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Obama’s Outreach to GOP Will Be Tested

President Obama; photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama has been reaching out to Republicans to discuss the budget. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The next few days should give President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans a clear sense of just how far apart the two sides are when it comes to reaching a long-term deal to reduce the nation’s deficit.

The president will continue his outreach to lawmakers by visiting Capitol Hill to meet with all four caucuses, beginning with Senate Democrats on Tuesday. He will meet with House Republicans on Wednesday, and with Senate Republicans and House Democrats separately on Thursday.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., welcomed Mr. Obama’s shift in strategy during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I think the president’s tremendously sincere. I don’t think this is just a political change in tactic. I think he actually would like to solve the problems of the country and it would be to his benefit and certainly every American’s benefit if he did that,” said Coburn, who was once one of Mr. Obama’s closest friends in Washington. “So, it’s time to start leading. And the way you do that is quit…poking your finger in people’s eyes and start building relationships and I think he’s got a great chance to accomplish a big deal.”

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who had lunch with the president at the White House last week, was asked by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” if he thought Mr. Obama’s effort was sincere.

“I am excited that we had the conversation. We had a very frank exchange. We come from different perspectives. I ran against him in the last election,” Ryan said. “So, we exchanged very different, frank, candid views with one another that were very different, but at least we had the conversation. And I think the answer to your question will be determined by how he conducts himself in the coming weeks and months.”

Ryan also was asked whether Republicans would be willing to accept the president’s call for additional revenues to be part of a broader deficit-reduction agreement.

“We do have a difference of opinion on that,” Ryan acknowledged. “The other problem is this: By continuing to raise taxes to fuel more spending, you’ll never get tax reform, which is critical for economic growth and job creation. And, so, yes, we have an impasse right now, which is the president wants to continue raising taxes, not for deficit reduction but to fuel more spending, and, we see tax reform as incredibly important goal, and policy, to getting pro-growth economics, to getting businesses growing again and hiring people.”

Ryan also previewed his 2014 budget plan, which is expected to be released Tuesday. As with his previous blueprints, Ryan calls for overhauling Medicare and Medicaid and repealing the Affordable Care Act. The proposal aims to balance the budget in the next decade.

Senate Democrats, led by budget chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., plan to introduce their 2014 spending blueprint on Wednesday.

The National Journal’s Nancy Cook and Margot Sanger-Katz report on some of the broad outlines of the Democratic proposal:

The new Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, Patty Murray, will propose additional revenue beyond the fiscal-cliff deal, as well as more spending on education, transportation infrastructure, and job training, according to aides and Democratic members familiar with the discussions. Her budget will seek to undo nine years of sequestration, starting next fiscal year, through policy ideas that Democrats have already proposed: closing tax loopholes, for example, and saving money from the troop drawdown in Afghanistan. And it will offer targets for revenue and spending that the federal government should hit over the next 10 years–along with possible instructions for tax reform.

(The White House announced last week the president’s budget will not be delivered until April 8.)

Senate Democrats will also move forward this week with their plan to fund the government from March 27 through the end of the fiscal year in September. Politico’s David Rogers notes that the bill will have differences from the House version approved last week, but omits extra funding for some of the president’s key priorities, such as healthcare and financial reform.

Those short-term battles could derail progress toward a long-term agreement. But other potential roadblocks also remain, including divisions within the parties.

The president has been signaling that he’s open to entitlement reform, but Politico’s Kate Nocera points out that he faces a major hurdle with fellow Democrats. She writes that 107 of the 200 House Democrats signed a letter to Mr. Obama threatening to vote “against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

With the real negotiating still a few weeks away, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told CQ Roll Call that he thinks they should all be behaving as legislators and then a larger deal could fall into place. From the Q-and-A:

CQ Roll Call: You made a decision this year to abandon one-on-one negotiations with Obama and move legislation through regular order — and in some cases only after the Senate has passed its own version of legislation dealing with whatever issue is at hand. What are you hoping to accomplish?

Boehner: Well, look, I just realized that two guys behind closed doors just isn’t the right way to deal with these big problems, and it hasn’t produced results. You want the wisdom of all 535 Members of Congress, and all 300 million Americans brought to bear, in the light of day. Frankly, these one-on-one talks with the President took all the pressure off my friend Harry Reid and Senate Democrats to actually produce legislation. We’re all supposed to be legislators. I’m really indebted to the folks in the Ohio state house back when I first got elected who taught me to be a legislator. The House should pass a bill, the Senate should pass a bill, and if we disagree, we go to Conference. That’s the system our Founders gave us.


  • In the Los Angeles Times, Brian Bennett takes stock of of the immigration agreement among the Gang of Eight in the Senate and found that the men “have privately agreed on the most contentious part of the draft: how to give legal status to the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants.” He reports they will seek a pathway to citizenship “that would require illegal immigrants to register with Homeland Security authorities, file federal income taxes for their time in America and pay a still-to-be-determined fine.” Once given the probationary legal status, they could work but could not get any public benefits, including unemployment insurance, food stamps and Medicaid.

  • In a series of Sunday show appearances, former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush clarified his immigration position. “”We could take either path; either a path to citizenship or a path to legalization,” he said on “Meet the Press.” Over at Talking Points Memo, Benjy Sarlin plots out a timeline of Bush’s evolution on immigration.

  • Bush also opined on his family’s political legacy and how that could shape his own future. “I don’t think there’s any Bush baggage at all. I love my brother. I’m proud of his accomplishments. I love my dad. I’m proud to be a Bush and if I run for president it’s not because of something in my DNA that compels me to do it,” Bush said on Fox News Sunday.

  • Politico’s Mike Allen learns that Mr. Obama will speak to top backers of his campaign spinoff, Organizing for Action, at a dinner Wednesday in Washington.

  • The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein details how Yellowstone National Park has been impacted by the sequester spending cuts.

  • The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser takes a close look at the 87 judicial vacanies festering on a federal bench of 874 seats. With only seven out of 11 judges, the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit has the worst vacancy rate of any federal circuit court, but with Republican appointees holding a 4-3 majority the Senate’s inability (or unwillingness) to confirm its nominees has policy effects far beyond Washington.

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., defends his filibuster in a weekend Washington Post op-ed.

  • The president and first lady Michelle Obama hosted outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton for a three-hour dinner at the White House on March 1.

  • Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., told the Detroit Free Press that he is “seriously considering” a 2014 bid to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin. Scott Romney, Mitt’s brother, may be interested in a Republican bid.

  • In case you were wondering, 72 percent of Michiganders agree with Mitt Romney that the trees in the state are just the right height, according to an automated survey released by Public Policy Polling.

  • The Rothenberg Political Report has released its first 2014 House ratings.

  • Kansas Gov. and former Sen. Sam Brownback has an answer to the sequester: Ted Kennedy.

  • The Associated Press looks at two Illinois Republicans in trouble with their party for supporting gay marriage. A Saturday meeting of top state Republicans to discuss party chairman Pat Brady was canceled at the last minute, with sources within the GOP state central committee citing a lack of votes to dismiss him.

  • Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner scoops: “Staffers for Sen. Dean Heller have been bullying other senators’ aides to protect the Nevada Republican’s space in the Russell Senate Office Building,” refusing to give tours as part of the biennial Senate office lottery. It’s a larger-than-average office, she writes, adding, “Though special courtesies are usually extended to aides and members visiting offices, Heller staffers repeatedly tried to keep them from seeing the spacious member office, sources reported, saying meetings were ongoing and could not be interrupted.”

  • Actress Ashley Judd appears to be closer to challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

  • South Carolina GOP Gov. Nikki Haley is readying her 2014 re-election bid.

  • OMG.

  • He’s got more in the wheelhouse than bathtime self-portraiture! Click here to view the collection of George W. Bush’s dog paintings.

  • Fishbowl DC gets to the bottom of notorious meda tweeter Marty Rudolf.

  • At the annual Gridiron dinner, Mr. Obama poked fun at the sequester and Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio drinking water.

  • Today’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA looks at the number of older workers remaining at their jobs beyond the retirement age.


  • David Brooks and Ruth Marcus discussed the jobs figures, the president’s outreach to Republicans and the role of women in the workplace. Watch the segment here or below.

  • Attending South by Southwest? Want to discuss whether partisan media contributes to a healthy democracy? Please stop by Christina’s panel on Monday. It starts at 5 p.m. CT at the Austin Convention Center.

  • Allie Morris, Simone Pathe and Cindy Huang summarized the week that was on Capitol Hill: fireplaces, bladders and outsiders seeking budget autonomy.

  • Kwame Holman caught up with former Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl to ask about what it was like to negotiate with the president.

  • Colorado lawmakers on Friday debated new gun control measures.

  • Our Oral History Hotline has received almost 90 calls from more than 30 states. We’re still showcasing the Voting Rights Act’s place in history by collecting stories from our viewers and readers.

Click on the image above to listen to the stories, or visit our special Voting Rights Act page here. Christina explained the project here.

You can still share your memories. Use the button below, or call (703) 594-6PBS to tell us your story.


Katelyn Polantz and politics desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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