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OBAMA AGENDA: Falling further behind

Big picture analysis for both parties as the debate continues over America's poor: The New York Times writes that "despite improved living standards, the poor have fallen further behind the middle class and the affluent in both income and consumption. The same global economic trends that have helped drive down the price of most goods also have limited the well-paying industrial jobs once available to a huge swath of working Americans. And the cost of many services crucial to escaping poverty — including education, health care and child care — has soared."

A new study suggests that nine in ten American workers who currently get health insurance through their jobs will be shifted to new government exchanges, the New York Times reports.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee say that data they have obtained from insurance providers shows that only 67% of the individuals and families that had selected their health plans through the system had actually paid their first month's premium as of April 15th, NBC's Frank Thorp reports.

But a BIG caveat on this report: Democrats and supporters of the health-care law are pointing out that anyone who enrolled in the health-care exchanges after March 15 (so about 3 million enrollees) didn’t need to pay their first month’s premium until BEFORE TODAY, so May 1. But the House GOP report only goes through April 15.

The AP on the latest Benghazi story: "The White House on Wednesday denied that a staff member's email three days after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission at Benghazi, Libya, was actually about the attack. Critics have branded the electronic missive as evidence that the Obama administration sought to deceive the public about the true circumstances surrounding the deaths of four Americans during the final months of the 2012 presidential campaign."

A Wall Street Journal op-ed calls again for a select committee to investigate Benghazi after new emails reignited the controversy.

Roll Call reports that liberals are calling on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to retire this summer so that Obama can get a replacement confirmed before midterms.

Msnbc.com writes that the botched execution in Oklahoma might mean a tipping point in the fight to end the death penalty.

The liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee has sent an email to its members urging President Obama to keep his 2007 campaign promise on net neutrality. Writes Joe Niederberger of New Jersey in the email: “On MTV in 2007, I asked Barack Obama a question about Net Neutrality. And he gave me a fantastic promise. But now, Internet freedom is under attack. Obama's new FCC Chair -- a cable industry lobbyist -- may break the president's promise to me and all of us.”

CONGRESS: GOP blocks minimum wage legislation

How yesterday’s minimum wage vote played:

The AP: "Senate Republicans block Dems' election-year minimum wage bill, rejecting an Obama priority"

The NYT: "Democrats Assail G.O.P. After Filibuster of Proposal to Raise Minimum Wage"

Washington Post: "Senate Republicans block minimum wage increase bill"

The Times-Picayune: "Senate Republicans block vote on bill hiking national minimum wage"

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and CBC lawmakers are agreeing to disagree on poverty after a meeting Wednesday, Thorp writes.

Senate Majority Harry Reid says NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should follow Adam Silver's lead and force a change to the "racism and bigotry" of the Washington Redskins name.

OFF TO THE RACES: Rand Paul enters the fray in North Carolina

Former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty says his party needs to address a brand problem. “Elections are a marketplace,” he told the Washington Post. “The marketplace is telling Republicans that you need better products or marketing.” MORE: "Pawlenty said that while he does not support Reid’s minimum-wage bill, which he said goes “too far, too fast,” Republicans need to build an agenda that speaks to low-income Americans, with an emphasis on improving workers’ skills. “I personally believe that increasing the minimum wage should be part of a broader package,” he said."

The Wall Street Journal looks at how "mature suburbs" have become more Democratic as younger, more diverse professionals call them home.

ALASKA: The Anchorage Daily News: "The Alaska Republican Party's biennial convention kicks off Thursday in Juneau. But a whole swath of the faithful will be missing: the Ron Paul backers and tea party members who overwhelmed and overthrew the traditional leadership at the last convention, in 2012."

COLORADO: “Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall this November, is asking Gov. John Hickenlooper to restore health care plans for the more than 335,000 Coloradans who received policy cancellation notices as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” Denver’s Fox affiliate reports.

IOWA: The Des Moines Register reports on some pot politics in the first caucus state: "Iowa lawmakers early Thursday morning approved legislation legalizing the possession and use of marijuana oil for the treatment of epilepsy, capping one of the most unexpected public policy developments in recent state history."

LOUISIANA: Mary Landrieu is hoping for a win on Keystone, Roll Call reports. And/but: "Republican aides think falling short of the 60 votes that would undoubtedly be needed to advance the pipeline approval amendment could hurt Landrieu. The Democrat has touted her influence as the new chairwoman of the energy panel as among the reasons Louisianans should return her to the Senate this fall."

MICHIGAN: Rep. John Conyers is in the midst of a dispute about whether he has enough valid signatures to qualify for the August 5 primary ballot, the Detroit Free Press writes.

NEBRASKA: Illegal immigration is the latest controversy in the gubernatorial primary, as a mystery group called "Citizens for Sound Government" airs an ad accusing AG Jon Bruning of "using taxpayer dollars to provide services to illegal immigrants, including the hiring of a Spanish-language interpreter to work with the Latino community," reports the Omaha World-Herald.

NORTH CAROLINA: Sen. Rand Paul is making a late appearance for libertarian-leaning primary candidate Greg Brannon right before Tuesday's vote, POLITICO reports.

OREGON: "GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby has turned down what would have been the only live televised debate of the primary race between her and state Rep. Jason Conger of Bend," the Oregonian reports.

SOUTH CAROLINA: USA Today checks in on intraparty politics in the Palmetto State, which are as messy as ever as powerful House Speaker Bobby Harrell faces a grand jury investigation.

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Thursday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), ACLU Advocacy and Policy Counsel’s Tanya Greene, University of Houston Law Professor David Dow, Former Senator Byron Dorgan, GOP Pollster Chris Wilson, Politico’s Chief Investigative Reporter Ken Vogel, MSNBC Contributor Goldie Taylor, and Founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations Howard Bragman.

*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Rob Simmelkjaer on Jameis Winston shoplifting citation; The Associated Press’s Chief Africa correspondent Michelle Faul on the kidnapped Nigerian girls; Petitioner Jasmine Jacobs on Army reviewing hair regulations she proposed; and Chris Wilkinson, a blind man riding in a 5 borough bike race.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, ESPN’s Cari Champion, C-SPAN President Brian Lamb, Oklahoma death row inmate Charles Warner’s attorney Madeline Cohen, NBC’s Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker and the Washington Post’s Anne Gearan.

Breaking News Emails

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