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• Whatevs! President makes clear ObamaCare numbers don’t matter
• Showdown in Ariz.
• Gut check on Obama overreach
• Sink-ing: Dem worries about getting maids, landscapers
• Obama has say on size of Clinton docu-dump
• Anatomy of a breakup
OBAMA CELEBRATES WEAK HEALTH LAW ENROLLMENT
President Obama now claims that 4 million people have signed up for ObamaCare. That’s far below the number of policies cancelled under the law, so it’s not too surprising that there would be a market for the program. It’s also far below the 7 million enrollments to which the administration once aspired. Plus, based on the president’s track record on ObamaCare statistics, we can have relatively little confidence in this number. But however many millions of people have voluntarily complied with the law, we certainly don’t know how many of them have actually paid for policies or obtained coverage. It’s a mess the magnitude of which we will only start to understand in the months after the current enrollment drive ends on March 31. But here’s something we do know: Whatever the enrollment numbers, the president and his team will call it a victory – as Vice President Joe Biden said, “a hell of a start.” The wonk patrol is testing administration assumptions and warning that these crummy numbers could damage the overall viability of the law. They’re missing the point, though. Once it was clear that the implementation of ObamaCare would be this ghastly, victory was off the table. The name of the game now: survive and advance.
Whatevs - If you want to know how little emphasis is placed on quality when it comes to ObamaCare, consider the new revelation that the team working on the rollout plunged ahead with launch despite urgent warnings about dangers to consumer data. As one email reads “The front office is signing [authorizations to proceed] whether or not they are a high risk.” That kind of sums it up for the launch and the law’s ongoing travails. It’s governance YOLO style. The bailouts built into the law give the president confidence that he can deluge the insurance industry with enough tax dollars to keep everything afloat for a few years, whatever happens now. That, combined with selective enforcement of troublesome provisions, ought to keep the law sputtering along until it’s too late to do anything about it. By then, Americans will have come to accept the new normal of ObamaCare. As the president himself says, the law will be seen as successful after he has left office. Until then, it’s time to grin and bear it. Sounds like a super fun second half of your second term, Mr. President.
JUST FOR THE RECORD, MADAM SECRETARY
That was then - “Well, I think success looks like at least seven million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”—Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to NBC News, Sept. 2013.
This is now - “First of all, seven million was not the administration. That was a CBO, Congressional Budget Office, prediction when the bill was first signed. I'm not sure where they even got their numbers.” – Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Huffington Post Tuesday.
A wipeout not seen since Greg Brady went surfing - LAT: “…[F]our months after enrollments began, the [Hawaii’s ObamaCare program] has allocated $120 million while signing up only about 4,300 people for health plans – fewer than any other state. Despite officials’ initial hopes of enrolling tens of thousands of Hawaiians, only 400 employers have applied for plans for their employees…”
President commissions ObamaCare missionaries to fight ‘wrong newscasts’ - Speaking to a gathering of supporters Tuesday, President Obama told a gathering of his permanent campaign apparatus, Organizing for Action, “You reach out to your Republican friend who can’t stand Obama, but is basically a nice person, but you know, they watch the wrong newscast... The work you’re doing is God’s work. It is hard work…”
[Watch Fox: Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., discusses President Obama’s visit to Minnesota in the 11 a.m. ET hour]
ObamaCare tax hits pediatric research - Daily Caller: “The world’s only company specializing in making orthopedic equipment for children is slashing its product development budget and freezing hiring as a result of Obamacare’s medical device tax. ‘We are a company that is not yet profitable. We’ve only been in the market for 5 years. This is a very burdensome tax because it is based on sales, not profits, and the only way we can pay a tax like this is to cut expenses,’ OrthoPediatrics CEO Mark Throdahl told The Daily Caller.”
SLOW LERNER: IRS OFFICAL TO BE CALLED TO TESTIFY AGAIN
Lois Lerner is likely heading back to the spotlight. Fox News has obtained a letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to the attorney representing Lerner, the former IRS executive at the center of the political targeting scandal at the tax-collection agency. In the letter summons Lerner to appear at a “continuation of the May 22, 2013 hearing on March 5, 2014.” Lerner left last year’s hearing after invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination. To preserve the right to recall Lerner, Issa recessed the hearing. She remains under subpoena for the remainder of this Congress.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY SHOWDOWN IN ARIZONA
In a scenario reminiscent of the furor over Arizona’s tough illegal immigration law in 2010, the state’s legislature has passed a bill protecting business owners who refuse to provide services for same-sex nuptials. The law has been quickly shorthanded to being “anti-gay” and the subject of a massive backlash, with lots of moderate Republicans calling on term-limited Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to do everybody a favor and veto the bill. Even the new gay-enthusiasts at the NFL are in the mix, threatening to strip the state of next year’s Super Bowl, scheduled to be played outside of Phoenix. Brewer’s team indicated she’s not likely to rush her decision, and past performance on the immigration bill and other issues does not indicate she is one who much bows to public pressure. But what if it costs lots and lots of jobs from high-profile employers? Tough spot, Madam Governor.
[Attorney General Eric Holder, though, has a solution if Brewer does opt to sign the law: selective enforcement. Holder told state attorneys general that they should not work to uphold laws they find objectionable.]
Bug in the code - National Review’s Tim Cavanaugh sifts through the law and concludes it might actually be harmful to the goals of its proponents: “[The law] sets out to fix a bug that looks to me like a feature: On the issue of the right to turn down business, Arizona does not have one code of conduct for the entire state. S.B. 1062, if I’m reading it correctly, would overturn that, making it impossible for, say, Phoenix to pass a different set of laws from Prescott. You may argue that that’s good, because First Amendment freedom of conscience should not be abridged by municipal authorities (who are usually the very worst of tyrants). But local abridgments of speech rights happen all the time, in the form of billboard restrictions, bans on certain kinds of advertising, and the many house-beautiful requirements zoning martinets love. This is the beauty of having 31 flavors: People in Yuma don’t necessarily have to live the same way as people in Tucson. Scaled up, it’s the compelling argument for “experiments in living” and interstate competition. But in this case we’re talking about a state governor’s veto power, and so the argument needs to be scaled down. Mobility among states is easy enough; mobility within a single state is even easier. If Phoenix wants to pass a law infringing the rights of religious bakers, or Kingman wants to require everybody to sing “Route 66″ once a day, they can be allowed to do so and reap the rewards or punishments. If an overwhelming majority of Arizonans were excited about S.B. 1062’s aims, they could adopt it, tell the NFL to go to hell, and let dissenters head to New Mexico.”
GUT CHECK FOR GOP ON OBAMA OVERREACH
Are House Republicans ready to take the president to court over his executive overreach? That’s the question before Congress today as Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., testifies about his legislation that would put before a judge the constitutionality of the president’s ever-expanding claim to greater executive power. Previewing his testimony today in an appearance on “The Kelly File,” Rice said “If the judge finds the president’s actions unconstitutional then those actions will be null and void.” So how do Republicans get there?
[President Obama today visits St. Paul, Minn. where he will again tout his unilateral power, extolling the program which provided $35 million to refurbish the city’s old train station.]
Ready to take the plunge? - Rice wants his colleagues to back a resolution finding that Obama has not faithfully executed his own health law, most notably in ignoring regulations that might make ObamaCare even more damaging. As Rice told Megyn Kelly, “The president has no right to delay a tax. He has no right to say that this group of people doesn’t have to pay the tax.” But if Rice prevails, Republicans would be in the position of arguing in court on behalf of destructive taxes, regulations and fines that would be imposed retroactively. Sounds pretty punitive for a party that bills itself as the nation’s deliverance from the troubled health law. Perhaps Obama would relent and agree to sign legislation delaying the entire law if that were so, but the result would be a high-stakes game of chicken with a president who proved during the partial government shutdown last year that he does not mind bringing the pain.
[Who knew 32 percent could look so good? - Gallup’s latest survey finds House Speaker John Boehner holds a 32 percent favorability rating, with 50 percent disapproving, returning to levels he saw prior to the October government shutdown.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
John Stossel argues Millennials are no worse than prior generations and how innovation has made life better for Fox News Opinion. From Codgers Freaking Out: “Inevitably, we older people misunderstand new ways young people do things -- we are frightened by the risks and oblivious to the benefits… outrage undermines perspective. It creates a false impression of how risky the present is, and it fuels unnecessary, freedom-killing regulations. Old people always talk about the good old days. But the good old days were not so good. When I was young, more kids were intolerant, racist, sexist and homophobic. They had little knowledge of life beyond their neighborhoods. Today, thanks to the Web and other innovations, life is better, not worse.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.0 percent//Disapprove – 52.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.3 percent//Wrong Track – 63.4 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.6 percent// Republicans 42.4 percent
SINK-ING: DEM WONDERS WHERE WILL WE GET MAIDS, LANDSCAPERS IF IMMIGRATION CURBED
Sunshine State News: “With two weeks to go in the special election for a congressional seat left open by the death of U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla…Democratic candidate Alex Sink weighed in on immigration reform, making a pitch for the business community to support it… ‘It’s one of the main agenda items of the Beaches Chamber of Commerce for obvious reasons. Because we have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? And we don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.’ The Sarasota County GOP used her comments like a gift horse. They circulated a video of Sink making them from Saint PetersBlog and immediately labeled her ‘racist liberal Alex Sink’ for her characterization of immigrants and the jobs they hold. Sink, Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby are running in the March 11 special election…”
[The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is attacking Jolly in a new ad saying: “Insurance companies and lobbyists like David Jolly profit, we pay the price.]
Joey the Greek - “I told the president, next game, I’ve got him. I may be a white boy, but I can jump.” – Vice President Joe Biden during a Black History Month reception at his residence Tuesday.
[Woof, woof - The Hill: “The fiscally centrist Democratic Blue Dog Coalition is backing a trio of House candidates with its first endorsements of 2014, throwing its support behind Gwen Graham in Florida, Jennifer Garrison in Ohio and James Lee Witt in Arkansas…”]
OBAMA HAS SAY IN SIZE OF CLINTON DOCUMENT DUMP
Politico: “A trove of Clinton White House records long processed for release remains hidden from public view at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock — even though the legal basis initially used to withhold them expired more than a year ago. The papers contain confidential advice given to or sought by President Bill Clinton, including communications with then-first lady Hillary Clinton, and records about people considered for appointments to federal office. About 33,000 pages of documents are involved, according to the National Archives, which runs the library. Under the Presidential Records Act, such records can be withheld for up to 12 years after a president leaves office. However, at the 12-year mark, those broad restrictions fall away and the once-secret presidential papers are generally subject to disclosure. For the Clinton files, that milestone came and went in January 2013.The long-sealed records pose a delicate series of choices for the Clintons, and even President Barack Obama. They could allow disclosure of the papers, fueling new stories about old controversies like Whitewater and pardons granted as the 42nd president left office in 2001. Or they could fight to keep some or all of the files secret, likely triggering a court battle and stoking concerns that the former president and his wife are unduly secretive… an official with the current White House said Tuesday afternoon that a large batch of the formerly withheld Clinton records should emerge soon.‘The White House has cleared a significant number of P2/P5 Clinton documents … roughly 25,000 pages,’ said the Obama aide, citing the legal designations originally used to withhold the records. The aide, who asked not to be named, did not say precisely when that clearance was given. However, he added: ‘There have been no executive privilege assertions on Clinton materials to date.’’’
RUBIO WON’T BOW TO JEB
The Hill: “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Tuesday wouldn’t rule out running for the White House in 2016 against his one-time political mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R)… ‘I haven’t given any consideration how that would play out, but my decision would be based on me, not what anybody else decides,’ Rubio said on CNN… ‘“If I think I can make a difference in that, from that office, to lead us in that direction, that is something I’d have to strongly consider, but that probably won’t happen until later this year or early next year.”’
PICK SIX: BEATING THE BASE DRUM
Republicans can capture the Senate with a net gain of six seats this cycle. Which six Democrat-held Senate seats are the most vulnerable to Republicans in November? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and Alaska. Reader Peter Hess underscores the importance of rallying the base saying, “So many Republicans stay home because they do not see Republicans in Congress as any better than Democrats on most issues.”
BROUN MAKES AD DEBUT
Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., is hitting the airwaves with his first ad in Georgia’s Senate race touting his conservative record. Broun appears in the ad saying, “Liberals fear a genuine conservative candidate, I’ve never requested an earmark, or supported a debt ceiling increase, I fought to completely repeal ObamaCare, and have opposed bills that fund it.”
ROBERTS WHACKS WOLF OVER GHOULISH POSTS
Politico: “Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts will go on the air Wednesday afternoon with a blistering ad against his Republican primary challenger. ‘Dr. Milton Wolf’s patients trusted him, but stunning news reports show that Wolf exposed private patient X-rays and other personal information on Facebook — where Wolf relentless poked fun at the dead or wounded’ a male narrator says in the commercial… ‘A Kansas City medical ethics expert called Wolf’s behavior beyond alarming for a professional in the field of medicine’… ‘If Milton Wolf is so irresponsible as a doctor,” the narrator adds at the end of a 30-second ad, “how can he possibly be trusted as a U.S. senator?’…Roberts has, so far, reserved nearly $40,000 in ads in the Kansas City market, $40,000 in Wichita-Hutchinson and $15,000 in Topeka for a 10-day cable flight.”
CORBETT TRAILS IN PENNYSLVANIA RACE
A Quinnipiac poll released this morning finds Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Pa., trailing all potential Democrat opponents by at least 2 points. Political newcomer Tom Wolf holds the widest advantage, 52 percent to 33 percent.
ANATOMY OF A BREAKUP
A New York real estate executive and amateur painter got a little too creative after he discovered his ex-girlfriend was fooling around. Sean Ludwick entered the condo he shared with his ex-girlfriend before he moved out and touched up his own original artwork still hanging there adding depictions of the male anatomy in yellow paint. Prosecutors have charged him with aggravated harassment, among other crimes. Ludwick told the NYPOST before appearing in a Manhattan criminal court: “I augmented my work to reflect my emotions at that moment.” He defended his actions saying, “I just wanted to update the pieces.” From his lawyer, who just couldn’t resist: “It hard to believe he was arrested for a felony based on these limp allegations.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[The latest announcement of ObamaCare enrollment figures] tells you how cynically the administration is manipulating these numbers – which it pretends it doesn’t have, but when it needs it, produces a number so we can cover another story...” –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 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.