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• Climate change: Conditions worse for Dems than in 2010
• Sink, sank, sunk
• First in FNF: Economists warn against wage increase
• Planet Hillary’s 2016 budget: $1.7 billion
• Isn’t the music punishment enough?
CLIMATE CHANGE: CONDITIONS WORSE FOR DEMS THAN IN 2010
The latest WSJ/NBC poll tells us that the overall electoral environment for Democrats is worse than it was in 2010 when Republicans had their best midterm performance since Harry Truman was president:
-- The president hit a new low for job approval in the poll of 41 percent, 7 points below where it was at this point in 2010. Respondents’ esteem for President Obama’s handling of the economy and of foreign policy are both markedly worse than four years ago.
-- Among registered voters, Republicans held a 1 point advantage on the generic congressional ballot, 4 points better than at this point in 2010.
-- The overall approval of ObamaCare among all adults – 49 percent saying the law was a bad idea and 36 percent saying it was a good idea – is identical to four years ago when it passed in March 2010.
SINK, SANK, SUNK
Whatever they say in public, Democrats know that the defeat of their candidate, Alex Sink, in Tuesday’s special election in Pinellas County, Fla. is a very bad omen. If they cannot win in districts like these – won twice by President Obama – and with well-funded, well known candidates like Sink, there’s little reason to believe much of the palaver about Democratic strategies for blunting Republican advances this fall. Outspent, hampered by a Libertarian candidate and with some nagging party divisions lingering on Election Day, David Jolly carried the special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla. The race provided a revealing snapshot of voter attitudes about ObamaCare and the motivation of the Republican base. There’s a long time to go until November and Democrats have just begun to spend their massive war chest, but the shape of things looks bad for the blue team’s chances to hold the Senate. More.
[“But at the end of the day ObamaCare just represents a view of government that is put forward by this President and I think many people reject… what is important though is that a Republican in a district that President Obama had won twice, a first time candidate going up against a hand-picked candidate from out of town, picked by the national party, national Democrats, with all of the money behind her from the very beginning, they were wrong with their message, they’re wrong on the issues. –Representative-elect David Jolly, R-Fla., on “The Kelly File” Tuesday. Watch here. ]
The ‘fix’ is out - But the killer for Democrats is that Sink was a good candidate who tried the best message the party has on ObamaCare: she supports the law’s objectives but wants to work to fix it. It’s the position of the House of Clinton and likely the smartest strategy for Democrats everywhere but in the bluest blue states. But as her loss suggests, the pitch is still a net loser. Why? The new WSJ/NBC News polls shows that the message of retaining but fixing the law significantly underperforms the Republican “repeal and replace” mantra. Among registered voters, about as many respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who wanted to repair ObamaCare as those who would be more likely to back a candidate pitching a “fix.” While “repeal” candidates do only a blip better in garnering support, the downside is far smaller – a 10 point difference. The takeaway: Being an ObamaCare fixer gets you less and costs you more with voters.
Scylla or Charybdis? - Byron York: “By the time midterm campaigning is at full speed in September and October, Democratic candidates will probably not be able to get away with listing a couple of non-germane tweaks as their program to ‘fix’ Obamacare. If they try, they could pay a high political price. But if they suggest fundamental changes to the law, they’ll run afoul of party orthodoxy and risk losing national Democratic support. It will be just another added cost of the Affordable Care Act.”
Baier Tracks: The Space Between… - “The best headline of the day after the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District came from the Daily Beast: ‘Jolly Night For GOP As Dems Sink In Crucial Special Election’ A lot of people will make a lot about this special election – maybe too much. But, one thing is clear: It’s not good news for Democrats. And add this to the latest polls showing the president’s approval taking a dive. Be prepared for some more distancing on policy issues very soon by vulnerable red state Democrats.” – Bret Baier
[“Democrats are not without our flaws. We have our blind spots and we have our dogmas and we’ve got our crazy folks. But as a whole, this is a party that is serious about making sure that America is growing and offering opportunity to everybody.” – President Obama speaking to some of his Wall Street patrons at a Senate fundraiser in New York.]
RUBIO: ‘SINGLE PAYER’ WAS THE GOAL ALL ALONG
“I believe single payer is always the goal that they wanted. In fact, I think Obamacare was designed to eventually lead us to that point. What I think you’re going to see now is as Obamacare begins to fail, instead of recognizing it as a failure, we need to back and embrace free market principles. I think you’re going to find the left increasingly saying that Obamacare’s failure proves we need a single payer system, so I’m not surprised by it at all.” –Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in an interview with Breitbart.
More bad medicine for Sebelius - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will defend her department’s budget before the House Ways and Means Committee this morning.
[They’re not going to make it - Fox News: “The Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that more than 940,000 people signed up in February, bringing the total enrollment number to 4.2 million.”]
PEN AGAIN: OBAMA TO PUSH NEW OVERTIME REGS
NYT raises the curtain on President Obama’s latest executive action on overtime pay rules. A Senior administration official confirmed to Fox News this executive action will be announced by the president Thursday. Ed Henry reports that while the administration has claimed that some previous executive orders were very bipartisan, small reasonable moves both sides could support, this time officials are acknowledging they know the overtime move will infuriate businesses and Republicans on hill. This signals a ramping up of the president’s go-it-alone strategy.
Goodlatte: take Obama to court - New on Fox News Opinion: House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., describes the details and danger of President Obama’s expansion of executive power, arguing for a House plan to take the president to court over the subject: “With an unrestrained Executive Branch that knows no limits, it is ultimately up to the Congress and the courts to check the President’s overreach and restore balance to our system of government.”
FIRST IN FOX NEWS FIRST: ECONOMISTS WARN OVER WAGE INCREASE
Over 500 top economists, including several former senior federal officials and three Nobel laureates have penned a letter to congressional leaders arguing that a mandatory minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour is not the best tact to alleviate poverty. From the letter: “One of the serious consequences of raising the minimum wage is that business owners saddled with a higher cost of labor will need to cut costs, or pass the increase to their consumers in order to make ends meet. Many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins, with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance …For these reasons, we encourage federal policymakers to examine creative, comprehensive policy solutions that truly help address poverty, boost incomes from work, and increase upward mobility by fostering growth in our nation’s economy.”
Signatories include: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum; former director, Congressional Budget Office; Glenn Hubbard, Columbia University; former chair, Council of Economic Advisers; Greg Mankiw, Harvard University; former chair, Council of Economic Advisers; Jim Miller, former director, Office of Management and Budget; June O'Neill, Baruch College, CUNY; former director, Congressional Budget Office; Harvey Rosen, Princeton University; former chair, Council of Economic Advisers; George Shultz, Hoover Institution; former Secretary of Treasury; former Secretary of State; former Secretary of Labor; and former director, Office of Management and Budget
LIBS LOSE CONFIDENCE AFTER NEW SPY REVELATIONS
With Senate Democrats furious over the revelation that the CIA hacked into staff computers, liberal qualms about the Obama administration’s obsession with surveillance – briefly quieted by proposed fixes for NSA snooping – have re-emerged. Take it away, MoDo: “Barack Obama, the former Constitutional law teacher who became president vowing to clean up the excesses and Constitutional corrosion of [George W. Bush] and [Vice President Dick Cheney], will now have to clean up the excesses and Constitutional corrosion in his own administration. And he’d better get out from between two ferns and get in between the warring Congressional Democrats and administration officials -- all opening criminal investigations of each other -- because it looks as if the C.I.A. is continuing to run amok to cover up what happened in the years W. and Vice encouraged it to run amok. Langley needs a come-to-Jesus moment -- pronto…”
Obama to host Ukrainian PM - President Obama will host Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House today. AP has more.
LOIS LERNER WAS ALSO ON KOCH
Washington Examiner: “A GOP-led House panel Tuesday released an extensive report that attempts to show former top Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner lied to Congress about her involvement in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status… Lerner references ‘the fabulously rich and hugely influential’ Koch brothers, who are GOP donors, in asserting that the agency needed to cautiously conduct a ‘project’ scrutinizing groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax exempt status.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Alec Torres argues the rise of the Mongolian horde may offer evidence that climate change may be more of a natural occurrence than a human problem for National Review. From Global Warming & the Mongolian Empire’s Rise: “…[A] recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that there is a correlation between increasing global temperatures and the rise of the Mongolian empire… For global-warming alarmists, there’s one problem: The Mongolian empire, fueled by a ‘dramatic increase in temperatures,’ grew to power in the early 1200s, over 500 years before the first Industrial Revolution, when man began pumping large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere...if global warming was behind the rise of the Mongolian empire, it was surely natural, not man-made. Likewise, when alarmists claim that global warming will cause extreme weather, that may or may not be true. But in determining whether man is to be blamed or not, it is worth looking back to the Mongolians.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.4 percent//Disapprove – 52.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.8 percent//Wrong Track – 63.7 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.4 percent// Republicans 40.8 percent
PLANET HILLARY ESTIMATES 2016 SPENDING: $1.7 BILLION
Time: “There is now talk among Ready officials about finishing 2014 with 5 million supporters and 2 million active volunteers, numbers that would likely dwarf the assets of all the GOP wannabes combined. If realized, that would be substantially more than the piddling grassroots effort that Clinton mounted against Obama six years ago. Could anyone, Democrat or Republican, catch the Clinton machine this time? ‘I don’t know,’ [Craig Smith, a longtime Clinton insider now helping lead the Hillary Clinton political action group] says. ‘I think it takes a long time to build a grassroots operation. These things don’t pop up overnight.’
Indeed, they do not, and there is little that is spontaneous about this one. Smith estimates that the entire Clinton effort — including all the current super PAC projects and an actual campaign — will cost a cool $1.7 billion in total. That back-of-the-envelope calculation is based on his observation that in each presidential campaign the victor ends up spending about 150% of what the winner spent four years before.”
[BuzzFeed: “The advance work of groups like Ready for Hillary — and Priorities USA Action, the party’s largest super PAC — might hurt Clinton’s standing if they are seen as unhelpful in a year Democrats risk losing control of the Senate.]
Scandal shadows creep in - Washington Free Beacon: A nonprofit group believed to be the League of United Latino American Citizens (LULAC) used illegal corporate contributions to secretly aid Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, according to federal court documents. Democratic donor and District of Columbia businessman Jeffrey Thompson pleaded guilty on Monday to funneling millions in illegal donations to local and federal candidates, including Clinton in 2008. Thompson said in his plea agreement that he financed a $600,000 “shadow campaign” for Clinton using funds from his D.C.-based for-profit corporation D.C. Healthcare Systems Inc.
[WaPo’s Sean Sullivan examines how campaigns use YouTube to skirt restrictions on coordinating with outside groups.]
Team Clinton attacks WaPo - National Journal: “…Minyon Moore, a close Clinton confidant, has been connected to the guilty plea of businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who admitted to federal prosecutors that he made $3.3 million in illegal campaign contributions. Court papers allege that Moore had asked him to pay for pro-Clinton efforts in Puerto Rico and four states, The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Rosalind Helderman report. It doesn’t appear there is evidence showing Clinton knew about it, prosecutors say. Burns Strider, a longtime Clinton aide who now works with the pro-Clinton rapid-response group Correct the Record, called the allegations ‘bizarre and brazenly false’… ‘I think it’s horseshit. I think The Washington Post is acting like some kind of an Internet blog or something instead of doing real reporting,’ he told National Journal.
POWER PLAY: DOWNHILL FOR UDALL
In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris races the clock to explain why Sen. Mark Udall’s, D-Colo., chances of cruising to an easy re-election are bleaker than initially thought. In just 90 seconds, Chris breaks down what is a suddenly close race between Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. Watch here.
GLOVES STAY ON IN NEBRASKA SENATE DEBATE
Nebraska’s GOP Senate candidates staked-out positions in their second debate, but didn’t take any shots at each other. Former State Treasurer Shane Osborn, Midland University President Ben Sasse, attorney Bart McLeay and banker Sid Dinsdale took lots of shots at President Obama, but kept it civil with each other as they continue to vie for the seat of retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. On immigration, frontrunner Osborn emphasized border security: “It’s a national defense issue,” he said. “Navy seals tell me it’s quite possibly the hottest most dangerous place on Earth.” Sasse had everyone laughing when he noted President Obama’s recent call for an end to the ‘era of austerity.’ Sasse said, “I have no idea what he’s talking about. Barack Obama is the Kim Kardashian of government excess.” The candidates will debate once more ahead of the state’s May 13 primary. Watchdog.org offers a full recap.
MANCHIN BACKS W.VA. BAN ON LATE-TERM ABORTION
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. has come out in support of the aims of a bill passed by the state legislature banning elective abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, opposes the ban. Republican frontrunner Rep. Shelley Moore Capito supports it. Manchin’s statement to The Weekly Standard: “I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature. I am currently evaluating the constitutionality of the legislation and working with my colleagues to make sure we can pursue a bill that will pass the Senate. My main goal, and one that we can all agree on, is reducing the number of abortions in this country.”
Pick six - The current status quo in Washington depends on Democrats preventing Republicans from gaining six Senate seats in November’s midterm elections. With Democrats trying to protect a dozen or so potentially vulnerable seats, which six do you think are the most likely to flip? The current consensus among Fox News First readers is: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia.
[Watch Fox: Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., discusses Sen. Mark Pryor’s, R-Ark., comments on his military service and the outcome of Florida’s special election in the 4 p.m. ET hour]
SNEAK PEAK: GOPAC TO ANNOUNCE EMERGING LEADERS
GOPAC, a Republican group focused on training and recruiting candidates for state office and propelling them to the federal level will announce this year’s class of Emerging Leaders later today. Fox News First has your first look: State Sens: Hunter Hill, Ga., Rod Bray, Ind., Chris McDaniel, Ky., Troy Balderson, Ohio, Kim David, Okla., Rich Alloway, Penn., Steve Dickerson, Tenn., Charles Schwertner, Texas. State Reps: April Weaver, Ala., Dan Nordberg, Colo., Jim Boyd, Fla., John Anthony, Ill., Glenn Cordell, N.H., David Gallegos, N.M., Susan Martin, N.C., Phyllis Henderson, S.C., J.M. Lozano, Texas, Hans Zeiger, Wash., State DelegatePaul Espinosa, W.Va., State Assemblywoman Mary Czaja, Wis., and State Assemblyman Dale Kooyenga, Wis. The group of 20 “promising state legislators” will gather for the organization’s annual leadership summit this May in New York.
SENATE CONSERVATIVE FUND SETS SIGHTS ON HOUSE RACES
Washington Examiner: “The Senate Conservatives Fund is no longer focusing solely on reshaping the Senate. Now, the polarizing conservative outside group will also turn its attention and money to some House races, announcing Tuesday its endorsement in four safe Republican districts and one other district likely to be a toss-up.”
SCOTT GETS PERSONAL ABOUT POVERTY IN NEW AD
Sunshine State News: “Gov. Rick Scott [R-Fla.] released the first television ad of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign on Tuesday. The ad features Scott talking about his experiences growing up in poverty and how it drives him to focus on Florida’s economy and creating jobs.”
BIPARTISAN BILL MOVES CONVENTION CASH TO PEDIATRIC RESEARCH
The Hill: “Taxpayer money will no longer be used to pay for presidential political conventions if President Obama signs a bill that is headed for his desk. In a Congress that has been defined by intense partisanship, the parties came together to pass legislation that directs $126 million over 10 years to pediatric research. The funds will be taken from the presidential election campaign fund and directed toward the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”
ISN’T THE MUSIC PUNISHMENT ENOUGH?
A San Antonio mom is pushing a law that would punish parents for allowing unsupervised pre-teens to attend a Miley Cyrus concert scheduled for the city this weekend. Concerned parent Bobbie Mueller told the San Antonio Express-News that Cyrus’ performances are “beyond obscene.” Mueller wants county commissioners to make it a misdemeanor for parents to allow children under 13 without adult supervision to attend a Cyrus performance scheduled for the county-owned AT&T Center on Saturday. County Judge Nelson Wolff says he will urge San Antonio Spurs Sports and Entertainment, which operates the facility, to encourage Cyrus to keep it clean.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Not only is it a bad idea to start with, but [younger consumers] are clearly being overcharged as a way to subsidize others. You might want to sell it with a huge campaign, but it’s a really bad deal, and that’s why they’re not getting a lot of buyers” – 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.
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.