Today in the Morning Line:
- Paul Ryan to unveil 2015 budget proposal
- Improving prognosis for health care law?
- The race for D.C. mayor
- Dave Camp to retire
The Ryan budget: First, do no harm: Since taking over the House Budget Committee in 2011 Rep. Paul Ryan’s annual blueprints have been heralded on the right as sweeping visions for how to get the country’s fiscal house in order. But Tuesday’s expected release of the Wisconsin Republican’s 2015 plan does not appear to be garnering as much attention as those previous editions. And part of that may be by design. Ryan usually accompanies the unveiling of his proposal with a Capitol Hill news conference, but none is scheduled for Tuesday. Instead, his committee plans to meet Wednesday to vote on the legislation. Like those before it, this year’s version of the Ryan budget is expected to achieve balance in 10 years and include deep cuts to social programs such as Medicaid and food stamps. Putting those ideas on the table in an election year could risk giving Democrats an opening to go after Republicans for seeking to slash the safety net for those who are struggling. Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole, a member of the budget committee, said Tuesday on MSNBC that the Ryan plan would be part of the midterm campaign “whether we want it or not.” What GOP leaders can control is how much focus they give the budget. With Republicans on the offensive over the troubled launch of the Affordable Care Act, it’s a safe bet many in the party would prefer to keep hammering away on the health care law from now until November, rather than answer questions about steep spending cuts. Democrats are salivating at the chance to change the subject. Even if Ryan can get his fellow Republicans on board with his proposal, the measure would be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. For Republicans, the question becomes how much of a chance they want to take for what would ultimately be a largely symbolic vote.
Feeling better? The Obama administration is breathing a sigh of relief this morning after a surge of health care sign-ups pushed them closer to seven million, the originally projected estimate. Monday was a record-breaking day, and (mostly) stayed online. A Center for Medicaid Services official tells Morning Line there were more than three million visits to HealthCare.gov and more than a million calls to the call center, as of 8 p.m. Monday, and confirmed reports they are “on track” to hit 7 million enrollments. And a new Washington Post/ABC poll showed the law actually a net-positive, 49 percent to 48 percent, for the first time. The poll, it should be noted, appears to be an outlier (especially considering the same poll showed the president’s handling of health care to be 44 percent to 54 percent). Kaiser showed approval to be 38 percent to 46 percent; CBS had it 41 percent to 53 percent; George Washington University 43 percent to 53 percent; and, Pew Research Center 41 percent to 53 percent. That said, it was always the risk for Republicans that the law would get more positive. And if other polls show the same thing, then it may not change the outcome this fall given the demography of who votes in midterms, but it could have a more lasting effect on the perception of the party’s ability and willingness to govern.
Primary Day in D.C.: It’s Election Day in your nation’s capital, and Mayor Vincent Gray could be in trouble with two polls out last week showing Councilwoman Muriel Bowser overtaking him, albeit with a lead within the margin of error. The primary has ALWAYS decided the next mayor in Washington, but if Gray ekes it out, polls indicate he would have a real race against David Catania, a gay former Republican-turned-independent. This race has a lot of appeal for political junkies to love. But it’s also a story about a changing city, race and age, as PBS NewsHour’s Rachel Wellford reports. Trendy restaurants are popping up in what had been mostly African-American neighborhoods and gentrification does not always go down well, and that’s something that’s being seen in a lot of cities across the country. For some of us who lived through it, it reminds of the inflection point that New York was at in the mid-90s – and those growing pains are still playing out.
Chairmen run for the door: Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced Tuesday he is retiring at the end of his current term. His retirement follows that of fellow Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, last week. That makes nine House and Senate chairman to hang ’em up this cycle. And that’s a modern-day record, reports The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe. Camp and Rogers represent a couple of things — (1) The frustration of Congress. Camp rolled out his ambitious tax plan, and it got ignored. (By the way, his tax reform Democratic partner in the Senate, Max Baucus, also retired.) And as the Libertarian ideology on foreign policy and privacy has grown in the GOP, Rogers’ hawkish national security voice has perhaps lost some influence; and (2) Republicans are pretty confident about keeping the majority in the House. Camp and Rogers are in potentially competitive districts and probably wouldn’t have retired if the GOP was in trouble. Democrats still hope to contest the seats, but in a better year for their party, they would have landed higher on the target list.
Vote watch… The House is expected to take up and pass the Senate’s Ukraine aid funding bill sometime today. It only took about a month…
- The Washington Post previews a Senate Intelligence Committee report on Bush administration-era CIA harsh interrogation tactics. The Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Thursday to ask the White House to declassify the committee’s 300-page executive summary (of its 6,300-page report).
- Perry Bacon Jr. looks at the success of Kentucky’s health care exchange despite the law’s unpopularity in the state.
- Amid massive recalls, GM CEO Mary Barra testifies on Capitol Hill. The Detroit Free-Press says her trek recalls “images from the disastrous trip to Washington by the heads of Detroit’s automakers five years ago during the automotive crisis.”
- American Crossroads released a new TV ad Tuesday in support of Thom Tillis’ campaign for the GOP nomination in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. The spot starts with an images of Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and the president and proceeds to slam their “Obamacare deception” and “out-of-control spending and debt.”
- The president on Monday endorsed Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who is facing a primary challenge from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
- The Los Angeles Times’ Mike Memoli and David Lauter explore the push by Democrats to get voters who usually skip midterm elections to show up this November.
- The Democratic National Committee is betting their money will be better spent on technology than paying off their debt.
- Roll Call’s Jason Dick looks at Phoenix’s bid to host one of the 2016 party conventions.
- Todd Purdum remembers the conservative Ohio congressman who “saved Civil Rights.”
- Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.
So far this Congress, at least 14 members who have served for at least 10 terms are retiring or have resigned
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) March 31, 2014
Rogers & Camp in the morning! Traffic and Weather on the 9’s.
— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) March 31, 2014
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 31, 2014
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