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Obama calls on governors to help lift economy

BY Terence Burlij and Simone Pathe  February 24, 2014 at 9:29 AM EST
President Obama makes a toast during the 2014 Governors Dinner in the State Dining Room of the White House Sunday. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama makes a toast during the 2014 Governors Dinner in the State Dining Room of the White House Sunday. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Morning Line

With his second-term agenda stymied by a divided Congress, President Barack Obama could use a little help from the nation’s governors. But the partisan divisions among state chief executives appear to be just as sharp as those on Capitol Hill these days.

During a dinner with governors in town for the annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting on Sunday, the president remarked that the partnership between the administration and the states held added importance given the gridlock in the nation’s capital.

“When we’ve got a Congress that sometimes seems to have a difficult time acting, I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to partner with each of you in any way that I can to help more Americans work and study and strive, and make sure that they see their efforts and their faith in this country rewarded,” Mr. Obama told the group.

But while the president attempts to follow through on his call to make 2014 a year of action, in part through the increased use of executive power, Republican governors appear to be as critical of that approach as their GOP colleagues in Washington.

In a National Review op-ed published Monday Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal outlined 10 ways the president could use his executive power to improve the economy, a list that includes approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline and delaying all of the Affordable Care Act’s mandates for a year.

“So if President Obama is determined to use his executive power to the fullest, we ask at least that he use the power of the phone and pen to free the American people from the yoke of excess regulation, to open up new avenues for investment and education, and to give the economy the jump start it needs,” Jindal wrote.

Last week the president criticized Republican governors for “pursuing the same top-down, failed economic policies that don’t help Americans get ahead.”

“They’re paying for it by cutting investments in the middle class, oftentimes doing everything they can to squeeze folks who are bargaining on behalf of workers,” he told a group of Democratic governors. “They’re making it harder for working families to access health insurance. In some states, they’re making it harder even for Americans to exercise their right to vote.”

He also charged Republican governors with being “out of touch” with their constituents on raising the minimum wage.

On Friday’s NewsHour, Govs. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., and Bill Haslam, R-Tenn., debated the minimum wage hike and more.

“If you work 40 hours a week, if you’re a mom or dad raising kids, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Quinn said. “I think this is a value issue. And I think some of the Republican governors need to take another look at this issue, because we really should raise the minimum wage. It’s a fundamental issue for everyday people.”

Haslam, meanwhile, noted the Congressional Budget Office study released earlier in the week that estimated lifting the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could result in 500,000 lost jobs.

“You always have to look at the consequences of an action like that,” he said. “Will this make a dramatic difference in the income inequality issue that we’re talking about? I think it will make some, but I think there’s a lot of other issues that will make more difference.”

All this comes in the context of November’s upcoming midterm elections, with 36 gubernatorial contests up for grabs, a handful of those holding potential 2016 implications.

National Journal looks at the 15 governorships most likely to flip this fall, with Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett topping the list.

The governor who’s occupied most of the national spotlight so far this year — New Jersey’s Chris Christie — kept a low profile while in Washington, declining to attend dinner at the White House and skipping town Sunday morning. He attended several events on Saturday and was trailed by a throng of reporters as he shuffled around downtown Washington. But as WNYC’s Matt Katz points out in his “Christie Tracker,” the subdued Christie may be returning to his old ways with the press.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the other governor whose 2016 ambitions have been questioned recently, tried to distance himself from Christie. After the release of fresh emails showing his staff did campaign work on government time, Time’s Zeke Miller writes, “Walker came to Washington this weekend with a clear message to deliver to the national press: He’s not New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.”

Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told Politico he was open to a future White House bid. And Missouri’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, also refused to rule out a run.

LINE ITEMS

  • For the first time, fewer Americans think other countries’ leaders respect Mr. Obama, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday.

  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

  • The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker looks at Bill Clinton’s role in this year’s Kentucky Senate race. The New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg, meanwhile, profiles Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat looking to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Bluegrass State this November.

  • Politico’s Ken Vogel and Maggie Haberman write that former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina is quietly becoming the Karl Rove of the Democratic Party.

  • The Record’s John Reitmeyer unveiled the benefactors of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority under Chairman David Samson, who rewarded many lobbyists during his three-year tenure.

  • Americans for Prosperity’s major TV ad buy in Alaska against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich signals a tactical shift, writes Alex Roarty on Hotline On Call: They hit Begich on more than just the Affordable Care Act.

  • The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman examine how Jim DeMint has shaped the Heritage Foundation since giving up his Senate seat to take over the conservative policy organization last year.

  • The State’s Jamie Self examines South Carolina’s fractured GOP.

  • Republican congressmen running for the Senate are eagerly distancing themselves from Speaker John Boehner and House leadership, Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser reports.

  • The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Saturday Kansas Senate candidate Milton Wolf “posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage.” Wolf, a radiologist challenging Sen. Pat Roberts in the GOP primary, apologized for sharing the images, but blamed Roberts’ campaign for the revelations.

  • A University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll shows Lt. Gov. Greg Abbott holding an 11-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis.

  • Gov. Rick Perry will attend a private business event in Iowa this Friday, fueling rumors that he might consider a second run for the presidency in 2016.

  • A new League of Conservation Voters poll shows Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen would carry an eight point lead over Republican Scott Brown in a hypothetical matchup for New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate seat.

  • The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein profiled former Clinton spin doctor-turned-seminary professor Mike McCurry.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Mark Shields and David Brooks weighed in on Ukraine and discussed the minimum wage and the Democratic split on trade policy.
  • The Federal Reserve released nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts from 2008 on Friday. NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan spoke with the Wall Street Journal’s Jon Hilsenrath about what the documents tell us about the central bank’s deliberations during the financial crisis.
  • Last week the U.S. Transportation Secretary warned the federal Highway Trust Fund may run out of money later this year. Hari Sreenivasan spoke with Bob Cusack, managing editor for The Hill, about the logistics of the fund and how state transportation spending could be affected if Congress fails to agree on a solution.

TOP TWEETS

Ruth Tam contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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