A day after Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, issued an injunction preventing the Obama administration from implementing its plan to delay deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, the status of U.S. immigration policy is as confused and uncertain as ever. A few ideas about what might come next are in the links below.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Policymakers respond to immigration ruling 2) Opinions, including Wolf on the dollar 3) A surprising poll on gay marriage, and more
Number of the day: 11.4 million. That's how many people signed up for health insurance plans under Obamacare this year, according to the White House. The number will likely decline as the year progresses, as people leave their policies. Jason Millman in The Washington Post.
An appeal could take months. "President Barack Obama's administration faces a difficult and possibly lengthy legal battle to overturn a Texas court ruling that blocked his landmark immigration overhaul, since the judge based his decision on an obscure and unsettled area of administrative law, lawyers said. ... There was no consensus among lawyers with expertise in administrative law and immigration law on whether Hanen would be reversed on appeal. But they said the judge was wise to focus on an area of administrative law where legal precedent is sometimes fuzzy." David Ingram and Mica Rosenberg for Reuters.
Primary source: The opinion.
It doesn't look as though the opinion will resolve the debate in Congress over funding Homeland Security, as some had hoped. "Don’t count on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to play dealmaker in the fight over Department of Homeland Security funding. The Kentucky Republican is under intense pressure from conservatives to hold the line against President Obama’s immigration actions, and he shows no signs of backing down. ... McConnell could have seized on the injunction to push conservatives toward funding the DHS while the court fight plays out. The fact that he didn’t, Senate Democrats say, is a sign that McConnell won’t be coming to the negotiating table." Alexander Bolton in The Hill.
Much of Obama's agenda is now in the hands of the courts. "Along with the immigration action, the fate of two of Obama’s other signature initiatives — a landmark health-care law and a series of aggressive executive actions on climate change — now rests in the hands of federal judges. It is a daunting prospect for a president in the final two years of his tenure who believes he is on the path to leaving a lasting impact on intractable and politically perilous issues, despite an often bitter relationship with Congress." David Nakamura and Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.
Here's what you need to know to understand the injunction. The Washington Post.
SUNSTEIN: The judge went too far. "In adopting a plan to allow unlawful immigrants to apply for 'deferred action,' Judge Andrew S. Hanen said, the Department of Homeland Security acted unlawfully because it did not allow the public to comment in advance. With this conclusion, Hanen almost certainly overreached. The law here is based on the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which governs many activities of executive agencies. The APA does indeed require Homeland Security to seek public comment on any 'proposed rulemaking' -- except it does not have to do so when announces 'general statements of policy.' " Bloomberg View.
Obama might have acted beyond his authority, but Hanen's opinion is poorly reasoned. "To think, as we do, that President Obama overstepped his authority by shielding more than 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation, with no assent from Congress, does not mean that a federal judge should have license to invalidate the president’s order on the basis of tendentious logic.Judge Hanen agreed with the states that their lawsuit cleared minimum procedural requirements and could go forward. He had to stretch so far to reach even that modest conclusion that we hope an appeals court will lift his stay while the case proceeds," argues the editorial board of The Washington Post.
WOLF: The Federal Reserve is too optimistic about the U.S. and global economies. The rise in the dollar "will impose strong deflationary pressure and weaken demand for US output, making it harder to tighten policy than the Federal Reserve imagines." The Financial Times.
YGLESIAS: Someone needs to challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. "Everyone — in many ways including Clinton herself — would be better off if a serious candidate such as Warren, Joe Biden, or someone else managed to enter the race with enough backing and plausibility to force Clinton into a real campaign. That would mean real debates, real media strategy, real policy rollouts, and all the other accompaniments of a presidential nominating congress. Anything less leaves her dangerously unprepared as she heads into the ultimate contest with a Republican who will have emerged battle-tested from an unusually deep field of plausible contenders." Vox.
Freeing the mentally ill from asylums has left them worse off, argues Christine Montross, a psychiatrist. "The goals of maximizing personal autonomy and civil liberties for the mentally ill are admirable. But as a result, my patients with chronic psychotic illnesses cycle between emergency hospitalizations and inadequate outpatient care. They are treated by community mental health centers whose overburdened psychiatrists may see even the sickest patients for only 20 minutes every three months. Many patients struggle with homelessness. Many are incarcerated." The New York Times.
Chart of the day: Federal prosecutors are charging fewer defendants with trafficking drugs. Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post.
Yes, hospitals do respond to incentives in the Medicare system, sometimes ignoring patients' health. "Under Medicare rules, long-term acute-care hospitals... typically receive smaller payments for what is considered a short stay, until a patient hits a threshold. After that threshold, payment jumps to a lump sum meant to cover the full course of long-term treatment. That leaves a narrow window of maximum profitability... A Wall Street Journal analysis found that many long-term-hospital companies discharge a disproportionate share of patients during that window when hospitals stand to make the most, a sign that financial incentives in the Medicare system may shape patient care. Long-term-hospital executives sometimes pursued that goal for financial reasons rather than medical ones, say doctors, nurses and former long-term-hospital employees interviewed by the Journal." Christopher Weaver, Anna Wilde Mathews and Tom McGinty in The Wall Street Journal.
Jeb Bush will deliver a speech on foreign policy Wednesday. "The former Florida governor is casting a wide net for advice on national security. An aide provided to Reuters a diverse list of 20 diplomatic and national security veterans who will be providing informal advice to Bush in the coming months. Many of them are from past Republican administrations, including those of his father and brother, former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as that of Ronald Reagan. The list includes people representing a wide spectrum of ideological views in the Republican Party, from the pragmatic to the hawkish. It includes James Baker, known for his pragmatism in key roles during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies, and former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, a hawk as deputy defense secretary who was an architect of George W. Bush's Iraq policy." Steve Holland for Reuters.
Paul is getting ready to announce a campaign for the presidency. "Senator Rand Paul is eyeing April 7 as the day he will announce his plans to run for president, people close to him said, a step that would position him ahead of his potential Republican rivals as a declared candidate and allow him to begin raising money directly for his campaign 10 months before the Iowa caucuses. ... Only his family’s doubts could change his mind at this point, said associates of the senator, who insisted on anonymity because Mr. Paul’s plans had not yet taken final shape." Jeremy W. Peters in The New York Times.
Opposition to gay marriage could actually hurt G.O.P. candidates in the primary election. "The polls, in fact, show that about half of likely GOP caucus and primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina said they find opposition to gay marriage either "mostly" or "totally" unacceptable in a candidate." Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.
Oregon's new governor will be sworn in Wednesday, after an ethics scandal. "Secretary of State Kate Brown will assume the governorship Wednesday with a daunting to-do list aimed at restoring faith in state government -- and in putting herself in position to run for office in her own right next year." Jeff Mapes in The Oregonian.