By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC'S RICK KLEIN: Why The President 'Needs A New Debate'
President Obama insists that he's not negotiating over the debt ceiling. But in reality he's already negotiating over the debt ceiling, and he's starting by trying to recast the debate entirely. Using terms like "ransom" and "deadbeat nation," he's ratcheting up public pressure on House Republicans to expand the debt limit to accommodate money that's already been spent. GOP lawmakers see zero incentive to accede to the president's demands without extracting a pound (or more) of spending flesh. That's why the president needs a new debate, or at least new terms in which the debate is discussed. Perhaps most intriguingly, he's putting the responsibility on Congress, while almost-but-not-quite ruling out executive actions that bypass the legislative branch.
ABC'S SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Andrew Cuomo, 'Building His Base' For 2016
In a late night vote, the New York State Senate passed new gun control measures laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week. This makes New York the first state to pass tough new gun control laws and it was voted on one month to the day of the Sandy Hook school tragedy. Cuomo becomes the first governor bold enough to do something and a leader in what will undoubtedly be a bitter fight on the federal stage. These measures, along with his push for same sex marriage in New York, are building his base if he does want to run in the Democratic presidential primary in 2016. He's betting that this country, which has moved so far on gay marriage, feels the same way on gun control since Newtown. Last night's ABC News-Washington Post polling seems to back that up, with most Americans favoring gun control measures.
ABC's Z. BYRON WOLF: 'The Real Test For Obama'
President Obama was armed at his press conference with no shortage of taunting analogies for Republicans on the debt ceiling. Since he won't negotiate, he said, they're holding a gun to the head of the American people (hostage situation). If the U.S. doesn't raise the debt ceiling, it'll be like running out on a check for a meal we've already eaten (dine-n-dash). It would not be living up to our responsibilities (deadbeat nation). But the real test for Obama will come if he is willing to stick with his no negotiation pledge and even allow the government to default on the principle as the debt ceiling nears (crying wolf).
ABC's CHRIS GOOD: 'Meager' Hopes On Gun Control?
Since the launch of Joe Biden's gun-control task force, it's sounded as if the vice president would produce a broad menu of gun policies. But yesterday, after recommendations were delivered to Obama, hopes sounded a bit meager when I asked Brady Campaign Legal Action Project Director Jon Lowey what his group is expecting: "We're hopeful that there's a proposal to require universal background checks to the 40,000 gun sales that take place, no questions asked," he said. That was all Lowey would say. Maybe Brady Campaign is being coy, maybe it doesn't wish to overextend, or maybe it has reason to believe the White House will only be able to push a limited agenda. Who knows.
ABC, YAHOO NEWS ANNOUNCE INAUGURATION LIVE STREAMS. ABC News and Yahoo! News have come together to jointly produce live stream coverage of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama across ABCNews.com, Yahoo! News, GoodMorningAmerica.com, ABC News' iPad & iPhone apps, ABC News affiliate websites, as well as on the ABC News YouTube channel. Live-streamed coverage of inauguration kicks off on Sunday with a special report on the president's official oath of office at 11:55a.m.ET, followed by continuous coverage on Monday from 9:30a.m. until 5:00p.m.ET, anchored by ABC News' Dan Harris along with Yahoo! News' Olivier Knox. ABC News' team of anchors and correspondents will contribute to special live stream coverage throughout the day including: Business Correspondent Bianna Golodryga in New York; Digital Correspondent Dan Kloeffler reporting from the National Mall; Senior Washington Editor Rick Klein in D.C.; Correspondent Reena Ninan talking to crowds along the parade route. Coverage will also include on-the-ground reporting and analysis from Yahoo! News' Jeff Greenfield, Phoebe Connelly, Chris Moody, Holly Bailey, and Walter Shapiro, along with a line-up of all-star guests, contributors and team of Washington insiders.
-CHELSEA CLINTON GETS PROMINENT ROLE. The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced today that Chelsea Clinton will serve as Honorary Chair of the 2013 National Day of Service on Saturday, January 19 and will headline the Service Summit on the National Mall. "I am deeply grateful that President Obama and his administration have put service at the center of the Inauguration weekend and I am proud to be part of a nation-wide service effort, honoring the service and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and building a brighter future for all of us," Chelsea Clinton said in a statement.
-WILL.I.AM TO PERFORM AT GREEN INAUGURAL BALL. Organizers of the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball announced today that seven-time Grammy Award winner Will.I.Am will perform at the event this Sunday, which will bring together leaders and grassroots activists to celebrate President Obama's accomplishments in the environment and clean energy areas over the past four years. Other attendees include members of the Washington Redskins and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. For tickets and more information about the ball: http://www.nwf.org/2013-green-inaugural-ball.aspx
FOLLOW-UP: ABC TALKS TO FORMER SEN. CHUCK ROBB, AN EARLY LEADER ON GAY RIGHTS. As a follow-up to our story last week in which we examined politicians following the polls on both gay rights and same-sex marriage, ABC News spoke with former U.S. Senator and Virginia Gov. Chuck Robb. ABC's Shushannah Walshe writes: In 1996, Robb, a Democrat, was the only Southerner at the time to vote against the federal Defense of Marriage Act. It was a bold act at the time, but it's something that now seems prescient. In 1996, he gave an impassioned address on the floor of the Senate saying, "I feel very strongly that this legislation is wrong." … "I'm pleased to see so many people who did support (DOMA) who've come around and acknowledged an evolution, that times have changed, they better understand the issue," Robb told ABC News. "Anybody that knows anything about it has come the other way." http://abcn.ws/SCWETr
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
HOUSE VOTES TODAY ON SANDY RELIEF. After a political kerfuffle that saw New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie publicly berate House Republicans for delaying a vote, ABC's John Parkinson reports: The House of Representatives is poised to vote today to provide about $50 billion of additional relief for the region impacted by Superstorm Sandy last fall. The base bill, known as the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Act, includes about $17 billion to fund immediate and critical needs for Sandy victims and their communities. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., has offered an amendment that would provide an additional $33 billion for disaster relief, bringing the total closer to the Obama administration's emergency supplemental request, which called for $60.4 billion in total relief. This amendment, which is opposed by many hard-line conservatives, includes funding for longer-term recovery efforts and infrastructure improvements intended to help prevent damage caused by future disasters. Nearly 100 additional amendments were offered to cut or offset money included in the underlying bill and Frelinghuysen amendment, including one to strike $133 million for improved weather forecasting equipment and satellites. http://abcn.ws/W2W5Pr
NEW YORK SENATE PASSES NEW GUN LAW. The AP's Michael Gormley reports from Albany, N.Y.: "New York lawmakers agreed to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown school shooting, and now dare other states and Washington to follow. … The measure, which calls for a tougher assault weapons ban and restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns, passed the Senate 43-18 on the strength of support from Democrats, many of whom previously sponsored bills that were once blocked by Republicans. The Democrat-led Assembly gaveled out before midnight and planned to take the issue up at 10 a.m. Tuesday. It is expected to pass easily. … It would create a more powerful tool to require the reporting of mentally ill people who say they intend to use a gun illegally and would address the unsafe storage of guns, the governor confirmed. It was agreed upon exactly a month since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy." http://bit.ly/RTN38Z
CUOMO PRAISES THE BILL. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo congratulated the Senate on passage in a written statement, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: "Tonight, the Senators that voted for the NY SAFE Act of 2013 made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation, as we have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence. I commend Senator Skelos, Senator Klein, and Senator Stewart-Cousins for their hard work on this important legislation."
BLACK MARKET EMERGES FOR INAUGURATION TICKETS. ABC's Anjuli Sastry and Alisa Wiersema report: If you're still in the market for a free ticket to the inauguration swearing-in ceremony, it is going to cost you. The tickets are supposed to be distributed free of charge by congressional offices, but online scalpers are giving would-be attendees the option to shell out up to $4,300 on Craigslist and Ebay. These packaged deals include a range of events starting with single event admissions, to combinations of tickets to the inauguration ceremony, presidential parade route and the official Inaugural Black Tie Ball invitations, complete with transportation and accommodations. … "Any constituent who wins tickets in the lottery that my office holds is required to pledge not to scalp the ticket to turn a profit," reads a statement from Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who is the chairman of the committee. … There's no official monitoring system to track whether a ticket has been scalped, but individuals with tickets will go through security checkpoints when they arrive for the viewing. http://abcn.ws/V6IuL5
GUN POLITICS: WHAT'S CHANGED SINCE THE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN PASSED IN 1994? For one, Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, along with the White House. One-party rule opened up the legislative playbook, so to speak, giving Democrats the freedom to push major legislation. But perhaps the largest difference was that Congress didn't bring up the assault weapons ban as its own bill. Clinton pushed the ban as part of a much broader crime bill. Clinton began his push in 1993, initially asking Congress to pass a "crime bill" by Christmas, then by Memorial Day 1994-and despite the urgings of a first-term Democratic president, the Democratic Congress still didn't pass it until September 1994. In the early 1990s, gun control was wrapped up in the general issue of crime, and Clinton had campaigned against George H.W. Bush on that issue. http://abcn.ws/ZSwIAs
MILITARY SUICIDES IN 2012 TOP COMBAT DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN. ABC's Luis Martinez reports: The number of suicides among active duty service members, across all four military branches, reached a record high of 349 in 2012, compared with 301 in 2011. The Associated Press first reported the new numbers, pointing out that the 2012 suicide total was higher than the number of U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan last year. The number for Operation Enduring Freedom-the war in Afghanistan-was 313 dead. The Army reported the highest number of suicides-182-among active-duty troops last year, according to the Pentagon, compared with 167 in 2011. http://abcn.ws/RU7cfc
OBAMA CAN'T GET A GOP DATE. ABC's Rick Klein writes: Asked about the state of congressional relations at his news conference today, the president mused aloud that to some Republicans, "it doesn't look real good socializing with me." … House Speaker John Boehner's decision to not have his photo taken with the president at a White House holiday party last month may have been overblown, but it was taken as a sign that the fiscal cliff wasn't making the power players any friendlier with each other. … Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has also turned down at least two invites to state dinners, according to press reports. … Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also chose to enjoy a sporting event away from the White House. He was invited to join the president in watching his Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV in 2011, though few would fault him for choosing to watch the game in person instead. http://abcn.ws/ULKyCT
CUOMO, O'MALLEY TAKE UP GUN CONTROL - BUT THERE'S A RISK. New York's Andrew Cuomo and Maryland's Martin O'Malley not only want to enact legislation that would make their respective states the toughest in the country, they are both widely believed to have presidential aspirations and could face each other in 2016 or a future Democratic primary. … Both of their plans are bold and expansive. … As for the duo's future ambitions, Amy Walter, the national editor of the Cook Political Report, told ABC News that the two governors' plans put together so quickly after the Newtown tragedy points to "why it is so much easier to be a governor than a United States senator when it comes to running for president." http://abcn.ws/UN4pRZ
VILLARAIGOSA TALKS GUNS, IMMMIGRATION IN D.C. Considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke to a crowd of 70 in Washington, D.C. on Monday, ABC's Mary McGuire reports: "Legalization should be earned, but not be unattainable," said Villaraigosa, one of the top-elected Latino officials in the United States and a fierce advocate for a comprehensive immigration bill. … "It's an abomination that we don't have an assault weapons ban," said Villaraigosa. Villaraigosa also called for setting up universal background checks and a "beef up" of mental health resources. As for his future in the public sector, Villaraigosa wouldn't give any specifics, saying only that he is "focusing on the job at hand" until the end of his mayoral term in June. http://abcn.ws/W5dfLT
FOR CONGRESSWOMEN AND REPORTERS, SWEARING-IN IS LIKE DRAFT DAY FOR SOFTBALL. Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports: "The freshman congresswoman had been sworn in for only an hour or two, and she was already loaded for bear. 'I'm going to beat you!' she declared to this reporter, feet from the House floor. … There is no other city where amateur softball is taken more seriously than in the District of Columbia. But there is one game that takes that intensity to the point of near absurdity: the annual June meeting of female lawmakers against female Capitol Hill reporters. 'It's a rivalry. Full-fledged,' the game's founder, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said on swearing-in day. 'It's a healthy intensity, one that has a fun edge to it.' And so that is how the first day of the 113th Congress became Draft Day. Players on the reporter's team, known as the Bad News Babes, scoped out the new female members and traded information on which freshmen had committed to joining the members' team. And it is not just the female reporters - one of the Bad News Babes' male coaches was in on the act as well." http://bit.ly/13xbMnl
ANN ROMNEY SAYS 'NO' TO 'DANCING WITH THE STARS.' Despite an offer from "Dancing With the Stars" to dance for the mirror ball trophy in the upcoming season, Ann Romney turned the show down. A Romney adviser confirms to ABC News' Shushannah Walshe that Mrs. Romney was approached by "DWTS" and she declined the offer. The adviser notes that she "loves to dance" and is a "fan of the show." The news was first reported by TMZ. http://abcn.ws/SzSiMO
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-LIBERAL GROUP PLEDGES PRESSURE ON GUNS. With President Obama preparing to unveil Vice President Joe Biden's gun-control recommendations, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee sends this statement from co-founder Adam Green: "The nation is crying out for strong gun legislation - bold ideas, not the bare minimum. The PCCC will be all in for this fight, investing time and money in Republican and Democratic districts until Congress passes major gun legislation that includes an assault weapons ban."
@GOPLeader: This morning, the U.S. Constitution will be read aloud from the floor of the House of Representatives.
@mikiebarb: Some former Obama campaign staffers feel snubbed by his inaugural team - lament being shut out of inaugural ball: http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/former-obama-staff-complain-of-cold-inaugural-shou …