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• Obama tries to outrun bad news on health law
• Racing the clock on shutdown
• Iran outreach shaken up
• Senate seeks limits on NSA spying
• Dirty bird
OBAMA TRIES TO OUTRUN BAD NEWS ON HEALTH LAW - President Obama keeps up his sales pitch for free and subsidized health insurance benefits today, working to convince skeptical young consumers to sign up. But as he heads to Prince George’s Community College in suburban Washington to encourage students to sign up, he’ll be followed by another bad headline for his signature law, this time from a very problematic agency.
IRS failed to account for $67M in ObamaCare costs - “The Internal Revenue Service is unable to account for $67 million in spending related to the implementation of ObamaCare, according to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The $67 million in unaccounted-for spending was associated with ‘indirect’ implementation costs, which can include providing employees with workspace and information technology support.” More
[New NYT/CBS Poll: “Only 30 percent of Americans believe [President Obama] cares ‘a lot’ about their needs and problems, a figure that has fallen steadily from early in his first term.”]
High-pressure sales pitch - As the White House shifts into insurance salesman mode, with Press Secretary Jay Carney touting crisp, delicious apples for sale, the race is on against the steady stream of bad news about the president’s law. Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle is analyzing potential premium spikes as ObamaCare goes into effect and the findings are not encouraging.
[Reference desk: Investor’s Business Daily is tracking the public and private entities that have cut hours and jobs citing to ObamaCare. The list has 313 entries so far.]
D.C. not ready for ObamaCare - Breitbart: “The Washington, D.C. Obamacare exchange announced on Wednesday it will not be ready on October 1… Officials say determining eligibility will now need to be delayed until November but that people will still be permitted to apply.”
NEXT STEPS IN SENATE - With a government shutdown looming, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., is speeding things up. Reid made procedural moves that set up a Friday-morning vote on a short-term emergency spending bill. That vote will prove painful for some Republicans after Sen. Ted Cruz’s impassioned 21-hour speech urging his colleagues to block any spending bills until Democrats agree to rip out ObamaCare funding. But with GOP leaders vowing to plow ahead, congressional clock watchers expect a final vote – including a promised amendment from Reid restoring ObamaCare funding –sometime Saturday. The final votes can pass with a Democrat-only simple majority.
[Watch Fox: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discusses what Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accomplished during his 21-hour marathon speech in the 9 a.m. ET hour]
Hurdles for the House - Republicans in the House will then have to decide whether to stand by their demand that the health law be defunded and risk a government shutdown, or pass the revised bill allowing key parts of ObamaCare to launch on Oct.1. Leaders are mulling whether to push through a super-short-term spending bill – perhaps for as little as a week – in order to buy more time to negotiate. But remember, the administration has set the date for the next fiscal cliff: Oct. 17 when the Treasury Department says it needs more borrowing authority. One idea in GOP circles is to push the spending squabble ahead long enough to expand the fight to include the debt limit.
[“I think when we are trying to grow our party, it could disrupt and distract us if the government shuts down.”--Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on “Hannity”]
House playing hooky - The Hill: “Roughly 15 percent of House members weren't present for two votes Wednesday night, despite what has so far been a light work week that didn't start until Wednesday afternoon. The House held two votes Wednesday evening, both of which saw in excess of 60 members missing.” House members may be extending time in their districts as they anticipate a long legislative weekend ahead.
YOU HAVE A SEAT ON THE ‘SPECIAL REPORT’ PANEL - As measured by Bing Pulse, Charles Krauthammer’s comment that ObamaCare would limit innovation and hurt American families struck a chord with viewers who delivered an enthusiastic 25,716 votes per minute during his remarks on Wednesday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” panel dissection. Viewers cast a total of 187,675 votes via Bing Pulse during the panel.
On the ongoing budget debate in Washington, Republicans, Democrats, and independents strongly disagreed with NPR’s Mara Liasson that President Obama is unwilling to negotiate on the debt ceiling. Viewers of all political stripes agreed with The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes that everything, including Social Security and entitlements, should be on the table.
Women disagreed more strongly than men with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s contention that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s floor speech was a waste of time. Republicans and independents strongly disagreed with Krauthammer’s statement that it is wrong of Ted Cruz to suggest that Republicans who disagree with him actually support ObamaCare.
BAIER TRACKS: SADDLE UP, HOSS…“As Washington focuses on the possibility of a government shutdown and on every syllable Sen. Ted Cruz utters at any moment, there seems to be a ‘Meanwhile, back at the ranch’ moment.
Some coverage was given to the fact that the president of the United States wanted to have a handshake and a photo with the new Iranian president, whom the administration now calls ‘moderate.’ And President Hassan Rouhani said ‘No thanks.’ So again – in America, on this supposed mission to change the way Iran operates – Rouhani does not want to even shake the hand of the man who is the head of the country he's supposed be ‘moderating and mellowing’ about.
Here's what Rouhani told Charlie Rose about it: ‘Well, after all, we're speaking of two countries who have had no relations for 35 years. So clearly to begin talks requires prep work. When completed, it is possible to have a meeting.’
Prep work? For a pull aside/handshake/photo? Again: ‘Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the U.S. was dissed with the world watching.’- Bret Baier
Why Rouhani snubbed Obama - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters, including the WaPo’s David Ignatius, “it’s a question of months not years,” when asked about a timeframe for resolving his country’s nuclear issue. So if he’s so eager to get going, why snub President Obama? Inagatius’ surmise is that Rouhani did not want to seem overeager and provide fodder for his political rivals at home to accuse him of being a Western lapdog.
Face time - Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from Russia, China, Britain and Germany meet today with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet with an Iranian minister since the 1979 Islamist revolution and consequent hostage crisis.
U.N. closer to Syria agreement - The U.N. Security Council appears to be getting closer to a resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons. The draft resolution reportedly falls short of U.S. calls for enforcement measures, according to WaPo.
MILITARY CONTRACTOR OUTED FOR IRAN DEALINGS - WSJ: “The company that holds the multibillion-dollar Pentagon contract to supply U.S. forces in Afghanistan with food and water brought in supplies to build an Afghan warehouse through Iran, in a possible violation of U.S. sanctions.”
[The number of U.S. drone strikes overseas has dropped significantly since President Obama was pressured by Congress to change his policy. Intelligence sources tell Fox News that since May, the number of strikes has dropped dramatically, by 50 percent in Pakistan and Yemen.]
Ayotte holds up Air Force nominee - Military Times: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is blocking “the White House’s nominee for Air Force secretary … Deborah Lee James until questions are answered regarding potential cuts to the A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft…”
[Watch Fox: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., appears in the 10 a.m. ET hour]
SENATE SEEKS LIMITS ON NSA SPYING -Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency director Keith Alexander will testify today before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The committee will look at recent legislation aimed at curtailing the NSA's authority to spy on Americans, including Sen. Patrick Leahy's, D-Vt., bill that would stop the NSA from amassing a database of Americans’ telephone calls.
The Judge’s Verdict: Secret courts questionable - Judge Andrew Napolitano for Fox News Opinion - Is the FISA Court constitutional?: “…Congress has lessened the protection of the right to be left alone that the Framers intentionally sought to enshrine.”
[WaPo details how newly declassified documents reveal the NSA spied on Vietnam war critics, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and former Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, and WaPo columnist Art Buchwald]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Daniel Henninger considers the impact of ObamaCare implementation failures in Let ObamaCare Collapse : “If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change.”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.2 percent//Disapprove – 50.5 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.1 percent//Wrong Track – 63.7 percent
CUCCINELLI, MCAULIFFE STAY ON SCRIPT, ON THE ATTACK - Washington Examiner: Wednesday night’s Virginia gubernatorial debate pitted Republican Ken Cuccinelli's social conservatism against Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s lack of governing experience. McAuliffe sought to downplay Cuccinelli’s experience saying, “…his experience has been in dividing people.” While Cuccinelli played up recent business endorsements rebutting, “My opponent has spent a lot of time telling you why you shouldn’t vote for me for governor but not much time telling you why you should vote for him.”
GLITZY GRIMES? - Kentucky’s College Republicans have posted a video of Democratic Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes supposedly being chauffeured by her husband, as she takes the back seat during an airport pickup.
SAY HELLO TO THE AMERICAN DREAM INDEX - How’s your American Dream going? The economists at Xavier University’s Williams College of Business are keeping track. Xavier’s team is providing, exclusively to FOX News, their first forecasts for the economic measures that make up Americans’ sense of economic wellbeing. And since nothing tells us more about voters’ appetite for political change than their attitudes about their own economic fortunes, we thought you’d want to know.
Ears on you - Watch Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen explain how the index works on Special Report, but here’s the takeaway: Americans are better predictors of the health of the economy than economists. Xavier’s team listens to you, so we listen to them. And by listening closely, we can better predict the next political trends by better predicting key measures like unemployment and changes to the overall output of the economy – the gross domestic product – as well as the nation’s overall sense of prosperity.
The first fearless forecast - Government economists will release final numbers today for the GDP in April, May and June. The current estimate for the quarter’s growth rate currently stands at 2.5 percent.
The team at Xavier predicts third quarter GDP will be 2.6 percent. We’ll keep checking back to track their performance and bring you their outlook on other key indices.
Why it matters - If the economy was making better gains in the spring than previously believed, and Americans are feeling more confident about the economy, the current fiscal fighting in Washington may be seen with less urgency. If the economy can make headway with Washington in abject gridlock, both President Obama and Republicans in Congress may struggle to create popular pressure for their preferred changes. In his case, that means higher taxes and more spending. In their case, that means the elimination or delay of Obama’s new health-insurance entitlement.
DIRTY BIRD -“Basil the African Grey [parrot] launched his first verbal volley within hours of being given a new home with the Fisk family. He announced himself with a polite ‘hello’ to mum Sarah Fisk but when she replied he promptly told her to ‘---- off’ with an accent straight from his previous home in Wales.” More from The Telegraph.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“I don't know where Ted Cruz was or what he was doing, but he arrived at the party late. So if you're going to cast aspersions on people who fought every step of the way, who opposed every twist and turn of this ObamaCare along the way, you ought to be a little bit humble about it and at least recognize the honesty and sincerity the way he did not” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.