By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
The Obama administration may have done away with “Public Enemy No. 1” last week, but House Speaker John Boehner was back on the stump last night scolding the president for ducking his responsibility to deal with what he sees as the No. 1 threat to the country’s economic security — America’s “spending addiction.”
“We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a speech to the New York Economic Club. And he went one step further: “Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.”
As ABC’s Jonathan Karl points out, “The Obama administration hasn’t said yet how much it wants the debt limit increased, but the last increase was $1.9 trillion. To meet Boehner’s new requirement, a debt limit increase of anywhere near that amount would require massive reductions in government spending without precedent in American history.” http://abcn.ws/kGlRiQ
Boehner acknowledged last night that “allowing America to default would be irresponsible,” but added, “it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process.”
Meanwhile, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes that Senate Republicans have “decided to avoid jeopardizing their chances of capturing the upper chamber in next year's elections and will not echo the House GOPs call for a major overhaul of [Medicare,] the popular health entitlement for seniors.” As Bolton notes, "Some House Republicans got an earful during the April recess over the Ryan plan, and the negative feedback now has GOP leaders in a bind." http://bit.ly/iON6FJ
So how are they going to feel about Boehner's new marker? It would mean roughly $2 trillion in cuts and a huge potential for backlash from voters who would like to see a reduction in government spending but not necessarily deep cuts in programs they like.
Republicans’ zeal for spending cuts plays well among their base, but in order to win over independent voters they need to find ways to assure them that they care just as much about job growth. In the March ABC News-Washington Post poll, for example, 41 percent said they thought cuts in spending would do more to create jobs while 45 percent thought such cuts would cut reduce job growth.
Even so, the new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll is the latest to show the limited impact of the Bin Laden bounce on Obama's approval ratings. While his overall job rating bumped up 3 points to 52 percent, only 37 percent approve of the president's handling of the economy.
OBAMA HEADS TO THE BORDER. “President Obama will tout his administration's improvements in border security and renew a commitment to overhauling the nation's immigration system in a speech today on the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas,” ABC’s Devin Dwyer writes. “But with key voices on both sides of the debate saying there is little chance Congress will overhaul immigration laws any time soon, Obama's speech is widely seen as a political appeal to Hispanics, who are a key constituency for his 2012 reelection campaign. Hispanics voted for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin in 2008. But many have since become disillusioned, hit hard by the sluggish economic recovery and disappointed by unfulfilled promises to improve policies affecting millions of legal and illegal immigrants and their families, community leaders say. ‘In the immigrant community across the country, there is broad acknowledgment that Republicans are the single biggest impediment to bringing comprehensive immigration reform to a successful conclusion,’ Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said in an interview. … The White House insists that Obama has always been committed to achieving a comprehensive package of immigration system reforms, and has blamed the shifting political winds in Washington for the delay.” http://abcn.ws/jJXJOq
SPEECH PREVIEW. From ABC’s Sunlen Miller: “Part of what is new is here is this has some elements to a campaign to it,” an Obama administration official acknowledged on a conference call yesterday with reporters, “We know the policy we are driving towards, we know where the obstacles are and what he president is hoping to do is to build the momentum, extend the number and the quality of voices that are engaging in the debate, and create a sense of urgency around the country that matches his sense of urgency on this issue.” The administration says part of what the president will say tomorrow is a “call to action” to the country “to create the momentum we need it order to get this over the top.” http://abcn.ws/m5FPAb
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl talk to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Also on the program, Democratic strategist and former top aide to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Brendan Daly. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
ISSA THREATENS TO SUBPOENA OBAMA OFFICIAL ON DISCLOSURE PROPOSAL. “Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Sam Graves are signaling their intent to subpoena a top Obama administration official to testify about a controversial White House proposal that conservatives allege is an attempt to intimidate administration critics. White House budget director Jack Lew, in a Friday letter, declined a request from Issa and Graves to testify at a Thursday joint hearing of their committees on a draft presidential order that would require companies seeking government contracts to disclose contributions,” Politico's Ken Vogel reports. “‘Unfortunately, because this hearing concerns a draft presidential executive order that is still moving through the standard review and feedback process, we will be unable to testify,’ wrote Lew, who heads the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Issa (R-Calif.) and Graves (R-Mo.) responded Monday with a sharply critical letter, concluding, ‘If the OMB continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to cooperate fully with the Committee’s oversight function, we will be required to consider the use of compulsory process.’ Asked if that meant a subpoena of Lew could be forthcoming, a Republican source familiar with the situation said ‘We’re getting there’ and called the letter ‘another step in the process.’” http://politi.co/ixpZdt
TERMINATED? ARNOLD AND MARIA SPLIT. “Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, have separated, with Shriver moving out of their Brentwood mansion while the two determine the next step in their 25-year marriage,” The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Z. Barabak scoops. “Shriver has been residing apart from the actor-turned-politician for the last few weeks. The former first couple confirmed the separation in a joint statement released Monday after questions from The Times. ‘This has been a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us,’ the statement read. ‘After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion and prayer, we came to this decision together. At this time, we are living apart while we work on the future of our relationship.’ … Over the years, the marriage between the international celebrity and the daughter of the Kennedy dynasty has come under close scrutiny, especially during the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis, when The Times reported on Schwarzenegger's lengthy history of groping women. At the time, Shriver defended her husband, helping lift him to victory in the free-for-all contest. Since Schwarzenegger left office, it had seemed as though the two were living separate lives.” http://lat.ms/kumlcI
UNDERESTIMATING NEWT? “[Newt] Gingrich remains a curiously undervalued stock in the Republican presidential portfolio. … Yes, Gingrich has more defects than a 1971 Chevy Vega and his liabilities may seem more daunting than the final Lehman Brothers balance sheet,” Walter Shapiro writes in The New Republic. “What Gingrich has going for him is that presidential elections are about something beyond gauzy biographical ads and rehearsed debate one-liners. ‘We’re in the personality phase of the campaign,’ says Republican pollster David Winston, who worked for Gingrich when he was House speaker. “But eventually it’s going to move from personality to policy. GOP voters are going to ask, ‘What are your solutions to fix the nation’s problems?’ And that is the moment that plays to Newt’s greatest strength.’ Almost nine months before the scheduled date for the Iowa caucuses, it is difficult to predict what issues will frame the GOP conversation. Hint: Real issues involve more than predictably denouncing ObamaCare and demagoging the deficit. Not only can the external political environment change in an instant (yes, this is the obligatory Osama bin Laden reference), but odd issues can galvanize primary voters. At this point in 1995, no one imagined that the 1996 GOP campaign dialogue would be dominated by Steve Forbes’s advocacy of the flat tax.” http://bit.ly/iqJWTP
NOTABLE: CALLISTA BY HIS SIDE. The New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg takes a closer look at Gingrich’s third wife, Callista, who will be a key part of his presidential campaign: “Barely a sentence goes by without Mr. Gingrich uttering the words ‘Callista and I.’ They are constantly together — at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, at conservative political conferences, at book signings and screenings of their documentary films. … At Villanova University on a recent Thursday night, Mrs. Gingrich warmed up the audience for a showing of the couple’s movie about Pope John Paul II by signing books and DVDs in her left-handed curlicue. But when asked whether she is ready for the scrutiny a campaign would bring, she smiled tightly and grew silent. Mr. Gingrich answered for her. ‘Seems to be,’ he said, with uncharacteristic tentativeness. ‘We’ve talked about it for a year. It’s difficult.’ … At 45, 22 years her husband’s junior, Mrs. Gingrich always looks perfectly composed. She favors an almost retro look — platinum hair teased and sprayed, bold-colored suits accessorized by a triple strand of pearls or eye-popping diamond jewelry. In college, friends say, she once signed up for an 8 a.m. bowling class and rolled a 200 wearing a pencil skirt.” http://nyti.ms/l66vtH
TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN: MITCH DANIELS' HAMLET COMPLEX. “One week of making the rounds as a possible presidential candidate, and Mitch Daniels is already digging himself out of a hole. Memo to Mitch: Get in or out, but do it soon. There’s such a thing as playing too hard to get, and it can be risk,” The Daily Beast’s Jill Lawrence writes. “There’s little doubt Daniels can play catch-up on substance. His brainpower has never been in question. But if you want to be leader of the free world, it’s best to have a big footprint, a big story, a big personality. So far, when Daniels is asked about his plans to run or issues he’d face as president, he’s wrapped a hayseed persona around himself like a missile defense shield. He’s been so diffident and self-deprecating that you start to wonder if he’s capable of pulling off a Clark Kent transformation into a dynamic contender. In his AEI speech, for instance, he praised Obama on education, did not attack unions, and employed a nerdy PowerPoint presentation.” http://bit.ly/mGKGWg
OBAMA: MESSING WITH TEXAS? “President Obama comes to Texas today, primarily to raise money for his reelection campaign, a full 79 weeks before Election Day,” Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak notes in an Op-Ed in the Daily Caller. “Last Friday the White House announced that President Obama would give an immigration reform speech in El Paso. No one is fooled. President Obama sees Texas as an ATM, not as a place where he should work with state officials to courageously address tough issues and engage the public in debate. … Texans remain deeply concerned about border security, given increasing cross-border violence and narco-trafficking along the state’s 2,000+ mile border with Mexico. On March 17, 2010, more than two years ago, Texas’s two U.S. senators invited President Obama to visit the border to see firsthand the security threat and work with them to craft a plan to address the violence. President Obama has not taken them up on the offer. … Many Obama strategists contend that they will compete in Texas in 2012. Doing so would be political malpractice. In 2010, Republicans won 3 Democratic Congressional seats, increased their majority in the state House to 99 seats and reelected every single statewide elected official. …Texans have a lot of questions for President Obama as he comes to Texas today. Will he answer them?” http://bit.ly/j1UK29
* Mitt Romney holds a fundraising event in New York City. The event chair is retired Tiger Management Corp. hedge funder Julian Robertson Jr. The co-chairs are listed as Blue Ridge Capital founder John Griffin, and ex-ass't Treas. Sec. under George W. Bush Emil Henry.
Noted: The New Hampshire Democratic Party is using Romney’s fundraiser as an opportunity to attack the all-but-declared candidate. “This week New Hampshire will welcome three Republican presidential candidates to our first in the nation state. But there is one candidate who isn't showing up. Instead, Mitt Romney is hobnobbing with Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers in New York City. In fact, this Wall Street fundraiser for his campaign is the ONLY event on Romney's schedule all week!” wrote New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley in an e-mail message to supporters yesterday. “Romney would rather raise money on Wall Street than take questions from Granite Staters. Period. And his love affair with Wall Street is nothing new. Mitt Romney actually said that Wall Street was not the reason for our economic meltdown. Can you believe that?” http://bit.ly/m48EkL
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