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The Edge: Your Turn, Mr. Speaker

The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.

Your Turn, Mr. Speaker

 

The ball is now in your court, Mr. Speaker.

The White House signaled Friday that President Obama will propose specific cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget. That’s a small step toward a potential budget deal, requiring a willingness by House Speaker John Boehner and his caucus to give on revenue.

The public position of House Republicans is that they won’t raise taxes beyond the $600 billion approved in December. But senior House Republicans tell me they are open to exchanging entitlement reform for new taxes – $250 billion to $300 billion, or approximately the amount that Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed raising over 10 years under the guise of “tax reform.”

 

Both sides have an incentive to deal. Read more

Ron Fournier
rfournier@nationaljournal.com 

TOP NEWS 

JOBS NUMBERS ARE 'A PUNCH TO THE GUT.' The economy generated just 88,000 jobs in March, less than half the 195,000 or so expected and far fewer than the 268,000 added in February, The Washington Post reports. Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, called the report "a punch to the gut," and blamed the sequester. The White House also cited the across-the-board spending cuts as an explanation of the poor growth. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent, but the drop may have had more to do with nearly half a million Americans leaving the workforce than with new hires. Read more

  • The economy has hit a “spring slump” each of the last four years. National Journal’s Catherine Hollander asks, “What’s behind the seasonal dip?” Read more

OBAMA'S BUDGET THRASHED BY LEFT, DISMISSED BY GOP. The budget Obama will introduce Wednesday will suggest cuts to Social Security and other entitlement programs in an effort to convince Republicans to compromise on deficit reduction, Reuters reports. His proposal would cut the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, though the president will only accept cuts if congressional Republicans agree to higher taxes, according to an administration official. For his part, House Speaker John Boehner on Friday said that Obama was holding entitlement reform “hostage” for more tax hikes. Read more

 
  • It should come as little surprise that the proposal has succeeded in angering liberals: One major advocate called the proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare “mystifying,” The Washington Post reports.

NORTH KOREA SAYS IT CAN’T GUARANTEE SAFETY OF FOREIGN DIPLOMATS. North Korea has told foreign diplomatic and embassy officials that it "could not guarantee” their safety as tensions in the region continue to escalate, CNN reports. The North Korean government met with several ambassadors Friday and offered help to anyone who wanted to leave the country. Meanwhile, two U.S. officials said the North moved “up to” two missiles and equipment closer to its eastern border. In a statement, the British Foreign Office said: "We are consulting international partners about these developments.… No decisions have been taken, and we have no immediate plans to withdraw our embassy." Read More

OBAMA APOLOGIZES FOR ‘BEST-LOOKING ATTORNEY GENERAL’ CRACK. President Obama apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris after calling her the “best-looking attorney general” during a fundraiser. The president telephoned Harris yesterday to say he was sorry for creating a distraction, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney. The president "fully recognizes the challenges women continue to face in the workplace,” Carney said, and thinks that they “should not be judged by their appearance." Read more

HILLARY CLINTON ADVOCATES FOR FEMALE PROGRESS AT CONFERENCE. Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the annual Women in the World Summit in New York City on Friday, the New York Times reports. Her speech focused on her role at the Clinton Foundation and history with advocacy for women’s rights. She appeared with Daily Beast founder Tina Brown, drawing a large crowd and the inevitable 2016 speculation. Said Clinton: “It is past time to embrace a 21st-century approach to advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls.… When women are liberated, so are entire societies.” Read More

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WHAT'S IN A NAME? THE FIGHT OVER NAMING IMMIGRATION REFORM. "It’s a decision that will bruise egos, create legacies, and deeply affect subsequent messaging battles," writes The Hill. And it's not about a path to citizenship or the number of visas – it's about what to call the bill. The wrong name, mentioned over and over again in the press, can doom a good bill, according to one pro-immigration reform advocate. “If there's not a catchy name, it gets defined by others,” he said. “I'm sure there are people on the other side trying to come up with a phrase or a word.” Read more

FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS ACCESS TO MORNING-AFTER PILL FOR ALL. A federal judge Friday ordered the Food and Drug Administration “to lift any age and sale restrictions” on all versions of the morning-after pill within 30 days. Judge Edward Korman ruled the government’s requirement that girls 16 and younger have a prescription to access the pill was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.” The ruling counteracts a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to overrule an FDA recommendation to make the pill universally available. Read more

CABINET MEMBERS JUMP ON THE PAY-CUT BANDWAGON. Following the lead of Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, members of the president’s Cabinet plan to give up 5 percent of their salaries, Government Executive reports. Secretary of State John Kerry will donate 5 percent of his salary to a charity to benefit employees of the State Department, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will give a similar donation to organizations that benefit DHS workers. Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Bob Perciasepe, the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator, have all also said they would be willing to take some kind of pay cut. Read more

MORE THAN HALF THE SENATE SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE. Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Bill Nelson of Florida joined a group of 12 senators who have come out in support of gay rights in the last two weeks, The Tampa Bay Times reports, bringing the total count of senators in support to 52. Last May, Nelson said the issue should be left up to the states, but Thursday he said in a statement, "To discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me. If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn't those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?" Read more

  • Several Democrats are still holding out, including Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. A solid bet for who will hold out the longest? Pryor, who is one of the most vulnerable red-state incumbents. Read more

NFL PLAYER SAYS FOUR COULD COME OUT AS GAY. Brendon Ayanbadejo, a former linebacker for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and an outspoken advocate for gay rights and same-sex marriage, said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that, despite earlier comments, he does not think he was cut from the club due to his stance on controversial issues. Ayanbadejo further hinted that a handful of current players in the NFL could come out as gay. “There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together,” he said. “It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.” Read more

QUOTABLE

"I ran for goddamn Congress, you are [expletive]!" -- Michael Riley, a Republican candidate in Rhode Island, while being arrested on drunken driving charges. (Providence Journal).

PLAY OF THE DAY

THE $100 MILLION MAP. As the president introduced a new program to expand science research this week, Jimmy Fallon took an opportunity to get another dig in at Joe Biden. Obama’s BRAIN initiative was a source of humor last night for the NBC host as he noted that one would find SpongeBob SquarePants while mapping the vice president’s brain. On The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert devoted much of his program to the BRAIN project as well. Read more

BEDTIME READING

ROGER EBERT’S LEGACY. Roger Ebert—a movie critic “for the common man” and “without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic”—died Thursday, just one day after the 46th anniversary of his appointment as the Chicago Sun-Times’ movie critic. Ebert was remembered for many things: his “gentle, calm, and infectious” writing, as Will Leitch put it when recalling his lifelong correspondences with Ebert in 2010; never backing down from an opinion, even telling off Congress in 1995; and, most recently, his ruminations on life and death during a decade-long struggle with cancer (including his thoughtful 2011 essay on death). “I will pass away sooner than most people who read this,” Ebert wrote, “but that doesn't shake my sense of wonder and joy.” Esquire’s 2010 profile of Ebert also captures the beloved critic’s resilience late in life. Read more

SUNDAY TV

A SMORGASBORD: NORTH KOREA, JOBS REPORT, OBAMA’S BUDGET. All three topics will likely take front stage this weekend on the Sunday shows. But that doesn't mean long term issues don't have prominent roles. Immigration and gun control still remain hot topics and will be a focus on the shows as well. Read more

NBC’s Meet the Press hosts Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

CBS’s Face the Nation hosts Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Sen. Charles Schumer D-N.Y.

ABC’s This Week hosts Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer

Fox News Sunday hosts former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., and Dan Pfeiffer

CNN’s State of the Union hosts Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

Bloomberg’s Capitol Gains hosts Diaz-Balart

C-SPAN’s Newsmakers features Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt

REALITY CHECK

WHY OBAMA’S ENTITLEMENT COMPROMISE COULD FAIL. When President Obama releases his budget next week, it’s widely expected to include a key compromise: a change to how cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits are calculated. But a new poll highlights just how hard it may be to get lawmakers on board. The proposal is relatively simple: Tie benefit increases and other changes to a slower and arguably more accurate measure of price inflation, known as "chained CPI." Anonymous White House officials speaking to The New York Times and The Washington Post were careful to portray it as a key Republican demand. But seniors, a group with a disproportionately high voter turnout, are opposed to the idea, according to a new poll from the giant seniors lobby AARP, as National Journal’s Niraj Chokshi reports. Read more

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Excellent!"

Rick, Executive Director for Policy

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy, Director of Communications

I find them informative and appreciate the daily news updates and enjoy the humor as well."

Richard, VP of Government Affairs

Chock full of usable information on today's issues. "

Michael, Executive Director

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