OBAMA AGENDA: What we know about the 6 million -- and what we don’t know
Despite the landmark six million signups being touted by the White House, the experience of buying and being covered by Obamacare varies dramatically for consumers depending on where they live, reports the New York Times. "With the first open enrollment period set to end Monday, six months after its troubled online exchanges opened for business, the program widely known as Obamacare looks less like a sweeping federal overhaul than a collection of individual ventures playing out unevenly, state to state, in the laboratories of democracy."
The Wall Street Journal reports on the signup announcement and notes the data that we still *don't* know: "But left unclear was how many of those signing up had been uninsured—a key aim of the law—and whether they include many of the young and mostly healthy Americans needed to keep costs in check, and whether those signing up have actually paid premiums to bring the insurance coverage into effect."
Obamacare signups also mean more voter registration, notes msnbc.com. "Nationwide, Obamacare could ultimately be responsible for registering anywhere from 3 to 7 million voters—potentially over 10% of the total number of eligible voters who aren’t registered today—over the next eight years."
As Obama arrives in Riyadh, the New York Times writes that Saudi Arabia's leaders are "pursuing starkly different strategies from Washington in dealing with Iran, Syria, Egypt and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region."
"The Saudis, America's most powerful Arab allies, are now looking for Mr. Obama to make clear how he views the growing regional influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival," writes the Wall Street Journal. "Saudi officials also are hoping he will bring word of a breakthrough in U.S. and Jordanian opposition to supplying Syrian rebels with more advanced weapons, including shoulder-launched missiles, known as manpads, capable of bringing down Syrian aircraft, according to Saudis, a Western diplomat and regional security analysts familiar with the situation."
CONGRESS: Unemployment-benefits measure advances in Senate
An extension to unemployment benefits cleared its first hurdle in the Senate yesterday. Via Roll Call, here's the list of the 10 Republicans who voted with Democrats to advance it: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Dean Heller of Nevada, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The two chambers passed slightly different versions of the Ukraine aid bill yesterday, but the House could get the bill en route to the president's desk as early as this morning, the Hill reports.
Benjy Sarlin of msnbc.com sticks a fork in immigration reform. "Amid a growing consensus House Republicans are unlikely to pass a bill anytime soon, lawmakers, activists, and the White House are moving on to a post-reform phase focused on immediate relief for undocumented immigrants and wreaking electoral vengeance on the GOP."
OFF TO THE RACES: When winning doesn’t solve all of your problems
Charlie Cook writes that Republicans can win the 2014 midterms without having fixed their demographic problems. “The fact that midterm electorates are generally older, whiter, and more conservative than their counterparts in presidential elections exacerbates the difference between the world of 2014 and the one that will exist in 2016.”
More: “Given that white voters have gone from composing 89 percent of the electorate in 1992 to 72 percent in 2012—a 17-point drop in just five elections—Mitt Romney’s 59 percent share of the white vote was not enough to win the general election. In the old days, it would have been plenty. You can’t lose the African-American vote by 87 points (93 percent to 6 percent), the Latino vote by 44 points (71 percent to 27 percent), the Asian vote by 47 points (73 percent to 26 percent) and expect to win presidential elections.”
The Chris Christie-backed Bridgegate investigation report "feels more like an unsolved mystery than a report, or at least one with an unresolved ending," the New York Times concludes.
Friends of Bridget Anne Kelly say the report smacks of sexism. “Some friends — including those who voted for Mr. Christie — reserved some of their harshest comments for him,” writes the Times. “Ms. Kelly’s friends also said that they were struck by what they felt was a gender bias in the report, noting that the personal language describing Ms. Kelly is not used to describe David Wildstein, even though he is pegged as her co-conspirator.”
Chris Christie told ABC News that he's feeling pretty good about his reputation in first-in-the-nation caucus state Iowa. '“I think they love me in Iowa too,” Christie said in the interview, which aired on World News with Diane Sawyer. “I’ve been there a lot. I think love me there too, especially because of the way I am.'"
Here's some real talk from Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register on Christie's assertions about the Hawkeye State. "A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in February found 57 percent of Iowa adults disapproved of the way Christie handled last September's George Washington Bridge controversy, in which closure of lanes from Fort Lee to the bridge clogged traffic for days. Twenty-five percent of respondents approved of his response. Among Republicans, 47 percent disapproved and 34 percent approved."
A smattering of headlines in Christie's home state in the wake of the report.
The Bergen Record, A1: "Christie unscathed by report"
The Star-Ledger, A1: "Report Requested By Gov. Clears Him"
The Asbury Park Press, A1: "Christie's legal team unveils report clearing him in scandal"
The Trentonian, A1: "CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Governor's lawyers clear Christie of wrongdoing in traffic jam scandal."
Place your bets: "A push by the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson to outlaw online gambling has ignited a bitter civil war in the gambling industry, dividing one of Washington’s most powerful interest groups and posing a major test of the Republican donor’s political clout," writes the New York Times. Presidential hopefuls are flocking to a meeting of the Adelson-affiliated Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas this weekend.
The Washington Post offers this FAQ on the "Sheldon Primary."
The Wall Street Journal calls Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's recent no-commenting on a court same-sex marriage decision in his state "one of many signs in recent weeks that the Republican Party's opposition to gay marriage, long a bedrock principle, is coming under new strains."
D.C.: In the nation's capital, a mayoral campaign that was once about "One City" has retreated to its political base amid swirling ethics allegations. The Washington Post: "As he enters the final weekend before the Democratic mayoral primary, with D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser pulling even in polling, [incumbent mayor Vincent] Gray is staking his political future on the black neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River where he won overwhelming support four years ago. And he is rebutting with renewed vigor any questions about his ethics."
IOWA: Remember the classic "So God Made a Farmer" radio address by Paul Harvey? (This Dodge ad refreshed it during last year's Super Bowl commercial season.) Republican group America Rising is having a little fun with it today after Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley derided the state's senior Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, as "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school."
MICHIGAN: NBC's Frank Thorp reports that House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers will not seek re-election.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Expensive taxpayer-funded oil paintings of elected officials is exactly the kind of thing that gets people riled up about spending in Washington. The Washington Post reports that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has "re-upped a bill she introduced in December that would not completely ban taxpayer-funded portraits, but cap the price tag at $20,000 a pop."
*** Friday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Kristen Welker interviews Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA), NBC’s Michael Isikoff, WRC’s Tom Sherwood, The Washington Posts’ Colbert King and NBC’s Ron Allen.
*** Friday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Business Insider’s Political Editor Hunter Walker, MSNBC.com’s Managing Editor Dafna Linzer, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), MSNBC Political Analyst Jonathan Alter, Mother Jones staff reporter Andy Kroll, and Chairman of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations Howard Bragman.
*** Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron speaks with Bob Ingle of the Asbury Park Press about the latest on Gov. Christie and the George Washington Bridge scandal; Dr. Max Wiznitzer a Pediatric Neurologist the UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and President of Autism Speaks Liz Feld about a startling new report about Autism; Doris Thompson and Sunnie Kahle join Tamron to discuss why she was banned from school – allegedly because she was not feminine enough, Plus: should NFL owners be drug tested as well? Tamron gets Jarrett Bell of USA Today's take on that , and Filmmaker and Founder/CEO of The Representation Project Jennifer Newsom discusses her latest movie: The Mask You Live In
*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Cass Sunstein, the Jerusalem Post's Michael Wilner, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus and NBC's Ron Allen and Jennifer Bjorklund.
*** Friday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews Bob Ingle from the Asbury Park Press and co-author of “Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power”.