POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/15

Paul Says GOP is “Stale and Moss Covered”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had tough words for his own party at the Conservative Political Action Conference, NBC News reports.

Said Paul: “The Republican Party has to change by going forward to the classical and timeless ideas enshrined in our Constitution. We need a Republican Party that shows up on the Southside of Chicago and shouts at the top of our lungs ‘We are the party of jobs and opportunity. The GOP is the ticket to the middle class.’ The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?”

 

Stalemate Persists Despite Obama Efforts to Break Ice

President Obama “has broken the ice with suspicious and distrustful Republicans on Capitol Hill during the past two weeks, but it hasn’t yet yielded any immediate breakthroughs on the budget stalemate that threatens to lead to yet another partisan debt showdown in a few months,” Roll Call reports.

“Obama’s meetings with the four congressional caucuses, and particularly with the GOP, were notable for just how rare they have been. And, at least on tone, he won plaudits in both chambers for engaging with Republicans instead of heading out to the stump and slamming them as defenders of the rich.”

 

Feinstein Blasts Cruz at Gun Control Hearing

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) let loose on Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX) at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today on gun control legislation. It’s worth watching.

David Hawkings notes the hearing will be remembered “as a milestone in the education of an unrepentant Ted Cruz.”

See more…

 

Obama Tells GOP He’s Not Setting a Trap

President Obama pledged in a private meeting with Senate Republicans on “to challenge his own party on entitlement reform,” The Hill reports.

“He also asked Republicans not to believe conspiracy theories that he is pushing a deficit deal as part of a strategy to help Democrats capture the House.”

 

Boehner Says Election Won’t Effect Budget Stance

Speaker John Boehner suggested that “candidates and personalities – not Republican proposals on Medicare and spending cuts – contributed to Republican losses in November, as he vowed to press forward with a House budget plan that renews the push to shrink the government,” the New York Times reports.

In short, Boehner said “the election losses would not deter his party from pressing its vision of reducing the size of government and turning government health care programs largely over to the private sector.”

Said Boehner: “There are a lot of things that decide an election, especially the two candidates that you have, the personalities that they have, positions they have taken.”

 

Why Gun Makers Fear the NRA

Businessweek: “First, there’s intimidation. The lobby group has incited potentially ruinous consumer boycotts against firearm makers that fail to follow the NRA line with sufficient zeal. Second, regardless of some executives’ concerns about civil discourse, gun companies benefit financially from the NRA’s hype. Alarms about imminent gun confiscation–an NRA staple, despite its implausibility–reliably send firearm owners back to retail counters. Sales are booming.”

 

Bartender Behind Hidden Video Had Met Romney Before

The bartender who secretly filmed Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks told theHuffington Post he had actually met the candidate at a fundraiser two months earlier and “shared a typical bartender-to-patron moment.”

Said the bartender: “I handed him a diet Coke with lemon on it, because I was told that that’s what he drank… He took it and turned and didn’t say anything. I presented him the exact right drink that he wanted… Had it there, sitting there on a napkin. He took it out of my hand and turned his back without a ‘thank you’ or anything else.”

 

Stark Choices in Dueling Budgets

“The two budget proposals now in Congress present Americans with a choice even starker than the one between the presidential candidates last year,” the Los Angeles Timesreports.

“Under the 10-year budget plan released by House Republicans this week, tax rates would fall for high-income Americans and corporations, defense spending would be bolstered, and more than 30 million uninsured people would lose access to government-backed healthcare. Food stamps, student loans and free school lunches for children would be cut.”

“The Senate Democrats’ plan, released Wednesday, would increase taxes on the wealthy and some corporations, cut the Pentagon budget and add $100 billion in highway and school construction spending. Their plan would make modest reductions in healthcare and other domestic programs.”

Wonk Wire‘s “chart of the day” highlights the differences between the two budgets.

 

Boehner Rejects Obama’s Charm Offensive

Speaker John Boehner: “So it was a good meeting. House Republicans welcomed the chance for a frank exchange of ideas with President Obama on Wednesday. Outreach is always positive, and more Republicans in this town need the opportunity to have an open dialogue with our president. I hope these discussions continue.”

“Yet, while this may have been the first time some of my colleagues have heard the president’s arguments so personally and directly, I’ve heard them all many times before. If we’re going to find bipartisan solutions, the president will have to move beyond the same proposals and Democratic dogma. For all of Washington’s focus on the president’s outreach to Republicans, it’s his engagement with members of his own party that will determine whether we succeed in dealing with the challenges facing our economy.”

 

Top Lawmaker Says Obama Spends More Time on Brackets

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) hit back at President Obama for saying hedoesn’t put a priority on achieving a balanced budget, The Hill reports.

Said McCarthy: “How can a president not want to balance the budget? How does he forgot what he said? One of his first goals in the first four years was to cut the deficit in half. Now he doesn’t care. He doesn’t even produce a budget. I’ll bet you this. I bet you he spends more time filling out his March Madness brackets than he does writing a budget.”

 

Paul Says Tax Code Should Not Mention Marriage

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told National Review that the federal tax code should be reformed in a way to not exclude same-sex marriage.

Said Paul: “I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage. That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”

 

Obama Defends Setting Up Outside Advocacy Group

President Obama admitted that Organizing for Action, the nonprofit group born from his reelection campaign, was a way to combat the pivotal “mistake” of his first term — allowing the populist enthusiasm behind his policy objectives to fade amid tough negotiations with Congress, The Hill reports.

Said Obama: “I think here in Washington, this idea has been viewed with some suspicion and people have been puzzled about what it is we’re trying to do, because the usual idea is this must be a mechanism to try to win the next election in 2014. What we’ve tried to explain to people is, no, I just actually want to govern — at least for a couple years. But I also want to make sure the voices of the people are actually heard in the debates that are going to be taking place.”

 

Snubbed at CPAC

Politico notes that neither New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) or Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) was invited to speak at CPAC this week, “one of the premier showcase events for national Republicans. The snub of Christie was more heavily covered –perceived as punishment for his post-Hurricane Sandy embrace of Obama — but both governors have run afoul of CPAC organizers in related ways.”

“Officials with the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, caution not to draw any dramatic conclusions from the fact that Christie and McDonnell didn’t make the cut this year… But in an age when conservative advocacy groups, right-leaning media and a white-hot Republican base tend to reward the most confrontational and theatrical politicians, neither Christie nor McDonnell appears to be in the GOP sweet spot anymore.”

 

Hopes for Budget Deal Fade Again

President Obama’s meeting “with a restive and resistant House Republican majority on Wednesday underscored their deep divisions over fiscal policy as both sides acknowledged that an overarching budget compromise was in doubt despite a new push by the White House,” the New York Times reports.

“The hourlong discussion at the Capitol, and the release of a new budget by Senate Democrats on Wednesday that adds $100 billion in new stimulus spending and would impose higher taxes on large corporations and wealthy Americans, illustrated anew just how difficult it will be to resolve the issues that have split the Congress for years and created a perpetual cycle of deadline-driven short-term fiscal policy.”

Roll Call notes a key reason: “GOP leaders immediately shut the door on any compromises that would include new taxes.”

The Washington Post notes another: “While Democratic leaders are offering quiet support for Obama’s renewed campaign to strike a grand bargain with Republicans that would include cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a significant number of Democratic lawmakers are digging in their heels and vowing to protest any reduction in promised benefits.”

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