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ObamaCare: Coverage killer

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President Obama at Mid-Pacific County Club in Kailua, Hawaii, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.(AP)

Buzz Cut:
• ObamaCare: Coverage killer
• White House not saying how many enrolled
• Bubba channels Elizabeth Warren
• No aloha spirit for Hawaii Dems
• Hey hoser, don’t burn the donuts, he?

OBAMACARE MEANS NET LOSS OF POLICIES - ObamaCare seems to have been an insurance killer so far. More than 5 million policies were nixed under the law’s new regulations. Announcing that just over 2 million people are potential paying customers is a rather stunning admission of defeat. Some of the millions may have landed on employer-based insurance and others may have become eligible under the expanded Medicaid program, but there are evidently many people who do not have coverage today because of the law. 

[Deadline: ObamaCare enrollees have until Jan. 10 to pay premiums for coverage retroactive to Jan. 1.]

WHITE HOUSE NOT SAYING HOW MANY ENROLLED - Democrats are talking big numbers: 2.1 million applicants for ObamaCare and millions more new enrollees in the welfare program that provides free coverage to the poor, Medicaid. But the Obama administration has so far refused to disclose the number that matters: The number of people who actually have obtained insurance under the law. AP reports, “Insurers say they are receiving thousands of erroneous sign-up applications from the government, and some people who thought they had enrolled for coverage have not received confirmation. Undoubtedly, some will find out they don’t have the immediate coverage they thought they did.” A recent WSJ report revealed only half of enrollees had made their first months payment. The government is touting nearly 4 million who have been “deemed eligible” for welfare benefits, but, again, that’s not the same as enrollments. The silence so far on the real numbers is reminiscent of the quiet that fell over the administration after the enrollment period began on Oct. 1. Do they not know? Scary. Do they not want to say? Scarier.

‘LIE OF THE YEAR’ ADS ROLL OUT, LIKE IT OR NOT - The conservative group Americans for Prosperity announced Wednesday it is greeting three vulnerable Democrats with big ad buys in the New Year. The group is spending $2.5 million dollars to hit Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., for repeating President Obama’s “you can keep it” pledge, deemed  “lie of the year” by PolitiFact.

Spin cycle on overdrive - President Obama’s permanent campaign apparatus, Organizing for Action, has launched its own online ad campaign in an effort to share ObamaCare success stories. The White House is also ramping up its PR efforts to put the troubled health law in a more positive light. Team Obama is offering social media tools to help spread its “#GetCovered” message, including Facebook profile images and banners. They have also launched a new section on the White House Web site encouraging visitors to submit their own health care success stories. 

THE HIGH PRICE OF POLITICAL IGNORANCE - George Will considers the consequences of a uninformed electorate in The price of political ignorance: More government. “Political ignorance helps explain Americans’ perpetual disappointment with politicians generally, and presidents especially, to whom voters unrealistically attribute abilities to control events. The elections of 1932 and 1980 dramatically illustrated how voters primarily control politicians — by ‘retrospective voting,’ refusing to reelect them.”

[LAT’s Mark Z. Barabak considers how “throw the bums out” so often results in the bums staying exactly where they are.]

PICK SIX: YOUR MIDTERM PREDICTIONS - With control of the Senate within reach of the GOP this year, we asked you to play pundit and give us your six picks for the most likely Republican path to a Senate majority. The consensus: Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor is toast. But beyond that, most of you forecast additional GOP pickups in Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.   

Many of you added your thoughts on how the GOP might get there: “Republicans have to get their ground game to work. They need to message themselves as pro-freedom, pro-liberty, and pro-America with real solutions to the failed policies of the past 5 years,” wrote Daniel Seiler. “They have the upper hand, because they have the argument. They just have to be disciplined enough to get it.”

It’s not too late to have your say! Email your six picks – just a list of postal abbreviations will do – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet to @cstirewalt.

DEMS DRUMMING UP SUPPORT FOR JOBLESS BENEFITS - Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate’s first order of business will be to resume federal subsidies for extended unemployment benefits when it reconvenes on Monday. Reid told the AP Wednesday the Senate will take up a bipartisan measure from Sens. Dean Heller. R-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., that extends unemployment benefits for three months. Fox News has more

[Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso makes the case against extending unemployment benefits. “In a market with few good jobs available and long-term unemployment benefits, it was rational for earnest job-seekers to hold out for something better than what was there. But when the issue is forced, some job is better than no job at all.”]

Reid’s jobs plan includes keeping his own - The Hill reports that Reid’s play on restoring extended payments for the unemployed could be a particular boon to some embattled members of his conference, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C, both represent states with higher-than-average unemployment.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Graham Allison, the director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, poses an uncomfortable question for 2014: Is the stage set for a large-scale war? Not likely, he says, but points out that we’ve thought that before. “Precisely a hundred years ago [Wednesday], the richest man in the world sent New Year’s greetings to a thousand of the most influential leaders in the U.S. and Europe announcing: mission accomplished. ‘International Peace,’ he proclaimed, ‘is to prevail through the Great Powers agreeing to settle their disputes by International Law, the pen thus proving mightier than the sword.’” We know how that turned out, Mr. Carnegie. Read it all from The National Interest.

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

POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.6 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.1 percent//Wrong Track – 63.3 percent 

Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43.3 percent// Republicans 43.1 percent 

BUBBA CHANNELS ELIZABETH WARREN - In his remarks at the swearing in of New York’s new Mayor Bill de Blasio, former President Bill Clinton wasn’t looking for any Third Way out. The event featured an invocation that deemed New York a “plantation” and was focused on de Blasio’s call for “a new progressive direction” and big tax hikes on top earners. Clinton said he “strongly endorse[d]” de Blasio’s platform and called the gap between rich and poor in New York a “moral outrage.” Former first lady Hillary Clinton did not speak, but the enthusiastic endorsement by her husband, widely distrusted by the Democratic left as too good a friend of Wall Street, might go even farther in quelling anxieties from those still hoping a liberal challenger will emerge to the party’s 2016 frontrunner. “I have to say I strongly endorse Bill de Blasio’s core campaign commitment to shared opportunities,” the former president, said. “And this inequality problem bedevils the entire country.”

Did they try stopping and frisking? - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took the oath on the same Bible used by fellow New Yorker Franklin Roosevelt in his 1933 presidential inauguration. But when the ceremony ended, the Good Book was gone. A massive search, that included sifting through garbage, ended when a NYPD detective uncovered the Bible. NY Post has the story

NO ALOHA SPIRIT FOR HAWAII DEMS - A bitter Senate primary is shaping up in President Obama’s home state. Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s, D-Hawaii, appointed former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the seat of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, even though Inouye had made clear before his death in December 2012 that he wanted Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, to get the gig. Now, Hanabusa is giving up her House seat to challenge Schatz, who has won the endorsements of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Vice President Al Gore. Bloomberg is headlining a fundraiser for Schatz today. Hanabusa was a stalwart for Hillary Clinton, while Schatz was an early booster for Obama.  Abercrombie didn’t help calm things in his interview with WaPo’s Philip Rucker:  Abercrombie said he disagreed with Inouye’s wishes, adding that he didn’t want to ‘get into a discussion about letters and deathbed notices.’ The governor said he thought Hanabusa, now 62, was too old to build enough seniority in the Senate to continue Inouye’s legacy of steering an outsize allowance of federal money to Hawaii. Noting that Inouye entered the Senate in 1963 at age 38, Abercrombie said: ‘Brian Schatz is 41. Colleen isn’t. She’s in her 60s.’” If the acrimony deepens, Republicans might actually have a chance in the Aloha State, with former Rep. Charles Djou ready for action.

MORE RUMBLINGS ON SPRINGTIME IMMIGRATION PUSH - NYT: “Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has signaled he may embrace a series of limited changes to the nation’s immigration laws in the coming months, giving advocates for change new hope that 2014 might be the year that a bitterly divided Congress reaches a political compromise to overhaul the sprawling system.”

Yes, but… - This sounds like the NYT playing some catch up here. The odds of Boehner doing anything like “comprehensive” immigration changes look low indeed. How many anonymous sources in stories like these are just looking to divide GOPers. And how much of this is Boehner playing for time with big business groups demanding action on conditional amnesty for illegals?

SIX CALIFORNIAS - Is California so large it has become ungovernable? That’s the conclusion of venture capitalist Tim Draper. Draper’s solution: create six states out of the Golden State. According to the venture capitalist’s proposed ballot initiative, new states known as Silicon Valley and West California would be anchored by the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively. South California would include Orange County and San Diego. Remaining counties would be divided into areas called Central California, North California and Jefferson. The proposal contends that the sheer size of the state creates problems for governance, its costly media markets make elections expensive, and the competing interests of coastal and inland regions promote policies that only favor certain areas. 

[Walter Russell Mead likes it: “We may disagree with the boundaries somewhat, but the idea is a sound one—indeed, it’s potentially one of the most important US reform possibilities out there.”]

ROB FORD GOING TO HIT IT AGAIN - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who gained notoriety in 2013 for his past affinity for crack use and his unruly antics, may be grabbing headlines again in 2014. Fox News’ John Roberts got the scoop that Ford will seek re-election this year. Ford files today. Voters in Toronto will elect their next mayor Oct. 27. Toronto’s The Star has more

HEY HOSER, DON’T BURN THE DONUTS, EH  - Two men driving through a remote mountainous section of Alberta, Canada resorted to some unorthodox methods to keep warm when their car became stranded. The Calgary Sun reports that with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees, the two removed the seats of the Honda and lit them on fire to provide warmth, later deciding to torch the entire car. In the morning, they realized they were in easy walking distance to a home. That’s where police found them after passersby reported the smoke plume from their roadside pyres. The duo was treated for minor burns and frostbite. And it turns out both men were in possession of cell phones. The sage advice from the Mounties: “We certainly don't recommend lighting your vehicle on fire to stay warm," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Jeffrey Feist said. “Stay inside your vehicle and call 911 if you can.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“Obama’s active agenda is dead on arrival. His polling numbers are going to hover around 40. With that, if you are a lame duck, you only hold one of the two houses, you are not going to get any run on that agenda. I do think it will be one of the great ironies that it will be Senate Democrats who drive the stake through ObamaCare’s historic repudiation of liberals of their own singular achievement. ”—Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

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.