POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/4

Why the GOP Has Less Leverage Than They Think

David Brooks echoes the point why Republicans don’t have as much leverage as they think they do in the next round of budget negotiations.

“The core thing it says about them is that they want to reform entitlements and cut spending, but they can’t actually propose any plans to do these things because it would be politically unpopular. This is a terrible problem for them.”

Failed Coup Shows Divisions in House GOP

A group of dissident Republicans failed to push Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to a second ballot in his election as Speaker and potentially replace him as leader of the House, The Hill reports.

“Twelve House Republicans broke from Boehner in a tense public roll-call vote, either by voting for someone else or deliberately not voting at all — five short of what would have been needed to force a second ballot.”

Obama First Since Eisenhower to Win 51% of Vote Twice

A revised vote count eight weeks after the presidential election finds President Obama nationally won 65.9 million votes — or 51.1% of the vote — against challenger Mitt Romney, who took 60.9 million votes and 47.2% of the total, according to data compiled byBloomberg.

Obama is the first president to achieve that level of support in two elections since President Dwight D. Eisenhower was re-elected in 1956.

Geithner to Leave Before Debt Ceiling Deal

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “plans to leave the administration at the end of January, even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans haven’t reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling,” Bloomberg reports.

“After giving in to Obama’s previous entreaties to stay as long as needed, Geithner has indicated to White House officials and Wall Street executives that he is unlikely to change his departure plans this time, increasing pressure on the president to name his successor at Treasury.”

Booker Would Face Primary for Senate

While coverage of the 2014 New Jersey Senate race thus far has centered on Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Roll Call notes a third Democrat is laying groundwork to run as well: Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

Sources say Pallone is “all but certain” to run for Senate if Lautenberg retires in 2014.

Tea Party Plots Comeback

Daily Beast: “Until last night, the conventional wisdom in Washington was that the Tea Party was on the wane … But after 85 House Republicans joined Boehner in raising taxes without spending reductions during the end game of Monday night’s fiscal-cliff negotiations, Tea Party leaders and conservative activists from around the country are dusting off their tri-corner hats and ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ signs, and now say that their members are as energized as they have ever been since the first Tax Day protests in 2009. And the Republican Party, they add, had better beware … Already, those outside the official party apparatus are considering primarying incumbents, in some cases taking on those they helped elect a mere two years ago.”

Said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly: “If you think 2010 was the Tea Party Congress, just wait until 2014. You will see people even more angry and up in arms. I don’t think we have seen nothing yet.”

The Courage of McConnell and Boehner

Walter Shapiro: “For all the unnecessary pyrotechnics, for all the missed opportunities over the past 18 months, rationality triumphed over ideological extremism in Washington this week. And if this precedent helps prevent America from defaulting on its debts when the government runs out of borrowing power in March, so much the better. But, in the interim, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner deserve muted, but sincere, applause for bringing the anti-tax Republicans back from the brink.”

Campaign Debt Weighs Down Freshman Lawmakers

“More than 40% of the 82 incoming House freshmen had more debt than leftover cash in the bank, a USA Today analysis of final election reports shows. For more than two dozen of them, the unpaid bills topped $100,000 each. Seven of the 12 new senators showed debts on their Dec. 6 reports to the Federal Election Commission. As a result, newly elected lawmakers are bombarding their supporters with pleas for campaign money and holding rounds of fundraising dinners, breakfasts and receptions — even before they are sworn in Thursday.”

An Underappreciated Vice President

First Read: “Yes, he’s the butt of jokes and The Onion parodies. But the guy delivered in reaching across the aisle. The whole point in Obama hiring Biden was to have him as his congressional go-to guy; For some reason, many in the West Wing are hesitant to let Biden be Biden and play this role until the very last minute. While Biden allowed himself to be rolled by staffers every now and then in the West Wing, in a second term (with his own eye on the Oval), we’re guessing Biden’s going to less inclined to take a backseat come March.”

Boehner Boxed In

After passage of the fiscal-cliff deal and the House’s inability to pass a Hurricane Sandy relief package, First Read notes House Speaker John Boehner “finds himself boxed in like never before.”

Roll Call: “Over the past few weeks, the Ohio lawmaker has been raked over the coals by members of all stripes within his own party — first by those seeking less spending in exchange for tax rate hikes, then by those seeking more spending for disaster aid. The public thrashing came to a head Wednesday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie … blatantly accused Boehner of political cowardice for pulling a supplemental aid package for those affected by Superstorm Sandy.”

A Victory with Some Risks for Obama

Though the fiscal cliff deal has many “small victories” for President Obama, the New York Times says the agreement “also represents a substantial risk for the president.”

“Throughout the negotiations of the last two months, Mr. Obama pushed for a larger agreement, one that would have canceled other looming budget deadlines, starting with one on the debt ceiling. He and his aides saw the so-called fiscal cliff, with its trillions of dollars in scheduled tax increases that Republicans abhorred, as leverage to start fresh in a second term and avoid more deadline-driven partisan fights.”

“When House Republicans made it clear that they opposed a big deal, however, Mr. Obama decided to take the smaller deal, bank a series of victories and wait to fight another day… Without that larger agreement, Mr. Obama will be left to find solutions to future budget deadlines without the leverage that came with the prospect of automatic tax increases.”

Good Riddance to the Worst Congress Ever

Ezra Klein: “What’s the record of the 112th Congress? Well, it almost shut down the government and almost breached the debt ceiling. It almost went over the fiscal cliff (which it had designed in the first place). It cut a trillion dollars of discretionary spending in the Budget Control Act and scheduled another trillion in spending cuts through an automatic sequester, which everyone agrees is terrible policy. It achieved nothing of note on housing, energy, stimulus, immigration, guns, tax reform, infrastructure, climate change or, really, anything. It’s hard to identify a single significant problem that existed prior to the 112th Congress that was in any way improved by its two years of rule.”

Obama Plans Immigration Reform Push This Month

An Obama administration official tells the Huffington Post that the president “plans to push for immigration reform this January. The official, who spoke about legislative plans only on condition of anonymity, said that coming standoffs over deficit reduction are unlikely to drain momentum from other priorities. The White House plans to push forward quickly, not just on immigration reform but gun control laws as well.”

“The timeframe is likely to be cheered by Democrats and immigration reform advocates alike, who have privately expressed fears that Obama’s second term will be drowned out in seemingly unending showdowns between parties. The just-completed fiscal cliff deal is giving way to a two-month deadline to resolve delayed sequestration cuts, an expiring continuing resolution to fund the government and a debt ceiling that will soon be hit.”

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