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Thursday Political Mix: For Obama, Halloween Comes Everyday

Happy Halloween, fellow political junkies.

It was predictable that President Obama would face more political tricks than treats as a re-elected president than he did as a new one if only because, unlike his first term, he started his second with a Republican House largely hostile to him and his agenda.

And so it is. For Obama, the goblins and witches have shown up in the form of the technical difficulties afflicting the Affordable Care Act website and his boomeranging promise that people who liked their old individual insurance policies would be able to keep them, a vow that turns out not to be true in tens of thousands of cases.

Unfortunately for Obama, while trick-or-treating for kids only comes once a year, for presidents everyday can feel like Halloween with an unpleasant surprise behind nearly every door.

With that, here are some of the more interesting items of news or analysis with a political dimension that caught my eye this morning.

  • President Obama's approval ratings have hit a record low according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, falling to 42 percent. It appears all the bad news coming out of Washington, some of it self-inflicted by the president and his team, has taken its toll.
  • Even if the Obamacare website is repaired to the point where it's actually functional most of the time for most of its users, its rocky launch may have further fueled the perception of many Americans that their federal government is largely incompetent, writes Ezra Klein in Bloomberg Businessweek.
  • She may have been rhetorically bloodied by many Republican questioners at a House hearing on Obamacare's troubles, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seemed largely unbowed. She did apologize for the ACA's website flaws but not for the cancellations, reports NPR's Julie Rovner.
  • Despite the many Republicans who have called for Sebelius to resign, it's unlikely Obama would push her out, writes the National Journal's Matthew Dowd. As Kansas governor, she was there early for him in 2008 when many other politicians, especially women, were supporting Hillary Clinton. They have a strong relationship and some things they share, like Kansas and basketball.
  • It's still early given that Congress' federal budget negotiators just started their budget conference Wednesday. But already differences over whether a budget agreement should include tax increases in addition to spending cuts is giving the new talks that groundhog-day feeling, reports Bloomberg News' Heidi Przybyla.
  • The Cash for Clunkers federal car rebate program was itself a clunker, a very inefficient way to create jobs and decrease greenhouse gases, according to a new study by Brookings Institution researchers.

  • Obama asked Hillary Clinton to stay on as secretary of state into his second term but she declined, report The Hill's Arnie Parnes and Politico's Jonathan Allen in their new Hillary Clinton book.
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