Five Best Friday Columns

Jonathan Cohn on the Obamacare tweaks, Brian Beutler on Democrats' "civil war," Katrina Alcorn on criticism and working motherhood, John Cassidy on the Yellen doctrine, and Kevin Roose on Snapchat's gamble. 

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Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic on the Obamacare tweaks. Insurers now can offer their non-compliant plans through 2014, but "the unknown here is whether insurers will revisit and renew policies they already cancelled. Insurance industry officials I’ve consulted don’t seem terribly interested in doing that," Cohn writes. President Obama is passing the buck to insurers — if they don't renew cancelled plans, that's no longer on the President. But the tweaks will result in customers getting better explanations from insurers: "Under the new guidance, insurers who offer beneficiaries a chance to stay on old plans must make clear how those plans compare to the new ones available on the Obamacare marketplaces. In other words, insurers must identify the gaps in their current coverage—which might be anything from rehabilitative services to prescription drugs to maternity care—and point out that policies in the new marketplaces cover those things." Cohn also argues that Obama's speech suggested he's willing to make more changes to help those affected by cancellations.

Brian Beutler at Salon on Democrats' "civil war." "If you were expecting conservatives to react to the Democrats’ mad scramble with anything less than unrestrained glee you … well, I guess you don’t understand the politics of Obamacare," Beutler writes. Yes, Congressional Democrats are looking for a fix to help people keep their plans, but "ask them ... if they support the Affordable Care Act, or think it should be repealed, or regret their votes for it, or believe it can be fixed, or anything like that, and they’re unanimous." The Democrats' "civil war" isn't really a civil war. Beutler concludes, "We’ll know Democrats are warring with each other, or in full retreat from the law, when Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi can’t restrain rank-and-file members from forcing legislative sabotage on Obama." Business Insider political reporter Danny Vinik tweets, "Dem divisions are minor compared to Republican ones."

Katrina Alcorn at The New York Times on criticism and working motherhood. Alcorn recently published a book about her trials as a working mother, and the Internet response from other women has been (in part) negative. "In the spirit of moving the conversation forward, I will try to address a few recurring themes," Alcorn writes. "I’ve been criticized both here and elsewhere for the personal choices I made — as if by setting better boundaries with my boss, or having a more can-do attitude, I could have made the plague of overwork affecting millions of mothers magically disappear." In response to comments urging Alcorn to stop complaining, she argues, "articulating a pervasive cultural problem is different from 'being sorry for ourselves.' Telling women to stop feeling sorry for themselves, to stop 'whining' (another word that appeared in the comments), is all part of our childish obsession with rugged individualism ..." Jessica Grose, Slate and New Republic contributor and a recent Wire guest editor, tweets, "YES to this @kalcorn piece! Shocking that moms are 79 percent less likely to be hired compared w/ childless women." Author of And the Heart Says Whatever and co-founder of, Emily Gould responds, "right on! Also one of the best things ever to come of reading the comments."

John Cassidy at The New Yorker on Janet Yellen's doctrine. Fed chair nominee Yellen did a good job at her first Senate confirmation hearing: "Displaying virtually no sign of nerves ... she gave direct answers to questions on a variety of issues, avoided spooking the markets, and even managed to disarm some of the Fed critics on the panel," Cassidy writes. She demonstrated again that her main priority is tamping down unemployment. But "Yellen also acknowledged that quantitative easing couldn’t continue indefinitely. It created 'potential risks for financial stability,' she said. 'The longer the program continues, the more we need to monitor those risks.'" Most importantly, she "stated explicitly that were she to identify a bubble, she would take actions to lance it, even though doing so could make her very unpopular." Dealbook columnist Jesse Eisenger tweets, "Yellen says bubbles matter, too. Good."

Kevin Roose at Daily Intelligencer on Snapchat's $3 billion gamble. "Snapchat, the disappearing photo-sharing app, reportedly turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. Tech watchers are agog at the decision, which they either think is a brave display of independence or a horrible, hubristic mistake for a start-up that makes no money and should have jumped at the chance to cash out," Roose explains. Snapchat's waiting because it "probably wants to be Google, Facebook, or Twitter, all of which turned down early acquisition offers, then went public and became some of the world's biggest companies." But that's a big risk. Roose has a theory: "Ever since Mark Zuckerberg turned down Yahoo's $1 billion offer, it's become a badge of honor in Silicon Valley not to sell your company to an established tech giant and a sign of weakness if you do. In other words, Facebook's founder might have given his targets the best reason not to sell." Options and volatility trader Jared Woodard calls the risk "Pascal's Groupon."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.