Welcome Home, Mr. President

BY David Chalian  January 4, 2011 at 8:25 AM EST

President and Mrs. Obama

President and Mrs. Obama wave before boarding Air Force One as they depart from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, where they spent an 11-day family vacation. Photo by Cory Lum/Pool-Getty Images.

The Morning Line

After nearly two weeks out of town, President Obama returns to the White House Tuesday morning with a pretty hefty to-do list.

He’s slated to deliver a highly awaited State of the Union address in just three weeks. Before that, he’ll announce a new top economic adviser, defend against Republican attempts to repeal the health care reform law and possibly shake up his most senior staff in the West Wing, including his chief of staff.

Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman and John McCormick were first with the story:

“President Barack Obama is considering naming William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former U.S. Commerce secretary, to a high-level administration post, possibly White House chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.

“Such a move, which is still under discussion, would bring a Washington veteran — and someone with strong business ties — into the administration as Obama sets out an agenda for the second half of his term while dealing with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.”

It remains unclear if Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff, is interested in extending his tenure, but if Daley ends up in the top job he will almost certainly want to bring in some new people to help support his efforts.

The New York Times explores how tapping Daley for the top staff job in the White House may create rancor in the president’s liberal base.

The potential hire comes as President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, is expected to join the White House as a senior adviser, just as the president’s other political adviser, David Axelrod, is set to depart for Chicago to help with start-up operations for the 2012 re-election campaign.

REPEAL AND REPLACE

In a vote set for Jan. 12, House Republicans will try to follow through on their midterm campaign pledge to repeal President Obama’s health care law.

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the move Monday. “Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said in a statement.

The two-page bill, which Republicans have named the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” would restore the statutes to what they were before the legislation was enacted last spring. The Rules Committee is expected to meet Thursday, and the rule for debate will be taken up on the House floor Friday, POLITICO reports.

With Republicans holding 242 seats in the House, the vote is expected to pass with ease. But the effort faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where Democrats still hold a 53-seat majority.

Democratic leaders in the Senate penned a letter Monday to incoming House Speaker John Boehner, warning that a “clean repeal” would do away with a number of popular provisions, including fixing the “donut hole,” which provides seniors with discounts on their prescription drug costs.

“If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the health care law that threatens consumer benefits like the “donut hole” fix, we will block it in the Senate. This proposal deserves a chance to work. It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal health care,” wrote the Senate Democrats.

Separately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement: “With the evidence showing that health reform is helping our economy, I can only imagine that Republicans are trying to appease the extremist elements who have taken over their party. I expect cooler heads will prevail in the Senate.”

Facing a wall of Democratic opposition to a full repeal, House Republicans will also push for a vote on a resolution that would instruct committees with health care oversight to produce alternative legislation committing to 12 goals, including “lower health care premiums through increased competition and choice,” “protect the doctor-patient relationship” and “prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions.”

That approach could allow Republicans to pick away at certain elements in the bill while leaving in place those that are viewed more favorably by the public.

President Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One on his way back to Washington: “I think that there’s gonna be politics, that’s what happens in Washington. [The Republicans] are going to play to their base for a certain period of time. But I’m pretty confident that they’re going to recognize that our job is to govern and make sure that we are delivering jobs for the American people and that we are creating a competitive economy for the 21st Century. Not just for this generation but for the next one. And so my expectation, my hope is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012.”

STEELE SURVIVES THE DAY

The hot seat ended up not too terribly hot for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele at Monday’s debate among the five candidates seeking to become party leader for the next two years.

There was the occasional barb tossed in Steele’s direction from one of his opponents, such as when former Missouri Republican Party chairman Ann Wagner described a national party adrift in “mismanagement, distraction and drama,” but Steele was able to defend his record without appearing defensive.

It remains difficult, however, to see how Steele can amass the support for a second term. The current front-runner in public commitments from the 168 voting members of the RNC, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, did not light the room on fire with his debate performance.

Be sure to read the write-ups here:

POLITICO: LINK

New York Times: LINK

Washington Post: LINK

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