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• After four year countdown, no ignition for ObamaCare
• ObamaCare voter form pre-marked for Dems
• Christie backtracks on ‘occupied territories’
• New Hampshire GOP hits Shaheen over promises
• A very American day
AFTER FOUR YEAR COUNTDOWN, NO IGNITION FOR OBAMACARE
Welcome to the absolutely, positively last day to sign up for ObamaCare this year. Unless it isn't. Or unless it doesn't really matter if you sign up at all. Or unless there is “no such thing as ObamaCare.”
[Kicking him while he’s down - UConn Huskies taunt President Obama over busted bracket.]
You just wait ‘till 2020! - When the law was passed four years ago, today was supposed to be the final preflight check before ObamaCare’s launch. But it’s not that at all. Dozens of delays, myriad technical failures and a fumbling field marshal have turned the president’s signature law into the definitive example of how not to introduce a new federal program. The best arguments coming from proponents of the law say that in another six years, Americans’ anger will turn into acceptance and voters will come to love the law they have yet to like. Much like his policy on Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, President Obama seems to believe he has already won, but that it will take time for the world to see his wisdom.
[Somebody’s got a case of the Mondays -Visitors to ObamaCare’s online home were told this morning that they couldn’t log on because the government was “performing maintenance.” Maybe they weren’t ready because they were going by whitehouse.gov, which this morning advertised “15 days, 50 hours” until March 31 in a countdown clock at the top of its homepage.]
Slim solace for endangered Dems - Retreating into future history is not where the law and its namesake expected to be today. But as Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, told ABC News on Sunday, Democrats can at least take solace in the fact that the law is unlikely to be repealed. That’s not much solace, however, if you are among the dozen or so Democratic Senate candidates currently having to explain why higher premiums, disrupted coverage and flummoxing federal requirements are necessary parts of improving health care for Americans, even though it wildly misses the mark of its stated aim of covering the uninsured. Despite massive press boosterism, the law has never been able to escape the gravity of its shoddy initial construction and laughably bad rollout.
Cleveland Clinic CEO: Three Quarters of ObamaCare holders will find higher premiums - Washington Free Beacon: “A leading healthcare expert poured cold water on the administration’s recent Obamacare enthusiasm, saying that three quarters of those signed up will face higher premiums than under their previous insurance. ‘Out of people that have signed up, about three quarters will find premiums higher than previously with other insurance,’ Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic said on [“Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo”]. ‘Hospitals are going to be paid less for what they do,’ Cosgrove continued. ‘And we also know insurers are paying less too. We have to become more efficient in how we deliver care which is a big change for health care providers.’”
Obamacare voter form pre-marked for Dems - Daily Caller: “A couple in La Mesa, California received a voter registration card from California’s Obamacare exchange already pre-marked for the Democratic Party… ‘I’m an old guy and I never would have noticed it, except I have an accountant that notices every dot and dash on a piece of paper as a wife,’ the man who received the card said… Covered California is in the midst of sending out voter registration cards to all of its sign-ups, due to pressure from left-wing groups threatening legal action if they don’t comply… Covered California denied responsibility for the violation.”
STUDY: WAGE HIKES HURT JOBS
A new study from the conservative American Action Forum finds higher minimum wages required by 19 states increased the number of unemployed Americans by 747,700 and reduced job growth by 83,000.
[Watch Fox: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, appears in the noon ET hour.]
REPORT: HOMELAND LET MANY CRIMINALS DUCK DEPORTATION
Breitbart: President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security caught then released 68,000 aliens who had previously been convicted of a crime, a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows. The report…reviews internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) metrics to conclude that the Obama administration released 35 percent…[of] convicted criminal aliens back into the U.S. general population when they could have been deported.”
[NYT examines why voter participation is dropping among Latinos]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
John Preston asks Will Jargon Be the Death of the English Language? for Daily Beast: “… [O]ne of the reasons why jargon has become so widespread—because it enables people to do nasty things to one another without having their consciences tweaked… However maddening this may be, we should beware of going the other way and making everything too plain. Then we might lose the ambiguity that English excels in… Political rhetoric, of course, is traditionally the most opaque of all. As George Orwell once observed, ‘Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”’
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.9 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.8 percent//Wrong Track – 61.6 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.0 percent// Republicans 40.3 percent
CHRISTIE BACKTRACKS ON ‘OCCUPIED TERRITORIES’
In a quick damage control move, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized to GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson for referring to the West Bank as “occupied territories” in a Saturday speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas. “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across, and just felt personally how extraordinary that was, to understand the military risk that Israel faces every day,” Christie said in his remarks, describing a trip he had taken to the Jewish state. Christie told Adelson he “misspoke” and that he did not believe that Israel was occupying the disputed area, Andy Abboud, a senior vice president of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp, said on CNN. The N.J. governor was among several potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates appearing at the days long event, looking to cozy up to Adelson, who pumped $92 million into the 2012 campaign. Adelson, who was sitting right in front of the podium during Christie’s remarks was reportedly satisfied by the governor’s subsequent explanation. “They had a nice meeting,” Abboud said.
[Watch Fox: In the second part of her exclusive interview with Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., Megyn Kelly questions Christie on his role in the 2012 election, including the controversy over his interaction with President Obama in the weeks before Election Day. She also asks about the midterm elections, his future campaign plans and other potential 2016 candidates; tonight at 9 p.m. ET on “The Kelly File.”]
ROGERS HINTS AT 2016 RUN
Washington Examiner: “Retiring congressman Mike Rogers said Sunday that he was motivated to leave his powerful post as House Intelligence Committee chairman and become a talk show host because of the rising influence of what he described as ‘celebrity politicians’ in national security debates. The Michigan Republican said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that the quality of national security discussions in Washington, D.C., ‘worries me for the future of this country like nothing I've ever seen,’ and that he hoped to remedy the problem as a talk show host. … Rogers also listed New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina -- three early voting states in the primary process -- as states he wanted to reach to. And when asked by Wallace to rule out a presidential run, Rogers declined, saying of his career change that he would ‘take it where it goes.’’’
Going for the gavel - Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Jeff Miller, R-Fla., are all expressing interested in heading the House Intel committee upon Rogers’ retirement. More.
NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP HITS SHAHEEN OVER PROMISES
New Hampshire’s Republican State Committee has a new ad blasting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s D-N.H., record on ObamaCare and taxes. The ad features footage of Shaheen repeating President Obama’s infamous “lie of the year” alongside reports of the numerous cancellations under the president’s signature entitlement program. Footage of Shaheen promising to oppose a sales or income tax during a gubernatorial debate is included along with reports of the former Granite State governor later proposing a sales tax.
ALASKA SENATE DOUBLE FEATURE
Begich: Drill, baby, drill - Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is out with an new ad this morning touting his support for oil drilling in his home state: “We had waited decades to drill here in the National Petroleum Reserve, but Washington was still saying no… Next year, the oil starts flowing.”
Sullivan: Putting down roots - Alaska Republican Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan has released a new ad touting his military experience and resume. His campaign is pairing it with a spot starring his wife, who says her Ohio-born husband “fell hard for me and for Alaska.”
OSBORN TOUTS CASH AFTER TOUGH WEEK
The campaign of Nebraska Senate frontrunner Shane Osborn is looking to get back on the good foot today by providing an exclusive look to Politico at the campaign’s fundraising for the first three months of the year, touting “more than $550,000.” Osborn lost the fund-race in the last quarter of last year to his primary pursuer, Midland University President Ben Sasse. Sasse hasn’t released his fundraising numbers for this quarter yet. More important for Osborn, though, is finding momentum after being deserted by FreedomWorks. The conservative group now lines up with the other heavy-hitters on the right to back Sasse after an unusual Friday afternoon endorsement switcheroo. Washington Examiner: “Matt Kibbe, the organization's president, said in a statement that it chose to change camps because Osborn ‘formed allegiances with [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and the K Street lobbying class.’”
SIX-WAY SCRUM HELPING GRAHAM HOLD ON
The filing period has closed in South Carolina and the news is good for incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as a crowded field forms to challenge him. The State : “[Graham] has six GOP challengers: Det Bowers; state Sen. Lee Bright; Richard Cash; Bill Connor; Benjamin Dunn; and Nancy Mace. The Democrats have state Sen. Brad Hutto and Jay Stamper vying for the nomination. Libertarian Victor Kocher also filed for the seat.” Graham’s next task is getting above the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election in which opposition could coalesce behind one candidate.
[Watch Fox: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appears in the 11 a.m. ET hour]
So say they all - Challenger Richard Cash is out with a new ad featuring his family to promote his conservative principles. Members of his family say: “Capitalism gives me the opportunity to reach for my dreams, the Constitution protects my God given rights, and Christianity teaches me the meaning of faith and family.” Cash appears at the end of the ad saying, “and we believe it’s our duty to protect this heritage.”]
PICK SIX: GOP TO GAIN IN THE GREAT LAKES?
Republicans are hoping to pick up an additional six seats to gain control of the Senate this November. Which Democrat-held seats will prove to be the most likely flips for the red team? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Reader Mike Loyson cautions: “Don’t discount the very good chance for a GOP pickup in Michigan. [Republican] Terri Lynn Land has consistently led her Democrat opponent, Gary Peters. Additionally, [Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich.] is doing well and is expected to win a 2nd term as Governor, at the top of the ticket, he will aid Terri Lynn Land's chances too.”
Who’s your bracket buster? - The University of Kentucky has shredded millions of brackets for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with their push past two higher-ranked opponents to advance the Final Four. Who’s your 2014 election bracket buster? Choose a candidate who looks like an easy out on paper but who you just know isn’t a sure lock. Tweet your long shot selections to @cstirewalt and we’ll share the best ones here.
POWER PLAY: OFF TO THE RACES
In the latest edition of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris talks with rising Democratic star Ruben Gallego, who is seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., in a growing Democratic primary field. Click here to learn more about Gallego and Democrats’ designs to turn Arizona blue.
A VERY AMERICAN DAY
After the winter that Americans have endured, there has seldom been a baseball Opening Day so needful. While baseball’s royalty carries heavy expectations and traditional cellar-dwellers see unlimited potential, Opening Day is a clean slate on which all 30 teams begin to write their 162-game pursuits of happiness – American-style egalitarianism at its best. It also is a historical touchstone for a culture that mostly prides itself on forgetfulness. USA Today’s Erik Brady writes about what his mother saw 90 years ago at Opening Day. It’s a quick read and worth a moment, even for those of you who prefer what George Will calls “violence punctuated by committee meetings.” A sample: “Ballparks are our miniature gardens of Eden, plots of green carved into city streets. No matter how miserable the winter, Opening Day means summer breezes are in the long-range forecast. Baseball is our only major team sport not ruled by a clock, but you can set your calendar by it. And it has been that way since long before my mother’s time.”
[Ed. note: My house stands divided, with my youngest an early, early adopter of the Cardinals and his older brother already a stalwart fan of the Pirates. It’s amazing how these allegiances take root from the slightest seed and bloom quickly into full flower. There’s just something about this game.]
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.