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The opacity of ObamaCare

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• The opacity of ObamaCare
• Obama: Immigration action ‘Going to happen’
• Axelrod to Hillary: ‘Get out of the cocoon’
• It’s official, Warren now Senate Dems link to liberals
• Space jam

“What we need to do is be transparent,” Health and Human Services head Sylvia Burwell announced earlier this week on the eve of ObamaCare’s reboot. How ironic, given the recent exposure of just how opaque the curtain of deception behind which the president’s unpopular health law was sold has been. As more damaging video of ObamaCare architect Johnathan Gruber continues to hit the internet, Democrats are doing their best to dance away from his disparaging comments about American voters. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went as far as saying, “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill,” during a press conference Thursday. But that wasn’t Pelosi’s tune leading up to the health law’s passage. Fox News: “At the time, her office put out a ‘health insurance reform mythbuster’ press release pointing to the work of ‘noted MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber’ in examining the House bill’s impact on premiums. They noted that Gruber found it ‘would result in lower premiums than under current law for the millions of Americans using the newly-established Health Insurance Exchange.’” Of course the clouds covering an administration’s touted transparency shouldn’t be surprising given sunny forecasts Americans were sold like “you can keep it” that ultimately fell flat for all to see.

[“We were subjected during the Obamacare debate to a whole lot of stuff that we all knew was not true, not even close to true. And what this insider is saying confirms that they were spinning tales from beginning to end because they knew they couldn’t tell the truth about Obamacare and have a chance of passing it even with a Democratic Senate with 60 votes.”—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a press conference Thursday.]

The hits keep coming - The latest discoveries on the Gruber internet hit parade include a video that shows him bragging about how the Massachusetts health care system he helped design worked by ripping off millions of dollars from the federal government, and another clip from Vermont in which he mocks a critic of single-payer health care, comparing him to an “adolescent” child. And there are more.

Dr. K’s Prescription: Candid candor - Syndicated Columnist Charles Krauthammer examines what the deluge of demeaning videos from ObamaCare architect Johnathan Gruber reveals about the passage of the law : “This may have been a stupid idea, but it was no slip. And it’s the law, as written, as enacted and as intended. It can be changed by Congress only, not by the Executive… It’s refreshing that ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ as this administration fancies itself, should finally display candor about its signature act of social change. Inadvertently, of course. But now we know what lay behind Obama’s smooth reassurances -- the arrogance of an academic liberalism that rules in the name of a citizenry it mocks, disdains and deliberately, contemptuously deceives.”

Shh…it’s ObamaCare 2.0 - Following last year’s disastrous rollout of ObamaCare’s Web site, team Obama is setting the bar significantly lower and taking a much quieter approach to its second enrollment period, which opens Saturday. This time there will be no celebrity glitz and glam, massive advertising budget or Pajama Boy to encourage young people to enroll in the entitlement program. WSJ: “Top administration officials plan to fan out for an appeal that relies on customer testimonial and uses a smaller marketing budget…‘Join the millions’ will be part of the pitch during the enrollment period, which ends Feb. 15, officials said… [T]he administration will rely heavily on targeted digital ads and social media…Officials hope to expand small-scale efforts to organize groups such as bartenders and cabdrivers.”

Fine me! - According to a new Gallup Poll, 35 percent of uninsured individuals will opt to pay ObamaCare’s penalties than purchase insurance through its exchanges.

[#mediaBuzz: Coverage of the Gruber revelations and ObamCare is buzz material for host Howard Kurtz and Sharyl Attkisson, Ellison Barber and Julie Roginsky. And, Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume joins Kurtzto examine the lost art of reporting on elections. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.]

At a press conference in Burma today, President Obama reiterated his threat to issue sweeping executive action on immigration. Obama told reporters he would not “stand by” and that his proposed fixes to the nation’s immigration system were “way overdue.” The president continued to blame Republican inaction to justify his go-it-alone plans, “I indicated to Speaker [John Boehner] several months ago that if in fact Congress failed to act I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better.” The president was emphatic about his intention to pursue executive action saying, “That’s going to happen. That’s going to happen before the end of the year.”

Conservatives push funding fight - Washington Examiner: “Conservative lawmakers and groups are pushing Republican leaders to pass a short-term government spending bill so that they will have more power to defund any executive action from President Obama on immigration as well as other measures. Government funding runs out Dec. 12, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are leaning toward passing an omnibus appropriations bill funding the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Doing so, advocates of that strategy say, would avoid a messy and contentious government shutdown or more brinksmanship early in the new year after a wave GOP election in which voters expressed a desire for bipartisan cooperation. But conservative members of the GOP conference argue that passing an omnibus spending bill would give away most, if not all, of the leverage they can exert in the next year against Obama and Democrats.”

GOP considers legal action on Obama immigration move - WaPo: “House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is considering expanding a proposed federal lawsuit over President Obama’s executive orders to include action on immigration. Filing a separate lawsuit over the president’s authority to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation is another option that gained traction Thursday during talks among party leaders.”

President Obama
would not budge from the “dim” view his administration has of a legislative push on the Keystone pipeline ahead of a key House vote on the project slated for today. At a press conference in Burma, the president said he wants to let a review process – now in its sixth year - run its course. Pressed by Republican leadership to state where he stands, Obama said his administration believes the project should be judged on the basis of whether it accelerates climate change. Obama also insisted the pipeline would not be a “massive jobs bill” and would have no effect on U.S. gas prices. Senate Republicans and several moderate Democrats have pushed for the project to be approved for years. Supporters say the construction of the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs. But the project divides Democrats, with environmentalists in opposition while some unions as well as energy-state and business-minded lawmakers support it. The Senate is expected to hold a vote on the pipeline Tuesday. Fox News has more.

Fox News Sunday: Changing climate - Host Chris Wallace welcomes Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to discuss how the battle in Congress over the Keystone XL oil pipeline could play out. “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.

Sandwiched in history between NASA missions that would make the phrases “One small step” and “Houston, we have a problem” famous, Apollo 12 lifted-off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla., 45 years ago. The second manned mission to the lunar surface, carrying astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard Gordon and Alan Bean, started off with harrowing moments of its own. With Richard Nixon, the first president to view the liftoff of a manned mission looking on, lightning struck the ascending Saturn 5 rocket just 36 seconds after launch and again at 16 seconds later. The strikes tripped circuit breakers, cutting off power to the Apollo command module.  Fortunately, the rocket continued its ascent normally, power was restored and 5 days later the lunar module Intrepid made a precision landing on the Ocean of Storms. Conrad and Bean spent 32 hours on the moon’s surface conducting two spacewalks. On November 24th, Apollo 12 splashed down in the Pacific, just 3 miles from one of its recovery ships, the U.S.S. Hornet. retraces the electrifying launch here.

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Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 41.8 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.7 percent//Wrong Track – 65.6 percent

WaPo: “David Axelrod, the chief strategist who guided President Obama into the White House, offered a blunt assessment Thursday of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s likely 2016 presidential campaign, saying she needs to ‘get out of the cocoon of inevitability’… ‘Tactics have to follow strategy,’ Axelrod said. ‘I think the danger for Secretary Clinton is that, as was the case in 2007, her candidacy is out in front of the rationale for it’… Axelrod noted that running away from Obama and his record did not work for Democratic senators in 2014 and cautioned Clinton against repeating that strategy. Instead, he said, Clinton should develop a message that builds on his legacy, especially on economic issues, without simply running for a repeat term.”

[“Look, I’ll still like him when Jeb beats Hillary.” –Former president George W. Bush joking about his relationship with former president Bill Clinton if his brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., decides to run for president  on “Hannity”]

Concerned Dems cast early eye on Rubio seat - With Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., mulling a presidential bid, Democrats worried that they have a thin list of viable challengers are already floating potential Senate candidates for 2016. National Journal: “Top on their lists are just-reelected freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, [D-Fla.] who carried nearly 60 percent of the vote in a district Mitt Romney won in 2012, and Rep.-elect Gwen Graham, [D-Fla.] the daughter of well-liked former Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham  [D-Fla.] who unseated Republican Rep. Steve Southerland [R-Fla.] in a GOP-leaning Panhandle district. Both have been strong fundraisers and would have the advantage of congressional incumbency… ‘Unfortunately, the Republicans have a deep farm system—they're like the New York Yankees and the Democrats are like the Toledo Mud Hens,’ said Florida attorney John Morgan, who called himself a ‘depressed Democratic donor.’”

The Hill: “Democratic centrists unhappy with how the Senate has functioned under Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sought to delay a Thursday vote on keeping him as leader… The effort failed in part because no Democrat was willing to step up and take on Reid, who has served as Democratic leader since 2005... At least a half-dozen Democrats voted against him in the secret-ballot tally...[Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.,] [Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.], [Mary Landrieu, D-La.], [Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.,] and Virginia Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D) all said publicly that they voted against Reid.”

HuffPo: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got a promotion on Thursday. She now has a seat at the Senate Democratic leadership table and, in a role created just for her, she will serve as a policy adviser and voice for progressives. Her colleagues have no idea why this is happening. ‘A liaison to liberals? I've never heard of such a thing,’ said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), throwing his hands in the air. ‘I asked her about it and she said she was some kind of adviser. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what that all means.’…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the driving force behind creating the role for Warren, and he and his leadership team worked privately to figure out where she would best fit ahead of a Thursday caucus meeting, where Democrats elected their leaders for the next Congress. As the new strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, Warren will attend weekly leadership meetings and help shape caucus policies.”

Populist faithful fawn over Warren - Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., got the rock-star treatment from a group of wealthy donors, who are actively pushing her to launch a 2016 bid,  as she addressed the liberal Democracy Alliance Thursday.  Politico: “Throughout the day, donors repeatedly broached the question of whether Warren would run to Paul Egerman, a Democracy Alliance board member who was the national finance chairman of her Senate race and introduced Warren for her speech Thursday.”

Earth Sky: “On the night of November 11, 2014, ESA announced that the Rosetta spacecraft carrying the Philae lander had recorded a ‘song’ emanating from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium – a suite of five instruments used to study 67P – detected the sound, which cannot be heard by the human ear at 40 to 50 millihertz (outside the range of human hearing). According to ESA, Rosetta’s instruments first heard the odd sounds from the comet in August when the probe came within 62 miles (100 km) of the comet. The sounds reappeared during recent maneuvers to bring Rosetta into position to release the Philae lander. The comet song capture by Rosetta is produced by ‘oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment,’ ESA officials said in a statement. ESA scientists have been able to make the comet’s song audible by boosting its frequencies by a factor of 10,000.” Listen to the comet’s song here.

“The Democrats will rue the day when this kind of invasion of the territory of Congress was allowed to pass...They will regret it because there’s going to be a Republican administration one day and they will be on the receiving side.” –Charles Krauthammer  on President Obama’s anticipated executive action on immigration from “The Kelly File” Watch here.

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