POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/15
House Republicans “are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March,” Politico reports.
“The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.”
Key takeaway: “GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point.”
Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration has said it has no backup plan to pay the government’s bills if Congress refuses to raise the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit.”
A new Pew Research poll finds “there are clear areas of agreement when it comes to a number of gun policy proposals. Fully 85% of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support from Republicans, Democrats and independents. Similarly, 80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support across party lines.”
“But this bipartisan consensus breaks down when it comes to other proposals. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor creating a federal database to track gun sales, but there is a wide partisan divide between Democrats (84%) and Republicans (49%). A smaller majority of the public (55%) favors a ban on assault-style weapons; Democrats (69%) also are far more likely than Republicans (44%) to support this. Similar partisan divides exist when it comes to banning high-capacity ammunition clips or the sale of ammunition online.”
Shortly after winning the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010, Rick Scott (R) announced that his family had rescued a Labrador Retriever and gave it a name: Reagan.
But when the Tampa Bay Times “asked last week what had happened to the dog, Scott’s current and former communications directors refused to answer… At one point an exasperated reporter asked Burgess if he had killed the dog, and Burgess denied ever killing a dog, but still wouldn’t say where Reagan was.”
Later a spokeswoman called to say Reagan had been returned about a year ago.
Former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford said she will not run for Congress, USA Today reports.
Said Sanford: “I think my job as mom right now is much more important, much more rewarding and much more productive. The idea of killing myself to run for a seat for the privilege of serving in a dysfunctional body under John Boehner when I have an eighth-grader at home just really doesn’t make sense to me.”
The AP notes had she run, it likely would have set up a race between her and her ex-husband, former Gov. Mark Sanford.
“Suicides in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year, far exceeding American combat deaths in Afghanistan, and some private experts are predicting the dark trend will worsen this year,” the AP reports.
“The problem reflects severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, complicated by anxiety over the prospect of being forced out of a shrinking force.”
Washington Post: “Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will remain in the same post as President Obama begins a second term… While not unexpected, her remaining in place means that most of Obama’s first-term Cabinet will begin the second term unchanged.”
National Journal: “The same demographic trends that helped the GOP keep the House will hurt their shot at the presidency. And the trends that propelled Obama to reelection will impede Democrats from retaking the House.”
President Obama repeated his call for deficit reduction at a press conference “but warned against the potentially catastrophic effect on the economy by tying cuts to raising the debt ceiling,” Politico reports.
Said Obama: “While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficit, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they’ve already racked up. To even entertain the idea of this happening, of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd.”
He added: “They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”
George Packer: “Every President elected between 1976 and 2004 was, by birth or by choice, a Southerner, except Ronald Reagan, who enjoyed a sort of honorary status. (When he began the 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, scene of the murder, in 1964, of three civil-rights workers, many Southerners heard it as a dog whistle.) A Southern accent, once thought quaint or even backward, became an emblem of American authenticity, a political trump card. It was a truism that no Democrat could win the White House unless he spoke with a drawl. Now the South is becoming isolated again.”
“Every demographic and political trend that helped to reelect Barack Obama runs counter to the region’s self-definition: the emergence of a younger, more diverse, more secular electorate, with a libertarian bias on social issues and immigration; the decline of the exurban life style, following the housing bust; the class politics, anathema to pro-business Southerners, that rose with the recession; the end of America’s protracted wars, with cuts in military spending bound to come. The Solid South speaks less and less for America and more and more for itself alone.”
First Read: “The White House is serious about making a push for some new gun laws, with universal background checks serving as the likely centerpiece of what the president asks Congress to pass when guns are brought up at the State of the Union. But you also get the sense that the air is leaking ever-so-slightly out of this balloon that is called gun control — as those advocating new government regulations start accepting the political realities on Capitol Hill. The wild card here: the victim groups. Just like the 9/11 widows, they could become a powerful force that does move public opinion.”
A new Gallup poll finds 38% of Americans “are dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws and want them strengthened. This is up from 25% who held this set of views a year ago, and is the highest since 2001. Still, more Americans are either satisfied with current gun laws, 43%, or think they should be loosened, 5%.”
Malik Obama, the step-brother of President Obama, said he will run for governor of the western Kenyan county of Siaya, Bloomberg reports.
McClatchy: “When Obama takes the oath of office outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21 and looks onto the National Mall, he will see a different landscape than he did in 2009.”
“Then, an estimated 1.8 million people poured onto the Mall to witness the first African-American president sworn into office. Now, District of Columbia officials estimate that between 600,000 and 800,000 people will attend Obama’s second swearing-in, a steep decline from 2009 but an above-average audience for a second-term inauguration . George W. Bush’s second inauguration attracted between 300,000 and 400,000 people. Bill Clinton’s likely drew around 450,000.”
“After Vice President Joe Biden delivers his recommendations for reducing gun violence to the president Tuesday, the focus will shift to Congress, where legislation restricting firearms faces an uncertain path,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Senate leaders have offered assurances that gun-safety legislation will be among the first bills introduced, a Senate Democratic aide said. But Majority Leader Harry Reid already is expressing doubts about enacting an assault-weapons ban, which President Barack Obama has urged Congress to pass.”
Politico: “Topping the list: In 2014, he could run instead for Massachusetts governor, a job that Republicans have had much more success winning and keeping, as Mitt Romney can attest.”
“Even if Brown were to win an expected late spring special election for the Senate — he would enter as a favorite — he’d have to pick up and do it all over again next year, in a higher-turnout contest that could also be tough to win. A loss in that race could end his political career.”