First Read Flash: Low places

Updated

NBC’s Michael O’Brien:In a new low point for President Barack Obama and another ding against his signature domestic achievement, only 26,000 Americans signed up for health insurance plans in the month that the federal government’s troubled website has been open for business. When figures from state-run exchanges are included, more than 106,000 Americans selected plans during the Affordable Care Act’s first month of open enrollment. Still, that number, combined with the administration’s repeated warnings of low early-enrollment figures, won’t mute the mounting political outcry from both sides of the aisle over the rocky rollout.”

AP: “Add simmering Democratic discontent to the problems plaguing “Obamacare,” now that first-month enrollment figures are out. The White House is rushing to come up with an unspecified fix as early as this week to counter the millions of health coverage cancellations going to consumers, at the same time it promises improvements in a federal website so balky that enrollments totaled fewer than 27,000 in 36 states combined.”

Wall Street Journal: “In the past, White House officials had said they strongly preferred an administrative remedy to the law’s shortcomings. But on Wednesday, officials suggested that President Barack Obama was open to a bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.), that would require insurers to continue offering plans that were in existence this year, even if that meant reinstating ones that had been canceled because they didn’t meet the health law’s standards.”

New York Times: Anxious congressional Democrats are threatening to abandon President Obama on a central element of his signature health care law, voicing increasing support for proposals that would allow Americans who are losing their health insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act to retain it….a vote is scheduled Friday in the Republican-controlled House on a bill that would allow Americans to keep their existing health coverage through 2014 without penalties. The measure, drafted by Representative Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who is the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is opposed by the White House, which argues that it would severely undermine the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurance companies to continue to sell health coverage that does not meet the higher standard of Mr. Obama’s health care law. But a growing number of House Democrats, reflecting a strong political backlash to the rollout of the law, are warning the White House that they may support the measure if the administration does not provide a strong alternative argument. “

Politico:Six weeks of website follies and anger that the president either misspoke or made a bungled oversimplification of his claims that people could keep health care plans they like appear to have damaged the core of the Obama brand more than Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney or five years of sustained attacks on his presidency ever did. But this isn’t just about Obamacare — Obama’s political success has always emanated from the confidence people have felt with him, and if his personal numbers don’t turn around, his ability to move a policy agenda may be in serious trouble. In the next few months alone, Obama will be asking people to take leaps of faith with him on a nuclear deal with Iran and a new immigration system, and he’s got three years of a presidency left after that.”

The NRSC will hit Democrats “for choosing politics over people as President Obama heads” to Philadelphia to fundraise for the DSCC “while ObamaCare disapprovals skyrocket and Obama’s number tank.” From the release: “55% of Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the president’s signature law. 52% of Americans no longer believe that the President is honest and trustworthy.  At least 3.5 million Americans are losing their current health care plan….And sure, less than 27,000 people have purchased a plan through the federal ObamaCare exchange on Healthcare.gov, but why not get out of dodge to hobnob with big pocketed donors? Today President Obama heads up to Philadelphia to raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Politics over people. No wonder his numbers are tanking and is taking the Democratic Senate majority along with it

Politico: “House Republicans have a rich history of going too far — most of the time way too far. Budget fights turn into referendums on abortion. Health care debates swerve into discussions about rape. The struggle over immigration reform had some in the GOP pushing to kick people out of America. But as the Obamacare rollout gets worse with each passing day, Speaker John Boehner and his House GOP colleagues are being handed political gold — and they think they’ve figured out a way to avoid screwing it up.”

Wall Street Journal:Janet Yellen will report strong economic progress when she goes before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday, in her confirmation hearing for the top post at the Federal Reserve. The U.S. economy has grown “significantly stronger” since the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, but it still needs help from the Fed as it continues to mend, Ms. Yellen will tell senators, according to prepared remarks released Wednesday.”

USA Today has “5 things to watch for” during Yellen’s confirmation hearing. 

Stu Rothenberg:President Barack Obama’s job approval numbers have taken a dive in two recent polls, and party insiders fear that every other poll released in the foreseeable future will show that the rollout of the president’s health care law has been anything but a success — and has dramatically undermined the public’s confidence in him. Maybe even more important, they worry that any weakening of the president’s standing will have a significant impact on Democrats’ chances to make House gains and hold the Senate.”

BuzzFeed:Jim Messina and John Podesta, top former aides to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton respectively, are currently in talks to co-chair a board backing Hillary Clinton — a plan that, should it come to fruition, would be a dramatic early symbol of party unity behind the former secretary of state. Three sources with knowledge of the plans said Messina, an Obama insider who ran the president’s campaign last year, and Podesta, a longtime advisor to Bill Clinton, are in discussions to join the board of Priorities USA, the multimillion-dollar super PAC that backed President Obama’s reelection effort last year.”

NBC’s Andrew Rafferty:Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Wednesday dismissed the significance of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s blowout re-election victory, saying the decisive win was largely due to federal aid the state received in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. “His victory was, in large form, based on that he got a lot of federal money for his state,” Paul told radio Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano after being asked why he previously labeled Christie a moderate.”

LOUISIANA: Roll Call:Willie Robertson, a reality television show celebrity on the popular “Duck Dynasty” series, will star in a new kind of program starting Thursday: a campaign television spot for Louisiana’s 5th District special election. In the advertisement, Robertson proclaims his support for GOP businessman Vance McAllister, the underdog in Saturday’s contest.”

SOUTH DAKOTA: “If he runs at all, former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler’s, R-S.D., bid for Senate as an independent won’t look like your traditional campaign. He said his campaign is running on an ‘Idealistic concept’ in a Wednesday phone interview with CQ Roll Call….Pressler wasn’t even his own first choice to run, but everyone he’s spoken with about it has declined to step forward. Asked if he would be hiring a campaign manager or consulting team, Pressler said no.”

VIRGINIA: Washington Post: “A week after Election Day, there may be as many lawyers involved in the race for Virginia attorney general as there are votes separating the two candidates….. The two candidates are digging in for a battle, and if the post-hanging-chads era has taught us anything, it’s that a race this tight can’t be over yet. The lawyers will make sure of that. Obenshain’s strategy is to concede nothing. Statewide vote totals won’t be certified until Nov. 25, and then the trailing candidate will probably ask for a recount. So on Wednesday, both Obenshain and Herring announced transition teams, and Obenshain said it was premature to discuss legal action or a recount.”

WYOMING: Liz Cheney has released her first television ad, a 60-second spot that touts her Wyoming roots.

Politico reports that a poll conducted for the The American Principles Fund, a conservative super PAC backing Enzi, shows “Cheney’s support has faded in Wyoming since the summer” and “Enzi (R) has expanded his lead over the former vice president’s daughter by 12 points among likely primary voters since August. The three-term incumbent was up 52 points, 69 percent to 17 percent, in a survey conducted by Bob Wickers of The Wickers Group at the end of October.”

First Read Flash: Low places

Updated