By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
As President Obama outlined his plan to curb the national deficit over the long term yesterday, Republicans on Capitol Hill were scrambling to keep their fraying coalition intact for a vote — expected later today — on the budget accord that will fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.
“We can do better; we must do better,” freshman Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, said in a statement yesterday, pledging to vote “no” on the bill when it moves to the Senate. “I made a commitment to support the House in its pledge to cut $100 billion from the budget … This is the first CR that does not achieve that level of spending reduction.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said earlier this week that he vote against the agreement in House, noting that “voters are asking us to set our sights higher.”
Not helping matters was a Congressional Budget Office Report issued yesterday that indicated the agreement reached between the White House, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would produce only minimal savings in the first year.
The CBO estimate shows that the spending bill would cut only $352 million from this year’s deficit between now and Sept. 30. Why? Primarily because billions of dollars in cuts to domestic programs will be offset by an increase in defense spending.
The Speaker’s office responded swiftly with a fact-check of the CBO report.
“The final agreement cuts nearly $40 billion in budget authority — taking away the Administration’s license to spend that money,” according to the statement. “These are real cuts and will result in $315 billion worth of savings over the next decade.”
But adding fuel to the fire over today’s planned vote is pressure from Tea Party groups who are looking to hold GOP lawmakers accountable for their stance on the budget deal and the coming decision on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling.
“I’m literally getting emails by the hour from people talking about primary challenges,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler told The Hill newspaper. http://bit.ly/hqChFd
And even one of the party’s presumptive 2012 presidential candidates — former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — got into the action yesterday, urging lawmakers to vote against the agreement.
“The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable,” Pawlenty said. “It’s no surprise that President Obama and Senator Reid forced this budget, but it should be rejected.” http://abcn.ws/fozSFx
(Boehner’s office did not take kindly to Pawlenty’s advice. Michael Steel, a spokesman for the Speaker told ABC News, “The Speaker has always honored President Reagan’s ‘11th commandment,’” referring to the former president’s adage to never speak ill of a fellow Republican.)
BOTTOM LINE: A vote on the budget compromise is expected later today, and leaders on both sides of the aisle remain confident that it will pass. Though, as The New York Times’ Carl Hulse notes, “it seemed increasingly likely that Democratic votes would be required to put it over the top — an outcome the leadership had hoped to avoid because party fissures could weaken Speaker John A. Boehner in coming budget negotiations.” http://nyti.ms/gVnfRr
NOTED: WILL PELOSI VOTE ‘NO’? “Two members of the House Democratic leadership team, Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), told The Hill they would oppose the [budget deal], while Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) said he might vote ‘yes’ but has not committed to supporting the bill” The Hill’s Russell Berman reports. “Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has kept silent on her position, and senior Democrats said they have not been told how she plans to vote. ‘We’ll see,’ is all Pelosi would tell The Hill when asked her position late Thursday.”
OBAMA TACKLES THE DEFICIT. In a speech yesterday outlining his approach to reducing the national deficit, President Obama called for $4 trillion dollars in deficit reduction over next 12 years — $3 trillion by cutting spending, $1 trillion by raising taxes. As ABC’s Jonathan Karl pointed out on “Good Morning America” today, it’s four-times as much deficit reduction as the president called for in his budget two months ago. “We have to live within our means. We have to to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt” Obama said in a speech at The George Washington University yesterday. “And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, protects the investments we need to grow, create jobs, and helps us win the future.”
Judging by the response to the President’s speech, we’ve just seen the opening salvo of the 2012 campaign. “Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy and anxiety is not hope,” responded Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., who has introduced his own GOP budget plan. “It’s not change. It’s partisanship” The President called for Congressional leaders to name negotiators to begin bipartisan talks next month aimed at coming to an agreement on deficit reduction. GOP lawmakers said they will take part in talks, but judging by the president’s harsh words for Republicans and their harsh response, the talks will get off to a rocky start. http://abcn.ws/ffj3Wd
WHITE HOUSE WATCH: OBAMA BUILDS UP 2012 WAR CHEST. President Obama and the Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairs of the Fiscal Commission. Later in the afternoon, the president will travel to Chicago, Illinois for a series of Democratic fundraising events. Obama will be attending a total of three fundraisers in the Windy City. The first two events are at Nine and MK restaurants, and the last one is an event hosted by Gen44 — a group of young Obama supporters. A Democratic source tells the Note that “The events are designed to include the broad range of the President’s supporters with tickets starting at $100 and ranging to the legal maximum limit of $35,800. The smaller dinners will have approximately 225 guests and the Gen44 event is expected to have approximately 2000.”
Attendees are expected to include Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose; all-pro Pittsburgh Steeler and University of Illinois alum Rashard Mendenhall; and “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks. Grammy Award winning recording artist Colbie Caillat will also perform. And former White House chief of staff and Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel plans to be on hand. http://abcn.ws/h2czLc
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Amy Walter and Jonathan Karl talk to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., about the vote on the budget deal as well as President Obama’s deficit reduction plan. Also on the program, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
“TOP LINE” REPLAY: DAN COATS. The Indiana Republican Senator discussed his disapproval of the Obama deficit plan on “Top Line” yesterday. He reiterated the GOP line that “everything is on the table.” On reforming the tax code, Coats said, “I’m part of a plan to do that. I’m glad the president is joining us. But I hope it’s not just simply to raise taxes and raise revenue because the problem is spending not taxes.” He said the current Congress needs to put the 2012 race on the backburner for a while. “I think the people will stand behind that. And right now if we can’t transcend the political and get to the reality of what we have to do, then we won’t achieve that,” he said. “But let’s hope there’ll be enough sensible people on both sides and see this crisis and step up and do what’s necessary.” http://abcn.ws/iexf4d
EXCLUSIVE: PAT TILLMAN’S MOM WANTS GEN. MCCHRYSTAL OUT OF WHITE HOUSE POST. ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports that Mary Tillman, mother of Pat Tillman, the former professional football player turned Army Ranger who was tragically killed by friendly fire 7 years ago, is angered by President Obama’s appointment of retired General Stanley McChrystal to co-chair a commission on military families. Mary Tillman told ABC News that McChrystal was part of the propaganda effort pushing the false tale that Tillman had been killed by the enemy, and keeping the truth from the world — and their family.
“I was actually pretty shocked to hear it; I don’t think it’s the appropriate choice,” Tillman told Tapper. “Considering that we have plenty of evidence indicating that McChrystal was involved in the cover-up of Pat’s death…he’s not the right person for that kind of a job.” Tillman says the president’s appointment of McChrystal “makes him look foolish, frankly.” McChrystal — who declined comment to ABC News — was the commander of special operations in Afghanistan when Tillman was killed in April 2004. More from Jake Tapper’s exclusive interview with Mary Tillman: http://abcn.ws/g6EQfK
SANTORUM MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO 2012. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced last night that he has officially opened the testing-the-waters phase of his potential 2012 presidential campaign. Santorum formed the “Rick Santorum Exploratory Committee,” a fundraising entity that will allow him to raise money as he decides whether to formally jump into the race for the GOP nomination. “In 2008 Americans wanted a president who they could believe in, but after two years they realized that what they needed is a president who believes in them,” Santorum said in an appearance on Fox News’ “On The Record” with Greta Van Susteren. “It’s time for America to be America again — an America that rewards innovation and hard work, that stands by our allies instead of our enemies, that protects even the most vulnerable of our society, and an America that says every life is to be cherished. That is what I believe in, and that’s why I’m taking this next step in a possible run for president.”
NOTED: Unlike former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, however, Santorum has not filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. This is more like what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has done.
STATES ADDICTED TO FEDERAL SPENDING? “As debates over the budget and the deficit escalate and the small-government, cost-cutting Tea Party gains more clout in Washington, federal programs are coming under fire. But at the same time, federal dollars increasingly are in demand, according to an ABC News analysis,” ABC’s Huma Khan reports. “For all the rhetoric against federal spending and encroachment on states’ autonomy, governors rely heavily on federal funds, especially given the slow economy. Not one governor turned away all the federal stimulus money offered to their states and, despite opposition to the Democrats’ health care plan, governors continue to take in the money that law allocated. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., founder of the Senate Tea Party caucus, has advocated for the abolishing of the Department of Education. But doing so could have heavy consequences on the Bluegrass State. Federal funds accounted for about 20 percent of public school funding in fiscal year 2010, according to the Kentucky Department of Education, and cutting the department could take away more than $1 billion from Kentucky’s schools.” http://abcn.ws/dKxMNz
OBAMA V. RYAN: JOE KLEIN’S TAKE. “Unlike Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s recent budget plan, Barack Obama’s proposed no radical restructurings or curtailments of brontosaurus-size programs like Medicare or Medicaid,” wrote Joe Klein in a TIME Magazine column. In his Wednesday speech about reducing deficits, the President proceeded to eviscerate Ryan’s extremely radical proposal, which would replace the current Medicare system with a voucher designed to actually diminish in value over time…. Given the recent deficit hysteria, Obama may have a shot at real reform this time. Thanks to Ryan, everything — the ridiculous farm subsidies, the inefficient job-training programs, even the defense budget — is now on the table. Indeed, Ryan has bestowed a remarkable gift upon the President: his radicalism has framed the moderate, financially prudent profile for Obama’s coming campaign.” http://ti.me/etJhqt
DCCC PAYING OFF 2010 CAMPAIGN DEBT. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel announced today that the DCCC has paid off 60 percent of its 2010 cycle debt and raised $19.6 million in the first quarter of the year. The DCCC calls it “the strongest off-year first quarter in DCCC history.” Chairman Israel said in a statement that the “DCCC is back on sound financial footing and aggressively focused on holding Republicans accountable for their radical agenda.” The Committee cut its 2010 campaign debt to $8 million in March from $19.5 million in January and more than $1.2 million from online grassroots supporters in March 2011 compared to less than $350,000 in March 2009, according to figures released by the DCCC.
GOV. WALKER GOES TO WASHINGTON. “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is on Capitol Hill today to testify on an issue that catapulted him onto the national scene – ways to handle state debt,” ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes. “Walker is appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a hearing titled ‘State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.’ … Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., invited the Republican governor to testify on state debt based on his efforts to rein in Wisconsin’s spending and deal with public employee pension programs.” http://abcn.ws/egeTl6
NOTABLE: VEEP SLEEP? In case you missed it, ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf points out that Vice President Joe Biden chose an inopportune time for either a nap or some deep reflection yesterday. As President Obama outlined his plan to deal with deficit reduction and attack the national debt, Biden could be seen apparently nodding off — or at least deep in thought. You be the judge. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/hGu7Jt
@paulwestdc: Kasich: I’m for Haley. Ohio guv says he’s with Barbour if Miss guv runs for prez.
* Tim Pawlenty will be in Nashua, NH to deliver the keynote speech at the Nashua Republican City Committee meeting.
* Haley Barbour will spend the day in New Hampshire, first in Manchester for a breakfast, then in Hooksett for a meet-and-greet at Riley’s Gun Shop. Barbour will return to Manchester in the evening for a reception with the Greater Manchester Federation of Republican Women.
* Herman Cain will speak at the Keep Them Honest Tea Party Rally & Lobby Day in Lansing, Michigan.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
* Get The Note delivered to your inbox every day.