Five Best Wednesday Columns

John Cassidy on Obamacare's successes, Jonathan Cohn says Obamacare is not like Medicare Part D, Greg Sargent on Obamacare's class divide, Jonathan Chait on the Senate Republicans blocking Obama's nominees, and E. A. Mann on what could save your 401(k).

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John Cassidy at The New Yorker on Obamacare's successes. "In a number of states that have working online health-care exchanges, more and more people are signing up for the insurance coverage that is available under the Affordable Care Act," Cassidy argues. But Republican-controlled legislatures that aren't expanding Medicaid are keeping "many of the potential winners" from getting access. "That’s an indictment of the Republican Party, and it’s also an indictment of the Obama Administration, which was well aware of how much hinged on working properly," Cassidy notes. Most importantly, "in those parts of the country where Obamacare is up and running, there are some encouraging signs." Political analyst Zerlina Maxwell tweets, "Americans like Obamacare where they can get it."

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic says Obamacare is not like Medicare Part D. "The most important difference between [former President George W. Bush's] Medicare Part D and Obamacare has nothing to do with information technology —and everything to do with policy trade-offs," Cohn explains. Obamacare is different because eventually, it will pay for itself: "A slight reduction in the deficit during the first ten years, with greater reductions after that." By contrast, "Medicare Part D was all gain, no pain — the program gave millions of senior citizens access to drugs, without asking anybody to pay for it immediately." Former Republican budget official Bruce Bartlett recommends the piece.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post on Obamacare's class divide. "Many perceive the [ACA] as an expansion of the safety net for other people, i.e, poor people, not something that will help them or the middle class," Sargent argues. "Core Dem groups continuing to believe the law will benefit the whole country, while core GOP groups think it will only help others." Ultimately, this "could well pose a potential long term threat to Dems among white voters." Jennifer Rubin, Sargent's conservative colleague at the Post, tweets, "Support of from 74% in October to 58% - CBS Poll." Sargent responds, "Good. Ds should disapprove. The rollout is awful. But repeal is still a minority position."

Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on the Senate Republicans blocking Obama's nominees. "Senate Republicans filibustered a third nomination by President Obama for the D.C. Circuit Court" this week, Chait writes. Not because it was a bad nomination, but because President Obama made the nomination: Republicans "have expressed opposition not to the credentials or ideology of a particular Obama nominee, but have instead argued that Obama has no right to alter the existing ideological balance of the courts." Now Democrats are threatening the nuclear option, which is a "troublesome remedy." Working America writer Seth D. Michaels tweets this line: "Republicans are now arguing that Obama’s nominating judges to vacancies on the court is illegitimate per se."

E. A. Mann at The Billfold on what could save your 401(k). "A few years ago, my 401(k) started to exhibit strange behavior. I check my statement about once a week, and at the time, I noticed that my balance was dipping and rising, and I had no idea why," Mann explains. It turns out that his "investment in company stock was causing the majority of my investment swings." Investing in company stock is risky, no matter where you work: "It could be Apple. It could be Exxon Mobile. These are the two most profitable companies of the past five years, and it’s still a terrible idea to own their stock equal to 30 percent of your portfolio. I’m now at about 10 percent, but I’m seriously considering 0 percent," Mann explains. Money's Penelope Wang tweets, "people, avoid company stock."

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