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• Keystone decision barreling toward Obama
• Power Play: After the coup falls
• Will Jeb be the $100 million man?
• Axelrod: Hillary wasn’t a very good candidate
• This Turbo Tax smells like kibble
KEYSTONE DECISION BARRELING TOWARD OBAMA
AP: “Nebraska’s highest court has tossed a lawsuit challenging a proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying the landowners who sued didn't have legal standing to do so. The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that the three landowners failed to show they had legal standing to bring their case. The split decision upholds a 2012 state law that allowed the governor to empower Calgary-based TransCanada to force eastern Nebraska landowners to sell their property for the project. President Barack Obama has said he was waiting for the Nebraska ruling before making major decisions for the pipeline, which would carry more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Texas refineries. Republicans say the pipeline is a top congressional priority.”
Keystone XL moves closer to congressional approval - WSJ: “Congress moved closer to a likely approval of the Keystone XL pipeline Thursday, as a Senate panel advanced the legislation and the House prepared for a vote on Friday.”
“Regardless of the Nebraska ruling today, the House bill still conflicts with longstanding Executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the President and prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on U.S. national interests, and if presented to the President, he will veto the bill.” – From White House statement on Keystone ruling.
MCCONNELL: ‘DISCOURAGED’ BY OBAMA RESPONSE
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that given White House veto threats against key legislation like the Keystone XL Pipeline, he has become less optimistic President Obama will work with Congress. Asked by anchor Megyn Kelly if he trusts the president, McConnell invoked President Reagan’s cold war axiom, “Trust but verify.” “The president is very left wing. He does not want to do most of the things the American people think make good sense.” McConnell made it clear that he, not the president, will set the Senate agenda. “If he chooses to sign the things that we can put on his desk, great.” McConnnell said. “If he doesn’t, at least the American people will know who the obstructionist is.” Watch “The Kelly File” interview here.
Obama offers plan for free college, omits payment information - In Oprah-esque giveaway fashion (the as yet to be calculated bill to be borne by taxpayers) President Obama on Thursday proposed making two years of community college free for “everybody who is willing to work for it.”
No Child Left Behind revamp in the wings - Politico: “Education Secretary Arne Duncan will call for repealing and replacing the nation’s landmark federal education law, No Child Left Behind, joining Republicans in Congress in pushing what could be the most significant rewrite of federal education law in 14 years. In a speech Monday, Duncan will lay out his principles for rewriting the education law, sources familiar with the event confirmed. But he is not expected to back down from his insistence that a rewritten law retain the federal mandate that all students be tested in math and reading every year from third through eighth grade.”
RUBIO PLAN TO BLOCK OBAMACARE BAILOUT REVIVED
The Hill: “Republican lawmakers are reintroducing legislation to repeal ObamaCare’s risk corridors, a temporary program intended to serve as a safety net for insurers entering the new marketplaces. The bill from Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] and Rep. Andy Harris [R-Md.], put forward again on Thursday, would eliminate risk corridors on the assumption that taxpayer money would flow to insurers under the program. While this is a possibility, experts say risk corridors are primarily designed to shift money from insurance companies that fare better in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to those that do worse. Supporters of the program, including the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans [AHIP], argue that eliminating it will raise premiums and reduce options for consumers on the marketplaces. Rubio, meanwhile, called risk corridors a ‘bailout’ for insurers in a statement.”
At the margins - John Goodman of the Independent Institute notes how the ObamaCare employer mandate is hurting low-income workers in a WSJ OpEd: “By this time next year, we may find that many workers who earn within a few dollars of the minimum wage have less income and less insurance coverage (as a group) than they did before the mandate began to take effect.”
[A new study by the RAND Corp. shows that, “roughly 9.6 million people could lose medical coverage on ObamaCare's exchanges if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies distributed by the federal marketplaces are invalid.”]
Taxing tax instructions - WashEx: “The complicated process of signing up for Obamacare is now being matched by IRS instructions to help Americans figure out how much in healthcare taxes they owe Uncle Sam. The agency has issued 21 pages of instructions, complete with links to at least three long forms and nine tip sheets. It is geared to those who have Obamacare or who owe a fine, dubbed ‘shared responsibility payment,’ for refusing to get health insurance.”
ADMINISTRATION HANDS OUT FLIERS ADVERTISING OBAMA EXECUTIVE AMNESTY
DailyCaller: “The Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security is now advertising its immigration executive orders with a series of fliers. ‘[United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] encourages stakeholders to use these fliers when communicating with the public about these actions,’ according to an email that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is circulating around Capitol Hill. “The fliers are available in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. A Chinese version will be available soon.” ‘President Obama has announced a series of executive actions on immigration,’ the fliers proudly proclaim. The fliers urge immigrants to avoid scams and lay out the guidelines for illegals to apply for amnesty through Obama’s executive orders.”
POWER PLAY: AFTER THE COUP FALLS
American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp and Democratic strategist Joe Lestingi join host Chris Stirewalt to discuss the consequences of the attempt to oust House Speaker John Boehner. What does the failed coup mean for Republicans on the issues, on elections and party unity? WATCH HERE. Plus, what will shape the President Obama’s remaining time in office? Schlapp and Lestingi Obama’s efforts to leave a lasting legacy and what might get in his way. WATCH HERE.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY EXCLUSIVE: JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN DEMPSEY
Chris Wallace welcomes former Gen. Martin Dempsey for an exclusive interview. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., join for a discussion on the current state of the Keystone XL Pipeline. “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.
#mediabuzz: Front lines find journalists - This week Howard Kurtz welcomes Fox News contributor Mara Liasson, Fox News National Security Analyst K.T. McFarland, broadcast journalist Fred Francis, Roll Call's editor-in-chief Christina Bellantoni, Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles and National Journal’s Lauren Fox to discuss the attack at French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo as well as the first week of GOP control on Capitol Hill. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
The question of moral relativism or “moral leveling” as it is known by adherents in academia has been a fraught one in America for the past 40 years. The essential question: Do the social sciences have an obligation to help preserve moral order? Do historians, sociologists, art and music historians and others have an obligation to define deviancy and virtue? And whose? But we the academy has mostly ducked those questions in recent decades. Those who believe the social sciences must preserve the traditional definitions of absolute truths are locked in a struggle with a new generation of moralizers who claim they are broad minded but who are really looking to create and preserve a different set of norms. The New Yorker called on 86-year-old Howard Becker, one of the fathers of “moral levelling” who argues in a new book that those struggles are out of place: “For Becker, though, these objections involve a ‘category mistake.’ Yes, murder is wrong, but why is it the job of social sciences to remind us of that fact?”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.1 percent//Disapprove – 51.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.1 percent//Wrong Track – 64 percent
WILL JEB BE THE $100 MILLION MAN?
In a move perhaps intended to cool the ardor of those encouraging 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Bloomberg today cites insiders from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's burgeoning campaign operation that they aim to raise a jaw-dropping $100 million. That would be about 20 percent more than Romney dropped on the heads of his rivals in the first quarter of 2011. And in a message to Sen. Marco Rubio and anyone else looking to fish in the deep waters of Florida’s donor pool, the Bushies said they plan to haul a quarter of the money out of the Sunshine state alone. Bush’s campaign disputed the tallies, with his spokeswoman Kristy Campbell telling Fox News: “These alleged goals are not accurate. Governor Bush has not had an active political organization until now. He is just in the initial days of reaching out to people and making plans to support conservative causes and conservative candidates in the coming months.”
Mitt not scared - Eliana Johnson at NRO: “‘The governor is preserving his options – that’s the message I’ve gotten from Boston,’ says Robert O’Brien, a Los Angeles lawyer who served as a foreign-policy adviser on Romney’s 2012 campaign. When I spoke with O’Brien in December, he told me that Romney was not considering a 2016 run but that ‘circumstances could change.’ … O’Brien tells me that the shift in his own language reflects what he’s hearing from Romney and his team in Boston, which right now consists only of Spencer Zwick, who served as finance director on both of Romney’s presidential campaigns, and Zwick’s deputy, Matt Waldrip. … A top Romney bundler says that losing some of 2012’s largest donors to Bush ‘wouldn’t be a problem,’ because Romney could mount a White House bid with ‘a fifth of the core group that we had before.’”
Rubio looks beyond Florida for funds - Huff Post: “Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] will head to New York City next week for a fundraising event hosted by high-powered GOP insider Wayne Berman, according to an invitation of the event obtained by The Huffington Post. The affair will take place on Jan. 13 over lunch at Patroon, an upscale restaurant in midtown, and is tied to the release of the senator’s book “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.” It costs $10,200 to be named a co-host of the event, $5,200 to join the dinner committee and $2,600 to simply attend.”
Jeb filleted Hillary at donor gaggle - Greenwich [Conn.] Times: “Bush, 61, did not mention Clinton by name, but told Republican supporters that the former secretary of state would have a lot to answer for concerning the foreign policy miscues of the Obama administration, according to multiple people who heard Bush's remarks. ‘He said, ‘If someone wants to run a campaign about 90s nostalgia, it's not going to be very successful,’’ a guest at the event told Hearst Connecticut Media…Bush spoke for about a half-hour to some 175 prospective supporters and took questions for another 30 minutes on a wide range of topics from his stance on immigration reform to so-called ‘Bush fatigue.’…‘It is fair to say that everyone in that room believes that he has every intention of seeing this through,’ the guest said.”
RAND RIPS JEB, CHRISTIE
Breitbart: “Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fellow likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, is a ‘moderate.’ ‘I think the party is big enough to have moderates in the party,’ Paul in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News…Calling a Republican who’s seeking the GOP nomination a ‘moderate’ is a clear insult in Republican presidential primary politics. During that selection process, each of the candidates is likely to focus on highlighting conservative credentials to please GOP base voters. Paul further hinted Bush would be open to tax increases and more government spending, positions no candidate is likely to take while trying to win the nomination. It’s not the first time Paul has zeroed in on Common Core as being a killer issue for Republican presidential candidates…In Wednesday’s interview, Paul also criticized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential 2016 GOP candidate, over restrictions on New Jersey citizens’ gun rights.”
WALKER STRIDES INTO IOWA
Des Moines Register “Add another name to the list of Republicans presenting themselves to Iowans as potential presidential material later this month: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker will attend the Iowa Freedom Summit, organized by Iowa U.S. Rep. Steve King and the conservative organization Citizens United, on Saturday, Jan. 24, organizers said Thursday morning…Walker joins a long list of Republican possible 2016 presidential hopefuls who have RSVP'ed for King's event.”
[Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be among those addressing the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in San Diego next week.]
AXELROD: HILLARY WASN’T A VERY GOOD CANDIDATE
“I think [Hillary Clinton] should think like an insurgent, I think that inevitability is a trap and I’ve said that before. I think that inevitability causes you to be cautious, causes you to be conventional and causes you to not want to take risks…When you play not to lose, you often lose. And my perception of Secretary Clinton was that she wasn't a very good candidate in 2007…Once she wasn’t the frontrunner anymore, once she was fighting for her place, she threw all the caution away and I think she started relating to voters in a much more visceral way that reflected who she really is. If I had any advice for her, it would be: Be that person.”--David Axelrod speaking at University of Chicago Institute of Politics
[Newsweek: “The Republican National Committee (RNC) wants to get ahead of Hillary Clinton’s potential campaign for president. Though the former first lady has yet to announce her candidacy, on Thursday the RNC released an anti-Hillary video.]
Riiiiight - AP: “[Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said] he's not waiting for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to announce whether she'll run…‘It’s really not about any horse race aspect of this,’ O'Malley said. ‘I’ve been fulltime governing and helping a whole lot of people in the midterms. It’s very essential that if you were to offer yourself in this sort of service that you do so after a lot of reflection and proper preparation.’”
CALIFORNIA SENATE RACE WILL BE A DOOZY
National Journal: “The most expensive, hard-fought, and interesting Senate race in the country next year might happen in California-and it could be confined entirely to one party. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s retirement announcement Thursday didn't come as a surprise to most people, least of all to a handful of Democrats who had already begun publicly and privately angling for her job. Even before her retirement, party officials had cobbled together an unofficial short list of possible successors, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. … Not only is a Democrat likely to win the 2016 presidential race in California, it's possible there won't even be a Republican on the general-election ballot in the Senate race…Instead of traditional primaries, the top pair of vote-getters next June will make the fall ballot, even if they share a party.”
Issa not running - The Hill: “Rep. Darrell Issa [R-Calif.] won't run for Sen. Barbara Boxer's [D-Calif.] seat, two sources close to the congressman tell The Hill. ‘It's just not going to happen,’ said one…Republicans in Washington, D.C., and California were already mentioning him as a potential candidate for the race before Boxer made her plans official, pointing to his ability to self-fund. Some also speculated that he might be interested now that he’s no longer chairman of the House Oversight Committee. His political team has also maintained a number of Web domains that could be used for a Senate run, IssaforSenate.org is registered to his chief political adviser, John Franklin, who re-registered the domain in 2014 after first claiming it in 2004…One Issa adviser said not to ‘read much into’ the domain registration. ‘Every politician worth their salt owns every domain related to their name,’ said another.”
[Zing - “There’s been a vacancy for two decades. The fact that she’s not running doesn’t change the fact it’s always been a vacant office.” –Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., talking to reporters.]
Neither is Condi - The Hill: “Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has no interest in running for Senate, according to a senior adviser, removing a big name from California Republicans' recruitment list as they hope to compete for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s [D-Calif.] seat. ‘It's not even a consideration,’ Georgia Godfrey, Rice's chief of staff, tells The Hill via email. ‘She's happy here at Stanford!’ Republicans began bandying around Rice's name as a dream candidate shortly after Boxer announced her retirement plans Thursday morning.”
THIS TURBO TAX SMELLS LIKE KIBBLE
KCNC reports that Michael Than, a former Denver sheriff’s officer was convicted and sentenced to two months of jail time and four years of probation for theft of nearly $20,000 worth of TurboTax software from Target which he then resold on eBay for $60,000. The scheme went on for nearly four years before he was caught on surveillance cameras at a Jefferson County Target store in January 2013 placing the software inside a re-sealable bag of dog food. Than was with the department for more than 20 years before resigning from his position after being caught and pleading guilty to charges.
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.