to the Federal Communications Commission, the agency said Wednesday, surpassing the 1.4 million complaints sparked by Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler went back to the drawing board on net neutrality after a federal court tossed the agency’s previous set of rules for ensuring all Web traffic is treated equally. But Wheeler’s new proposal has sparked controversy." Brooks Boliek in Politico.
Meanwhile, cities are asking the FCC to fight restrictions on municipal broadband networks. "Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., are among a number of cities and towns that provide their own municipal broadband networks. About 20 states, depending on whom you ask, have laws that restrict them in some fashion. This summer, in what could eventually be a landmark action, Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board, which runs its network, and the government of Wilson petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to preempt state laws they say prevent them from geographically expanding their broadband offerings. The legal debate has focused on whether the FCC has authority to preempt these state laws." Anne L. Kim in Roll Call.
Other tech reads:
How "a la carte" TV legislation died in the Senate, at least for now. Brendan Sasso in National Journal.
U.S. grid safe from large-scale attacks, experts say. David Perera in Politico.
Young whippersnappers interlude: Today's teens react to Nintendo.
5. An aging society faces new social, financial problems
Student debt: Not just a young-people problem anymore. "The percentage of households headed by someone 65 to 74 years old with student debt increased to 4 percent in 2010 from 1 percent in 2004, according to a study...by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO also found that in 2005, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group was about $2.8 billion; by last year, it had climbed to more than $18 billion....While student debt is not the prevailing type of debt among senior citizens — most common are mortgages and credit cards — about 706,000 households headed by someone 65 or older carry debt from their education. That’s 3 percent of households headed by someone in that age group." Samantha Ehlinger in McClatchy Newspapers.
Chart: 155,000 Americans had Social Security benefits cut because of student debt in 2013. Josh Mitchell in The Wall Street Journal.
Financial schemes against the elderly increasing. "And trusted caregivers...are often the ones at fault, according to legal and financial specialists. The over-65 segment is expected to grow to 20 percent of the total United States population by 2050 from 13 percent today, according to the Census Bureau, and financial abuse is expected to rise in tandem, draining hard-won retirement money....Older adults are appealing — and vulnerable — targets....They are also usually debt-free and own their homes. As dementia and Alzheimer’s rates climb, the elderly may also be increasingly incapable of protecting themselves from fraud." Constance Gustke in The New York Times.
Related: More retirees still have mortgage debt to pay down. Victoria Stilwell in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Prisons face aging populations. "A new Urban Institute report adds one more institution to the list of those being affected by this dramatic demographic shift: our prisons, where older and older inmates are taking their own toll on the nation's already-overextended corrections budget. Right now, prisoners over 50 make up about 18 percent of the total U.S. prison population. That may seem like a small share, but the costs of caring for these inmates are much larger than for their younger counterparts — and their numbers are only expected to balloon, says Bryce Peterson, a research associate at the Urban Institute and one of the report's authors." Tanvi Misra in The Atlantic CityLab.
Early Halloween interlude: Dog wearing spider costume scares people.
The labor cost of "sharing economy" convenience. Lydia DePillis.
Study: Politicians can change hearts and minds simply by stating their views. Christopher Ingraham.
Teacher tenure has little to do with student achievement, economist says. Max Ehrenfreund.
Yes, you are paying a lot more for your employer health plan than you used to. Jason Millman.
For women, the consequences of domestic violence can last a lifetime. Roberto A. Ferdman.
CEO of Royal Dutch Shell: Climate change discussion "has gone into la-la land." Steven Mufson.
Long read: Before Ferguson, there was Albuquerque. Kevin Johnson in USA Today.
Long-term unemployed still at record levels. Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. science suffers from booms and busts in funding. Richard Harris and Robert Benincasa in NPR.
Gay-rights group, after recent victories, turns attention to a new frontier: the South. Sandhya Somashekhar in The Washington Post.
Same-sex marriage suits set for early look by SCOTUS. Lyle Denniston in SCOTUSblog.
Tea party, lesson learned, plays nice this time. Erica Werner in the Associated Press.
S&P warns of downside to corporate tax inversions: lower credit ratings. Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times.
Texas textbooks tout Christian heritage. Stephanie Simon in Politico.
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