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Showtime for Sebelius

Oct. 24, 2013 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks in Phoenix.

Oct. 24, 2013 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks in Phoenix.  ((AP))

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Buzz Cut:
• Showtime for Sebelius
• If you like it you can keep it*
• Cat and mouse budget talks begin
• Stunner poll boosts Cuccinelli
• Business trip, indeed…

SHOWTIME FOR SEBELIUS - After ducking for a week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will appear at a congressional hearing looking into the disastrous launch of  Her already released opening statement does not express any regret and shifts blame away from the administration and toward the dozens of contractors who worked on the crash-prone Web site. With outages still plaguing the ObamaCare signup mechanism, there will be lots of questions about why 52 months of lead time and hundreds of millions of dollars didn’t produce a better result.

[Watch Fox: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in the 8am ET hour and for continuing coverage of Sebelius’ Hill grilling throughout the day.]

Wait, it gets worse - That would have been bad enough, but now Sebelius will face new questions about the law itself as it becomes clear that the waves of insurance cancellations sweeping across the nation were by design. Who planned this disruptive regulatory course? What did the president know about it? Did she or anyone in the administration point out the false promises he used to sell the law and win re-election? 

[Watch Fox: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., discusses Secretary Sebelius’ testimony in the 11 a.m. ET hour]

Who knew? - Of course, when President Obama and Sebelius set a course for disruption, they didn’t imagine that the ObamaCare launch would sound like a whoopee cushion. They might not have been so sanguine about blowing up existing coverage if they could have foreseen today. As people are finding out about the asterisks attached to Obama’s coverage promises, confidence in the administration’s ability to operate the sign-up Web site, let alone the benefits themselves, are approaching the vanishing point. Read on in Power Play.

[Fox News looks at the connections ObamaCare Web site contractor CGI has to first lady Michelle Obama and the role it played in President Obama’s campaigns.]

Before she was the face of ObamaCare - Most folks know Kathleen Sebelius as the hard-chiseled secretary of Health and Human Services who has spent years hawking the much maligned ObamaCare and lately its disastrous launch. Sebelius, who served as governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009, was once considered a rising political star. She is the daughter of former Gov. John Gilligan, D-Ohio, who was a powerhouse in the early 1970s. Sebelius’ husband, Gary, is the son of former Kansas Republican Rep. Keith Sebelius. She was vetted as potential running mate for both John Kerry and Barack Obama and was perennially mentioned as a potential presidential candidate herself. Before her stint as governor, Sebelius served as Kansas insurance commissioner and was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995. Her home state support ebbed as her administration came to a close, particularly over her continued support for keeping late-term abortions legal.

[A new survey from top Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies conducted for American Crossroads shows 70 percent of registered voters support a one-year delay in the remaining provisions of ObamaCare]

BAIER TRACKS: HEAR, HEAR…“Most hearings on Capitol Hill never live up to the hype. They never seem to deliver the pointed questions that the American people want asked. They never seem to serve up the questions Washington journalists have been trying to get answered.  It always seems to be about lawmakers seeking their moment in the spotlight and a TV soapbox to rail against the administration or to rail against Republicans in order to score points with their supporters at home.  But, this hearing with Secretary Sebelius today MAY be different.  

It feels like a turning point. After two weeks of stories about the flubbed Web site, the new storyline is much more daunting for the administration. It’s about the substance of ObamaCare and about the veracity of the president's repeated sales pitch.

While Democrats are tying themselves up with rhetorical gymnastics trying to explain the millions of people who have been dropped or will be dropped from their existing plans, it seems more and more likely that a delay of some type – a significant delay –may be in the cards. Bottom line: This hearing feels different. After SNL, Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and every major news organization have had their takes on ObamaCare’s major troubles, this may be a tipping point. We’ll see.” – Bret Baier.

IF YOU LIKE IT YOU CAN KEEP IT* - White House Press Secretary Jay Carney walked back President Obama’s “you can keep it” pledge Tuesday, saying: “If you had a plan… and you liked it, and you’ve kept it, you can keep if forever as long as your insurer offers it.

[WaPo gives four Pinocchios to Obama’s pledge that ‘no one will take away’ your health plan.]

Obama re-revisits Romneycare - President Obama heads to Boston today in an attempt to resuscitate the rollout of his new health-insurance entitlement program. Obama is set to deliver a speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the spot where then-Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., signed a law mandating residents purchase insurance in 2006. That law also had a rocky start, but not as bad as this one. The program was smaller and leaned heavily on federal funding. Here’s how the liberal Boston Globe is welcoming the president to town: Besieged Obama heads to Boston

Mr. Will observes - “[President Obama] seems to think that his job as chief executive is not to be the executive but to be angry at his own administration when it doesn't perform well…Fast and Furious, the  IRS, Benghazi, NSA, investigation of our Mr. Rosen, there's just a list of things that surprise him.”George Will on “Special Report with Bret Baier”. Watch Here.

Revisionist history? - Daily Caller: “The Obama administration knew years in advance that Obamacare’s ‘grandfathering’ regulation would wipe out many Americans’ existing health insurance plans, according to a leaked draft of a 2010 administration document…the administration changed or deleted key passages in the document when it published its official version of the document days later…The administration changed the term ‘most plans’ from its final version of the document, and also deleted an important sentence about ‘gradual change’ from the final version of the document.”

HHS hush about convict contract - The Department of Health and Human Services has quietly canceled a contract to Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, a Chicago-based advocacy group that planned to promote ObamaCare benefits to recently paroled prisoners, after Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., wrote a letter to the agency in July questioning how the contract was funded. Fox News has more.

[Watch Fox: Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., appears in the 1 p.m. ET hour]

CAT AND MOUSE BUDGET TALKS - The White House lays out its opening offer in budget talks set to begin today in a background briefing to the WSJ: “The White House has cracked open the door to a budget compromise with congressional Republicans by signaling it might not insist on raising taxes as part of a deal to replace some scheduled spending cuts, people familiar with the matter said…. [T]he White House has been more willing to consider cuts in other entitlement programs – such as agriculture subsidies.” That doesn’t sound like much to GOPers facing the next fiscal cliff in less than three months. A senior House Republican tells Fox News First: “We've heard it before. But what we've never seen is any willingness from the president to get his party to make any concessions on entitlement reform.”

PAUL BLOCKS FED HEAD - Washington Examiner: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will block the nomination of Janet Yellen to become chairwoman of the Federal Reserve until Senate Majority Leader lists a blockade of Paul’s legislation that would initiate the first-ever audit of the central bank.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...John Stossel looks at the changing mission of the Federal Reserve for Fox News Opinion in End the Fed: “The Fed, created to shore up capitalism, has become an instrument of government economic management not so different from a socialist planning board… Its main mission has become continually goosing economic activity through infusions of new cash to maintain the illusion that good times will never falter. The result isn’t stability, but one economic bubble after another.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.9 percent//Disapprove – 50.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 20.1 percent//Wrong Track – 73.0 percent 

[A new Gallup poll indicates 60 percent of Americans support capital punishment for convicted murderers, the lowest since 1972.  In the mid 1990s, support for the death penalty was at 80 percent.]

STUNNER POLL: DOWN TO THE WIRE IN VIRGINIA - A Quinnipiac poll released this morning shows a 6-point jump in support for Republican Ken Cuccinelli in next week’s Virginia gubernatorial race. Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads by just 3 points, 45 percent to 41 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis garners 9 percent. Last week’s survey had McAuliffe up a prohibitive-sounding 9 points.

Cuccinelli chokes up -Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli showed some raw emotion during a Tuesday campaign appearance with Gob. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Cuccinelli tearfully recounted the case of Thomas Haynesworth, who spent 27 years in prison for rapes he did not commit, Politico reports. Virginia’s Attorney General led the charge in 2011 that eventually exonerated Haynesworth.

HOORAY FOR HILLARYWOOD - Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is passing the hat in Hollywood today. Clinton will headline a $15,000-per-person fundraising luncheon for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at the home of media billionaire Haim Saban, Variety reports. Clinton will also cozy up to politically active television and big-screen stars at an environmental gala this evening.  She will be back in Hollywood next week to headline events with prominent Democrats Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, and Rob Reiner.

GRIMES CAMPAIGNS WITH COAL FOE - As Sen. Minority leader Mitch McConnell protested what he calls President Obama’s “war on coal” during a Tuesday rally, Democrat opponent Allison Lundergan Grimes appeared at a California fundraiser with top coal foe Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor. Grimes’s spokeswoman, Charly Norton, said Grimes “will stand up to members of her own party and continue to support the coal industry and its miners,” in a statement. The Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader has more.

SECRET INVESTIGATIONS TARGET WALKER, WISCONSIN GOP - Americans learned about Wisconsin’s “John Doe” investigations during the state’s budget battles and subsequent failed recall effort aimed at Gov. Scott Walker. Unlike other states, Wisconsin allows prosecutors to operate in secret even without the oversight of a grand jury. With Walker’s re-election bid underway, so are the next round of secret investigations, reportedly from prosecutors in Democratic counties. Secret investigations of Walker launched during the recall cycle ended up nailing some underlings from his term as Milwaukee County supervisor for misappropriating funds but didn’t deliver on promises of widespread scandal that shrouded Walker’s re-candidacy. This time, the secret investigations center on the campaign practices from Walker and conservative groups in the recall. The Franklin Center’s reports that Republicans smell a rat: “…the manifold legal attack on nonprofit political organizations has included after-hours visits to homes and offices; confiscated equipment and files; and demands for phone, email and other records.”

TOPTWEETS - From #Media Buzz’s Lauren Ashburn: Trending today is a Halloween-themed Tweet from @TedCruz complete with video: “Health care plan cancellations and rate hikes across America -- #ObamaScare is here. WATCH” Lauren tracks the Twitterverse every day in her Top Twitter Talk column.

CONVENTIONEERS GONE WILD - Remember the General Services Administration’s conventioneers gone wild? The guy with the gold chain drinking a cosmo in a hot tub. The Las Vegas resort hotels. The cash bonuses. Well, they weren’t the only ones living it up. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the House Oversight and Government affairs Committee today look at the high rollers at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency, plagued with long wait times for vets’ medical care and bureaucratic failures spent $6.1 million on training conferences for 1,800 human resources employees. On the list of groaners: $50,000 for a parody video of the movie “Patton” and $98,000 on various goodie bag items, including fitness walking kits. National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin has the story.

BUSINESS TRIP, INDEED…“CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's highest court on Wednesday denied worker's compensation to a bureaucrat who was injured while having sex in her hotel room on a business trip in a final decision reversing lower court rulings…. She was a federal civil servant in her 30s when she hospitalized for the injury in 2007. While she and a man were having sex in her hotel room, a glass light fitting above the bed fell onto her face, injuring her nose and mouth. She later suffered depression and was unable to continue working for the government…. [Officials] initially approved her claim for worker's compensation but rejected it after further investigation. An administrative tribunal agreed that her injuries were not suffered in the course of her employment, saying the government had not induced or encouraged the woman's sexual conduct. The tribunal also found the sex was ‘not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay’ such as showering, sleeping and eating.” More from AP.

LITTLE GREEN MEN - Today marks the 75th anniversary of the radio adaptation of H.G. Well’s “The War of the Worlds.” The fictional newscast conjured by Orson Welles in 1938 shocked America when it aired on Halloween eve.  Some sources estimate that more than 20 percent of the listeners believed the invasion was actually real, despite disclaimers broadcast by CBS radio.  From USA Today: “The format of the faux show was music by "Ramon Raquello and his Orchestra" in the Park Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, interspersed by simulated news bulletins, beginning with a report of explosions on Mars that led to a Martian invasion targeting Grovers Mill [N.J.]. Once in Grovers Mill, the Martians spread forth, hitting Plainsboro, Jamesburg, Basking Ridge, Watchung and Morristown before taking New York City.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“By making plans more expensive, by adding stuff that people do not need so that you are 60 years old and you are a single guy, you are getting maternity coverage and you are paying for it. Subsidizing the uninsured, instead of subsidizing them directly with a tax and being honest with that what you are trying to do is disguise it by hiking the premiums and here is what people leave out, hiking the deductibles. And that's where people are going to get real sticker shock.” – Charles Krauthammer on “The O’Reilly Factor”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.