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• Dems struggle (again) to explain why less work is better
• ObamaCare tax blamed for huge job loss
• Dems to Obama: Get out of town! No, seriously.
• Cancer patient’s ObamaCare heartbreak goes big in Senate ad
• But Maaahm! It’s artistic nudity!
DEMS’ MIDTERM PLAN MEANS LESS WORK FOR AMERICANS
For a second straight week, Democrats find themselves explaining why it’s a good thing for fewer Americans to be employed. Last week, it was a Congressional Budget Office report that said millions would leave the U.S. workforce in order to obtain ObamaCare benefits. This week, the CBO says that the centerpiece of the Obama Democrats midterm campaign pitch, a call to increase the federal minimum wage by 40 percent, will cost as many as 1 million jobs. Democrats aren’t much disputing the finding from the nonpartisan green-eyeshade brigade, but are instead trying to explain why less work is a good thing. Again. The argument is that while those low-wage jobs would be wiped out, the enhanced incomes of those still working will pay dividends in the years to come. It’s a similar argument as last week’s: Fewer people will work, but their being “freed” from unsatisfying employment will create new opportunities and raise overall living standards.
[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel is following how the report is playing out as Congress debates a federal minimum wage increase.]
Much as has been the case with the consequences of ObamaCare, the painful process of explaining the real-world disruptions from the application of economic theories is bloody awful work for a midterm campaign message. Unable to continue to effectively blame Republican practices from the previous decade for the unhappy condition of the economy or health sector, Democrats have decided to get proactive. Big mistake. Unfortunately, what Democrats propose fits too neatly into Republican talking points honed over the last four years, namely that President Obama’s policies mean big government and more dependency. While Dems will be torturing the forecast tables of economic reports to explain why lost insurance, higher premiums, lost jobs and more debt are necessary for building a sustainable economy, Republicans will simply say “Obama isn’t working.”
[A Pennsylvania small-business association says its members are getting walloped by ObamaCare insurance cost increases, with hikes ranging from 49 percent to almost 300 percent.]
OBAMACARE TAX BLAMED FOR HUGE JOB LOSS
Daily Caller: “Obamacare’s medical device tax has already created a job loss of 33,000 in the medical device industry and 132,000 more job losses are expected, according to a new report from the industry trade group the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed)...”
[LAT shares how one high-end California restaurant is adding a 3 percent fee to customer’s bills to pay for its employee’s insurance under ObamaCare]
OBAMACARE FORCES MORE HOSPITAL CLOSURES
Daily Caller: “The fourth Georgia hospital in two years is closing its doors due to severe financial difficulties caused by Obamacare’s payment cuts for emergency services. The Lower Oconee Community Hospital is, for now, a critical access hospital in southeastern Georgia that holds 25 beds. The hospital is suffering from serious cash-flow problems, largely due to the area’s 23 percent uninsured population…the federal government has historically made payments to hospitals to cover the cost of uninsured patients seeking free medical care in emergency rooms, as federal law mandates that hospitals must care for all patients regardless of their ability to pay. Because the Affordable Care Act’s authors believed they’d forced all states to implement the Medicaid expansion, Obamacare vastly cut hospital payments…”
[NYT details how ObamaCare’s campaign-style enrollment tactics are not meeting much success in signing up the uninsured.]
DEMS TO OBAMA: GET OUT OF TOWN! NO, SERIOUSLY.
WaPo’s Dana Milbank notes: “President Obama, in trouble at home, is quite literally heading for the border. His approval rating is in the 40s, vulnerable Democratic candidates don't want to be seen with him and Republicans think his unpopularity could win them the Senate. So it's likely no coincidence that Obama is making himself scarce in these parts… [Today], he flies to Mexico. Next month, he visits the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia. In April, he travels to Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines… on Tuesday he was back in Maryland, at a Safeway distribution hub in Upper Marlboro ‘where delivery trucks get everything from Doritos to diapers where they need to go’… It’s a worthy cause, no doubt. But diapers, Doritos and diesel won’t deliver Democrats from a drubbing in November.”
[Obama’s baggage for Mexico trip: Keystone, trade pact and immigration - NYT: “President Obama travels to Mexico on Wednesday for a brief but politically fraught visit aimed at forging closer trade ties with America’s two closest neighbors even as his party’s leaders back home have vowed to undercut his efforts. Mr. Obama will meet with the leaders of Mexico and Canada …”]
IRS officials dodged taxes - The Hill: “Several IRS executives should have paid taxes on expenses they racked up for out-of-town travel for work, according to a new inspector general report. Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration found that the expenses for nine IRS executives — out of 31 whose travel was examined — were wrongly deemed to be nontaxable, on average reimbursements of $51,420… The tax administration inspector general looked into the matter after finding last year that IRS executives spent $9.5 million in travel expenses in 2011 and 2012, with several claiming more than $100,000 a year. The inspector general released that report just weeks after it outlined the extra scrutiny the agency gave to Tea Party groups.”
Decadent chic - Peggy Noonan considers Our Decadent Elites: “‘House of Cards’ very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity. Or maybe they’re just stupid.”
BAIER TRACKS: WHAT WILL BECOME OF SYRIA?
“International estimates now have the number of dead in the three-year Syrian civil war at more than 150,000 with no end in sight. Much was made of a Russian-brokered deal last year to end the fighting and eliminate the country’s chemical weapons arsenal. But the Syrian government has missed deadline after deadline for removing chemical weapons stockpiles and components. Now, according to the Washington Post, “Syria’s rebels are launching a new push to persuade the Obama administration to provide them with advanced weapons.” Rebels who felt abandoned by the administration the first time around are giving it another shot. We’ll see what the reception is this time. It's doubtful that President Obama is ready to seriously consider another strike option... But stranger things have happened.” – Bret Baier
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Economist Thomas Sowell considers the lessons of the Afghan war: “F.A. Hayek said, ‘We shall not grow wiser until we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.’ Nothing is more foolish – and immoral – than sending men into battle to risk their lives winning victories that are later lost by politicians for political reasons.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.2 percent//Disapprove – 52.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent//Wrong Track – 63.6 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.7 percent// Republicans 41.7 percent
“The Democratic Party is not going to lose the Senate”—White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during Tuesday’s press briefing
CANCER PATIENT’S OBAMACARE HEARTBREAK GOES BIG IN SENATE AD
Americans for Prosperity is putting $750,000 behind a heart-wrenching ad that uses the story of a Michigan leukemia patient who lost her health policy because of ObamaCare. The spot targets Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., for his continued support of ObamaCare. From the group: “The ad shares the story of Julie Boonstra, who was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago. Despite the President’s promises that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” Julie’s existing health insurance was cancelled due to ObamaCare. Now, under her new health care plan, Julie’s out-of-pocket expenses are so high that she struggles to afford the medication she needs to treat her illness.”
NRSC NAILS DEMS OVER OBAMACARE CANCELLATIONS
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is using the latest ObamaCare enrollment figures to take vulnerable Democrats to task over more cancellations than signups under the troubled health law. The NRSC will be hitting Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich. From the group’s attack on Udall, “As of February 1st, 68,454 Coloradans have signed up for ObamaCare. However, 335,484 Coloradans received cancellation notices - about 86,000 more than previously known…No matter how hard Mark Udall tries to convince voters otherwise, he knew many would lose health insurance plans and doctors that they liked as they are forced into the ObamaCare exchanges. This is - and always has been - an intended consequence of ObamaCare…”
[“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee in January, bringing in about $6.6 million to the NRSC's $4.6 million. The DSCC ended the month with $15 million on hand and $2.5 million in debt. The NRSC had $10 million in the bank and no debt.” WaPo reports.]
VULNERABLE DEMS SEEK COVER FROM MEDICARE CUTS
The Hill: “Nineteen Democratic senators signed a letter Tuesday to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warning of the dire consequences for seniors if cuts to Medicare Advantage go through as expected later this month. The letter was signed by party heavyweights, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as vulnerable Democrats facing reelection, such as Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Ak.)… The GOP has sought to make cuts to Medicare Advantage an election-year issue… ObamaCare enacted $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years. The administration is expected to announce 2015 rates for the alternative to government health insurance later this week. Insurers have mounted an intense lobbying campaign to head off expected cuts to the popular program. The issue is particularly sensitive during an election year as both parties court senior voters, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the voting population.”
TEA PARTY SENATE HOPEFUL SUFFERS LEGAL SETBACK
A big relief for North Carolina GOP Senate frontrunner state House Speaker Thom Tillis as his primary pursuer suffers a huge setback in court. WRAL: “A Wake County [North Carolina] jury found Tuesday that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Greg Brannon misled investors in a technology start-up. As a result of the civil judgment, Brannon will be personally liable for repaying $250,000. If the judgment is upheld on appeal, he will also have to pay 8 percent interest from the time each of the aggrieved investors wrote their checks and could be required to pay their attorneys’ fees in the case… The judgment comes less than three months before Republican voters will make their selection in the May primary. Brannon said he planned to file as a Senate candidate this week, making him one of at least five Republicans who plan to run for the chance to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.”
COCHRAN: WHAT IS THIS TEA PARTY YOU SPEAK OF?
Embattled Republican incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran may want to rethink his media strategy. AP: “Veteran Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi says he’s not familiar with the tea party, even though he’s being challenged by a supporter of the populist movement. ‘The tea party, you know, is something I don’t really know a lot about,’ says Cochran, 76, who’s seeking a seventh six-year term in the Senate. ‘And it’s a free country. We have open opportunities for people to participate in the election process.’ Cochran’s comments came Monday in response to questions from Jackson television stations. He is being challenged in the June 3 GOP primary by state Sen. Chris McDaniel…an attorney with strong support from tea party groups…. ‘The tea party matters. They care for their country,’ McDaniel told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. ‘These are conservative voters who feel like they’re not being heard.’’’
U.S. CHAMBER HITS AIRWAVES FOR MCCONNELL
Lexington-Herald Leader: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will begin running a new television ad in Kentucky starting Wednesday that describes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as someone who is fighting against ‘Obamacare’ and for Kentucky’s future.”
[Bloomberg breaks down the costly ad wars and the influence of outside groups in the Kentucky Senate race.]
Republicans need a net gain of six Senate seats this year to take control of the upper chamber. Which six seats are the most likely to flip? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and Alaska.
HOUSE DEM CALLS COLLEAGUE A ‘BIMBO’
Roll Call: Former Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., apologized Tuesday for calling retiring [fellow Democrat] Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod a ‘bimbo’ earlier in the day… in a phone call to CQ Roll Call late Tuesday afternoon, Baca, who is running for the open 31st District and struggling to raise money, backtracked. ‘I wanted to apologize for the poor choice of words,’ he said. ‘I was upset and disappointed that we have a person that’s not running again. To me [Negrete McLeod's retirement] was a disservice to the area. The people lost the representative. They want someone who’s got continuity. … I was just disappointed. That’s all it was.’’’
BIG SPENDING IN FLORIDA SPECIAL ELECTION
WaPo: “There’s no doubt that Republicans and Democrats see the outcome of Florida's 13th district special election as a crucial marker ahead of the midterm elections this fall. For proof, look at how much money organizations on both sides have been pouring in. The biggest spenders thus far have been Republican-aligned groups, according to a tally from the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign spending. GOP groups have spent more than $2.8 million to boost Republican nominee David Jolly or attack Democratic nominee Alex Sink, CRP's most up-to-date numbers show. Democratic groups have spent nearly $1.5 million doing the opposite… The biggest spenders on the GOP side have been the National Republican Congressional Committee ($1.3 million), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($800,000) and American Action Network ($439,000). On the Democratic side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($886,000) and House Majority PAC (495,000) have spent most of the money.”
Crossroads says Sink ‘sunk’ Florida - Sunshine State News: “Republican-aligned super-PAC American Crossroads announced on Tuesday it was launching a new television ad taking aim at former state CFO Alex Sink … The ad will be running over the next three weeks as American Crossroads spent $357,000 to run it in the Tampa Bay market. ‘Alex Sink sunk Florida, and now she wants to reward herself with a congressional seat,’ said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for American Crossroads. ‘Floridians deserve better.’’’
FORMER REDSKIN MAKES PLAY FOR HASTINGS’ SEAT
Seattle-Post Intelligencer: “Clint Didier, ex-Washington Redskins tight end and Tea Party ally, on Monday became the first candidate to formally declare for the U.S. House seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.,… State Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is exploring the race.”
GOHMERT MIMICS DEMINT STRATEGY WITH HOUSE PAC
Daily Caller: “Republican Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert is launching a new political action committee to help defend House conservatives from 2014 attacks from mainstream Republican PACs… The new GOH Conservative PAC, inspired by the Senate Conservatives Fund, ‘defends conservative Republicans from the attacks that come from the mainstream,’ Gohmert told TheDC. ‘That’s been a problem, we’ve seen in some races, where we’ve had leadership come and play and there was no counterbalance. So I’m going to do something about it’… ‘I was inspired by what Jim DeMint did as a senator,’ Gohmert said, referring to the recent Republican senator and current Heritage Foundation president who formed the Senate Conservatives Fund in 2008…”
DEM GROUP BLASTS HUTCHINSON’S LOBBYING HISTORY
Jobs and Opportunity, an outside group associated with the Democratic Governors’ Association is hitting Arkansas Republican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson’s lobbyist past. From the ad: “Washington D.C. lobbyist Asa Hutchinson…his lobbying firm made millions pushing the Wall Street and Detroit bailouts, even the stimulus bill.” The ad concludes praising Democrat Mike Ross for opposing Democratic initiatives and being independent, “just like Arkansas.”
CLOCK TICKING FOR DEMS TO FIND SANDOVAL OPPONENT
Las Vegas Sun: “Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak announced Monday night he will not challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval for the governor’s office in this year's election. The announcement leaves the Nevada Democratic Party bereft of potential candidates less than a month before the filing deadline and effectively concedes the election to Sandoval unless Nevada Democrats have an independently wealthy candidate hiding in the wings.”
KELLY FILE: CLINTON ACCUSER SAYS SEX CHARGES RELEVANT TO HILLARY’S CANDIDACY
Longtime former Clinton supporter Kathleen Willey was a volunteer in the Clinton White House who alleges then President Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her during his first term. (Vintage WaPo details on the Willey allegations here.) Willey told Megyn Kelly that the former president’s past is relevant to the ambitions of 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. “Hillary Clinton is the war on women and I think that she needs to be exposed for all of the terror campaigns that she has waged against the women who were in the wrong place at the wrong time with her husband,” Willey said. Willey said the former first lady, “…enables him to do it because she realizes the power that he has and she wants to ride on his coattails like she’s done all along.” Willey, who discussed recently revealed document that show Hillary Clinton speaking of “whiney women” who make sexual harassment allegations, said that it is part of a pattern. “The easiest way for [Hillary Clinton] to handle the scandals is to ruin the women who just happen to cross paths with him,” Willey said. “And that’s horrible and they do a good job at it.” Watch the full interview from the “Kelly File” here.
RYAN KEEPS 2016 OPTIONS OPEN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
AP: “Rep. Paul Ryan, the most recent Republican nominee for vice president, said Tuesday he's keeping his options open about a prospective run for president but won't look at the 2016 contest in earnest until after Congress breaks for the year. Ryan, R-Wis., said he is focused on his job as House Budget Committee chairman and would ‘worry about those things later on.’ Ryan briefly visited New Hampshire's largest city to headline a Tuesday night fundraiser for a former House colleague, Frank Guinta, who is running for the seat he lost in 2012… The Wisconsin Republican discounted the GOP's intraparty skirmishes as ‘creative tension’ and praised the tea party's influence on the Republican Party… Asked whether [Mitt Romney] should run again for president, Ryan responded, ‘I'd love it if he did, but I don't think he would.’’’
CHRISTIE TAKES FIGHT FOR SPORTS BETTING TO HIGH COURT
New Jersey Star -Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie [R-N.J.] and the leaders of the state Legislature have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a 22-year-old federal law preventing them from legalizing sports betting at New Jersey’s horse racing tracks and Atlantic City casinos. The state’s appeal, filed last week and made public today, is a last-ditch effort by the governor and lawmakers. They have been rebuffed at every turn, losing three times in federal court to the NCAA and the nation’s professional sports leagues, which originally brought the high-profile case.”
JILL BIDEN JOINS DUBYA FOR VETS EVENT
Military Times: “Former President George W. Bush will host a veterans’ summit in Texas on Wednesday focused on ways to provide assistance to separating service members and their families. The event… will also include remarks from… [Vice President Joe Biden’s wife] Jill Biden …” Watch live starting at 10 a.m. ET
[What could possibly go wrong? - Hollywood Reporter: “Vice President Joe Biden to Appear on ‘The View’ to Discuss Health Care”]
A Federal Communications Commission member is warning about the agency’s plans to launch an in-depth study of how news managers, reporters and producers choose what to cover and how. Many news organizations are pushing back, saying the intrusion into how stories are determined to be newsworthy is a violation of freedom of the press, given the commission’s authority of their broadcast license.—Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream considers the controversy at a time when many argue the Obama administration has become increasingly opinionated about what qualifies as news.
BUT MAAAHM! IT’S ARTISTIC NUDITY!
When Judy Cox, a mom shopping with her teenage son at an Orem, Utah mall happened upon PacSun’s window display of “Visual” T-shirts (really, really visual) , she was incensed. She asked that the shirts, which feature lingerie-clad women in provocative poses, be removed from the window. “I had a conversation with the store manager,” Cox told the Provo Daily Herald. “She said she did refuse to put the accompanying banner up with the display because it was much worse, but that she couldn’t take down the T-shirts without talking to her corporate office, but the promo was over Wednesday anyway.’ Cox had a solution: she purchased all the shirts, including the displays from the store. She said she would like to just destroy all $567 worth, “but I'll let their corporate office figure out what to do with them when I return them on day 59 of a 60-day return policy.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“What [a federal minimum wage increase] is, is a transfer of wealth from some low-income earners to other low-income earners… this is so obvious, not rocket science -- some will be better off, will make more, but others are going to lose everything. They’re going to lose all of their income, and they’re going to lose the first step on the ladder into employment, which is the hope for the future. So it’s a high price. You can make your choice, but there isn’t a free lunch. They are running ads saying give America a raise, as if it’s no cost. It is a cost, and it’s other low income people who will be the ones who pay it.” – 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.