The Note: The Obamacare 'Six'
PHOTO: Barack Obama speaks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit on Oct. 31, 2013 in Washington.

Bariskan Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • AND THEN THERE WERE SIX: Capping off a trying week for the Obama administration, which has been forced to answer for the glitch-plagued roll-out of the new federal insurance marketplace, new documents reveal more striking news: Just six people successfully enrolled in health plans through on the first day it went live, according to internal Obama administration "notes" released last night by the House Oversight Committee, ABC's DEVIN DWYER, STEVEN PORTNOY AND GITIKA KAUL report. By the end of the second day, 248 people had enrolled, the documents show. The "war room notes," prepared by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, offer the first rough snapshot of how many Americans were able to enroll on Oct. 1 and 2, reflecting all the technical snafus that plagued the site.
  • BACKSTORY: The informal memos were turned over this week as part of a document request to the Republican-chaired House Oversight Committee, which is investigating the rocky rollout of the insurance portal, ABC's DWYER, PORTNOY AND KAUL note. To date, Obama administration officials have refused to publicly provide any estimate of successful enrollments, though they have said the site received 4.7 million unique visitors on its first day and has now generated more than 700,000 applications. An internal administration memo obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by ABC News revealed that the administration projected half a million successful sign-ups by Oct. 31. In her testimony this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suggested that the now well-documented technical flaws in the system make any early estimate unreliable.
  • OFFICIAL NUMBERS EXPECTED MID-NOVEMBER: Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters stressed last night that the enrollment figures presented in the "war room notes" are unofficial figures. The agency has said it intends to release its first official report on enrollments by mid-November. "We will release enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources such as paper, on-line, and call centers, verifying with insurers, and collecting data from states," she said.

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': As the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act plagues the Obama administration, and amid continued fallout over the latest revelations of NSA spying, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS goes one-on-one with White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., only on "This Week" Sunday. Plus, in his debut appearance on ABC News, editor-in-chief and ABC News special contributor Nate Silver - who correctly predicted the 2012 presidential election outcome in all 50 states - comes to "This Week" Sunday to analyze the political picture one year out from the 2014 midterm elections. And our powerhouse roundtable tackles all the week's politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" Van Jones, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY: THIS WEEK QUIZ: PAUL KRUGMAN


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Raise your hand if you think the Obama administration, one month into the launch of the health exchanges, is actually unable to provide an accurate snapshot of how many people have managed to enroll. (And if you raised your hand, start jumping up and down if you're convinced that Web site crashes even begin to approach the real problems with the Obama health care law.) We can stipulate that the total number is now north of six (the apparent day-one total), or 248 (day two), but some real numbers would help, particularly as the White House plays media critic and urges coverage of success stories. At every step of the debacle that's been the last month, the administration has erred on the side of less disclosure, except such disclosure that bolsters a political - as opposed to a policy - case. The result is committee leaks and half-truths and mistrust, all of which have made the last four weeks even more painful than they had to be for the White House.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Chris Christie's opponent state Sen. Barbara Buono knows she's waging an "uphill" battle, but she acknowledged to ABC News in an interview Wednesday more help would have been nice. "All I would say is, it would have been nice to have more support," state Sen. Barbara Buono said, referring to national Democratic groups. "I have a lot of support from other validators outside the state like Deval Patrick … but yes, it would have been better if I had more financial support." Yes, Christie has a massive financial advantage, but it's not just that. The Republican National Committee says they have 40 staffers on the ground in the Garden State, including two focused solely on Hispanic voter outreach. In comparison, there is only one national Democratic staffer on the ground in the state, according to a Democratic source, sent from the Democratic National Committee. The DNC confirms one staffer has been working as a "senior advisor" to both the party and the campaign for the "better part of a year." Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime New York City Democratic operative who's worked on New Jersey races, said national Democrats "probably should have become engaged and gone after Christie," but they may be looking at how he'll be treated by his own party. "It is not unlikely that his own party will be attacking him for being too liberal," Sheinkopf noted, adding Democrats may be thinking "don't use money you need later, let them eat their own in 2016."


HOW ONE FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE GOT THE SHAFT FROM WASHINGTON. In the last 24 hours, Democratic House candidate Jessica Ehrlich learned a tough lesson in political expediency: One day you're in, the next day you're out. Yesterday, a major Democratic group that earlier indicated they might support her candidacy, officially dropped Ehrlich in favor of a different candidate, former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP notes. In May, Emily's List, which supports Democratic women candidates nationwide, announced that the organization was "thrilled to get involved in the early days" of Ehrlich's campaign by putting her "on the list" of standout candidates to watch (though it wasn't an official endorsement). She appeared poised to land Emily's Lists backing, which would mean significant fundraising and grassroots organizing assistance in a highly competitive campaign. And up until at least Oct. 16, according to the Way Back Machine's archive of the Emily's List site, the group was still raising money for Ehrlich from their supporters. But Young died on Oct. 18, and the seat became a special election and Alex Sink officially announced Wednesday that she would compete in the March 11 election. Emily's List promptly endorsed Sink this morning and Ehrlich is off the list-so to speak- and has all but disappeared from the Emily's List website.


JOHN KERRY: U.S. SURVEILLANCE WENT 'TOO FAR' AT TIMES. U.S. surveillance has been happening "on automatic pilot" and in some cases have gone "too far inappropriately," Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, ABC's CHRIS GOOD reports. Participating via teleconference in a summit on governmental transparency, Kerry responded to a question about surveillance and trust in government by offering the some of the lengthiest on-record comments by any high-level U.S. government official on the recent wave of reports about U.S. surveillance. Kerry acknowledged that he and President Obama "learned of" these programs-suggesting Obama did not know about the programs during the entire time in which they were conducted. "There is no question that the president and I and others in government have actually learned of some things that had been happening, in many ways, on an automatic pilot because the technology is there," Kerry told the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit, moderated in London by British journalist Rageh Omar, on a panel that included British Foreign Minister William Hague. "I assure you innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there's an effort to try to gather information. And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately."

BARBARA BUONO: THE LONELIEST DEMOCRAT IN AMERICA. State Sen. Barbara Buono, the woman running against Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey, has a much quieter campaign trail than the GOP star, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports from Perth Amboy, N.J. It's not just about crowd size, although that is stark as well. High profile Democrats have parachuted in to campaign for her, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and Chair of the Democratic National Committee Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But it's much lonelier when you look at the big names about to campaign for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Both Clintons have already hit the road for their old friend, and the president and vice president will stump with him Sunday and Monday. And of course, big names bring the chance at bigger dollars. "All I would say is, it would have been nice to have more support," Buono said, referring to national Democratic groups. "I have a lot of support from other validators outside the state like Deval Patrick … but yes, it would have been better if I had more financial support." The president famously appeared with Christie days before the 2012 election in the wake of superstorm Sandy, angering some Republicans. They appeared together again in May on a South Jersey boardwalk. Buono also met the president that day, but it was a private event with a larger group of people. Buono knows that because Christie and third-party groups working on Christie's behalf had money earlier, they were able to go on the air early in the state and "tried to define her." New Jersey is one of the most expensive places to run ads in the country because it's two markets, New York City and Philadelphia, are both pricey.

WILL CORY BOOKER LIVE IN ANACOSTIA? One of the big questions surrounding Cory Booker's move to Washington, D.C., is: Where will he live? In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Booker said he'd like to live in a disadvantaged neighborhood like Anacostia, which will remind him of what he's working to accomplish in the Senate, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. "I really savor living in neighborhoods where there's great people struggling to make America real for all Americans. And I just want to be in a neighborhood in D.C. that keeps me focused on the urgencies that I'm fighting for," Booker said. For eight years, Booker lived in a $575-a-month two-bedroom unit in a Newark housing complex called "Brick Towers" until he and other residents were evicted right before the building was torn down. Booker then moved to Newark's South Ward, a neighborhood The New York Times described as "where boarded-up homes outnumber inhabited ones and crack dealers hawk their product outside an elementary school." On his first day in the Senate, Booker said he hasn't decided where he'll live in Washington. But Booker did jokingly ask Vice President Joe Biden if there was any extra space in the VP's residence for him to crash until he made up his mind. "I haven't found a place to live yet. Do you have a spare room?" Booker joked. "If you need to hang out, I've got room," Biden quipped back.

NOTED: BOOKER TWEETS THROUGH FIRST DAY AS A SENATOR. Cory Booker took off his hat as mayor of Newark, N.J., and officially became a U.S. Senator yesterday. Booker, well known for his heroic antics and affinity for Twitter, was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden Thursday afternoon after winning a special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who passed away this summer. In typical Booker fashion, the former Newark Mayor tweeted in the lead up to his swearing-in and afterward:

SENATE GOP BLOCKS TWO OBAMA NOMINEES. Senate Republicans blocked the confirmation of two of President Obama's nominees yesterday, setting the stage to reopen a bitter fight over the role of Senate filibusters and a president's prerogative on executive and judicial nominations, ABC's JEFF ZELENY writes. The nomination of Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which is seen as the nation's second-highest court, was blocked by a vote of 55 to 38. The confirmation vote for Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency also fell short, 56 to 42. Under Senate rules, both nominees required 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster. The fight on the Senate floor signaled a return to the bitter partisanship that nearly paralyzed the Senate earlier this summer before a handful of Republicans agreed to join Democrats in approving the president's nominees. The battle has deep implications for future nominations and administrations, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once again considering changing Senate rules and traditions for filibusters.

SENATORS ASK: WHAT'S THE STRATEGY FOR SYRIA? At a Senate Foreign Relations hearing yesterday, senators seemed to be losing patience with the administration's stance on Syria, with both Republicans and Democrats saying that despite the administration officials' claims that Assad must go and the bloodshed must end, there didn't seem to be a strategy in place to make that happen, ABC's DANA HUGHES reports. The senators acknowledged that the progress made in destroying chemical weapons had been positive. But they pointed out that the chemical weapons deal still didn't answer the big questions surrounding the Assad regime. "I want to support any and every diplomatic effort that is taking place," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the ranking Republican member on the committee. "But I think we ought to realize there is no strategy right now for the opposition - none." The U.S. envoy for Syria, Ambassador Robert Ford, acknowledged that the opposition remained fractured, and that in some areas it was now fighting a war on two fronts, against the regime and against al Qaeda and extremist elements of the opposition who also want control. "We don't see a way for this to be solved militarily," said Ford. "In a civil war where communities think it's existential, that if they surrender they will be murdered, we have to build a political set of agreements between communities. Otherwise, the fighting goes on indefinitely."

U.S. OFFICIAL MAKES 'SHOCKING' ADMISSION ABOUT NAVY YARD SHOOTING. The government contractor responsible for checking Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis' background before he could gain security clearance several years ago did not attempt to obtain a police report that would have shown he had "anger management problems," a top U.S. official acknowledged Thursday, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY. The police report detailed an incident in Seattle, in which Alexis used a pistol to shoot out his neighbor's tires during what he told police was a blackout fueled by anger. In a Senate committee hearing looking at government clearances and the Navy Yard shooting Sept. 16, Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Elaine Kaplan testified that when the government contractor, USIS, conducted Alexis' background investigation in 2007 as part of his application to join the U.S. Navy, they consulted an FBI database and found that Alexis had been arrested three years earlier. Based on past experience with Seattle law enforcement, USIS assumed that they would not be able to obtain the full police report, instead turning to a Washington state database offering only generic information, Kaplan told lawmakers. Republicans and Democrats both called that move "shocking."


CULTURE WAR: FILM LINKS U.S. EVANGELICALS TO INTOLERANCE AGAINST GAYS IN UGANDA. Are American evangelicals to blame for a surge of anti-gay sentiment and violence in Uganda? Roger Ross Williams, the director of the new documentary "God Loves Uganda," told "Top Line" that American Evangelical missionaries are contributing to a raging culture war over homosexuality in Uganda, where just a few years ago a law that prescribes the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. "All the evangelicals I followed told me they feel like they've lost the culture war here in America as marriage equality has passed state by state, the recent Supreme Court rulings, but they are winning in the global South and especially in Africa and Uganda," Williams said. Williams' documentary looks specifically at the prominent ministry in Uganda by the American Evangelical group known as the International House of Prayer (IHOP). "They don't do any humanitarian work," Williams said. "They don't build schools or hospitals or help people. … It's a numbers game, convert souls, and that's it."


MOLLY RINGWALD FLUNKS CIVICS ON TWITTER. In John Hughes' 1985 classic film, "The Breakfast Club," Molly Ringwald's character Claire ends up in Saturday detention after cutting class to go to the mall Maybe the class she missed was American government? ABC's ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES notes that the twittersphere was abuzz yesterday after Ringwald posted a snap with Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, adding the caption "Support this woman, the next governor of Houston, Texas." In case Ringwald may need a quick civics refresher: A governor actually gets to be in charge of an entire state - not just a city. Davis, a Democrat serving on the Texas senate, is running against likely GOP gubernatorial nominee Attorney General Greg Abbott to succeed the current GOP Gov. Rick Perry.


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