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• House hangs IRS hopes on Holder’s help
• Election year ObamaCare delay to add $6.2 trillion to debt
• Ya think? Coy Hillary says ‘I am thinking about’ 2016
• Baier Tracks: Think green
• Flying burrito brawlers
HOUSE HANGS IRS HOPES ON HOLDER’S HELP
House Republicans are winding up to hold former IRS executive Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify about the agency’s targeting of President Obama’s political enemies. But as long as a criminal investigation bobs along at the Obama Justice Department, there’s little to cause Lerner to get chatty. The open investigation gives her a Fifth Amendment haven. So what can frustrated lawmakers do? House members today will debate whether to ask the Justice Department to seek criminal contempt charges against Lerner beyond the allegations of wrongdoing in the corruption scandal itself. You read that right. House Republicans want to ask an attorney general whom they have held in contempt of Congress for almost two years for failing to provide documents to bring contempt charges against a former fellow administration official. Gotcha.
[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel has the latest developments on the Lerner contempt charges from Capitol Hill.]
Hey, buddy - Based on Attorney General Eric Holder’s dismissive showing in testimony Tuesday, there’s little reason to believe that he thinks much of the demands of the House of Representatives. Holder has stymied Republicans on not only the botched gunrunning sting that led to his contempt of Congress charge in 2012 but also the doctored White House talking points on the Islamist raid in Benghazi, Libya, the Justice Department’s snooping on journalists, domestic surveillance polices and more. When Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, mocked Holder for not caring about being in contempt, the attorney general flared: “You don't want to go there, buddy.” Holder added that the contempt charge was “inappropriate” and “unjust” and cautioned Gohmert “never think that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.” Sounds like just the guy to help Republicans out on cornering Lois Lerner, right?
[Farenthold: Holder should be ‘in jail’ - Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, refused to question Holder during the same hearing saying that it was wrong to allow him to testify under a contempt finding. “If an American citizen had not complied with one of the Justice Department’s subpoenas,” Farenthold said, “they would be in jail and not sitting here in front of me testifying.”]
Immovable objects - With the impossibly short memories of the members of the establishment press when it comes to the scandals that have beset the Obama administration (even the one that includes the journalistic profession), Holder has been able to persist in his post. Republicans may feel obliged to go through the motions with Holder and the IRS case, but there’s little indication that this attorney general or this administration can be moved. Holder has said he plans to stay in office “well into 2014” if not longer even though a rules change in the Senate would allow Democrats to push through a replacement on a party-line vote. Plus he kind of seems to be enjoying making Republicans crazy.
[Holder is scheduled to speak today on his push for expanded gun-control measures at an event hosted by former Justice Department cooperative non-rodent Al Sharpton in New York.]
DEMS’ ELECTION YEAR OBAMACARE DELAY WILL ADD $6.2 TRILLION TO DEBT
Washington Examiner’s Phillip Klein tallies up the cost to taxpayers of the Obama administration decision to punt on scheduled cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program amid growing anger among older voters. “According to the Government Accountability Office, if Obamacare’s Medicare cuts don’t get implemented, instead of decreasing deficits, the law would increase long-term deficits by $6.2 trillion.”
DIRE WARNING ON HEALTH OF OBAMACARE ENROLLEES
NYT: “People who signed up early for insurance through the new marketplaces were more likely to be prescribed drugs to treat pain, depression and H.I.V. and were less likely to need contraceptives, according to a new study that provides a much-anticipated look at the population that signed up for coverage under the new health care law… The study, to be released Wednesday by the major pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts, suggests that early enrollees face more serious health problems and are older than those covered by their employers. The study also showed a higher use of specialty drugs, which are often used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis; the use of such drugs could hint at more costly medical problems.”
High cost of low enrollment - Forbes’ Avik Roy examines a survey from the RAND Corporation that shows the number of uninsured Americans who bought policies under ObamaCare is a fraction of the number estimated by government numbers crunchers when calculating the cost of the law – perhaps 20 percent of enrollees rather than the 80 percent to 90 percent forecast by congressional economists. What’s that mean? Costlier insurance for those already covered and even higher deficits down the road.
HOUSE TRIES TO HEM OBAMA’S INTERNET PLAN
President Obama’s move to cede a key U.S. control over the Internet is not sitting well with members of Congress who worry about abuses by authoritarian governments, security and freedom of commerce. A House panel will take up a measure that would direct the Government Accountability Office to study the decision to relinquish the authority, set to occur in October 2015, and present a non-partisan evaluation before taking any action. –Watch Fox: Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen looks at how Congress is reacting to the proposal.
[Kirsten Powers examines Kickstarter’s attempt to censor a film about abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Liberals' mob rule.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
CNET’s Greg Lukianoff examines Twitter, hate speech, and the costs of keeping quiet: “Part of the wisdom of First Amendment law is that it recognizes that we flawed humans will be tempted to ban speech for no better reason than that officials (or voters) simply dislike or disapprove of an idea or a particular speaker. That's why First Amendment doctrine forbids the use of highly subjective standards, which would invite arbitrary punishment of dissenters, oddballs, satirists, or the misunderstood. Too many scholars seem to think a robot could simply apply such standards to produce a perfect outcome every time… Twitter lets us see people as they are -- a mixed lot on any given day, to be sure. But it is especially important for a free society to learn not just the good news but the bad news as well.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43 percent//Disapprove – 52.7 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30 percent//Wrong Track – 61.8 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.3 percent// Republicans 39.7 percent
YA THINK? COY HILLARY SAYS ‘I AM THINKING ABOUT’ 2016
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said she “thinking about” a 2016 presidential bid, and is considering the “hard questions” in making her decision. Clinton’s lean forward came in a speech to tech investors in San Francisco, part of her Western campaign and cash-hauling swing this week. Clinton re-emphasized her late lament of partisanship, decrying “political dysfunction.” In what might be seen as an answer to Obama Democrats who complain that her seemingly endless presidential preparations are sapping strength from already weakened Democrats facing voters this fall, Clinton said she wished the country had a more “limited campaign period” so “we could pay attention to the upcoming elections this year.” Clinton didn’t expand on her 2016 status in a speech in Portland later Tuesday. She’ll continue the western swing in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Bubba stays Down South - Speaking in the key 2016 primary state of South Carolina at an event to honor his former Educations Secretary, former Gov. Dick Riley, D-S.C., Bill Clinton was also calling for a new political tone. The former president said: “The future will belong, in my opinion, to people who try to cultivate our interesting differences but grounded in the simple fact that our common humanity matters more. Most people spend 99-and-a-half percent of their time worrying about the half-a-percent of us that’s different. And I’m not just talking about politics.” South Carolina was the site of an embarrassing stumble for the Clintons in 2008, including allegations of racially divisive campaigning.
JEB BUSH COURTS CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS
WaPo: “Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is reaching out to evangelical leaders as he considers a 2016 presidential run, and in early May, he will meet privately with Russell Moore, one of the country’s most prominent Southern Baptists. Moore, a frequent presence on television and at theological conferences, heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has more than 16 million members… One topic expected to be on the agenda is comprehensive immigration reform, which Moore and Bush have encouraged. In March, Moore co-wrote an op-ed article for The Wall Street Journal with Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, urging Congress to take action and praising immigrants.”
RUBIO TO UNVEIL HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING PLAN
Reuters: “[Florida] Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a possible 2016 White House contender, will unveil legislation on Wednesday to broaden the use of financial vehicles known as ‘income share agreements’ that students can use to fund their higher education costs. Under the agreements, which are marketed as an alternative to traditional student loans, private investors or organizations provide students with financing for their education costs in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings.’ The same way that private investors invest in a business idea, they could invest in a person who basically says: ‘This is who I am. This is what my career goals are. This is what I've done so far. This is what I intend to major and graduate in. And in return, when I graduate, I will pay a percentage of my salary over a defined period of time in return for that investment,’’’ Rubio told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.”
POWER PLAY: GRANITE STATE SLUGFEST
Republicans are touting a new poll that shows Scott Brown just five points behind Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., his bid to go from former Massachusetts senator to New Hampshire senator-elect. Democrats allow it’s going to be a tough fight, but believe Shaheen can hold on. In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” get a 90-second primer on the race and how to win it. Click here to watch.
[Scott Brown has released a new Web ad featuring New Hampshire voters saying, “we really need you representing us in Washington.”]
The Baronial view - Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone says: “In the January 2010 Massachusetts Senate race, [Brown] trailed Democratic nominee Martha Coakley 50 percent to 41 percent… Shaheen is a strong candidate, having been elected governor three times and senator once. But she also lost a Senate race, in 2002, when Democratic numbers were not as high as they were when she won in 2008.”
BEGICH, LANDRIEU, PETERS GET CRONY LABEL IN ADS
Conservative group Freedom Partners expands today its new attack on Democrat ties to the insurance industry. The organization, backed by Charles and David Koch, broadens its campaign to include Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, (watch) Mary Landrieu, D-La., (watch) and Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., (watch) who join Rep. Bruce Braley D-Iowa and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. in the dunking booth. The expansion brings the total ad buy to more than $3 million. From the Alaska ad script: “Sen. Mark Begich says he is standing up to insurance companies but can you really believe him? Begich took thousands from the health insurance industry and he supported ObamaCare which gave health insurance companies billions and a guaranteed bailout.”
Begich makes the most of early start - National Journal: “Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska raised just over $1 million in the year's first fundraising quarter and has roughly $2.8 million on hand, his campaign said Tuesday. … the report also indicates that Begich is burning through his cash as fast as he can raise it, as conservative outside groups take advantage of … cheap TV ad rates: Begich also had $2.8 million on hand to close 2013.”
COTTON CLOSING ON PRYOR
Talk Business Arkansas: “Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor holds a three-point lead over his Republican rival, Cong. Tom Cotton, in the latest Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll. Pryor, whose seat has been highly targeted for a Republican pick-up, leads the first-term Fourth District Congressman 45.5% to 42.5%. Only 8% are undecided.”
SASSE SLAMS OBAMACARE WITH WIFE’S STORY
Nebraska Republican Senate hopeful Ben Sasse and his wife, Melissa, get personal in a new video discussing her aneurysm and the family’s struggle in recovery and to deal with her massive health bills. The candidate explains that his passionate opposition to ObamaCare stems in part from their experience. “These aren’t political issues to us,” he says. “This is personal.”
SHANNON DECRIES ‘DEPENDENCY’ IN NEW AD
Oklahoma Senate contender T.W. Shannon is “encouraging a culture of work, not welfare” in his latest ad. From the ad: “Instead of promoting self-reliance the Obama Administration is pushing people into dependency.”
[The conservative group First Amendment Alliance Educational Fund, with ties to GOP donor Bob Perry, has launched an ad praising Oklahoma Senate candidate Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., for, fighting “President Obama’s intrusive government that risks our freedoms and way of life.”]
GROUP BLASTS GINGREY ON SPENDING
The Hill: “The conservative super-PAC Ending Spending is airing ads accusing Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) of being a big spender, the first direct attacks on the congressman of the election cycle.”
[AJC: “[Georgia Democrat] Michelle Nunn told volunteers for her U.S. Senate campaign … that she would support completion of the fourth phase of the Keystone XL pipeline in the name of economic development and national security.]
POLL FINDS DEMS DROOPY
A recent survey from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is giving shows reliable Democratic voting blocs of young people, unmarried women and minorities that delivered the presidency for Barack Obama in 2012, are less likely to turnout this November. According to the poll only 64 percent of this said they were “almost certain” to vote in 2014 compared to 79 percent of everyone else.
[Reid: We’ve got ‘em just where we want ‘em -“I think the feeling [is], we’re doing quite well. We feel we’re doing OK, that if the election were held today, we would be fine. We’re not going to be boasting with anybody here about which state does what, but we feel pretty good about where we are.”—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reporters Tuesday.]
PICK SIX: PURPLING OREGON
Which six Democrat-held Senate seats present the most likely path for the GOP to win control of the upper chamber? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Reader John Christensen of Woodburn, Ore., sees Monday’s announcement that Dr. Monica Wehby has built a war chest of over $1 million to defeat Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., adding Wehby is the GOP’s “best chance to turn Oregon purple.”
NRSC BOASTS BIG BUCKS
Washington Examiner: “The National Republican Senatorial Committee has posted its best fundraising month of the midterm election cycle so far, the committee confirmed Tuesday. Sen. Rob Portman [R-Ohio], the NRSC vice chair for finance, announced at a weekly lunch among Republican senators that the committee raised nearly $6.4 million in March, finishing the month with nearly $15.9 million on hand.”
NO RESIGNATION FOR KISSING CONGRESSMAN
Monroe Louisiana News-Star: “…Rep Vance McAllister, [R-La.]… said Monday night he doesn’t intend to resign despite the release of a video showing him kissing a woman who isn’t his wife. McAllister, in an exclusive interview with The News-Star, said he … plans to stand for re-election next fall.”
THE CURIOUS CAMPAIGN OF SEAN ELDRIDGE
Alex Isenstadt looks at Democrat Sean Eldridge’s extreme measures to use his husband’s wealth to secure a House seat in New York and unseat Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y.: “Like no other 2014 candidate, Eldridge is testing the limits of dollars and cents to secure a seat in the House of Representatives. The Democrat is tapping [his husband’s] vast wealth – estimated at $700 million – to build an elaborate campaign apparatus in a district where he remains a stranger to many…. His efforts are all the more striking in contrast with incumbent GOP Rep. Chris Gibson, a 49-year-old decorated war veteran and former college professor who lives in the same middle-class neighborhood where he grew up.”
[New Today at Fox News Opinion: John Stossel explains why he’s too scared to do his taxes. “The code is incomprehensible. You can get a deduction for feeding feral cats but not for having a watchdog, for clarinet lessons if your orthodontist thinks it'll cure your overbite but not for piano lessons a psychotherapist prescribes for relaxation.]
BAIER TRACKS: THINK GREEN…
“For a golfer, this is one of the best weeks of the year. Today, the azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom, the grass is trimmed to perfection, and the par-three contest gets underway before the big event – The Masters! To me, the tournament always looks like heaven on earth on TV and seems flawless, no matter the weather. It also seems to kick off spring in my mind, whatever thermometer says. The trip down Magnolia Lane is special this April, just as it was in 1934 when the first tournament was played or 50 years ago when the members of Arnie’s Army cheered their hero on to his last major championship. This is one of those moments when we can remember that despite all the challenges and disagreements we face, some things remain transcendent.” – Bret Baier
FLYING BURRITO BRAWLERS
Taco Bell franchisees brought lunch to Congress on Tuesday as part of their annual legislative visit. How did Hill staffers respond to the generosity? Watch the video from Roll Call that shows a fast-food worker forced to jump back as a crowd of grabby staffers swoop up armloads of free food. The observer saw “no shame as staff fills up boxes and garbage bags of burritos.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The administration wants to stonewall….if the press is not willing to do anything on its own, because it is not interested, then [the administration] will probably succeed.” –Charles Krauthammer discussing abuses of power by the IRS on “ Special Report with Bret Baier” Click hereto watch.
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.