TIME Health Care

11 Numbers to Explain Obamacare on its Fifth Anniversary

Marketplace guide Jim Prim works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website as he helps a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at an enrollment event in Milford, Delaware on March 27, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Marketplace guide Jim Prim works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website as he helps a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at an enrollment event in Milford, Del. on March 27, 2014.

The Affordable Care Act turned five years old Saturday, but that’s not the most important number you need to know about President Obama’s controversial health care law.

To mark the law’s anniversary, here are 11 numbers you need to know to understand the law:

$142 billion: What the Congressional Budget Office projects the law will cost over the next decade

16.4 million: Number of previously uninsured Americans who have gotten coverage under the law

2.3 million: Number of previously uninsured young adults, ages 19-25, who have gained health insurance through the under 26 provision, which allows them to stay on their parents’ plan

29: Current number of states that accepted the law’s Medicaid expansion (including Washington, D.C.)

24,000: High-end estimate of how many lives the law could save per year by increasing the number of insured Americans

50+ : Number of times the GOP-controlled House has voted to repeal the law, in whole or in part

30: Number of Democratic senators who voted for the law who are no longer in office

25: Number of states that signed on to a Supreme Court challenge to the law in 2012

7: Number of states that signed on to a Supreme Court challenge to the law in 2015

2% of annual household income or $325 per person: The fine for not having coverage in 2015

43%: Percentage of Americans who don’t support the law (41% support it)

TIME Foreign Policy

White House Questions Israeli Leader’s Commitment to Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington on March 2, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington on March 2, 2015.

Obama spokesman says the U.S. will have to "re-asses its options" after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rhetoric on a two-state solution

The White House expressed doubt Friday about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after Netanyahu twice reversed his stance this week before and after a bitter election fight.

“The divergent comments of the Prime Minister legitimately call into question his commitment to this policy principle and his lack of commitment to what has been the foundation of our policy-making in the region,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in comments reported by the New York Times.

Netanyahu, Earnest said, had raised questions about his “true view” on a two-state solution. “Words matter,” Earnest said.

Ahead of elections this week in which it appeared Netanyahu was close to being unseated, the Prime Minister said there would be no Palestinian state if he were reelected, changing a position he had taken years earlier. He then retracted his comments later in the week.

For the United States, a Palestinian state alongside Israel has been a central element of Middle East policy, and Netanyahu’s comments soured an already tenuous relationship with the White House and with President Obama.

Earnest called on Friday for a “careful reassessment of our decision-making moving forward when it comes to Mideast policy.”

Friday was the second day in a row the White House has expressed anger at Netanyahu’s comments. On Thursday, Obama told Netanyahu that the United States would have to “re-assess our options” after the Prime Minister’s comments on the two-state solution.

Obama also appealed on Friday to Iranian youth, urging them to pressure their leaders to accept a deal over the country’s nuclear program, a deal Netanyahu opposes even as Iranian and western negotiators are still hammering out the details. The video marked the occasion of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, a celebration that Obama has used in the past to deliver message to the Iranian populace.

“For decades our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear,” Obama said. “A nuclear deal now can help open the door in the future for you, the Iranian people.”

-Additional reporting by Maya Rhodan

TIME White House

Obama Administration Unveils New Fracking Rules

Mody Torres (L) and Josh Anderson of Select Energy Services connect hoses between a pipeline and water tanks at a Hess fracking site near Williston, North Dakota Nov. 12, 2014.
Andrew Cullen — Reuters Mody Torres (L) and Josh Anderson of Select Energy Services connect hoses between a pipeline and water tanks at a Hess fracking site near Williston, North Dakota Nov. 12, 2014.

Tightens use of chemicals on federal land

The Obama Administration announced Friday the first major nationwide hydraulic fracturing safety rules since the technology sparked an energy boom in the U.S.

Under the rules, companies drilling on federal land must publicly disclose what chemicals they use in “fracking” — a mining technique by which rocks are fractured by pumping a liquid compound deep underground — within 30 days of operations. The regulations also tighten standards for collecting wastewater and keeping the groundwater protected.

The Interior Department said that meeting the new regulations would cost companies less than one-fourth of 1 percent of the estimated cost of drilling a well.

The new rules apply to the over 100,000 oil and gas wells on federal government and American Indian lands and exclude some major drilling areas with their own ordinances. Only around 11 percent of U.S. natural gas production and 5 percent of oil production is produced on public lands, according to Bloomberg.

The Republican-led Senate has already introduced a bill to stop the regulations from coming into force, arguing that states alone should have the right to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Some environmental groups also oppose the regulations, arguing they don’t go far enough. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) legislative rep, Madeleine Foote, said the proposal was a “missed opportunity.”





#AskTIME Subscriber Q and A: Massimo Calabresi

Welcome to TIME’s subscriber Q&A with TIME senior correspondent, Massimo Calabresi, who wrote this week’s story on the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. His other stories can be found here.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

DonQuixotic asks, As Netanyahu has been a key antagonizer of Israeli/Palestinian relations over the past 20 or so years, do you think his public admission (seemingly to help win the election) that he has no intention of negotiating with Palestine will exacerbate relations along the West Bank to newly toxic levels?

Netanyahu has rapidly retreated from his pre-election opposition to a two-state solution, but the speed of his retreat shows how dangerous and potentially damaging taking that position was. The U.S. and Israel are now trying to patch things up. But a change in the Israeli policy towards a two-state solution would have implications for US interests throughout the region. Some of the responses we have seen from the administration, including leaked indications of measures they might take in response, show the seriousness with which they take Netanyahu’s statements.

nflfoghorn asks, Do you foresee another Israeli election in a few months if they can’t get a functional governing coalition in place?

Netanyahu’s surprisingly strong win means he will have an easier time forming a coalition on his terms. The scare he had going into the vote will likely discourage him from calling early elections unless he has to.

sacredh asks, Do you think that the GOP stunt of sabotaging the Iran nuclear talks will come back to bite them in the general election and in a related question, do you think that their actions over the previous 6 years have made them immune to criticism because they’re only acting like they have previously?

The longer term significance of the GOP’s letter depends largely on the outcome of the talks and the steps Congress takes in coming weeks. If the U.S.-Iran talks stall, and the GOP imposes new sanctions, they risk violating the Nov. 2013 interim agreement and blowing up talks. That could break the sanctions coalition and allow Iran to restart its nuclear program at little cost. There would then be broad criticism of the GOP, and much of it would likely attach to the letter they wrote even though the proximate cause of the damage would be the reimposition of sanctions.

DonQuixotic asks, We know Israel has nuclear weapons, even if they won’t readily admit it. Regardless of the outcome of current talks between the US and Iran, IF Iran should obtain nuclear weapons through their own doing is there any reason to suspect they would ever use them against Israel? That we wouldn’t see a repeat of the Cold War MAD deterrent between the US and the Soviet Union? Israel of course being the loudest voice in the room opposed to Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

There is a fairly robust debate over whether nuclear deterrence would work in the context of the current Middle East. The argument in favor of deterrence, which Robert Gates and others supported if all other measures failed to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, is that: Iran’s leaders are rational actors who would see the costs of using a nuclear weapons; that deterrence worked against the Soviet Union; and that it would avoid another conflict in the region. The argument against deterrence is that it would be occurring in a very different context than it did in the Cold War: it would be in a region where other countries will certainly try to get nuclear weapons; where no country could rely on having a second strike capability, which underpins MAD, which means everyone will be on a hair trigger; where conflict is the norm, communication between countries is imperfect and crises spread rapidly on the basis of misunderstanding.

deconstructiva asks, MC, thanks for story on Iran and distrust. While we and Iran are still “sworn enemies” with deep mistrust, does it always have to be that way? The USSR was our greatest enemy, yet Gorbachev thawed the ice with Reagan, Thatcher, and Kohl, and of course, earlier Nixon went to China and started change there. What’s to stop Obama from doing the same with Iran? Nixon goes to China; Obama goes to Iran?

Yes, Iran is Shia while not-so-friendly neighbor Saudi Arabia is Sunni, so needless to say, there would have to be a delicate balancing act on our part in trying to deal with both countries. And of course, verification of everything Iran does is needed in every deal. But at some point, self-preservation has to kick in on Iran’s part, and maybe some degree of normalcy with us could benefit them, including easing sanctions, and of course, reduce the risk of war?

…and naturally, to view this from a more Machiavellian lens, if we could establish some minimal relations with Shia Iran, we could play that off Sunni Saudi Arabia to get better deals for ourselves. After all, we arm Saudi Arabia – Russia and China don’t – so we hold that card (similar to Israel, yes?).

Obama has given repeated indications that he would be willing to turn the page with Iran. The problem has been primarily on the Iranian side. While President Rouhani and much of the Iranian people have shown a willingness to reciprocate, the ultimate power remains with the Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, who remains determined in his opposition to rapprochement and distrustful of the US and its motives. It is not even clear he is willing to make the concessions required to reach a nuclear deal, let alone address the much harder issues regarding terrorism, Israel, Hezbollah, Iraq and so on.

DonQuixotic asks, Massimo, Do you think the unprecedented measure Republicans Senators took in writing to Tehran about the possibility that they could overturn concessions and agreements the Obama Administration is seeking damages the diplomatic efforts of the State Department going forward? That it doesn’t make us seem weaker and more frayed in the eyes of other nations?

The State department engages in a very broad and diverse range of efforts. If the GOP letter has lasting consequences it likely will be limited to the specific question of Iranian nuclear capability. That is a serious issue, but U.S. diplomatic credibility on issues of, say, trade in the Pacific won’t be directly affected.

PaulDirks asks, Sane people can all agree that the best way to prevent Iran from Nuclear development is a widespread and aggressive inspection regime. Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq proves that even having a widespread and aggressive inspection regime means nothing if the US decides not to believe it’s own reports. It would seem that a lack of trust in the West is actually Iran’s only logical move. When actual Congressmen seem unaware that Iran is FIGHTING ISIL, what are the chances that we aren’t going to end up the ones being labelled the aggressor when this whole thing falls apart?

By the account of several administration officials I spoke with for this story, the most important parts of the deal are the provisions regarding monitoring, transparency and inspections. Those provisions remain a major sticking point, as Iran views intrusive sanctions as a potential violation of its sovereignty. The likely mechanism for intrusive inspections will be via the International Atomic Energy Agency, which already operates nuclear safeguard inspections in Iran under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory. The IAEA has drafted additional protocols aimed at building assurances that the Iranians are not pursuing a military nuclear program. The U.S. officials suggest that even further concessions on the Iranian part will be necessary.

deconstructive asks, MC, we can honestly say off the record that if it weren’t for oil, with the exception of our alliance with Israel, we wouldn’t be as engaged in the Middle East otherwise. Witness our engagement in Africa – or not. Boko Haram is just as vicious as ISIS, yet the latter gets more of our attention. It took Ebola to get our attention about those smaller western African nations. Even with rising enviornmental problems during our increased energy production (think fracking wastewater, leaky pipelines, and exploding trains, but I digress), might our future energy industry – both increased oil at home plus rising alternate sources (lower their prices and more people will use them, electric cars, etc.) – get us to a point where we don’t need to be involved in the Middle East and their endless infighting (Sunni vs. Shia, dictator vs. king, etc.) and we can walk away and let them fight among themselves? I doubt that will happen in the short term, but our increased energy independence could tip the balance of power IF we don’t screw that up, though of course, the GOP excels at screwing things up, aka The Letter, yes?

There has been long been bipartisan support for “energy independence” thanks to the strategic benefits that would come from not having to rely on the Middle East for our energy needs. That slogan tends to be as far as the bipartisan support goes, however, as disagreements over environmental, regulatory and other concerns rapidly divide the right and the left. However even if the U.S. were to achieve “energy independence” thanks to advances in fracking and renewables, a nuclear Iran would shackle us to the region. A nuclear armed Iran would mean increased threats to our allies, the need to prevent nuclear confrontation, and a rise in the dangers of state and non-state proliferation. Any one of those would be a sufficiently serious threat to U.S. interests that it would require the U.S. to remain deeply involved in the region.

deconstructive asks, MC, we can safely bet that Netanyahu will build his coalition from the far right, so given his recent shenanigans, how do you expect Obama to react, or not? Is Obama angry enough to retaliate, or just default and do nothing except complain a lot? Might we see some “abstain” votes in the UN Security Council to allow the UN to get involved in creating Palestine? Or even more blunt measure like withholding some weapons from them, except for minimal defense? We also do lots of trade with them (drugs, Sodasteam), but I don’t expect any trade actions.

The very well-sourced David Ignatius has an interesting story in the Washington Post today in which he lays out four measures he says are under consideration by the administration in response to Netanyahu’s (short-lived) abandonment of the two-state solution. They are: “drafting a new U.N. Security Council resolution outlining the framework for a Palestinian state.”; possible “warnings in a planned report to Congress on loan guarantees to Israel” (as Baker and H. W. did in 1991); “altering current U.S. Policy that opposes Palestinian efforts to take complaints against Israel to the ICC”; and “weighing future vetoes of UNSC resolutions condemning Israeli settlements or other activity.” None of these is likely, especially with Netanyahu backing off, but they are intentional indicators of what a real change in Israeli policy on a two-state solution might result in from the U.S.

yogi asks, In your cover story, you mention during the Iraq war the Iranians reached out to the Bush admin. How likely do you think the Iranians would have agreed to end their nuclear program then? Given Bush’s rhetoric about axis of evil and trying to keep WMDs out of hostile governments, do you think it was a blunder for the admin to refuse talks at that point in time?

U.S. Officials I have spoken with assess that the Iranians were serious in reaching out to the U.S. in 2003. And it is also the case Iran’s program was significantly less well-developed at that time. It is impossible to say whether any deal could have been reached but the U.S. was in a fairly strong negotiating position then. What they lacked, which the Obama administration has, is the pressure of economic sanctions on Iran.


TIME Campaign Finance

FBI Launches Probe of Resigning Illinois Congressman

Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to the media as he arrives at an immigration reform panel hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago on March 9, 2015.
Nancy Stone—Chicago Tribune/Getty Images Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to the media as he arrives at an immigration reform panel hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago on March 9, 2015.

Aaron Schock announced his resignation this week

(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department has launched a formal criminal investigation into the office and campaign expenses of resigning Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, as well as his personal business dealings with political donors, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Friday.

The government was convening a federal grand jury in Springfield, Illinois, and the FBI has begun issuing subpoenas to compel people close to the Republican congressman to testify, the person said. The person spoke only on grounds of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the case. The grand jury was hearing testimony in early April, according to the subpoenas.

Schock abruptly resigned on Tuesday, citing a “heavy heart,” following six weeks of revelations about his business deals and lavish spending on trips, mileage reimbursements and office decor in the style of “Downton Abbey.”

Schock, 33, a young, media-savvy Republican, said in a statement earlier this week that the constant questions about his spending and business dealings made it impossible to serve effectively as congressman.

The questions raised have included Associated Press investigations of his real estate transactions, air travel and Instagram use. On Monday, the AP confirmed that the Office of Congressional Ethics had reached out to Schock’s associates as it apparently began an investigation.

House Speaker John Boehner was not informed of Schock’s resignation before it was announced but has said he supports the decision.

Read next: Meghan McCain: Aaron Schock Embarrassed and Betrayed Millennial Republicans

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME 2016 Election

Scott Walker: Bold in Office, Meek on the Trail

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Delivers Keynote At The American Action Forum
Bloomberg/Getty Images Scott Walker governor of Wisconsin speaks during a panel discussion at the American Action Forum in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30, 2015.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made headlines this week after his aide, Liz Mair, resigned on Wednesday and publicly apologized for tweeting some off-the-cuff comments about the early caucus state of Iowa.

You can agree or disagree with what Mair had to say—conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg called them “Disgusting and repulsive. Also, pretty much accurate”—but the real dust-up here has nothing to do with Mair at all.

The real issue is the disconnect between who Walker says he is—“bold,” “courageous,” and “unintimidated”—and the rather meek way he handled this mini-scandal and his campaign more generally.

If Walker is indeed bold and courageous, willing to “take on the unions,” stand up to 100,000 protesters, and endure death threats “to do what’s right,” as he argues in his speeches on the early campaign trail, pundits on both sides of the aisle are asking, why didn’t he stand up for his own staffer? Why is he being intimidated by the minor vagaries of an early presidential race?

“If Walker is the guy I hope he is,” writes Goldberg, a self-described Walker booster, “He won’t just have to take on his enemies, he’ll have to take on his friends, too … Isn’t that the point of the anti-establishment movement on the right?”

Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin explain it this way: Walker-the-governor is very, very different than Walker-the-candidate.

Walker-the-governor is bold. As governor, he has consistently pushed through far-reaching policies and then stood his ground in the face of all kinds of threats.

But Walker-the-candidate is nothing of the sort.

As a candidate, Walker has a history of being blandly genial and preternaturally vague. When he’s asked policy questions, he gives squishy, milquetoast answers, and seems willing to go to great lengths to avoid saying anything that could get him in trouble later:

Should the U.S. do more to combat ISIS? “That’s certainly something I will answer … in the future.”

Who should be Chairman of the Federal Reserve? “I’ll punt on that.”

Is President Obama a Christian? “I don’t know.”

Should the U.S. arm Ukrainian rebels? “I have an opinion on that … but I just don’t think you talk about foreign policy when you’re on foreign soil.”

What’s Walker’s position on the idea of evolution? “That’s a question politicians shouldn’t be involved in one way or another.”

Does Obama love America? “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”

While Walker’s supporters argue that some of those questions were unfair—and some were, admittedly, downright trolling—his colleagues in Wisconsin say that Walker has a habit of describing his policy goals as broad, ideological soundbites that sound good to moderates and conservatives, but he doesn’t tell voters what he actually plans to do.

John Torinus, a Republican commentator in Wisconsin and a former supporter of Walker, lamented recently in a column entitled, “Do Wisconsin Campaigns Mean Anything Anymore?” that Walker’s was a “government by surprise.” Torinus described Walker’s “style of governance” as “throwing out broad-brush policy shifts without a lot of input beforehand.”

Jennifer Shilling, the Wisconsin senate minority leader told TIME that Walker operates in a series of “sneak attacks.” “There is this mentality that what is said doesn’t have consequences,” she said. “It’s, ‘Say whatever you need to say—we can do whatever we want once we’re in.’”

A few examples?

Right-to-work legislation. Since 2011, Walker has said on dozens of occassions that he did “not support” making Wisconsin a so-called right-to-work state. “I have no interest in pursuing right-to-work legislation in this state,” he said at the state Republican annual convention in 2012. “It’s not going to get to my desk … private sector unions have overwhelmingly come to the table to be my partner in economic development.” During the 2014 campaign, he those same lines, telling interviewers at TIME, the New York Times and in his debate with his Democratic opponent that he would “not support” right-to-work legislation.

But then, just a month into his second term, Walker announced that he would sign a right-to-work bill if the legislature passed it. On March 9, he made good on his offer. Making Wisconsin a right-to-work state “sends a powerful message across the country and across the world,” he said in celebration.

Abortion. Last October, when he was running for reelection–and the polls were tight in his famously blue state—Walker cut an ad in which he stared directly into the camera and promised to support a law that would leave “the final decision” about abortion “to a woman and her doctor.”

But then, four months later, Walker announced that he would sign a law banning abortions of any kind after 20 weeks.

Limiting collective bargaining. Walker’s signature law, Act 10, which passed in early 2011 and gutted collective bargaining for almost all public sector unions, catalyzed a massive, nationwide reaction on the left. At some point, 100,000 protesters convened on the Wisconsin statehouse for months on end. One reason for the outrage? No one—including Wisconsin state legislators—had any idea whatsoever that Walker had Act 10 up his sleeve. During his 2010 campaign, He never said he planned to go after collective bargaining. He never so much as hinted at it—not in his campaign material, not in his stump speeches, and not during the debates or in conservations with top allies in the state legislature.

But then, less than a month into his term, in February 2011, he, in his words, “dropped the bomb.”

Walker’s political campaign staff point out that he never lied. Walker never said he wouldn’t sign right-to-work, and he has always been a pro-life, fiscal conservative.


Morning Must Reads: March 20

Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

UVA in the Spotlight Again

The violent arrest of 20-year-old black student Martese Johnson by white law-enforcement officers has the University of Virginia in the spotlight again. Students took to a campus amphitheater on Wednesday night and to social media in protest after the incident

ISIS Claims Tunisia Attack

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on Tunisia’s national museum that killed 23 people, mostly tourists. Nine people were arrested

Texas Bill Allows Guns on Campus

The Texas senate approved a bill allowing people to carry concealed guns on college campuses. Student groups and education leaders are voicing opposition

FBI Probes Death of Man Found Hanged in Mississippi

The FBI is helping local authorities investigate the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi. “Whether it was a suicide or a homicide is yet to be determined,” Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas said

FTC Officials Wanted to Sue Google in 2012

High-ranking officials at the Federal Trade Commission recommended a lawsuit against Google in 2012 because of the tech giant’s alleged use of anti-competitive tactics, theWall Street Journal reported on Thursday

Arctic Sea Ice Levels Are at the Lowest Ever Recorded

Arctic sea ice levels last winter recorded their lowest peak since satellite monitoring began in 1979, U.S. scientists said on Thursday. Recent weather patterns were partly to blame for the melting ice, with a jet stream bringing warm temperatures to the Pacific side of the Arctic

Second Suspect Arrested in Model Murder Case

A second suspect turned himself over to authorities on Thursday in connection with the killing of former America’s Next Top Model contestant Mirjana Puhar and two others. Officials charged David Lopez with three counts of first-degree murder

Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse Break Up

After a two-year romance, it’s over for American Sniperactor Bradley Cooper and model Suki Waterhouse, who first got together in March 2013. The Hollywood couple split ahead of January’s Oscars but now, People says, the news is official

Army Probes Racial-Slur Allegations

The army says it has launched an informal investigation into allegations that an Alaska-based unit was allowing racial slurs among its members. It said the soldiers were allowed to use racial slurs during “Racial Thursdays”

T.J. Maxx Pulls Controversial Noose T-Shirt

U.S clothing retail chain T.J. Maxx has pulled an ill-advised T-shirt from its shelves, after a photo of the clothing item posted by a customer went viral and caused the company to be maligned on social media

Women Who Sleep More Tend to Have More Sex

Women who get more shut-eye generally have more sex, according to researchers from the University of Michigan, who spent over two weeks tracking 171 young women. Each additional hour of sleep increased the next day’s possibility of sex by 14%

Sydney Siege Café Reopens for Business

Coffee was brewed again, chocolate prepared and pastries sold at Lindt Café in Sydney on Friday morning, as the establishment reopened its doors months after it made international headlines in the wake of a hostage crisis that ended in bloodshed

We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A today, March 20 at 1 p.m., with TIME Washington senior correspondent, Massimo Calabresi, who wrote this week’s story on the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. His other stories can be found here.

You can submit your questions beforehand onTwitter using the #AskTIME hashtag or in the comments of this post. We depend on smart, interesting questions from readers.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

Get TIME’s The Brief e-mail every morning in your inbox

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush Supporter Stumbles Into Campaign Finance Tangle With Radio Ad

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks to the media after visiting Integra Biosciences during a campaign stop in Hudson, New Hampshire
Shannon Stapleton—Reuters Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks to the media after visiting Integra Biosciences during a campaign stop in Hudson, New Hampshire March 13, 2015.

How a Bush backer ran afoul of the former governor's lawyers

Jay Schorr was one of Jeb Bush’s biggest fans.

The owner of a South Florida media company, Schorr was so glad to see Bush taking a hard look at a presidential campaign that in early February, he began funding radio ads touting the former Sunshine State governor as the solution to America’s ailments. “Only one man is running on a record of success: Jeb Bush,” intoned his initial 49-second spot, which Schorr believes was the first to promote Bush as a presidential candidate.

But there was a problem: Bush isn’t officially running for anything. Even as he winks and nods his way across early primary states, doing all the things candidates do—giving speeches, meeting with the press, raising money and building supporter lists—the former Florida governor has exploited the blind spots in U.S. campaign finance law to avoid the legal definition of candidate activity.

As a result, what Schorr got this week in return for his zeal and financial support was a cease-and-desist letter from Bush’s lawyers. “While we appreciate your enthusiasm,” they wrote in the missive, a copy of which was obtained by TIME, “your ads erroneously suggest that Governor Bush is a candidate for office and claim that he approved the messages in the ads. Please be aware that Governor Bush is NOT a candidate for any office and he has not approved any of your advertisements.”

As a legal matter, Bush’s lawyers had plenty of reasons to be cautious. His effort to reach the White House can only be carried out legally in its current incarnation if he denies that any of it is being done as part of a dedicated effort to win the White House.

If that sounds strange, welcome to the world of modern day campaign finance. The 2016 presidential election is poised to shatter spending records, with more money sloshing around than ever before. And a big part of the reason is the proliferation of individual-candidate super PACs, groups that can raise unlimited sums in support of specific candidates, but cannot directly coordinate most of their efforts with those candidates once they declare for federal office.

Super PACs emerged as a force in 2012, with patriotic monikers like Restore Our Future (which supported Mitt Romney) and Priorities USA Action (which backed Barack Obama and has since thrown its muscle behind Hillary Clinton). In 2014, they spread widely to Congressional races. And in the nascent phases of the 2016 race, they have become the most effective weapon in a presidential hopeful’s arsenal, a way for an undeclared candidate to stockpile unlimited sums right out of the gate.

Bush, like an array of other all-but-certain candidates, is using his Right to Rise super PAC to rake in millions of dollars, all while maintaining the pretense that he is not officially running for anything. After he becomes a candidate, he is almost certain to cut official ties to Right to Rise, leaving it in the hands of his staff, who will run television ads on his behalf. In the meantime, his lawyers are careful to ensure he doesn’t run afoul of Federal Election Commission regulations. (Charlie Spies, counsel to the Right to Rise PAC and the main author of the letter to Schorr, did not respond to a request for comment.)

The cease-and-desist letter shocked Schorr, who says he was simply trying to exercise his First Amendment rights to enumerate Bush’s merits. Schorr’s idea was to create one radio ad each week until November 2016. One quirky spot featured an imaginary dialogue between Bush and Bill Clinton; another challenged David Letterman to a monologue contest in response to a recent Late Night swipe. So far, he’s done about a half-dozen ads in total, paying about $7,000 out of his own pocket to place them on local radio and the Internet. “A mere pittance in political advertising terms,” he notes, “but for someone not being financed by big pocket donors, it’s significant.”

Though the spat has soured him a bit on Bush’s operation, Schorr says he still supports the former Florida governor. But he has come to believe that the episode highlights how Bush, like many other 2016 hopefuls, is flouting the spirit of U.S. campaign-finance laws, if not the letter.

“The whole campaign finance landscape is a sham. It’s a legal fiction. The candidates themselves are wink-winking—‘if I decide to run’,” he says. “They’re paying lip service to some ridiculous federal regulations that everyone circumvents.”

“People need to know,” Schorr adds, “that these candidates are running wild.”

TIME White House

Obama Taps Facebook Director to Upgrade White House Technology

Facebook's David Recordon is the White House's new IT specialist

The Obama Administration has tapped another Silicon Valley techie to help the federal government navigate the digital world.

Facebook Engineering Director David Recordon is set to join the White House staff as the director of information technology, a new position created to upgrade technology at the White House. According to a White House blog post, Recordon will unite overlapping programs and ensure the government has the most up-to-date, secure equipment.

“His considerable private sector experience and ability to deploy the latest collaborative and communication technologies will be a great asset to our work on behalf of the American people,” President Obama said of Recordon in a statement.

Yahoo News first reported Recordon’s appointment on Thursday and Obama signed a presidential memorandum establishing the position later in the afternoon. Before joining Facebook in 2009, Recordon worked at several startups including blogging services creator Six Apart and Verisign.

Recordon’s hiring is the latest move by the Obama administration to bring the federal government’s technology up to speed with the private sector. In 2014, President Obama launched the U.S. Digital Service, which brought some of the brightest minds of the tech world to Washington to improve the government’s use of technology. The Digital Service is led by Mikey Dickerson, a former Google executive who was tapped to fix the Healthcare.gov website following its abysmal launch.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Praises George W. Bush and the Art of Compromise

Hillary Clinton Inducted Into Irish America Hall of Fame
Yana Paskova—Getty Images Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on stage during a ceremony to induct her into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 16, 2015 in New York City.

The former Secretary of State avoided her email controversy in one of her last speeches before she is expected to announce her presidential bid

Hillary Clinton took respite from the swirling controversy over her email use as Secretary of State during an address at a summer camp conference on Thursday, where she criticized the bipartisan divide in Washington and touted her own ability to work across the party aisle.

“We’ve lost the essential role of relationship-building and consensus-building,” Clinton told the crowd gathered in an Atlantic City, New Jersey convention center. “When I was in the Senate, I realized that I might be opposed to someone’s bill today, and working with that person tomorrow.”

“I did a lot of reaching across the aisle working with people who had a lot of political differences with me,” she said.

Clinton recalled the days after 9/11 when as a Senator from New York, she lobbied President George W. Bush in the Oval Office for aid to New York. “President Bush looked at us and said, ‘What do you need?’ And I said, ‘We need $20 billion to rebuild New York Mr. President.’ And he said, ‘You got it.’ I will never forget that,” Clinton recalled.

“If you don’t build relationships with people and all you do is show up to argue and show up to point fingers, you can’t get anything done,” she continued.

Clinton’s remarks were not only a critique of the prevailing deadlock in Washington but also a dig at hardline Republicans and President Obama, who many critics have argued has been largely unable to rein in divides in the Capitol.

“The people who claim proudly never to compromise should not be in the Congress of the United States, because I don’t think I or anybody have all the answers. I think we can actually learn things from each other I think we have to start listening,” she said.

The candidates’ ability to ameliorate divides in Washington will likely be a key theme of the race, as hopefuls appeal to an American public weary of partisan gridlock in the Capitol. Clinton is set to announce her all-but-certain bid for president next month.

In her 30-minute speech and the subsequent question-and answer session, Clinton did not address the ongoing controversy over her use of personal email during her time as Secretary of State, when she sent work-related emails from her own account. Republicans have sharply criticized the likely candidate for taking over a year to turn over work-related emails, and for deleting over 30,000 emails she deemed personal. She has not spoken on the issue since a press conference at the United Nations last week.

Clinton spoke to a jam-packed crowd of hundreds of camp staff and professionals at the American Camp Association Tri-State CAMP Conference in Atlantic City. In an exhibition nearby, businesses displaying camp trophies, tubs of sunscreen, and lice treatments advertised to summer camp professionals.

Thursday’s event marked one of the last speeches on Clinton’s calendar, which for two years has been littered with lucrative speaking events across the United States. Earning fees that often ran upwards of $200,000, Clinton has addressed audiences ranging from Goldman Sachs to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

She also used her audience to return to more familiar themes of her career, like early childhood education and environmental protection. She has been a staunch advocate of pre-kindergarten programs, and she commended preschool initiatives in Oklahoma and New York City.

“We don’t have a national program but we’re doing it a local and state level,” said Clinton. “This is not just about how nice it is to do things for our kids, all of our kids, every kind of kid. This is about what we’re going to be able to do in terms of economic growth and jobs and opportunity into the future.”

In her remarks, Clinton told the crowd that she herself never went to sleep-away camp, but recalled her daughter Chelsea’s camp experience, who at age five said she wanted to go to summer camp. “I said, ‘You’re five years old!’” Clinton recalled to laughs from the audience.

Clinton, who became a grandmother in September, invoked her own motherhood several times. Her familial role is also likely to be a key facet of her presumptive presidential campaign. “Not just my granddaughter, who’s going to get all the time, attention, love nurturing that she can possibly absorb—I imagine when she finally starts to talk she’s going to say just leave me alone, enough,” Clinton joked to laughs. “But I want every child to have the same opportunity.”

MORE: Hillary Clinton’s Search Party

A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that among Democrats who are likely to vote in the primaries, support for Clinton dropped about 15 percentage points since mid-February to a low in the mid-50s. Nearly half of Democratic respondents—46%—said there should be an independent review of Clinton’s emails to ensure she turned over everything work-related.

Clinton is scheduled to speak on Monday at an event held at the Center for American Progress, a major liberal think tank in Washington D.C., and later that day at the Toner Prize celebration.

Clinton is not scheduled to speak publicly in April, when she is expected to announce her bid for president.

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