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Way more than a smidgen: Voters say IRS corrupt

Shown here is the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.AP

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Buzz Cut:
• Way more than a smidgen: Voters say IRS corrupt
• Moody’s says ObamaCare changes will hike prices
• ObamaCare meltdown in Massachusetts
• Land leads in Michigan
• Real gun beats stun gun

WAY MORE THAN A SMIDGEN: VOTERS SAY IRS CORRUPT
Vulnerable Democrats facing an onslaught of conservative cash this cycle are calling for the IRS to crack down on nonprofit groups expressing political views. The Senate Democrats seeking the crackdown were quick to say that the heavy hand of the tax agency should fall on “either side,” but they pretty clearly are thinking about the conservative groups currently pummeling them for passing and preserving ObamaCare. And if the new rules sought by Obama Democrats were to work anything like the non-codified targeting that went on at the agency in the last two election cycles, liberal groups would have little to fear. Seventeen percent of the groups targeted for extra scrutiny may have been left-leaning, but when it came to actual audits, 100 percent of the targets were conservative.  Despite that track record, the official line from Democrats remains that what happened at the IRS was neither corrupt nor politically motivated, but rather the result of unclear rules Team Obama is now in the process of rewriting. But what do you think?

They smell a rat - On Super Bowl Sunday, President Obama famously told Bill O’Reilly that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the targeting. But a new Fox News poll found 64 percent of voters, including a bare majority of Democrats, thought the targeting was corrupt. Nine months after the scandal first went public, 71 percent still want Congress to continue investigating.

OBAMACARE REMORSE: BAITED, SWITCHED AND UPSET
A new Fox News poll finds 55 percent of voters wish ObamaCare had never passed. Fifty-one-percent of voters said the law would be bad for the country in the long run. Overall, 64 percent of voters believed the law wouldn’t have passed in 2010 if Americans knew what they know today. Some 56 percent of respondents said the health law is more about the government “controlling our lives” than about “helping individual Americans get the health care they want.”

MOODY’S: OBAMACARE CHANGES WILL HIKE PRICES
The Hill: “A leading credit rating agency is panning two proposed changes to ObamaCare’s implementation as negative for health insurance companies. Moody’s Investors Service said Thursday that requiring insures to expand their provider networks and allowing patients to keep non-compliant health plans for an additional two years could harm insurers and raise prices on the exchanges. The firm also characterized this week’s second, partial delay of the employer mandate as frustrating and logistically complicated for the insurance industry.”

No pay, no policy – Insurance industry officials tell Fox News that between 10 percent and 25 percent of ObamaCare enrollees have not paid their premiums, and thus, do not really have coverage. Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry has more.

Endangered Dems dig for ‘copper’ plan - WSJ: “Some backers of the 2010 health-care law are pushing to create a new kind of insurance coverage that the measure essentially had ruled out: policies offering lower premiums but significantly higher out-of-pocket costs than those now available. The plans, dubbed ‘copper’ because they would offer a lower level of coverage than the ‘gold,’ ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ options on the government-run health-care exchanges, would be a departure from the minimum level of coverage that is one of… [ObamaCare’s] core principles…Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Warner of Virginia, both Democrats facing close re-election races this year, are sponsoring legislation that would allow people to buy copper plans on the exchanges. Moreover, insurance-industry officials have been talking up the idea with federal officials, though it is unclear whether the administration could make the change through regulations.”

Happy talk - President Obama will try to pep up House Democrats at their winter retreat today as his party faces a bleak election year in the lower chamber. While Obama has pledged to hold 18 more fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, his signature law and veering implementation of it have left the party grasping for ways to discuss the unwieldy scheme of regulations, entitlements, taxes and welfare. After the speech, Obama heads west for a golf weekend in California. – Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel is on the scene.

Trolling for enrollments - First lady Michelle Obama used the White House email account for a mass message with a cryptic subject line worthy of a diet-pill vendor: “I need you to see this:” Inside was a plea for Americans to voluntarily comply with her husband’s signature law before fines kick in.

Never mind - Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso looks back at the “read the bill” mania that surrounded the passage of ObamaCare. In hindsight, he argues, there was no reason for the furor: “At this point, it probably would not have mattered even if members of Congress had read Obamacare. It isn’t actually a written law - it becomes the law whenever Obama decides, and with whatever changes he chooses.”

OBAMACARE MELTDOWN IN MASSACHUSETTS
Boston Globe: “Jean Yang, the executive director of the Massachusetts [ObamaCare program], wept at a board meeting, where it was disclosed that 50,000 applications for health insurance are sitting in a pile, and have yet to be entered into a computer system. Each one of those applications requires two hours to process, adding to a mountain of work facing Connector staff as they scramble to prevent people from losing insurance, officials said. ‘These people came here to lead and innovate, and instead they’re doing manual workarounds, and they are embarrassed to tell friends and family that they work for the Health Connector,’ Yang said at the board meeting.”

[“The people who need relief from the imposition of ObamaCare are the American families, and that’s group that deserves to get some relief from this act and I think it has been very disappointing, and very revealing to see the president go through and make these changes...”—Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., on “The Kelly File” Watch here.]

Not so golden in California - California’s ObamaCare program is under fire for its myriad failings. Democratic Sen. Norma Torres introduced a bill aimed at fixing “problems experienced by consumers” – lackluster customer service, a low Latino sign-up rate and inaccuracies in the provider directory, a news release stated. More.

[NYT shares how ObamaCare’s enrollment efforts among California’s Hispanic population are falling flat.]

AIDS patients in limbo in Louisiana - Reuters: “The only three insurance companies in Louisiana that sell healthcare policies under President Barack Obama's healthcare law throughout the state are rejecting payments from a federal program intended to help low-income HIV patients, advocacy groups said on Thursday.”

CRUZ: ‘HELL WILL FREEZE OVER’ BEFORE GOP LEADERS LISTEN
Breitbart : “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told conservative radio host Mark Levin on Thursday evening that establishment GOP politicians will ‘never’ listen to the American people. ‘If we wait on the entrenched politicians in Washington, hell will freeze over before that happens,” Cruz answered when Levin asked whether Republicans will ever listen. ‘This is nothing new. The answers come from America, from millions of people standing up and holding elected officials accountable’… Cruz said earlier in the interview that many Republicans in the U.S. Congress wanted to increase the debt ceiling. ‘Make no mistake about it,’ Cruz said. ‘This was their desired outcome. An awful lot of Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid wanted, which is to raise the debt ceiling. But, they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish gullible constituents that they didn’t do it, and they’re mad because by my refusing to consent to [a bare-majority vote] they had to come out in the open and admit to that.”’

[“Forty-three of those Republican senators knew what had to be done… And we have two senators, let’s face it, that are really, really upset that they weren’t able to use this to raise a lot of money for their PACs and for their campaigns…That’s what this was all about. And everyone understood that. There was no game plan.” – Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to CNBC Thursday]

Silent vote to hide debt hike supporters - AP: “Typically, roll-call votes in the Senate play out in a very public manner. People watching from the galleries or tracking action from afar via C-SPAN can watch democracy unfold in all its messy wonder…Each senator’s vote is announced by the clerk; each time a senator switches sides,  that’s announced too. Onlookers can keep a running tally of how it's going. But not this time…‘We are extremely concerned with the way the vote tally was handled yesterday on a pivotal debt-ceiling vote,’ said Siobhan Hughes, chairwoman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which represents the interests of Capitol Hill’s print media. ‘When the vote tallies are not read aloud, it makes it harder for the media and therefore the public to get the information they need to hold lawmakers accountable.’’’

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Valentines may be fleeting, but 82-year-old Joann Seward of Pekin, Ill. has proof of one that stood the test of time. From the Pekin Times: “Just before her mother died, Seward was given two Valentine’s Day cards swapped between her maternal grandparents in 1895. Fittingly, her grandfather’s name was Hope Love, and he even added a stroke of brilliance of his own by hunting down a card that began with “Love’s Offering.”… Her grandmother, Lovina Love, responded to the first valentine with a heart-shaped one of her own. Based off the words at the end of the valentine – ‘I’d like, if anyone should ask you, your last name should be mine’ – Seward deduced this valentine exchange doubled as a marriage proposal.‘I guess Grandpa had this notion in his head that he wanted to make sure Grandma stuck around for him.’ Hope and Lovina wed two years later…”

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POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve –  42.3 percent//Disapprove – 53.0 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent//Wrong Track – 63.6 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.4 percent// Republicans 42.0 percent

LAND LEADS IN MICHIGAN
Detroit Free-Press: “…Republican Terri Lynn Land has strengthened in her U.S. Senate contest against Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, according to a new poll by EPIC-MRA. … The poll of 600 likely voters, conducted Feb. 5 through Tuesday, shows Land of Byron Center leading Peters of Bloomfield Township 41%-38%. However, the numbers are within the poll’s 4-percentage-point margin of error. Still, that’s a turnaround from September, when Peters led Land 38%-37%.”

RUBIO RALLIES FOR COTTON
Sunshine State News: “U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continues to go to bat for U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is running against U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in one of the most competitive Senate races in the nation. Rubio sent out an email to supporters of his Reclaim America PAC on Thursday, urging supporters to back Cotton. ‘It’s official,’ Rubio emailed supporters on Thursday. ‘Democrats and their liberal interest group allies are going to spend whatever they can to try and stop Tom Cotton from being elected to the U.S. Senate. Right now, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on television ads attacking Tom.’ Rubio insisted Cotton is “the kind of conservative we need in the U.S. Senate to help repeal and replace Obamacare and stand up to the big spenders in Washington.”

COLLEAGUES COALESCE FOR SHANNON SENATE BID
Republican T.W. Shannon, who just stepped down as speaker of Oklahoma’s House of Representatives to run for the U.S. Senate seat being left vacant by the retirement of Republican Tom Coburn, is getting the backing of several of his colleagues. In a release Thursday, Shannon announced the support of 47 of the Sooner State’s Republican state representatives. Republican Rep. James Lankford, a member of the House leadership team, is considered the frontrunner in the race.

PICK SIX
For Republicans to gain control of the Senate they will only need to gain six more seats than they current hold. Which Democrat-held seats are most likely to land in the red column come November? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and Alaska. Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

COMING OUT PARTY FOR REVAMPED HILLARY PAC
“Priorities USA, the pro-President Barack Obama super PAC that’s relaunched as an effort to boost Hillary Clinton for the 2016 White House race, is holding an evening reception this month in New York City — its first event since getting a new, expanded board and hiring a new executive director. The event, hosted by Clinton supporter and bundler Michael Kempner, is slated for Feb. 27, according to an invitation obtained by Politico

UNIONS SPEND BIG TO TRY TO SINK JOLLY
Washington Free Beacon: “Independent expenditure filings with the Federal Election Commission show Patriot Majority USA spent more than $300,000 attacking Rep. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), who is running for Senate. House Majority PAC also disclosed more than $330,000 in independent expenditures attacking David Jolly, a Republican candidate in Florida’s 13th congressional district…House Majority also spent nearly $25,000 supporting Florida chief financial officer Alex Sink, Jolly’s Democratic opponent. Patriot Majority and House Majority have received large contributions from labor unions, according to data on file with the Department of Labor. Patriot Majority USA and its sister organization Patriot Majority PAC have received $2.9 million from labor unions since 2012. House Majority PAC has received about $2.8 million from unions in that time.”

[The latest Tampa Bay Times/ Bay News 9/ WUSF poll finds Sink leads Jolly 42 percent to 35 percent]

Sink: less work under ObamaCare an ‘exciting prospect’ - The Tampa Bay Times reports: “Republicans across the country have seized on a recent Congressional Budget Office report that projects that the health care law will prompt many Americans to work fewer hours in order to qualify for a greater government subsidy of their health care. Sink, however, says the CBO report is actually good news that points to the ‘exciting prospect’ that Americans will have more choice and greater freedom in their lives.”

HASTINGS HEADS FOR RETIREMENT
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the head of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced he will not seek re-election. The district is considered safe Republican territory.

NORTH DAKOTA DEMS CAN’T FIND CANDIDATES
Watchdog.org: “North Dakota Democrats told supporters in an October email they were looking forward to a strong slate of candidates to take on [at-large] Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican incumbent, in 2014. …Now, in the middle of February, Democrats still have no candidate.”

À LA UNDERWOOD
Watch actual members of Congress, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., deliver lines from The Netflix series “House of Cards” for Now This News ahead of the series’ second season.

HOW DO YOU SAY ‘CRONYISM’ IN FINNISH?
The WaPo Editorial Page disdains President Obama’s dolling out of ambassadorships as political plums: “The president promised in 2009 to increase professional appointments, and the State Department said last Friday that it aims for a 70-30 split between career and political ambassadors. Yet, so far in his second term, 53 percent of Mr. Obama’s appointments have been political, according to the American Foreign Service Association. A third have been fundraisers for his campaigns. The bundlers are going not just to London, Brussels and Vienna, where their roles may be largely decorative, but also to countries where relations with the United States are troubled.”

COURTS RULE ON SOCIAL ISSUES
One for the left -
AP: “A federal judge ruled Thursday that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, making it the first state in the South to have its voter-approved prohibition overturned. U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia will still not be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved.”

And one for the right - AP: “A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California's concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms. By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.”

REAL GUN BEATS STUN GUN
A 76-year-old South Carolina man was leaving his home early Sunday morning when a would-be robber approached him with a taser, pushing the homeowner down and trying to incapacitate him with the stun gun. The victim, whose identity police are protecting, told officers he was prepared for the moment because he had been robbed before. The older man was carrying a pistol and shot his attacker. From the man’s call to 911, courtesy of WCSC: “I shot about three times before I hit him because he had me on the ground trying to tase me. And I finally got one in him.” The attacker, identified as a 25-year-old local man, was pronounced dead at the scene.

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Democrats are so scared. This is no abstract issue anymore. People are losing their insurance, they’re losing their doctors, they’re losing their hospitals, some of them are losing their jobs or losing hours as a result of [ObamaCare]. And it isn’t as if people are waiting for another disaster on the Web site.”  Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”Watch here.

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 serves as the host of "Power Play" on FoxNews.com and makes daily appearances on the network including "America Live with Megyn Kelly," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." Most recently, Stirewalt provided expert political analysis during the 2012 presidential election.

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