Quick Takes

* Given that campaign finance has become a central issue in the Democratic presidential primary, it is important to keep some history about Citizens United (both the lobbying firm and the Supreme Court decision) in mind. The lobbying firm was founded by an Arkansan named Floyd Brown – of Willie Horton fame. During the 1990’s it was Grand Central Station of what Hillary Clinton called “the vast right wing conspiracy.” Leading into the 2008 presidential election, they produced “Hillary: The Movie,” which was a recounting of every Clinton conspiracy dredged up over the years. It was a court challenge to the airing of the movie that led to the Supreme Court decision.

You can read a re-counting of this history in an excellent article by Heather Digby Parton that is appropriately titled: A little historical reminder for some people who may not remember.

* It’s jobs day. So that means it’s time to visit Jared Bernstein’s blog to see what he has to say.

Job growth slowed in January, as the nation’s employers added 151,000 net new jobs, compared to over 250,000 in each of the prior three months. However, while slower job growth may be a function of recent market volatility and slower growth abroad, it is far too soon to draw any such conclusions from one month’s data. As my monthly smoother shows, average employment gains are solidly over 200,000 in recent months, and if this underlying trend persists, the labor market will continue its steady trek towards full employment.

Unemployment ticked down slightly to 4.9 percent, and for the “right reasons”—i.e., more people got jobs as opposed to more people gave up looking. Average hourly wages were up 2.5% over the last year—that’s an acceleration over the 2% pace that prevailed earlier in the recovery, signaling that the tightening job market may finally be giving workers a bit more in the way of bargaining power, something they’ve lacked for a very long time.

* The current Obamacare enrollment period is over. Kevin Drum gives us the scoop on how it went this year.

Open enrollment for Obamacare is over, and HHS announced yesterday that 12.7 million people signed up via the exchanges plus another 400,000 via New York’s Basic Health Program. So that gives us 13.1 million—up from 11.4 million last year…

Add to that about 15 million people enrolled in Medicaid thanks to the Obamacare expansion, and the total number of people covered this year comes to 28 million or so. This means Obamacare has reduced the ranks of the uninsured from 19 percent to about 10 percent. Not bad.

* Jon Favreau says that while Democrats would have an easier time beating Trump or Cruz, Marco Rubio is a very flawed candidate.

Because Trump and Cruz have moved the goalposts on what it means to be bat-shit crazy in a primary, the press will confuse Rubio’s moderate temperament with moderate policies, of which he has none. Rubio was once described as the “crown prince” of the Tea Party. He has a 100 percent rating from the NRA. He’ll appoint justices who will overturn the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. He opposes abortion with no exception for rape or incest. He opposes stem cell research and doesn’t believe in climate change. He’d send ground troops to Syria and trillions in tax cuts to the rich.

On immigration, who knows what Rubio will do next—and that’s kind of the point…

…as a general election candidate, Rubio would combine everything people hate about Washington politics with everything they hate about Republican policies. He may be more formidable and disciplined than some of his nuttier rivals, but he will also be utterly predictable and conventional. We Democrats have won that kind of election before. We can do it again.

* Yesterday we learned that Maurice White – founder and soul of Earth, Wind and Fire – passed away. So in memory of him, I’ll leave you today with the song White said was the group’s anthem.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.