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HUFFPOST HILL - Obama Lets Americans Cling To Their Insurance Plans

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The House voted to repeal Obamacare for the 50th time today, so someone cue the C-SPAN "the measure is adopted" montage set to Green Day's "Time of your Life." Congress designated a new wilderness area for the first time in five years, which presumably means there's no shale gas under it. And the CIA may have spied on Senate staffers' computers. Why intelligence officials would want to know about "Patton Boggs jobs" and "frozen burrito calories" Google search queries is beyond us. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 5th, 2014:

WHITE HOUSE EXTENDS NONCOMPLIANT INSURANCE PLANS FOR TWO YEARS - If you like your plan, you can keep it for 24 more months. Journal: "The Obama administration announced Wednesday that consumers can keep insurance plans that don't comply with the federal health law for another two years, pushing a potential firestorm over cancellations until after midterm elections. Previously, some consumers could keep insurance plans that didn't comply with the 2010 Affordable Care Act until roughly the end of this year, as long as their state regulators and insurance company allowed it. Now, consumers will have up to an additional two years to do so, putting their plans in place until roughly 2016...The administration also offered big companies what officials described as a simpler process for demonstrating that they provide health benefits, to avoid paying a tax penalty. Senior administration officials characterized the changes as a practical response to concerns raised by consumers and businesses, including giving people who had plans set for termination more time to make new arrangements." [WSJ]

Watch a Russia Today anchor quit on-air over the Kremlin-backed network's phony Ukraine coverage.

HOUSE VOTES TO DEFUND OBAMACARE FOR 50TH TIME - They say that the 50th anti-Obamacare vote is the new 40th anti-Obamacare vote. Reuters: "The Republican-led House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to delay for one year the tax penalty Americans will pay under President Barack Obama's healthcare law if they decline to enroll in health coverage for this year. The measure passed by a vote of 250-160, with 27 Democrats joining with 223 Republicans to back the legislation. But the bill is expected to go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate and would face a White House veto even if it succeeded. The vote, part of a Republican election-year attack strategy against the 2010 healthcare law known as Obamacare, marked the 50th time House Republicans had passed legislation to try to repeal or dismantle it. Supporters of the bill cast the new legislation as an issue of fairness, arguing that individual consumers should be granted a delay on the penalty because the Obama administration had postponed the implementation of some Obamacare provisions that apply to businesses. Analysts say an individual mandate delay would undermine the law's aim of extending health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans by destabilizing new private insurance marketplaces established on the expectation the penalty would encourage people to enroll in coverage." [Reuters]

The state with the highest minimum wage is outpacing the broader U.S. in job creation.

DC MAYORAL CANDIDATE TOMMY WELLS VISITS HUFFPOST - The Ward 6 councilman, who is running in the Democratic primary to unseat Mayor Vincent Gray (whose disembodied head is seen here floating around to a pan flute rendition of "Poker Face"), stopped by the office today. Gray is running with about 20 percent support, with Wells and several others tied for second with roughly 12 percent apiece. Wells tells us he won't drop out and endorse one of his rivals, fellow councilmembers Muriel Bowser or Jack Evans, to unseat Gray. "I don't even know where my votes would go," Wells said, adding that he is the "only progressive Democrat" running right now. Wells also didn't commit to endorsing the eventual Democratic nominee if he loses, suggesting a possible endorsement for Independent Councilman David Catania, who is mulling a run in the general election. We'll have a more substantive rundown of our talk tomorrow.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - HuffPost blogger Donna Sprague: "I have been unemployed since August, 2013. My unemployment benefits ended last month and they'll end for good unless the boys on the Hill come to their senses and approve an extension…. I am now in a pickle, as my car got repossessed in November. (The car loan company refused to wait one more day, no, 12 hours, for a payment to post.) I must now take a bus to get to interviews, and yes, I have had to cancel a few, as the facilities are not on the bus line. There would be no point in taking the interview and not being capable of getting to work if I did get the position…. We are at a loss as to what we will do now that the unemployment has just run out. We live month to month, and our landlord says if the rent is not paid by the 10th of the month, you are evicted. We really do not want to become homeless, but if something doesn't give, that is where we will end up, without even a vehicle to sleep in. In Ohio, in winter." [HuffPost]

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SENATE BLOCKS LAWYER FOR BEING LAWYER - Don't get us wrong, we want to see the world's lawyers herded together and tossed into a volcano just as much as the next person, but this is still ridiculous. Ryan Reilly and Jen Bendery: "The Senate on Wednesday blocked the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, the former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Seven Democrats sided with all the Republicans in voting against the procedural motion to advance Adegbile’s nomination. The Democrats voting no were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), John Walsh (Mont.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Bob Casey (Pa.) and Chris Coons (Del.). Democrats needed 51 votes to advance Adegbile: The final vote was 47-52. Vice President Joe Biden came to the Capitol for the vote in case of a tie, but the Senate never got that close. Before the vote, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attacked their Republican colleagues for opposing Adegbile over his past representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted 30 years ago of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. As legal counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Adegbile helped Abu-Jamal get his death sentence overturned." [HuffPost]

ELIJAH CUMMINGS WILL HAVE SATISFACTION, GODDAMMIT - Sam Stein and Mike McAuliffe: "A congressional hearing into the furor over political targeting by the Internal Revenue Service descended into political theater of the absurd Wednesday, as the former IRS official at the heart of the case again asserted her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer questions. Lois Lerner, the former director of Tax-Exempt Organizations for the IRS, led the division that oversaw the staffers responsible for making sure that so-called social welfare groups were not going out of bounds with their political activities...after she invoked her right to not incriminate herself several times on Wednesday, Issa summarily gaveled the hearing to close, sparking an angry outburst from the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Cummings was incensed that after Issa asked a series of apparently damning questions, Cummings and his fellow Democrats were not allowed to respond, even to ask a procedural question. 'We're adjourned. Close it down,' Issa said. 'I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America. I am tired of this!' Cummings fumed, with his mic turned off. 'You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is something absolutely wrong with that. It is absolutely un-American.'" [HuffPost]

CONGRESS DESIGNATES FIRST WILDERNESS AREA IN FIVE YEARS - Kate Sheppard: "Congress has finally broken its lengthy dry spell on granting wilderness protection to designated areas of the country. On Tuesday, the House approved protections for 32,500 acres of Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, along the coast of Lake Michigan. The measure had passed in the Senate last June, which means it will now go to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. Before this week, Congress had not designated a new wilderness area since 2009. The House and Senate have each passed a few protections, but the Michigan lakeshore is the first to be approved in both chambers in five years -- a record length of time between designations. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and conservation groups were growing nervous about the prospects for wilderness protection in this Congress. The 112th Congress (2011-2012) was the first since the law passed to fail to name any new wilderness area. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) sponsored the House bill, and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) sponsored the Senate bill." [HuffPost]

THE CIA MAY HAVE SPIED ON SENATE COMPUTERS - It's been a really rough couple of years for America's schizophrenics. McClatchy: "The CIA Inspector General’s Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of malfeasance at the spy agency in connection with a yet-to-be released Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program, McClatchy has learned. The criminal referral may be related to what several knowledgeable people said was CIA monitoring of computers used by Senate aides to prepare the study. The monitoring may have violated an agreement between the committee and the agency. The development marks an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its congressional overseers amid an extraordinary closed-door battle over the 6,300-page report on the agency’s use of waterboarding and harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas prisons. The report is said to be a searing indictment of the program. The CIA has disputed some of the reports findings. White House officials have closely tracked the bitter struggle, a McClatchy investigation has found. But they haven’t directly intervened, perhaps because they are embroiled in their own feud with the committee, resisting surrendering top-secret documents that the CIA asserted were covered by executive privilege and sent to the White House." [McClatchy]

REPUBLICAN VOTERS OPPOSE ARIZONA'S DEFEATED ANTI-GAY LAW - We thought that the only way a majority of Republicans would ever oppose an anti-gay bill was if it also eminent domained Ronald Reagan's presidential library and replaced it with an EPA field office. WaPo: "A new poll shows the vast majority of Americans -- including a strong majority of Republicans -- oppose the idea of businesses denying service to gays and lesbians. The Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 28 percent say businesses should be allowed to deny service to gays if they believe it violates their own religious beliefs, while 69 percent disagree. Republicans oppose the idea by a 56-39 margin, while Democrats oppose it 79-19. The only groups that support the concept of denying service on religious grounds are self-described 'very conservative' voters (52 percent who support that) right) and white, evangelical Christians -- and even they are pretty split. Half (50 percent) say businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gays on religious grounds, while 44 percent say they should not. Among both white non-evangelical Protestants and white Catholics, support for refusing service to gays drops below 30 percent." [WaPo]

Steve Stockman claims he "tried" to win that primary against John Cornyn. We'll miss you, Steve.

Lyndon LaRouche, still bugging people on college campuses: "Kesha Rogers, a political activist who wants to impeach President Barack Obama, is still in the running to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Texas, after no candidate secured a majority of the votes in Tuesday's primary election. Rogers, who garnered 21.7 percent, will face Dallas dentist David Alameel, who received 47.1 percent, in a runoff on May 27...Even if she wins, Rogers will get no support from the Texas Democratic Party. She is a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, who heads a fringe political movement that has beencompared to a cult. His supporters are often seen carrying signs depicting Obama with a Hitler mustache. One of Rogers' own campaign posters features that image, and reads, 'Down with the Traitor! Impeach!'" [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a 95-year-old World War Two vet cheering on runners.

TODAY IN 'LOBBYISTS WITH CREEPY INTERNATIONAL TIES' - Politico: "Today, Paul Manafort is more like The Invisible Man — a worldly political pro whose latest adventure, whispering in the ear of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, has handed him a supporting role in a bona fide international crisis. Over three decades in Washington, Manafort built a storied career as a Beltway man of mystery: a famously discreet operative who... built not one but two white-shoe D.C. lobbying shops, a pair of firms that bore Manafort’s name and catered to an eclectic stable of clients including anti-communist Angolan rebels and Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator of the Philippines. Then, Manafort all but vanished from the Washington scene...On Monday, as Russian gunships menaced the Ukrainian fleet in the Black Sea, Manafort’s former business partner Roger Stone sent out an email to a small group of friends asking wryly: 'Where is Paul Manafort?' A multiple-choice list of options followed, including: 'Was seen chauffeuring Yanukovych around Moscow,' and 'Was seen loading gold bullion on an Army Transport plane from a remote airstrip outside Kiev and taking off seconds before a mob arrived at the site.'...Manafort’s current location and involvement in Ukraine, not surprisingly, are a mystery. He did not respond to messages sent to half a dozen email accounts or answer calls to nearly as many phone numbers at addresses in Virginia and South Florida." [Politico]

COMFORT FOOD

- From Grantland, the dramatization of a perfect round of putt-putt golf. [http://bit.ly/NUrjcW]

- The way we live now: Here's a Tumblr dedicated to great places to cry in New York City. [http://bit.ly/1c9g6AA]

- Homeless man given winning lottery ticket. Things get real. [http://bit.ly/1dofBB9]

- Behold the longest aircraft in the world. [http://bbc.in/NCwYEB]

- Don't throw recorders into your Miley Cyrus remix. Just don't. [http://bit.ly/1gacmj9]

- On that note, don't make a remix entirely out of Jeff Goldblum's weird laugh from "Jurassic Park." [http://bit.ly/1jRSRew]

- The hipster music index, as represented by a graph. [http://bit.ly/MNmUb9]

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel: Read my essay at Thought Catalog about how progressives can primary Hillary on a Free Mumia platform.

@bazecraze: I feel like every office has 3 people who do all the work and 15 people who just walk around with salads.

@AdamSerwer: At least metro can't be used for New Jersey style political retribution because slowing it to a halt would be redundant

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