Morning Must Reads: July 3

In the news: Obamacare, Egypt, farmers, Portugal, and paying for Facebook likes

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • Egyptians are counting down to an afternoon ultimatum that could set up a violent confrontation between Egypt’s military and President Mohammed Morsi and his defiant supporters.
    • Three government spokesmen — two for Morsi and one for the prime minister — quit on Tuesday as part of high-level defections that underscored Morsi’s increasing isolation and fallout from the military’s ultimatum. Five Cabinet ministers, including the foreign minister, resigned Monday, and a sixth, Sports Minister El-Amry Farouq, also quit Tuesday.
  • The Obama administration decided Tuesday to delay for a year a major component of the Affordable Care Act–the requirement for employers with at least 50 workers to offer health coverage.
    • Kaiser Health News: The move “could have a relatively small effect on the number of Americans who gain medical insurance next year. The law’s other two major provisions, expanding Medicaid and requiring individuals to obtain coverage or pay a penalty, were projected to add far more people to the ranks of the insured than the employer mandate. Still, Tuesday’s announcement could mean a drop in revenue for the Treasury. The CBO estimated about $10 billion in employer penalties would be collected in 2015, some of that presumably from employers who chose not to offer coverage in 2014.”
    • Sarah Kliff: “The White House just swapped one political headache for another…It contributes to critics’ claims that the White House does not have the ability to launch its biggest legislative accomplishment on schedule.”
    • Zeke Miller: Former CBO director calls decision “deviously brilliant” for removing this section of Obamacare until after the 2014 midterm elections.
  • Portuguese bonds and stocks led heavy declines in European markets Wednesday after Foreign Minister Paulo Portas resigned, triggering the worst political crisis since Portugal accepted an international bailout two years ago.
  • A new White House plan will create an inter-agency task force to fight poaching, which is on the rise thanks to a growing market in developing Asia.
  • 2.2 million people now work in farming in the United States, or about 2.5 percent of the total work force. Farming now accounts for about 1 percent of gross national product.
  • Photos: Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s
  • The State Department‘s Bureau of International Information Programs spent  $630,000 to increase the number of its Facebook “likes” between 2011 and March 2013.