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The fix is in: Dems push ObamaCare remedies

FILE: March 31, 2014: An ObamaCare enrollment event in Commerce, Calif.

FILE: March 31, 2014: An ObamaCare enrollment event in Commerce, Calif.  (REUTERS)

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Buzz Cut:
• The fix is in: Dems push ObamaCare remedies
• Jeb tweaks base, says GOP needs ‘bigger vision’
• Bubba leans right, calls for spending control, compromise
• Brown to declare candidacy Thursday
• The biggest election ever

Conservatives are fuming over a House-passed fix that mitigates some of ObamaCare’s damage to small businesses. It’s not just that the change is a reversal of the GOP stance that the law is beyond repair, but also that it was quietly tacked on to an irregular, unannounced March 27 voice vote on the annual delay of Clinton-era Medicare cuts. [Good luck passing the House budget plan now, by the way.] The ObamaCare change, which came at the behest of business groups struggling with ObamaCare implementation, isn’t controversial itself, but Democrats are crowing that they have finally broken the GOP blockade. Embattled Democrats are desperate to show that they are working to repair the struggling law, and say this is the moment they can begin to start shifting the ObamaCare debate. The strategy, outlined for Politico, is to show Democrats at work on pernicious but peripheral problems with the law. The goal is to protect the Democratic majority in the Senate and thereby the law itself.

[The Hill looks at the move by embattled Democrats like Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., to block ObamaCare hikes to rates for the popular Medicare Advantage program amid further alienation from older voters for their party.]

Reid takes a (little) risk - The strategy of seeming to mend ObamaCare from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his team is a perilous one. As angry as conservative Republicans are at the sneaky tactic of tucking the fix into the bill, if it is the start of Reid & Co. allowing ObamaCare legislation through a years-long blockade, GOPers could stand to benefit. Democratic divisions have not much been on display because Reid allows so little activity in the Senate, but they are real and are likely to get worse as the pressure of midterms takes its toll and as the party braces for a return to its ‘90s-era partnership with Wall Street

[Er… - “The Congress of the United States, which wrote [ObamaCare], the members which are proud of what they have done are happy to not run away from what we have done, very proud of what we have accomplished.” – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in an interview with CNN.]

Threading the needle - What Democrats hope to do is restore some measure of trust on the issue of health care lost amid the stumbles of ObamaCare and simultaneously brand Republicans as intransigent and cruel. The conventional wisdom in Washington remains that the GOP shouldn’t risk worsening infighting and opening itself up to counter criticism by settling on a replacement for ObamaCare. But as Democrats start to see the advantages of being seen as fixing the law, Republicans are in dire need of an answer as to what they propose.

Pfeiffer pfeels pfine - The Hill: “White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday rejected the suggestion that Republicans will take control of the Senate in the midterm elections, saying that the GOP argument to repeal ObamaCare is a ‘political loser.’ ‘I'd say we believe we're going to keep the Senate,’ Pfeiffer said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’…”

Today, President Obama will today sign two executive orders aimed at male-female wage discrepancy (like the one at the White House). One requires government contractors to allow workers to publicly discuss their wages. Another forces contractors to provide more detailed information to the government about the ethnicity and gender of their workers.

Steven Malagana
considers how the patent system is being abused by unsavory companies for City Journal. From Trolling for Dollars: “Patent trolls are typically defined as companies that make no products but attempt to generate revenues through patents they hold… In other cases, these trolls are companies, like Personal Audio, whose businesses failed but now claim that a new version of that business—in this case, podcasting—is based on the firm’s patented ideas. In a 2013 study, the Government Accountability Office estimates that suits by nonperforming entities now make up 58 percent of all patent-litigation cases, up from just 24 percent in 2007…”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.9 percent//Disapprove – 52.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.0 percent//Wrong Track – 61.8 percent 
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.0 percent// Republicans 39.4 percent 

In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris looks at a race that has much to say about the political climate of 2014. Martha McSally, a combat veteran pilot and perhaps the GOP’s top House recruit of 2012, lost her bid against Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., by less than one point. She’s making another try and her chances reflected renewed optimism for the GOP. Click here to see the interview.

There certainly no pandering to the GOP base as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sat down with Fox News’ Shannon Bream. Bush pleaded for mercy for illegal immigrants, saying "It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family," to illegally enter the United States. The interview, part of this weekend’s 25th anniversary celebration of his father’s presidential library, Bush also reiterated his support for Common Core federal requirements for public schools, saying it was misunderstood by foes to be a national curriculum. The two-term Florida Republican clearly knew the impolitic nature of his immigration answer, prefacing his comments by saying “I’m going to say this and it will be on tape – so be it.”

[Read the NYT take on Bush’s waters-testing weekend: “Offstage, Mr. Bush gave indications of interest throughout the weekend. He approached one guest to ask if he was still working for another Republican known to be positioning for a presidential campaign; told yes, Mr. Bush moved on without further comment.”]

If he’s in it, it’s to win it - Bush reaffirmed his time frame for a 2016 decision of later this year, similar to that given by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Discussing his criteria for his decision, Bush asked “Can a candidate run with a hopeful, optimistic message run? Hopefully with enough details to give people a sense …that it's not just idle words and not get thrown, not get back into the vortex of a mud fight?  Can you do it, in my case, can one do it joyfully, without being tied to all the convention of the politics of here and now. And the other is it okay for my family?”  Bush added “it turns out that not running has generated more interest than if I said I was running.” Bush also suggested his blunt talk about conservative sacred cows like immigration was part of a larger vision. “We need to elect candidates that have a vision that is bigger and broader and candidates that are organized around winning the election, not making a point,” Bush told Bream. “Winning allows the big things to get solved. Winning gets the country back on track, in my mind.” More from “America’s News Headquarters.”

Paul: ‘adapt or die’ - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., welcomes Breitbart News’ new California affiliate with a column relating the challenges of that state’s beleaguered conservatives with those facing conservatives nationally with his column this week: “Together, we will continue to grow the conservative movement. Breitbart California will only help our party evolve, not die.”

[Des Moines Register: “Three potential presidential candidates will be in Iowa for the GOP state convention, organizers told The Des Moines Register on Sunday. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will speak at the event for party activists June 14.”]

On a campaign visit to his boyhood hometown of Hot Springs, Ark., former President Bill Clinton touted the need for bipartisan cooperation and emphasized the importance of a balanced budget. “You’ve got to control spending, if you decide to spend the money you’ve got to raise it, got to have enough revenues to cover what you decide to spend, and you have to have some economic growth to drive the debt down,” Clinton said, according to KATV. Clinton was stumping for a pair of Arkansas Democrats over the weekend, his former Emergency Management Director James Lee Witt and the former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hayes, both Democrats trying to crack the GOP’s monopoly on federal offices in the state. Clinton has previously campaigned for embattled Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and the gubernatorial bid of former Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark.

Frozen ‘till Hillary has chosen - WSJ looks out how 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s numerous shadow campaigns are spelling trouble for other prospective Democratic contenders: “When advisers to a fundraising group backing a prospective 2016 Clinton bid came calling in late January, hedge-fund manager and political heavyweight Orin Kramer said he met them in his New York office and agreed to write a check. When another potential candidate, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, tried to reach him, Mr. Kramer said he didn't take the call… That organizational advantage coupled with her renown as a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state have prevented other prospective Democrats from getting a toehold in the race. One Democratic strategist describes a political environment ‘frozen’ in anticipation of a possible Clinton bid.”

Rahm says Hillary needs to ‘let go’ - Isaac Chotiner offers an unfiltered view of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for The New Republic. (e.g.: Asked if he wanted to be in Washington when the ObamaCare Web site crashed: “You gotta be kidding. You get a freebie question for the ridiculousness of that question.”) When asked to offer his thoughts on 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton the Chicago mayor said, “…while Bill Clinton was seen as centrist and Hillary less so during the White House years, that is not true. They are clearly different speakers, which is central to leadership. Bill Clinton can go with or without a text. I think Hillary is equally eloquent when she lets go of that text. I have seen her connect with people in a way that is unbelievable.”

N.H. Journal: “Scott Brown will formally launch his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, April 10, in Portsmouth. The New Hampshire Journal has learned that the Republican former Bay State senator will make the announcement Thursday evening at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, not far from his birthplace at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and in the same city in which spent time as a child and where his mother now lives. Doors will open at 6 p.m.”

Brown beefs up with Christie alum - Washington Free Beacon: “Former Republican Massachusetts Senator and presumed New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown has hired several key campaign staffers ahead of his official campaign launch. Brown announced Friday he had hired Colin Reed, formerly New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s spokesman, as his press secretary. Reed previously served as a spokesman for Brown during his Senate term and 2012 campaign.  Last week, Brown also brought on Elizabeth Guyton as his communications director. Guyton was previously an aide to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.)…[Brown]  is holding his first major campaign fundraiser in Washington, D.C. on Monday.”

[N.H. Journal: “The pro-Scott Brown advocacy group Ending Spending Action Fund Monday will begin airing a new television ad in support of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, the New Hampshire Journal has learned.”]

Republicans have their sights set on six seats to win control of the Senate from Democrats. So which seats are most likely to flip from blue to red? The consensus so far among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. However, reader Jerry James is hedging his bets: “If [Republican] Scott Brown runs in New Hampshire that will replace Montana as my #6.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

South Dakota Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds is touting his record as governor in a new ad. From the ad: “Working as governor we balanced our budget every single year, we kept our taxes among the lowest in the nation, and when I left office there was more in our state reserves than when I was elected.”

The Conservative Campaign Committee is praising Minnesota Republican Senate challenger state Sen. Julianne Ortman. From the ad: “Liberal [Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.,] has been a rubber stamp for Barack Obama's failed policies… Conservative Republican Julianne Ortman helped balance Minnesota's six billion dollar deficit without raising taxes.” The ad goes on to list endorsements Ortman has received from social conservative groups along with former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.   

Washington Examiner: “Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., raised more than $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2014, marking the strongest fundraising haul yet for the conservative frontrunner in the race against vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. The Washington Examiner obtained the fundraising figures in advance of their official release later Monday, a tally that Cassidy’s supporters are banking will keep him competitive with one of the most well funded incumbents nationwide.”

AP: “The Democratic Governors Association says it raised $12.5 million in the first three months of this year, roughly half what its Republican counterparts collected.”

Chicago Tribune: “Pivoting from a primary campaign geared to his party's conservative base, Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner is now seeking to expand his appeal with a TV spot featuring playful banter with his wife, who proclaims herself to be a Democrat.”

If you think American politics are complex, check out India. Today, the world’s most populous free nation began its national election with 815 million citizens eligible to vote. The process, which began in remote border provinces, will last for the next six weeks. India has more voters than the United States, Brazil and Indonesia combined. This will be the first election in which electronic voting machines will be used, giving voters an option many Americans must wish they had: the ability to cast a ballot for none of the candidates by pushing the “nota” or “none of the above” button. The results will be announced May 16. Reuters has details on the stakes and consequences and The Economist examines why a country so beset by corruption and inefficiency is so good at conducting elections.

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 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.