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After a two-month all-hands effort to fix Healthcare.gov, the White House announced over the weekend that the website will now work for the "vast majority" of consumers looking to purchase health insurance. The site reportedly can now handle 50,000 simultaneous users without crashing. That's a big improvement from October when as few as 500 users could cripple the site.

But how do we really know if the website works?

Like everything related to ObamaCare, the political spin is dizzying. Democrats point to a new report that 100,000 people signed up in November as proof that the website is improving....  More»

 

Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Mitt Romney's failed presidential bid in 2012, gave a very candid interview with Political Wire in which he discussed what worked and what went wrong.

A few takeaways from the discussion:

1. The press completely missed the health care story and dismissed Romney's criticisms of ObamaCare even though many later proved to be true.

2. Despite the campaign's public optimism and suggestions that Romney himself thought he would win on Election Night, the campaign's internal polling was actually very good and never showed Romney leading....  More»

 

Many recent articles have trumpeted the "bipartisan breakthrough" that led to a federal budget deal. Don't believe any of them. Partisan warfare is very much alive.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a key broker of the budget deal, signaled that a standoff over the debt ceiling is coming soon.

Said Ryan: "We, as a caucus, along with our Senate counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what it is we want to get out of the debt limit. We don't want 'nothing' out of the debt limit. We're going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight."

The comments show how broken our legislative system has become....  More»

 
December 17, 2013, at 1:10 PM

As Republicans shut down the federal government in early October and took a pummeling in the opinion polls, many Democrats started to talk about the possibility — even the likelihood — that they would take back control of the House of Representatives.

But that narrative crashed as quickly as Healthcare.gov. Republicans said they were vindicated that the Affordable Care Act didn't work and that the federal government had no business running a health care exchange. They started counting the Senate seats they would win by hanging the issue around the necks of Democratic incumbents....  More»

 

The retirement of two moderate congressmen today — one Democrat and one Republican — is further proof of how little fun it must be to legislate in a politically polarized and dysfunctional House of Representatives.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he would not seek an 18th term in the House. President Obama won 49 percent of the vote in the district in 2012, and Democrats will almost certainly compete for the seat. As Roll Call notes, the seat "was only safe based on the strength of his incumbency."

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) also announced he wouldn't run again....  More»

 

Unfortunately, it wasn't easy limiting this year's list to just 13 statements but here are the craziest and most offensive things said by American politicians this year:

13. "He's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline."

— Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), quoted by the Bangor Daily News, on Democratic rival Troy Jackson (D) who he said has a "black heart" and should go back in the woods "and let someone with a brain come down here and do some good work."

12. "Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody....  More»

 

1. Will Republicans win back control of the Senate? Most political forecasters give Democrats a minuscule chance of taking back the House of Representatives, so most attention will be on the six seats Republicans need to have the majority in the upper chamber.

The seven most vulnerable seats all belong to Democrats right now: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

2. Will Congress pass immigration reform? A bill has passed the Senate but House leaders refuse to bring it up. Considering the inability of this Congress to pass almost anything, it's hard to give much hope to immigration reform — ...  More»

 

If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on, it’s that American politics is broken. Compromise is a dirty word, the nation’s problems go unsolved, and voter pessimism is at an all-time high. Most Americans think the current Congress is the worst in their lifetimes.

Four trends over the last generation have combined to make effective governing nearly impossible.

1. Few congressional districts are competitive. Technology was once seen as the savior of our democracy because it would allow for better communication between citizens and their representatives in Congress. In theory, lawmakers could instantly gauge the views of voters and accurately represent them in the legislative process. Instead, technology has allowed for very sophisticated gerrymandering of congressional districts to the point where there are just ...  More»

 

Hillary Clinton has never ruled out running for president in 2016 and most observers think she'll do it. But now we have proof she's seriously considering a bid.

Politico has a fascinating report on a meeting early last summer in Clinton's Washington, DC home in which she was given a detailed presentation on what she needs to do to prepare for a White House bid.

Clinton listened closely but said little and made no commitments, according to people familiar with the nearly hourlong gathering. It appears to have been the only formal 2016-related presentation Clinton has been given from anyone outside her immediate circle....  More»

 

In the latest episode of Political Wire's podcast, we sat down with Democratic consultant and media strategist Joe Trippi for a look at the 2014 elections, the future of the political parties, and the potential for technology to disturb the reigning two-party paradigm.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Republicans stand to gain seats in 2014 — maybe win the Senate — if they don't shoot themselves again: After taking a beating in the government shutdown battle, Republicans have pulled even or edged ahead in the generic congressional polls, with the botched ObamaCare rollout hurting the Democratic Party and taking its toll on President Obama's ...  More»

 
January 8, 2014, at 8:32 PM

There's little doubt that the revelations that aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) snarled traffic around the George Washington Bridge as political retribution is at least a roadblock to the governor's presidential aspirations in 2016.

But will it stop him altogether? It's too early to know for sure, but there's plenty of interesting speculation.

Jonathan Chait: "The e-mails prove that Christie’s loyalists closed the bridge deliberately as political retribution, not as a 'traffic study' as claimed. They display an almost comical venality bordering on outright sociopathy....  More»

 

In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we chat with David Frum, an author and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, about his views on the Republican Party's evolution, how the GOP should treat ObamaCare, and the challenges Hillary Clinton could face in 2016.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The recession and its aftermath have helped fuel a radical brand of conservatism. In President Obama's first term, a slow economic recovery and conservative anger toward his policies stoked Republican fears about the direction of the country, making them more susceptible to radical ideas....  More»

 

If the political scandal enveloping New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ends up derailing his 2016 White House dreams, there are several Republicans who could take over his spot as the preferred candidate of the GOP establishment.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is probably best positioned to inherit the support of the GOP establishment, which encouraged Christie to run for president in 2012 and has been taken somewhat aback by the latest scandal.

Bush has the advantage of being a two-term governor of a swing state, and he holds the potential to attract the support of Latinos by having a Mexican-born wife and children of mixed descent....  More»

 

While Gov. Chris Christie (R) may ultimately survive the bridge traffic scandal, the episode has almost certainly reinforced his image as a bully.

Christie denied being a bully at his news conference yesterday, saying, "I am who I am. But I am not a bully." But it's not just Democrats who see the parallels. Many Republicans do, too.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told NBC News, ”It seems to me that this whole bridge thing reinforces a narrative that's troublesome about the guy, he's kind of a bully."

And then there’s his extensive YouTube record....  More»

 

If reports are correct, President Obama could soon face a big test of his presidential authority.

In oral arguments at the Supreme Court, the justices "seemed skeptical of the Obama administration's contention that it had acted properly in bypassing the Senate to appoint several officials during a break in the Senate's work," the New York Times reports.

"Several justices seemed attracted to the relatively narrow argument that President Obama had acted during a break in the Senate's work that was too brief to allow a recess appointment. Others spoke in favor of a much broader argument that would limit such appointments to recesses between sessions of Congress....  More»

 

In a new episode of the Political Wire podcast, we talked with Chuck Todd, NBC's chief White House correspondent, about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) political headaches, the potential for infighting in the two major parties, and the forces that could shape the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The political headaches for Christie are just beginning. Christie has taken a beating in the headlines over emails between aides who appeared to be discussing lane closures on a bridge as political retribution. Still, Christie for now continues to enjoy rock-solid approval ratings, and some polling suggests Americans aren't following ...  More»

 

Hillary Clinton isn’t expected to announce her intentions about a presidential bid until after the midterm elections, but it’s already a real possibility she won’t face any real opposition if she decides to run.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) told reporters yesterday he wasn’t going to run. He joins Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who said late last year she wouldn’t be a candidate either.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) clearly wants to run, but has said he won’t if Clinton is a candidate. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is also thought to have ambitions for higher office but almost no one thinks he would ...  More»

 

Steve Kornacki, anchor of MSNBC's weekend show Up and a longtime observer of New Jersey politics, gave us an extensive analysis on the Political Wire podcast of the bridge scandal that has vexed Gov. Chris Christie (R) and has put a cloud over his political future.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The endorsement retribution theory in the Christie bridge scandal doesn't make sense: New Jersey Democrats repeatedly accused the Christie administration of closing the lanes as payback against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) for his decision not to endorse the GOP governor's re-election....  More»

 

Ever since the "Bridgegate" scandal broke into the national headlines, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has insisted he knew nothing about the traffic jam caused by his closest aides in a ham-handed attempt at political retribution.

His denials started with a two-hour marathon press conference when he claimed he was "blindsided" by the news.

He later told Yahoo News, "I don't think anybody knows what it feels like to have the kind of attention that I've had in the last nine days until you go through it... It's awful. Listen, it's awful. I can explain to you as vividly as you like, but you won't get it....  More»

 

In a new episode of the Political Wire podcast, we chatted with Republican political strategist Mike Murphy about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) political troubles, the new Mitt Romney documentary MITT, and the GOP's biggest problems heading into 2016.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Christie's presidential chances have taken a dent, but don't write him off too quickly: Political headaches are mounting for Christie in the wake of the controversy over his administration's politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. But the media, Murphy said, have been quick to hype up the story's longer-term importance....  More»

 

In the latest episode of Political Wire's podcast, we chatted with Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama, about the Democrats' messaging strategy on ObamaCare, about what other politicians can learn from Obama's personality, and about the nexus between policy and communications in the White House.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Democrats should run on, not away from, ObamaCare: After a rocky rollout for the health insurance exchanges, a key part of the health-care reform law, Democrats have reasons to cheer up a bit ahead of the 2014 midterm elections....  More»

 

After three days of winter meetings, it's clear the Republican National Committee has made little progress in rebranding a party that has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

A quick look at the media coverage confirms the party is still struggling:

Politico: "After the 2012 election, establishment Republicans promised things would be different next time. They'd stop turning off women. They'd tamp down on rogue outside groups. And they'd get the tea party movement in line. But now that 2014 is here, those goals seem as elusive as ever and even insiders admit the party's got a long way to go — if it really wants to ...  More»

 

In a special edition of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke with three former presidential speechwriters — former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, former George W. Bush scribe David Frum, and former Clinton writer Michael Waldman — about the State of the Union address.

They discuss the purpose that the SOTU address serves and how it comes together, and offer some of their expectations and advice on what President Obama might talk about Tuesday in his next SOTU speech.

Here are five takeaways:

1. It takes a long time to write and involves a lot of people: The process of crafting the SOTU isn't so much a traditional writing process as it is ...  More»

 
January 28, 2014, at 9:55 AM

Many who wanted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to run for president in 2012 — and who have been urging him to jump into the 2016 race — did so because he was viewed as the most electable Republican.

But a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows how tough it will be for him to rebound from his recent political scandals.

More Americans now view Christie negatively than positively, by a margin of 29 percent to 22 percent. That's a sharp reversal from a similar poll three months ago, when 33 percent viewed him positively and 17 percent viewed him negatively....  More»

 

One of the most moving moments during this year's State of the Union address was when U.S. Army Ranger Sergeant Cory Remsburg received a two minute standing ovation after being praised by President Obama.

Remsburg was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2009. As ABC News reports, the explosion left him in a three-month coma and rendered him partially-paralyzed and brain damaged. After daily physical and speech therapy, Remsburg can walk and speak again.

Obama used the solider as a symbol of how America "never gives up" and "does not quit....  More»

 

In the latest episode of Political Wire's podcast, we chatted with Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster for the firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, about the political impact of President Obama's State of the Union address, the president's lukewarm poll numbers, and the Republican Party's brand challenges ahead of the midterm elections.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Obama's speech targeted women, especially unmarried women: Democrats need to turn them out in November: The president's speech clearly played to women, an important Democratic voting block....  More»

 

House Republican leaders released a set of "principles" to guide the upcoming debate on immigration reform.

The outline provides a path to citizenship for young people brought to the United States as children, makes changes to the visa system, and improves border security with an electronic fingerprint system.

But as USA Today notes, "The principles do not make clear whether most undocumented immigrants would ever be able to apply for green cards or become U.S. citizens."

Republicans fall into three groups on the issue. One group led by the House leadership and Rep....  More»

 

In their latest line of attack on President Obama, Republicans are now saying he has a "lawless presidency."

The phrase evokes images of a Wild West where anything goes.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told ABC News that the president's embrace of executive orders to get things done is "creating a dangerous trend which is contrary to the Constitution."

The Washington Post notes that, in fact, Obama has taken fewer such actions than any president since Grover Cleveland in the late 1800s.

Ryan responded, "It's not the number of executive orders, it's the scope of the executive orders....  More»

 
February 3, 2014, at 4:58 PM

We’re two years away from the presidential primaries, yet new polls are being released every week that test possible 2016 matchups.

The latest is a new CNN/ORC poll that shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) now trailing Hillary Clinton (D) in a presidential race by 16 points.

Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein makes the academic case that general election polls at this early date are essentially worthless.

Writes Bernstein: "The results are some messy mix of relative party standing, candidate name recognition, recent press reports about the candidates, and who knows what else....  More»

 

If you donate to a candidate online, pay attention to the fine print to make sure your donation goes to the candidate you want and not his or her opponent.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a series of websites that look like they support a Democratic candidate for Congress, but instead direct contributions to the Republican Party instead.

The Tampa Bay Times interviews one donor who thought he was giving to Alex Sink's (D) congressional campaign. It even used the same blue and green color scheme as the candidate's official website....  More»

 
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