First Read Flash: Working website?

Updated

USA Today: The White House announced Sunday it has met its goal to make its troubled Healthcare.gov website operate smoothly for most users, fueling hope among Democrats that attention can now turn to successes of the underlying health care law.”

Washington Post: “After a series of technical fixes and capacity upgrades, many of which were made over the past week, HealthCare.gov is now working more than 90 percent of the time — a big improvement over October, when the site was operating only about 43 percent of the time and frequently crashed, said Jeffrey Zients, the administration official overseeing the improvements.”

New York Times:Weeks of frantic technical work appear to have made the government’s health care website easier for consumers to use. But that does not mean everyone who signs up for insurance can enroll in a health plan. The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed. And with coverage for many people scheduled to begin in just 30 days, insurers are worried the repairs may not be completed in time.”

Wall Street Journal: “Insurers and some states are continuing to look for ways to bypass the balky technology underpinning the health-care law despite the Obama administration’s claim Sunday that it had made “dramatic progress” in fixing the federal insurance website. Federal officials said they had largely succeeded in repairing parts of the site that had most snarled users in the two months since its troubled launch, but acknowledged they only had begun to make headway on the biggest underlying problems: the system’s ability to verify users’ identities and accurately transmit enrollment data to insurers.”

The Hill:Former administration officials and Democratic operatives say President Obama is ill-served by his current White House staff and must reboot his second term team following the disastrous ObamaCare rollout. First-term insiders argue the White House’s weakness was defined by a lack of preparedness, messaging blunders and failure to keep the president informed.”

Washington Post:The good news for Congress as it heads into the final workdays of the year is that, for the first time in five years, there are no edge-of-the-cliff December crises threatening to bring the country to its knees. The bad news is that whatever gets done in December will still be part of a year with record-low congressional accomplishment.”

National Journal:Lawmakers in both parties could face a dangerous political dilemma after they return to Washington: Either endorse a second round of damaging sequester cuts or prepare for another government shutdown. The situation is that stark, and it’s coming on fast.”

Politico: “In 2012, Democrats snagged Senate seats from Republicans in states where the GOP should have prevailed with relative ease. In 2014, Republicans want to show they can play that game, too. The GOP could conceivably capture the Senate by winning in seven states currently represented by Democrats but that Mitt Romney carried. But running the table in those states is a very tall task, party strategists freely acknowledge, so they’re working to expand the map of competitive races to states like Iowa, Michigan, Colorado and several others.”

National Journal:The Democratic Party is hoping 2014 will be a Year of the Woman—again. As party operatives prepare for the 2014 midterm elections, Democratic women are being cast in starring roles, on the ballot and at the ballot box, as the party tries to take back politically important governor’s mansions and keep its fragile majority in the Senate.”

Politico: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s political marriage is about to be put to the test. For five years their unlikely alliance has gone, by and large, smoothly. He has benefited from a widely admired secretary of state whose presence in his administration helped unite the party after their 2008 combat. She has burnished her foreign policy CV and taken a break from the political grind as she mulls a second run at the White House. But Obama’s own recent difficulties, combined with the swirl of attention around Clinton and her intentions in 2016, is threatening to alter those dynamics — in ways that aren’t helpful to either of them.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: WMUR: “Former New Hampshire Republican senator Bob Smith said he has changed his mind and will try to defeat Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen for his old seat next year. Smith told WMUR Political Scoop on Sunday that he had made a decision not to run largely to get out of the way for other candidates, but as weeks came and went no major candidates got into the race, and he kept getting encouragement to run.”

KENTUCKY: Politico: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a heavy TV ad buy in defense of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, the latest turn in the establishment’s move to shore up GOP candidates against hard-right opponents, POLITICO has learned. The Chamber placed a $182,240 statewide buy on broadcast TV from Dec. 3 through Dec. 12, three media-buying sources said.”

VIRGINIA: Washington Post: “Despite sweeping losses in this month’s off-year elections, Virginia Republicans are hoping that the botched rollout of the health-care law will drag down Democrats across the country in 2014 — including U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner. But if Republicans want revenge after their drubbing by Democrats this year, they must overcome some familiar hurdles. The first is that Warner remains extremely popular, polls show, and has the wealth to fund a formidable reelection campaign. The second is that Republicans lack a big-name candidate willing to take him on, and they may not get one as long as they stick with their plan to select a nominee at a party convention rather than in a primary.”

First Read Flash: Working website?

Updated