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12:25 PM ET, January 15, 2014


 Top Items: 
Carl Hulse / New York Times:
Ads Attacking Health Law Stagger Outspent Democrats  —  WASHINGTON — Democrats are increasingly anxious about an onslaught of television ads hitting vulnerable Senate and House candidates for their support of the new health law, since many lack the resources to fight back in the early stages of the midterm campaign.
Obama's plan to save the Senate  —  President Barack Obama has a plan to save the Senate's tenuous Democratic majority: Sell a populist message, try to make Obamacare work better and raise lots of cash.  —  And unlike previous years when Senate Democrats were mostly left to fight on their own …
Discussion: CNN, Capitol Report, WJLA-TV and The Hill
The GOP's Obama obsession  —  It's just two weeks into 2014, but House Republicans are already convinced that the key to winning November's elections is to talk about President Barack Obama as much as possible.  —  In both public and private discussions, Obama remains the single-minded obsession of all top House Republicans.
Kathleen Hennessey / Los Angeles Times:
Obama's visit to North Carolina may be awkward for Democratic senator  —  President Obama comes to a struggling North Carolina with an economic message, but the state's Democratic senator, facing reelection, won't be there.  —  President Obama unveiled his jobs bill in Raleigh, N.C., in 2011.
Discussion: Moe Lane
Sam Baker /
White House Moves Obamacare Goalposts Again  —  Another day, another self-imposed standard gets watered down.  —  President Obama speaks at Temple Emanu-El on Nov. 6, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.  (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)  —  The White House is scaling back another self-imposed standard …
The Hill:
Democrats hope Obama meeting means more humility in 2014  —  Frustrated Senate Democrats hope a meeting set to take place on Wednesday with President Obama will help them turn a corner with a White House they see as too distant and insular.  —  Aides say the new faces joining …
Justin Sink / The Hill:
WH: North Carolina trip 'isn't a campaign event'
Russell Berman / The Hill:
GOP to use economy as weapon
Discussion: First Read
Associated Press:
First lady Michelle Obama won't rule out plastic surgery, Botox
Discussion: ThinkProgress, TIME, CNN and Politico
Washington Post:
Christie faces speculation about aides' real motives in New Jersey bridge scandal  —  TRENTON, N.J. — Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) struggled Tuesday to regain his footing, giving an address in which he called upon the state to refocus on his agenda.
Hunter Walker / Talking Points Memo:
Christie's Office Blasts ‘Wild-Eyed Conspiracy’ Theories In Bridge Scandal
Discussion: Daily Kos and Taylor Marsh
George Packer / News Desk:
The Trouble with Christie
Jim Moran to announce retirement  —  Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran will retire after 23 years in the House, according to multiple Democratic sources.  —  The retirement is the third for Democrats this week: On Monday, California Rep. George Miller said he would leave Congress after 40 years …
Discussion: CNN and Twitchy
Ben Pershing / Washington Post:
Long-time Northern Virginia Democratic congressman Jim Moran to retire
Emma Dumain / Roll Call:
Virginia's Moran Announces Retirement From Congress
Jessica Taylor / The Hill:   Rep. Jim Moran won't seek reelection
Washington Post:
Senate report: Attack on U.S. compound in Benghazi could have been prevented  —  A long-delayed Senate intelligence committee report released on Wednesday spreads blame among the State Department and intelligence agencies for not preventing attacks on two outposts in Libya that killed four Americans …
Benjy Sarlin /
This Democrat thinks he can win in 2016 as the anti-Obama  —  Brian Schweitzer, the former two-term Democratic governor of Montana, is rarely speechless.  Once he gets going on a topic, he's almost impossible to stop.  As he builds up steam, he'll slap his knee to emphasize his points.
New York Times:
N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers  —  WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.
Michael Calderone / The Huffington Post:
Washington Post, Politico Editors To Meet After Bombshell Mike Allen Reports (UPDATE: Allen Speaks Out)  —  NEW YORK — Politico editor-in-chief John Harris and chief executive Jim VandeHei are expected to visit The Washington Post on Wednesday to discuss the paper's recent scrutiny …
Discussion: Politico, Poynter and Hullabaloo
Molly Redden / Mother Jones:
GOP Congressional Candidate: Spousal Rape Shouldn't Be a Crime  —  Virginia state Sen. Dick Black fought to block a statue of Lincoln and invited a video crew to film him watching violent rape porn on a library computer.  Now he's looking for a promotion.  —  Republican attorney general …
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
WH delays another ObamaCare deadline  —  The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it was again extending the ObamaCare enrollment deadline for people with pre-existing conditions.  —  The administration said it will extend the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP), slated to end January 31, until March 15.
Tim Alberta /
Conservatives Form Their Own Caucus Because the RSC Isn't ‘Hard-Core’ Enough  —  The most conservative House Republicans quietly build an invitation-only group, seeing the Republican Study Committee as devolving into a debate society.  —  Increasingly frustrated with the size and direction …
Discussion: Mediaite
Jeryl Bier / Weekly Standard:
Kerry: ‘Root Cause of Terrorism’ Is Poverty  —  Secretary of State John Kerry covered a broad range of topics with his counterpart Pietro Parolin at the Vatican in Rome on Monday.  Besides Syria, the Middle East peace process, Sudan, and Cuba, the subject of poverty came up during their discussions.
John Kerry / US Department of State:   Remarks After Meeting With Secretary of State of the Holy See Pietro Parolin
Michael Hiltzik / Los Angeles Times:
Net neutrality is dead.  Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords  —  Net neutrality's last hope?  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.  (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg / January 14, 2014)  —  Advocates of a free and open Internet could see this coming, but today's ruling from a Washington appeals court striking …
Jacob Fenton / Sunlight Foundation Blog:
FEC lawyers: Reason to believe Crossroads broke law  —  The Federal Election Commission's professional legal staff believes that Crossroads GPS, an innovative fundraising operation that enabled veteran GOP operatives to end-around campaign finance regulations, likely violated election law …
Eliza Newlin Carney / Roll Call:   Super PAC, Outside Spending Chiefs Make Big Bucks
Lyle Denniston / SCOTUSblog:
Oklahoma same-sex marriage ban struck down  —  A federal judge in Tulsa, ruling that the majority view of Oklahoma voters that marriage should be open only to a man and a woman “must give way to individual constitutional rights,” on Tuesday struck down the state's ballot measure banning same-sex marriages.
Discussion: Religion Dispatches and Hot Air
Tulsa World:
Oklahoma ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional
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 More Items: 
Seema Mehta / Los Angeles Times:
Brown rules out presidential bid
Barbara Ehrenreich / The Atlantic Online:
It Is Expensive to Be Poor  —  Minimum-wage jobs are physically …
Discussion: PolicyShop and
The White House:
Insurance That's High Quality and Affordable? Now That's a Slam Dunk.
Discussion: ThinkProgress and Post Politics
Lydia Saad / Gallup:
Government Itself Still Cited as Top U.S. Problem
Discussion: ABC News, Politico and CBS DC
The Hill:
House set to pass spending bill
The Hill:
Monsieur le Président plus one for White House state dinner
 Earlier Items: 
Mario Trujillo / The Hill:
NSA can't say if it collected data on lawmakers, officials
Discussion:, RT and emptywheel
Jennifer Jacobs / Des Moines Register:
BREAKING: Branstad expected to announce bid for historic sixth term Wednesday
Discussion: The Fix
Jamelle Bouie / The Daily Beast:
Paul Ryan's Proposed War on Poverty Is Hobbled by Conservative Ideology
David Nir / Daily Kos:
Daily Kos Elections House race ratings: Initial ratings for 2014
Discussion: National Review and Moe Lane