The Note: Setting The Agenda

Nov 16, 2010 9:12am

By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER

THE NEW REALITY. While the GOP seems to be adapting to the new Tea Party reality, many in the Democratic leadership are not. A few examples: Republicans succeeded in not letting the Michele Bachmann-Jeb Hensarling chairmanship fight spin out of control; they gave freshmen a seat at the table; and now they’re giving South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and company a win on earmarks. Democrats, meanwhile, remain divided internally over taxes. Moreover, as President Obama embraced the earmark ban, his party leadership remains defiant about the power of the earmark (we’re looking at you, Harry Reid) giving the GOP an opportunity to show the Democrats as out of touch. “I welcome Senator McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can’t afford during these tough economic times,” the president said in a statement yesterday.  “In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to not only end earmark spending, but to find other ways to bring down our deficits for our children.”

The White House, however, doesn't see the disparity between Obama's public embrace of Tea Party principles and his party's reticence about it as a Bill Clinton-esque “triangulation.” As one White House official told us: It represents a chance to do the right thing and to get on the right side of a reform issue they weren't great on over the last two years, as the president indicated in his post-election press conference. Still, it's clear that the GOP — and the emboldened DeMint coalition — have set the talking points

NOTED: House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner’s office posted an item on the Leader’s blog Monday night questioning whether President Obama really supports the earmark ban. Deputy Communications Director Mike Ricci wrote: “Nowhere in [Obama’s] statement does the president urge the leaders of his party to hold simple up-or-down votes on imposing an earmark ban, something House and Senate Republicans will do this week. It appears the president is not yet willing to confront what The Washington Post calls ‘resistance from veteran Democratic lawmakers’ clinging to earmarks. … Now, compare this uncertainty to how House senior adviser David Axelrod ‘made it clear’ yesterday that the president ‘has made no commitment to vetoing spending bills that contain earmarks despite calls from fiscal hawks for the president to make that pledge.’” http://bit.ly/9Jbf4E  

 

ABC EXCLUSIVE – THANKSGIVING WITH THE OBAMAS: The President and Mrs. Obama will sit together for a Thanksgiving visit in a joint interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters airing as a one-hour special on Friday, Nov. 26 at 10 pm Eastern. In addition to focusing on some of the major challenges facing the President today, part of the conversation will be a discussion of how the whole family reacted to the President’s political reversal. This interview will be Mrs. Obama’s first since the mid-term elections. The special marks the second time the president and first lady have sat for a joint interview with Walters; the first was November of 2008, immediately following the presidential election. The interview will be conducted in the White House on Tuesday Nov. 23. http://bit.ly/8Xln9l

 

HILL INTEL. From ABC's Matthew Jaffe: Today is all about the next Congress, not the current one. In fact, the Senate isn’t even in session. That's because both parties have to hold leadership elections for the 112th Congress then meet for party luncheons around mid-day, and then — at least in the GOP’s case — tackle issues like the earmark ban in the afternoon. Sources say GOP lawmakers will most likely adopt the moratorium unanimously by a voice vote. At this point, there’s no reason for anyone to oppose it unless they want to risk major political backlash.

Watch George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on “Good Morning America”today. Bachmann said she supports a tax cut compromise, but not if it’s tied to unemployment benefits. http://bit.ly/bioL5i

TIPPING POINT. As ABC’s Devin Dwyer and Matthew Jaffe report, if Republicans succeed in approving the earmark moratorium, “they'll join House Republicans, who have already banned all earmarks, and House Democrats, who have restricted earmarks for private contractors. Both are expected to re-impose their policies for the next Congress.” Dwyer and Jaffe note: “Only Senate Democrats have yet to signal whether they will join the cause, although at least two members — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall — have said they want their caucus to follow suit. A moratorium on earmarks throughout Congress would be a significant development and departure from what has become a common, if not controversial, practice in recent years. Congress approved 9,499 earmarked projects in fiscal year 2010 that totaled $15.9 billion, according to the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense.” Reality Check: Earmarks account for less than 1 percent of overall federal spending. http://bit.ly/cFUZQ8

COUNTING IN JUNEAU. The still undecided Alaska Senate remains in limbo as ballot counting continues today. The latest numbers, according to a dispatch from the Associated Press: “About 8,800 ballots were to be tallied on Tuesday, a day after election officials said Sen. Lisa Murkowski had emerged from several days of counting with a 1,706 vote lead over GOP nominee Joe Miller. … She has 92,164 votes, but that total includes 7,601 write-in votes that have been challenged by the Miller campaign. Miller has 90,458 votes. Besides the ballots being counted, as many as 600 more ballots from overseas and military addresses could be submitted by a Wednesday deadline. The state plans to count those by Friday.” http://bit.ly/9tVsMg

ABC’s Huma Khan notes that Miller has “continued to assail the elections division for counting misspelled ballots that show voter intent, even though a judge last week struck down his attempts to stop the ballot counting. ‘We need one standard for everyone,’ Miller said in a statement. ‘It makes no sense to create all these new exceptions just for Lisa Murkowski. I have said from the beginning, I want a fair election and I want the law followed. I don't think that is too much to ask.’” http://bit.ly/aCd80m

QUOTES OF THE DAY: Meanwhile, back in Washington, Sen. Murkowski offered a few choice words for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed her rival for Senate. “I just do not think that she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies,” Ms. Murkowski told CBS News’ Katie Couric in an interview. “You know, she was my governor for two years, for just about two years there, and I don’t think that she enjoyed governing.”

On Obama, Murkowski said: "I will tell you, I am not one of those who wants Obama to fail. If he does well, that means the country's doing well. We don't have time as a nation to spend all of what we do blocking. We have got to figure out how we get to a point where we can be sitting around the table and talking about these difficult problems and advancing some solutions.” http://bit.ly/a438H0

 

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl interview Congressman-elect Allen West of Florida. They also sit down with The National Journal’s Reid Wilson, who has been covering the RNC chairman’s race. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine

 

THE BUZZ

PAGING MICHAEL STEELE. Although RNC Chairman Michael Steele has yet to officially announce he is running for another term a short list of potential chairman hopefuls seems to grow longer by the day. Former Michigan GOP head, Saul Anuzis is already a declared candidate (Watch him on ABC’s “Political Punch” Webcast with ABC's Jake Tapper today). That list includes Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, former Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner, Connecticut Republican Party head Chris Healy, former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, former North Dakota GOP chairman Gary Emineth, California GOP chief Ron Nehring, former RNC official Maria Cino, former Nevada Gov. Bob List and failed California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, among others. “There have been almost as many sightings of RNC chairmen candidates as Big Foot, and they're about as real," said one member of the Republican National Committee who requested anonymity to speak openly about internal dynamics of the chairman's race.  But in news reports yesterday, Steele detractors sounded more confident in news reports about their chances to find a viable challenger.

HOLDING OUT. “The Congressional Black Caucus wants more details about the proposal to create a leadership position for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.),” The Hill’s Russell Berman reports today. “The CBC met for nearly two hours on Monday to discuss the deal that Pelosi brokered to end a leadership battle between Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Clyburn, who had been vying for the second-ranking post of minority whip. The caucus chairwoman, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), said after the meeting that the CBC wanted more details about Clyburn’s policy and strategy portfolio and was ‘reserving judgment’ about the package the Speaker is offering.” http://bit.ly/cy7hg5

KAL PENN, TAKE TWO. After a brief hiatus to film a sequel to the popular "Harold & Kumar" movie, the actor, Kalpen Modi (also known as Kal Penn), returned to a job in the White House on Monday. As Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement, Modi “will be the point person for those in the Arts, Youth, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities," the White House said in  statement. Modi, who may be best known for his role as "Kumar" on the big screen left a similar job in the Office of Public Engagement over the summer. Modi hinted that he was returning to the political arena with appearances on behalf of Democrats and President Obama at rallies across the country in the closing weeks of the 2010 election cycle. In October, both Modi and the president stumped for California Sen. Barbara Boxer at an event at the University of Southern California. He spent a day with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid touring college campuses around Nevada to energize young voters and appeared at other events in Florida and Illinois.

ON BOOK SHELVES. President Obama’s new children’s book. According to Politics Daily’s Christopher Weber: “President Obama's latest book isn't a memoir or a political tome, but rather a tribute to 13 American icons presented to children, particularly his daughters, Sasha and Malia.  The book, "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters," features bold, impressionistic illustrations by Loren Long. The cover is a painting by Long of Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, along with the White House dog, Bo. … In it, the president asks questions of his girls while offering something of a history lesson about figures like George Washington and baseball great Jackie Robinson. The book opens with, "Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?" http://aol.it/bIpTmH

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@ClarenceHouse: The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton -www.princeofwales.gov.uk

@SarahPalinUSA: Thanks 4 tuning in 2 Alaska's epic landscape & resource-rich showcase! In coming wks you'll see the hard work/blue collar jobs that feed USA

@Jordanfabian: Paul Ryan says it's highly unlikely Congress will permanently extend Bush tax cuts in lame-duck … http://bit.ly/9SWm30

@donnabrazile: Moving the goalpost isn't allowed in football, it shouldn't be allowed politics. Sen. McCain should not block and allow DADT repeal. Agree?

@pwire: Heath Shuler: "I can add and subtract pretty well. I don't have the numbers to be able to win." http://pwire.at/b8eGOP

@richardwolffedc: Thanks to my friends @thedailybeast for picking 10 juicy cherries from Revival: http://bit.ly/a1Ht1l


NOTED

PRESIDENTIAL PLANNER. From ABC’s Sunlen Miller: This afternoon, President Obama will award Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. “Staff Sergeant Giunta will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan in October 2007,” the White House says. In an East Room ceremony the president will award the medal to Giunta with his wife, parents, and friends in the audience. http://bit.ly/dueetb

 

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