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• ObamaCare? What ObamaCare?
• President buys his talking points in bulk
• Bridenstine out in Sooner Senate stakes
• Paul: Bubba’s sexcapades were ‘violence’
• Why it’s better to be a burglar in Sweden
OBAMACARE? WHAT OBAMACARE?
You’d have thought ObamaCare was some piffling little bill, not the presidency-defining, Midterm-wrecking disaster currently strewn across all four lanes of the American political highway like an overturned poultry carrier in a rush-hour ice storm. But President Obama barely found time to mention his law in his State of the Union address for this, the year when it is actually going into effect. Obama was more than 40 minutes into his speech before he even mentioned what he called “insurance reform.” Now, political wisdom dictates that one not needlessly remind voters of unhappy events, but the magnitude of ObamaCare and its centrality to his legacy would seem to demand at least a defense of the troubled law. Instead, Obama riffled through his 2012 talking points about uncontroversial provisions, ignored the central aims of the law, skipped his administration’s pratfall of a rollout entirely and fudged again on the numbers.
[AP fact-checks the State of the Union address and the GOP response]
We’re not mad, we’re just disappointed in you - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid boldly predicted in an interview with CNN ahead of the State of the Union speech that Senate Democrats facing tough re-election fights would invite the president to campaign with them. Reid said he would encourage the most vulnerable to get Obama out on the campaign trail. So, how Mark Begich of Alaska, one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators of all? Um, no. Here was Begich’s statement, issued before the presidential motorcade could get back down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House: “I was disappointed I didn’t hear what Alaskans wanted from the President tonight. While the President delivered a lot of sound bites that may sound good in a speech, we need to hear a clear plan and commitment to economic growth. Specifically, the President missed his chance to talk about national energy security in any meaningful way.” So, no Alaskans for Obama rallies this year, then? Maybe for Arkansan Mark Pryor? “Overall, I'm disappointed with the President's State of the Union address because he was heavy on rhetoric, but light on specifics about how we can move our country forward.” That’s a negatory, good buddy. Similar sentiments issued from Democrats in other states, all offering a plaintive tone about post-peak Obamism.
[Did you see Joe Biden being very Joe Biden-y during the State of the Union? WaPo has a vice-presidential GIF for you if you missed it.]
Lean back - What about Mark Udall, a liberal senator previously though safe in Democrat-leaning Colorado? Reid told CNN he and Obama were heading to Denver soon. Is Udall hitting the hustings with Obama? Well… Udall told the network: “We’ll see what the president's schedule is. We'll see what my schedule is. But Coloradans are going to re-elect me based on my record, not the president's record, not what the president's done, but what I’ve done and how I’ve stood up for Colorado. That's the case I’m going to make to Coloradans.” Gotcha. Sounds like Obama is going to get about as warm a welcome in Colorado as he did in North Carolina.
Nothing to say - Reid was no doubt blowing snow at CNN with his boasts about Obama campaign stops. But that’s noteworthy. So is the president’s decision to barely deign to mention the law that will define him and this political era. Both Reid’s snow job and Obama’s sudden forgetfulness serve as evidence of how far out to sea Democrats are on the big issue of this election year. Reid’s pledge will haunt his fellow Democrats all year as they jump back from the presence of the embattled president. And Obama’s decision to start trying to move past ObamaCare while the law remains a shambles will make him more embattled still.
[Pick Six - The current status quo in Washington depends on Democrats preventing Republicans from gaining six Senate seats in November’s midterm elections. With Democrats trying to protect a dozen or so potentially vulnerable seats, which six do you think are the most likely to flip? Based on Fox News First reader e-mails and tweets, the consensus is (in order of times selected): Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and Alaska. Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.]
OBAMA BUYS TALKING POINTS IN BULK
President Obama starts a four state swing today to reemphasize the points he reemphasized in his fifth State of the Union address. The commander in chief will start at a suburban Washington Costco to talk about his call for a minimum wage hike. Then it’s off to the Steel Valley for a talk on retirement savings at a West Mifflin, Pa. steel mill. The president returns to Washington in the evening, but on Thursday sallies forth again, this time traveling to Wisconsin (uh-oh) and Tennessee to fulfill the last of his duties as part of the annual State of the Union pageant.
Hey kids, how about that crazy Internet? - President Obama will turn to Google continue to make to make his post State of the Union pitch Friday in his first-ever Google “Hangout Road Trip,” where he will take online questions about his second-term agenda.
Short shrift- Washington Examiner’s David Drucker: “President Obama might spend this year focused on attacking income inequality, but that wasn't immediately clear from the laundry list of domestic priorities he laid out Tuesday during his State of the Union address.”
OBAMA’S TRADE PUSH TAKES FLACK FROM RIGHT AND LEFT
President Obama may be pressing Congress to give him a fast track authority for new free trade zones in Europe and Asia, but he may also be spinning his wheels. The Christian Science Monitor reports many conservative groups, who have dubbed the president’s request “Obamatrade,” say the trade agenda will kill jobs and like ObamaCare “usurp congressional authority and expand executive power.” And Obama isn’t getting much relief from left either, AP observes “[A] broad coalition of groups typically associated with Democrats, including labor unions and environmental organizations, released a letter demanding Congress vote against Obama’s request”...”[W]ith Democratic control of the Senate at stake in the November election, Democrats will be eager to show voters contrasts between the two parties and won't be in a mood to challenge some of their main constituent groups.”
Seeking BFMW for unusual arrangement - From the Washington Free Beacon: “Labor Secretary Tom Perez is calling on companies and economists skeptical of minimum wage hikes to listen to the sex shop owners, acupuncturists, and spiritual healers that have joined the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage (BFMW) coalition – a group some members do not recall actually joining.”
FOOD STAMP CUT VOTE TODAY
“WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House is rushing to complete work on a nearly $100 billion-a-year farm bill that would make small cuts to food stamps and continue generous subsidies for the nation’s farmers.”
Wait. What? - The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner at NRO: “The farm bill will cost taxpayers about $950 billion over the next ten years. Lawmakers are calling this a $23 billion cut. But… this is a cut only in the Washington sense of spending less than previously predicted. In reality, it represents an inflation-adjusted $258 billion increase over the ten-year cost of the last farm bill, in 2008. That’s a whopping 37 percent jump in real spending!”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Marc Thiessen sings President Obama’s State of the Union Blues: “[I]t is going to be very hard for Obama to change the subject to income inequality. Even if he succeeds for a time, the Obamacare disaster will haunt those efforts as well. Today, a record 72 percent of Americans say big government is the biggest threat to our country - the highest that number has been in 50 years of polling. Concern with big government is so bad, even a majority of Democrats - 56 percent - consider it the biggest threat the nation faces. White House officials said the president wanted to use his State of the Union address to put a difficult year behind him. The problem is, the year ahead may be worse.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.5 percent//Disapprove – 51.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.9 percent//Wrong Track – 62.9 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.0 percent// Republicans 41.5 percent
BRIDENSTINE OUT IN SOONER SENATE STAKES
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., a favorite of Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, has decided not to vie for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. From Bridenstine’s statement: “After giving this matter serious consideration and prayer, my family and I have decided I will not run in the special election to complete Dr. Coburn’s term.” That means Oklahoma Republicans may be looking at a two-man race. From The Oklahoman: “Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, a Republican…plans a three-city announcement on Wednesday that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee. A source close to Shannon said he will make separate announcements in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Lawton… U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, is running for the seat, and Oklahoma City businessman Eric McCray announced that also he plans to run for the GOP nomination.”
HUSKER ‘DO: BIG NEBRASKA SENATE DEBATE TONIGHT
In what is shaping up as a defining primary contest for 2014, Nebraska Republicans seeking the Senate seat being left vacant by retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., will have their first debate tonight. The major combatants will be frontrunner Shane Osborn, the former state treasurer, and his chief pursuer Ben Sasse, the president of Midland University. But keep an eye on the other contenders, Sid Dinsdale, a banker, and Bart McLeay, a corporate attorney. Osborn and Sasse have drawn lots of national attention, but this is first and foremost a local affair. From the McCook Daily Gazette: “The debate is sponsored by the Nebraska Republican Party in conjunction with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation. Candidates will have the chance to answer questions on farm policy, immigration, federal tax reform, health care reform and national defense.” The debate starts at 9 p.m. ET. Details on how to watch are here.
Sasse leads cash dash - Omaha World-Herald: “The reports showed that Sasse… continues to hold the money lead in the four-man primary race. He raised nearly $570,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, ending 2013 with $1 million in the bank… Osborn also had a healthy quarter, raising a respectable $369,000 in the final three months of the year. Overall, he ended the year with $582,000 in the bank… Dinsdale raised $685,000 and ended the year with $471,313… McLeay, who is making his first bid for political office, raised $134,000 in the final three months of last year. He ended with $193,000 in the bank.”
[Osborne raises funds on Obama’s big speech - Shane Osborne offered his own rebuttal to President Obama, asking supporters to pitch in and help him deliver the next one as a U.S. senator.]
All together now - Sioux City Journal: “Some five years after Democrat Barack Obama peeled off one of Nebraska’s electoral votes in the presidential election, the sting remains for Republicans. And on Tuesday, lawmakers began debate on a bill that would return the state to a winner-take-all system for its five votes…Lawmakers approved the current system in 1991. Republicans have attempted to repeal the split-vote system before, but the effort gained renewed momentum when Obama won metropolitan Omaha's 2nd District vote in 2008, denying Republican nominee John McCain one of Nebraska's electoral votes.”
MILLION DOLLAR MEN
Roll Call: “Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, gave $1 million each to boost the House GOP’s efforts in 2014…according to a Republican source … The [National Republican Congressional Committee] also announced Tuesday that Schock will serve as chairman of the NRCC’s March dinner — one of the committee’s top fundraising events of the year. Schock pledged to raise an additional $1 million for the committee before the March 26 event.”
Sink and Jolly debate debates - Sunshine State News: “With six weeks to go until the special election to fill the congressional seat left open by the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., the debate over debates has begun. Republican candidate David Jolly, an attorney and lobbyist who served as an aide to Young, went after Democratic rival former state CFO Alex Sink for cutting down on the number of debate appearances.”
PAUL: BUBBA’S SEXCAPADES WERE ‘VIOLENCE’
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took his charge that former president Bill Clinton preyed on Monica Lewinsky when she was a White House intern further Tuesday night. When asked by Fox News’ Bret Baier about the claim, Paul said “I didn’t bring it up,” adding, “They asked my wife the question, then they asked me the question. And I’m a smart husband. If you got to stand up for your wife, you better stand up for your wife.” Paul went on to say, “This wasn’t an affair, this was a workplace sexual harassment and the Democrats want to be all high and mighty like they’re the party that champions women,” he added. “Well, gosh, their standard bearer seems to be a guy that was committing the workplace kind of violence that we should all be opposed to.”
THAT’S STATEN ISLAND-ESE FOR ‘EXTREMELY ANNOYED’
“Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., verbally confronted a reporter with a New York television news station after President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday. Michael Scotto, a reporter with NY1, was attempting to ask Grimm about a campaign finance investigation surrounding his 2010 campaign when the New York City-area lawmaker threatened to throw him over a balcony and ‘break him in half,’ The New York Post reported. After video of the incident aired, NY1 political director Bob Hardt tweeted that Grimm threatened to throw Scotto off the balcony and onto the Capitol Rotunda. Grimm said late Tuesday that he was ‘extremely annoyed’ at Scotto for taking ‘a disrespectful and cheap shot’ at the end of the interview.”
How does that make you feel? - Harvard Business Review offers a zippy little quiz to see how you’re handling work stress and whether you could be helped by using new auto-analytic programs like FitBit.
WHY IT’S BETTER TO BE A BURGLAR IN SWEDEN
A couple in Kvarnåsen, Sweden awoke to a noise in the wee hours. They found a hapless burglar on their balcony and quickly overpowered the man. While Americans in the same situation might be emptying a second barrel of buckshot at the burglar’s backside, this turned out to be a very Scandinavian crime scene indeed. Homeowner Tomas Holmberg told the local newspaper of the would-be intruder: “He looked forlorn and quite cold so I thought he could use a gulp of coffee.” The 21-year old man apologized for the attempted robbery and then sat quietly drinking his coffee until police arrived. Bergmanesque details here.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama has] given up on being the great uniter – the charismatic president who would bring America together. And now he’s simply trying to hang on for quite small achievements, which I think, in his own eyes, means that he’s a failure.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”