First Read Flash: Let the campaign begin

Updated

Politico:President Barack Obama will launch a coordinated campaign Tuesday by the White House, congressional Democrats and their outside allies to return attention to why the Affordable Care Act passed in the first place. After two months of intense coverage of the botched HealthCare.gov rollout, the president will host a White House event kicking off a three-week drive to refocus the public on the law’s benefits…The White House will take the lead in emphasizing a different benefit each day until the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. The daily message will be amplified through press events and social media by Democratic members of Congress, the Democratic National Committee, congressional campaign committees and advocacy organizations, officials said.”

USA Today:A software bug that caused 80% of the problems with information forms insurers received from the HealthCare.gov website has been fixed, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Monday.”

Washington Post: “The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month. The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.”

Politico:House and Senate negotiators are pushing to finalize a small-scale deal to set spending levels and replace sequester cuts for the next two years, a potential respite in the bitter budget wars consuming Congress. The two congressional budget leaders — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — are considering a plan that would give relief to some of the domestic and defense programs most burdened by the sequester through 2015 by replacing those cuts with budgetary savings in other areas, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. New revenue through fee increases — not tax hikes — is likely .”

New York Times:More than a year after the Supreme Court upheld the central provision of President Obama’s health care overhaul, a fresh wave of legal challenges to the law is playing out in courtrooms as conservative critics — joined by their Republican allies on Capitol Hill — make the case that Mr. Obama has overstepped his authority in applying it.”

New York Times: The House straggled back to the Capitol on Monday night with just two weeks left before its likely entry into the Congressional record book for underachievement, still clinging to hopes that deals can be reached in the coming days on a budget and other once-routine bills that could ease some of the sting. But even those accomplishments could be thwarted by a basic political calculation: Many Republicans believe they are getting such good traction from their attacks on President Obama’s stumbling health care law that they feel less compelled to produce results. Any public fight over legislative compromises could take away from the focus Republicans have kept on the health care law.”

Stuart Rothenberg:Democrats have had a nice run recently of interesting House recruits and new takeover opportunities resulting from open GOP seats. And yet, it probably won’t matter. If history is any guide — and it usually is — the president’s recent problems have already overshadowed that good news for House Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, all but erasing any chances that the party can win back the House next year.”

Charlie Cook:As Democrats attempt to gain the 17 seats they need to win a House majority and Republicans work toward a six-seat net gain to capture an equally important Senate majority, each side faces an uphill slog—fighting inertia as much as anything else. For House Democrats, the challenge is that both parties have effectively consolidated their positions in the House, leaving little room for either party to make significant gains.”

Politico:President Barack Obama won reelection last year warning voters about what he called an extreme Republican agenda that would roll back the social and economic victories of the previous years. But that agenda is on the move in the states, and on the ballot in next year’s most competitive governors’ races — all of them in places he won in both 2008 and 2012: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Maine and Michigan.”

ARKANSAS: The Wall Street Journal travels to the Razorback State and looks at the re-election challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) faces. “The ability of Democrats to keep control of the Senate in 2014 will depend largely on elections in southern states like Arkansas.”

FLORIDA: Orlando Sentinel: Gov. Rick Scott is poised to demolish Democratic opponent Charlie Crist in their first month of head-to-head soft-money chasing. In his first month as a candidate for governor, Crist has grossed $1.28 million in “soft money” contributions from law firms, businesses and wealthy donors….But Scott, a Republican whose unpopularity in polls has left him vulnerable, has demonstrated no weaknesses on the fund-raising front so far: collecting $5.84 million for the same time period through his own electioneering group, Let’s Get to Work.”

KENTUCKY: Roll Call: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting a little help from his friends on the airwaves as he fends off challenges to his re-election next year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced it will launch a TV ad on Tuesday that touts the Kentucky Republican’s efforts against proposed regulations on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The ad, which will run statewide for 10 days, brands McConnell as “a fighter who never lets Kentucky down.”

LOUISIANA: New Orleans Times-Picayune:A second potential RepublicanSenate candidate in 2014 has decided not to make the run and endorse Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge. State Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, said Monday his decision came after several phone conversations about his 2014 race against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Hill:Former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith promises he can raise the money to win a Republican primary and defeat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) next year….Smith said he’d already seen a surge of support for his candidacy. “I think I’m going to surprise some people with what I’ll have in the bank,” said Smith.”

VIRGINIA: Richmond Times Dispatch: “State elections officials expressed concern today that some of the voting equipment used in November balloting may be outdated and does not meet requirements under state law” and that “some of the voting machines are not able to reject overvotes or undervotes, which would allow these ballots to be inspected manually….The lack of uniformity of voting equipment remains problematic,  especially with the pending recount in the attorney general’s race in which Democrat Mark Herring was certified the winner by 165 votes votes over Republican Mark Obenshain. The recount is expected to take place Dec. 18 or 19 and may spread out over two days this year, election officials say.”

First Read Flash: Let the campaign begin

Updated