Fox News Hires Dennis Kucinich

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has signed on as a regular contributor to Fox News, the AP reports.

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes said he’s “always been impressed with Kucinich’s fearlessness and thoughtfulness on the issues.”

Did the Earmark Ban Lead to Gridlock?

Businessweek suggests that banning earmarks is what caused the current Congressional gridlock.

“In the two years since, it’s done nothing but tie itself up with a supercommittee, a sequester, and continued promises to fix things in the future. Political hacks used to say pork was the political grease that lubricated legislative deals. Only now do we see how true that was. Would it really be so terrible to reintroduce some congressionally sanctioned bribery? That would let members lay claim to the odd million in the interest of striking a deal worth much more.”

Scott Backs Away from Election Law He Signed

Facing a highly critical group of black legislators, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) distanced himself from a controversial election law that led to fewer early-voting days and long lines, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Said Scott: “It was not my bill. We’ve got to make changes, I agree… The Legislature passed it. I didn’t have anything to do with passing it.”

Scott signed the bill into law in 2011.

Crist Leads Scott by Double-Digits in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) would handily beat Rick Scott (R) in a race for governor, 53% to 39%.

Key findings: Scott’s approval rating is just 33%, with 57% of voters disapproving of him. Crist meanwhile is being embraced by Democrats with 52% of primary voters saying they’d like Crist to be their candidate next year.

Republicans Target 7 House Democrats

“Vowing to expand their majority, House Republicans have identified seven Democrats they consider top targets for the midterm elections,” according to a memo obtained by National Journal.

“The targeted members are Reps. Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. Each represents a district that has voted for the Republican nominee in the last three presidential elections.”

Obama Still Shuns Fox News

President Obama took no questions from Fox News at his most recent press conference and Smart Politics finds this was the norm during his first term.

“ABC reporters have been called on the most frequently during Barack Obama’s 36 solo news conferences (formal and otherwise) conducted during his first term, followed by CBS, the Associated Press, and NBC, with FOX News coming in at a distant ninth at less than half the rate of the top outlets and less than 40 percent of press conferences overall.”

Most Oppose Overturning Roe. v. Wade

As the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision approaches, a newPew Research poll finds 63% of Americans remain opposed to overturning the historic ruling on abortion, while just 29% want it reversed.

These opinions are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago.

Agents Ordered Not to Arrest Menendez Intern

“Federal immigration agents were prepared to arrest an illegal immigrant and registered sex offender days before the November elections but were ordered by Washington to hold off after officials warned of ‘significant interest’ from Congress and news organizations because the suspect was a volunteer intern for Sen. Robert Menendez,” the AP reports.

When the story first came to light last month, the Homeland Security Department insisted it was “categorically false.”

John Avlon: “This should all be a big story — even more so because with the appointment of John Kerry to be the next secretary of state, Senator Menendez is slated to become the chairman of the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee… Given the stakes — and the combined seriousness and salaciousness of the allegations — it is stunning that the scandal has not gotten more attention.”

Hurricane Relief Passes with Minority of the Majority

Last night, the House passed legislation providing an additional $50 billion for Hurricane Sandy relief by a 241-180 vote.

But First Read points out “the real story is the vote breakdown: Only 49 Republicans voted for the measure — so just 20% of the caucus — while a whopping 179 Republicans voted against the measure. By comparison, 192 Democrats voted for the legislation, and just one (Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper) voted against.”

So for the second time in the last two weeks, we’ve seen the House pass legislation by violating the Hastert rule.

Republicans to Try “Fool the Markets” Strategy

Reuters: “Republican lawmakers are preparing to introduce legislation to direct the U.S. Treasury to make interest payments on U.S. bonds first and then prioritize other government outlays in case Congress does not raise the debt ceiling. Supporters of the idea see it as a politically palatable alternative to default, which could rattle markets as occurred in the summer of 2011…  But critics, including some Republicans, say prioritizing payments is largely unworkable and would not fool the markets.”

Obama Gun Plan to Test Lawmakers

President Obama will start “a push for the most sweeping changes to gun laws in nearly two decades, testing whether lawmakers, including powerful members of his own party, are willing to ban the most controversial weapons and toughen requirements for prospective owners,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Flanked by children who wrote him in the aftermath of the deadly shooting spree last month at a Connecticut elementary school, Mr. Obama will call for Congress to end the sale of certain semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and to require background checks to screen gun buyers for criminal violations and serious mental illness.”

First Read points out Obama “is going about as big as he can go, realizing there’s little political downside (at least in the short term).”

But Politico notes “there are strong indications that any comprehensive legislation restricting weapons and ammunition won’t even see a vote on the House floor.”

Majority Don’t Want Spending Cuts Linked to Debt Ceiling

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 58% of Americans say the debt ceiling should be handled separately from the debate on spending cuts, while 36% favor linking the two.

The Wall Street Journal reports many GOP leaders “are anxious about a growing clamor among conservatives to use the need to raise the government’s $16.4 trillion debt limit as the vehicle to force spending cuts.”

The Cloakroom: Republicans getting cold feet on debt ceiling threat.

Salazar Will Leave Cabinet

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “will step down from his cabinet position in the Obama administration and return to Colorado to spend time with his family,” the Denver Postreports.

Emanuel Ramps Up Fundraising

Chicago Tribune: “With a potential re-election bid still two years away, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is quietly accelerating his campaign fundraising, tapping donors to President Barack Obama, venture capitalists, law firms and leaders of his economic development team.”

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