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Friday Political Mix: Democratic Jitters Over Obamacare's Woes

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's one month since the Affordable Care Act's health-exchange website went live and many Democrats would clearly love a do-over.

While that won't be forthcoming, they did get some handholding from Obama administration officials Thursday. But it will take more than that to quell the jitters as Democrats see what they had hoped would be a political asset in 2014, their signature healthcare legislation, threaten to become a liability.

Meanwhile, the issue that gave President Obama momentum in the 2008 Democratic primaries, Iraq, reemerges with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's visit to the White House Friday. Maliki is expected to ask for U.S. military assistance in the fight against al Qaeda-linked extremists behind a rising tide of violence in his nation. It's unclear what further assistance Obama would be willing to provide that could make a real difference.

With that, here are some of the more interesting pieces of news or analysis with political implications I ran across this morning.

  • Congressional Democrats are worried, justifiably, about the potential political hits they could take from the botched launch of the Affordable Care Act's health exchange website and Obama's blanket but ultimately erroneous pledge that the new law would let Americans keep individual health plans they liked. Senior Obama administration officials visited them on Capitol Hill to reassure them, reports the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman.
  • The Obama administration's reluctance to reveal early Obamacare enrollment data might have a lot to do with the embarrassingly paltry numbers. Health and Human Services documents received by the House Oversight Committee indicate only six individuals enrolled nationwide in the first 24 hours, reports CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson.
  • Leaders of some of the nation's largest tech companies want Congress to rein in the National Security Agency following numerous Edward Snowden-related revelations about the spying outfit's gathering of data tied to Americans' phone and Internet communications report Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima.
  • Rising questions about President Obama's competence stirred by the NSA revelations of spying on U.S. allies and Obamacare's stumbles could hurt his credibility, writes Charlie Cook in the National Journal.
  • Texas' new restrictive abortion laws were reinstated by three U.S. appeals court judges (all George W. Bush appointees) just days after a lower federal court had issued an injunction, reports Becca Aronson of the Texas Tribune. The court action could result in the closure of a third of the state's abortion providers for not being able to meet stricter state rules.
  • The failure of Rep. Mel Watt's nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency to advance in the Senate means people who had hoped to run for his House seat must now wait until he decides whether he will run again, reports Roll Call's Emily Cahn.
  • The Star, the Canadian news outlet whose reporting led to the police investigation that uncovered video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's alleged crack use, feels vindicated by the latest turn of events, writes its publisher John Cruickshank. He also slams the Ford and the mayor's brother, a city council member, for their attempts to undermine The Star's credibility.
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