POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/13

Bonus Quote of the Day

“If the president begins the discussion by saying we must increase taxes on the American people — as his budget does — my response will be clear: Tax increases are unacceptable and are a non-starter.”

— House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), quoted by USA Today, not waiting for President Obama’s planned speech tomorrow on reducing the national debt.

Obamas on Oprah

President Obama and Mrs. Obama will sit down with Oprah Winfrey for a taping of her talk show which is ending next month after a 25 year run, CNN reports.

The interview will be taped on April 27 and will air on May 2.

Budget Deal Actually Cut Less Than $15 Billion

The full extent of the budget deal reached late Friday did not become clear until today “after congressional aides worked all weekend and all day Monday to shape a detailed spending plan based on the framework that Obama and congressional leaders agreed to Friday,” the Washington Post reports.

“In several cases, what look like large reductions are actually accounting gimmicks.”

National Journal: “The specifics show that finding nearly $40 billion in cuts during the 2011 fiscal year required clever accounting and, for the White House, a willingness to concede on rhetoric to find gains on substance. For example, the final cuts in the deal are advertised as $38.5 billion less than was appropriated in 2010, but after removing rescissions, cuts to reserve funds and reductions in mandatory spending programs, discretionary spending will be reduced only by $14.7 billion.”

What Rumsfeld Didn’t Want You to See

When former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld published his memoir, Known and Unknown, he also posted thousands of Pentagon documents to his online Rumsfeld Papers archive.

Gawker: “But he’s also kept hundred of documents secret, and we used the FOIA to find them — we got everything that the Pentagon handed over to Rumsfeld, so we know what what he got and can see what he declined to publish. We received a few hundred pages in February, and just got another 1,300 pages, including memos urging President Bush to start toppling regimes in the Middle East just days after 9/11, suggesting that he thought Gen. Tommy Franks was lying to him, and chastising his generals for being too concerned about civilian casualties.”

 

Obama to Dust Off Debt Commission Report

In a speech tomorrow, President Obama plans to respond to a Republican blueprint for tackling the soaring national debt by backing the bipartisan approach pioneered by the Simpson-Bowles debt commission last year rather than introducing his own detailed plan, the Washington Post reports.

Obama “is expected to offer support for the commission’s work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans.”

Ezra Klein: “Ryan’s budget was almost a calculated effort to appall Democrats, which means it has little chance of passing through the Senate. Simpson-Bowles was an effort to attract votes from both parties. The reason it can be bipartisan is that, unlike the House GOP’s proposal, it doesn’t use deficit reduction as cover to sneak in ideological changes to the state: there’s no effort at privatizing Medicare or block granting Medicaid, no decision to go after programs for the poor while exempting both revenues and defense cuts. The plan’s theory is that cutting the deficit is hard enough without also engaging a couple of long-running ideological wars about the shape and responsibilities of the America state. So it dodges those wars, and in endorsing it, Obama will too.”

Josh Marshall: “The broader point though is that as long as the president is talking purely about dollars, he’s losing and will continue to lose.”

 

Voters Sour on House Republicans

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that House Republicans “have fallen so far out of favor with the American public that it’s entirely possible Democrats could take control of the House back next year.”

Key findings: 43% of voters think that House Republicans are doing a worse job now than the Democrats did, compared to only 36% who think the GOP has brought an improvement while 19% think things are about the same.

Stunningly, independent voters now say they’d vote Democratic for the House by a 42% to 33% margin, representing a 28 point reversal in a span of just five months.

Cartoon of the Day

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Trump and Huckabee Lead the Pack

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds Donald Trump is now tied with Mike Huckabee for first place when Republicans are asked who they support for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

Trump and Huckabee are both at 19% support, followed by Sarah Palin at 12%, Mitt Romney at 11% and Newt Gingrich at 11%.

Huckabee Getting Serious?

Mike Huckabee is talking with fundraisers to see if he can raise the money needed to run for president, Politico reports.

“Huckabee has been holding a string of about a half-dozen meetings with donors or bundlers in New York, primarily from the finance industry, over the past 6 weeks. It’s the first indication that Huckabee has been making any sort of move toward one of the factors he said would go into a decision about a second-chance presidential campaign in 2012 – raising enough funds to be competitive in the primary.”

Obama Now Open to Deal on Debt Limit

The White House has “opened the door to a deal with Republicans that would allow the U.S. to increase its ability to borrow, potentially easing worries in financial markets that the country might default on its debt,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Softening the administration’s earlier insistence that Congress raise the so-called debt ceiling without conditions, officials now say they won’t rule out linking an increase of the borrowing cap with cuts aimed at reducing the deficit–even though they’d prefer to keep the issues separate.”

Interestingly, the Washington Post notes that bond investors do not yet appear to be worried about the budget brinksmanship on Capitol Hill.

Crist Apologizes for Using Song

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist settled a lawsuit filed by Talking Heads singer David Byrne after Crist used one of the group’s songs without permission in a campaign ad last year, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Terms of the settlement were not released, but it included a very unusual recorded apology by Crist.

Said Byrne: “It turns out I am one of the few artists who has the bucks and [guts] to challenge such usage. I’m feeling very manly after my trip to Tampa! Other artists may actually have the anger but not want to take the time and risk the legal bills. I am lucky that I can do that. Anyway, my hope is that by standing up to this practice maybe it can be made to be a less common option, or better yet an option that is never taken in the future.”

See more…

Can Romney Buck History?

Smart Politics finds that just five candidates have won the White House on their second attempt over the last 200+ years.

Successful candidates who won on their second try are Thomas Jefferson (1800), Andrew Jackson (1828), William Henry Harrison (1840), Richard Nixon (1968), and George H.W. Bush (1988).

(Of course, Ronald Reagan won the presidency on his third try.)

Short List for Defense Secretary

President Obama administration is considering CIA director Leon Panetta, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus as possible replacements for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Bloomberg reports.

Quote of the Day

“We had a mutual friend arrange a meeting and we just had a very honest and open conversation about the process of running…it was kind of like two dogs sniffing around a fire hydrant together.”

— Mike Huckabee, in a SiriusXM interview with Barbara Walters, saying he’s convinced Donald Trump is going to run for president.

Base Politics

First Read: “Of course, it’s a cliché that Republican presidents play to their base, while Democratic presidents often alienate it. But as our recent NBC/WSJ poll suggests, there’s a reason why this happens: Only 21% identify themselves as liberal (either very liberal or somewhat liberal), compared with 37% who say they are conservative (very conservative or somewhat conservative); 40% say they’re moderate. The dilemma for Democrats: To win national elections, they have to win a larger share of the moderate vote than Republicans do. And that’s why Democratic presidents — whether they’re Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or the next one — often disappoint their base. What’s surprising here is that we haven’t seen the liberal disappointment manifest itself more. At least so far… And part of the reason: The president has a problem with liberal ELITES, but not the liberal RANK-N-FILE. Just look at his numbers with base Democratic voters; they are essentially as strong as ever.”

Obama’s Quiet Leadership

John Dickerson: “The president and his aides made a tactical decision to be followers on the budget deficit… If the president had led in this way, say White House advisers, his proposals would have become a target, and nothing major would have gotten done… For the last several months, while allies and critics have been calling for increased public involvement on issues from Libya to the fight over the budget, he has been sticking to his ‘win the future’ agenda and giving speeches about improving education, innovation, infrastructure, and energy alternatives. Settling on a plan and working it even when distractions conspire to pull you away from your path is also a quality associated with leadership.”

Gingrich Says Medicare Reform is Politically Dangerous

Newt Gingrich says the Republicans’ proposed overhaul of the Medicare system — which the House is expected to vote on this week — is a “dangerous political exercise,” National Journal reports.

Said Gingrich: “This is not something that Republicans can afford to handle lightly.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times notes that if Republicans wonder what attacks from Democrats might look like, “they need only to look to the last election, when Republicans launched searing ads against President Obama’s cuts to a program called Medicare Advantage.”

Case Leads in Possible Hawaii Senate Primary

SMS Research poll in Hawaii shows former Rep. Ed Case (D) leading former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann (D) by five points in a hypothetical Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate.

Trump Warns He Might Run as an Independent

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump said he will “probably” run as an independent candidate for president if he cannot win the Republican party’s nomination.

Said Trump: “The concern is if I don’t win will I run as an independent, and I think the answer is probably yes.”

Trump said that he thought he “could possibly win as an independent,” adding, “I’m not doing it for any other reason. I like winning.”

Hints from Romney’s Announcement

Politico takes a deeper look at Mitt Romney’s (R) video announcing the creation of a presidential exploratory committee and takes away three hints for the impending Romney campaign.

What we know: “Romney’s central focus will be on the economy and fiscal issues and that’s what made up the entirety of his two-and-a-half-minute message… Romney’s advisers don’t want to get sidetracked on the culture wars as they did in 2008, knowing that their candidate will never measure up as the most conservative candidate… It was no accident that Romney taped his video at the University of New Hampshire and name-checked the school at the outset of his remarks. The Granite State primary is nothing short of essential for a former next-door governor who now spends much of his year on Lake Winnipesaukee… Romney sports a casual jacket and open-collared shirt in the video. Gone is the starchy business suit that was his campaign uniform four years ago. There is much symbolism to the wardrobe adjustment.”

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