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Time for Another Fiscal Fight
The budget season is upon us. This week, Democrats and Republicans in Congress will offer their spending plans ahead of the president, who usually goes first (the White House says it was delayed by the fiscal-cliff mess.).
No doubt the two budgets will offer different worldviews when it comes to the Pentagon, domestic discretionary spending, and, of course, entitlements.
Democrats are already salivating; their Senate campaign committee held a conference call Monday to chirp that they were planning to lambaste any Republican who supported a Paul Ryan-type program for Medicare. That surely worked during the 2012 race but whether it’s a winner in 2014—the traditionally gloomy sixth year of a two term presidency—is less certain.
What is sure is that even as the sequester remains unresolved and agencies are publicizing their most painful cuts—Yellowstone hours trimmed! Carrier deployments delayed!—the next budget fight will be underway in hours.
In Washington, why finish one fight before you start the next?
SENATORS REACH OUTLINES OF IMMIGRATION DEAL. The bipartisan group of eight senators working to craft an immigration-reform package has reached an agreement on a chief sticking point, a pathway to citizenship, The Los Angeles Times reports. Illegal immigrants without criminal records would register with the Department of Homeland Security, pay a fine, and pay federal income tax, though they would not receive federal benefits. After a probationary period that could last more than a decade, they would then be able to apply for a green card. Read more
DUELING BUDGETS DEFINE BOTH PARTIES. By the middle of this week, Americans will once again be plunged into the wildly different worldviews of Republicans and Democrats as the two parties release competing budget proposals, National Journal's Nancy Cook reports, although this year will mark the first time in years that the Congress, and not the president, will kick off the budget process. Read more
- National Journal’s Jill Lawrence wonders why Ryan's new plan to balance the federal budget in 10 years relies on repealing the Affordable Care Act. Read more
DSCC NOT ALL-IN ON JUDD? The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is not yet committing itself to an Ashley Judd candidacy, Politico reports. Following a weekend story that suggested the actress was going to declare soon to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and another that suggested the DSCC was cool to a Judd candidacy based on recent polling, DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil told a conference call Monday that Judd is just one of a “handful of quality candidates in Kentucky,” while not directly denying that the DSCC was reevaluating her candidacy. Judd met with Cecil last month. Read more
PRESIDENT TO APPEAR AT $50K-A-HEAD OBAMA GROUP EVENT. President Obama will speak Wednesday at Organizing for America, the organization that was formed from the remnants of his campaign apparatus, The Hill reports. “The president will address the advocacy group's ‘founder's summit,’ a two-day event for donors and supporters at a Washington-area hotel,” according to the paper. Donors will pay $50,000 to attend. The president and officials from the group are hoping to rally grassroots support for gun control, immigration reform, and the budget. The group has come under recent scrutiny for reportedly offering access to the president in exchange for large donations. Read more
NATO COMMANDER: CLAIM OF U.S.-TALIBAN COLLUSION FALSE. The commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan is denying as “categorically false” an accusation by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. is holding daily talks with the Taliban and that the militant group wants the U.S. to remain in the country. “All I can do is speak for the coalition to tell you that it's categorically false, and that we have no reason to be colluding with the Taliban," Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said. Karzai’s comments came Sunday, just hours ahead of a meeting with newly installed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who said he tried to offer assurances that no such back-channel talks were happening. At the same time, an insider attack in Afghanistan Monday has left two U.S. troops and two Afghan police officers dead. Read more
JUDGE BLOCKS NYC’s SUGARY DRINK BAN. Just a day before it was to go into effect, New York City’s ban on large sugary drinks was invalidated by a New York State Supreme Court judge, The New York Times reported. Judge Milton A. Tingling Jr. ruled that the ban on certain drinks – like those with high milk content -- and not others, was “arbitrary and capricious.” The ruling blocks the city from enforcing the ban. Read more
SENATE STAFFERS SQUABBLE OVER OFFICE SPACE. If Congress does not appear to care much for mitigating the effects of the sequester or addressing other national threats, it may be because they’re focused on office space. Roll Call reports that the offices of Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., are feuding over allegations that Heller is blocking the more-senior Chambliss from examining his office suite. In the Senate, senior members have the option of booting junior members out of their offices and moving in. At least one other Senate office says Heller’s people have obstructed efforts to tour his office, though a spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., has said Heller’s staff has been cooperative. Read more
- @TheFix: Dean Heller, call your office. Literally.
JINDAL FINDS REDEMPTION AT GRIDIRON DINNER. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, perhaps best known for his awkward State of the Union rebuttal in 2009, overflowed with charisma at the annual Gridiron dinner on Saturday, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “The truth is, I am too skinny to run. At least that’s what my friend, Chris Christie, keeps telling me,” Jindal said in his remarks, which were distinctly barbed and extremely well received, keeping the audience of journalists and politicos laughing. Obama and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also spoke. Read more
- “We noticed that some folks couldn’t make it this evening. It's been noted that Bob Woodward sends his regrets, which Gene Sperling predicted.” -Obama (Politico)
INTRADE IS DEAD. LONG LIVE INTRADE? Intrade, the Irish gambling site that allowed users to gamble on the outcomes of the presidential election and other world events, has shut down, possibly due to “financial irregularities.” The site took a big hit in November when it had to close all U.S.-based accounts following a lawsuit from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. But The Washington Post’s Neil Irwin would like to see a better, stronger gambling site arise from Intrade’s ashes: a CFTC-approved market in which political pundits publicly put their money where their pontificating mouths are. Read more
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HOUSE GOP BUDGET TO BE UNVEILED. The Republican budget, which defunds Obamacare, will be unveiled Tuesday morning. Democrats will release their budget on Wednesday.
SEC, CFPB NOMINEES GET CONFIRMATION HEARINGS. Mary Jo White’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee gets underway Tuesday, and while the former U.S. attorney is widely expected to win confirmation, The New York Times editorial board has some questions it would like asked of her in order to “allay justifiable concerns about her allegiances,” including, “Does she believe deregulation was a major cause of the financial crisis; if so, what is still in need of fixing?” President Obama’s pick to head the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, will also have his confirmation hearing Tuesday before the committee. Read more
BRENNAN BACK TO HILL FOR HEARING. Freshly confirmed CIA Director John Brennan heads back to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, as it holds its annual worldwide-threats hearing with several officials in the intelligence committee, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
AGENCIES TO TALK BUDGETS ON HILL. The Senate will move away from nominations and continue to hear from agencies about their future plans and budget needs. The Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday will hear from Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of Strategic Command, and Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads Cyber Command. And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen on Wednesday about "strategic counterterrorism” and how to meet current and emerging challenges.
“I'm still far removed from the modern lexicon of people who are actually cool. So, I'm very careful not to try to use lingo that's above my coolness pay grade.”–Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on trying to be hip on Twitter as the Senate's youngest member.(BuzzFeed).
THE PRINCE WHO HAS IT ALL, EXCEPT THE FORBES RANKING. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia—or “the Arab world’s richest man,” as Kerry A. Dolan writes in this month’s Forbes—lives a life of unimaginable opulence. His private plane is the same model as Air Force One, except his has a throne. His 420-room palace is filled with marble and portraits of himself. His 120 acre “farm and resort” has five artificial lakes, a small zoo, and a mini-Grand Canyon. But the one thing Alwaleed doesn’t have is a top-10 spot on Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s billionaires—and he really wants one. For years Alwaleed has been lobbying, but Forbes isn’t buying it. The last few years, his stock has suspiciously gone up—despite his major stock holdings going down—in the 10 weeks leading up to the Forbes rankings, which are out in this month’s issue. Read more
FIVE TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER ON THE BUDGET
- @TonyFratto: Tony Fratto, a former U.S. Treasury and White House official in the George W. Bush administration, is a managing partner for Hamilton Place Strategies and a CNBC contributor.
- @ezraklein: Ezra Klein is a progressive economics blogger for The Washington Post and editor of the paper's Wonkblog.
- @nancook: Nancy Cook is National Journal’s economic and fiscal-policy correspondent.
- @JustinWolfers: Justin Wolfers is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan.
- @JimPethokoukis: James Pethokoukis is a right-leaning columnist/blogger at the American Enterprise Institute.
- @altmandaniel: Daniel Altman is a columnist for Foreign Policy. He teaches at NYU and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard.
PROFILE AT A GLANCE
Thomas Edward Perez
- Why he is in the news: Expected to be nominated for secretary of Labor
- Current Job: Assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division
- Born: 1961; Buffalo, N.Y.
- Special counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy, 1995-98
- Professor at University of Maryland School of Law, 2001-07
- Maryland secretary of labor, 2007-09
- Perez holds three Ivy League degrees: A B.A. from Brown and an M.P.P and J.D. from Harvard
- First Latino ever elected to the Montgomery (Md.) County Council
- In 2009, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., held up his nomination to the Justice Department for several months, but he was eventually confirmed, 77-22.