POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/4

GOP Leaders Open Door Again to Grand Bargain

Republican congressional leaders opened some room “for a longer-term deficit reduction agreement that eventually could blunt the effects of the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts now in place,” Roll Call reports.

The catch: GOP leaders “insisted that any revenue from a tax overhaul would have to be reserved for reducing tax rates and not used to fund government spending or lower the deficit.”

“The leaders appeared determined to keep the level of spending cuts in place but signaled that a longer-term deal to lower the deficit, overhaul the tax code and rein in spending on entitlement programs could still be had.”

Adelson Admits to Bribing Foreign Officials

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the largest Republican donor in last year’s presidential campaign, has informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that his company likely violated a federal law against bribing foreign officials, the New York Times reports.

Why Obama Can’t Make a Deal with Republicans

Ezra Klein: “The bottom line on American budgetary politics right now is that Republicans won’t agree to further tax increases and so there’s no deal to be had. This is not a controversial perspective in D.C.: It’s what Hill Republicans have told me, it’s what the White House has told me, it what Hill Democrats have told me. The various camps disagree on whether Republicans are right to refuse a deal that includes further tax increases, but they all agree that that’s the key fact holding up a compromise to replace the sequester.”

“There’s no deal even if Obama agrees to major Republican demands on entitlements. There’s no deal because Republicans don’t want to make a deal that includes taxes, no matter what they get in return for it.”

Paul Krugman: Well, duh.

Boehner Sees No Resolution for Sequester

House Speaker John Boehner told NBC News there “is no easy way to stop the budget cuts — known as the ‘sequester’ – that began taking effect Friday night, and voiced uncertainty over how Washington can solve the overall fiscal problems that have consumed the nation’s politics for more than two years.”

Said Boehner: “I don’t think anyone quite understands how it gets resolved.”

Romney Admits He Thought He Would Win

Mitt Romney told Fox News that “his heart said he was going to win the presidency, but when early results came in on election night, he knew it was not to be.”

“Romney says the loss hit hard and was emotional. Ann Romney says she cried.”

Obama Making Push to Take Back Congress

President Obama “is taking the most specific steps of his administration in an attempt to ensure the election of a Democratic­-controlled Congress in two years,” the Washington Post reports.

“Obama, fresh off his November reelection, began almost at once executing plans to win back the House in 2014, which he and his advisers believe will be crucial to the outcome of his second term and to his legacy as president. He is doing so by trying to articulate for the American electorate his own feelings — an exasperation with an opposition party that blocks even the most politically popular elements of his agenda.”

Fox News Took Graphics Directly from GOP Press Release

Fox News took research and graphics directly from a National Republican Campaign Committee press release without disclosing their origin in order to attack President Obama’s “sequester priorities,” Media Matters reports.

Lawmaker Says He Only Wants Male Interns

Connecticut state Rep. Ernest Hewett (D) refused to resign after making a lewd remark to a teenage girl at a legislative hearing and denied he has a problem with women, the Hartford Courant reports.

Said Hewett: “I purposely will not have female interns. My intern now is a male. I want to keep it like that. I’ve had female interns in the past that sit in my office all day. I thought it was totally weird and I didn’t want another. As a matter of fact, I went four, maybe six years without having an intern at all because of stuff like that. I have a male intern, the last two I’ve had were male.”

He added: “I don’t get to choose. That’s why I was so leery about staying away from interns. I don’t know what they’re going to give me. They may give me a female, but I don’t want a female intern. That may sound sexist but I really don’t. That way that keeps me good and that keeps everybody else good.”

Chief Justice Misconstrued Census Data

“At the voting rights argument in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts tore into Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, grilling him on his knowledge of voting statistics,” NPR reports.

“The point the chief justice was trying to make was that Massachusetts, which is not covered by the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act, has a far worse record in black voter registration and turnout than Mississippi, which is covered by Section 5 of the act.”

“But a close look at census statistics indicates the chief justice was wrong, or at least that he did not look at the totality of the numbers.”

What is Obama’s Next Move?

The only thing President Obama can do now is wait, Politico reports.

“Obama’s decision Friday to remove the threat of a government shutdown in late March as a leverage point in the standoff means that the sequester will remain in place for weeks — if not months, or longer. He set into a motion a risky strategy that rests entirely on the slim chance that Republicans do an about-face on tax hikes after a public outcry.”

John Avlon: “It is a dangerous game. While polls show Americans more likely to blame Republicans for the obstructive gridlock than the president, if the economy turns south and chaos continues to reign supreme, ultimately people will blame the president. There are no doubt some conservative strategists counseling a hard-line betting on this outcome with an eye toward the 2014 and 2016 elections.”

Close Race in Virginia

A new McLaughlin poll conducted for Bill Bolling shows that he’s way behind in a three-way race for Virginia governor.

Terry McAuliffe (D) is just ahead of Ken Cuccinelli, 38% to 37%, with Bolling at just 15%.

Rice Says Politics Isn’t In Her DNA

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said again that she currently has no plans to run for president in 2016, The Hill reports.

Said Rice: “I learned that running for office really wasn’t in my DNA when I helped George W. Bush run in 1999. We’d go to maybe five campaign events in a day..and at the end of the day, he was raring to go and I was raring to go to bed. And I thought, ‘Maybe this just isn’t for me.”

She added: “But I do miss the people that I worked with in Washington. I don’t miss anything else about being in Washington.”

Republicans Warn Obama Has Poisoned Relations

“President Obama’s public shaming of congressional Republicans to act on a range of issues may be winning at the polls — but it risks alienating the people needed to reach bipartisan compromise,” The Hill reports.

“While Obama has made a strategic calculation that he needs to marshal public support to push through his agenda, centrist Republicans warn the president and his allies could go too far with partisan events and campaign-style ads targeting GOP lawmakers.”

Support for Same-Sex Marriage Jumps in California

Just as the Obama administration filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage, a new Field Poll finds that support for same-sex marriage in the state has increased drastically since the ban was passed.

Key findings: 61% say they support same-sex marriage, with just 32% were against. The ban passes in 2008 by a 52% to 48% margin.

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