Good morning folks,
Governor Christie’s handling of “BridgeGate” dominated the news yesterday, but another major scandal involving at least one Democratic Senator rocked the press in Colorado.
Yesterday we highlighted a breaking story that revealed Democratic Senator Mark Udall and his staff indeed tried to pressure the Colorado Division of Insurance to cook the books and revise health insurance cancellations resulting from ObamaCare. In contrast to Governor Christie, Mark Udall shockingly defended the bullying tactics used by his office. The Denver Post reported last night that internal emails reveal that workers at the Colorado’s Division of Insurance “felt intimidated” by Udall’s office.
If a traffic jam is worthy of dominating the national news for days, then a Senator trying to bully officials into lying to the five million people of his state about their health care seems equally as significant. In fact, strategist Dick Wadhams said that the bullying incident was worse than news of Governor Christie’s aides in New Jersey. “For [Udall's] staff to try to bully the state Division of Insurance staff to essentially falsify their numbers is absolutely reprehensible. He ought to come clean. He ought to fire his staffers. … Mark Udall needs to prove that he was not involved directly in this scandal.” Instead, Udall is so out of touch that he actually defended the bullying on Thursday. In fact, Udall actually admitted in an interview that he directed his staff to act this way.
The Denver Post reports that Tim Griesmer, campaign manager for Weld County Republican District Attorney Ken Buck, recalled Udall’s broken promise thatColoradans could keep their health plan if they liked it. “That turned out to not be true. Now we learn that his staff tried to pressure the Colorado Division of Insurance to change the number of people who had their health plan cancelled,” Griesmer said. Owen Hill, another Republican running for Senate, was equally outraged and took to Facebook. “Looks like Mark Udall tried to ‘cook the books’ when it came to how Coloradans and their families were harmed by ObamaCare. This is, quite honestly, embarrassing and irresponsible,” he wrote. State Rep. Amy Stephens, called Udall’s actions “appalling and shameful.”
It is unknown if other Democratic Senators feeling ObamaCare pressure acted in similar fashion, but it won’t take long for Freedom of Information Act Requests to reveal the truth. ObamaCareGate continues to grow in light of Udall’s startling admonition that he is responsible for the pressure and bullying of state officials.
Seize the day,
2014 BATTLEGROUND SONAR
(2014) Obamacare Drags Dems Down
In 2014, very few Senate Democrats are safe from the undertow of Obamacare. One who—surprisingly—may not be is Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Merkley, by all accounts, should safely win reelection in November. Elected in 2008 over incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, he’s a perfect fit for the state’s population center, the progressive hipster mecca of Portland. As the Oregon house speaker, Merkley advanced a liberal laundry list of items like an expanded indoor smoking ban, a ban on junk food in schools, and more laws to limit discrimination against same-sex couples. In the U.S. Senate, he’s been a hero to the grassroots left for pushing for filibuster reform but has otherwise been a loyal liberal in line with an increasingly Democratic state. Obama won Oregon in 2012 by 12 points, and in the GOP’s banner year of 2010, senior Democratic senator Ron Wyden won handily over his Republican challenger. Despite all those advantages, Merkley’s race may well be one to watch. If Obamacare continues to unravel and Republicans are running up big numbers against Democrats in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Virginia, and Montana, the unpopularity of Obama’s signature reform could claim a seat most analysts still consider solidly Democratic.
(ALASKA) Begich misses jobless vote for conference and fundraisers in Hawaii
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) missed a procedural vote on extending unemployment benefits to deliver a speech to a lobby group in Hawaii, The Hill has learned. Begich delivered a keynote speech Wednesday morning to the American Aviation Issues conference, an annual event hosted by the American Association of Airport Executives. He also held two fundraisers for his hotly contested Senate race and met with Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) to discuss Alaska-Hawaii issues, according to a Begich aide.
- Begich aide takes blame for saying he missed vote because of travel when he was in Hawaii
- Alaska Super PAC Hits Begich in 3 Radio Ads
- Consultant: Health law has cost Fairbanks borough more than $800,000
(NEW HAMPSHIRE) Shaheen, Obamacare, and firefighters
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s repeated doubling down in support of Obamacare is continuing to cause headaches as the 2014 cycle heats up, with the latest hit coming in the form of its impact on volunteer firefighters. A Thursday morning release from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) detailed the potential ramifications for Granite State families.
(MONTANA) Will it now be Dems v Firefighters in 2014?
Democrats in Montana have had a lot of fun during the last two major US Senate races in Montana in 2012 and 2006 attempting to run with the narrative: GOP versus firefighters. Could the boot be on the other foot in 2014?
(COLORADO) GOP says Udall pressured state on health figures
The National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Udall Thursday of trying to “cook the books.” “Mark Udall repeatedly deceived Coloradans and violated their trust by making promises about ObamaCare that couldn’t be delivered,” committee spokesman Brook Hougesen said in a statement.
(NORTH CAROLINA) Ads target Hagan, US Senate race heats up
Republicans are already running TV ads against Hagan. Political scientist like Dr. Brad Lockerbie are monitoring the race closely and say the ‘right’ is capitalizing on Hagan’s support for Obamacare. “If they can tie her to that, it’s going to hurt her in re-election,” Lockerbie says. In numerous occasions the senator promised North Carolinians they could keep their insurance. But in the last year, providers dropped many people because their policies interfere with the Affordable Care Act, and experts warn now is not the time for her to flip flop.
ON THE TWITTERS
@benpershing - DSCC stmt calls Ed Gillespie a “DC shadow lobbyist” (not to be confused w/ DC shadow senators) #vasen
(REUTERS) U.S. job growth weakest in three years
U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years in December, but the setback was likely to be temporary amid signs that cold weather conditions might have had an impact. Nonfarm payrolls rose only 74,000 last month, the smallest increase since January 2011, and the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate was the lowest since October 2008 and in part reflected people leaving the labor force. The step back in hiring is at odds with other employment indicators that have painted an upbeat picture of the jobs market. The data showed that 38,000 more jobs were added in November than previously reported.
(ASSOCIATED PRESS) Some find health insurers have no record of them
Record-keeping snags could complicate the start of insurance coverage this month as millions of people begin using policies they purchased under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not. They are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.
(WASHINGTON FREE BEACON) Obamacare Causes Fire Fighters In Ohio To Have Their Hours Cut
Fire departments are hurting once again due to Obamacare. This is not the first time the President’s legacy legislation has put fire departments in a bind, as previously reported by the Free Beacon. Ohio firefighters have had their hours reduced to Obamacare. Stringent regulations imposed by Obamacare have forced fire departments to either pay for their employees’ health insurance or reduce their hours.
(NEWS JOURNAL) Young not flocking to enroll in Obamacare coverage
Halfway into the open enrollment period for the nation’s new health insurance plans, known widely as Obamacare, fewer than 10 percent of Delaware’s anticipated 35,000 customers have chosen a plan and about 3 percent – 1,145 – have paid their first premium. That’s a significant increase from the December number – 793 – which reflected a two-month technical tangle that foiled most enrollments and introduced error into others.
But the state’s first glimpse into who is signing up showed that young Delawareans, considered a crucial constituency by many, have shown lukewarm interest in the plan. Of 3,183 who have chosen a plan through the Obamacare marketplace, only 13 percent are between the ages of 21 and 30.
(NBC) New Obamacare Enrollees Waiting for Coverage
An Old Lyme man who signed up for health insurance through the state health care exchange wants to know whether or not he’s covered. Bill Fries enrolled way back in October in order to be covered by January 1, but to this day he hasn’t received his insurance card and he isn’t getting answers from his new carrier Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “At this point I’m trying to find out, am I covered?” said Fries.