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• Survey says: Pelosi bluffing on ObamaCare boast
• Cancellations outnumber enrollments in Colorado
• New batch of Clinton files out today
• Power Play: Political pros w/ Perino and Trippi
• When life gives you lemons… go turkey curling
SURVEY SAYS: PELOSI BLUFFING ON OBAMACARE BOAST
Nancy Pelosi put on a brave face with reporters, claiming ObamaCare won’t hurt her party with voters this fall. But, c’mon. However you slice the latest polls or the results of the special election in Florida this week, the law is a big net negative for Democrats. A reasonable argument can be made that Democrats have a strategy to mitigate some of the harm by counterattacking Republicans, but even that looks less likely when one sees forecasts like this from the Daily Caller: “Four out of five U.S. companies have either already raised deductibles on their employee health plans or are considering it thanks to Obamacare, according to a survey of over 700 businesses by consulting firm Mercer LLC…” What that means is that in the heat of the election cycle, voters who were previously concerned but not personally affected by the law will get bad news from their employer-provided health plans. The majority of Americans get their insurance through their jobs. Millions are expected to be dumped onto ObamaCare in the years to come, but we are starting to see how the law will disrupt coverage for lots of voters before Election Day.
“I’m very proud of our House Democrats and how they have not only embraced the Affordable Care Act, because they helped create it, but how proud they are of it,” Pelosi told reporters. “I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their electoral issue, and they will find that out.” – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to reporters at a press conference Thursday.
COUNTDOWN TO MEDICARE CLIFF
The House will take up today a bill tying an ObamaCare delay to the annual ritual of delaying scheduled cuts to Medicare payments to doctors. The so-called “doc fix” has been part of life in Washington for nearly 20 years as lawmakers forestall the trims that were part of Clinton-era budget deals. If the patch isn’t approved by the end of the month, doctors, especially in rural areas, might drop millions of patients. The $282 billion House GOP bill covers a ten-year span, paid for by an ObamaCare delay. The White House released a statement on Wednesday, saying that if the president was presented this bill, he would veto it. But that’s not likely to happen, since Senate Democrats are ready to let the ax fall on Medicare recipients unless Republicans agree to an unconditional extension. —Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel is following the debate.
McConnell’s solution: put me in charge: “…The roadblock is the Democratic Senate. You know one thing the voters of America could do, would be to make me the majority leader next year. At least that way we could get some of this relief on the president’s desk. I mean, right now he is protected from anything he doesn’t want to do by a Democratic senate, which enables him to do whatever he chooses to do.”—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the “Kelly File” Thursday. Watch here.
Health official blasts agency in epic resignation letter - Daily Caller: “A Health and Human Services official has resigned after dealing with the frustration of the “profoundly dysfunctional” federal bureaucracy, which left him “offended as an American taxpayer.” In a resignation letter obtained by ScienceInsider, David Wright, director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) – which oversees and monitors possible research misconduct – offers a scathing rebuke of the unwieldy and inefficient bureaucracy that he dealt with for the two years he served in the position. In his letter to Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh… ‘I knew coming into this job about the bureaucratic limitations of the federal government, but I had no idea how stifling it would be.’ According to Wright, activities that in his capacity as an academic administrator that took a day or two, took weeks and months in the federal government.”
CANCELLATIONS OUTNUMBER ENROLLMENTS IN COLORADO
Washington Examiner: “With less than a month to go before the enrollment period ends for this year, fewer than 85,000 Coloradans have signed up for health insurance,’ The Colorado Observer’s Mark Stricherz reports, noting that state officials projected that they would need 125,000 to 140,000 enrollees… “Even in the worst-case scenario, insurers would still be expected to earn profits, and would then likely raise premiums in 2015 to make up the difference,” Stricherz quotes Kaiser Family Foundation analyst Larry Leavitt as predicting. Quite apart from the issue of premium increases, the 84,881 enrollees is far below the number of people who lost their insurance plans because of Obamacare. ‘Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people,’ Jo Donlin, director of external affairs for the state insurance division, wrote in a Nov. 14 email. One of those people was [Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who is running against Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.]…”
WILL HOUSE CAVE ON SENATE UNEMPLOYMENT DEAL?
Time: “The issue of unemployment insurance has been a Democratic messaging point ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, and a successful bipartisan bill might have been expected to blunt that line of attack. That’s one reason some Democratic strategists are confident House Republicans will end up passing the bill. ‘I’ve got $7—but not $10—that it passes the House, that the Speaker gets his folks to back off in the end,’ said longtime former Senate aide Jim Manley. ‘They’re on a glide path to get as little done by the end of the year as possible and getting this out of the way helps. And it takes away a Democratic talking point.’”
Bill Gates warns on minimum wage hike - “When people say we should raise the minimum wage. I worry about what that does to job creation ... potentially damping demand in the part of the labor spectrum that I’m most worried about.” – Microsoft Founder Bill Gate addressing the Conservative American Enterprise Institute Thursday. Business Insider has more.
REID USES UKRAINE TO BAIT KOCHS… AGAIN
Roll Call: “Senate Democratic leaders lit into Republicans Thursday over reports of an effort to tie aid to Ukraine to a move to block the IRS from clamping down on the political activities of tax-exempt groups.… ‘I was glad to see the Republicans finally come out publicly and say this is what they want. This is hard for me to comprehend, how in clear conscience they could say, ‘Ukrainians, we probably can’t help you because we’re trying to protect the Koch brothers.’ ‘Not only that, they’re saying to the American people that protecting the Koch brothers is more important than protecting our country. The Ukrainian issue is important,’ [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] added.”
“The majority leader had extended commentary about two businessmen, the Koch brothers, who I am beginning to think are a character out of Dr. Seuss in the majority leader’s mind. They are the Grinch who stole Christmas in his telling…interestingly enough, the majority leader does not seem to have a problem with a California billionaire whose publicly pledged $100 million behind Democrats to press them to pass climate change legislation…that is not the job of the United States Senate to vilify private citizens….I would note, the provision he [Harry Reid] is talking about, is not in the House Bill.”—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a floor speech Thursday.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: CRUCIAL CRIMEA VOTE
Host Chris Wallace welcomes Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., both of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to discuss Sunday’s scheduled vote in Crimea on breaking away from Ukraine. Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, will also discuss the vanished Malaysian airliner. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.
[Maybe Chris will ask McCaul about this - WaPo: “Republican Rep. Mike McCaul (Texas) wants more artists to direct that energy toward homeland security, and he plans to take his message to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., this weekend. ‘I think Western music could have an influence in countries where people otherwise don’t want to listen to us,’ the lawmaker said in an interview Thursday.]
Dr. K’s prescription: Be more like Carter - Charles Krauthammer analyzes how Russian ruler Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea could serve to shift President Obama’s foreign policy: “Obama is not the first president to conduct a weak foreign policy. Jimmy Carter was similarly inclined – until Russia invaded Afghanistan, at which point the scales fell from Carter’s eyes. … Invasion woke Carter from his illusions. Will it wake Obama?”
OBAMA GOES FOR SECOND HELPING ON RED MEAT
President Obama will again meet with immigration advocates today after directing enforcement agents Thursday to soften up on illegal immigrants and deportations. The move is a nod to liberal activists who want Obama to halt all deportations except those for individuals charged with other crimes. Obama claims he lacks the power to do so. Democrats are hopeful that immigration can be used as a wedge issue against Republicans in November.
“The president of the United States said to 11 million illegal immigrants, ‘Hey, do A, B, C, D, and E, and I won’t deport you.’ Where’d he get A, B, C, D, and E from? He made it up. So instead of enforcing the law, he’s telling 11 million people how to avoid obeying the law.” – Judge Andrew Napolitano on “Special report with Bret Baier.” Watch.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Jonah Goldberg has hope for The Most Cynical Generation: “…[Y]oung people these days — a.k.a ‘the Millennials’ — are the most cynical and distrusting generation ever recorded. Only 19 percent think most people can be trusted… Politicians pander to young people, and lots of young people fall for it. And that speaks well of neither… It’s true, Millennials remain more liberal and look more favorably toward big government than other age groups. But people grow up. They may well learn that their cynicism towards marriage and God — time-honored sources of happiness — was misplaced as the single life gets old and they find the one or the One they were waiting for. Similarly, the hot embers of their ardor for big government may cool as they realize the poetry rarely gets translated into prose…”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43 percent//Disapprove – 52.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.3 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.4 percent// Republicans 40.8 percent
BROWN READY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE RUN
AP: “Former Massachusetts [Republican] Sen. Scott Brown has begun seeking campaign staff while aggressively courting New Hampshire’s political elite, marking what local Republicans consider serious steps toward launching a Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen…The longtime Massachusetts resident, having recently relocated to his seacoast New Hampshire vacation home, is expected to launch an exploratory committee to enter the race as soon as Friday, according to several New Hampshire Republican officials who spoke directly to Brown about his plans…While recent polls give Shaheen a solid lead in a prospective matchup, Brown’s near-universal name recognition in a state that shares a media market with Massachusetts and his national fundraising network would make him a serious contender on Day One should he enter the race…Democrats and their allies are already preparing for a worst-case scenario, having spent roughly $360,000 combined on television advertising against Brown in recent weeks.”
POWER PLAY: POLITICAL PROS W/ PERINO AND TRIPPI
In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris welcomes former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino from “The Five” and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi to pick their races to watch this week. Which ones? You’d better click here to find out...
VULNERABLE DEMS HAVE A KOCH PROBLEM
Washington Free Beacon: “…Senate Majority PAC has strong ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who has frequently attacked the Kochs, going so far as to label them ‘un-American’ on the floor of the Senate. The group is now attacking Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D., La.) opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), for his supposed ties to the Koch Industries owners…However, Sen. Landrieu has received $27,000 in campaign contributions since 2000 from Koch Industries and its subsidiaries and employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Koch’s political action committee has given Landrieu’s another $35,000, including $15,000 during the current election cycle, making the company one of her PAC’s top 20 donors…Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) recently attacked ‘the Koch brothers’ reckless agenda’ despite having received a $5,000 contribution from Koch Industries’ PAC in September Pryor’s PAC took a total of $25,000 from the company.”
[WSJ: “Sen. Mary Landrieu [Democrat] of Louisiana intensified the pressure on Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Senate colleague, to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline… Ms. Landrieu, the new chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, said, “Canada is our closest, strongest trading partner,” and “a majority of American people” support Keystone. “It is hard for me to understand why there are still questions about whether building this pipeline is in our national interest,” she said.]
GOING TO GET UGLY IN NEBRASKA
Politico wades into the Nebraska GOP Senate primary today with a piece on conservative doyenne Ben Sasse’s resume, highlighting the work Sasse did for the consulting firm of his former boss, Mike Leavitt. Leavitt, for whom Sasse worked when Leavitt was secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, set up a business helping corporate clients implement changes mandated by ObamaCare after the law was passed. For at least one event, Leavitt’s firm listed Sasse as a “senior adviser.” Team Sasse says it was just a favor for a friend and not an official, compensated position. Politico raises an eyebrow saying that Sasse helping Leavitt “could undermine the first-time candidate’s image as an outsider who is laser-focused on repealing” ObamaCare. Sasse, who this week won the backing of 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is chasing frontrunner Shane Osborn, the former state treasurer. The Politico oppo dump also has a bit about Osborn’s employer’s work on the auto bailout.
[With two such conservative contenders leading the Nebraska race, such hair splitting is probably inevitable. Watchdog.org explains why the contest is likely to get muddy soon.]
Treadwell pauses Alaska Senate campaign for death in family - Alaska Dispatch: “U.S. [Republican] Senate candidate Mead Treadwell announced that his campaign staff will be rescheduling political events for the next week or so, after his brother-in-law died of heart failure on Wednesday while skiing.
BRALEY TOPS GOP CONTENDERS IN IOWA SENATE CONTEST
Quinnipiac’s latest survey gives Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, still leading the members of a still-crowded GOP field. Braley, a four-term congressman, is the presumptive Democratic nominee in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Braley leads Republican contenders former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker by 12 points and state Sen. Jodi Ernst by 13 points, with big chunks of voters still undecided.
Grimes gets help from Rahm - Washington Examiner: “Kentucky Democratic candidate for Senate Alison Lundergan Grimes is headed to Chicago [on March 20] for a fundraiser with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel…]
Pick Six - Republicans need to flip six Senate seats from blue to red to gain control of the upper chamber. Fox News First wants to know which Democrat-held seats you think are most vulnerable. Based on your feedback the consensus is: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia.
NEW BATCH OF CLINTON FILES OUT TODAY
National Archives will release today another batch of newly unsealed documents from former President Bill Clinton’s administration, including records related to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, files from health care adviser Ira Magaziner, documents from the 2000 recount in Florida and the famously nasty transition from the Clinton administration to that of President George W. Bush. AP has more.—Watch Fox: Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen has the latest.
Hillary’s Hawkeye hopes - The latest polling from Iowa shows Hillary Clinton riding high among potential 2016 candidates. But the last time she ran, Clinton and her presidential ambitions were upended in the Hawkeye State by a freshman senator. The Clinton-backed group Ready for Hillary has already launched its ground game in Iowa. –Watch Fox: Campaign Carl Cameron examines Clinton’s Iowa strategy.
[You can’t tell your planets from your asteroids without a program… - You’ll want to bookmark this roster of the players in Hillary’s orbit from National Journal’s Alex Seitz-Wald. Very useful.]
CHRISTIE: ‘IF I’M IN A CRANKY MOOD, SOME DAYS I YELL BACK ON THEM.’
Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., faced a barrage of hecklers during a town hall Thursday. While straining to hear a question Christie told one heckler: “…either sit down and keep quiet or get out, one or the other. We’re done with you.” After six protestors were removed from the meeting Christie stated, “I really love youthful enthusiasm…they are getting exactly what they want. What happens is they get taken out, they get attention and the press follows them out and then interviews them.” The Garden State governor added, “people have watched my Town hall meetings now 113 times and I have had plenty of people who are angry with me and don’t like me, who I’ve called on. Believe me, I didn’t call on them on propose…if I’m in a cranky mood, some days I yell back on them.” Watch the exchange courtesy of Breitbart.
COAL MINER BLASTS RAHALL IN ROBOCALL
The Hill: “State Sen. Evan Jenkins, Rep. Nick Rahall’s (D-W.Va.) Republican challenger, is launching a robocall to push back on a recent super-PAC ad that touts Rahall’s record on coal. The robocall, obtained first by The Hill, features a coal miner, Republican state Del. Randy Smith, who says he’s ‘insulted by Nick Rahall’s dishonest new ad.’”
#mediabuzz: MEDIA BIAS CAUSES CBS REPORTER BOLT?
Howard Kurtz looks at the sudden departure of CBS News’ Sharyl Atkisson and her Twitter-posted resignation. Radio host Bill Press and Fox News contributors Jim Pinkerton and Lauren Ashburn will discuss that subject and the coverage of the missing Malaysian airliner. Also joining Howie: Mediaite’s Joe Concha and The Hill’s Elise Viebeck. Plus, part two of Howie’s interview with Bob Costas. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
[A series of tubes - The World Wide Web turns 25 this week. Fox Business Network’s Jennifer Booton offers 13 of the crowing achievements of the World Wide Webhere.]
INK IS IN…
According to a new Fox News poll, more Americans are getting tattoos. The survey finds nearly one in five of those polled have at least one tattoo. However, 58 percent saying they do not like them and another 60 percent said it makes a person “less attractive.” Overall, a wide range of groups are about equally likely to have skin in the game: Men (21 percent), women (22 percent), whites (21 percent), blacks (21 percent), Democrats (24 percent), independents (21 percent), Republicans (19 percent) and white evangelical Christians (18 percent). here.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS… GO TURKEY CURLING
WBNG: “Less than 24 hours after ice jamming from the Chenango River over ran the parking lot at the Chenango Commons Golf Course, [an adjacent] Irish pub took advantage of the frozen water. Thursday was the first McGirk’s Turkey Curling event…Participants paired up to compete by throwing 8 to 10-pound frozen turkeys across the ice with the goal of sliding them under one of six chairs marked for different levels of difficulty and point.” You know you want to see the pictures.
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 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.