Deal?: New York Times: "As they explore possible fiscal deals, President Obama and Congressional Republicans have quietly raised the idea of broad systemic changes to Medicare that could produce significant savings and end the politically polarizing debate over Republican plans to privatize the insurance program for older Americans. While the two remain far apart on the central issue of new tax revenue, recent statements from both sides show possible common ground on curbing costs of Medicare, suggesting some lingering chance, however small, for a budget bargain. ... In particular, participants say, the president told House Republicans that he was open to combining Medicare’s coverage for hospitals and doctor services. That would create a single deductible that could increase out-of-pocket costs for many future beneficiaries, but also could pay for a cap on their total expenses and reduce the need to buy Medigap supplementary insurance."
No Deal?: Washington Post: "A bipartisan deal on immigration is at risk of stalling because of a worsening dispute over a new guest-worker program, exposing fault lines between crucial interest groups and threatening to delay the unveiling of a Senate bill early next month. The impasse has prompted a bitter round of name-calling between labor and business groups, both of whom accuse the other of imperiling comprehensive immigration reform. ... The dispute has emerged as perhaps the most serious obstacle to a final deal from a bipartisan group of eight senators, who are attempting to fashion model legislation for broad immigration reform. The same issue helped derail the last serious attempt at reform in 2007 with assistance from Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois."
The Slatest: What Police Found in Adam Lanza's Home
Shame on Us: NBC News: "President Barack Obama on Thursday sternly rebuked opponents of pending gun control measures, accusing them of 'running out the clock' and hoping that the nation forgets last year’s Newtown school shooting in order to keep popular reforms from passing into law. 'The entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that that this time would be different,' the president said of the gun massacre that killed 20 children and six adults. 'Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.'"
GOP's Plan B: Politico: "Sen. Chuck Grassley is crafting an alternative Republican gun control bill, a move that could further complicate what will already be a difficult lift for Democrats and the White House. The Iowa Republican has strongly opposed expanded background checks for gun sales, the key provision of the Democratic gun bill set for debate next month, as well as an assault weapons ban or limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines. ... [E]ven if Reid is able to muster the votes needed to start debate on the Democratic gun package, a GOP alternative bill — which could include bipartisan language by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to expand the scope of mental health information submitted to the background check system used by gun sellers — could prove attractive to many senators. One top Senate Republican aide called Grassley’s alternative bill 'a break-the-glass kit' in case Reid does round up 60 votes."
Roberts Was a Victim of Credit Card Theft, and He Doesn't Care Who Knows It: Huffington Post: "Chief Justice John Roberts is paying Washington D.C.-area establishments in cash this week, after being targeted by credit card fraud. The Washington Post's Al Kamen reported Thursday that Roberts had paid his local Starbucks earlier this week with paper instead of the usual plastic. He reportedly told the cashier that someone had stolen his credit card numbers, which had forced him to cancel the cards. Roberts was overheard by The Huffington Post making a similar claim at a D.C. barber shop on Wednesday, noting that the theft had apparently originated from a suspect in Kentucky."
The View From Wall Street: Wall Street Journal: "The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index clawed higher, staging a late push to close the day solidly in record territory. The push to record territory came in midmorning trading, as the S&P 500 broke past its previous record close of 1565.15 on Oct. 9, 2007. ... The S&P 500 had flirted with its closing record for two weeks before finally vaulting over that level Thursday. It had come within five points of the closing high in seven of the past 10 sessions. ... The S&P 500 still remains just off its all-time intraday high of 1576.09 on Oct. 11, 2007. After hitting that peak more than five years ago, the benchmark shed more than half its value during the financial crisis, sinking to a close of 676.53 on March 9, 2009. Its market capitalization was $5.9 trillion at the 2009 low."
McConnell Can't Breath Easy Just Yet: National Journal: "Democrats in Kentucky who were nervous about a potential Ashley Judd candidacy got their wish. The actress announced she won’t be running in 2014 against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. ... Still, McConnell has reason to be wary. Polls show he is vulnerable. A Louisville Courier-Journal poll showed that just 17 percent of Kentucky voters planned to support McConnell for another term. McConnell's own campaign released a poll earlier this year that showed him leading the actress by only 4 points, something that Democrats in Washington have seized on. They also point to advertising run on behalf of the Kentucky Republican against Judd as evidence that McConnell has reason to be nervous."
Mandela Recovering: ABC News: "Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized, but is "responding positively" to treatment, the South African president's office said today. Mandela was admitted to the hospital just before midnight Wednesday because of his recurring lung infection, the president's office said in a statement. ... Mandela, 94, spent 18 days in the hospital in December for a lung infection and gallstones."
Walters on the Way Out: USA Today: "Barbara Walters, the doyenne of TV news and big newsmaker interviews, is planning to hang it up in May 2014. The newswoman, who hosts ABC's The View and prime-time specials, is 83, and will 'likely' retire next spring, a person familiar with her plans said, confirming a report on Deadline.com. A series of tributes and specials will air during the run-up to her exit, the person said, adding that an announcement from Walters herself is not expected anytime soon."
Easter Bunnies For All: Reuters: "Swiss premium chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli has lost a court battle to protect its gold foil-wrapped Easter bunnies from imitation by a German rival. Lindt, which traces its origins to a Zurich confectionery shop set up in the 1840s, has been fighting German chocolate maker Confiserie Riegelein since 2000 to try to stop it producing similar chocolate bunnies. But Germany's Federal Court of Justice rejected a final appeal by Lindt & Spruengli on Thursday."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
Medical Examiner: Worst Magazine Cover of the Year?
Explainer: How Good Is a $30,000 Bottle of Wine?
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