KY Senate: FreedomWorks backs McConnell primary challenger

FreedomWorks PAC has endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) primary challenger, Matt Bevin, the grassroots organization announced yesterday, adding to the already contentious, polarizing race.

“For far too long Mitch McConnell has sat on the sidelines of pivotal fights, helping the Democrats pass unprecedented surveillance powers, the TARP/Wall Street bailout, numerous tax hikes and debt ceiling increases, and Medicare Part D,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks PAC.

“Most recently,” Kibbe continued, “he orchestrated the McConnell-Reid sellout bargain to increase the debt limit and fully fund a broken health care law, getting a $1.2 billion ‘special project kickback’ in the process. Kentucky deserves better, and looking at the dropping poll numbers for McConnell, there’s no reason to settle.”

“Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal conservatives who will fight to cut spending on the front lines, not the sidelines. Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government,” he added.

McConnell’s campaign has denied responsibility for the “special project kickback” — funding for a river lock project on the Ohio-Kentucky border — to which Kibbe referred in his statement. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reportedly requested the earmark.

Gallup: Obama’s approval rating hit second-lowest mark of presidency

Barack Obama’s average yearly approval rating fell to the second-lowest point in his fifth year in office, according to a report released this morning by Gallup, and the final quarter of 2013 nearly matched the lowest of his presidency.

Consumed by scandal and controversy, the first year of President Obama second-term in office was a quite a struggle, to say the least, with the White House frequently playing defense. In May, for example, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had improperly targets conservative groups seeking nonprofit status.

The following month, in June, the public learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting phone records of virtually every Americans for domestic surveillance purposes. In the fall, controversy arose over the disastrous Obamacare rollout and millions of health plan cancellations caused by the law, despite frequent assurances from President Obama that Americans could keep their current coverage.

In his fifth year in office, President Obama averaged an approval rating of 45.8%, according to Gallup, the second-lowest point of his presidency.

Gallup based the results on more than 175,000 interviews conducted between January 20, 2013 through January 19, 2014. His third year in office remains President Obama’s worst, when his approval rating averaged 44.4%.

Looking at the fifth-year numbers compared to past two-term presidents, Obama ranks near the bottom, barely surpassing the 45.7% average approval rating of George W. Bush. Richard Nixon has the lowest fifth-year approval rating, at 41.1%.

House to hold hearings on Internet sales tax

The issue seems to be dead going into 2014, but some House Republicans — those who seem determined to find a way to raise taxes — are planning to hold hearings on the Internet sales tax early this year:

House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte plans to hold a hearing in the first half of the year to explore online sales tax legislation, advocates say.

Proponents of an Internet sales tax bill, such as major retailers, are holding out hope for action in the House in 2014 despite the opposition of many conservatives and the skeptical stance of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Supporters and opponents of online sales tax proposals are focusing their lobbying energy on Goodlatte (R-Va.), who has released a set of seven principles that an online sales tax bill would have to meet in order to be considered by his committee.

“House Judiciary has a busy schedule,” but Goodlatte has plans to hold a hearing on Internet sales taxes in the first half of the year, according to Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, which represents Facebook, Yahoo and online sales tax critic eBay.

High-powered lobbyists representing the interests of large brick-and-mortar retailers were able to ram the Internet sales tax through the Senate last May through the Orwellian-sounding Marketplace Fairness Act.

WY Senate: Liz Cheney to abandon primary challenge to Mike Enzi

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney was never really ever to get her campaign against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) off the ground. Despite her credentials as the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and endorsements prominent neoconservatives, she made constant missteps that hurt her standing with Republican primary voters.

The New York Times reported early this morning that Cheney will end her primary bid against Enzi, delivering a blow to a Republican establishment hoping to reassert itself in the 2014 election:

Liz Cheney intends to withdraw from the Wyoming Republican Senate primary, according to two sources familiar with her plans, bringing an abrupt end to her unsteady challenge to the incumbent, Michael B. Enzi.

Ms. Cheney, 47, the former vice president’s elder daughter, is expected to drop out of the race this week, citing family reasons. She did not respond to emails and phone calls late Sunday.
Having relocated from suburban Washington to the Jackson Hole area in 2012, she faced relentless questions about her residency and why she would move to the state her father once represented in Congress and almost immediately begin running for office against an incumbent. Longtime friends of the Cheney family in Wyoming, including former Senator Alan K. Simpson, fretted publicly about such a divisive primary. His open expressions of concern prompted a private rebuke from Liz Cheney’s mother, Lynne, who told him to “shut up,” according to Mr. Simpson.

The perception of Liz Cheney as a carpetbagger was compounded when it was revealed this summer in the Wyoming news media that she had sought a fishing license — a rite of passage in the state — by claiming on her application to be a 10-year resident.

University adds “Obamacare” to list of banished words

What does “selfie,” “twerking,” “hashtag,” and “Obamacare” have in common? These words have all been banished in 2014 by Lake Superior State University, a Michigan-based school.

The list is meant to be “tongue-and-cheek,” according to Chicago Tribune. It’s part of an annual tradition dating back to 1975 and, apparently, is just for publicity. But the logic for putting Obamacare on the list is because that’s not what it’s really called.

“Because President Obama’s signature healthcare law is actually called the Affordable Care Act. The term has been clearly overused and overblown by the media and by members of Congress,” wrote one submitter.

Yes, it’s true that Obamacare was passed as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” — though it’s simply referred to as the “Affordable Care Act” — it has become known as “Obamacare” to the American public.

Though they preferred the nicer sounding name, the Obama Administration on eventually embraced the term “Obamacare,” even purchasing Google ads online to promote the law. President Obama embraced the pejorative, telling a crowd of supporters in 2012 that “[w]e passed Obamacare — yes, I like the term — we passed it because I do care, and I want to put these choices in your hands where they belong.”

Republicans gain in the congressional ballot, Obama drags on Democrats

Just two months ago, it seemed that Democrats were poised to compete for control of the House of Representatives, but the plagued rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange website and insurance cancellations caused by the law have given Republicans a lift, according to the latest generic congressional ballot poll from CNN (emphasis added):

Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. That result came after congressional Republicans appeared to overplay their hand in the bitter fight over the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling.

But the Democratic lead evaporated, and a CNN poll a month ago indicated the GOP holding a 49%-47% lead. The new survey, conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.

The 13-point swing over the past two months follows a political uproar over Obamacare, which included the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and controversy over the possiblity of insurance policy cancelations due primarily to the new health law.

It’s not just the generic congressional ballot where Democrats find themselves in trouble. The CNN poll also found a severe lack of enthusiasm from Democratic voters. What’s more, voters are more inclined to vote for a congressional candidate opposed to President Barack Obama (emphasis added):

CNN poll: Obamacare opposition rises to 62%

The opposition to Obamacare has risen to its highest point, according to a CNN poll released on Monday, despite the Obama Administration’s efforts to fix the federal exchange website after a disastrous launch in October.

The CNN poll found that just 35% support Obamacare, while 62% said that they oppose the law. Those numbers are up since last month, when the news channel showed that 40% supported the law and 58% opposed it.

Opposition is spread across ideological beliefs. Forty-three percent (43%) said that they oppose Obamacare because the law is “too liberal.” On the other hand, 15% oppose Obamacare because it is “not liberal enough.”

CNN’s polling director Keating Holland noted that the poll showed that opposition among women rose by 6 points over the last month, to 60% in December from 54% in November. That reflects a similar trend in other polls, despite supporters using the purported benefits for women in the law as part of their pitch to the public.

President Obama and supporters of the health insurance reform law have insisted that Americans will see lower healthcare costs and increased benefits. But poll shows that Americans aren’t buying the rhetoric.

Forty-two percent (42%) of Americans believe that they will be worse off because of Obamacare and 63% said that the law will increase their costs for medical care. Just 16% surmise that they’ll be better off under the law and only 7% believe it will decrease their costs.

AR Senate: Political analyst gives Republicans an edge over Mark Pryor

At least one political prognosticator sees trouble on the horizon for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who is among the handful of vulnerable red state Democrats seeking re-election next year in an increasingly difficult political climate.

Stu Rothenberg, founder of eponymous publication, The Rothenberg Political Report, no longer views the race between Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) as pure tossup. He is now giving Cotton a very slight edge in what is a must-win seat for Republicans.

“While we continue to regard the Arkansas Senate race broadly as a tossup and think that Pryor is doing all of the right things, we are increasingly skeptical that he can localize the Senate contest as much as he needs to in a state where Obama is so unpopular,” wrote Rothenberg at Roll Call.

Rothenberg contends that Arkansas voters can see a difference between President Obama and Pryor, who has sought to distance himself from the White House. That may be a tougher sell than he thinks. Cotton is going to tie Pryor to Obama as much as possible, and it’s not going to be any sort of a stretch to do so.

Poll: 67% want Obamacare delayed, majority of Democrats agree

The bad news continues for President Barack Obama with yet another new poll showing still stagnant approval ratings and widespread rejection of his health insurance reform law after a disastrous rollout.

The poll, released yesterday by Fox News, found that 41% of voters approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 53% disapprove. Those numbers are virtually unchanged from October (41/53) and November (40/55).

Voters were divisive in their rejection of Obamacare. Just 38% said that they’re glad the law passed, while 54% wish it had never passed. Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters want Obamacare repealed.

A stunning 67% want a one-year delay of the law, including 54% of Democrats and 68% of independents. That was a proposal for which House and Senate Republican lobbied leading up to and during the government shutdown. The White House and Senate Democrats refused to concede any ground on the law, refusing even a delay for the individual mandate.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters believe that the Obama Administration knew that President Obama’s infamous health plan promise, recently named as PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year,” wasn’t true. Forty percent (40%) believe Obamacare will be repealed or defunded, up from 27% in October, while 54% believe it will remain the law, a 10-point drop since the question was last asked.

Millennials still down on Obama and Obamacare

Obama's youth

How is the White House supposed to sell an agenda to young people when they no longer support President Obama and aren’t to fond of Obamacare? That’s a question some White House advisors should be asking themselves after yet another poll confirms that Millennials disapprove of President Obama’s job performance and they’re decisively opposed to Obamacare:

Forty-five percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job; 46% disapprove of his job performance, according to a year-end USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll. The president’s approval rating with young Americans — which stood at 67% just ahead of his second inauguration less than a year ago — now mirrors the general population, according to the poll.
In the USA TODAY/Pew poll, just 41% approve of his signature health care policy, while 54% disapprove. Overall, 40% of Americans approve and 55% disapprove of his health care policy, according to the poll.

The USA Today/Pew poll fairly consistent with others from Quinnipiac and ABC News/Washington Post, but, not as devastating as the recent Harvard University survey. But the problems for President Obama don’t end at his approval rating. The opposition to Obamacare found in the USA Today/Pew poll is probably the worst news, though, likely related to his declining numbers.

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