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The Edge

Proof This Is the Worst Congress Ever and Bezos’s Brilliant Drone Infomercial —THE EDGE Brought to You by Chevron

December 2, 2013

By Dustin Volz (@dnvolz) and Laura Ryan (@NJljryan)

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The White House is declaring victory on its Obamacare site fix-up job, but insurers and some customers remain unconvinced. The Supreme Court declined separate cases involving the Obamacare employer mandate and collecting sales tax from customers purchasing goods from online retailers. We already knew the 113th Congress might be the worst ever, but December provides new perspective as to just how unproductive this year has been. Drones and Jeff Bezos won the start of the week, and the NTSB highlights speed as the culprit for a deadly train derailment in New York City. 


ADMIN: OBAMACARE SITE FIXED! INSURERS: FLAWS REMAIN! The site can now handle 50,000 users at once and process 800,000 a day, but the federal online health exchange is still encountering problems, according to insurers. (Pear/Abelson, NYT)


SCOTUS DECLINES CHALLENGE TO EMPLOYER MANDATE: The Supreme Court rebuked a challenge from Liberty University to the law's requirement that employers with 50 or more employees make insurance coverage available or face a penalty. The mandate, which has been delayed a year, has survived before SCOTUS, but still faces challenges in lower courts. (Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog)

ELSEWHERE IN SCOTUS LAND, COURT REFUSES ONLINE SALES-TAX CASE: "The Supreme Court on Monday declined to get involved in state efforts to force online retailers such as to collect sales tax from customers even in places where the companies do not have a physical presence." (Robert Barnes, WaPo)

NAIL IN THE COFFIN FOR OBAMACARE REPEAL: They huffed and they puffed, but after all the tea-party efforts to defund or kill Obamacare, the health law is still kicking. How the president's signature law survived the onslaught and what it means going into 2014. (Brian Beutler, Salon)

...And why the Obamacare war might be just beginning. (Garance Franke-Ruta, The Atlantic)

IT'S OFFICIAL: CONGRESS WASTED 2013: It's December, which means it's time to look back wistfully on all the great things Congress hasn't accomplished this year. We're all used to inaction, but 2013 is setting the bar at a new low, leading many to already proclaim it the least productive year ever. Congressional records tell us there have been 60 public laws enacted this year, far below the postwar low of 88 achieved in 1995. (Paul Kane, WaPo)

ATTACK OF THE (DELIVERY) DRONES: Jeff Bezos unveiled a plan on 60 Minutes Sunday night for Amazon to use drones to deliver packages weighing 5 lbs. or less within 30 minutes of placing an order. Although the use of drones would be years away, the plan was instantly met with skepticism and concern. Marketing ploy, pipe dream, or legitimate future technology, Bezos and his Amazon Prime bots won Monday, and, as usual, the eccentric billionaire is playing the long game. (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic)

TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Obama is hosting a bilateral discussion with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House. Biden is in Japan to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other state officials. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Belgium for a NATO meeting, the first leg of a four-day trip. The House will convene at 10:00 and 12:00 to consider a variety of legislation. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws" at 10:00 a.m. in Rayburn-2141. The Senate is out of session.


NYC TRAIN DERAILMENT: The NTSB announced the train was traveling 82 mph as it neared a 30 mph zone. It is unclear if human error or equipment failure led to the crash that killed four and injured more than 60. (Fitzgerald/Eltman, AP)

UNFASHIONABLY LATE: Putin's chronic tardiness is a deliberate effort to make him seem like a modern-day czar. (BBC)

BIDEN OVERSEAS: He's in Tokyo at a time when tensions between Japan and China are beginning to flare over disputed islands both countries lay claim to. (Landler/Fackler, NYT)

ON THE WRONG TRACK: America's infrastructure is in desperate need of a little TLC, or there will be deadly consequences. (Neena Satija, Quartz)

W IS FOR WOMEN ... AND WIN: Can women still win big for Democrats in 2014? (Shane Goldmacher, NJ)


MINIMUM WAGE: 'Tis the season to raise the minimum wage from $7 to $10 an hour. $15,000 a year is no longer a livable salary in all corners of the country. (Steve Coll, New Yorker)

FALLEN STAR: Dan Choi, the gay Iraq combat veteran and voice of the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, has lost his way post-DADT. (Gabriel Arana, American Prospect)


THE NOT-SO-PLAIN WHITE TEE: Planet Money explores the world behind your basic t-shirt, from the farm to the machine to you. (NPR)

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