The Note: Carving Out the Carve-Outs?

WASHINGTON, March 3 --

NEWS SUMMARY

Since yesterday's episode of The Note, so much has happened regarding Social Security.

The White House denounced the Gang of 500 CW that the President's plans are in trouble; Secretary Snow announced a big new PR offensive (with boosted Cheney involvement!!); Secretary Snow appeared open to add-on accounts instead of carve outs; Sen. Grassley suggested that perhaps legislative efforts should focus for now on solvency rather than personal accounts; Bob Novak and others reported on the President's innermost thoughts on how all this is going (rare, that); two new polls showed American public opinion not exactly where the White House would want it to be; and Chairman Greenspan went yada yada yada.

The basic how-a-bill-becomes-a-law riddle still exists, and we still can't answer it. (More on all this below.)

So we turn instead to one of our Note exclusives.

To make extra money to pay for a nicer font for The Note, one of the Googling monkeys has been working the late shift at Stetson's on U Street, cleaning up after the place closes for the night.

While sweeping up last night, said monkey found this super-secret memo:

_________________________________________________________

TO: GOV. DEAN

FROM: DNC STAFF

RE: SO FAR

With successful trips to two Red States under your belt and not a single public (or even cowardly on-background) quote leveled against you from a Democratic strategist/leader/operative, you are off to a fine start.

But there are some things we think you could do, uhm, better.

Here's our list:

1) Implied in your insistence that we call you "Governor" instead of "Chairman" seems to be a forlorn fondness for your former employ and a disdain for your current job. Keep this up and we may end up splitting the baby and just calling you "the politician-formerly-known-as-front-runner." [Keep this up and we may end up insisting that you call us "former McAuliffe staffers." Stings a little, doesn't it?]

2) We know you're sick of hearing it, but that's okay because frankly three weeks in, we're already sick of telling you: watch the language. Osama bin Laden is evil. Lionel Ritchie music is evil. Astroturf is evil. Republicans are not evil. Entirely.

3) The Fabulous Flournoy has been captaining the ship well, but we have no idea who her lieutenants are. Vagueness was okay on week one. And two. And arguably three. But we're now nearly on week four of the new Dean regime and we need two words our party seems allergic to -- "org chart."

4) Word to the wise -- staff is a constituency, and like any constituency you have to win us over. You can't do that if you won't talk to us. The last guy here wouldn't shut up -- and we loved him for it.

5) Psychologists say room decor reveals a lot about a person. Actually we just made that up. But it does sound like something they would say. Anyway, we're ascribing that to them to make a point: your office is too spare. Where's the campaign memorabilia, the 11 framed balanced budgets, the conspicuously absent Trippi photo, etc.?

6) Terry was to Cafe Milano as Howard is to . . . what? Until you can answer that question, you're not really our chairman. That said, we're here to serve. From what we've gathered from our time together so far, you're probably a tad more earthy; we recommend you consider Nora, Two Quail and Ben's Chili Bowl.

7) Get out there more. Yes, yes. We understand that you're trying to send the signal that you're here to work and don't wish to hog the limelight. But Sen. Clinton's first year in office proved that you can both stay low key and get more exposure for it.

8) Whenever you first ride the DC Metro, we wanna come with.

9) Look, we're not going to name names here, but we all know where you lodge while in town and, well, while admirable, we would feel safer if you upgraded to at least a Motel 6.

10) Stop lighting incense all over the building. People are growing suspicious.

11) It's always a good idea to let state parties know you might be coming to their state to visit. In advance, we mean.

12) Our blog: sure it's fun and all, necessary too, but NOT SUFFICIENT.

13) As you know from reading The Note every day, we're soclose to defeating bush on Social Security. So let's pony up some $ -- our side needs it.

14) Hello. We are your staff and we are here to help. Let us. Otherwise we'll turn into a soft, gentle people and it won't be pretty.

15) But...on the other hand: hey hey, ho ho, some of us have got to go.

16) Can we keep Tina?

17) GOP leadership? '08ers? Tell us how to go after them. Bush no longer matters.

18) The Republican Party has a very clever plan to keep you from re-making your public image. Don't be fooled by that Ken Mehlman "good cop" stuff. You can be one of the best chairs this party has ever had, or you can end up a cartoonish joke.

19) Do you have a plan -- secret or otherwise -- for the next four years? If so -- and if it needs to be secret to work -- by all means, keep it secret.

20) Transitions are hard. For all of us.

Thanks for hearing us out.

_______________________________________________

Neither Gov. Dean nor his spokesperson could be reached by publication time for comment.

At 9:35 am ET, President Bush attends the swearing-in ceremony for new Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

At 1:25 pm ET, the President delivers remarks and receives briefings at CIA headquarters in Langley, VA.

Today the Administration's "60 Stops in 60 Days" to promote the President's Social Security plan kicks off, with Treasury Secretary John Snow speaking in Fayetteville, AR, today and New Orleans tomorrow. Also tomorrow, Jim Lockhart Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, heads to Michigan for five town hall meetings with Rep. Pete Hoekstra tomorrow and Saturday.

At 2:30 pm ET, Democratic women Senators hold a news conference to announce a report highlighting the negative impact of the administration's Social Security privatization plan, especially on women.

President Bush travels to New Jersey and Indiana tomorrow to pitch Social Security.

Keith Hennessey, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, heads to Maryland for a town hall meeting with Rep. Roscoe Bartlett on Monday.

Secretary Snow delivers remarks to the American Banker Association and the American Insurance Association in Washington, DC next Tuesday and Wednesday.

At 9:30 am ET, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan speaks at the meeting of the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform.

At 9:00 am ET the House Republican Conference holds a closed-door meeting on the budget.

At 1:30 pm ET, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) hold a pen and pad briefing on the committee's preliminary recommendations for the $82 billion supplemental request.

At 8:30 am ET, the National Journal's Hotline and Westhill Partners hosted a breakfast briefing on this month's poll, on immigration, and a panel discussion with Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), the Hotline's Chuck Todd, Ed Reilly of Westhill Partners, and GOP strategist Ed Rollins.

At 2:30 pm ET, the Senate Judiciary Committee considers the nominations of Terrence Boyle to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals; James Dever to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina; and Robert Conrad to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of North Carolina. The nominees testify.

At 11:30 am ET, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) hold a news conference to announce the Advance Democratic Values, Address Nondemocratic Countries and Enhance Democracy Act of 2005.

At 12:30 pm ET, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and Interior Secretary Gale Norton join Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Robert Bennett (R-UT), James Bunning (R-KY) and John Thune (R-SD) hold a news conference to talk about the upcoming CODEL to ANWR.

At 10:00 am ET, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez are all on the Hill testifying in hearings on their agencies' FY2006 budget appropriations.

At 2:00 pm ET, the House Armed Services Committee looks at the FY2006 budget request and its ability to meet military readiness needs. General Richard Cody, vice chief of staff for the Army; Admiral John Nathman, vice chief of Naval Operations; General Michael Moseley, vice chief of staff for the Air Force; and General William Nyland, assistant commandant for the Marine Corps, testify.

At 2:30 pm ET, the Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing to look at the effect of the Medicare Modernization Act; Medicare administrator Mark McClellan testifies.

Happy birthday to pressgaggle.com.

Social Security: the politics:

The Des Moines Register's Jane Norman leads breathlessly:

"Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa said Wednesday that Congress should focus on the solvency of Social Security rather than the president's plan to create personal investment accounts for younger workers."

"Grassley, a Republican and the head of the committee that would handle any Social Security overhaul in the Senate, said he still intends to try to get a bill approved this year. 'But maybe we ought to focus on solvency, and bring people to the table just over what do you do for solvency for the next 75 years,' Grassley said in a conference call with Iowa reporters."

Democrats are, as you can imagine, quite pleased about all this.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Bob Novak leads breathlessly:

"George W. Bush, who is not prone to confessing mistakes, has confided to close associates that he committed a whopper on Social Security. He admitted error in pushing for new personal accounts while not stressing the repair of the safety net for seniors. As a result, Republicans returned to Washington this week from the congressional recess deeply shaken by what they encountered back home."

Novak goes on to say in his must read that the reason Republican lawmakers got hostile receptions to the President's Social Security plan when they held town meetings in their home districts was because of the work of the AARP and organized labor, and Notes that conservatives may have to swallow a big, bitter pill to get the overhaul done. LINK

Democrats are, as you can imagine, quite pleased about all this.

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder write-up of the New York Times' poll leads breathlessly:

"Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll." LINK

It continues: "The poll underscores just how little headway Mr. Bush has made in his effort to build popular support as his proposal for overhauling Social Security struggles to gain footing in Congress . . ."

"On Social Security, 51 percent said permitting individuals to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's plan, was a bad idea, even as a majority said they agreed with Mr. Bush that the program would become insolvent near the middle of the century if nothing was done. The number who thought private accounts were a bad idea jumped to 69 percent if respondents were told that the private accounts would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits. And 45 percent said Mr. Bush's private account plan would actually weaken the economic underpinnings of the nation's retirement system."

"In a sign of the political obstacles confronting the White House, a majority of those surveyed said they would support raising the amount of income subject to Social Security payroll tax above its current ceiling of $90,000, an idea floated by Mr. Bush but shot down by Republican Congressional leaders."

Democrats are, as you can imagine, quite pleased about all this.

The New York Times' Richard Stevenson Notes John Snow's (apparent) openness to the add-on alternative. And he quotes Clay Shaw as acknowledging that the public is just not ready yet for personal accounts and/but they are being scared by those Demo-crats. LINK

But hold on a second.

"Despite polls showing support for the plan slipping, Bush is confident he is winning the first phase of the public debate over Social Security and has no plans to significantly alter his strategy for enacting the most dramatic changes ever to the venerable system, said senior White House officials who have talked to Bush. Several congressional Republicans, however, said they do not share Bush's optimism and questioned his strategy for enacting changes this year," write Mike Allen and Jim VandeiHei in the Washington Post. LINK

And, re, Snow's add-on float: "White House officials are privately telling Republicans that Bush is opposed to the idea but does not want to say so because it would appear he is not willing to compromise."

Why senior White House officials are telling reporters the President's private thoughts is for you and we to guess.

And Note the Frist/Santorum/Snow internal brick-a-brack.

The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes leads the paper with a brisk must-read overview of the state of play, with a focus on whether it is possible to thread the needle and come up with some add-on accounts (instead of carve outs) that would bring (some) Democrats to the table and not alienate conservatives.

The AARP's Rother sees add-ons as "the only possible deal," while Rep. Emanuel and 40/41 Treasury official Bruce Bartlett cast the Snow remarks as surrender.

The Los Angeles Times' Warren Vieth and Richard Simon detail the President's 60-day, 60-stop tour to push his Social Security plan, and highlights Grassley. LINK

Bloomberg's Jeff Bliss and Brendan Murray blare that lawmakers are all about presidential compromise at this point.

And, despite the headline ("Social Security sales job gears up"), there's a bit of an "even Judy Keen" to USA Today's lead story. LINK

The Washington Times' James Lakely and Stephen Dinan write that the relatively general Social Security plan President Bush has offered has allowed Democrats to hammer the idea of private accounts and gain traction in opposing them. LINK

House Speaker Hastert is all too willing to let Senate Majority Leader Frist take the lead on passing the Social Security overhaul first. LINK

Social Security: the policy:

The Washington Post's Christopher Lee does his turn in the "The TSP differs greatly from Bush's plan" trench. LINK.

We do like his stylish lede, tho: "The federal Thrift Savings Plan is to individual Social Security accounts what fashion runway attire is to personal wardrobe: an attractive model, but in the wider world things just don't fit quite the same way."

The Wall Street Journal's ed board says that the Administration needs to play the "ownership" card much more centrally and forcefully (the solvency card be darned) and that the amount that can be diverted to personal accounts should be larger. We leave it to experts to predict what the White House will think of those two pieces of advice.

Next door, former Bush officials Greg Mankiw and Phillip Swagel have a clever op-ed, filled with "advice" for how Democrats should handle this debate. We leave it to experts to predict if Democrats at this point will think they need a new plan.

On B1, the Wall Street Journal's Matt Moffett has a lively profile of Chilean Jose Pinera, one of the godparents of personal/private accounts.

Bush agenda:

The New York Times' Edmund Andrews Notes Alan Greenspan's dire deficit warnings, his support for dealing with Social Security NOW but also his less than encouraging words for new tax cuts: ""It's the principle that I think is involved here, namely that you cannot continuously introduce legislation which tends to expand the budget deficit,' Mr. Greenspan said." LINK

Noting the long-standing Fed/Administration disagreement about PayGo, Andrews then writes that "House and Senate lawmakers are hoping to unveil a budget resolution as early as next week, and many Republicans want to include provisions that would allow the Senate to approve tax cuts this year with a simple majority of 51 votes. Without a budget resolution, Senate rules effectively require that such tax cuts be approved by a two-thirds majority."

An interview with Karl Rove on the Texas TV program "Special Session" begins airing tonight on various Lone Star State stations.

Hosted by Paul Stekler, and with heavy Wayne Slater (a.k.a. Slayne Waiter) participation, an advanced tape of the session suggests plenty of grist for Note readers.

Rove describes his plan to eventually take over the world (or at least the U.S.) one Republican vote at a time.

Sitting in a featureless room wearing a brown suit reminiscent of the attire once seen on Masterpiece Theater -- minus the pipe and housecoat -- Rove depicts himself as a man who was simply, "in the right place at the right time."

Stekler asks what led Rove to believe that Republicans had a chance at all in Texas.

Rove articulates oh so eloquently how Texas was "blessed with the appearance of the succession of political leaders, who, by conduct of their campaigns were able to successively build on each other's successes and create the modern Republican Party in Texas."

There's plenty of talk of Rick Perry, David Weeks, George Christian, and other familiar names.

Check your local listings. And download: LINK

Immigration:

Sara Clarke of the Los Angeles Times reports that President Bush's proposed budget falls far short on border patrol agents mandated in legislation last year. LINK

This morning, as we Noted above, National Journal's Hotline and Westhill Partners held a breakfast briefing to talk about their new poll on immigration (which can be found at LINK).

The survey of 800 registered voters were split on whether they think immigration into the U.S. should remain at its current level; 39 percent favored it, and 27 percent opposed. Fourteen percent said they think legal immigration should be increased.

Congress:

The New York Times' Phil Shenon Notes that testimony in the trial of Texas Republicans with ties to Tom DeLay has not so far implicated the House Majority Leader in anything illegal. LINK

So Tom DeLay's House seat is safe . . . right. Right?

"DeLay garnered 55 percent of the vote in the November election against a relatively unknown Democrat, an unusually modest showing for a veteran House member who is one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. Some Republican officials and DeLay supporters worry that with President Bush absent from the top of the ticket next year, liberal interest groups might target the conservative majority leader and spend millions of dollars on campaign ads to try to defeat him," writes Mike Allen with a Sugar Land, TX dateline. LINK

You can bet your Howard Dean Dollars on that.

Dana Milbank makes fun of Sen. Rick Santorum and ferrets out a disagreement the re-election-conscious Pennsylvanian has over the President's agenda. LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein looks at the efforts by a group of 50 House members to reverse the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy, arguing that gay and lesbian military personnel should be allowed to serve in the interest of national security. LINK

The House passed a job-training bill yesterday that would allow faith-based groups that get federal funding to take into account a person's religious background when hiring. LINK

The bankruptcy bill kept on truckin' yesterday, now minus the Democrats' amendments to exempt seniors and those dealing with medical hardship from the more stringent rules, reports the Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds. LINK

Loads of criticism for Sen. Byrd's remarks comparing the "nuclear option" to the Nazis. LINK

The Al Dente Accord, or: The House of Labor:

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on Wednesday beat back efforts by dissident union leaders to reduce the labor federation's power and divert resources to organize new workers.

At a four-hour meeting of the AFL-CIO's executive committee, a majority of union presidents there supported proposals by Sweeney to wed the priorities of organizing new workers to a significant expansion of the AFL-CIO's politics budget, and they defeated a rival proposal to rebate up to fifty percent of dues unions pay to the AFL-CIO.

"This is the right way to go," said Gerald McEntee, the president of the AFSCME union and a top backer of Sweeney's.

The victory for Sweeney, who is running for re-election, brought into public a cleft that has divided the House of Labor in the past year.

For the first time, five union presidents representing about 40 percent of the nation's organized workforce sat together in front of the press and rebuked the executive committee for their vote, vowing to lobby fellow union presidents and between now and the AFL-CIO's annual conference in July. And they said that the battle to reform the labor movement, which has hemorrhaged members for decades, is being played on terrain they created.

Andrew Stern, the president of AFL-CIO's largest union, the SEIU, had threatened to take his 1.7 million members out of the federation unless fellow union presidents agreed to devote substantial resources to organizing new workers and to restructure its priorities.

But yesterday, alongside several allies, including James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters' president, Bruce Raynor, who heads the UNITEHERE union, Terry O'Sullivan, the president of an industrial union, and Joe Hansen, who leads the main food and commercial workers union, Stern said his crusade to reorient American labor had gained significant support since he first went public with his dissatisfaction and that he planned, for the time being, to work within the AFL-CIO to change it.

"I'm a lot less lonely these days," he said.

Sweeney's supporters contend that the dissident unions are motivated by a desire to oust him from office and to replace him with one of their own, such as John Wilhelm of UNITE-HERE. (Wilhelm said yesterday it was premature to talk about a challenge to Sweeney, although he has told friends that he is weighing a run.)

Other observers, including several top AFL-CIO officials, say that while many union presidents are sympathetic to the proposals of Stern, Hoffa and others, Stern's behavior since introducing them has alienated potential allies. They complain that Stern has waged his campaign in the media and is not interested in compromise.

One of Stern's aides acknowledged that Stern was a divisive figure but said that "what these guys don't understand is that for Andy, it's not about Andy, it's really about his workers."

It is tempting to see the cleavages as the result of a fight between service unions and industrial unions, or between big unions and small unions, or simply as a battle royal featuring enormous union egos. But the dispute pits two of the biggest unions, AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers, against two others: the Teamsters and the SEIU.

Both AFSCME and AFT have depended on government largess for their growth and both are among the unions most closely allied with the Democratic Party.

Stern's opponents in those and other unions acknowledge that he is a vociferous and talented organizer but point out that AFSCME and the AFT have solid track records in that area, too. They argue that only with a strong political program that elects pro-labor candidates to office and fights anti-labor legislation nationwide can the union movement begin to grow again.

"We think the AFL-CIO's core mission is politics and legislation," said Jamie Horwitz, an AFT official.

And that is where Stern and company depart most significantly.

Asked why he opposed efforts to strengthen the AFL-CIO's political program first, Stern said that thirty years ago when unions represented about a third of the American workforce, "work wasn't valued because we counted on people in politics to take care of us. . . . It was because one third of the workers were in unions."

The Laborers' O'Sullivan, who is seen as another potential challenger to Sweeney, agreed that "there needs to be a better balance between politics and organizing."

Said Hoffa, "We believe that a shift in resources to focus on growth in our core industries is the only way to grow."

The dueling factions played out their disagreements in a bit of a theatre in the carnivalesque atmosphere of its venue, Bally's Hotel and Casino, whose employees belong to UNITE-HERE.

Sweeney was initially scheduled to brief reporters at noon Wednesday. So his opponents took a over an empty room in a fancy Bally's Italian restaurant, Al Dente, and asked reporters to attend a 1:30 pm press conference to respond.

But the executive committee ended at 1:20 pm, and by that time, the Reporters Who Cover Labor had decamped to the rival press conference site.

The executive committee meeting was not without its moments of agreement.

Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO's secretary and treasurer, said that the executive committee had unanimously agreed to require state federations and labor councils to better coordinate efforts.

One official called it the most "transparent" internal labor debate she had ever seen.

But another labor official sympathetic to Stern said that Sweeney and unions supporting him had managed the debate in Las Vegas so effectively that popular ideas presented by the Teamsters and other unions had no chance of passing.

On to the clips.

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein has more on the Sweeney proposal that passed the executive committee: "The proposal that passed and was introduced by the president of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, will allow for rebates of up to 17% of dues to underwrite organizing efforts. Mr. Sweeney¹s plan also calls for at least 50% of dues to be spent on political activities. That would effectively increase the federation¹s spending on politics by $50 million over the next four years. LINK

"While much of the talk at the sessions was of rebates, percentages, and mechanisms to make sure organizing funds were not diverted for other purposes, Mr. Hoffa said the import of the discussion was far broader. 'The current debate is not about dollars. It¹s about a vision of the future for the American labor movement,' he said."

Writes Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times: "Mr. Stern and his allies have also called for measures to speed mergers to create larger, stronger unions with clear lines of focus so they do not undercut one other in organizing and negotiating. But his and the Teamsters' proposal to cut contributions to the labor federation have dominated the meeting here, partly because of fears that such a sharp cut, coming to about $40 million a year, would force the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to reduce its staff and its responsibilities." LINK

"Mr. Sweeney said he was all for more organizing, but he opposed the 50 percent cut, saying it would weaken the A.F.L.-C.I.O. far too much. He argued it would be wisest for the federation to spend more on political efforts, while individual unions financed organizing efforts, as they have traditionally done."

"Stern stressed that Sweeney's approach will fail to revive organized labor, which represents 12.5 percent of the workforce, the lowest level in a century. He said that the $35 million sought by his forces was essential to rebuilding labor's base," writes Tom Edsall in the Washington Post. LINK

"Throughout the meetings here, both allies and critics of Sweeney, 70, have noted how effectively he has maintained control of the process. Sweeney has made sure that he has majorities on every subcommittee, and that allies, including Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, are in control of the agenda."

Correction: We're unsure why, but we somehow called Rob Stein "Ron" in yesterday's Note. We apologize to the gentleman.

2006:

Roll Call's Ben Pershing and Chris Cillizza write that Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) is thinking of a second tour of duty as NRCC chairman.

The Hill's Geoff Earle suggests that Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is shifting left in preparation for his re-election campaign/ LINK

2008: Democrats:

Lloyd Grove of the New York Daily News touts Al Gore's March 10 New York speech on the climate (crisis). LINK

Harvard University's Institute of Politics, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, announced its slate of spring semester fellowships yesterday. Heading to Cambridge: former Sen./Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards (April 13); Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) (March 7-8); and former Reagan deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver (April).

2008: Republicans:

Deborah Orin of the New York Post looks at those who are thinking about Secretary Rice on the '08 GOP ticket. LINK

A new book for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): "Character is Destiny: True Stories Every Child Should Know," to be published by Random House this fall. LINK

The Manchester Union Leader's John DiStaso curtain-raises Senate Majority Leader Frist's visit to New Hampshire tomorrow, and that in addition to the Merrimack County party dinner upon his March 18 return, Frist has added two more events, in Plymouth and Nashua, on March 19. And Frist will be greeted with ads by Americans for Job Security in tomorrow's Union Leader and Keene Sentinel pressuring him to bring the repeal of the inheritance tax to the Senate floor. And not to be outdone, state Dems are going at Frist themselves, planning to ask him what he knows about the Republican phone-jamming in 2002. LINK

DiStaso also Notes that Gov. Romney is courting BC04's New Hampshire campaign manager, Julie Teer, for his communications staff.

Welcome back to The Note, Julie!!!!

The Boston Globe's Raphael Lewis and Janette Neuwahl report that Democrats in the Bay State's legislature are predicting passage in both houses of a bill encouraging embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts (though it doesn't include the funding for it) by the end of this month. The question is whether or not they have the votes to override a veto by Gov. Mitt Romney. LINK

The Schwarzenegger era:

The Los Angeles Times' Evan Halper writes that with his plan for private accounts and personal investment retirement plans for state workers, Gov. Schwarzenegger is dealing with a version writ small of President Bush's Social Security fight. And Schwarzenegger is backing down on the demand for private accounts, saying he's open to a reasonable alternative from the legislature. In addition, the state attorney general's office found a problem with the initiative Schewarzenegger is pushing -- it could end cash payments to families of police and firefighters who die on the job. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Robert Salladay writes that the tougher the Governator's rhetoric becomes, the more support for his agenda slips -- "[h]is new urgency has alienated many groups that were happy to make deals with him last year." LINK

Politics:

Excerpting David Broder's semi-annual* column on the governors cannot do justice to the beauty of it. So we encourage to read it in full. At times, it's about the only thing worth waiting for after an NGA meeting. LINK

* = or so.

Tillie Fowler's impact on Florida (and GOP) politics cannot be understated. LINK; LINK

Eyebrows raised: Senate Minority Leader helps out Frank Luntz with a $5,000 payment to help settle a billing dispute with the state of Nevada, and Luntz gives money to ACT, Roll Call's Mark Preston reports. But only because Luntz is a Springsteen fan.

The Washington state Democratic Party has some financial messiness to clean up -- in the form of possibly thousands of dollars in fines for failing to file timely reports in 2004. Expect some sort of press release from Washington state Republicans today. LINK

Former congressman and Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson will become chairman of Venable LLP's homeland security practice, and will split his time between Washington DC and Little Rock. LINK

Who knew that Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele was a monk?? Mindy and Katie from the RNC bring us that dish and more . . . LINK

Vince Morris, now formerly of the New York Post, is soon-to-be-currently DC Mayor Anthony Williams' communications director. LINK

Thank you, Mark Leibovich, for adding the phrase "civic melodramas" to our vocabulary. And say what? "'Kerry walked in about halfway through Bush's remarks. He wore a mustard-colored Timberland coat and took a seat near Ted Kennedy. 'Senator, welcome, good to see you,' Bush said. 'I like to see Senator Kerry, except when we're fixin' to debate. If you know what I mean.' It was unclear if any of the players actually did know what he meant." LINK

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