The Note: Label game turns Democrats against each other early

Sparring at SXSW demonstrates, unresolved policy and personality disputes.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The label game is starting to turn Democrats against each other -- and in directions that President Donald Trump may like quite a bit.

Presidential candidates are fumbling questions about socialism and capitalism, while the party debates what constitutes anti-Semitism and racist behavior. Proposals such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all are pressuring 2020ers to choose sides.

The dynamics are allowing some candidates to drive policy debates. The proposal by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to break up big tech companies is forcing hard choices on her rivals.

More broadly, as early sparring at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, over the weekend demonstrates, unresolved policy and personality disputes are threatening to take over the race as the 2020 field begins to take final shape.

The Democrats are looking to defeat a president who has proven to be good at assigning labels. So far, as a group, the 2020 candidates are proving to be bad at avoiding them.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Monday morning, the Office of Management and Budget will formally present the first volume of the president's budget for fiscal year 2020 to the House budget committee.

The moment is a photo opportunity, as much as anything else. The president's budget rarely is seriously considered, even when the same party controls both Congress and the White House.

Still, the document will represent a clear statement of priorities. According to a senior administration official, the president will, among other things, propose $8.6 billion in border wall funding. That's quite a bit more than the $5.7 billion previously requested and denied.

Look out for headlines about suggested military spending and defense numbers, as well as likely proposed cuts to social programs. Remember, Trump's first budget proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency by 30 percent and making major cuts to food stamp programs.

Also, watch out for any plans -- or not -- to balance the budget. The federal deficit increased by more than $100 billion last fiscal year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Throughout the first two years of his presidency, Trump has consistently railed against and bemoaned the filibuster. But now a 2020 Democratic contender for president is hoping to strike the procedural hurdle that some say is a relic that halts important pieces of legislation.

"I call on every candidate to join me in ending the filibuster so we can deal with climate change," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said this past weekend at South by Southwest. "We're not going to get anywhere as long as Mitch McConnell has the keys to the car."

But despite Inslee's calls to end the filibuster, his Democratic opponents who hold seats in the Senate have a very different view, sparking a debate likely to intensify throughout a primary where progressive Democrats are fired up about the prospect of passing transformational policies like Medicare for all.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Today's episode features ABC News White House Correspondent Tara Palmeri on the new budget fight. Plus, after the second deadly crash of Boeing's top-selling jet in less than six months, we try to find some answers with ABC News Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley.


  • President Trump is scheduled to eat lunch with Vice President Pence at 12:15 p.m. and receive an intelligence briefing at 1:30 p.m.
  • Presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee continues his "Climate Mission Tour" in Agoura Hills, California, to meet with residents of the Seminole Springs mobile home park and witness the impact of the 2018 Woolsey Fire on Monday at 9 a.m. PDT.
  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and author of "From The Ground Up: A Journey To Reimagine The Promise Of America" continues his book tour at The Carter Center in Atlanta at 7 p.m.
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