Today’s edition of quick hits:
* President Obama hosted a year-end press conference this afternoon, covering quite a bit of ground.
* He also made some news: “President Obama said during a Friday press conference that more than 500,000 people signed up at HealthCare.gov in the first three weeks of December, a major spike in enrollments that signals improvement at the troubled website.”
* On the debt ceiling, he’s still not bluffing: “President Obama reiterated Friday he is not interested in negotiating over raising the debt limit. ‘The debt ceiling is raised simply to pay bills that we have already accrued,’ he said at his end-of-year press conference. ‘It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It’s not leverage. It’s the responsibility of Congress as part of doing their job. I expect them to do their job.’”
* Wisconsin court ruling: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit today upheld a lower court’s decision blocking a Wisconsin law that singles out doctors who provide abortions for medically unnecessary restrictions.”
* Efforts to destroy diplomatic progress with Iran over its nuclear program appears to have deeply divided Senate Democrats.
* The Senate voted 84 to 15 last night to approve the NDAA and send it to the White House for the president’s signature.
* The defense bill included “the most sweeping changes yet to the way the military deals with sexual assault cases,” though it did not include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) proposed reforms.
* Next step, confirmation: “Janet Yellen, an unwavering advocate of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive steps to boost the U.S. economy, on Friday took a big step toward becoming the first woman to head the central bank as her nomination cleared a Senate Republican procedural hurdle.”
* Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced yesterday he’d make every effort to block President Obama’s nominee to lead the IRS. How’d that work out? “The Senate voted 59-36 Friday to confirm President Obama’s nominee to head the Internal Revenue Service.”
* I heartily endorse Kevin Drum’s chart of the year, and consider the economic data it captures wildly underappreciated.
* Best wishes for a speedy recovery: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, 74, was hospitalized Friday morning, according to his spokesman.”
* Sigh: “So the Peggy Noonan approach to economic inequality advocates closing the distance between the haves and the have-nots, but preferably in a way that involves no actual contact between the two. Because you never know who might have typhus.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
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