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GOP to Obama: We're Not Moving On

Image: Protesters rally at the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington as arguments begin today to challenge a part of the Affordable Care Act in Washington

Protesters rally at the steps of the Supreme Court as arguments begin today to challenge the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception as part of an employee's health care, in Washington March 25, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Tuesday to consider whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH BUSINESS RELIGION) LARRY DOWNING / Reuters

GOP to Obama: We’re not moving on

When President Obama announced on Thursday that eight million Americans have now enrolled for insurance under the health-care law’s exchanges, he delivered this message to Republicans: It’s time to move on from the five-year Health Care War. And Republicans immediately responded with their own message -- no. "The president says that Republicans have not accepted Obamacare as settled law. He is right. Republicans cannot and will not accept this law,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in a statement. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) office added, "If the president is so confident in his numbers, there is no reason not to release transparent and complete enrollment data, and answer the questions, how many enrollees were previously uninsured and how many people had lost their previous plans due to Obamacare." It’s easy to explain why the GOP doesn’t want to move on. Health care is the issue that fires up the base; it unites a party that’s divided on other issues; and the law remains mostly unpopular in most public-opinion polls. Obama even recognized this when he talked about possible bipartisan fixes to the health-care law during his news conference yesterday. “My suspicion is that probably will not happen until after November, because it seems as if this is the primary agenda item in the Republican political platform.”

That's a short-term winner but a long-term problem

That political platform looks like a short-term winner in the upcoming midterm elections, with the GOP having an excellent opportunity of winning back the Senate. But it raises other long-term challenges. What do you do with the eight million Americans who now have insurance on the exchanges, and with the 24 million Americans who are projected to be on the exchanges by 2017 (the next time there’s the possibility of a GOP president)? What about the millions more who have insurance via expanded Medicaid or via their parents’ insurance? And how do you advocate repeal and replace when you don’t have a detailed legislative alternative (that’s scored by the Congressional Budget Office)? Come 2015 and 2016, Republican presidential candidates could very well find themselves in an unsustainable position -- having to campaign on a repeal message in the primaries (because that’s what GOP voters want), but then having to face a general electorate that’s more hostile to the idea (because repeal doesn’t poll well outside the GOP).

Obama wary about Russia-Ukraine deal

Turning to the big overseas news, “Russia and Ukraine struck a deal Thursday to end unrest in eastern Ukraine stoked by pro-Russian militants, Secretary of State John Kerry said,” per NBC News. “The militants must refrain from violence, lay down their illegal weapons and return seized buildings to their rightful owners, Kerry said. In return, Ukraine agreed to offer amnesty to protesters who had not committed capital crimes.” But in his news conference yesterday, President Obama was very cautious about the agreement. “I don’t think we can be sure of anything at this point. I think there is the possibility, the prospect that diplomacy may deescalate the situation and we may be able to move towards what has always been our goal, which is let the Ukrainians make their own decisions about their own lives,” he said. “My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days. But I don’t think given past performance that we can count on that.”

The Bidens and Clintons grabbed numerous headlines this week

It’s striking how much Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton (plus their families) have been in the spotlight this week. Consider: Joe Biden appeared with President Obama in Pennsylvania; he released that selfie with the president; Obama’s Twitter feed released an accompanying “high-five” with his VP; and Biden’s son, Beau, announced he will run for Delaware governor in 2016. Also consider: Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book will be entitled “Hard Choices”; she and daughter Chelsea appeared at a public event together; and Chelsea announced the big news on Thursday -- she’s pregnant. That’s A LOT of exposure for both the Bidens and the Clintons.

Another batch of Clinton records to be released

And there will be more exposure for the Clintons today. “Clinton White House records on President Richard Nixon, television host Oprah Winfrey, Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and late TV newsman Tim Russert are part of the next set of previously withheld documents due to be made public Friday by the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Ark,” Politico says. An advisory from the National Archives said the fourth batch of formerly withheld papers will number approximately 7,500 pages. In addition to the boldface names, the files include information on the transition from the Clinton White House to the George W. Bush administration — a handover that occurred amid hard feelings over court rulings that many Democrats believed cost Vice President Al Gore the presidency. Also due out are documents from several sets of records pertaining to then-first lady Hillary Clinton.” Oh, and there also was this news this week: “Hillary Clinton bundler pleads guilty to illegal contributions.”

Boehner “hellbent” on getting immigration reform done this year?

Is the death of immigration reform a bit premature? Don’t miss this from the Wall Street Journal: "Speaker John Boehner and other senior House Republicans are telling donors and industry groups that they aim to pass immigration legislation this year, despite the reluctance of many Republicans to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections. Many lawmakers and activists have assumed the issue was off the table in an election year. But Mr. Boehner said at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month he was ‘hellbent on getting this done this year,’ according to two people in the room." However, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck tells First Read: "Nothing has changed. As he's said many times, the speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won't happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law."

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