WASHINGTON, Jan. 25
The following are the ABC News Political Unit must-reads for Wednesday, January 25, 2006. Do you know why?
1. Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times asks the big strategy questions: Will the Democrats continue to make the case for civil liberties and against presidential power? Can it work? And for whom? LINK
2. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) tells the Washington Times that he will not support a guest-worker program. LINK
"As the chief House negotiator in any House-Senate conference committee on immigration, he said voters will not accept a plan that amounts to amnesty, and said Mr. Bush's proposal would simply push the problem down the road."
3. A Washington Post editorial says the White House's refusal to detail meetings between the Administration and Jack Abramoff is "not a tenable position" and claims, "Republicans wouldn't stand for this kind of stonewalling if the situation were reversed." LINK
4. "The Bush Administration said Tuesday that states would be fully reimbursed for any costs they incurred in paying claims for prescription drugs that should have been covered by the new federal Medicare program," writes Robert Pear of the New York Times. LINK
Pear Notes the federal government expects all the kinks to be worked out by Feb. 15. Sen. Clinton, in an interview with the Times, remains skeptical.
The Senate was beginning consideration of Samuel Alito's nomination to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court at 9:30 am ET. President Bush appears in the Rose Garden with 41 of the world's most famous former clerks at 3:30 pm ET.
The President travels to Fort Meade, MD today to visit the National Security Agency. He makes closed press remarks to NSA employees at 12:50 pm ET. He tours the NSA at 1:25 pm ET. Pool at the bottom.
The winter meeting of the US Conference of Mayors got underway at 8:30 am ET. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses the mayors at 1:00 pm ET. Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) is slated to receive an award from the group during an arts luncheon. And Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chair of a newly-created mayoral task force on poverty, discusses his vision for the panel at 11:30 am ET.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway will be among those present for the opening plenary session at 10:00 am ET today. Hurricane recovery is sure to be a topic of discussion at the 12:00 pm ET media availability.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan announced this morning that $11.5 billion in new HUD block grants will be announced at 2:00 pm ET.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a 9:30 am ET hearing on "Lobbying Reform: Proposals and Issues" in Dirksen 342. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) testify.
Americans United, a union-funded liberal advocacy group that helped block President Bush's efforts to change Social Security last year, holds a 10:00 am ET press conference at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC to unveil an anti-corruption ad campaign. Among those speaking at today's event will be pollster Mark Mellman, media consultant Jim Margolis, and spammer Brad Woodhouse. The group's ad, which will air "mostly on cable," begins running nationally on Thursday. According to Woodhouse, Americans United is committing to spend $1 million to run the ad for the next couple of weeks. It may reappear, however, "pending passage of real reform."
In order to persuade Red State Democrats to back Alito, the Family Research Council is launching print ads in South Dakota and radio ads in Arkansas and Louisiana that frame the Alito fight as being one about the role of religion in the public square.
The intended targets are Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
The radio ads, which were recorded by FRC President Tony Perkins, state: "Seventy-six percent of Americans support the posting of the 10 Commandments on public property. Eighty-two percent believe prayer should be allowed at public school graduations and ninety percent say the phrase 'Under God' should remain in our Pledge of Allegiance. With such overwhelming support why is there such a fight on these issues?"
No word on the size of the buy.
Two pivotal Midwestern states -- Ohio and Michigan -- will hear from their governors today when Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH) and Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) deliver their "State of the State" addresses.
At the State House in Boston, MA, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) announces his fiscal year 2007 budget recommendations at 11:00 am ET. He holds a media availability with HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt to discuss Medicare Part D at 1:45 pm ET.
Barry Jackson of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives discusses the Bush Administration's immigration reform proposals at 12:00 pm ET in a speech to the National Council of Agricultural Employers, which is meeting at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington, DC.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry hold a 10:00 am ET press conference in S-207 to discuss "The US Military: Under Strain and at Risk," a new report by the Reid- and Pelosi-appointed "Leaders' National Security Advisory Group."
The executive summary of the report argues that the Bush Administration has "broken faith" with the American soldier and Marine by "failing to plan adequately for post-conflict operations in Iraq, by failing to send enough forces . . . and by failing to adequately equip and protect the young Americans they sent into harm's way."
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announce the "Protecting America's Competitive Edge Act" at 10:15 am ET in Dirksen 366. Norman Augustine, Lockheed Martin's former CEO, participates.
The Heritage Foundation holds a 10:00 am ET press conference addressing the legal issues surrounding the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy participate.
Treading previously trod ground, the Washington Post leads with three health insurance-related proposals President Bush could announce on Tuesday at the State of the Union -- one will allow individuals to take tax deductions on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses; another moves to expand health savings accounts; and the third proposal would increase the portability of health insurance. LINK
"Even before most people on Capitol Hill learn of the proposals, several senior congressional aides and health policy experts predicted yesterday that Bush may have a difficult time winning support. They said that fiscal conservatives may balk at the expense, and that many Democrats will argue the changes are inadequate for poor people, who are most likely to be uninsured."
USA Today' David Jackson gets a SOTU preview on the same stuff from one of the President's top economic advisers, Allan Hubbard. LINK
The Washington Times on Reid's pre-buttal. LINK
Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has proposed a 4 percentage point raise for Virginia teachers next year. LINK
Samuel Alito for Associate Justice:
Top Democratic aides, reports the Washington Post, say they see "little chance" of a filibuster of the Alito nomination. LINK
But the Washington Times gives prominent play to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) saying of a possible filibuster: "There is a storm cloud on the horizon." LINK
David Kirkpatrick's committee vote write-up in the New York Times includes Kyl's warning that a nomination process and vote based on ideology could come back to haunt the Democrats in the future. (And Note Sen. Feinstein's seemingly irony-free quote about a less partisan time during the Clinton years.) LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe reports that as some Senate Democrats attempt to hold strong against the Alito nomination, their voices do not seem strong enough. LINK
Politics of spying:
On network television this morning, Sen. McCain said he hopes to learn the answers to these two questions during the Judiciary Committee hearings into the warrantless domestic wiretapping program: "What is the extent of this program? Who is included in it?"
McCain on part of the legal justification for the program residing in the 2001 authorization for military action in Afghanistan: "I did not know that that was part of it." Sen. McCain also said that his vote for the authorization would not have changed had he known then what he knows now.
"The scope of this program is what needs to be examined here. No American believes we should be prevented from going after terrorists wherever they exist," McCain added.
Keying off of the recently released 42-page white paper, the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage reports that some legal specialists believe the Bush Administration is asserting that the President would be able to keep using the powers outlined in the Patriot Act for Al Qaeda investigations, regardless of whether Congress reauthorizes the Patriot Act. LINK
But a DOJ spokesguy pushes back on that.
The New York Times' Lichtblau writes up Attorney General Gonzales' defense of the NSA program and reports that Gonzales will continue to be a vocal and public defender of the program leading up to the Feb. 6 Senate hearings. LINK
The Washington Post on the same. LINK
The Abramoff affair:
Roll Call's John Bresnahan reports that two Republicans -- Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Don Young (R-AK) – "sought to intervene with a federal agency in September 2002 on behalf of American Indian clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff as part of Abramoff's effort to gain control of the Old Post Office Pavilion in downtown Washington, D.C."
Lobbyists, says The Hill, are gearing up to lobby against lobbying reform. LINK
Blunt v. Boehner v. Shadegg:
Carl Hulse of the New York Times on the Bass-Flake endorsement. LINK
The Washington Times on Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH), chairman of the Tuesday Group, a gathering of more liberal House Republicans, in coming out in support of Shadegg: "I want moderate Republicans to understand that if you care about reform and you want a fresh face, this is the man to support." LINK
O'Brien of the Plain Dealer thinks that Shadegg would be the one to honor Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. LINK
Follow the Leader(ship race):
Congressman Blunt's Jessica Boulanger weighs in on the State of the Race:
Bad Googling monkeys! Skip the Bass-Flake endorsement coverage this morning and stay focused.
By the numbers: Members who have publicly endorsed one of the three announced candidates for Majority Leader:
As Stan Greenberg might have said to a fresh faced Mark Halperin more than a decade ago: Let's dive into the crosstabs.
Looking at self-identified RSC Members, Blunt's lead is impressive.
We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that Blunt is pleased to count on the support of past RSC Chair Myrick and founding members Burton and Doolittle.
Another Noteworthy subset: Moderates. Raise your hand if you Noticed Kirk's endorsement. Also not lost on Note-junkies: Upton and Johnson.
So while the dynamic AZ-NH duo has gotten as much media attention as McCain-Feingold... Bush-Rove.... Bill-Monica... Or Brad-Angelina... we beg the esteemed Gang of 500: please don't forget about the many other fine Republicans in the people's house. Their endorsements (we know of at least 90 you can highlight) deserve stand-alone stories, too!
From Congressman John Boehner's Kevin Smith:
Who can stand up to Democrats when they're wrong and work with them when it's in country's best interest? John Boehner has a proven record of doing both.
He worked with President Bush and both parties on historic reforms to demand a return on taxpayers' investment in education. And he led passage of key pension reforms with the support of 70 Democrats, despite Nancy Pelosi's suggestion to "start from scratch."
While he's reached across party lines, John also has exposed congressional Democrats' frequent hypocrisy. Recently, when Democrats unveiled an "Innovation Agenda" he questioned why Pelosi opposed bipartisan proposals to enhance small business competitiveness, streamline regulations, and create jobs. And last week, he pointed out that the same party which turned a blind eye toward the House Bank and Post Office scandals had suddenly embraced congressional reform.
The lesson: John Boehner is an effective legislator, but he'll also aggressively engage Democrats.
Congressman Shadegg's Michael Steel weighs in with this:
What does yesterday's Bass/Flake endorsement of Shadegg mean? It should serve as a reminder that while Shadegg is a proud conservative, his appeal is not limited to the right wing of the Conference. After all, he was elected Policy Chairman a year ago unanimously. Today, Shadegg is the candidate of everyone who realizes that our Republican Conference needs a clean break, and real reform, to retain and grow our majority in the House.
As Rep. Bass, a leader of the moderate Tuesday Group said yesterday, "Like John, I believe in the power of Republican ideas. When Republicans work together on united themes and behind Leaders of integrity and vision, we repay the faith invested in us by the strong majority of Americans who sent us to Washington."
Remember, it ain't over til Feb. 2. And counting on anything in a secret ballot is like playing poker blindfolded.
Per the Washington Post, Sen. Clinton and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) will introduce legislation to restore a $26 billion cut in Medicare payments to private insurers, after House and Senate Republican negotiators stripped most of those cuts from the budget bill last month. LINK
In a Washington Post op-ed that looks at the alleged "screw-ups" of the President's prescription drug plan, Harold Meyerson writes that "incompetence may describe this presidency, but it doesn't explain it. For that, historians may need to turn to the seven deadly sins: to greed, in understanding why Bush entrusted his new drug entitlement to a financial mainstay of modern Republicanism. To sloth, in understanding why Incurious George has repeatedly ignored the work of experts whose advice runs counter to his desires." LINK
Politics of Katrina:
The Bush Administration has refused invitations for Chief of Staff Card, Joe Hagin, and others to testify before the oversight congressional committees investigating the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, causing the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), to describe the White House as providing "a near total lack of cooperation. . ." LINK
Bowing to "philosophical misgivings about setting up a new federal agency," the White House is reducing its support of a Republican-sponsored bill that would have created a new federal authority to buy and liquidate storm-damaged property in Louisiana. The Wall Street Journal calls the decision a "blow to a plan with wide congressional support."
USA Today on the same. LINK
State of the States:
In his last State of the State address tonight, embattled Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH) is expected to spend a great deal of time talking about the bold education reforms that he has in mind, write Fields and Smith for the Plain Dealer. LINK
Howard Wilkinson of the Enquirer sets the stage: "With historically low popularity numbers, an administration wracked by scandal, and the ignominy of being the first Ohio governor charged with a crime while in office, Taft, in his last major address to the legislature, will likely be something even less than a typical lame duck." LINK
In her State of the State address tonight, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) is expected to focus on job creation in Michigan as well as raising standards for higher education, per Kathy Barks Hoffman of the AP. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
Troop levels in Iraq have hit their lowest levels since last summer, and are down now to 136,000, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The Washington Post's Charles Babington examines the Patriot Act stalemate and predicts the current interim bill will be extended "through next month or longer." LINK
With virtually all Democrats lining up against Samuel Alito, it's worth noting that Bob Casey, Jr., a Pennsylvania Democrat running for the US Senate in one of the most closely watched races in the country, announced on Tuesday that he would vote to confirm Alito if he were in the Senate.
For months, Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-PA) campaign has hounded fellow pro-lifer Casey to declare his position on Alito, hoping that if Casey came out in favor of Alito (as he did yesterday), it would alienate the Democratic Party's pro-choice donor base.
In the Nov. 14, 2005 issue of the New Yorker, Peter Boyer recounted Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as assuring his (pro-choice) colleagues in Washington that with Casey, "There's no worry on judges. And judges is the whole ball of wax."
The DSCC and Sen. Schumer's office declined to comment on Tuesday about Casey's pro-Alito announcement in light of Sen. Schumer's earlier assurances.
Maryland Democrats are trying to determine how to prevent a decision by the Baltimore Circuit Court that struck down the state's gay marriage law from hurting the efforts of the party's candidates for governor and U.S. Senate this year, reports the Washington Post. LINK
The Chicago Tribune reports the race for Rep. Henry Hyde's seat intensifies as state Sen. Peter Roskam's (R ) campaign makes the $1 million dollar mark and veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) fundraises on the Hill yesterday. LINK
In his look at the Spitzer-Paterson ticket, the New York Times Michael Cooper includes this cleverly crafted line. LINK
"If, say, for some reason Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton were to leave office early, the next governor would get to choose her successor. In that case, several Democrats said, a Governor Spitzer might well appoint Mr. Paterson as New York's first black senator (though a person close to Mr. Spitzer said that the issue had not come up in conversations between the two men)."
The New York Post's Fred Dicker writes of Rep. Charlie Rangel's displeasure with Spitzer's bringing Paterson into the Lieutenant Governor's race and has the Dean of the New York delegation reminding Spitzer that he has a possible primary of his own to worry about first. LINK
Dicker also has an exclusive report in the New York Post on FBI Director Mueller's decision to recuse himself from any involvement in the Decker College investigation and his friend Bill Weld's tenure as president of Decker. LINK
Chalk one up for the Fonz!!!
Per the Los Angeles Times, longtime leader of the California GOP's conservative wing, former state senator Richard Mountjoy, joins the race to unseat Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the state's most popular elected official. LINK
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman speculates about whether the GOP strategy of portraying Republicans as tougher on terror than Democrats will "pack the same punch" in 2006 as it did during the 2002 mid-terms. LINK
Deb Orin of the New York Post gets two paragraphs to write-up Sen. Schumer's successful 2005 fundraising for the DSCC. LINK
In the current issue of Playboy, Jeff Greenfield profiles members of the "no-bullshit caucus", where membership is defined by plain language and common sense.
Potential 2008 contenders included are Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE).
In his interview with Greenfield, Feingold (once again) touts McCain's general-election strength: "It may be that the Republicans will have such a desire to win again that they would actually accept a straight shooter. The general public would support him, and he would win easily."
The non-'08ers included in "the caucus" are: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).
The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein's looks at some Democratic hand wringing over a possible Clinton candidacy in the fall of 2008. LINK
And, as usual, Chris Lehane chimes in with some very wise words, "'It's an awful lot about matchup,' Mr. Lehane said."
More Gerstein: "The lack of any ideological agreement among Mrs. Clinton's Democratic skeptics is a boon to her because it prevents support from coalescing around an alternative. Several Democratic strategists pointed to Mr. Warner, the former Virginia governor, as a plausible counterpoint to Mrs. Clinton. However, the senator's most vocal opposition at the moment is coming from the anti-war left. . ."
". . . No consultant or strategist interviewed for this story could explain how Mr. Warner, who is generally viewed as more conservative than Mrs. Clinton, could capture the support of liberals passionately opposed to the war. 'Those who are running would in many ways split the opposition to her,' Mr. Panetta said."
Warner supporter Dick Harpootlian of the Palmetto State seems to believe Sen. Clinton won't be able to survive a gut-check test among Southern and Midwestern voters.
The New York Post's Deb Orin's lede on the latest CNN/Gallup numbers: "Most American voters now say there's no way they'd vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president in 2008 -- while just 16 percent are firmly in her camp, a stunning new poll shows." LINK
If Howard Wolfson and Hank Sheinkopf should run into each other in the NY1 green room we can only hope that they will discuss Sheinkopf's comparison of Sen. Clinton to Richard Nixon in Michael McAuliff's New York Daily News write-up of the latest CNN/Gallup numbers. LINK
On Feb. 1, Billy Sparks is taking his leave from his position as chief of staff for communications in Gov. Bill Richardson's (D-NM) office. He might continue to do volunteer work for the governor, whom "he loves like a brother," writes Steve Terrell of the New Mexican. LINK
The New York Observer's Ben Smith follows the Gore Renaissance all the way out to the snowy slopes of the Sundance Film Festival, where he finds the man schmoozing with celebs and arguing that global warming is "not a political issue, it's a moral issue." But can the former veep propel himself into the role of the anti-Hillary? LINK
In response to Matt Lauer's question about what role Sen. McCain's health and his wife's health would have on deciding whether or not to make a presidential run, the Senator from Arizona declared both he and his wife in good health and added, "I'm older than dirt, I've got more scars than Frankenstein, but I've learned some things along the way."
McCain also said that lobbying reform will get done this year but whether or not the system is reformed in a way to fix the cause of the corruption -- namely, earmarking -- remains to be seen.
The Boston Globe reports that Gov. Mitt Romney will unveils the details for his public school budget "overhaul" today; and Day II of the Globe not casting the motives of the resident of the Corner Office in 2008 terms!!! LINK
Under the headline, "God's Senator: Who would Jesus vote for? Meet Sam Brownback," Jeff Sharlet explores the presidential aspirations of the Kansas Senator in the upcoming Rolling Stone. LINK
(Interestingly, the profile runs in the same issue where Kanye West is featured on the cover wearing the Crown of Thorns.)
Harald Bredesen metaphorically laying his hands on Brownback, the Senator's once-expressed desire to be the next Jesse Helms, and supportive comments from Christian conservative leaders all get play here. Brownback also calls Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton "beautiful [children] of the living God."
Gov. Huckabee (R-AR) is in Iraq visiting the troops, writes Rob Moritz of the Arkansas News Bureau. LINK
Also in Iraq are Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Gov. David D. Freudenthal (D-WY), and Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI).
A year after he pledged to devote his second term to "ending tyranny" throughout the world, the Washington Post looks at President Bush's mixed record on spreading democracy. LINK
"As the White House drives its truckload of lies around the country, it becomes ever clearer that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore are just not the right people to respond to the administration's national security scare-a-thon," writes Maureen Dowd in her New York Times column in which she declines to offer up Democratic names who she sees as the "right people."
Politics of immigration:
Minuteman Jim Gilchrist's application to march in a Laguna Beach Patriot's Day parade was rejected on the grounds that his organization is too political. Life in the O.C. is brutal. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
At the Sacramento Press Club luncheon, Gov. Schwarzenegger (with First Lady Maria Shriver joining him for the first time at the annual event) said his recent tax returns will soon be made public and that he will not bow to some conservative pressure to fire his Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy. Note, too, that the Governor sees no conflict in having state workers earn campaign pay on their own time. LINK
The Los Angeles Times reports that when asked whether he would support legislation banning assisted suicides in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger demurred, offering this instead: "I personally think this is a decision probably that should go to the people, like the death penalty and other big issues. I don't think 120 legislators and I should make the decision." LINK