The Note: Kicking The Can

Dec 10, 2010 9:24am


OUTRAGE ON MUTE. Now that the Congressional Budget Office estimates the tax compromise with cost in the neighborhood of $858 billion over the next 10 years — a sum that makes it even more expensive than last year’s economic stimulus package — will we hear more Republican objections to it? Unlikely — even though some conservative and Tea Party groups have been raising objections this week. Tea Party Patriots complained yesterday that the deal violated several tenets of the GOP’s “Pledge To America.” Among other things, the group said: “The deal spends billions and billions of dollars that the country does not have in order to prevent a tax hike that the country voted against.” One conservative strategist told the Note that the deal was starting to become “almost a glorified earmark for everybody’s interests.” The strategist said: “There are some conservatives who say, ‘let’s go with this,’ others say ‘no, we have the leverage, why are caving to all of this?’… There is disappointment in some circles in the conservative movement that this is an indication that the message [of the election] isn’t translating.” Conservative leader Brent Bozell released a statement on behalf of his group, ForAmerica, yesterday urging lawmakers to reject the plan: “No deal is better than a bad deal,” he said. “The Republicans will be in a much stronger position in just a few weeks when they can revisit this and get a better deal for the American people.”

But with a few exceptions, so far it appears that Republicans are sticking with it, content to kick the can down the road. The Wall Street Journal’s Danny Yadron and Patrick O’Connor interestingly note that “Incoming GOP House members interviewed this week at a policy retreat in downtown Washington expressed unanimous support for the deal and said they’d be happy to vote to again in two years to extend the tax rates adopted during the George W. Bush administration. Republican Rep.-elect Bill Huizenga of Michigan said a new Congress will have to look at a variety of options to start trimming the deficit … ‘People are ready to have that conversation,’ Mr. Huizenga said in an interview. ‘How dumb are we if we think that we’ve somehow got the luxury to not change the system?’”

NOTED: A new Bloomberg polls finds some division between Republican Congressional leaders and their GOP voters on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. From the poll: “While Republican congressional leaders have opposed increases in taxes paid by high-income families, sentiment among the party’s rank and file is mixed. Republicans are divided on eliminating the tax cuts for the wealthy, with 50 percent opposing and 47 percent supporting. An increase in the cap on earnings subject to Social Security taxes splits Republicans almost evenly.”

NEXT MOVES. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last night unveiled the Senate's version of the tax bill, with only minor changes, and the first procedural vote on the measure is set to take place on Monday. ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that “White House officials expressed confidence that the deal with get through the Senate and the House – though whether the compromise secures the support of a majority of House Democrats remains an open question. The White House is lobbying key House Democrats – Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus – and some see Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s protests about the compromise as strategic, as helping her caucus work through its frustration with the deal.” More from Jake and Jonathan Karl’s “Good Morning America” report on the tax bill mechanics:

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO THE WHITE HOUSE. Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to meet with President Obama at 3 p.m. in the Oval Office. Tapper provides the backstory: “President Obama first requested to meet with President Clinton a few weeks ago, but scheduling for the two extremely busy men has been challenging, sources say. In recent weeks President Obama has been meeting with a host of political voices from outside his White House bubble. Those with whom he’s conferred have included former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD and former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. … President Clinton suffered far a greater defeat – or “shellacking,” in President Obama’s terminology – at the polls during the midterms of his first term, with Democrats having lost both the Senate and the House.”

REVOLT REDUX. Opposition to the tax compromise plan among Democrats in the House remains strong. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a leader of the Democratic revolt, called the deal “inherently defective” yesterday and vowed that he and other members of his party would demand changes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a short statement after her caucus voted  not to let plan come to the floor as written: “We will continue discussions with the president and our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the days ahead to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote.” But the White House seems to be digging in its heels. As Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put it yesterday: "If everybody took out what they didn't like, we would have nothing. And we know the consequences of doing nothing."

NOT DONE YET. ABC’s Matthew Jaffe looks ahead to the day’s business in the Senate: “Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't dead yet after Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins announced that they would introduce the repeal as a stand-alone bill. Both she and Lieberman criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for holding the vote yesterday, saying they were "disappointed" in him."There was a clear path forward to victory on this issue and to consideration of this bill, and for the life of me I cannot understand why the majority leader chose not to take it, Collins said.

The DREAM Act vote yesterday was postponed until later in the lame-duck. A government funding bill for 2011 has yet to even come to the floor. And the same can be said for the START treaty. Reid's got one long Christmas list, but the chances of him getting all of it — with only two weeks left before Christmas Eve — still seem unlikely.


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein sit down with Republican strategist Ron Bonjean to talk about the GOP’s role in the current tax debate in Congress and well as the party’s prospects once they officially take over the majority in the House next year. Also on the program, Ilyse Hogue, Campaign Director for the left-leaning advocacy group, which has been one a critic of the Obama administration’s tax deal along with a constellation of other organizations. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

TUNE INTO “THIS WEEK”: Sunday, “This Week” host Christiane Amanpour will hear from one of the architects of President Obama’s tax plan, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Then, with Middle East peace talks perpetually stalled, Amanpour will hosts a debate between the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, and Israeli opposition leader and former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. Fayyad and Livni, with their intimate knowledge of the peace process, will discuss how it can move forward and whether the two sides can find common ground. Then George Will, Cokie Roberts, Matthew Dowd and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman discuss all the week's politics on the “This Week” roundtable.



SANTORUM ON THE MOVE. Former GOP Senator Rick Santorum will visit Iowa for the eighth time next week. He will meet with members of the Quad City Tea Party talk about fiscal, national security and social issues and hold private meetings with activists and party leaders. The former senator is continuing to travel the country, testing the water for a potential presidential bid. The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty takes a snapshot of his recent visit to New Hampshire today. An excerpt: “It was pushing 10 p.m., and Rick Santorum was sitting at the corner table in a near-empty Dunkin' Donuts. The garishly lit scene might have been lifted straight from the movie ‘Primary Colors.’ ‘I'm feeling like doors are opening,’ the Republican former senator from Pennsylvania mused over his decaf. ‘Things are happening that maybe give me the impression that maybe I need to look at this seriously.’ So seriously that Santorum was on his seventh trip to New Hampshire since April. Not to mention seven to Iowa over the past 14 months and seven to South Carolina in that time.”

AUTHOR PAWLENTY. According to a press release from his political action committee, “Governor Tim Pawlenty will visit seven states and Washington, DC in January to promote his new book, ‘Courage to Stand,’ available in bookstores on January 11, 2011. The Governor's nationwide tour will include appearances on national broadcast and cable news shows, ABC's ‘The View’ and Comedy Central's ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart. In ‘Courage to Stand,’ Governor Pawlenty writes about growing up in the gritty meat-packing town of South St. Paul, his political battles as governor of Minnesota, and his vision for a better America.” On his book tour, Pawlenty plans stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Minnesota and elsewhere. Read excerpts of “Courage To Stand”:

PALIN + RYAN. Sarah Palin penned an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal today, endorsing the fiscal roadmap proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. From the piece: “The publication of the findings of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was indeed, as the report was titled, "A Moment of Truth." … The commission's recommendations are a disappointment. That doesn't mean, though, that the commission's work was a wasted effort. For one thing, it has exposed the large and unsustainable deficits that the Obama administration has created through its reckless "spend now, tax later" policies. … In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America's Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.). The Roadmap offers a reliable path to long-term solvency for our entitlement programs, and it does so by encouraging personal responsibility and independence.”

HYPOCRISY WATCH. The advocacy group, Americans United for Change, is going up in Las Vegas with a new billboard calling out incoming Nevada Congressman Joe Heck for what the group says is hypocrisy over his desire to repeal the health care reform bill. From the a AUC spokesperson: “If Joe Heck is going to prevent millions of Americans from gaining access to same health choices he enjoys, then he should be willing to set the example by opting out of his own taxpayer subsidized health plan first” The billboard will read: “Congressman Heck: Drop your government health care … or Stop trying to take away ours!” The group is also unveiling a new Web site,, to document other incoming lawmakers like Heck.



@senatorcollins: Senator Collins announces support for new START treaty.

@cbellantoni: RT @rollcall: Hey look! Group targets Sen. Scott Brown w/ first ad of 2012. @sppeoples reports:

@markknoller: Noting this is Intl Human Rights Day, Obama says "we should redouble our efforts to advance universal values for all human beings."

@washingtonpost: Obama kicks his smoking habit

@devindwyer: Anatomy of a hack attack: Inside the pro-Wikileaks cyber battle



A MESSAGE TO CHINA. In a statement this morning, President Obama honored Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident. The ceremony to award the prize took place in Oslo, Norway without Liu president. He is currently being held in a Chinese prison. “One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was,” the president said in a statement. “We respect China’s extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want.  But Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law.  The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible.”

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