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• For ObamaCare it's delay, delay, delay
• Poll: Obama takes big hit on foreign policy
• IRS attack ads make midterm debut
• Rubio to rumble into the Granite State
• Didn’t the part about the donut shop tip him off?
DELAY, DELAY, DELAY
Two weeks ago, President Obama and his administration were adamant that not only would there be no delay in ObamaCare fines set to kick in on Monday, but, in the words of a Department of Health spokeswoman, “In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.” So why did the administration on Tuesday night suddenly discover that it did have the power to delay the individual mandate by two weeks? Likely because the central provision of the president’s signature law is a dog with voters. Aside from the early problems with the ObamaCare Web site there’s the fact that many of the uninsured Americans purportedly helped by the new entitlement cannot afford it. That’s not cool in an election year in which Democrats are already set to lose several senate seats, and possibly their majority, due to public outrage over the woe begotten law. The question is will this be enough. Not likely.
[Washington Examiner: “Celinda Lake, whose firm Lake Research Partners provided the Democratic analysis of the new George Washington University Battleground Poll released Tuesday morning, summed up her advice to Democrats when it comes to Obamacare: ‘Don't defend it.’”]
The delay, which provides two more weeks to enroll for those who will click one box on the ObamaCare Web site isn’t sufficient to calm anxious Senate Democrats pushing a bill that includes a longer postponement of the fines for the uninsured under the law. The president has tried to keep these red state Democrats on board while not enraging his allies in the insurance industry, who need the fines in place in order to get the customers promised to them by Obama. No fines would mean fewer customers and skyrocketing premiums for all. But that rationale won’t help those endangered Democrats. How long can Obama keep his team together before open rebellion breaks out in the Senate and more ObamaCare “fixes” start flying? Not much longer it would seem.
[ObamaCare? What’s that? - A conservative study finds the ABC/CBS/NBC broadcast networks devoted less than 1 percent of network news airtime to ObamaCare this year, Washington Examiner has the deets.]
Evergreen State insurers not seeing the green - Daily Caller: “Washington’s Obamacare exchange is falling far behind in getting its ‘enrollees’ to pay for their exchange plans, officials reported Tuesday. The state-run exchange has had just 61 percent of its Obamacare sign-ups pay their first premiums for private health insurance plans. In contrast, California’s exchange has reported that 85 percent of those who signed up for private health coverage have paid for them so far.”
REPUBLICANS RETREAT ON ‘DOC FIX’ FIGHT
Reuters: “Republicans filed a new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives late on Tuesday to avert a pay cut for doctors who participate in the Medicare health program for the elderly and disabled. Backers are hopeful that the Republican-led House will approve the measure as early as Thursday, and then send it to the Democratic-led Senate for final congressional approval. Republicans offered the bill two weeks after the House, on a largely party-line vote, passed an earlier version that would have delayed for five years the tax penalty most Americans must pay if they decline to sign up for President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare program.”
[A new Gallup survey finds seniors, once a reliably Democratic voting bloc, has now realigned with Republicans.]
POLL: OBAMA TAKES BIG HIT ON FOREIGN POLICY
Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine and an increasing number say the U.S. image worldwide has declined since he has been president. That’s the finding of a poll from CBS News that says 46 percent of respondents disapproved of how the president is handling Russia’s snatching of the Crimean Peninsula, while 38 percent approved of Obama’s response. Respondents also said American’s image under the Obama presidency has suffered dramatically. Forty-three percent said America’s image overseas has gotten worse under Obama. Thirty-two percent said the U.S. image has improved since George W. Bush left office. In July 2009, the poll found 60 percent said the U.S. image had improved under Obama. The new poll also found that 59 percent of Americans think our country is less powerful as a world leader than it was a decade ago.
[Poll Watch: The latest Fox News Polls on President Obama’s handling of the crisis in Crimea, including if he is being tough enough on Russian ruler Vladimir Putin and the president’s overall approval on his foreign policy, will be released during “Special Report with Bret Baier” during the 6 p.m. ET hour.]
IT’S COMPLICATED: OBAMA AND POPE HAVE DIFFERENCES
President Obama on Thursday meets Pope Francis for the first time and pro-administration outlets are predicting a love-in as the two proponents of social justice and enemies of income inequality get together at the Vatican. But only two days before their meeting, ObamaCare was under fire at the Supreme Court for forcing Christian business owners to provide their employees birth control measures that, according to the pope, terminate pregnancies. Vatican Chief Justice Cardinal Raymond Burke recently said in an interview that Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies” and that the administration’s policies have become “progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization.” – Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream considers the complexities of Obama’s outreach to Catholics.
BAIER TRACKS: SPY CHIEF DEFENDS NSA…
“In my exclusive interview Tuesday with the outgoing head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, the spy chief vigorously defended his agency and the people who work there. Alexander insisted the NSA follows the law, does not read emails or listen to the telephone calls of US citizens and has only queried the vast database of U.S. phone numbers the agency keeps in search of patterns that indicate terrorist activity. When problems with queries have occurred, Alexander insists the NSA has been the one who has brought them to the attention of regulators and the courts. Alexander called the political rhetoric from critics of the agency ‘Sad considering what the men and women do here every day.’ He added, ‘I would rather be having this discussion now than having it after a terrorist attack, when Congress, the administration, and the American people would be coming down on us like a ton of bricks because we failed to connect the dots beforehand.’ In a series of pieces from that interview airing on ‘Special Report’ this week, Alexander will talk about the threats from Al Qaeda and malicious nation states, give us a tour of top secret areas at the NSA, and discuss the balance between liberty and security. Tonight, Alexander addresses the controversy over NSA listening in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone calls. Watch tonight at 6pm ET.” – Bret Baier
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
How well do you know your neighborhood? EarthSky offers “Our solar system: 10 things you might not know.” For instance, do you know which planet has the largest ocean? Or how about which planet is the hottest? Or where to find awesome ice volcanoes? It may even deepen your appreciation for good old Earth: “Almost everything on Earth is a rare element.The elemental composition of planet Earth is mostly iron, oxygen, silicon, magnesium, sulfur, nickel, calcium, sodium, and aluminum. While such elements have been detected in locations throughout the universe, they are merely trace elements, vastly overshadowed by the much greater abundances of hydrogen and helium. Thus Earth, for the most part, is composed of rare elements.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.2 percent//Disapprove – 52.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.4 percent//Wrong Track – 62.4 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.0 percent// Republicans 40.3 percent
IRS ATTACK ADS MAKE MIDTERM DEBUT
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen will testify today for the first time about the refusal of embattled former executive Lois Lerner to answer questions about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. But the back and forth over IRS misdeeds is starting to make its way into the midterm election discussion. The conservative group American Encore is putting $250,000 behind an ad blasting Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for promoting rule changes that would enable the IRS to crack down on the political activities of nonprofit groups. From the ad: “The Obama administration recently proposed new rules at the IRS to control the speech of certain non-profits. In 2012, Sen. Franken pressured the IRS to target these group. He thinks free speech should depend upon who is speaking and wants the IRS to make that call...” Franken, who won his 2008 race by 312 votes after an eight-month recount process, is considered fairly secure in his bid for a second term in the deep blue state. But, with an expanding Senate map for Republicans, this issue which unites activists on the left and right, might help bring seats like Franken’s into play. – Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel is following the latest on the probe into IRS wrongdoing.
NEBRASKA SENATE CANDIDATE SORRY FOR BOGUS NAVY MEMO
Nebraska Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn apologized for a memo circulated by his campaign on Navy letterhead that appeared to officially clear him for his 2001 decision to land a crippled U.S. spy plane on Chinese territory rather than attempting to ditch the top-secret aircraft in the ocean to keep it out of enemy hands. But, in fact, the memo was written by an Osborn supporter on Navy letterhead. “While the facts in the memo are correct, and it was intended to clarify the issue, the manner in which it was handled was regrettable and I take full responsibility,” Osborn said in a statement to the Lincoln Journal Star. Osborn has made the China incident the centerpiece of his campaign, launching an ad last week touting his toughness in the face of his Chinese captors as evidence that unlike his rivals, he would be able to stay strong under pressure in Washington. The former state treasurer is the frontrunner in the race, but is facing a stiff challenge from Midland University President Ben Sasse, a former Bush administration health official who is running focused on his alternative to ObamaCare. Critics have accused Osborn of compromising U.S. security by his choice to allow the Chinese military to get the spy plane and its secrets and rather than risking the lives of himself and his crew by trying a water landing in the South China Sea. Joseph Prueher, the retired admiral who was U.S. ambassador to China during the incident, defended Osborn’s decision. He told the Lincoln paper that Osborn “did exactly the right thing” in safeguarding his crew.
IOWA FRONTRUNNER’S GAFFE COULD UPEND RACE
Washington Examiner: “Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Iowa, recently warned trial lawyers at a fundraising event in Texas that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would be ill-prepared to head the Senate Judiciary Committee should Republicans win a majority in November. Braley's reasoning? Grassley is "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school," he said in a video clip from the event, circulated by Republicans on Tuesday.”
OUTSIDE CASH FLOWS FOR TILLIS AHEAD OF TAR HEEL PRIMARY
Washington Examiner: “[American Crossroads] has reserved $1.1 million in advertising in North Carolina for April, … The ads… will air in the pricey Raleigh and Charlotte media markets. That influx of spending will hit just before [North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis], the Republican frontrunner, faces off May 6 against a field including Greg Brannon, a physician who has been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mark Harris, a Baptist pastor who has received support from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.”
PICK SIX: COUNT COLORADO IN?
If Republicans can make a net gain of six seats in the Senate, the red team will take control of the upper chamber. Of the dozen or so competitive races for Democratic-controlled seats, which six do you think are most advantageous for the GOP? The current consensus from Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. However, we are hearing more and more from FNF readers like Gary Garett who say Colorado deserves its place among the six because Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., presents a serious challenge to Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.
BASKETBALL WAAAAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN POLITICS IN KENTUCKY
The Internet went bonkers for the story about the campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell making the mistake of including footage of the University of Kentucky’s hated rival, the Duke Blue Devils, instead of the Wildcats in a video. The campaign compounded the error when the hastily posted replacement video seemed to run afoul of NCAA rules for student-athlete eligibility. That error too was quickly fixed. McConnell, who is a booster of UK’s cross-state foe, the University of Louisville, came under withering attacks in a commonwealth where basketball far surpasses politics as a public passion. But Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat in the race trying to unseat McConnell, got squished a bit herself when she tried to get in on the pig pile. Grimes taunted McConnell on Twitter, but it was subsequently revealed that she had chosen Kentucky, now in the Sweet 16, for an early-round NCAA tournament loss.
WHO’S YOUR BRACKET BUSTER?
Until the end of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Fox News First wants you to share your midterm bracket busters. Choose a candidate who looks like an easy out on paper but who you just know is a lock. That’s what FNF subscriber Lani Olson of South Dakota did. Olson sees South Dakota Democratic Senate hopeful Rick Weiland eking out a win because, “I am afraid that Independent Larry Pressler will draw enough votes from the Republicans to allow a Democrat victory. He's a very popular former Senator.” Tweet your long-shot selections to @cstirewalt and we’ll share the most interesting ones here.
[New Today at Fox News Opinion: John Stossel explains why Bullies Rule: “We're told government protects us, but protectors quickly become bullies… Like frightened kids in elementary school, we learn to accept this, to think it's natural. But it's not right…”]
RUBIO TO RUMBLE INTO THE GRANITE STATE
WMUR: “[Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.] is scheduled to make his first trip to the state in nearly two years ahead of what could be a Republican presidential campaign, sources confirmed… Two Republican strategists familiar with the event say that Rubio will be the featured speaker at the Rockingham County Republican Committee's annual fundraising dinner. The event is scheduled to be held May 9… This a prime speaking slot for Rubio given that Rockingham County has the highest concentration of Republicans than any other county in the state.”
[Straw dog - Washington Times: “Iowa [Republican] Gov. Terry Branstad is contemplating replacing the closely-watched Iowa presidential straw poll slated for summer 2015 with four regional ‘festivals’ that would let GOP White House hopefuls mingle with voters, a move that could significantly alter candidate strategies in the nation’s first presidential caucus state.”]
PHARELL: EVERY WOMAN IN THE WORLD WANTS BUBBA
In an interview with GQ, musician Pharell Williams says he is all but certain of a Hillary Clinton win in 2016. “We’re about to have a female president. Hillary’s gonna win,” the Grammy winning rapper told the fashion magazine for men who dress to the left. “Everybody laughed at me when I said Obama was going to win, but I knew what he represented. But I know what Hillary represents: she represents a woman in power, and she did great as the Secretary of State. She’s gonna win.” Bubba also won some high-praise: “It's a two-for-one,” Williams said. “Bill is the coolest dude in the game, still plays saxophone, and every woman in the world wants him.”
DIDN’T THE PART ABOUT THE DONUT SHOP TIP HIM OFF?
Accused burglar Keveen Quintanilla of Burlingame, Calif., thought he was making progress in love, but instead he met up with the long arm of the law. The 31 year old suspect had flirted with 22-year-old restaurant bartender Ashleigh Cullen the same night Quintanilla allegedly robbed the place. From KNTV: “’He said he’d seen me around and wanted to hang out, which was strange since it was already 1 a.m. when he approached me,’ Cullen told police. Later, she says, she realized someone had burglarized the restaurant's storage area, stealing televisions, other electronics and something unusual. ‘He stole a pair of my slippers I keep in the basement,’ Cullen said. Cullen was able to give police the man's name and phone number. Then, pretending to be Cullen, San Mateo police started exchanging texts with the suspect. They arranged a fake date at a donut shop in Burlingame…Instead of a date with Cullen, Quintanilla ended his night in handcuffs with a chauffeured ride to jail.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama] really looks weak and the allies know he's weak. The Russians know he is weak. The allies in the rest of the world outside of Europe are scared to death. And our adversaries are emboldened, there is no question about it... There is no reason in the world [Russian President Vladimir Putin] should fear anything from the United States because under this president, who says he will do x, y, and z, that there is a red line here and there is a red line there and then he'll get really tough, the world knows what happens with red lines. They disappear the moment they're crossed.”—Charles Krauthammer, on “The O’Reilly Factor”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.