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• Faltering Obama revs up attacks
• President’s approval craters in Ohio
• Paperwork nightmare for small businesses
• Hillary handlers horn in on credit for Iran deal
• ‘We got married in a fever…’
FALTERING OBAMA REVS UP ATTACKS - President Obama is back in attack mode. Obama’s tone, which was briefly contrite following his admission that he had misled voters about being able to keep their insurance policies, turned combative during his West Coast campaign swing. He blamed Republicans for problems with his faltering health law, promising that “anybody who is going to keep on pushing against that, they will meet my resistance.” Obama is very much reverting to his 2012 playbook: firing up the base with sharp attacks on Republicans and personalizing policy differences. That’s one thing in an election when he could pin it on an individual opponent, but quite another when the issue is a law passed with only Democratic votes and enacted by his own administration. While liberals may be feeling less bilious as signups for free and subsidized health insurance pick up, the problem is all about the people who are losing coverage and jobs because of the law.
[Calls to delay the next round of penalties under the health law are growing louder. WSJ has more]
Gather together - Liberals armed with Twitter-fed talking points are ready to bring the battle of ObamaCare to the Thanksgiving dinner table, but the problems will far outlast the holiday or any of the shifting deadlines for enactment and enforcement of the law. The president’s hope to revive and drive his campaign supporters in defense of ObamaCare sounds okay for an administration deep in panic mode, but what about when the cancellation notices keep rolling out and premium spikes continue to torment so many of the 85 percent of Americans who already have coverage? Convincing folks that the uninsured should be covered is one thing, but telling them that they have to give up coverage or pay more for what they have in order to finance it is quite another.
OBAMA APPROVAL CRATERS IN OHIO - President Obama won Ohio by 3 points in 2012 and by 4 points in 2008, but the key swing state has turned sharply against the president. A new Quinnipiac poll shows 61 percent of Ohioans disapprove of Obama’s job performance and records the lowest approval rating for the president – 34 percent – of any national or state poll conducted by the school. Fifty-seven percent of respondents did not feel Obama was trustworthy, with 59 percent disapproving of ObamaCare. Forty-five percent of respondents said they expected the quality of their health care to be worse a year from now.
Oliphant: A Better Obamacare Won’t Save Obama - “The Affordable Care Act imbroglio is having an outsized effect on his entire presidency, with voters reassessing his basic qualifications. ‘This is serious,’ says Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and former chief of staff to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. ‘This is much more serious than I hear some Democrats saying publicly. This is not a temporary drop.’ Adds John Geer, an expert on public opinion at Vanderbilt University, ‘In a sense, the public was collectively willing to be patient. That reservoir of support among independents and moderates has evaporated.’”
PAPERWORK NIGHTMARE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES - Unlike big businesses, which the Obama administration granted a delay in ObamaCare penalties, small businesses are facing a deadline to comply with the law. Unfortunately, that part of the Web site isn’t fully functional yet. So companies with up to 50 employees have to mail in applications. Businessweek explains: “Employers must set up an online account, then download a PDF application. After filling out the application (possibly with the help of a broker), business owners must print it out and mail it to London, Ky., where the paperwork is being processed manually. After that, the Health and Human Services Department is supposed to contact employers and confirm that they’re eligible. Then the company can select plans and offer employees coverage. After workers decide whether or not to enroll, companies can finally submit their application online and pay for the first month of their policies. Got it?”
Can I get that on paper? - Wisconsin officials are resorting to mailing out paper versions of ObamaCare enrollment forms. The Wisconsin Free has the story of health officials sending the 26-page form, apparently unsolicited, to residents: “‘And it is such a joke,’ [an unnamed recipient] laughed. ‘At the bottom of each page it says, ‘Need Help With Your Application? Visit Healthcare.gov.’ If the website worked in the first place I wouldn’t need a paper application!’”
White House tells backers to NOT visit ObamaCare site - Worried about another crash, Obama officials told top allies, including the Service Employees International Union, to steer clear of the site during the upcoming re-launch. Officials warn a weekend surge of over 250,000 people could set the site at a crawl. NYT has the details.
Dems want a permanent fixer - Seven Democratic senators, including Mark Warner of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, are calling on the Obama administration to appoint a chief executive officer to oversee technical repairs of HealthCare.gov after the departure of management consultant Jeffrey Zients at the end of the year. Fox News has more.
Not hard to do - “We are definitely on track to have a significantly different user experience by the end of the month.” – Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a conference call ahead of the president’s Saturday deadline for repairing ObamaCare’s crash-prone online home.
KRUGMAN: DON’T WORRY, OBAMACARE IS LIKE BENGHAZI - Liberal columnist Paul Krugman took to his NYT blog Tuesday claiming the administration’s “upbeat” tone on fixes to ObamaCare’s Web site indicates the health law is turning a corner. Krugman added, “They [administration officials] could be deluded or spinning; but after what happened two months ago one suspects that the last thing they want is to inflate expectations unduly.” He further contends the facts are getting better by the day and ObamaCare will turn into a “Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.”
[Rep.Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., told Megyn Kelly that none of the security officers sent to the Benghazi consulate ahead of the Islamist militant raid that killed four, including the U.S. ambassador, were armed. Watch the full interview from the “Kelly File” here.]
MANDATE CHALLENGE - The stage is being set for a showdown at the Supreme Court over ObamaCare’s birth-control mandate. But the consequences for the law could reach far beyond the issue of contraception. The court will consider two cases challenging the provision forcing employers to pay for contraception even if their religious beliefs forbid the practice. A White House statement claims the mandate is “lawful and essential to women’s health.” While White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says the administration has “already acted to ensure no church or similar religious institution will be forced to provide contraception coverage,” the case has the potential to strike a significant blow at the already unpopular health law. Fox News has more.
[Wait. What? - “There’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance coverage…” – Sandra Fluke, former president of the Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, appearing on MSNBC.]
Even though it covers birth control… @charliesheen: “LA the inane chaos the President is creating from today's visit is abhorrent. and irresponsibly expensive. if is this is Obama-kare I'm out.”
REAL PEOPLE, REAL STORIES: DON’T TELL -Bowie State University student Eugene Craig got an earful from school officials for calling attention to massive premium spikes for students because of ObamaCare. Craig wrote about the increases and lost coverage at the historically black college and spoke with Fox News. It was not a welcome move to some school administrators. “I had one [administrator] pull me to the side after a pre-planned ObamaCare open forum and tell me how our coverage has hurt the university, how it’s made our university look bad, especially in light of the fact that we had first Lady Obama as our speaker,” he told Megyn Kelly. Craig says he has been assailed on his Facebook page by alumni calling him the “wanna be grandson of Clarence Thomas.” Watch the full interview from “The Kelly File” here.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...John Stossel looks at the anti-communist roots of Thanksgiving. Seriously.: “This idea that happiness and equality lie in banding together and doing things as a commune is appealing. It's the principle behind the Soviet Union, Medicare, the Vietnam War, ObamaCare and so on. Some communal central planning is helpful, but too much is dangerous… Colonists in Plymouth nearly starved because they didn't understand that. In Jamestown, some were driven to cannibalism.”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 41.0 percent//Disapprove – 55.0 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 23.5 percent//Wrong Track – 67.9 percent
HILLARY HANDLERS HORN IN ON CREDIT FOR IRAN DEAL - Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton may be happy to be out of the blast radius of ObamaCare but her supporters are not happy to see her being overshadowed by her successor as secretary of State could face in 2016 is that her legacy at the State Department is that of being merely globetrotter. NYT points out: “some people close to Mrs. Clinton worry that, because of the high profile given to her work for women’s rights, and the headlines now being generated by the hyperkinetic [Secretary of State John Kerry].” But fighting for women’s rights helps limit nuclear enrichment, right? “‘There’s a direct correlation between countries that pose direct threats to our national security and those where the mistreatment of half the population is a root cause,’ said Philippe I. Reines, a longtime adviser who served as deputy assistant secretary of state.”
WHITE HOUSE SEEKS CURBS ON POLITICAL ACTIVITY - In a move to stifle the same groups targeted by the IRS ahead of the 2010 and 2012 elections, the Obama administration proposed new rules that would substantially roll back the political activity allowed for “social welfare” groups. The new rules would be enforced by the scandal-plagued IRS. Reaction from Republicans was swift. “This is a crass political effort by the administration to get what political advantage they can, when they can,” said Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Election lawyers predict legal challenges to the proposed rules. Fox News has more
OBENSHAIN CALLS FOR RECOUNT IN VIRGINIA RACE - Democrat Mark Herring was certified on Tuesday as the winner of Virginia’s attorney general election by 165 votes, but the drama is far from over. Republican Mark Obenshain will formally request a recount this morning of the 2.2 million ballots cast.
AIRPORT MINIMUM WAGE HIKE FLYING STANDBY - A ballot measure setting the minimum wage for workers in and around Seattle’s Sea-Tac International Airport at $15 passed by just 77 votes, election officials certified Tuesday. Foes including Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association have mounted a legal challenge. The Seattle Times has the details.
RETURN OF THE MACK? - Former Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., is considering a run to return to Congress as Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., faces increased pressure from Florida’s top Republicans to relinquish his seat after being arrested for cocaine possession. Mack, who gave up his seat in an unsuccessful Senate bid against Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has already begun to reach out to supporters.
MAAZEL TOV, PILGRIM - It won’t happen again for another 79,000 years: the convergence of the Jewish holiday Chanukah and the American celebration of providential bounty, Thanksgiving. The first night of the eight-day “Festival of lights” begins this evening at sundown, making Thanksgiving Day the first full day of the celebration. The last time the two holidays overlapped was in 1888. The National Menorah will be illuminated on the Ellipse just outside the White House this evening.
[President Obama will commute the sentences of a pair of turkeys today, but they are in the minority, to say the least. Turkey farming is a $5.4 billion dollar industry, producing over 253 million turkeys in 2012; 24 pounds for every American. Over 18 percent of those were produced in Minnesota. Today’s turkeys have also doubled in size since 1929. Peck through the data here.]
‘WE GOT MARRIED IN A FEVER, HOTTER THAN A PEPPER SPROUT’ - It’s college football rivalry week, and none run deeper than the grudge match between Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving Day. How bad is it? Mississippi State maniac Eddie Hammond, says his disdain of Ole Miss nearly cost him his bride. Eddie was engaged to Rebels fan, Gay. They were regular attendees, but always sat apart. But after the heartbreaker for Mississippi State in 1981, Eddie launched a tirade after the game that led his betrothed to throw her engagement ring away and call it off. But love and a common-sense solution prevailed. “Later that night I came to my senses and realized I was way too caught up in a game.” Eddie said. “We worked things out and we stopped going to the Egg Bowl. We started watching it on television in separate rooms and never spoke a word about it afterward.” This week, though, both of the Hammonds will be rooting for the same team because of star Ole Miss Safety Chief Brown, a standout young man whom the Hammonds mentored after Eddie served as his little league baseball coach. It’s sweeter than candied yams with marshmallows. Read it at the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“Obama runs the presidency as if his main job, his only job, is rhetorical and political, shore up the base, make speeches. It's all rhetoric. He's got a crisis of management. He has got a system that doesn't work. It's his signature legislation. It's sort of the heart, the symbol of the embodiment of his idea of a caring, progressive central government. It's a mess…It's amazing to me he became president on the basis of rhetoric. He's conducted the presidency on rhetoric. And he perpetuates it.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.