The Note: Advice and Dissent

Today, Reid will put out a statement calling the President's plan a privatization that will cut benefits, add to the debt, and not help the program -- an approach he says that the American people are rejecting. Reid offers a three-pronged Democratic approach: first do no harm to the current system; pay back the trust fund; and give Americans more ways to save. He also accuses Republicans of wanting to cut benefits to seniors and by pegging benefits to inflation rather than wages, taxing benefits, and borrowing for the plan and driving it further into debt.

Big casino budget politics:

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times looks at the House Appropriations efforts to nip and tuck the President's budget, kicking off some serious budgeteering work on the Hill. LINK

The Washington Post version was a little bit more glass-half-full for the Bush Administration. LINK

More from AP's Alan Fram. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers ends his budget story with this tidbit: "Mr. Bush's budget has set a target of $61.6 billion in program savings and user fees over the next five years, for example, to reduce budget deficits. But some of these assumptions, especially for the Medicaid health-care program for the poor, could be substantially overstated according to a analysis by the Congressional Budget Office expected today. And a big question next for budget committees is whether they still stay with the president's savings total or step back and use a smaller target that promises less but is more likely to be enacted."

Bush agenda:

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker take a look at President Bush's turn back toward wartime and national security concerns with a rare mention of Osama bin Laden at the ceremony to swear in Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. The duo also look at what appears to be a growing concern among lawmakers that the President isn't putting adequate resources toward or attention to protecting particularly the nation's borders. LINK

AP writes that the border security issue is rapidly becoming an area of bipartisan criticism of the President. LINK

AP's Katherine Shrader uses the bin Laden mention as a jumping off point to take a look at doubts about the U.S.' resources and ability to track and ultimately capture public enemy number one. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Greg Miller wraps the President's buck-up-the-troops visit to the CIA on Thursday. LINK

The Washington Times' Joseph Curl Notes in a classic second-dayer that CIA Director Porter Goss' address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday, where he said he is being overwhelmed by the duties of his job. However, "CIA staffers said the director was being lighthearted about the situation and had been misinterpreted." LINK

The Washington Post's Robin Wright reports that President Bush is looking to build on whatever gains he may have picked up in Europe by seeking cooperation from European nations to punish Iran if the country doesn't agree to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. But there's skepticism in the Administration and Congress that Europe will follow through with a promised stick. LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne looks at Democrats' skepticism coupled with reluctant optimism about favorable movement toward democracy in the Middle East. LINK

If you are a hawkish Democrat, read the quotes (and weep) at how hard it is for Democrats to express unbridled support for American successes abroad.

Congress:

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