ObamaCare: Countdown to coverage or confusion?

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Buzz Cut:
• Obamacare: Countdown to coverage or confusion?
• State Department stands pat on Benghazi
• RNC rips Obama with resolution cards
• de Blasio: bar horse-drawn carriages
• Ring in 2014 with your Fox friends

OBAMACARE: COUNTDOWN TO COVERAGE OR CONFUSION? - As “go-time” approaches for President Obama’s problem plagued entitlement program, trouble signs are surfacing for new enrollees, this time in obtaining filling prescriptions. Citing the myriad enrollment issues that have dogged the HealthCare.gov Web site and the fact that insurance companies have said they are not getting accurate information to be able to process required forms, Reuters reports that Walgreens, the country’s largest drug store chain, is trying to head-off a potential prescription stoppage for its customers.“[Walgreens] will provide a month's supply of certain prescriptions at no upfront cost to U.S. participants who have not yet received a plan identification number under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.”

Spin cycle - Another worrisome sign: with the threat of a tsunami of coverage confusion and criticism on the horizon for ObamaCare, team Obama is organizing a feel good message effort. Politico reports, “White House, Democratic lawmakers and advocacy organizations will launch a campaign this week to highlight real-life experiences under the Affordable Care Act — tales so compelling that they help drive up enrollment, marginalize Republican repeal efforts and erase memories of this fall’s HealthCare.gov debacle.” The depth of chaos and confusion after Jan. 1 will ultimately determine the effectiveness of that effort.

Bolting after botched roll-out? - The No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is retiring, administrator Marilyn Tavenner announced Monday. Michelle Snyder oversaw the problem plagued launch of the federal ObamaCare Web site. In a statement, Tavenner claimed Snyder planned to leave her job a year ago but was asked to stay on. House Oversight committee head Darell Issa blasted Snyder’s departure saying, “Documents and interviews indicate Michelle Snyder's involvement in bypassing the recommendation of CMS’ top security expert who recommended delaying the launch of HealthCare.gov after independent testers raised concern about serious vulnerabilities from a lack of adequate security testing.”  Fox News has more.

STATE DEPARTMENT STANDS PAT ON BENGHAZI - Asked about the NYT’s weekend report claiming al-Qaeda was not involved in the Benghazi attack, the State Department continues to maintain there are “no indications, at this point, that core Al Qaeda directed or planned what happened in Benghazi” and an anti-Islamic YouTube video played a role in the attack. During a press briefing Monday, Spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “Much of what's in this in-depth investigation ... tracks with what the [State Departments internal review board] found and with our understanding of the facts.” Several lawmakers reject that conclusion citing conflicts with Congressional testimony provided by Greg Hicks, the deputy to ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was one of the four Americans killed in the attack. Hicks described the video as “a non-event in Libya” at that time, and consequently not a significant trigger for the attack. Fox News has more.

[“There is not a person who believes that's true. I traveled to Libya 21 days after the attack. The entire time I was there not a single person brought up the video.” –Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, on “Hannity”]

NYT editor rails against Republicans over Benghazi - NYT editor Andrew Rosenthal pushed back at Republicans criticism of the Time’s report on the Benghazi attack. Rosenthal claims Republicans are seeking to link al-Qaeda to the attack “to tarnish Democratic candidates by making it seem as though [President]Obama doesn’t take Al Qaeda seriously,” and to “throw mud” at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The editor also sought to squash claims the piece was written to clear Clinton of wrong doing adding, “We have not chosen Mrs. Clinton. We have not chosen anyone. I can also state definitively that there was no editorial/newsroom conspiracy of any kind.”

[“The fact that the editor of the New York Times had to explain…that they haven't yet endorsed anyone for 2016, all you have to do is read the paper. And can you tell who they have endorsed and what political ideology they have endorsed.” – Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to guest host Dana Perino, “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren”]

Hillary in the dark? – Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told the Daily Caller the former secretary of state did not have any prior knowledge of the Times report ahead of its publication saying, “…we learned about the story at the same time that the rest of America did, when it posted online on Saturday afternoon.”

[New Today on Fox News Opinion: CIA Analyst Fred Fleitz takes a deep dive in his analysis of the Time’s report and a possible agenda it may have had.]

13 STATES TO SEE WAGE INCREASE IN 2014 - Thirteen states will increase their minimum wage in the new year. New Jersey residents will see one of the largest increases at a dollar an hour to $8.25. Minimum wage workers will see a small cost of living increase in Ariz., Colo. Fla., Mo., Mont., Ohio, Ore., Vt., and Was. President Obama and Democrats are hoping to make a living wage an issue going into 2014 as they seek to raise the Federal minimum wage to just over $10.

REPORT: ADMINISTRATION FUDGES ON COAL JOBS LOST - From the Washington Times: “The Obama administration tried to edit a report on new coal regulations to lower analysts’ estimates of serious job losses, an official investigation has found, backing up reports that the Interior Department pressured a private contractor to change information in order to make the data more acceptable… Fox News reported in 2011 that a company claimed the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement asked it to change variables in a calculation that showed new environmental regulations would lead to large job losses.”

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Liberal columnist Richard Cohen explains why 2013 was Hillary Clinton’s unlucky year for WaPo. “If she’s the next Democratic presidential candidate, she will have to follow a Democratic president whose approval ratings — once as high as 76 percent — are now scraping 40. As a former member of Barack Obama’s Cabinet, she has to defend the indefensible, kiss the ugly baby of Obamacare and smile for the cameras. She can do it — no one soldiers on better — but ugly is ugly, and the rollout of Obamacare has been just that… As in 2008, Barack Obama could wind up defeating her.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.7 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.4 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent

‘THE ONE’ AND HILL, MOST ADMIRED - For the sixth straight year, President Obama and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton top Gallup’s poll of most admired Americans. However, the percentage naming “the one” as most admired has dropped from 30 percent in 2012, to just 16 percent this year.

[Ahem…President Obama earned the less than admirable distinction of holding WaPo’s “Pinocchio of the year Award” for his oft-repeated “you can keep it” pledge. –Watch Fox: Senior White House and Foreign and Affairs Correspondent Wendell Goler is tracking the president’s “pants on fire status” and other misleading statements.

RNC RIPS OBAMA WITH RESOLUTION CARDS - The Republican National Committee is using its own brand of New Year’s Resolution cards to slam President Obama’s work ethic. A half-dozen E-cards are being offered by the GOP, with one reading, “I resolve to admit to admit you won’t be able to keep your plan...Or your Doctor”

GOP EYES SENATE RING - With Republicans vying to wrest control of the Senate in 2014 from Democrats reeling from ObamaCare fallout, GOP party leaders are concerned about how next year’s primaries will unfold. –Watch Fox: Campaign Carl Cameron is tracking GOP primaries in Ga., Iowa, Alaska, and N.C.

SCHOOL LUNCH FOOD FIGHT - Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D, said Monday she will continue to fight against federal regulations that only permit 2 ounces of meat in school lunches. That amounts to only “just three chicken nuggets for a high school student,” Noem said adding, “Simply put, bureaucrats in Washington shouldn't be able to dictate what goes on our kids' plates.” The Hill has more.

THE CHANGING FACE OF CARTOGRAPHY - Before you consult Google maps for that globetrotting adventure, consider this: In his new book, “A History of the World in 12 Maps,” Queen Mar University of London Professor Jerry Broton chronicles the fascinating evolution of mapmaking.  He told the Atlantic: “All cultures have always believed that the map they valorize is real and true and objective and transparent,” adding “All maps are always subjective.... Even today’s online geospatial applications on all your mobile devices and tablets, be they produced by Google or Apple or whoever, are still to some extent subjective maps.” Trace the history from Ptolemy’s first map in 150 AD to Google Earth’s launch in 2005, courtesy of the Atlantic here.

YOU BOUGHT A DINOSAUR - The National Park Service announced Monday it purchased over 4,200 acres of land in Northeast Arizona, following the discovery this summer of rare fossils and a pre-historic pond eco-system. Paleontologists recently unearthed the extinct remains of the Doswellia, a 7-foot-long carnivorous reptile with a boxy body, flat head, and long neck, on the land. The park service purchased the land for $1.3 million using royalties derived from offshore oil and gas drilling to buy land. National Journal has the details.

DE BLASIO TO BAR HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES - It’s a romantic hallmark of New York’s Central Park, but if Democratic mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has his way horse-drawn carriage rides could be history. Charging the carriages are inhumane to horses de Blasio told the NY Daily News, “they are not appropriate for the year 2014. It's over. So, just watch us do it.” Fox News has more.

2013 A GOOD YEAR FOR MOST - The latest Fox News Poll shows 51 percent of respondents say 2013 was a good year for them, with 37 percent saying it was bad. Most are optimistic about the economic outlook for 2014 with 54 percent saying it will get better, up 49 percent from last year.

RING IN 2014 WITH YOUR FOX FRIENDS - Count down to 2014 live from Times Square with Fox News Channel! Bill Hemmer and Elisabeth Hasselbeck host the ‘All-American New Year’ tonight starting at 9 p.m. ET. Use the hashtag #foxnews2014 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram right now and during the show to join in on the action.  They’ll be must-see performances by country music singer Rodney Atkins, rock band Blues Traveler and Scottish singer Susan Boyle. In a first and exclusive Fox News ​interview, anything goes when Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson join the party. FNC’s Bill O'Reilly, Charles Krauthammer, Megyn Kelly, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Bob Beckel join the festivities, sharing their resolutions for the New Year.

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“What conservatives ought to do is to say if you can't feed a family on this, and as a result of our lousy recovery a lot of people are depending on this wage, then I think for people who are the bread winners in a family, [the federal minimum wage] ought to be raised. But I think what you want for entry level jobs -- it's really going to hurt teenagers, it's really going to hurt minorities because they are going to lose the jobs which would help them to get started. I would have a two-tiered system. And I think that probably would be a way… that Republicans and conservatives could offer. It's not heartless but it keeps in mind how this would hurt.”—Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier

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