• Down in the dumps: Target pushes workers into ObamaCare
• Wendy Davis flailing
• Christie takes a hit
• Carney don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows
• So, like, when is the right time to ask the president about aliens?
DOWN IN THE DUMPS: TARGET PUSHES WORKERS INTO OBAMACARE
President Obama can’t complain about the way Target handled the announcement, congratulating its part-time employees on the news that they would be “transitioned” to the government-run insurance market under ObamaCare. Plus, the company is offering $500 vouchers and the aid of store-paid advisors to help them navigate their way into the new entitlement program. But even though Target softened the blow and didn’t press the ObamaCare panic button, the news is bad for the troubled health law. The next wave of ObamaCare cancellations is underway and it’s going to be pretty massive by all estimates. Large employers liked the idea of the law because it gave them the chance to shuck expensive coverage and get taxpayers to underwrite their health costs – individual welfare as corporate welfare. But as they move to take advantage of the ObamaCare cost shift (and avoid looming penalties and expansive regulations) the companies are also discomfiting voters. As the administration discovered with the individual insurance market, cancellations don’t go over well in real life.
[Home Depot and Trader Joes have already started their ObamaCare dump. Which companies will be next? Shabby earnings reports may be driving companies to find new savings in a hurry as investors demand fatter profits.]
Bill comes due -The insurance dumping is expected to continue through this election year and be matched with continued news of layoffs, workers dropped to part-time status and other economic depredations. While Team Obama can be happy that this round won’t be taking place concurrent with the crash landing of the program’s Web site, the scale promises to be much larger. While Obama bought time for his law by delaying regulations on big business, originally slated to start this month, CFOs will be lowering the boom this year. It’s going to hurt.
[A new Gallup poll shows 65 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with how government is working.]
Yikes! - How’s the ObamaCare reboot going? Maybe not so hot. The Obama administration told new lead technology contractor Accenture that existing problems could put “the entire health insurance industry at risk” and that without a fix by mid-March, the “entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.” This comes as a top administration official told a House panel, just last week, the system that informs insurance companies who has signed up and how much in subsidies they should get, is still being built. – Watch Fox: Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle examines critical problems ahead as the administration races to fix ObamaCare’s Web site.
PRO-LIFERS MARCH ON
Thousands of pro-life activists, bundled from head to toe against single-digit temperatures, are marching on Washington today. The annual March for Life memorializes this, the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that struck down state-level restrictions on elective abortions. The movement arrives back to Washington having made substantial strides in the past year, particularly in enacting bans on aborting babies after the six month of pregnancy and in requiring new regulations on cleanliness and access to emergency care in the wake of the conviction of a Philadelphia abortionist, Kermit Gosnell. But the gains for the pro-life movement rather pale in comparison to the magnitude of what its members are fighting against. Pro-life researchers recently reported that there have been 55 million abortions since American women were given the choice to end unwanted pregnancies.
[President Obama meets today to talk about rape and sexual assault with his Council on Women and Girls, led by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.]
WENDY DAVIS FLAILING
Just days after a glowing biographical piece by NBC News’ Maria Shriver, Texas Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Wendy Davis’ campaign is careening, precisely because of her biography. Davis, who took Shriver to the trailer park where she briefly lived after her first divorce, has been forced to admit that she exaggerated the details of her oft-recounted story of hardship and that she, a celebrated feminist, relied on the support of her second husband to climb from poverty into Harvard Law school. Davis first accused the reporter of running a planted story, but Wayne Slater, made famous by his paint-peeling reporting on George W. Bush, is an unlikely patsy. He pushed back, saying he had no contact with the campaign of Republican frontrunner Attorney General Greg Abbott. She compounded her problems when she said her detractors shouldn’t be listened to because they haven’t “walked a day in [her] shoes.” Abbott is confined to a wheelchair. Now, Davis’ supporters are claiming sexism, saying that the attacks on her are unfair because they are sexist, since male candidates are not grilled about the details of their divorces. Maybe so, but no male candidates of memory have made their divorces selling points in biographical sketches.
Why it matters - Davis offered hope to Democrats who have been steadily losing ground on abortion. Her position in favor of access to abortion after the sixth month of pregnancy is an unpopular one for the larger electorate, but nearly universal among the Democratic base. If she could even be a contender in pro-life Texas as a defender of access to late-term abortion, perhaps it was a model that could work in other states, too. Davis’ heavily biographical campaign was appealing because she chose not to abort her children, but was glad she had the choice amid her climb from a trailer park to Cambridge. But if that biography is untrue, the pitch loses much of its luster. And for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats who share Davis’ position on late-term abortion but lack her once-compelling biography, defense of access to late-term abortion becomes much more fraught.
Michael Barone: “So if there's a legitimate reason to scrutinize Chris Christie's record -- because he might be a successful presidential candidate -- there's also a legitimate reason to scrutinize Wendy Davis’. So what does Politico offer us? Only one story since Slater's Jan. 18 Morning News story, headlined “Wendy Davis hits back at questions about bio,” a story which includes nothing about how she left her second husband the day after he paid off her law school loans and agreed that he have custody of her daughter. Instead it features Davis's pathetic response – ‘My language should have been tighter’… Politico also links to a timeline of Davis's life that leaves out some of the inconvenient facts. This is a pretty weak offering from a publication that aspires to present a definitive account of American politics. You might get the impression that Politico wants to promote — or rescue — Wendy Davis’s candidacy.”
HIGH STAKES IN GUN CASE
Supreme Court justices today will hear arguments in a case that gun rights proponents say might result in universal background checks and a national gun registry. The case being heard asks if it is a crime for someone to buy a gun for another person who is also legally entitled to purchase a gun. –Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream is following the case and has the latest from Washington. Background on the case here from Breitbart.
[New Today on Fox News Opinion: House Speaker John Boehner, Why school choice opens a door to the American Dream.]
Three years ago, President Obama, reached out to the business community amid his re-election push with a promise to eliminate “absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.” The Valerie Jarrett-esque effort was launched by executive order and overseen by Obama intimate Cass Sunstein. What’s the result after three years? The conservative American Action Forum says businesses can’t afford much more of these savings. The Washington Free Beacon reports, “The ‘deregulatory measures’ resulting from the executive order actually add over $10 billion in costs to the economy. For example, a final rule imposing energy standards for transformers carries a $5.22 billion cost to comply and 58,320 hours of paperwork...”
[What if the debt doves are wrong? The American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis considers.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
John Stossel argues that environmentalists need to “chill out” on climate change for Fox News Opinion. “Environmentalists assume that as people get richer and use more energy, they pollute more. The opposite is true. As nations industrialize, they pay more attention to pollution. Around the world, it's the most prosperous nations that now have the cleanest air and water… So let’s chill out about global warming. We don’t need more micromanagement from government. We need less.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.8 percent//Disapprove – 51.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.0 percent//Wrong Track – 63.2 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.5 percent// Republicans 41.7 percent
[Poll Watch: The latest Fox News Polls on President Obama’s job approval, the economy, NSA reforms, and allegation surrounding Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., will be released during “Special Report with Bret Baier” in the 6 p.m. ET hour.]
MCDONNELL FIGHTING MAD
The eye-popping indictment against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell – 43-pages detailing the lavish gifts he and his wife accepted from a nutritional supplement maker looking for freebies from state taxpayers – paints the Republican and his wife, Maureen, as a grindingly greedy pair who were more than eager to deepen their ties with the CEO of the Richmond-based firm. Facing decades in prison and massive fines, McDonnell is fighting back. He claims that while he was wrong to live the high life on the tab of a businessman looking for government handouts, McDonnell says he never delivered anything in return. He won plaudits from the establishment press as governor for largely steering clear of social issues and for pushing through a tax hike to pay for more roads in Democrat-controlled Northern Virginia. But McDonnell emerged Tuesday night as no conciliator. “We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations.” McDonnell charged the Department of Justice “stretched the law to its breaking point” in order to bring the indictment. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Friday. More. –Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel is tracking the latest developments in the federal probe
[Former Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose chances at victory were an early casualty in the scandal, is calling for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to step down as head of the Republican Governors Association because of the saturation bombing of Christie by the once-friendly establishment press over allegations that Christie underlings muscled a mayor during Christie’s re-election bid. More.]
Impatience is no virtue - Washington Examiner’s Byron York: “A former governor can make a lot of money. He can cash in on the influence he still has after leaving the statehouse. But if the indictment is correct, the McDonnells, in debt and wanting to drive Ferraris and wear Rolexes and play golf at swanky courses, couldn't wait, even four years, for the payoff.”
[Hits just keep on coming - After a special election to fill a vacancy in the state Senate, Virginia Democrats move one step closer to wresting control of the legislature’s upper chamber. WaPo reports on the long hangover from McDonnell’s scandal.]
CHRISTIE TAKES A HIT
Quinnipiac’s latest poll shows mounting allegations over political retribution are taking a toll on Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., previously considered the GOP frontrunner for 2016. The poll shows a sizeable shift in independent voters. Last month, the poll showed independents favoring Christie in a hypothetical matchup with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton 47 percent to 32 percent. Now it’s a dead heat. With voters overall, Clinton bests Christie 46 percent to 38 percent.
[How much of a frontrunner is Hillary? Despite her own woes, including a damning Senate report on the 2012 Benghazi raid, she polled at 65 percent among Democrats. Her closest potential foe was Vice President Joe Biden at 8 percent.]
Tied up at the top - The Republican presidential field is as wide open as an Iowa cornfield. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., lead the pack with 13 percent each, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 12 percent. Rounding out the field: Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., 11 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 9 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., 8 percent, Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., 6 percent, and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., 3 percent.
[Rubio: “At this time next year I'll have to make a decision…” Via Breitbart.]
CAMPAIGN CARL PUTS HIS BOOTS ON THE GROUND
The Hawkeye State is a testing ground for candidates seeking the highest office in the land. As the first state to hold a caucus, it is often a make-or-break for many aspiring candidates. This year, the Iowa caucuses are for local, county and state offices and they will be picking delegates for conventions at the county and state level. The results of these races will no doubt be early indicators for not only November’s midterms but the 2016 race. –Watch Fox: Campaign Carl Cameron is in Iowa to explore how what the caucus results mean for the upcoming midterms and the 2016 race.
PICK SIX: SHAHEEN NOT SAFE
To take control of the Senate, Republicans need a net gain of only six seats out of a dozen or so that seem to be up for grabs this year. Fox News First wants to know which six you think present the most likely path for the GOP. Based on your responses via Twitter and e-mail, the consensus is (in order of times selected): Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. But FNF reader Rod Wright adds, “As a N.H. native now living in Arizona I understand Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D-N.H.] could be beaten in November.” It seems former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown agrees. While he hasn’t officially announced his plans to oppose Shaheen, the Boston Herald reports today he is shrugging off Bay State Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s jab that he would be an underdog in the New Hampshire race. Recent polling shows ObamaCare is hurting Shaheen in the Granite State and is positioning Brown within striking distance should he mount a campaign against her.
As a top target for the GOP, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., is having no trouble raking in the dough from Democratic funders around the country. The first-term senator reportedly raised $2 million in the last quarter of 2013. Hagan has a war-chest of $6.8 million in what is likely to be an expensive re-election campaign. Her likely Republican challenger, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, hasn’t released the size of his fundraising haul. Read more from the Raleigh News & Observer.
CARNEY: DON’T NEED A WEATHERMAN TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS
Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney plows into the most fascinating primary race so far this cycle: Nebraska’s Senate showdown between Republicans Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse: “Looking at their records and their rhetoric, you wouldn't be able to tell which is the candidate of the Tea Party and which is the candidate of K Street and the GOP establishment. But their donor lists make it crystal clear. The Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund are backing Sasse. Perhaps for that reason, K Street and the GOP establishment are bankrolling Osborne… But the real reason K Street is behind Osborn might be more parochial: The Senate Conservatives Fund is backing Sasse. The SCF got behind Sasse just before it entered an all-out war with [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] by endorsing McConnell's primary opponent Matt Bevin. Sasse supporters tell me that this schism has made business lobbyists afraid to support anyone backed by the SCF… Once Tea Partiers start lining up on one side and K Streeters on the other, this pattern reinforces itself.”
[Who hates gridlock the most? Probably lobbyists. Without the threat of damaging legislation or the chance to seek special favors from pliant lawmakers, clients don’t cough up the big bucks. The Hill’s Megan Wilson reports that K Street saw a substantial drop in revenue in 2013: “Industry king Patton Boggs took it hard on the chin, earning $40.2 million in lobbying fees for 2013 – a 13 percent drop from the $46.2 million the firm earned the prior year.”]
MCCONNELL TRIES SOFT SELL
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is launching his first major ad buy of the cycle and opening on a warm and fuzzy message. Team Mitch shares the story of how he aided, Robert Pierce, a Kentucky cancer patient. Pierce praises McConnell in the ad saying: “…Mitch McConnell fought for us, creating cancer screening programs and providing compensation for sick workers. Mitch McConnell is a caring and powerful voice for Kentucky’s families, and having a strong voice matters.”
NRCC BLOWS THE WHISTLE ON KIRKPATRICK
The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is blowing the whistle on an ad from Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC heralding Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., for railing against ObamaCare’s botched rollout with an ad of their own. From the NRCC ad: “The [Arizona] Republic said Ann Kirkpatrick refused to criticize Obama’s website for weeks, hardly blowing the whistle…And just days ago, Kirkpatrick voted against a bipartisan bill to help fix the healthcare website. Still loyal to ObamaCare, not us.”
BANK BAILOUT ARCHITECT DESIGNS CALIFORNIA CAMPAIGN
Neel Kashkari, a Bush administration U.S. Treasury official who was a chief architect of the bank bailout during the Panic of 2008, announced Tuesday he will seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination in California. Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., has yet to announce if he will seek re-election but has $17 million in the bank and seems almost certain to seek a fourth term. More.
SO LIKE, WHEN’S THE RIGHT TIME TO ASK THE PRESIDENT ABOUT ALIENS?
In a GQ cover story interview, Katy Perry proved to be all “California Girl” when she was talking about her interactions with President Obama, for whom she has helped win re-election and rallied her fans to voluntarily register for ObamaCare. “‘I see everything through a spiritual lens,’ she says. ‘I believe in a lot of astrology. I believe in aliens’ … ‘I look up into the stars and I imagine: How self-important are we to think that we are the only life-form? I mean, if my relationship with Obama gets any better, I’m going to ask him that question. It just hasn’t been appropriate yet.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Unless you force people into these unions, they generally don’t go…. they know that it is the power of the state that keeps them going. And in the absence of it, they are really looking at ruin. Which is probably why I would guess the Supreme Court is not going to overturn this. … It would require overturning a fairly venerable Supreme Court precedent…So I suspect they are going to look for a way to be less sweeping in their ruling” – Charles Krauthammer On “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch 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 FoxNews.com. 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.