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• Doomsday prepper: Obama readies insurance 'bailout'
• Report: One third of ObamaCare records flawed
• Nah, bro
• DeMint, McConnell fighting like Hatfields, McCoys
• Holy doorman
DOOMSDAY PREPPER: OBAMA READIES INSURANCE 'BAILOUT' - President Obama kicks off a re-re-launch today of his signature health entitlement program. Obama had campaigned for weeks ahead of the crash landing of his law on Oct. 1. He tried again after technical problems with the program’s online home proved far worse than he and his team had promised. But such campaign events went by the wayside briefly when the president was forced to apologize for having deceived voters with his now infamous “if you like it” pledge. But Obama is back today as the nation’s insurance salesman in chief, with a scheduled event at the White House in which he will put on display Americans selected by his team to illustrate the promised benefits of the unpopular law.
[The administration is pushing hard online with virtual campaign events for the young Americans they are trying to herd into the entitlement program. A Monday event featured one of the stars of the “Harold and Kumar” franchise of stoner flicks. Another “#WHYouth” event is set for Wednesday.]
Bombs away - The White House has laid out its preliminary plans to offer more money to insurers to "help offset the loss of premium revenue and profit" under the president's health law. The regulatory filing, flagged by NYT’s Robert Pear, blames the bailout on President Obama’s sudden reversal of his long-planned regulations forcing insurers to cancel millions of policies. Obama nixed his rules after a public backlash over his misleading promise to voters in 2012 about keeping their insurance policies and doctors. But the bailout, allowed under a little-known provision of the law, may also be in answer to industry outrage over the technical and administrative failures of the president and his team. With huge sticker shock awaiting holders of cancelled policies, many may opt out even after they make it through the crash-prone Web site. Any relief to insurance companies would come on top of $1 trillion in subsidies they are slated to receive over the next ten years.
[Ready on the right - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., saw this one coming. He has a bill on offer in the Senate closing the door on "insurance bailouts."]
ONE THIRD OF OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT RECORDS FLAWED - WaPo reports that nearly one-third of the ObamaCare applications sent to prospective insurers have errors. The errors include “failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies.” The errors have been piling up and since the entitlement’s Oct. 1 launch and pose the possibility of a looming disaster as new policies are supposed to kick in next month.
TOP TWEETS - @laurenashburn’s top tweet pick for this morning: ProPublica’s @charlesornstein: “This @washingtonpost story is a very big deal. Roughly 1/3 of 834 transmissions have errors http://t.co/ryq6lhjKRC.”
Lauren Ashburn of “#MEDIABUZZ” tracks the Twitterverse every day in Top Twitter Talk.]
Tick, tick, tick - The re-launch of ObamaCare’s online home marks an improvement over the Hindenburg-style debut in October, but worries about the data obtained and the ability to actually deliver insurance policies is growing. For the millions of Americans whose policies were ended by ObamaCare regulations, these concerns are about far more than political optics. –Watch Fox: Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle looks at the next three weeks holds for the millions trying to avoid a coverage gap.
Nah, bro - ObamaCare will only succeed if the so-called “invincibles,” healthy adults ages 35 and under, sign up. But does it make economic sense for a 27-year-old, middle-class male to buy in, especially when he has only seen a doctor once in the three years? The answer is not what the administration is looking for. – Watch Fox: Correspondent William La Jeunesse talks to “invincibles” about their choices.
[Watch Fox: Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., discusses the security of ObamaCare’s Web site in the 1 p.m. ET hour]
LaBolt: It wasn’t me - Ben LaBolt, who served as press secretary for President Obama’s re-election campaign, said he wasn’t part of the decision to encourage Obama to continue to make his “if you like it” pledge to voters. “I never discussed it with [President Obama] and I don’t ever recall having that discussion,” LaBolt told Megyn Kelly. Reports have indicated that some in the White House encouraged Obama to drop or explain the deceptive claim fearing a backlash like the current one. When LaBolt ducked on the question of who should be held accountable, saying that the full measure of accountability would be a working system, Kelly shot back: “Stop that, ’cause you’re too smart to believe that.” Watch the full exchange courtesy of “The Kelly File.”
OBAMACARE’S IRS POWER PLAY HITS FEDERAL COURT - A federal court will hear arguments today from a group of small business owners in six states that claim they should not face IRS penalties over ObamaCare’s employer mandate because their states have refused to comply with the law’s requirement to create localized versions of the troubled “insurance exchange” program. – Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream is tracking the latest developments in the case.
[A survey by Pepperdine University finds 60 percent of business owners believe their health care costs will go up under ObamaCare.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Megan McArdle keeps score on the administration’s shifting goal lines in Obamacare's New Goal: Stay Alive Until 2015: “The administration has given up on success, as it might once have defined it. The object is no longer 7 million people signed up through the exchanges, with 2.7 million of them young and healthy, and the health-care cost curve bending back toward the earth. It is to keep the program alive until 2015. The administration's priorities are, first, to keep Democrats from undoing the individual mandate or otherwise crippling the law; second, to keep insurers from raising premiums or exiting the marketplace; third, to tamp down loose talk about the failures on the exchanges; and, only fourth, to get to the place where it used to think it would be this year, with lots of people signed up for affordable insurance. It is now measuring the program’s success not by whether it meets its goals, but by whether it survives at all. And all of its choices are oriented toward this new priority.”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 40.0 percent//Disapprove – 55.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 24.6 percent//Wrong Track – 67.0 percent
DEMINT, MCCONNELL FIGHTING LIKE HATFIELDS, MCCOYS - Jonathan Strong traces the long history of the feud between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his former colleague, Jim DeMint, now head of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “With the new band of acolytes he helped recruit driving the debate in the Senate, DeMint’s power has grown. The shutdown marked the first time since Republicans took control of the House that the tea-party wing of the movement was almost fully in control, calling the shots during a showdown with the president. SCF’s [Matt Bevin] endorsement prompted McConnell to go nuclear, blacklisting campaign vendors and pressuring the group’s endorsed candidates. But it was a fight long coming.”
[The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched an ad campaign touting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to new coal regulations. WaPo reports the group has reserved nearly $177,000 worth of ad time across several markets in early December.]
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS, MR. PRESIDENT - President Obama’s political team is touting an effort by the embattled chief executive to bounce Republican governors up for re-election in states he carried in 2008 and 2012 –Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who previously led the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association, is skeptical. He told Politico, “If it were right now, I don’t know that any Democrat running for governor would like the president involved.”
[The American Petroleum Institute took its pitch for ending federal requirements for gasoline retailers to add ethanol to their products to Monday Night Football.]
TEAM OBAMA PUSHES NEWTOWN POLITICAL EVENTS - Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, President Obama’s permanent campaign apparatus wants his supporters to hold events in their homes using the occasion of the attack to push for increased federal firearms restrictions. Organizing for Action has set up a Web site to coordinate the events and suggest talking points for hosts. Meanwhile, the White House announced it has made “significant progress” on the 23 executive orders President Obama issued the month after the shooting.
[The House is considering an extension of the 25-year-old law prohibiting guns which are undetectable to magnetometers. Advances in 3D printing have greatly improved the quality of plastic guns. Watch Fox: Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge looks at what the expiration of the Undetectable Firearms Act could mean.]
CRACKING ON CONGRESS - New York Republican congressional candidate George Demos has a new ad comparing incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, he of crack-smoking fame. The ad opens with a picture of Bishop next to pictures of President Obama and Ford and asks voters if they are “tired of politicians?”
DC mayor on the run… for another term - D.C’s Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray will seek a second term despite an ongoing federal investigation into shady practices by his 2010 campaign. Four campaign workers have pleaded guilty to felonies. WaPo has more.
DIDN’T GET THE MEMO - The National Republican Congressional Committee is making an overtly religious fundraising pitch and suggesting that non-Christians can’t be conservatives. “Happy Holidays is what liberals say,” read shirts and mugs offered by the House Republican fundraising arm, which says that it is “Not Afraid to Say ‘Merry Christmas.’’’ A spokesperson for the NRCC told BuzzFeed that the group had already sold out of the items. One of the prime messages from the Republican National Committee’s post-mortem on the 2012 election was that the party had to be more inclusive in its outreach, particularly to the growing number of Asian Americans.
YOU HAVE A SEAT ON THE PANEL: OBAMACARE FALLOUT - The wrath of angry Americans, feeling they’ve been lied to and seeing their health care premiums soar under ObamaCare is scaring Democrats to death. Men and women tracked by Bing Pulse, strongly agreed with that observation by Charles Krauthammer during Monday’s Al-Star Panel on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Both genders also agreed with the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes when he said what the administration has done is “repaint the front of a tear down,” and that it is not going to do anything. Krauthammer also drew high agreement from men and women when he pointed to the government’s own report showing the private sector operates better than the public sector.
Viewers were highly engaged during discussion of the reported improvements to the faulty Healthcare.gov Web site. Democrats disagreed with Hayes when he stated problems insurers are having with data management will hurt the implementation of ObamaCare. Agreement was low among men and women when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney discussed improvements to the Web site while error messages persist. Intensity surged to 36,888 viewer votes per minute when Krauthammer said Democrats are going to face the resentment of Americans that wanted to keep their health insurance and can’t. Bing Pulse measured the 253,000 viewer votes during the panel discussion, view the full results here. Don’t miss your opportunity to make your voice heard by taking your seat on the panel.
DECISION DAY FOR DETROIT BANKRUPTCY - A judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy case is set to rule this morning if the city can file for protection from creditors and restructure its more than $18 billion debt. Government worker unions oppose the restructuring since it could allow the city to cut pension plans for current workers. The Detroit Free Press has the details. Watch Fox: Correspondent Mike Tobin reports on the decision in the 10 a.m. ET hour.
AFTER DODD-FRANK: FEWER, BIGGER BANKS - WSJ reports the number of U.S. banks, especially small institutions, has “…dwindled to its lowest level since at least the Great Depression, as a sluggish economy, stubbornly low interest rates and heightened regulation take their toll … the falloff is raising alarms among boosters of community banks, who say such lenders -- which represent the vast majority of U.S. banks -- are critical to the economy because they are more likely to make small-business loans.”
CRUNCH TIME FOR CONGRESS - Budget negotiators have set a self-imposed Dec. 13 to reach a deal. Should the deadline not be pushed back, Congress will have only six days to strike a deal in order to avoid another government shutdown on Jan. 15. Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emmanuel has the latest from Capitol Hill.
HOLY DOORMAN - On a surprise visit to a middle-class parish in Rome, Pope Francis told members of his flock that while his job now is to draw people in, he once had a job keeping people out. According to a report in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, picked up by Catholic News Service, the leader of the world’s largest Christian denomination said that as a young man in Argentina “he worked as a bouncer, and that his work later in life, teaching literature and psychology, taught him how to get people back into the church… ‘Hypocrisy is a grave sin,’ he said, underlining how important credibility was in helping the church grow, not through proselytism, but by attraction.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“I thought one of the most telling elements of all of this was the government’s own report which said that the Web site is now going to begin operating at a ‘private-sector velocity,’ which was unbelievable in its irony. Here is an official government document, which is openly admitting that the private sector is infinitely superior to the public sector...”—Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
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.