The Lame Duck Debate (The Note)

President Barack Obama walks down the stairs from Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, in Md., May 4, 2013. (Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • OBAMA'S NEXT CAMPAIGN: President Obama will kick off a series of Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours with a trip Thursday to Austin, Texas, a White House spokesman said yesterday. ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports that in Austin, the president plans to visit Manor New Tech High School, meet with technology entrepreneurs, visit a tech company, and meet with middle class workers, according to the White House. "He will visit these places to learn what has helped them become successful and use these models of growth to encourage Congress to act," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "Things are getting better, but our economic recovery is not as strong as it could be and far too many middle class families are still struggling. The question is, will Congress will join with the president to make sure the middle class is strong and secure," Earnest said.
  • JAMES CARVILLE - 'THE PRESIDENT HAS ENORMOUS INFLUENCE': Joining ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on Sunday on the "This Week" roundtable, Democratic strategist James Carville, Republican Mary Matalin and ABC's COKIE ROBERTS weighed in on whether President Obama has already reached lame duck status. "When the Democrats won in 1986, they said that was the end of the Reagan administration," Carville said. "In 1994, the when Republicans took the House and then Clinton was re-elected, said he was not going to get anything done for the rest of his term. When President Bush lost the House and the Senate in 2006, it was the same thing. Look, there's not a lot of legislation that's going to happen probably between now and 2016 - or 2014. The president has enormous influence in a lot of places outside of legislation."
  • MARY MATALIN: "He's souffled - he single-handedly wiped out his congressional majority in the last midterm. He set in place Republican dominance at the state level for decades because we picked up so many - 7,000 legislators and 30 governors, in control of the legislatures in the states, which is the bench - back bench for rising stars. And this cycle, he's going to wipe out his senate, if not the majority, certainly, the critical mass of the majority."
  • COKIE ROBERTS: "The president - the power of the presidency, regardless of whom occupies the White House, is enormous. And this question is always asked. And the truth is, the president is a lame duck. … Term limits always create lame duckhood. And everybody in Congress knows they'll never run with this guy again."
  • ON THE AGENDA: President Obama is spending the day behind closed-doors at the White House with no public events scheduled, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Later this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden meets with members of the faith community at the White House to discuss gun safety.


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: It's the final full day of campaigning in South Carolina. Mark Sanford will either find redemption or start looking for a new line of work. Democrats are hopeful, but not overly confident that Elizabeth Colbert Busch can eke out a victory in this heavily Republican terrain. The worry for GOP leaders in Washington: If Sanford wins, he will come to Congress and be a rabble-rouser and try to rebuild his conservative brand by galvanizing anti-establishment forces in the House.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: We look to special elections to teach us something bigger. In that sense, the Mark Sanford-Elizabeth Colbert Busch race delivers something special indeed about 2013. We've got your celebrity candidates, a sex scandal, a shot at redemption, polarized voters in what should be a one-party House district, national figures as local issues, and the limits and complicated motives of outside money. The fact is, this race will tell us just about nothing about who will control the House after the midterm elections. But we'll learn something else, about where politics is going - and it sure will be entertaining.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The ire of the National Rifle Association and Wayne LaPierre is pointed right at President Obama, but there is another person whose name was mentioned over and over again at the group's weekend's annual convention in Houston: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. LaPierre drew cheers when he asked the crowd of thousands if anyone would really listen to him if he wasn't a "billionaire" and he's gone from New York City's mayor to chief "nanny." The NRA's legislative director Chris Cox promised to "stand and fight," (the theme of the weekend)Bloomberg and his money. And Glenn Beck, who held a rally and gave a keynote speech Saturday night, told the crowd he came up with a new slogan for New York City: "You will love New York" revealing a massive image of Bloomberg making a Nazi salute. But even comparing the mayor to the Nazis isn't likely to have any effect on Bloomberg who is already deep into a fight with the NRA and putting his money where his mouth is. Nevertheless, it was clear in Houston this weekend that the NRA has more than one bogeyman.


WHAT A WASTE: FOUR EASY CUTS TO SAVE US $27.5 BILLION. Government buildings sitting empty and unused, many flights to rural airports that carry practically no passengers, and minimum milk prices are based on the gallon's distance from Eau Claire, Wis. These are just a few of the 557 government programs and subsidies that the non-profit Citizens Against Government Waste says could be eliminated to save taxpayers close to $2 trillion over the next five years. Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, tells ABC's JEFF ZELENY about some highlights from the organization's annual suggested cuts, which are outlined in the book, "Prime Cuts 2013." He points to agriculture subsidies, such as the sugar subsidy-that Citizens Against Government Waste says inflates the U.S. price of sugar to nearly twice the world average sugar price-as one of the areas where outdated programs are draining taxpayers' wallets unnecessarily. To hear about the politics of government spending-and programs Schatz says taxpayers could do without, including his question to members of Congress who don't like "Prime Cuts," check out this episode of Power Players.


OBAMA'S CHALLENGE TO OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY GRADUATES. In his first commencement address of this year's graduation season, President Obama encouraged more than 10,000 graduates gathered at Ohio State University to pay heed to their duty as citizens and become active participants in their country in the years ahead, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports from Columbus, Ohio. "This democracy is ours. As citizens, we understand that it is not about what America may do for us. It's about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government and to he class of 2013 you have to be involved in that process.'" Obama said as he delivered the commencement address before more than 57,000 people at the football stadium at Ohio State University. The president drew on recent tragedies, from the Boston marathon bombing to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as he relayed the way actively engaged citizens have rallied together in the country's time of need. "Just look at the past year. When a hurricane struck our mightiest city, and a factory exploded in a small-town in Texas. We saw citizenship. When bombs went off in Boston, and when a malevolent spree of gunfire visited a movie theater, a temple, an Ohio high school, a first-grade classroom in Connecticut. We saw citizenship. In the aftermath of darkest tragedy, we have seen the American spirit at its brightest," he said.

GLENN BECK AT NRA RALLY: 'FREEDOM OF ALL MANKIND IS AT STAKE'. Television and radio host Glenn Beck warned NRA members that the "freedom of all mankind is at stake" and the "right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." "They want to fundamentally transform our country and they've just about finished the project," Beck told an audience of thousands Saturday evening at the NRA convention's Stand and Fight Rally in Houston, Texas, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and MATTHEW LAROTONDA report. "They feel they must regulate us until we comply, but I will not comply." Beck grew teary at times and used historically significant guns to talk about the importance of keeping second amendment rights free from any sort of federal gun control laws, stressing "a gun is only a reflection of the people who use it" and warning the audience "we cannot falter, we cannot fail." "We have to admit two things," Beck added. "That weapons will always find their way into the hands of bad people, always…but we must declare this: that guns must remain in the hands of good people." Beck's speech ended the second day of the NRA's annual convention where speaker after speaker warned the crowd of thousands of members that their second amendment rights were being attacked by the president specifically and Washington in general.

JIM DEMINT: IMMIGRATION REFORM WILL COST U.S. TRILLIONS. Former South Carolina Republican senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint argued that implementing immigration reform as proposed by the so-called "Gang of Eight" would "cost Americans trillions of dollars," citing a soon-to-be released update to the conservative group's 2007 study on the impact of immigration reform. "The study you'll see from Heritage this week presents a staggering cost of another amnesty in our country," DeMint said Sunday morning on "This Week," based on the "detrimental effects long-term" of government benefits that would eventually go to the millions offered a path to citizenship under the reform legislation currently being considered. "There's no reason we can't begin to fix our immigration system so that we won't make this problem worse. But the bill that's being presented is unfair to those who came here legally. It will cost Americans trillions of dollars. It'll make our unlawful immigration system worse."

WARREN BUFFETT: 'TOUGH TO WATCH' WASHINGTON GRIDLOCK. During an interview on "This Week," Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett this morning bemoaned the political gridlock in Washington, ABC's REBECCA JARVIS that it is "tough to watch." "It's tough to watch what happens in Washington. It's gotten more and more partisan, but now so many elections are determined by the primaries and not the November elections, that it does tend to push both sides to the extremes and to cause them to dig in and feel that they can't bend from positions 'cause they'll get primaried." Buffett, an iconic investor, also weighed in on the economy, saying it has improved since the recession of 2008, but made no predictions about where the stock market is headed.

BILL RICHARDSON: 'NOT A FAN' OF SEN. TED CRUZ. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson joined ABC's BENJAMIN BELL for a web interview after his appearance on the "This Week" roundtable on Sunday, answering viewer questions about his time as governor, his experience meeting with the Taliban, and his thoughts on Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. When asked about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Richardson said, "I'm not a fan": "I know [Ted Cruz is] sort of the Republican latest flavor. He's articulate. He seems to be charismatic, but I don't like his politics. I think he introduces a measure of incivility in the political process. Insulting people is not the way to go. But I guess he's a force in the Republican political system, but I'm not a fan." ABC News: Do you think he represents most Hispanics with his politics? "No, no. He's anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. No, I don't think he should be defined as a Hispanic. He's a politician from Texas. A conservative state. And I respect Texas' choice. But what I don't like is… when you try to get things done, it's okay to be strong and state your views, your ideology. But I've seen him demean the office, be rude to other senators, not be part of, I think, the civility that is really needed in Washington."


-MERCURY ADDS FORMER AP REPORTER BEN FELLER. "Mercury, a leading national, bipartisan public strategy firm, announces the addition of renowned journalist Ben Feller to its New York office. Feller, who most recently served as the chief White House correspondent for The Associated Press, has joined as a Managing Director leading media strategy efforts for the firm's public affairs division. 'The addition of Ben Feller brings incredible talent and leadership to the burgeoning media strategy arm of Mercury,' said Vin Weber, Partner and Co-Chairman of Mercury's Washington, D.C. headquarters, Mercury/Clark & Weinstock. … In more than six years of covering the administrations of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, Feller was twice honored for his excellence in reporting on the presidency."

-GAIL GITCHO JOINS RGA. "The Republican Governors Association announced today that Gail Gitcho will join the organization as its Communications Director, assuming responsibility for the RGA's communications strategy in the 38 gubernatorial elections scheduled to take place between now and the end of 2014. 'Gail is one of the top communications professionals for the Republican Party, and her wealth of experience will be an incredible addition for the RGA in the 2013-2014 election cycle,' said RGA Chairman Bobby Jindal."


@tackettdc: Rubio tells supporter that McCain and Schumer better watch out for him @juliehdavis

@Jordanfabian: If you missed it y'day, check out my profile (w @tedhesson) on Chuck Schumer & his legacy on immigration reform:

@FixSean: Mark Sanford might win on Tuesday. That's good news for Democrats.

@RichardHaass: One lesson #Iraq holds for #Syria is that less difficult to oust a regime than to put something better in its place

@RollCallAbby: ICYMI: My interview with Judy Blume …'s assistant: …