PM NOTE: Boehner Readies Escape Hatch as Talks Inch Forward, NRA Plans Presser, Outlines of an Obama Gun Control Policy

Dec 18, 2012 6:17pm

Crosscurrents – Obama and Boehner Make Progress as Boehner Preps Escape Hatch - More on that, with reporting form Jon Karl below

Inouye to Lie in State in Capitol Rotunda – http://abcn.ws/XGsOJZ (Miller)

NRA to Hold ‘Major’ Press Conf. Friday - “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” http://abcn.ws/VOfFgj

Friday is also set to be an official day of mourning in Connecticut.

Dick’s Suspends Some Rifle Sales - http://abcn.ws/XFWt5Q

Cerberus (of Chrysler Fame) to Sell Stake in Bushmaster after threat from California Teachers’ Retirement System - http://abcn.ws/UAuDYd

White House Gun Control Petition Breaks Recordhttp://abcn.ws/U7ar1Y

Veto Preserves Michigan School ‘Gun Free Zones’ – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder today vetoed a bill that would have invalidated “gun free” zones like those at schools and churches. The law was passed by the state legislature in Michigan the day before the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting. It would have allowed individual schools to ban guns on their property, but Snyder vetoed it because of concerns that public schools did not retain enough power to keep guns off their campuses.

“While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security,” he said. “These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so.” http://abcn.ws/XG5yvE (Saenz)

McDonnell, Perry Speak Favorably About Armed Teachers – But some state laws already permit individual school districts to allow concealed weapons on campus. The thinking is that law-abiding citizens with concealed weapons can deter and react to the person bent on destruction. Four days after the deadly school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 children and six teachers dead, two Republican governors have spoken favorably of considering proposals to put guns in the hands of teachers and administrators. Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed support for allowing school districts to determine whether teachers can carry concealed handguns in class, which at least one Texas district already permits. “In the state of Texas, if you go through the process, have been trained, and you are a handgun-licensed individual, you should be able to carry a gun anywhere in the state,” Perry told the NE Tarrant County Tea Party Monday evening, according to ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Virginia Gov. McDonnell said during a WTOP radio program today, “I know there’s been a knee-jerk reaction against that. I think there should at least be a discussion of that. If people were armed, not just a police officer but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming into the schools. So I think that’s a reasonable discussion that ought to be had.” http://abcn.ws/XG5yvE (Saenz)

Vague Outlines of an Obma Gun Policy - From Tapper / Bruce – The White House today indicated President Obama would support legislation that would reinstate the ban on certain types of semi-automatic rifles – known as “the assault weapons ban” — and may support other efforts, such as a proposal to ban high-capacity magazines. In the wake of the deadly massacre in Newtown, Obama supports Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, called Joe Manchin and wants to close gun show loophole. Though the White House has said the president views potential solutions as not solely focused on gun control – involving, for instance, mental health issues and violence in U.S. popular culture – Carney did not provide specifics when asked about those areas. http://abcn.ws/SNrt7w

Meet Chuck Hagel - Potential Defense Secretary Nominee – Chris Good reports Chuck Hagel is now a front-runner to become the next U.S. secretary of defense. To those who haven’t followed the Senate closely in the past decade, he’s probably not a household name. Hagel is a former GOP senator and Purple-Heart-decorated Vietnam veteran, but he wouldn’t necessarily be a popular pick with Republicans in Congress. Here’s why. http://abcn.ws/ZLeRQa

Boehner’s Plan B – Jon Karl reports:
Despite the hopeful signs overnight, the prospects of a comprehensive fiscal cliff deal once again appear to be waning.

At 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner was set to outline, in detail, his Plan B to House Republicans. He first floated the proposal this morning. http://abcn.ws/VOGGAq

According to top House GOP sources, here are the key elements of the “Plan B” bill:

-          Bush tax cuts extended for everybody making less than $1 million a year.
-          Tax increase (because of expiring tax cuts) on everybody making more than $1 million.
-          Extension of the estate tax cut (keeping it at 35% for estates over $5 million)
-          Extension current tax rate (15%) on capital gains and dividends (both are scheduled to go up) for those making under $1 million a year.  For those making more than $1 million, the capital gains and dividends tax goes to 20 %)
-          Relief for many hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax.

House and Senate Democrats have signaled they will oppose this Plan B.  And Boehner now needs to make the case for Republicans to support it despite the fact that it allows the tax rate on millionaires to go up.

Senate Democrats are already preparing for the likelihood this bill will be passed by the House and sent to the Senate.

This afternoon, Harry Reid said he would amend the bill (likely applying the higher rates to a lower income threshold of, say, $400,000) and send it back to the House.

It increasingly looks like this will be the quasi-solution to the fiscal cliff.   But it would leave major unfinished business – and great economic uncertainty — for early in the new year.  Among the issues not addressed:

-          Debt ceiling
-          Unemployment benefits
-          Across the board cuts (“sequester”) to Defense and other domestic programs
-          Payments to Medicare doctors

But Obama / Boehner Negotiations Continue – Reports Devin Dwyer – In a new offer to Boehner on Monday night, Obama offered to raise his tax-hike threshold to incomes above $400,000 and trim his overall tax revenue target to $1.2 trillion over 10 years. He would allow more limits on entitlement spending, including slower annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries. Obama also dropped his request for full, permanent control over the nation’s debt limit, instead seeking only a two-year increase to get the administration past the midterm election in 2014, the White House said. The move follows concessions by Boehner over the weekend, when he for the first time agreed to higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans making more than $1 million a year. He has also signaled willingness to put off desired changes to Medicare, such as raising the eligibility age, until next year. A spokesman for Boehner called the mutual concessions a “step in the right direction,” though Republicans still sought additional spending cuts. The White House made a point of noting that its latest proposal is not “our final offer,” signaling more room for compromise.  http://abcn.ws/Woxets

Chained Melody – Liberals Balk at CPI Proposal - Chris Good reports – Liberals on Tuesday blasted the White House’s latest fiscal-cliff proposal as a cut to Social Security benefits.

Perhaps it’s a sign that President Obama and congressional Republicans have moved closer to a deal. GOP House Speaker John Boehner had suggested tying Social Security and other benefits to to a “chained CPI” (Consumer Price Index), which could slow benefit increases that are tied to inflation. On Monday night, the White House countered with an offer that included what it called a “superlative CPI,” which would cut less money over 10 years and would exempt the neediest beneficiaries from a CPI change. And that rubbed liberals the wrong way. – http://abcn.ws/XGfPYN

Mexican Prez to De-Emphasize Pursuit of Cartels- From Univision’s Jordan Fabian – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Monday his administration will shift the nation’s anti-crime strategy in a break from the U.S.-backed campaign against drug cartels carried out under his predecessor, Felipe Calderón.

According to multiple media reports, Peña Nieto laid out a plan before Mexico’s National Council on Public Security that he would focus more on reducing crimes against ordinary citizens – such as murder, kidnapping, and extortion — than pursuing the leaders of violent drug cartels. Peña Nieto and members of his cabinet were also critical of the previous administration’s policies, which resulted in a drawn out war against cartels that has left tens of thousands dead.  http://abcn.ws/12yFYNm

Obama Holds Cards, But No Mandate - ABC Pollster Gary Langer translates the ABC News / Washington Post Poll – “President Obama holds most of the cards in fiscal cliff negotiations with the Republican leaders of Congress, with more Americans approving of his handling of the talks and more prepared to blame the GOP if the brinksmanship fails. But another factor constrains the president: His lack of a mandate in the public’s mind. Overall, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the impact of Obama’s successful re-election campaign. His job approval rating, at 54 percent, is his highest (excepting a brief bin Laden bounce) in nearly two years. And even while weakly rated on the economy, he leads the Republicans in trust to handle it by 18 percentage points, his widest margin since July 2009. But for all his advantages, Americans by a wide 22-point margin, 56-34 percent, say Obama does not have “a mandate to carry out the agenda he presented during the presidential campaign,” but rather should “compromise on things the Republicans strongly oppose,” a sign of risk for the president if the talks should collapse.

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