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• Shutdown extension ahead?
• D.C. Democrats disrupt Obama, Reid
• ObamaCare glitches expected for months
• McAuliffe among investors in insurance scam
• Blades of glory
SHUTDOWN EXTENSION AHEAD? - The fever is breaking among Republicans, but not likely in the way President Obama had hoped. After weeks of brutal feuding over the best way to attack Obama’s new health-insurance entitlement program, Republicans are rallying around a new strategy: Step back from the debt-limit fight and remain focused on the ongoing battle over funding the federal government. Conservative activists groups made it clear Wednesday that they were not interested in a debt breach. Despite some talk about “sequencing” obligations to avoid default, conservatives seem uninterested in fighting Obama on that bloody ground. That’s a good news and bad news for House Speaker John Boehner.
[Poll: Government is biggest problem facing country - According to a new Gallup poll, 33 percent of respondents say the nation’s most important problem is the government, politicians or Congress, a 16 percent spike from last month.]
Let’s talk - Boehner, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and other members of House leadership head to the White House today. Obama had invited all 232 Republican members of the House, but Boehner decided to limit the delegation to his leadership team. The expected topic of conversation had been the proposal from Ryan and others to construct a large-scale, multi-year deal on debt, spending and taxes to address the immediate issues of fully funding the government and extend the debt limit. But with conservatives veering away from holding up the debt limit over ObamaCare, the situation is different. A larger deal is now less likely.
[Lew: no payments if debt ceiling reached - Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is expected to warn lawmakers today that “he will be unable to guarantee payments to any group — whether Social Security recipients or U.S. bondholders — unless Congress approves an increase in the federal debt limit,” when he testifies before the Senate Finance committee. WaPo has details.]
Shutdown extender? - Rank-and-file Republicans, already skeptical of House leadership, will be watching closely as Boehner & Co. return from their huddle with Obama. As Washington Examiner’s Byron York observes, the debt-limit concession by the right will let Republicans stand firm “on their requirement that a continuing resolution to fund the government must contain some significant measure to limit Obamacare.” That means that the shutdown drama could be just beginning. Without the debt ceiling to raise general alarm, Obama has less leverage. And Boehner would be without a powerful tool to keep his own conference in line.
[Latest AP poll: Obama disapproval: 37% (down 15 pts. since April) // Country headed in wrong direction: 78% (up 22 pts. since April)]
The takeaway - The federal shutdown is proving less politically damaging to Republicans than expected, partly because of the maladroit moves by the administration. The refusal to provide death benefits to families of those killed in battle and the heavy-handed tactics at national parks have established a new narrative. Combined with Republican legislation to reopen uniformly popular government services, the shutdown has taken on a different hue. The president and congressional leaders are leaning toward revisiting the “supercommittee” concept from the 2011 debt-limit showdown. Such a move that would almost certainly mean any changes to Obama’s health law would be minor, if present at all. By leaving out the debt limit, conservatives hope to keep the troubled health law on the table, with more and more on the right calling for a one-year ObamaCare delay in exchange for full federal funding.
WHAT DID HE KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT? - President Obama, in an interview with WRC-TV of Washington, said about the Pentagon decision to suspend death benefits to the families of troops killed in the Afghan war: “When I heard about this story, I told the Department of Defense, within our administrative powers, we should be able to get that fixed.” But Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry reported that word of the decision had reached the top tier of the administration “a few days ago.” Who knew and when, exactly, the president was told? Nobody’s telling.
Charity steps up for military families - Ken Fisher, chairman of Fisher House, the charity funding travel and benefits for families of slain troops while the administration holds the line against restoring funds, told Megyn Kelly that the cutting off of funds was “a national disgrace, there’s no other way to put it…these are America’s families.”
[National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin shares new details about the deaths of the four military members who died in Afghanistan]
D.C. DEMOCRATS DISRUPT OBAMA, REID - Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s Democratic delegate in the House of Representatives, got into a heated exchange with President Obama during a closed-door White House meeting for House Democrats, pushing the president to rescind his veto threat of Republican legislation restoring full funding for the district amid the partial federal shutdown. Other attendees grumbled to multiple outlets about Norton’s outburst, one calling it “strident” to the WaPo. Norton told the paper Obama could handle it: “He’s a big boy and I’m a big girl,” she said.
Washington Mayor Vincent Gray disrupted a press conference organized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with Gray restating his call for Senate Democrats take up a House-passed bill restoring full funding for D.C. Reid was caught on a hot mic telling Gray, “I’m on your side – don’t screw it up.” (The WSJ has details.)
Reid dashes to donors - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is slated to hold a Florida fundraiser with Democratic mega-donor and trial lawyer John Morgan on Oct. 18. According to the invitation obtained by Politico, attendants are asked for a minimum of $1,000 with $35,000 being asked of event co-chairs.
[New Today at Fox News Opinion: Steve Forbes’ How GOP can reopen government, extend debt ceiling and rein in government]
IRS SHARED CONFIDENTIAL INFO WITH WHITE HOUSE - “Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to TheDaily Caller.” Ingram said she was unable to recall the document in question during a Wednesday hearing.
OBAMACARE GLITCHES EXPECTED FOR MONTHS - Fox News: The $93 million website launched to process customers through the new ObamaCare marketplace may experience significant technical glitches for months, computer software experts told FoxNews.com. The experts observed numerous spelling errors in the coding of the website and point to the fact that the government skipped some elements in the testing phase of development in order to meet the Oct. 1 deadline. Experts tell Fox News some of the glitches could last into December.
Hoosiers pushback on ObamaCare penalties - Indiana’s Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed suit against the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies on behalf of 15 Indiana school districts, seeking an injunction against ObamaCare’s employer mandate, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Pittsburgh Steelers pitch-in for ObamaCare - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be joined by Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman and former Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, along with several retired Steelers players to pitch ObamaCare’s exchanges at Heinz Field today in Pennsylvania.
YOUR VOICE WAS HEARD - Wednesday’s All-Star Panel on “Special Report with Bret Baier”drew lively reaction. As measured by Bing Pulse: men, women, Republicans, Democrats and independents agreed with slowing aid to Egypt, with Democrats showing some hesitation. Voting spiked to 24,000 per minute when columnist Jonah Goldberg said we are freaking out our allies by withholding aid, with Democrats disagreeing with Charles Krauthammer when he said the U.S. move is appeasing its enemies.
Viewer engagement peaked to 30,000 votes per minute when Krauthammer said the closing of national parks and memorials as result of the partial government shutdown was unnecessary. Bing Pulse measured a total of 200,000 votes during the All-Star Panel. Add your voice. Get the full results here.
The panel’s discussion of the Pentagon denying benefits to the families of deceased soldiers struck a chord. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, disagreed with the Daily Beasts’ Kirsten Powers for taking the Department of Defense’s legal findings “at face value.” All parties agreed when Jonah Goldberg said the withholding of funds for military families was deliberate. The panel has room for you, take a seat and let your voice be heard.
U.S. TO SLASH AID TO EGYPT - The United States is cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt in response to the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the crackdown by the military-backed government on his supporters, but is stopping short of calling it a coup. Such a designation would require the U.S. to suspend all but humanitarian aid. In total the U.S. is expected to halt $550 million in aid. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. will withhold delivery of certain large-scale military systems as well as cash assistance to the Egyptian government until “credible progress” is made toward an inclusive government set up through free and fair elections.
[WSJ: “The U.S. is managing to anger nearly everyone in Cairo. The Islamists who demand President Morsi's return and the shrinking band of liberal democrats will see this as continued U.S. support for the generals.”]
LIBYAN PRIME MINISTER RELEASED - AP: “Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was freed from captivity just hours after gunmen abducted him Thursday at dawn from the hotel where he resides in the capital, Tripoli, according to the state news agency. The brazen abduction - apparently in retaliation for the U.S. special forces' raid over the weekend that seized a Libyan al-Qaida suspect from the streets of Tripoli - reflected the deep chaos and lawlessness gripping Libya.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING - Judge Andrew Napolitano slams the government for violating the laws it is expected to enforce for Fox News Opinion in Rule of Law: “What kind of government seeks venues in which it can break the law?...Wherever the American government goes and whatever it does, it remains subject to the confines of the Constitution.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...George Will examines how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy altered the trajectory and tone of American liberalism: “Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would now become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America’s social climate, whose sickness required ‘punitive liberalism.’”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.3 percent//Disapprove – 50.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 21.2 percent//Wrong Track – 71.0 percent
MCAULIFFE AMONG INVESTORS IN INSURANCE SCAM -WaPo: “Virginia [Democratic] gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was one of dozens of investors with a Rhode Island estate planner charged with defrauding insurers by using the stolen identities of terminally ill people… McAuliffe’s name appeared on a lengthy list of investors with Joseph A. Caramadre, an attorney and accountant who obtained the identities of dying people to set up annuities that ultimately cost insurance companies millions of dollars, the [court] documents say.” Spokesman Josh Schwerin told the WaPo McAuliffe was a “passive investor” who was deceived as many others were. According to the Virginia Public Access project, Caramadre gave McAuliffe’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign a $26,599 contribution.
Gun control push for McAuliffe - The gun-control group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., will be spending big in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Politico reports that the group will be sending mailers every few days up to the Nov. 5 election criticizing Republican Ken Cucinelli’s support for gun rights.
RAMPED-UP RHETORIC IN N.J. SENATE DEBATE - AP: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan lashed out at Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker in their final debate on Wednesday, saying too much of the state's income and sales tax money ‘gets poured into a big black hole’ in Booker's city and its residents may not be able to swim in its river because of all the shooting victims' floating bodies… [Booker retorted that Lonegan] ‘…ran his city into a ditch and had to ask for a bailout,’ and that his Senate campaign was based on insults, condemnations and shut-down politics.”
Palin to pitch for Lonegan - Former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, will join New Jersey Republican Senate hopeful, Steve Lonegan, at a Saturday campaign event, the campaign announced Wednesday evening. Lonegan’s Democratic challenger, Newark mayor Corey Booker, received the endorsement of the NYT today. A Quinnipiac University poll shows Booker leading by 12 points.
PAUL AND CRUZ COURT CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES - NYT: Potential 2016 contenders Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Rand Paul, R-Ky., will meet privately with a group of conservative Christian leaders today in Washington. The group includes Family Research Council Head Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, and conservative radio host Janet Parshall.
BLADES OF GLORY - Authorities have halted a South Carolina man’s mission to clean up the National Mall. Chris Cox had been mowing, trimming and cleaning up monuments on the Mall for several days, working alone with a push mower and other small equipment, South Carolina state flag in hand. National Parks Service employees usually tasked with its maintenance are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. Cox was tending to the memorials partly in preparation for Sunday’s planned Million Vet March in which organizers are calling for a mass demonstration demanding that president Obama lift the shutdown of the World War II Memorial and other sites.
Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges! - Cox told WNEW, “These are our memorials. Do they think that we’re just going to let them go to hell? No!” Cox has the backing of Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., who said in a statement, “He saw a job that wasn’t getting done and decided to take care of it. We are not a nanny state, and when government in this case chooses not to do something it’s in keeping with the American tradition to ask, ‘What can I do to fix the problem?’ Chris’s example is one we could all learn from in Washington, and accordingly, I applaud him.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“And incidentally, on the question of language, the liberals always seize the dictionary here. When we talk about a ‘clean CR,’ that sounds nice. It’s clean, right? And the Republicans want a ‘dirty CR’ -- continuing resolution. I would say what the Republicans asking for is to deny the administration a blank check. That's what the Democrats and the bureaucracy are demanding. So it would be nice if we could undo that language where all of this stuff the Democrats are asking is inherently good, after all, clean is good. A blank check is a bad idea.” – 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. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30