Why? In part, I think, because the chances of congressional Democrats reclaiming the U.S. House aren’t especially good. Therefore, if control of the Senate changes hands -- and control of the House does not -- President Obama’s lame-duck presidency will essentially commence overnight. From RCP:
Recall that when the president was running for re-election he smashed fundraising records and spent tons of time on the campaign trail. Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, then, would like to know what happened to that sense of urgency that was on full display two years ago. Obama’s not involving himself in the political process or “getting voters excited” as he once did, Gibbs argued; however, the president has thrown some 45 political fundraisers since winning re-election. Thus, it cannot really be said he's sitting idly on the sidelines, either.
Still, the Democrats risk losing the Senate in part because of unfavorable terrain. Several prominent Senate Democrats are up for re-election in red states. Unfortunately for them, too, they have to contend with and defend their votes in favor of Obamacare -- a law that is consistently and stubbornly unpopular. It could be that the White House has made a difficult but necessary calculation: the president is a persona non grata on the campaign trail now. By their own admission, some Democrats have already conceded this point in public.
In a move cheered by Republicans nationwide, former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown on Friday declared he wants to "stop complaining and get involved again" by formally joining the race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
The longtime Massachusetts resident, who recently moved into his seacoast New Hampshire vacation home, launched an exploratory committee to enter the Senate race during a Republican conference in Nashua, ending months of speculation about his intentions.
Of course, Republicans need to (net) win six Senate seats and keep the House to de facto end the Obama presidency -- no easy task. But with the electoral map shifting under Democrats’ feet -- and the president seemingly disengaged -- perhaps Robert Gibbs' fears of a Republican takeover this fall are not entirely misplaced.
Speaking from the White House Monday morning President Obama announced a new set of sanctions targeting assets belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin's top advisors.
Vladislav Surkov: Surkov is being sanctioned for his status as a Presidential Aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sergey Glazyev: Glazyev is being sanctioned for his status as a Presidential Adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Leonid Slutsky: Slutsky is being sanctioned for his status as a State Duma deputy, where he is Chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration, and Relations with Compatriots.
Andrei Klishas: Klishas is being sanctioned for his status as a Member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and as Chairman of the Federation Council Committee of Constitutional Law, Judicial, and Legal Affairs, and the Development of Civil Society.
Valentina Matviyenko: Matviyenko is being sanctioned for her status as Head of the Federation Council
Dmitry Rogozin: Rogozin is being sanctioned for his status as the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.
Yelena Mizulina: Mizulina is being sanctioned for her status as a State Duma Deputy.
Sergey Aksyonov: Aksyonov is being designated for threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for undermining Ukraine’s democratic institutions and processes. Aksyonov claims to be the Prime Minister of Crimea and has rejected the authority of the legitimate government in Kyiv.
Vladimir Konstantinov: Konstantinov is being designated for threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for undermining Ukraine’s democratic institutions and processes. Konstantinov is the speaker of the Crimean parliament, which on March 11, 2014, declared independence from Ukraine.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Medvedchuk, leader of Ukrainian Choice, is being designated for threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for undermining Ukraine’s democratic institutions and processes. He is also being designated because he has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support to Yanukovych and because he is a leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine and actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Viktor Yanukovych: Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is being designated for threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for undermining Ukraine’s democratic institutions and processes. After abandoning Kyiv and ultimately fleeing to Russia, Viktor Yanukovych called upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops into Ukraine.
"Today’s actions send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation. The United States, together with international partners, will continue to stand by the Ukrainian government to ensure that costs are imposed on Crimean separatists and their Russian backers," a statement from the White House says. "Today’s actions also serve as notice to Russia that unless it abides by its international obligations and returns its military forces to their original bases and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States is prepared to take additional steps to impose further political and economic costs."
The sanctions come after an overwhelming majority voted in Crimea to secede from Ukraine.
With thousands of heavily armed Russian troops occupying this perennially embattled peninsula, an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted on Sunday to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, resolutely carrying out a public referendum that Western leaders had declared illegal and vowed to punish with economic sanctions.
The outcome, in a region that shares a language and centuries of history with Russia, was a foregone conclusion even before exit polls showed more than 93 percent of voters favoring secession.
On Fox News shortly after the announcement, KT McFarland, who served as President Ronald Reagan's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, said the Russian officials being targeted took billions of dollars in assets out of banks a week ago in anticipation of sanctions, rendering them close to worthless.
To a certain powerful media mogul, Guinness has left a bitter taste in his mouth.
After the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York refused to reverse its ban on the public expression of gay pride, the popular beer company decided to withdraw from the event.
“Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all,” the brewer, based in Norwalk, Conn., said on Sunday in a statement.
Gay rights organizations cheered the decision.
“Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: Discrimination should never be celebrated,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of Glaad (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
Not everyone was applauding, though. Here’s what conservative business mogul Rupert Murdoch had to say on Twitter:
Where will this end? Guinness pulls out of religious parade bullied by gay orgs who try to take it over. Hope all Irish boycott the stuff— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) March 17, 2014
Most of the replies to his tweet were from angry respondents - one user even calling him a “racist, homophobic granddad.” But, what do you think? Is Murdoch intolerant? Or, is he right to suggest beer lovers should reject Guinness for succumbing to pressure from gay rights groups?
White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer appears to be the administration's "short straw" mouthpiece. With some regularity, he is handed the duty of defending the president on Sunday morning chat shows on the heels of particularly bruising news weeks. Perhaps his most memorable performance came last spring, when he bungled a series of interviews on Benghazi and the IRS targeting scandal -- repeatedly swatting down questions as "irrelevant." In one exchange, he actually uttered this sentence: "The law is irrelevant." Pfeiffer was up to bat on Meet the Press yesterday, where he turned in a typically poor outing. Pressed by David Gregory about the president's broken "keep your doctor" promise, Pfeiffer insisted that this betrayal isn't Obamacare's fault. Blame the insurers, he said:
This answer is rubbish. First of all, the question of who or what is specifically to blame for people losing their doctors is, as Pfeiffer might put it, irrelevant. President Obama made a sweeping, comprehensive promise to the American people in selling Obamacare. Watch the very first clip from the video we released on Friday:
"No matter how we reform healthcare, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period."
No wiggle room, no ambiguity. Everyone who liked their doctor could keep them. Period, end of story. But that is not the case for millions of people now that the law is in effect. Second, these major and widespread disruptions to insurance networks and plans have been precipitated by the healthcare law. Everyone understands that. To pretend that Obamacare has nothing to do with the upheaval it mandates is laughable. Finally, the White House's own internal estimates predicted that more than 90 million Americans' prior plans would lose grandfathered status under Obamacare. They knew that tens of millions of people in the individual, small group and large employer markets would be unable to maintain the coverage they had. That fact renders Obama's "keep your plan" vow even more inexcusable. And an unavoidable byproduct of people being stripped of their plans is a ripple effect on coverage networks and doctors. People are losing the plans and physicians that they like and trust as a direct result of Obamacare, and in direct contradiction of what the president said over and over again. Pfeiffer's spin is insultingly stupid, and it won't work. Pfeiffer wasn't finished, unequivocally promising that Obama will not delay the individual mandate tax:
"That will not happen," he asserted. One problem: It already effectively has happened. The administration recently changed Obamacare's regulations to grant "hardship waivers" to essentially anyone who wants one, for any vague reason, with no proof required, until 2016. David Gregory was apparently ignorant of that development, as it would have made for one hell of a follow-up question. Finally, Pfeiffer stated with a straight face that President Obama will be an asset to Democrats in the 2014 elections:
Democrats...beg to differ.
Republicans have voted more than 50 times to repeal or alter Obamacare as the popularity of the legislation continues to be nearly non-existent. In the process, Republicans have been criticized for failing to present an alternative piece of legislation to replace Obamacare. More than a dozen alternative plans have been crafted on the Hill, but Republicans haven't been able to rally around a single plan. Now, that's changing as Republican prepare to present Americans with an official alternative to the Affordable Care Act:
The plan includes an expansion of high-risk insurance pools, promotion of health savings accounts and inducements for small businesses to purchase coverage together. The tenets of the plan — which could expand to include the ability to buy insurance across state lines, guaranteed renewability of policies and changes to medical-malpractice regulations — are ideas that various conservatives have for a long time backed as part of broader bills.
But this is the first time this year that House leaders will put their full force behind a single set of principles from those bills and present it as their vision. This month, House leaders will begin to share a memo with lawmakers outlining the plan, called “A Stronger Health Care System: The GOP Plan for Freedom, Flexibility, & Peace of Mind,” with suggestions on how Republicans should talk about it to their constituents.
The timing for this legislation is great for Republicans who just came off of a special election win in Florida where Democrat Alex Sink lost by running on a fix, don't repeal platform. Not only can Republicans running for election in the fall run against Obamacare, a law that will only continue to make the lives of Americans worse and more expensive, they can run on a new alternative.
In a time where businesses have faced significant backlash for endorsing an opinion or supporting a cause, fast-food chain Wendy's has kicked their activism into overdrive. A new campaign was launched last week to promote the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which seeks to place foster children in loving, permanent homes and promote adoption awareness.
The ad features adopted children and their parents, and directs viewers to the new adoption section of the website. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas was adopted as an infant, and while the foundation has existed for decades, this is the first time the foundation has been mentioned on the chain's website.
Craig Bahner, who joined Wendy’s as chief marketing officer in 2012 after 20 years at Procter & Gamble, said that while the chain had been successful in raising money for the foundation, more could be done to raise awareness and tie it to the cause.
“You walk into a restaurant today and there’s a canister there and you can put in some spare change, and millions of dollars have been raised that way,” said Mr. Bahner, an adoptive parent. “But we haven’t done it in a holistic way that could really drive awareness, and that really educates consumers about why it’s important and why it matters to us.”
"The product is good and people want it," President Obama said, touting his health insurance plan to an audience at DreamWorks Animation in November. Yet, for being such an illustrious product, the Obama Administration sure seems desperate for people to get on board.
Here are 15 ways the White House, state exchanges, and supporters have tried to sell Obamacare.
1. With the infamous Brosurance ad:
2. Quickly followed by Hoe-surance:
3. With a "geek" selfie:
4. With a message from Lebron James:
5. With a kind-looking woman and her pins:
6. By explaining there just isn't enough...Bubble Wrap to go around?
7. By helping citizens to "prioritize health care" above those non-essential items, like oh, say...a cell phone and cable:
8. By lying:
9. By using celebrities to show just how cool health insurance can be:
10. By lying A LOT:
11. By using your parents:
12. By Michelle Obama warning kids they need Obamacare for when they fall off all those bars stools and cut their fingers with those tricky knives:
13. On comedy shows:
14. With pictures of Obamacare "pi:"
Happy Pi Day. Grab a slice. pic.twitter.com/cOJdhI2V5U— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 14, 2014
15. And one more that will just make everyone want to run right over to their computer, pick up their phone, or mail in their information:
Remember: sign up for this crappy product and #GetCovered by March 31!
It looks like Mississippi is taking the right steps to reducing fraud when it comes to government assistance. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) will now require new applicants to submit a questionnaire that will evaluate the likelihood of substance abuse.
Residents who apply for this temporary assistance from the state will have to submit to drug testing if the state deems they are likely substance abusers from this questionnaire. Testing positive once would require a TANF recipient to undergo treatment for substance abuse. For testing positive a second time, the recipient would be kicked out of the program for 90 days. A third positive result would remove the recipient for up to a year.
Governor Bryant said, “The TANF program is a safety net for families in need, and adding this screening process will aid adults who are trapped in a dependency lifestyle so they can better provide for their children.” The state will be using federal funds earmarked for TANF to administer the questionnaires and testing. They estimate the cost of testing will be only $36,000 each year.
There are currently only 9 other states that have passed legislation requiring TANF applicants to be screened for drugs. And there are at least 24 more that are looking into this type of legislation too.
This seems like a great way for the state to spend a minimal amount in order to save the system a lot of money. What many people will think here is how Republicans hate poor people and how we don’t want to help them, but in all reality we want to help those who really need it and aren’t abusing the system. The governor of Mississippi and his legislature have figured out a way to do this, and I say “kudos” to them!
Looks like the White House will really do anything to try and hype the failing Obamacare law! After President Obama recently admitted that many in fact, will not be able to keep their doctors, a new push has come out of Hollywood to plug the health care law. And no, it’s not another appearance on the comedy show “Between Two Ferns”.
The White House is really reaching here, but there is now a video of celebrities’ moms doing a pitch for Obamacare! Mothers of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Adam Levine, Alicia Keys and Jonah Hill are featured in a nearly 2 minute video praising Obamacare.
They are highlighted telling stories of their famous children and how they felt invincible. Jonah Hill’s mother says, “Trust me—us moms put up with a lot. But one thing we should never have to put up with is our kids not having health care.”
The moms are pushing a new slogan, #YourMomCares.
Clearly the White House is getting a bit desperate here. Now that they have used all of the celebrities they possibly can to try and get people excited about Obamacare, they are now moving on to their moms. How bad is it when they can’t find anyone to speak to the younger generation and get them excited about the new health law that they supposedly support.
The best part is, when Michelle closes it out by saying “We nag you because we love you.” Ugh!! Check out the full video below:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s behavior during daily briefings has changed, Mediaite’s columnist Joe Concha observed last year.
“He has become more testy, more combative, more personal with the White House Press Corps than anyone in his position prior,” Concha wrote in the March 2013 column. “It seems if any reporter questions this White House—which has arguably experienced its worst month if recent precipitous drops in the polls are any indication—they are attacked publicly and directly.”
After giving several examples, Concha concludes by letting Carney know it’s OK to step down.
Now it seems that time may have come. The Daily Caller has the details:
Insiders very close to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicate that he’s on his way out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, The Mirror has learned. Carney has told people he’s leaving the White House soon.
In 2008, Carney became Director of Communications for Vice President Joe Biden. In 2011, he became the nation’s 29th press secretary, President Obama’s second, replacing Robert Gibbs. […]
The Mirror sought comment from White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, the man who could very well replace Carney when he makes the jump. He gave the old non-denial denial: “We routinely decline to comment on speculation about personnel matters,” Earnest told The Mirror.
I’m sure if asked though, Carney would refer you to someone else anyway.