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• First in Fox News First: Pence hits Obama on missile shield in Berlin speech
• ObamaCare puts docs on hook
• O’Malley hints at plan for meaningful defeat
• Power Play: Bayou Battle
• Who could blame him?
FIRST IN FOX NEWS FIRST: PENCE HITS OBAMA ON MISSILE SHIELD IN BERLIN SPEECH
Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., will deliver a speech today at the historic Hotel Adlon by Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in which he will decry “Russian aggression” and call on President Obama to resurrect a planned missile-defense shield for Eastern Europe that Obama scrapped in 2009. Pence, who said he will make a decision on a potential 2016 presidential run in the coming months, is in Germany on a privately funded trade mission. But touting his decade on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pence will strike a hawkish tone.
From the prepared remarks provided to Fox News First: “With Russian aggression on the rise, clearly conciliatory diplomacy has failed. While sanctions are of some value, in the interest of our alliance, I believe the United States and the EU must respond with deeds more than words to strengthen our economic and strategic defenses.”
Missile shield - “And, with continued instability in the Middle East, Iran’s ongoing effort to develop long-range missiles and nuclear technology, and Putin’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, I believe we must take immediate steps to deploy a robust missile defense in Europe – especially Poland and the Czech Republic – to protect the interests of our NATO allies and the United States in the region.”
[Obama’s approach - “Some presidents take their foreign policy from the idealism of Woodrow Wilson, some from the realism of Henry Kissinger. This is foreign policy from Monty Python.” – George Will on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”]
RAND PAUL HITS BACK AT FOREIGN POLICY CRITICS
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., writing in the WaPo against the use of red lines and “predetermined responses” in U.S. foreign policy: “False choices between being everywhere all of the time and nowhere any of the time are fodder for debate on Sunday morning shows or newspaper columns. Real foreign policy is made in the middle; with nuance; in the gray area of diplomacy, engagement and reluctantly, if necessary, military action. National defense is the No. 1 job of our government, and I believe in a strong nation, at peace with the world. I believe peace through strength should be our goal at all times.”
[“When the President says there will be consequences for something, we don’t really see consequences…[Russian] President Putin is saying, ‘you can keep talking we’re going to keep acting.’”-- Former U.S. spokesman to the U.N. Richard Grenell to Megyn Kelly, on the Kelly File. Watch.]
CREATIVE OBAMACARE ACCOUNTING PUTS DOCS ON THE HOOK
In the midst of estimates that 15 to 20 percent of individuals aren't paying or won't continue to pay premiums under ObamaCare, there is an odd provision of the law. Once someone stops paying, the insurance company has to cover them for another 30 days. Worse for doctors and hospitals, they have to cover them for 60 days beyond that. That means doctors and hospitals will have to pay the costs. –Watch Fox: Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle considers ObamaCare’s provision that leaves doctors and hospitals left paying for those who stop paying premiums.
Health insurance does not mean health care - Dr. Joel Zinberg, associate clinical professor of surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, writing for City Journal: “But even for those enrollees paying premiums, having health insurance is not the same thing as getting good health care, or any health care. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many Americans obtain insurance under the ACA. Most will have difficulty finding a physician.”
Bailout update - Monday’s ObamaCare budget forecast erased the projected savings the administration promised from a “risk corridor” provision in the law that allows the government to prop up insurance companies that are failing under the law. What was forecast in February as an $8 billion net gain for taxpayers by 2016 is now projected to be a break-even proposition. The Obama administration still claims that there won’t be any cost to taxpayers, but declined to explain how it will deliver if forecasts continue to darken. WaPo has the details.
Riiiiight - WaPo: “Former Vermont governor Howard Dean (D) says Democrats would be in strong position to win back the U.S. House majority this year if not for the troubled rollout of the federal health-care Web site last fall. ‘I think we would have won the House had the Web site not collapsed,’ Dean, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, said in a brief interview with Post Politics Tuesday evening.
Now they tell us: Census moves toward more conservative estimates of uninsured - The WSJ Editorial Page looks at the shift in Census Bureau sampling on health-insurance coverage: “The Census says the new CPS is more accurate, and demographers and statisticians of all persuasions have argued for years that the old version overreports the number of uninsured relative to other surveys. But the inflated figures served the politicians who were plugging national health care, and Democrats in 2009 and 2010 used them to exaggerate the problem amid the push to put more of American health care under government direction. As with the IRS targeting of conservative political groups, this sudden change will undermine public trust in the supposedly nonpartisan institutions of government. Muddying a useful source of information about ObamaCare's results is definitely unfortunate, but our guess is that it wasn't coincidental.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Ford Motor Co. is getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Mustang. A limited edition of America’s most popular sports car is set to premier at the New York Auto Show today. Part of the hype includes putting one of the new Mustangs on the top floor of the Empire State Building, just like Ford did in 1964. Surely modern technology would provide an innovative way to get the pretty pony up to King Kong’s old stomping grounds, right? Motor Authority shares how Ford pulled it off and provides a video of the whole process.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.6 percent//Disapprove – 52.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.8 percent//Wrong Track – 61.6 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41 percent// Republicans 39.5 percent
[Poll Watch: The latest Fox News Polls on President Obama’s approval, trustworthiness, along with 2016 presidential polling will be released during “Special Report with Bret Baier” in the 6 p.m. ET hour.]
CHRISTIE WANTS TO SCRAP DONATION CAPS
Philadelphia Inquirer: “[Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.] voiced support Tuesday for an end to campaign-finance limits, which he said have led to a system that has obscured the sources - but not stemmed the rise - of money in politics. ‘The idea you're going to take money out of politics is just not going to happen,’ said Christie, who said he supported unlimited campaign contributions with donations to be made public within 48 hours. ‘None of these laws change that. So let's just have transparency to it.’ He described the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down aggregate limits on what individuals can give per election cycle, as ‘peeling back another layer of the onion with all these rules that haven't worked anyway.’’’
CRUZ CHAMPIONS LIBERTY IN PALMETTO STATE VISIT
Charleston Post Courier: “Texas Sen. Ted Cruz adeptly sidestepped questions about how he'd fare among conservative Republicans in a South Carolina presidential primary. …Before his speech, Cruz told reporters he did not intend to take sides in [Sen. Lindsey Graham's, R-S.C.] June 10 primary against six other Republicans, even as some of those challengers have invoked Cruz's name for standing up to Washington and what they see as Graham's willingness to work with Democrats. ‘I'm leaving that to the grass roots,’ Cruz said about his decision to stay out. ‘I trust the grass roots.’’’
O’MALLEY HINTS AT PLAN FOR MEANINGFUL 2016 DEFEAT
WSJ: “Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, a two-term Democrat, suggested in an interview that the party would be better served if…[2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton] were to face some competition along the way… ‘Our party and I think our country always benefit from greater dialogue and greater exchange of ideas,’ Mr. O’Malley said. ‘Because it’s only through the exchange of ideas that we arrive at the deeper understanding that allows us to move forward, especially through what we have to recognize are pretty confused and polarized times.’”
POWER PLAY: SENATE BAYOU BATTLE
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is fighting for her political life against Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La. In the latest edition of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” in just 90 seconds Chris explains why Landrieu’s claim to political royalty may soon be coming to an end. Watch here.
[Byron York looks at a groaner in an ad from Landrieu in which the senator’s campaign reenacted committee hearings to cast her in a more favorable light : “Can she succeed by campaigning against a president she has supported so much?... Landrieu has an authenticity problem she just can't shake -- it's been building for the last six years -- and if she loses, it will be because she couldn't oppose Barack Obama and support him at the same time, and still win the support of Louisiana voters.”]
BILLIONAIRE BLOOMBERG LOOKS TO BAIL OUT DEMS FOR MIDTERMS
Fox News: “Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will spend $50 million this year to build a nationwide grassroots network on gun control in a direct challenge to the National Rifle Association, The New York Times reported. The new lobbying group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, will encompass other gun control groups funded by Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the report said.”
[“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to Heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.” – A smiling Michael Bloomberg, in an interview with the New York Times extolling his efforts to restrict citizens’ access to tobacco, high-calorie foods and beverages and firearms.]
BANKRUPT ENVIRO FIRM SPELLS TROUBLE FOR BEGICH
Washington Free Beacon: “As Sen. Mark Begich (D., Alaska) seeks to shore up his energy policy credentials, a now-bankrupt green energy company to which he steered federal subsidies could cloud his message. Begich received campaign contributions from a lobbyist for an Alaska geothermal plant after helping the company obtain federal financing. The company is now bankrupt, but Begich continues touting his support for alternative energy.”
[New Today at Fox News Opinion: John Stossel explains why he’s cheering for fossil fuels this Earth Day: “This Earth Day, instead of attacking those who sell fossil fuels, I will applaud them for overcoming constant environmental hysteria -- while providing affordable energy that will allow us to fight poverty, which is the real threat to the people of the world.”]
COTTON HITS BACK AT DEM ATTACKS
Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has launched an ad hitting back at claims by liberal groups that he profited from working for insurance companies. From the ad: “After 24 years in politics [Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.,] has become unfaithful to the truth.”
[Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., announced Tuesday he raised over $1.35 million in the first quarter fundraising, outpacing Sen. Mark Pryor’s, D-Ark., haul of $1.22 million.]
REID PAC HITS CANDIDATE FOR LOBBYING TIES
WaPo: “[The political action committee backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] is up with a new ad in North Carolina attacking Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis, that holds little back. The Senate Majority PAC ad… hits Tillis by highlighting two former staff members who were engaged in inappropriate relationships with lobbyists, including one — his chief of staff — who shared an apartment with Tillis. Tillis has said he wasn’t aware of his chief of staff’s affair, despite the two of them living together. The affairs were revealed in 2012, and Tillis was criticized for giving the staffers severance pay when they were forced to resign. The ad buy is $973,000.”
[Reid & son: Bundy ‘should be prosecuted’ - In the latest move by Nevada’s political powerhouse family, Rory Reid, a lawyer and son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, echoed his father’s comments on the battle between the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, saying Bundy “broke the law and should be prosecuted.” The Daily Caller has the deets.]
PICK SIX: BEST BELLWETHERS
Republicans need a net gain of six seats to capture control of the Senate this year. The current consensus among Fox News First readers for the six most vulnerable Democrat-held seats: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Reader Jeff Burns of Raleigh, N.C., says Alaska should be on the list and asks which state makes a good bellwether for this cycle.
[Ed. note: Excellent question, Mr. Burns! I’d say there are two states right now to watch to discern the national trend: North Carolina and Iowa. The compositions of their electorates and absence of overwhelming local issues makes them very valuable.]
NO REMATCH FOR SINK
Roll Call: “Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee in a recent high-stakes special election in Florida, will not challenge GOP Rep. David Jolly to a rematch in the 13th District this November. ‘I am so honored and humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received, but after reflection with my family I have made a personal decision not to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in the 2014 election,’ she said in a statement released Tuesday.”
Paul PAC gives Land a hand – US News: “Sen. Rand Paul’s [R-Ky.] political action committee has donated to one GOP Senate candidate so far this year -- and it’s Michigan’s Terri Lynn Land. Rand PAC, the vehicle used to fund Paul’s political travel and support his favored candidates, doled out $7,500 to Land on March 28, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission that posted Tuesday. That included $2,500 for the primary and $5,000 for the general.”
Boehner brings the bucks for House Republicans - Politico: “House Speaker John Boehner, one of the Republican Party’s top fundraisers, brought in $4.5 million during the first quarter…The dollars were spread among three Boehner-related fundraising groups — Boehner for Speaker, Friends of John Boehner, and the Freedom Project… Of the $4.5 million, the source said, more than $2 million was transferred to the National Republican Congressional Committee.”
Pro-gay marriage Republicans bring in the green - WaPo: “A Republican super PAC aimed at supporting pro-gay marriage GOP candidates raised a strong $2.75 million in the first quarter of 2014… The super PAC was boosted early this year by $1.75 million in donations from GOP donor Paul Singer, who has been among the most vocal and well-funded proponents of gay marriage in the GOP. Another $1 million came from billionaire Massachusetts investor Seth Klarman. Only one other person contributed more than $25 to the super PAC. Gay Republican candidates are running in three of the national party’s top-targeted races this year. Should any of them win, they would be the first openly gay Republicans to win election to Congress.”
Expensive primary saps Georgia GOP - National Journal: “[The campaign of Republican Senate candidate David Perdue] is reporting it raised roughly $575,000 in the first quarter of 2014 and has $700,000 on hand. So far Rep. Jack Kingston (R) leads all challengers in the state’s Republican primary with a $1.1 million quarter, but all of them trail presumptive Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn’s $2.4 million haul.”
Grimes gains advantage - Lexington Courier Journal: “[Democrat] Alison Lundergan Grimes has outraised U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] by hauling in $2.7 million in the first quarter of 2014. Though it is the second time in three quarters that she has raised more money that the five-term incumbent, McConnell still maintains a 2-1 overall advantage in fundraising.”
Brown delivers early in New Hampshire bid - The Hill: “New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown raised $275,000 in the 16 days between the launch of his exploratory committee and the end of March, a notably strong fundraising pace for the Republican. That sum came despite Brown not holding any fundraisers or paying any staff to work on raising money for him — simply from donations contributed to his website or via check in the mail, while he toured New Hampshire in his truck on a listening tour.”
Graham has deep pockets - Washington Examiner: “Not one of [Sen. Lindsey Graham’s] Republican challengers has exceeded $1 million in contributions. Graham’s campaign, meanwhile, has raised more than $11.6 million during the election cycle, and ended March with nearly $6.9 million on hand. But that’s less cash than Graham had at the end of last quarter, when his campaign boasted more than $7.6 million on hand, and his fundraising pace has slowed markedly since then. Graham’s campaign on Tuesday reported raising more than $873,000 from January through the end of March — a respectable amount, but only a fraction of the nearly $1.3 million Graham brought in during the previous quarter, from October through December 2013.”
WHO COULD BLAME HIM?
Omaha World-Herald: “A missing three-year-old Lincoln [Neb.] boy was discovered in a claw machine at a bowling alley Monday night. Lincoln Police Department got a call Monday about a missing boy. His mother told police he'd slipped out an unlocked door of their apartment while she was in the bathroom. After arriving at the scene, police were told a child matching the boy’s description was at Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards, 4700 Dudley St., across the street from where the boy lives. An LPD sergeant went to investigate and saw the three-year-old boy had crawled inside the claw machine at the bowling alley. He was uninjured and playing happily with the stuffed animals in the machine, said Katie Flood, public information officer with LPD. Madsen’s employees, along with a vending machine company, helped remove the child safely….No citations were issued to the mother as there was no indication of neglect. Police said she acted quickly and appropriately upon learning her son was missing.” Is there a photo of the child inside the claw machine? You bet there is.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“There is a way to control entitlement spending. The Democrats simply – and this president will not talk about it – will not lift a finger to do it. We’re going to have to have a new administration and we will get it done because, otherwise, we’re going to go over a cliff.” –Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.