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Team Obama grabs the pitchforks

Healthcare website_AP.jpg

Oct. 28, 2013, file screenshot, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' main landing web page for HealthCare.gov ((AP))

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Buzz Cut:
• Team Obama grabs the pitchforks
• Romney goes Pufferfishing
• Cuccinelli keeps focus on ObamaCare
• Senate to move on controversial employment bill
• Must be the Chuck Norris edition

TEAM OBAMA GRABS THE PITCHFORKS - The partnership between President Obama and big health insurance companies is under some serious strain as administration talking points suggest a populist pitch in a bid to resuscitate the president’s floundering new entitlement program. Ezekiel Emanuel, the leading architect of ObamaCare insisted on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” that Obama isn’t to blame for millions of cancelled policies, premium spikes and other disruptions. “The insurance decides how to make money. When the private companies decide to drop an individual, you blame Obama. He isn’t responsible for that,” said Emanuel, brother to former White House Chief of Staff turned Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

[WaPo details the sticker shock many are feeling under ObamaCare as premiums far exceed those promised.]

Promises, promises - White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer claimed Sunday that the millions of lost insurance policies under ObamaCare was the result of a prioritization of promises. President Obama, Pfeiffer said, meant to keep his promise to allow Americans to keep their policies, but that a more important promise got in the way. “[I]f the president were to allow people to have those plans be downgraded, or insurance companies to keep selling barebones plans …if he had done that he'd be violating even more important promise to the American people, that everyone would have a guarantee to access of quality affordable health insurance,” Pfeiffer told ABC’s “This Week.” Pfeiffer did not say when Obama deemed the “if you like it” pledge inoperable due to the “barebones” promise.

More cancellations ahead - Once ObamaCare is fully implemented nearly 68 percent of private insurance holders are expected to lose coverage. A study finds nearly 129 million Americans will not be able to hold on to their current policies, Daily Caller reports.

Politics, politics - The WaPo gets into the nitty-gritty of how the politics of ObamaCare drove the implementation of ObamaCare and trampled the concerns of the geek squad. The long take depicts the saddening moment when technicians watching a Sept. 5 demonstration for higher ups “secretly rooted for it to fail so that perhaps the White House would wait to open the exchange until it was ready.”

“…not just a Web site” - ObamaCare navigators have turned to non-electronic sign-ups in an attempt to protect their reputation. Still, the paper applications face the same problems the problem plagued Healthcare.gov Web reports. As of Oct. 18, one of the contractors Serco received close to 3,000 paper applications. White House memos obtained by The House Oversight Committee reveal President Obama knew those applying via call centers would face the same problems that users of the beleaguered health exchange Web site face.

Web travails continue - Meanwhile the troubled Web site was shut down again Saturday night for “extended repairs” according to Health and Human Services. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle took to the Sunday shows calling for the president to take the failed Web site offline until the problems are fixed. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., agreed with Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on CBS’  “Face the Nation” that the administration should take down healthcare.gov, “until it was right.”

Organizing for ObamaCare - President Obama will address a gathering of his permanent campaign apparatus, Organizing for Action, this evening. According to the White House and OFA, Obama will be attending a “working dinner” with the group’s top partners, including Planned Parenthood, AFSCME, SEIU and the Center for American Progress, to discuss how to generate grassroots support for his signature entitlement program.

OPEN SECRETS? - The independent board established in 2004 to advise the president on privacy and civil liberties issues in laws, regulations, and policies related to terrorism holds two rare open meetings today to discuss concerns about the secret court that handles national security cases after revelations from leaker Edward Snowden about the scope of the U.S. spy regime. Correspondent Shannon Bream has the latest. 

[Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first published Snowden’s revelations is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the Council on American Islamic Relations Nov. 16 dinner in Anaheim, Calif. Greenwald has previously said he faced risk of prosecution if he entered the U.S., Daily Caller has more.]  

ROMNEY GOES PUFFERFISHING - Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney returned to the Sunday show scene to rebut President Obama’s claims that the crashed launch of his national insurance law was similar to what happened to Romney’s program in Massachusetts. But the fascination from his hosts at NBC News was all about the catty details of Romney’s veepstakes and the problems Team Romney had with Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., whom the campaign reportedly dubbed “Pufferfish.” Excerpts from the forthcoming book “Double Down” chronicle in lavish detail Christie’s weaknesses as a potential running mate, demonstrating that individuals with clout in Romneyland dumped plenty of documents and campaign scuttlebutt on the authors: Romney’s disdain for Christie’s tardiness to campaign events and mocking of Christie’s girth; vetters worries over Christie’s work for an investment association while Bernie Madoff was a senior official; Christie’s brother, who settled with the SEC for overcharging customers for trades; and on and on.

No denying - When pressed about the revelations by NBC’s David Gregory, Romney didn’t deny dissing Christie, who famously embraced Obama one year ago while keeping Romney at arms’ length amid recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy. “I know in a campaign people drudge up all the old stuff again, but he’s already dealt with it,” Romney said.

Frenemies - The former Massachusetts governor said he sees Christie’s expected win Tuesday as proof he would be a formidable 2016 candidate. “He’s a very popular governor in a very blue state. That’s the kind of popularity and the kind of track record that the Republican Party needs if we’re going to take back the White House,” adding, Christie is “one of the strongest lights” of the GOP.  Appearing on the same show in a separate segment, Christie attributed the details to “two guys trying to sell a book” who “sensationalize things” gleaned from “low-level staff.” When asked if his re-election would send a message about his future in national politics, “I’m not planning for it, I just think it’s inevitable.”

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Katy Waldman considers a future of nearly endless adolescence for Slate in Childhood’s End “…[O]ur protracted life spans have already had a huge—and somewhat tautological—effect on childhood: It’s much easier than it used to be to get out of those years alive… If youth is a state of exploration and play, perhaps improved life expectancies will allow us to stretch it out past its previous limits. Seventy could be the new 45, 50 the new 21.”

[Ed. note: Yeah, but the same thing will end the Western cultural trend toward protracted adolescence that ends the phase for individuals: When you run out of other people’s money, you have to go work.]

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

POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.3 percent//Disapprove – 51.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 22.6 percent//Wrong Track – 70.6 percent 

CUCCINELLI KEEPS FOCUS ON OBAMACARE IN CLOSE - Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is hoping to build momentum using public angst over the botched rollout of ObamaCare. Cuccinelli is in the middle of an 18-speech tour across the commonwealth urging voters to, “send Washington a message on ObamaCare.” The Real Clear Politics Average for the race shows McAuliffe leading by 5 points. He led by 10 points one week ago. A new Quinnipiac poll out today shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 6 points, 46 percent-to-40 percent, a slight change from last week’s survey showing McAuliffe ahead 45 percent to 41 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis got 8 percent of the vote. Five percent who named a candidate say there’s a good chance they could change their mind by tomorrow.  The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more.

[Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., campaigns for Cuccinelli today in Northern Virginia. Campaign Carl Cameron will have the latest from the trail.]  

Baier Tracks: A once-healthy margin… “The Virginia gubernatorial race seems to be closing in final days. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is outspending Republican Ken Cuccinelli on the airwaves desperately trying to seal the deal. But one interesting part of this purple-state race: both sides are invoking President Obama in the final hours. Democrats are talking government shutdown, Republicans are talking ObamaCare.

This is fairly telling: In a 20 minute speech Sunday a few miles from the White House, the president never directly mentioned the health law once. For the Cuccinelli camp, it would have moved this race even further if the ObamaCare story had exploded a few weeks earlier. We'll see.” – Bret Baier.

[Vice President Joe Biden will cross the Potomac today to stump for McAuliffe in voter-rich Fairfax County.]

Baggage Handlers - WSJ blasts Democrat Terry McAuliffe, linking him to the many scandals of the Clinton family. “For aficionados of the 1990s, the story includes the familiar cast of Clinton characters leveraging connections for political favors…. the insider political deals, the dubious pardons, the stonewalling, and the denials that proved to be false after the election. If Mr. McAuliffe wins on Tuesday, the Clinton Show will officially be back in town.”

ALMOST ELECTION DAY-O IN NEW YORK - New York City Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is slamming Democrat Bill de Blasio for standing by while supporter Harry Belafonte called David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers and conservative activists,“white supremacists.” During his introduction of de Blasio at a Sunday church service, Belafonte told the congregation the Koch brothers, “make up the hearts and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan.” De Blasio holds a huge lead in pre-election polls and is expected to cruise to victory Tuesday. More from NYT.

SENATE TO MOVE ON CONTROVERSIAL EMPLOYMENT BILL - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to call an initial vote today on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a measure that would extend the same special protections for gay employees as those provided for racial and ethnic minorities and those with disabilities. Opponents argue that the act does not protect religious organizations and would force them to violate their beliefs. The bill is expected to clear the Senate but faces an uncertain path in the House.

TOPTWEETS
@laurenashburn’s top tweet pick for this morning: WaPo’s @PhillipRucker: “Washington is bedeviled by both the living dead & the dead living." - Another govt waste eye-opener by @Fahrenthold http://t.co/45iMTxWjFV
 
[Lauren Ashburn of “#MEDIABUZZ” tracks the Twitterverse every day in Top Twitter Talk.]

YOU HAVE A SEAT ON THE PANEL - Here are the results of Friday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” All-Star Panel, Bing Pulse saw Republicans, Democrats, independents, men and women agree with Weekly Standard Senior Writer Stephen Hayes assertion that a forthcoming book from Benghazi witnesses will contradict the “official line” from the Obama administration. There was high agreement from both genders when Hayes said the witnesses are “likely to provide basically a ‘just the facts ma’am’ accounting of what actually happened on the ground.” When AP’s Julie Pace questioned whether congressional hearings will get the White House to change its position on Benghazi, both genders highly approved.

Some of the highest viewer interaction came over discussion of ObamaCare. Stephen Hayes’ joke that he would polish every one of Baier’s shoes for a year if fixes to the ObamaCare Web site were ready in time saw viewer interaction spike to 26,000 votes per minute. Democrats agreed with House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Head, Rep. Darell Issa’s, R-Calif., claim that the White House was being disingenuous in its presentation of ObamaCare enrollment numbers. Friday’s discussion drew 183,000 viewer votes. Take a deeper data dive here. And make sure you take your seat on the panel tonight.

[Not easy being green - Nearly 15,000 French protestors were met with tear gas as they voiced their opposition to punitive environmental taxes proposed for the trucking industry. The government suspended the application of the ecotax earlier in the week, AFP reports]  

WASHINGTON BULBS DIM - The illuminated scaffolding on the Washington Monument that has given the city’s skyline a little bit of Las Vegas glow is no more. The scaffolding, erected to repair damage done in a 2011 earthquake, starts coming down today and the more staid floodlights that normally light the structure will return. The monument, which stands at 555 feet 5 18 inches, was the tallest structure in the world when it was completed in 1884. WTTG has more.

[Okay, but Lady Gaga? - “…prosecutors in court papers say [Navy contractor] Leonard Francis worked his connections to obtain military secrets by lining up hookers, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes for a U.S. commander, in a scandal reverberating across the Navy.” More from AP.]

MUST BE THE CHUCK NORRIS EDITION - Amarillo radio station BLAKE FM has declared an ad for a used Jeep “the manliest Craigslist post ever.” It’s pretty raunchy, but some SFW highlights (lowlights?): “I should start by saying that if you are looking for a ‘Pajama party Barbie Jeep’ you my friend, should keep looking. If you are looking for a short description of to the beast before you, I can offer you two words “MEAT & POTATOES”. This is the All American chariot of the free world… Any man who drives this beast doesn’t give a damn about rain. Not even skin melting acid rain, Cause he’s already dripping wet in blood, sweat, dip spit, and fish guts… This jeep has carried me through 155,000 miles of battlefield twice as gruesome as the second half of the movie ‘300’. . . And just like a trusty steed this juggernaut has never left me stranded. If you think you’ve worn her out you drag this beast back to me in any condition. And I’ll handle the rest.”

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 digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

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