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Liberal worries grow about Obama power plays

Columnist reacts to the president's stance on immigration reform


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• Liberal worries grow about Obama power plays    
• House creeps toward spending package
• Warren pummels Wall Street, Team Hillary looks nervous
• Rubio ObamaCare bailout blockade moves ahead 
• Be very, very quiet, we’re hunting cash machines

According to the latest Fox News poll, 43 percent of voters approved of President Obama’s temporary amnesty for some 5 million illegal immigrants. But when asked about the means by which he did it, support slipped to 38 percent. More tellingly, though, was that when asked whether they were concerned about the damage the action could do to the federal system of checks and balances, just 20 percent said they were not concerned that the president’s move was “permanently altering our country’s system of checks and balances.” Is it any wonder? Obama has been travelling the country to brag about the scope of his immigration actions and hyping the use of his executive power for years. He may have a serious trust deficit with voters, but Obama has at least been able to convince Americans of one thing: He means business when it comes to crushing Congress and expanding executive power. 

“He's created an alternative system of immigration that Congress explicitly refused to pass. And that's what he's making: law. He cannot do that. Congress makes the law, not the President.” – Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., on “The Kelly File” Watch here

Ghosts of Christmas future - As Obama’s time winds down, it’s obvious the members of his party are thinking about the future. And it comes as we watch Senate Republicans debate whether to undo the “nuclear option” rule change Democrats enacted this year to allow the president to pack courts and federal agencies with simple-majority confirmations. Every indication is that Republicans will not turn back and restore clout to the party in minority. The lesson about the next presidency is clear, giving liberals lots to worry about. What would the next president do with a precedent such as this? What could President Hillary Clinton do for Wall Street? What could President Ted Cruz do to the tax code? 

[Watch Fox: New Fox News polls on topics including whether Congress should continue to investigate Benghazi, White House secrecy, the killings of black criminal suspects by police and the state of race relations in the Obama era will be debuted tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier” in the 6 pm ET hour.]  

Disinheritance - This president has shown real facility with the question of “Can I?” He has however had a very difficult time with the question of “Should I?” As a consequence, history may remember him not for the specific actions he took but for the new precedents that he set for the presidency and the way he further damaged a broken system. As his time comes to an end, Obama Democrats should remember how they built so many excuses for so many years on the basis of “But Bush did…” They ought to get ready to hear a million times more “but Obama did…” Being president is in large part a custodial job. Aside from your time, you have to keep intact what remains of George Washington’s bequeathal. It’s a handshake deal going back to 1789, but there’s not much left of the old mojo these days. 

National Journal: “…Sen. Mark Udall took to the Senate floor Wednesday to discuss a largely classified internal CIA investigation into the agency's Bush-era ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ and to call for the current CIA director's resignation. Udall, an outbound Democrat from Colorado, began highlighting key conclusions from the CIA's so-called Panetta Review, written in 2011 and named after then-agency Director Leon Panetta. Its critical findings, in addition to the agency's attempts to prevent the Senate from seeing it, Udall said, demonstrates that the CIA is still lying about the scope of enhanced-interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration. That deceit is continuing today under current CIA Director John Brennan, Udall said.”

Sullivan: Obama ‘all but ensured’ the future use of torture - Andrew Sullivan: “Far from ensuring that these awful crimes never happen again, Obama has all but ensured that they will. That will be part of his legacy: the sounds of a torture victim crying in the dark, and knowing that America is fine with it. It is, in that sense, the end of America as much of the world has known it.”

The Judge’s Ruling - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano examines the fallout surrounding the Senate’s report regarding behaviors undertaken by the CIA writing: “If the allegations in the report are true, we have war criminals, perjurers, computer hackers and thugs on the government payroll. We also have dupes.”

“The report’s full of crap. Excuse me. I said hooey yesterday. Let me use the real word.” --Former Vice President Dick Cheney when asked about the report by Senate Democrats on CIA interrogation techniques on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.  

The Hill: “A $1.1 trillion spending bill looks like it will have the votes to pass the House on Thursday despite griping by members of both parties. Democrats and Republicans alike have raised doubts about whether Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other GOP leaders can cobble together the votes necessary to win approval for their package, which would keep the government open beyond Thursday, when funding expires. But there were a number of signs Wednesday that suggested the House GOP package would ultimately prove successful. …Still, even GOP leaders expect between 50 and 60 Republicans to vote against the bill, largely because of Obama’s executive actions deferring deportations and providing work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants…” 

[When a problem comes along, you must whip it - The Hill also offers a rundown of who plans to vote for or against the bill as well as those members who are leaning one way or the other.]  

Party leaders use spending bill to move against outside spending - WaPo: “A massive expansion of party fundraising slipped into a congressional budget deal this week would fundamentally alter how money flows into political campaigns, providing parties with new muscle to try to wrest power back from independent groups…  Under the language in the bill, a couple could give as much as $3.1 million to a party’s various national committees in one election cycle — more than triple the current limit.” 

[NYT: “Political groups independent of candidates spent more than $814 million to influence congressional elections last month, a record for the midterms and nearly twice the spending in 2010, Federal Election Commission records show.”] 

The Atlantic delves into the evolution of the preferred holiday tradition in the Age of Irony: the ugly Christmas sweater. Something that started out as nostalgic item usually a gift from an elderly but well-meaning relative but now the sweaters have become a commercialized marketable item. Many major retailers have made the sweaters available for sale or even rent so consumers can fulfill their need to be as Business Insider notes, “as unattractive as possible.” Lisa Piken Koper, the NBA's vice president of licensing, speaking on the NBA’s foray into Ugly Christmas fashion, told The New York Times that the sweaters “speak for themselves. And the idea is that they’re so bad, they’re amazing.” 

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.4 percent//Disapprove – 53.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26.3 percent//Wrong Track – 66.3 percent 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., breaks from the Democratic establishment with a plea to colleagues not to support the government funding bill due to a provision that would change the bank regulations she has championed. The Hill reports, “[Warren’s] call gave voice to opposition among liberals to provisions tucked in the ‘cromnibus’ deal that they argue would let big banks engage in the same risky trading that toppled the economy in 2008” and “unified  opposition from liberals could prove fatal [to the legislation].” 

[The Atlantic offers a rundown on the dozens of riders attached to the spending bill, some of the more unusual offerings range from a pay freeze for Vice President Joe Biden to funding to help stop the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels.] 

State of the race - The Democratic presidential sparring escalated this week when decided to fund a plan to draft Warren into the race. David Catanese provides a very useful scorecard on the Democratic scrum: “, which boasts 8 million members nationwide, voted overwhelmingly this week to pursue a campaign to draft Warren, a first-term senator. Eighty-one percent of its members chose to move forward with the $1 million effort.” Also signing on to the push for Warren is Democracy for America, the pressure group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Dean himself, however, reinforced his message this week that his former supporters should suck it up and back the frontrunner on the basis of her general election viability. But as Chris Cillizza points out, Planet Hillary’s decision to deploy former liberal firebrand Dean just now is in itself revealing. 

[Guess which presidential candidate was the favorite of America’s millionaires according to a new CNBC poll.] 

State Department stonewalling on Hillary files, travel records - AP: “The State Department has failed to turn over government documents covering Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as secretary of state that The Associated Press and others requested under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act ahead of her presumptive presidential campaign. They include one request AP made four years ago and others pending for more than one year. The agency already has missed deadlines it set for itself to turn over the material…On Wednesday, the conservative political advocacy group Citizens United sued the State Department for failing to disclose flight records showing who accompanied Clinton on overseas trips.”

Staffing up - BuzzFeed: “A veteran field organizer who is considered to be a contender for a senior position on Hillary Clinton’s possible presidential campaign is leaving his job at the White House, according to three people familiar with the departure. Marlon Marshall, 35, worked for Clinton during the 2008 primary election as the field director in three key states. There, he served as a right-hand to Robby Mook, the operative many name as their top pick to manage another Clinton campaign. 

National Journal: “Congress will likely cap an Obamacare program that some Republicans have labeled a ‘bailout’ for insurance companies—and the industry says premiums will likely increase as a result. The omnibus spending bill unveiled Tuesday night would limit the Affordable Care Act's ‘risk corridors’ program, which is part of a three-tiered safety net for insurance companies that sell coverage in the law's exchanges. Risk corridors caused a dust-up earlier this year between insurers and some Republicans, and the same disagreements are at play now. The insurance industry said the limits proposed in the latest spending bill are counterproductive, while Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] said he'll still push to repeal risk corridors altogether. Risk corridors have been used in the past without much fuss, but Obamacare's risk corridors became controversial earlier this year when some Republicans, led by Rubio, criticized the program as a ‘bailout’ for insurance companies and sought to repeal it.” 

[According to the latest Fox News poll, 58 percent of Americans feel Obamacare should be repealed while 56 percent feel at least somewhat bothered by Jonathan Gruber’s comments.]   

Gruber on ObamaCare: 'I helped write it' - The Hill: “ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber is seen in a newly uncovered video describing how he ‘helped write’ the legislation…’Full disclaimer: I'm going to describe it objectively, but I helped write it,’ Gruber told his Massachusetts Institute of Technology students in the video.” 

Rubio, Rand spar on ISIS plan - Bloomberg: “How’s this for role reversal: Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] says he’d vote against a plan from Rand Paul [R-Ky.], his colleague in the U.S. Senate and a potential presidential primary rival, to authorize the use of military force in the Middle East. It’s not quite what it seems. Rubio, who has proven to be among the most hawkish lawmakers, said he opposed Paul’s proposal because it—like two similar plans from senators being considered by the Foreign Relations Committee—attempts to micromanage the military and would unwittingly aid U.S. enemies… The Kentucky lawmaker stood up as Rubio began his remarks and walked out of the hearing, returning a few minutes after Rubio finished up…Rubio didn't wait around to hear Paul's take, either. He left the hearing before Paul had his turn to speak.” 

[According to the latest Fox News poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans, 81 percent, expect ISIS will try to launch an attack on U.S. soil soon.] 

Q Poll: Hillary trounces Christie in N.J. - The latest Quinnipiac poll finds that among Garden State voters Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., trails 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by 11 points, 39 percent to 50 percent. 

“Running for the presidency is not an IQ test. It is a test of an individual’s resolve, it’s a test of an individual’s philosophy, it’s a test of an individual’s life experiences. And I think America is really ready for a leader that will give them a great hope about the future.” –Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, in an interview with MSNBC.

What about Jeb’s private equity plays? - Bloomberg sifts through the documents on the business ventures of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to make the case that he’s still really not running for president. “Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 27 list Bush as chairman and manager of a new offshore private equity fund, BH Global Aviation, which raised $61 million in September, largely from foreign ­investors. … BH Global Aviation is one of at least three such funds Bush has launched in less than two years through his Coral Gables, Fla., company, Britton Hill Holdings. He’s also chairman of a $26 million fund, BH Logistics, established in April with backing from a Chinese conglomerate, and a $40 million fund involved in shale oil exploration, according to documents filed in June and first ­reported on by Bloomberg News.” 

Jeb fires back - Via FNC's Serafin Gomez: "Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell tells Fox that the Bloomberg story is a complete 'mischaracterization' of Bush's recent investment record. '(While) Governor Bush has not made a decision yet...There is nothing related to Governor Bush’s business interests that would hinder a run for president in any way should that be his decision,' Campbell said to FNC." 

Daily Beast: “African American Congressional staffers are planning a protest on the U.S. Capitol steps Thursday afternoon, disrupting their workday to speak out against the Eric Garner and Mike Brown grand jury decisions. The protest follows large demonstrations in New York and other major cities last week, which were held to speak out about the deaths of these two African American men…The demonstration will involve staffers interrupting their workday to attend the protest during one of Congress’ busiest weeks of the year. Congress is currently debating a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, its annual Pentagon policy bill, and a bill to authorize the president to use military force against ISIS in Syria and Iraq." 

WFMZ 69 in Allentown, Pa., reports that a father and son on a deer hunting trip in Rockland Township may have found bucks of a different kind when they came across an ATM in the woods. State police have released a photo of the machine in the hopes of trying to identify the owners and figure out where it came from and why the machine was in left in the woods. There is no indication how long the machine was out there or how much, if any, money was inside. 

“Look, with [Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.] she may not have a reputation of being a partisan, but after now she will have a reputation of bearing a grudge. You can just see that she is seething with anger about the CIA, and that a lot of this has to do with that anger.” – 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 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.