The Significance of Michigan's Battle (The Note)

Fred Watkins/ABC News

By AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter ), ELIZABETH HARTFIELD ( @lizhartfield ) and CHRIS GOOD ( @c_good )


  • GOV. HALEY WON'T PICK A PLACEHOLDER FOR DEMINT SEAT. IS TIM SCOTT THE INEVITABLE CHOICE? Saying that she did not want to "tie the hands" of her appointee to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen Jim DeMint, Gov. Haley announced yesterday that she would not appoint a placeholder but instead would choose someone who would face voters in 2014. With that decision Rep. Tim Scott becomes the odds-on-favorite as the nominee. Picking him would not only ensure a tea party colleague of Haley's is in the Senate, but would enshrine her in history and potentially boost her sagging approval ratings among independent voters. Scott would be the first black Senator from the south since reconstruction. If she appoints him before Jan. 3 and before DeMint steps down, reports The State, the replacement would would outrank the other new 12 senators in seniority.
  • FISCAL CLIFF LATEST. It still appears that little progress is being made. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said yesterday that "The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the 'balanced' approach he promised the American people," while White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offered little detail on the meeting between the president and the speaker on Sunday: "I can confirm that there was a meeting and that lines of communication remain open, but I cannot characterize the talks or conversations beyond that," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. President Obama spoke with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the phone Monday at lunchtime from Air Force Once, the White House and Reid's office confirmed.
  • WHILE VISITING MICHIGAN OBAMA WADES INTO RIGHT-TO-WORK FIGHT. On Monday, before several hundred UAW workers and the Michigan Democratic congressional delegation, President Obama waded into a brewing fight over the pending legislation that would curb union influence across the state, ABC's Devin Dwyer and Elizabeth Hartfield report. "I just got to say this-what we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions," Obama said at an event inside a Detroit Diesel engine plant. "You know, these so-called right-to-work laws-they don't have to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics," he said. "What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."
  • DEMONSTRATIONS IN MICHIGAN EXPECTED TO BE HUGE. Organized labor is holding a "day of action" at the state Capitol in Lansing today, where at least 5,000 are expected to show up. " The crowds in Lansing will encounter streets closed to traffic, a huge police presence and the distinct possibility that not all will be allowed into the Capitol," The Detroit Free Press reports. " Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, said that if attendance at the demonstrations is close to the estimates, it will likely be the largest demonstration ever-certainly in the last 50 years. There were large demonstrations on the Capitol lawn during the Vietnam War, Ballenger said. Still, those crowds were smaller than the current estimates."


The scene in Michigan today is a familiar one. A Republican governor from a Midwest industrial state supports legislation that stymies the influence of labor unions.

If the bill is signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan will become the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law-and the strong opposition from labor groups and union workers in response echoes what we saw in Madison, Wisconsin in 2011.

But, unlike Wisconsin, there are no calls, yet at least, for a gubernatorial recall. Moreover the symbolism of Michigan's pending right-to-work legislation cannot be overlooked. Michigan is the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers union-the state is practically synonymous with auto workers and other union jobs. Furthermore, Snyder's support for the bill represents a shift in views for the Republican governor in his first term. Since he took office in January, 2011, Snyder has maintained that a right-to-work bill is not part of his agenda, and if he signs the legislation today, as is expected, he will likely face a harsh political backlash.

While Democrats lost their battle in Wisconsin, Democrats argued that the battle helped to energize the base for what turned out to be a decisive win for President Obama in the state.

And in Ohio, despite the recovering economy, Gov. John Kasich, who had his own losing battle with labor earlier this year, has approval ratings much lower than President Obama in Ohio. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Kasich with 42 percent job approval rating-his highest of his tenure, but is still 12 points below that of President Obama's 54 percent rating.

With all three Governors up in 2014, the success for labor will ultimately be judged by whether or not these three are re-elected.


With ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

POLITICAL PUNCH: THE DEVIL WEARS AN AMBASSADORSHIP? In the latest episode of his ABC/Yahoo! Power Players series, ABC's senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper takes a look at a potential administration appointment that has Washington and New York buzzing: Vogue Editor Anna Wintour as ambassador to France or the U.K. "The Devil Wears Prada," written by a former assistant to Wintour, cemented the editor in pop culture legend for her mean streak. It is a reputation some close to her dispute, though other sources tell ABC News they have witnessed it firsthand.

NEW JERSEY GUBERNATORIAL: CHRISTIE VS. BOOKER IN 2013? It would be the main event of 2013. New Jersey has two of the most talented, high-profile young politicians in the country-Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker-and they may be on a collision course. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: One is the brash, tough-talking, union-challenging Republican governor with sky-high approval ratings in a blue state. The other is the vegetarian do-gooder mayor who shovels snow on request from Twitter, undertook a "food stamp challenge" to raise awareness about hunger and once ran into a burning building to save a neighbor. It is not certain that Booker will challenge Christie, who is seeking reelection as governor. But the decision could come at any time and the prospect has political watchers salivating.

CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES AND THE FISCAL CLIFF. Closing "corporate tax loopholes" sure sounds good to the average, non-corporate American - so good, in fact, that politicians talk about it all the time, reports ABC's Chris Good. For both Republicans and Democrats, "corporate tax loopholes" are an old saw. But, like most things in politics, raising revenue from "loopholes" gets a bit stickier when the specifics are hashed out.

STEPHEN COLBERT VS. TIM SCOTT. ABC's Sarah Parnass reports: Rep. Tim Scott tops the list of candidates Republicans expect to see in South Carolina's Senate seat this spring, but at least one poll found voters holding out hope for a wholly different personality. Automated phone pollster Public Policy Polling released a survey today saying comedian Stephen Colbert is South Carolina's favorite to take Jim DeMint's seat in the Senate.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MITT ROMNEY? After losing the presidential election in November, Mitt Romney might have hoped to fade back into the comforting quiet of anonymity. But after a very public campaign that found the Republican candidate posing for pictures after taking a bite of a quinoa burger and playing Jenga before a national debate in an effort to soften his image, the press and members of the public aren't ready to let his celebrity go. ABC's Sarah Parnass takes a look at the many places where Romney has been spotted.

VOTER DISDAIN SPREADS AS FISCAL CLIFF LOOMS. The AP's Steve Peoples reports: "T he scene playing out on Capitol Hill is a familiar one as lawmakers with competing ideologies wage an 11th-hour battle to avert a predictable crisis. This one comes just a year after an equally divided Washington nearly let the country default on its loan obligations - a debt-ceiling debate that contributed to the electorate's deep lack of faith in their elected leaders and a drop in the nation's credit rating. Evidence of Congress' plummeting popularity is everywhere."

NOTED: FISCAL CLIFF DEADLINE: CHRISTMAS OR NEW YEAR'S? USA Today's David Jackson reports: " Many White House and congressional officials would like to get a deal before Christmas-ideally by Friday, Dec. 21, the start of this year's long Christmas weekend. But for that to happen, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would have to put up a proposal in next few days. It takes time for House and Senate leaders to put together specific pieces of legislation and get them to floor to be voted on. If they miss Christmas, negotiators then have to aim for Jan. 1 - the start of the year of the "fiscal cliff," a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that kick in if the parties are unable to reach a debt reduction deal."

IN TALKS, HOUSE MAJORITY WEIGHS LOYALTY TO VOTERS. The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman reports: "A s their leaders inch toward agreeing to higher tax rates, dozens of House Republicans find themselves caught between the will of a larger American public that favors higher taxes on the rich and the wishes of constituents who re-elected them overwhelmingly to oppose the Obama agenda at every turn. With the last House race decided over the weekend, the conflict between a Democratic president convincingly re-elected to a second term and the House Republicans who held their majority illustrates a striking dichotomy in the nation's body politic: the president and a majority of senators, including a growing number of Republicans, back compromise on tax rates and say the public is on their side, and a majority of the House, in artfully drawn districts, claim just the opposite."

RYAN, CANTOR PROTECT BOEHNER PLAN FROM TEA PARTY. Bloomberg's Roxana Tiron reports: " Ryan, this year's vice-presidential nominee and Republicans' top budget authority, and House Majority Leader Cantor, known for his sway over the caucus's anti-tax members, are part of Boehner's strategy team as he seeks agreement with President Barack Obama. Without support for a deal from Ryan and Cantor, Boehner - in his second year as speaker-risks repeating the anti-tax Tea Party uprising that doomed his 2011 effort to reach a budget deal with Obama."

SEN. INOUYE HOSPITALIZED. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the longest-serving sitting U.S. Senator, has been hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, to regulate his oxygen intake, his office confirmed on Monday. ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: On Thursday the 88 year-old senator was at admitted to George Washington hospital, where he remained thru Sunday. He was then transferred to Walter Reed, just outside of Washington, DC.


MOVEON.ORG AND ULTRAVIOLET RELEASE NEW TV AD. On Tuesday, women's rights group Ultraviolet and Political Action will release a new hard-hitting 30-second TV ad, showing a battered woman, targeting Speaker Boehner and House Republicans for blocking a vote on the expanded Violence Against Women Act. The ad, which features the face of woman who has been battered slowly healing and then un-healing, will air for a week on cable networks- specifically on CNN, MSNBC, Bravo, Lifetime, and HGTV.


@HotlineReid John Kerry got dismissed from jury duty yesterday because he had Senate votes. Then Senate cancelled the votes. Hmmm… #HotlineSort

@mollyesque I've been working on this project for the last couple months: the inside story of the gay-marriage fight. Check it out.

@pewresearch Daily Number: Support for gay marriage is 27 points higher among New Englanders compared to those in the South

@maggiepolitico Christie on Booker: "If I'm vulnerable at 77 percent so be it."

@davidfrum Thought for day: Bush-Obama TARP was most successful govt response to major crisis since the Marshall Plan.

@evale72 3rd Det Free Press editorial ripping Snyder…going 2b long road to 2014