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• Growing list of Dems call for delay
• ObamaCare crash lands in Hill hearing
• Sebelius touring, not testifying
• Frau Merkel is not pleased
• Celebrating the Sage of Studio One
GROWING LIST OF DEMS CALL FOR DELAY - Democrats are lining up to call for an ObamaCare extension, citing the crashed launch of the new health-insurance entitlement program. With Web site and phone-bank failures galore, shaky data and public outrage at the expensive bungle, moderate or potentially vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., are calling for a slowdown. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has a bill that would leave open the enrollment period to obtain insurance before fines kick in. Manchin told Bill O’Reilly Wednesday that he was working on a bill with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to delay the so-called “individual mandate” for one year. Fox News has more.
[In an early-October Fox News poll, 57 percent of respondents said all of ObamaCare should be delayed for a year until more details are ironed out.]
ED HENRY WANTS TO KNOW…“With at least six Senate Democrats now wanting changes to the health law, how much longer until President Obama is forced to agree to make some tweaks? The White House is taking solace in fact that all those Democrats want to improve the law, not repeal it. But how many more Senate D's up for re-election will add pressure and will that force a shift on the Holy Grail -- the individual mandate?” – Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry
OBAMACARE CRASH LANDS IN HILL HEARING - Several contractors involved in ObamaCare’s botched rollout will face tough questioning from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when they appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning to explain why three years of lead time and hundreds of millions of dollars did not result in a functional mechanism for signing up for the new health insurance entitlement program. Prepared testimony indicates the witnesses may try to place blame on administration officials overseeing the project. CGI Senior Vice President Cheryl Campbell says “no amount of testing” could have prevented the site’s problem-plagued start. Fox News has more.
[Watch Fox: New Fox Polls on how Americans feel about the economy following the partial government shutdown released during “Special Report with Bret Baier” 6 p.m. ET]
LOL - Six voters in ten described implementation of ObamaCare as “a joke,” and a plurality believe someone ought to be fired for the botch according to a new Fox News poll. The poll also finds a majority continues to dislike President Obama’s signature achievement: 51 percent of voters want to “get rid of” the law. When it comes to exemptions for Congress, 92 percent of respondents felt members of Congress and their staffs should be required to live under the laws passed for the American people.
SEBELIUS TOURING, NOT TESTIFYING - Fox News: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius heads to Phoenix, Ariz., today to tour an ObamaCare call center. This, after she told Republicans she was unable to testify on the Hill today. Sebelius has taken heat for snubbing the committee while planning to attend a health care gala in Boston on Wednesday night. One point that may arise in her eventual testimony: Daily Caller details how during her tenure as governor of Kansas, Sebelius oversaw several costly and disastrous government Web sites.
[Phoenix-area Congressman David Schweikert thinks Sebelius should be answering questions, not appearing at campaign-style events. He welcomes the secretary to Phoenix with some suggested questions.]
OBAMA RESUMES CASH DASH - President Obama will headline eight fundraisers over the next five weeks for House and Senate Democrats. The events will take him cross-country, part of a packed November campaign schedule, The Hill reports.
WAR FOR WOMEN’S VOTES - The National Republican Senatorial Committee is previewing a new ObamaCare attack on red state and swing-state Democrats, focused on higher premiums for women under the law. A study from the conservative American Action Forum finds young women could face triple digit price increases under ObamaCare. Today’s talking points go after Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Jean Shaheen, D-N.H. and other incumbents as well as candidates in open seats. For example, the study cites an estimated 366 percent hike for healthy women in Louisiana. Do not be surprised to hear those data points repeated in ads. A lot.
[The NRCC is targeting Democrats with radio spots venting frustration with the ObamaCare crash. Listen to a sample spot, targeting Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz..]
CRUZ CLAIMING VICTORY - “It’s becoming harder and harder for Democrats to defend. I mean, during the last two months as we’ve been debating ObamaCare, very few Democrats have tried to defend it on the substance and I think the American people are seeing it’s not working.”—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” Watch here.
[NYT interviewed Heidi Nelson Cruz, the wife of Sen. Ted Cruz. The former Bush administration official is now a managing director at investment giant Goldman Sachs. She told the paper, “I think it works really well for our family for us both to have careers, and I know what my commitments are to Goldman.”]
OBAMA ATTEMPTS IMMIGRATION PIVOT - President Obama will this morning make another speech urging Congress to take up stalled immigration legislation. Obama vowed to push hard on the subject in the weeks between this month’s fiscal cliff and the next budget battle in January. Republicans are readying their own counteroffer on the subject. According to Breitbart News, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is drafting legislation to grant legal status to at least some of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. House Speaker John Boehner and Judiciary Committee ChairmanBob Goodlatte have both embraced a piecemeal approach to the problem starting with border security, rather than the “comprehensive” legislation passed by the Senate. One of the leading proponents of the Senate plan, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is now backing the House’s bite-sized approach, telling Fox News that the brinksmanship displayed by the president and his fellow Democrats damaged the chances for a larger deal on immigration.
FRAU MERKEL IS NOT PLEASED - The U.S. ambassador to Germany has been summoned to answer to reports that American spy agencies eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Guardian reports that new revelations about the National Security Agency’s spying have Merkel’s government in an ongoing uproar. President Obama quickly called Merkel to patch things up after the story first broke Wednesday, but this isn’t blowing over soon. To wit: When Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry pressed Press Secretary Jay Carney on the issue, Obama’s spokesman had an artfully crafted answer: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.” Carney gets Fox News First’s award for the most innovative use of a gerund.
That’s a lot of phone calls - NSA reportedly spied on 124 billion phone calls in one month. You read it correctly: 124 billion. That’s according to a tally of classified documents that reveal the scope of the NSA’s Boundless Informant program. The data presents a snapshot from a 30-day period earlier this year, which showed the agency monitored calls originating mainly in the Middle East, and included three billion calls from U.S. sources.
THE JUDGE’S RULING: Judge Andrew Napolitano considers the contributions of leaker Edward Snowden for Fox News Opinion: “Without Snowden’s revelations, we would be ignorant children to a paternalistic government and completely in the dark about what the government sees of us and knows about us. And we would not know that it has stolen our freedoms.”
STATE DEPARTMENT UNDER FIRE FOR REWARD PROGRAM - Fox News Producer Lucas Tomlinson pressed a State Department spokeswoman as to why the Islamists believed to be responsible for the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya are not part of the department’s Rewards for Justice program, which offers bounties for tips that lead to the killing or capture of enemy fighters and terrorists. The spokeswoman defended the exclusion, but Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge is examining what the agency’s own criteria for the manhunt program say.
WHITE HOUSE TO PUSH IRAN SANCTION DELAY - BuzzFeed: “The White House has asked senior Congressional committee staff to come to a briefing… [today] in which staffers expect they will be asked to delay a new Iran sanctions bill, according to a source familiar with the meeting.”
[WaPo details the internal White House sting operation that may have snared trash-talking secret Tweeter Jofi Joseph, one of the president’s top players on Iran policy.]
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY UNDER FIRE? - A recent survey by conservative groups the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council documents more than 1,000 examples of hostility to religion in America. Correspondent Shannon Bream evaluates the Obama administration’s track record on religious liberty at home and abroad.
[The Air Force Academy is considering dropping the phrase “So help me God” from its honor oath. Fox News has more.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...RCP’s Caitlin Huey-Burns and Scott Conroy ask why the best ones stay home in their piece Why Would Anyone Run for Congress These Days? As Congress’ stature shrinks and Americans’ disgust with Washington grows, it’s getting harder to find those willing to pay the price to come to Washington. Huey-Burns and Conroy talk to some of those who have said no to running. “It’s not just top Republican recruits who are turning down their national campaign committees’ overtures to run for Congress. In the aftermath of the government shutdown and with a year to go until the 2014 midterms, high-level officials from both parties have voiced private -- and, at times, public -- concern that the quality of prospective candidates is dwindling.”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.3 percent//Disapprove – 50.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 20.1 percent//Wrong Track – 73.0 percent
FINAL FACEOFF FOR MCAULIFFE, CUCCINELLI - Republican Ken Cuccinelli looks to change the dynamics of Virginia’s governor race in his final debate with Democrat Terry McAuliffe tonight at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The host, local CBS affiliate WDBJ, is excluding Libertarian Robert Sarvis, despite recent polls showing him above the 10 percent threshold for inclusion. The same polls show McAuliffe with a consistent lead in the high single digits going into the final 12 days of the race. The debate is not only Cuccinelli’s last chance to confront McAuliffe about the former Clinton fundraiser’s ethics woes but also a moment to appeal to Southwestern Virginia voters. The region is a key to any Virginia Republican’s statewide hopes, but polls have shown the attorney general languishing despite McAuliffe’s support for Obama administration global warming policies deemed deadly to the region’s coal industry. The Richmond Times-Dispatch previews the third and final meeting. You can watch live at 7 p.m. ET.
[George Will: “Third-party candidacies are said to be like bees — they sting, then die. Still, [Libertarian Robert Sarvis] is enabling voters to register dissatisfaction with the prevailing political duopoly. Markets are information-generating mechanisms, and Virginia’s political market is sending, through Sarvis, signals to the two durable parties.”]
YOU HAVE A SEAT ON THE PANEL - On Wednesday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” panel as tracked by Bing Pulse: Republicans, Democrats, men and women agreed with columnist George Will when he said politics was a “team sport.” All parties and genders also agreed when Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson labeled Democrats urging President Obama to delay implantation of ObamaCare “mindless partisanship.” Carlson found strong agreement from men and women when he said the ObamaCare website cost more than Twitter and Facebook. Democrats agreed more than Republicans with Sen. Jeff Flake’s, R-Ariz., statement that red states should push for a individual mandate delay. Watch the All-Star Panel here.
White House staffer, Jofi Joseph’s firing for leaking information and posting inflammatory comments to Twitter drew the highest levels of viewer interest. Viewer voices spiked to 20,000 votes per minute when Tucker Carlson said he agreed with some of Joseph’s Tweets but considered them, “stupid and childish and too mean.” Democrats and women appeared to agree with Joseph’s Tweets more than Republicans, independents, and men. In total, Bing Pulse measured 170,000 viewer votes, see the full results here, and join the next All-Star panel.
ARKANSANS BLAME DEMS FOR SHUTDOWN - A recent University of Arkansas poll indicates more Natural State voters blame Democrats than Republicans for the recent partial federal hutdown. The survey shows 37 percent blame Democrats while 26 percent blame Republicans, results that could bode well for Republican Senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton. According to Washington Examiner, recent polls have Cotton in a statistical tie with Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in the state’s 2014 Senate race.
Random, dude - A Fox News poll shows 46 percent of respondents nationally think random Americans could do a better job on the country’s problems than the current members of Congress. Respondents seemed to blame Republicans and President Obama equally for the shutdown, with 24 percent blaming Obama and 23 percent blaming GOP leaders like House Speaker John Boehner.
MINIMUM WAGE HIKE A JOB-KILLER? - A study from the conservative American Action Forum finds increasing the federal minimum wage to $10 could result in a loss of 2.3 million jobs nationwide. The study also finds that a wage hike would reverse growth trends in states that are seeing an increase in employment. California, which has raised its wage to $10 an hour, stands to lose 194,000 jobs annually.
YOU’D THINK IT WOULD HAVE COST MORE…Washington Examiner: “What is the meaning of life? The answer is worth $24,953, at least according to the National Endowment for the Humanities, a taxpayer-funded federal agency that is providing an educational grant to study the question… The NEH and its grant program are the subject of a letter … by the Senate Finance Committee's top Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, who wants further scrutiny of the program….Here are a few more examples of recent educational program grants: Why are we interested in the past? $24,803, Why are bad people bad? $23,390, What is belief? $24,526, Why do humans write? $24,774.”
LET THE SUN SHINE IN - The town of Rjukan, Norway has never seen an autumn sunbeam, but that’s about to change. The picturesque Scandinavian village sits in a deep valley, hidden from the feeble northern sun for six months of the year. But as UPI reports, officials have planted giant mirrors on a nearby mountainside to reflect the light into the town’s center square. Local artist, Martin Andersen, said he started the project to help the town’s “pale little children.” The giant mirrors are set to debut with an official opening ceremony on Oct. 31st.
CELEBRATING THE SAGE OF STUDIO ONE - Fox News will celebrate the life and accomplishments of Charles Krauthammer, the ‘sage of studio one,’ in a primetime special Friday at 10 p.m. ET, hosted by Bret Baier. Krauthammer’s new book, “Things that Matter,” hit bookstores this week. The book chronicles three decades of passions, pastimes and politics, and contains many of Dr. K’s columns as well as a personal account of his political own political evolution.
“I'm often asked: ‘How do you go from Walter Mondale to Fox News?’ To which the short answer is: ‘I was young once.’ The long answer begins by noting that this is hardly a novel passage. The path is well trodden, most famously by Ronald Reagan, himself once a New Deal Democrat... As someone who had never had any illusions about either communism or Soviet power, I gave up on the Democrats.” --Charles Krauthammer from his new release “Things that Matter.” Read an excerpt here.
[Currently on Fox News Opinion, Dana Perino’s “Why I've always admired Charles Krauthammer”]