By RICK KLEIN (@rickklein)
History shall record that, three years from the next presidential election, a freshman senator announced that she will not be part of said next election.
What Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced is basically what Sen. Barack Obama said in the months after his election to Congress. (“I pledge to serve out my term,” said Warren on Wednesday. “I will serve out my full six-year term,” said Obama, once upon a time.)
That’s not to dismiss the meaning of what Warren said, from either direction you might approach it for potential import.
To handle the big headline first — a pledge is a pledge, and that’s more than a promise, but breaking one is a one-day hit with a potential four-or-eight-year payoff. (Perhaps Warren should have added an asterisk anyway: “as long as Hillary runs…”)
More urgently, the fact that Warren felt compelled to declare her non-interest in 2016 has implications for both the long-term Obama agenda and the short-term efforts to get a budget deal that would foreclose another shutdown.
Warren represents an element of the Democratic Party that remains disappointed, if not angry. The space she occupies is space this president and the next Democratic nominee for president need to be comfortable in.
President Obama’s speech Wednesday, casting income inequality – five years into his own presidency — as “a fundamental threat to the American dream,” was at least an implicit response to the energy that’s building on his left.
And it comes at a moment with policy consequences: There’s a real and growing chance that a budget deal of some (limited) consequence emerges in the next week-plus. It cannot go any further than Paul Ryan and Patty Murray’s offices without the support, and perhaps the enthusiastic support, of congressional Democrats.
For her part, Warren’s pledge on Wednesday included a promise to continue to fight for the causes and issues she holds dear. She won’t be fighting alone.
- WHAT SHE SAID. “I’m not running for president and I plan to serve out my term,” Warren said in Boston, per ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. “I pledge to serve out my term,” she later added, when pressed. Warren has stoked speculation about a potential president bid in recent months as progressives have lauded her populist tone. Warren’s statement may take her out of the running for now, but if we’ve learned anything from political ambition, it’s that some promises are made to be broken. http://abcn.ws/1bhskEl
- WHAT HE SAID. President Obama today argued that the growing gap between the nation’s rich and poor poses “a fundamental threat to the American dream,” as he outlined a sweeping economic agenda expected to dominate the remainder of his presidency. Repeating familiar themes, Obama said “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility” is jeopardizing the basic American middle-class tenet that “if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead,” ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports. In the president’s remarks at an arts and education town hall recreation center in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, he said “this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. That’s why I ran for president. It was the center of last year’s campaign. It drives everything I do in this office.” An official said his remarks preview his State of the Union address. http://abcn.ws/IFDyqV
- ASPIRING MINDS. “President Obama laid out an aspirational agenda Wednesday for the remainder of his presidency, looking past the Republican opposition that has long blocked his goals and toward policies to narrow income inequality and promote opportunity for the poor,” writes THE WASHINGTON POST’s ZACHARY GOLDFARB. “But the president offered little sense of how he might achieve his long-sought economic goals. Instead, the speech — coming at the end of a difficult and politically damaging year — was designed to help define a populist argument that he and other Democrats can carry into upcoming legislative battles and into next year’s midterm elections.” http://wapo.st/1ke43jA
- CONTEXT. “After months of moving away from rhetoric on the need to tame the deficit, Obama completed the maneuver in an address to members of his liberal base, many of whom had been troubled by his willingness to talk with Republican deficit hawks about deep budget cuts and entitlement reform,” per the LOS ANGELES TIMES’ CHRISTI PARSONS. http://lat.ms/1eS58MX
- NEARING A DEAL. “Budget negotiators are near a deal in which Democrats would accept fresh revenue from user fees and Republicans would agree to more federal spending, steps that could avoid another government shutdown next year,” BLOOMBERG’s HEIDI PRZYBYLA and DEREK WALLBANK report. “The negotiators are seeking to boost domestic and defense spending by $65 billion over two years to soften the blow from mandatory spending cuts on the Pentagon and programs including scientific and medical research and services to feed poor children, according to an aide close to the talks. It would be paid for with $80 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, pushing off the most painful reductions to future years.” http://bloom.bg/1hzJiBS
- BACK TO HEALTHCARE – YOUNG HEARTS. Call them what you will — millennials, Generation Y, the “me” generation — but don’t take them for granted as Obama supporters any more. A new poll from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows that the majority of young people, a core support group throughout Obama’s time in office, disapproves of the Affordable Care Act, with less than a third saying they would sign up, an essential element to the success of Obamacare. ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE writes that the survey polled 18- to 29-year-olds, and twice as many respondents said they believe health care under the Affordable Care Act will get worse than get better — 44 percent to 17 percent. Half of respondents said they believe costs will increase. “We found that millennials are unlikely to buy something, invest in something, to vote for something from people and from things they don’t necessarily trust, and that’s a serious concern today,” Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe said. http://abcn.ws/IQF0YF
- GREEN-ISH SHOOTS. More Americans signed up for health insurance through the federal online exchange on the first two days of December than in all of October, a source familiar with the enrollment numbers told ABC’s DEVIN DWYER. Roughly 29,000 people completed applications and selected a plan through the revamped HealthCare.gov site between midnight Sunday and midnight Tuesday, the source said. It is not clear how many of those paid their first month’s premium, which is how insurers formally define enrollment. http://abcn.ws/19iWrHp
- A NEW SNAFU. “Every week, usually on Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sends state Medicaid departments something called a ‘flat file,” reports THE WASHINGTON POST’S SARAH KLIFF. “And, much like the those 834 transmissions, Medicaid officials say, these flat files are riddled with errors and incomplete information.” http://wapo.st/ItLPPq
- HEADS ROLLING? “The development and roll-out of the federal online health insurance marketplace has been panned inside and outside the White House as a management fiasco. But still unclear, two months after its launch, is whether any administration officials directly responsible for the project will be shown the door,” ABC’s DEVIN DWYER notes. “With HealthCare.gov now vastly improved, there is renewed focus on accountability for the troubled launch that came after three years of planning and more than $600 million spent. President Obama hasn’t indicated who, if anybody, he might fire.” http://abcn.ws/18nufTC
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Gov. Chris Christie leaves today for his first trip to fundraise as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and Democrats are pouncing. He heads today to Oklahoma to fundraise for Gov. Mary Fallin, and Friday he will be in Idaho raising money for Gov. Butch Otter. Fallin has been a controversial figure more recently, announcing last month the state would stop processing all military spouse benefit applications at state-owned facilities of the Oklahoma National Guard rather than begin accepting applications from same-sex spouses. The Democratic National Committee has released a web video trying to align Christie and Fallin highlighting Christie’s comments at the RGA last month that electing and re-electing GOP governors is “priority one, two, and three,” as well as his “sole focus.” It also reminds viewers of Fallin’s move on spousal benefits, but also that she has called the DREAM Act “amnesty.” Just yesterday, Democratic Super PAC American Bridge put out its own video comparing Christie to Rep. Steve King on the issue of immigration. One thing that is clear: Democrats may have seemed to back off during his re-election fight, but not now. WATCH HERE: http://bit.ly/1iCjUNq
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
MEET THE ‘DUCK DYNASTY’ CONGRESSMAN. The newest House member, Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., talks to ABC’s JEFF ZELENY about his first trip to Washington (which came after he was elected), and what the support of the “Duck Dynasty” family meant for his prospects. “I think it validated me a little bit more and gave people a little bit more, people that are already swayed to me, it just really just told them you know what, he must be a pretty good old boy if Fred and Willie and Jeb and Jason are all behind him,” McAllister said in the latest edition of “The Fine Print,” the ABC/Yahoo! News “Power Players” series. As for what he’s looking to do in DC: “Until we have the numbers in the Senate or a different president it’s never going to be repealed,” he said. “The way to move government forward is, you don’t always get what you want, but you take the cards that you’re dealt with and you play the best hand you got.” http://yhoo.it/19j2YBY
COMING TODAY – ENERGY ANNOUNCEMENT. Per the ASSOCIATED PRESS: “Saying the government should lead by example, President Barack Obama is ordering the federal government to nearly triple its use of renewable sources for electricity by 2020. Obama says the plan to use renewables for 20 percent of electricity needs will help reduce pollution that causes global warming, promote American energy independence and boost domestic energy sources such as solar and wind power that provide thousands of jobs. Obama was set to announce the plan Thursday as part of his wide-ranging, second-term drive to combat climate change and prepare for its effects.”
BECAUSE THIS ALWAYS WORKS. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid still sees hope for an immigration bill to pass the House, telling a local newspaper on Tuesday that he thinks House Speaker John Boehner is “going to cave in.” Reid told the Las Vegas Sun editorial board Tuesday. ”I think there’s going to be so much pressure on the House that they’ll have to pass it,” ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Boehner, last month: “There are a lot of private conversations that are underway to try to figure out, how do we best move on a common-sense, step-by-step basis to address this very important issue … because it is a very important issue.” http://abcn.ws/18EKCAO
WHAT WILL BROWN DO? Only he knows for sure, writes ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, who had a brief e-mail exchange with the once-and-maybe-future senator. Scott Brown made another appearance in New Hampshire on Wednesday, visiting with potential voters in Londonderry. It’s just the latest event on his Will He-Won’t He Run for U.S. Senate tour in the Granite State. So will he? According to the Eagle-Tribune, Brown visited the Harold Square restaurant, which sounds like a stop on the campaign trail. But, in an e-mail to ABC News, Brown would only say, “Nothing has changed. I’m all set. Thanks for checking,” signing it with an “SB,” and then following up with a YouTube video of his daughter, recording artist and former American Idol contestant Ayla Brown singing “O Holy Night.” http://abcn.ws/1bin5TN
NEW TODAY FROM THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. Two new ads from the Chamber begin airing today in West Virginia, as the business group plays offense before the calendar flips to 2014. The ads hype two Republicans, Senate candidate Shelley Moore Capito and House candidate Even Jenkins, who will challenge Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall, promoting them for “standing up” to President Obama’s so-called “war on coal.”
The Moore ad: http://youtu.be/qgImNxKv8eY
The Jenkins ad: http://youtu.be/NCj-A7rlp88
BOTTOMS UP. As the first secretary of state to visit Moldova since James Baker, Secretary of State John Kerry toured a winery and sampled its wares, unveiling a new label that will adorn Moldovan wines sold abroad. He announced a trade mission that will send Moldova wine-makers to the U.S. to learn about the American wine market. Why does Kerry care so much about Moldovan wine? The answer has to do with Europe, Russia and protests raging right now in Ukraine. ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes that roughly 290 miles north of Moldova’s capital, Chisinau — where Kerry visited with Moldova’s president and where he sipped wine on Tuesday — protesters have seized parts of Kiev to protest Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement with the EU. Kerry, notably, chose to visit Moldova instead of Ukraine. http://abcn.ws/1bj95tU
BAD DOG, GREAT PICS. The newest member of the Obama family got a little rambunctious as she stepped into the spotlight Wednesday. Sunny, the Obama’s new puppy, joined the first lady this afternoon for some holiday arts and crafts with the children of military families, ABC’s MARY BRUCE writes. Bounding with excitement, Sunny got a bit too frisky at one point and knocked Ashtyn Gardner, 2, of Mobile, Ala., to the ground. The first lady gasped and immediately helped the toddler to her feet. Dressed in a bright-red dress with a big black bow, Ashtyn appeared to be fine. The first lady then introduced her to Sunny, who moments later playfully licked Ashtyn’s face. http://abcn.ws/1cnuxOM
WHAT WE’RE READING
“Republicans tussle over gay candidates,” by POLITICO’s AUSTIN WRIGHT and JAKE SHERMAN. “Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior House Republican eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, is causing friction with some of his colleagues by pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for some of the party’s gay congressional candidates. Forbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.” http://politi.co/1bj0WBo
“Biden Faults China on Foreign Press Crackdown,” by THE NEW YORK TIMES’ MARK LANDLER. “Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences,” Vice President Biden declared. http://nyti.ms/1eYK5ZB
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
“How to Avoid Twitter’s Pitfalls (For Political Types),” by ABC’s ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES. http://abcn.ws/1cZgnS9
“Local ballet school’s ‘Nutcracker’ at American University tripped up by Chris Matthews’ Obama interview,” per the WASHINGTON POST’s RELIABLE SOURCE. http://wapo.st/1iCc4Dl
@ThePlumLineGS: Wonder if stories about Ds on offense on Ocare will get anywhere near the attention the fake ones about Ds running from it did