It's April Fools' Day in the Year of our Lord two-thousand and fourteen and people are still getting rickrolled. Paul Ryan reprised his 2011 classic, "The Path to Prosperity," but the GPS for the "Roadmap for America's Future" is apparently out of date. And Senate Democrats might cave on the $10.10 minimum wage, because talk is cheap, but compromise is even cheaper. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 1st, 2014:
OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT SURGES - At least, you know, according to Obama. Sam Stein: "After a rollout so shaky that many wondered if the Affordable Care Act would be able to stand, more than 7 million people have chosen health plans through the insurance exchanges created under the law, the White House said on Tuesday. 'Last night, the first open enrollment period under this law came to an end,' President Barack Obama said. 'And despite several lost weeks out of the gate, several lost because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces.' 'In these first six months, we've taken a big step forward, and just as importantly, this law is bringing greater security to Americans who already have coverage,' he added. The president also hit back at critics of the law, saying the problems they predicted haven't come to pass. 'There are still no death panels, Armageddon has not arrived,' he said. 'The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.' ….But despite surpassing the 7 million mark, key questions about the Affordable Care Act's implementation remain. The number of people who have paid their first month's premium, for one thing, is unknown, though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius predicted that roughly 85 percent of those who have chosen a plan have also paid their first month's bill." [HuffPost]
@JeffYoung: Man Named Obama Says Positive Things About Obamacare
WOW KENTUCKY - Sahil Kapur: "Obamacare has cut Kentucky's uninsured population by more than 40 percent, signing up roughly 360,000 residents since enrollment opened up on Oct. 1, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Some 75 percent of them -- 270,000 -- were previously uninsured. That means Kentucky's uninsured population of 640,000 has come down by 42 percent." [TPM]
There were no U.S. combat deaths last month -- first time since 2002!
THE PATH TO PROSPERITY IS BLOCK-GRANTED - Andrew Taylor: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled an updated Republican budget plan Tuesday that would slash $5.1 trillion in federal spending over coming decade and promises to balance the government's books with wide-ranging cuts in programs like food stamps and government-paid health care for the poor and working class. Ryan's plan would also cut Pell Grants for low-income students and pensions for federal workers, while steering away from cuts to benefits for senior citizens, at least in the short term. The proposal would reprise a voucher-like Medicare program for future retirees that would be the basis for GOP claims that the measure would drive down government debt over the long term. It also relies on scorekeeping help from the Congressional Budget Office, reflecting the beneficial effects of deficit cuts on long-term economic growth and tax revenues. The plan should skate through the Budget Committee on Wednesday but faces challenges on the floor next week since it endorses a bipartisan pact — negotiated by Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., in December — to increase agency operating budgets this year and next. Many conservatives who opposed the pact last year would have to reverse course and embrace them as part of the GOP budget. Democrats who helped pass the Ryan-Murray pact in December will oppose the GOP plan." [Associated Press]
PAUL RYAN BETTER BE CAREFUL WITH THIS - Ryan warned today that the government might default on Treasury bills held by Social Security, though presumably would honor the ones held by China, Russia and Goldman Sachs (what kind of axis is that?). Budget committee Chairman Ryan: "[A]ny value in the balances in the Social Security Trust Fund is derived from dubious government accounting. The trust fund is not a real savings account. From 1983 to 2010, it collected more Social Security taxes than it paid out in Social Security benefits. But the government borrowed all of these surpluses and spent them on other government programs unrelated to Social Security. The Trust Fund holds Treasury securities, but the ability to redeem these securities is completely dependent on the Treasury's ability to raise money through taxes or borrowing." We're not political consultants (yet) but Ryan might wanna be careful about the politics of that line of reasoning. [Budget.House.gov]
HuffPost Haircuts: Sasha Belenky, David Wasser (hat tip @JWJMichael)
SENATE DEMS CAVING ON $10.10 MINIMUM WAGE? Alexander Bolton: "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is struggling to stop Senate Democrats from backing a plan to undercut President Obama’s $10.10 minimum wage target. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been reaching out to Democrats to agree on a compromise that is threatening to divide the president’s party on this core component of its election-year message. Democrats already disagree among themselves over whether they should continue to stick to the $10.10 amount or try to work with Republicans on a lower figure. A senior Democratic leadership aide said Reid is a 'hardcore' supporter of Obama’s target number, to be achieved over three years, a proposal strongly supported by labor unions, which are powerful in the majority leader’s state. But several Democratic senators have signaled they are willing to negotiate a lower wage floor that would be easier to get enough Senate votes to pass. Now, despite his staunch personal preference for $10.10, Reid’s office doesn’t rule out compromise depending on feeling within his caucus." [The Hill]
Reality check: If it had been indexed to inflation from the getgo today's federal minimum wage would be $10.69 instead of $7.25. Reality check 2: Senators are rich as shit, except Carl Levin, who's just really well off.
WHO NEEDS A CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE? House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says he is against restoring long-term jobless benefits because doing so wouldn't create jobs. "We have always said that we’re willing to look at extending emergency unemployment benefits again, if Washington Democrats can come up with a plan that is fiscally responsible, and gets to the root of the problem by helping to create more private sector jobs," Boehner said. But the Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly estimated that unemployment extensions add thousands and thousands of private sector jobs to the economy. In December, the CBO said a Democratic proposal to restore long-term benefits for a full year would increase employment by about 200,000 jobs by the end of 2014. (The Senate is currently considering a bill that would restore the benefits through May.) While Boehner is just not that into what the budget office says about unemployment extensions, he loves their take on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which the CBO figures could reduce employment by half a million jobs. "What I’ve long said is that raising the minimum wage destroys jobs -- and that was confirmed last week by the Congressional Budget Office -- at least 500,000 jobs would be lost, maybe as many as a million," Boehner said last month. [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Another snippet from the mailbag: "I started to work with the state when I was 20 years old and a degree was not required. Now, here I am, also 50 years old, no degree and unemployed." [Hang in there!]
Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill
THE CIA TORTURED PEOPLE FOR NO REASON - Greg Miller: "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. 'The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,' said one U.S. official briefed on the report. 'Was that actually true? The answer is no.'" Yuck. [WashPost]
Kenneth Schiciano pwns HuffPost's Zach Carter.
HEMP IS ROLLIN' - America is finally learning to distinguish between benign plants. Matt Ferner: "Since the beginning of the year, more than 70 bills related to hemp have been introduced in more than half of the states in the U.S. That's more than triple the number of hemp bills introduced during the same legislation period last year, and nearly double the total amount of hemp bills introduced in all of 2013. Added to that is the recent passage of the Farm Bill, which legalizes industrial hemp production for research purposes in states that permit it. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), one of the congressmen who introduced the industrial hemp amendment to the Farm Bill, told The Huffington Post that all the progress on hemp legislation is a key indicator of just how fast policy is changing in the U.S. 'It's not just turning a corner, it's turning a corner and running downhill,' Blumenauer said." [HuffPost]
Fox News this afternoon suggested Obama's bailout of the auto industry is responsible for the deaths related to GM's safety issues.
TED CRUZ SHOWS OFF FAKE WINSTON CHURCHILL TATTOO ON TV - Because Ted Cruz so admires Churchill's push for socialized medicine. Politico deadpans: "As the hosts reacted incredulously, Cruz noted the calendar date of April 1. 'I will note, if you look at the calendar, it might suggest something about what you’re seeing,' Cruz said." The joke is that Cruz was high on marijuana. Politico
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Jason Linkins narrates Super Pac B-roll. Thanks, Jason!
HEY DID ANYONE VOTE TODAY? - HuffPost Hill told you to vote for Tommy Wells, but it sounds like not many people are voting at all. Perry Stein: "Mayoral candidate and Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans arrived just before 1 p.m. at Ward 6's Kennedy Recreation Center in Shaw to talk to voters. The only problem: There were none. 'There's no voters,' he said, raising his hands." Oops. [Washington City Paper]
@PerryStein: Wells says he decided to vote for himself last night after huffington post gave him the endorsement
If you voted for Jack Evans today, you failed.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson harshes on Creationism [http://huff.to/1ib35UZ]
- The difference between your face and its mirror image [http://bit.ly/1pIZ7G7]
- Photos of twins all grown up [http://huff.to/1lmm81E]
- BuzzFeed community member John Boehner explains the budget process[http://bzfd.it/1dOREFs]
- These puppies are so cute your heart will fall out [bit.ly/IqT6zt]
There just weren't very many funny tweets today.
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ryan Grim (email@example.com) or Arthur Delaney (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e