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from The Great Debate:

2014: Another election about Obamacare

Here we go again.

2014 will be the third election in a row in which Obamacare is the central issue. The Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010, contributed to a fierce voter backlash against Democrats in November 2010. After the Supreme Court upheld the law in June 2012, the issue seemed to be settled by Obama's re-election that November.

But no.

The botched Obamacare rollout this year has again thrust the issue to the top of the political agenda. Republicans are counting on opposition to Obamacare to propel them to a majority in the Senate next year. A conservative group is already running an ad attacking Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for supporting Obamacare: “Next November, if you like your senator, you can keep her. If you don't, you know what to do.”

2013 came to a close with two big political stories. The government shutdown in October was immensely damaging to Republicans. So damaging that House Republicans defied their conservative base and voted for a compromise budget deal last week. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) attacked the Tea Party, accusing them of pushing congressional Republicans “into this fight to defund Obamacare and shut down the government.” A fight Boehner said all along was unwinnable.

The message was, “No more shutdowns.” Republicans didn't want to step on the second big political story, one immensely damaging to Democrats: the rollout of Obamacare.

from The Great Debate:

2014: The Democrats’ dilemma

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Washington has been fascinated by Republican self-laceration since the 2012 election. Karl Rove triggered a circular firing squad by vowing to take out unwashed challengers in GOP primaries. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal begged Republicans to stop being the “stupid party.” Strategists say the party can’t survive as stale, pale and male. Tea Party legislators knee-cap GOP congressional “leaders” and well-funded political PACs strafe any who dare deviate from the party’s unpopular gospel. Republicans are even talking about changing “Grand Old Party” to something more fashionable.

Representative Paul Ryan’s newest budget will put every Republican on record voting to turn Medicare into a voucher, gut Medicaid, repeal Obamacare, savage investment in education and leave some 50 million Americans without health insurance. Not surprisingly, polls suggest Congress is less popular than colonoscopies, and Republicans poll at lowest levels on record.

from Tales from the Trail:

Will she? Won’t she? Still reading the tea leaves…

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USA/Is Sarah Palin getting the kind of press that makes for viable presidential campaigns? Maybe not, and her critics appear to be increasingly of a conservative stripe.

The Mama of Mama Grizzlies proved to be a fierce campaigner on the 2010 midterm election trail, and she continues to command an army of devoted supporters, particularly among members of the Tea Party movement.

from Tales from the Trail:

Is deficit debate a new political dawn?

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RTR2GF2D_Comp1-150x150RTR2GF2D_Comp-150x150Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles think it may be a new day in American politics, one where politicans who hike taxes and alter Social Security stay in office.

Simpson, a former Republican senator, tells MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he sees evidence of change whenever he strolls through an airport: "I can tell you, we used to get lots of signals. I get more thumbs up now than other digits."

from Tales from the Trail:

Congress gets ready for lame duck, and it’s not even Thanksgiving

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Congress returns next week for that peculiar order of business known as a lame-duck session. It's a post-election gathering where lawmakers who lost re-election get to take any final votes, while newcomers who won in the Nov. 2 midterms have to sit it out.

The hot item to watch will be whether extending the Bush-era tax cuts will fly, but don't expect any Peking duck, as legislation on China's currency is unlikely to be on the menu. (Hey, it's Friday).

from Tales from the Trail:

Bachmann steps aside, avoids House Republican-Tea Party tussle

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There will be no showdown at the GOP corral. (For now anyway).

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party potentate, decided to step out of the ring . And so evaporated the potential for a high-profile internal duel for House Republican Conference chair, the fourth highest position.

Bachmann in July started the Tea Party Caucus as the conservative movement was gaining momentum ahead of the November elections. Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives in those midterms which also brought wins to Tea Party candidates who will want to flex their muscles in the new Congress. USA-ELECTIONS/

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Down but not out

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How the Democrats could have done with those numbers a week ago, or more precisely how they could have done with three or four months of numbers like that. The U.S. economy created a net 151,000 jobs in October, hiring hitting its fastest pace in six months. It is a sign that the economy is regaining momentum after a desperately sluggish summer, and might have lifted President Barack Obama’s mood a little too as he makes the long trip to India. USA/

They were subjected to some bitter attacks from their opponents, and even had their detractors within their two parties. Both suffered cruel defeats this week, but if you thought you had seen the back of Nancy Pelosi and Christine O’Donnell, think again. The Republican from Delaware, who ended her remarkably upbeat concession speech with an invocation to have a “party”, has already announced she is pursuing a book deal and will still be fighting against the Democrats. Shades of Sarah Palin perhaps.

from Tales from the Trail:

What wilderness? Republicans emerge from elections ready to charge

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Republicans have emerged from the political wilderness and they're wasting no time laying down markers.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell particularly sounds like he's looking for bear, not mincing words in his speech at the Heritage Foundation today.  SAFRICA/

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Chastened, humbled… and shellacked

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It was a subdued and chastened president who took the podium for his post-election news conference today. His tone flat, his eyes often downcast, his smile largely absent, Obama admitted the election results were “humbling.” At first, he tried to pin the blame on the tepid economic recovery, but as the questions ground on, he took more and more responsibility for the defeat on himself. For setting a bad tone with business, for not making enough progress on the economy, for failing to change the way Washington works.

Yet there was no contrition about the policies he pursued.  Perhaps this was not the right venue for that, perhaps history will prove him right, but one had the feeling the president believed just as firmly as ever in the policies he had so painstakingly worked out in his long Oval Office deliberations. The Democrats who lost on Tuesday, he said, had already contacted him to say they had no regrets, because they felt “we were doing the right thing.”

from Tales from the Trail:

Arizona sends a Quayle back to Washington

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The famous Quayle name is back in politics. Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, won a comfortable victory in Arizona's strongly Republican Third Congressional District.

In his first run for office, the 33-year-old beat back a challenge from conservative Democrat John Hulburd to win the seat vacated by veteran Republican Rep. John Shadegg by a nearly 12-point margin.

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