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Reassessing the Battlefield?


''Only the United States is capable of helping these people in the most seismic and the most incredible period in the world’s history,'' Sen. John McCain said.(Liz Lynch)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says only the U.S. has the assets to help in Libya. Also: Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., cites “enormous progress” but no timetable on a debt agreement, and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., scales back his hopes for a debt plan.


Bloomberg: Both Parties Need to Give on Fiscal Woes

11:48 a.m.: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said addressing the nation’s fiscal problems requires cuts to entitlement programs combined with tax increases.

“What the Democrats have to understand is that you’re never going to balance the budget unless you make meaningful changes in entitlements,” Bloomberg said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “On the other hand, Republicans have to also understand you cannot balance the budget just with cuts.”


“You have to have some combination of cuts in expenses and some revenue enhancements—you can call those taxes or whatever you want,” he added.

Bloomberg said he believes that the presidential commission led by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., came up “with exactly the right answer.”

“There is a crisis of confidence,” Bloomberg said about the economy overall. “It is a crisis of confidence among businesspeople. They look at Washington and they say ‘you can’t run something this way.’ No company would survive if you ran it the way Washington runs with the focus on small issues that have nothing to do with the real America.”

Chris Strohm


McCain: U.S. Needs to ‘Get Back in the Fight’ in Libya

11:06 a.m.: If the allied forces want to prevent a stalemate in Libya, the U.S. needs to “get back in the fight,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Asked by host Bob Schieffer if he was satisfied with allied leadership in the conflict, McCain said he wasn’t, because the U.S. has taken a “backseat role” while the NATO member countries picking up the slack “don’t have the assets that the United States of America does.”

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He added later, “I respect the president, and sometimes it’s very inappropriate for me to second-guess; obviously, I lost to him in the presidential election. But American leadership is vital in the world. There’s no country like America. We should be leading. We should not be following.... Only the United States is capable of helping these people in the most seismic and the most incredible period in the world’s history. This ‘Arab Spring’ is not confined even to the Arab countries, but how we handle it will determine the entire 21st century.”

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he is still opposed to committing ground troops, but the U.S. should “get its assets back into the air fight” and recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council and start providing support.

Meanwhile, in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad “is willing to slaughter his own people,” McCain said he didn’t see a military option because there’s no organized opposition. While the U.S. should seek sanctions and other measures, “it’s going to be a very bloody time, I’m afraid, in Syria.”

Tom Madigan

Ryan Readjusts His Hopes for a Debt Plan

10:29 a.m.: House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conceded on Sunday that he does not expect lawmakers to reach an agreement on a grand plan to bring the nation’s debt under control.

“We’re probably not going to get some grad-slam agreement that fixes all of these problems,” Ryan said on ABC's This Week. “My, now, hope is to get a single or double, to get something done that gets us on the right path.”

Ryan acknowledged that he and other lawmakers, especially Republicans, have been hearing from constituents back in their districts who are anxious that a 10-year GOP plan to bring the nation’s debt under control will cause them to lose benefits or pay more.

Even House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is distancing himself from that plan. “There are other ideas. I’m not wedded to one single idea,” Boehner told ABC News last week.

Ryan said he did not take Boehner’s comments personally. “It wasn’t meant to be personal in that way,” Ryan said. “I’ve talked to him quite a bit about this.”

At the same time, Ryan dismissed the political risk that Republicans face over the plan. “I hear this all the time from the political people and the pundits and pollsters, that this could hurt us politically. I don’t care about that. What I care about is fixing this country and getting this debt situation under control,” he said. “If all we care about is our political careers, then we have no business having these jobs.”

Chris Strohm

No Love for Ryan’s Plan

10:05 a.m.: Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., expressed confidence on Sunday that a bipartisan group of senators will reach a deal on a long-term budget plan to bring the nation’s debt under control. But they could not offer a timeline for when the group would unveil its plan.

“I can say we’ve made enormous progress,” said Conrad, who is part of the group, which is being spearheaded by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. “I hope we’re able to announce an agreement soon.”

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, they both added that a 10-year plan introduced by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is unrealistic. “If we have to vote on Paul Ryan’s plan, we’re not going to get 60 votes,” Graham said.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., also said on the talk show that she has concerns that Ryan’s plan would ultimately cause senior citizens to pay more for benefits. “I agree with the concerns of senior citizens... that they will have to assume the costs themselves,” she said. “I’m wedded to the idea of efficiencies and savings; how we get there is open to discussion.”

Chris Strohm

Harman: Libyan Mission ‘Not Carefully Enough Thought Out’

9:58 a.m.: As reports circulate that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s youngest son was killed in a NATO airstrike in Libya on Saturday, former Rep. Jane Harman blasted the allied approach to the conflict, saying on CNN’s State of the Union that the mission “was not carefully enough thought out on the front end.”

“This is a zero-sum game, and what we are putting into Libya, we are not putting into very dangerous security threats to us, like Syria and Yemen,” said Harman, who left Congress in February to become president and chief executive of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Government violence continued in Syria on Sunday, two days after a massive protest against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Agence France-Presse reported a new round of arrests in Daraa, a day after government forces killed six civilians there.

Harman was disheartened about the conflict, saying, “We may be seeing, in the next 24 hours, a mass massacre in Daraa, where Syrian troops are rolling in as we speak, and I think that is totally unacceptable in moral and strategic terms for us.”

Tom Madigan

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