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House Vote on Budget Compromise Looks to Be Rocky

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, predicted passage of the budget compromise deal. Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Remember that much heralded 11th-hour deal to cut $38.5 billion from this year’s federal spending in order to avert a government shutdown?

Well, it turns out actual savings in this year’s spending are only about 1 percent of that sum, and conservatives are none too pleased.

The Wall Street Journal’s Naftali Bendavid has the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office:

“A new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that the 2011 spending deal struck by Republicans and Democrats late Friday would save only about $352 million this year, a small fraction of the $38.5 billion touted by negotiators on both sides.

“The nonpartisan budget office for Congress reports that the two sides succeeded in cutting the government’s spending authority for this year by the larger amount. But because some of the cuts would be slow to take effect, and because some of the money was unlikely to be spent in any case, the reduction in actual “outlays” would come to a small percentage of the announced amount.

“The CBO found that when emergency spending is factored in, such as funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the budget deal actually would spend $3 billion more than initial estimates for 2011 spending.”

These numbers make House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s job to get to 218 votes for passage on the House floor Thursday much more difficult. He’s also almost certain to need votes from Democrats to get the bill passed. Originally, House GOP leadership was looking to be able to do this with Republican votes alone.

The conservative National Review editorializes against the budget deal Thursday, calling it “strike one against the Speakership of John Boehner.”

And one of the major contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination came out against the compromise deal.

“The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks,” said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable. It’s no surprise that President Obama and Senator [Harry] Reid forced this budget, but it should be rejected. America deserves better,” he added.

Speaker Boehner predicted passage later Thursday. “I’ll get there,” he told POLITICO.

If the bill does pass the House, it’ll move on to the Senate late Thursday.

The House will then turn its attention to a vote Friday on Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., 2012 budget that came under withering attack Wednesday from President Obama.

THE PRESIDENT’S DAY

President Obama will keep the focus on his deficit reduction plan again Thursday as he sits down for a meeting with the co-chairs of his bipartisan fiscal commission.

The president is scheduled to meet with former Clinton-era chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., in the Oval Office at 10:45 a.m. EDT.

It’s the second consecutive day the two men will be in the same room with the president, as they also attended Mr. Obama’s speech Wednesday in Washington.

After putting forward a budget in February to cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade, the president outlined $4 trillion in savings over 12 years in his plan Wednesday, coming close to meeting the target he set for the commission, which released its report last year.

Still, the plan falls well short of the $5.8 trillion in cuts proposed under the plan offered last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan.

As he did Wednesday, the president will surely seek to contrast his vision with Rep. Ryan’s in an interview Thursday with George Stephanopolous of ABC News.

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes Thursday that the goal of the president’s speech was to frame the choice the country would have in the 2012 campaign:

“Obama’s address left many questions unanswered, but there was no doubt that the president and his White House advisers regarded it as one of the most important political speeches he will make in his second two years in office. It was an effort to regain the offensive in a debate that will dominate budget negotiations for the rest of this year and will probably shape the choices voters will face in the 2012 presidential election.”

Later Thursday, President Obama will turn his attention to 2012 with a trip to Chicago for three evening fund-raisers.

The events, which will raise money for the Obama-Biden re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, are the first since the president officially declared his intention to seek a second term.

The first two events are private dinners at N9NE Restaurant (7:25 p.m. EDT, tickets ranging from $5,000 to $15,000) and MK Restaurant (8:35 p.m., $35,800 per person).

The president will end the night with a large reception at the Navy Pier beginning at 10:30 p.m., with tickets as low as $100.

Thursday’s events are just the start of what some project could be the first billion dollar campaign in U.S. history.

SANTORUM STEPS CLOSER

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., edged closer to a presidential bid Wednesday, announcing the formation of a “testing the waters committee.”

Santorum stopped short of declaring a full-blown candidacy, saying he needed to gauge whether his campaign could raise the money necessary to compete.

“We’re going to determine over the next few weeks as to whether the resources are going to be there to do it,” Santorum told Fox News Channel.

By entering the “testing the waters” phase, Santorum can raise money for travel and begin to hire staff, but he would be required to disclose that information with the Federal Election Commission once he formally jumps in the race.

Santorum’s also used Wednesday’s interview to test out his campaign theme: “Fight to make America, America again.”

He said voters are looking for “a president who really believes in the fundamental principles of American freedom, that free people, given the opportunity to provide for themselves and provide for their families and for their communities.”

Santorum has limited name recognition nationally and polls show him in single digits, which could make it tough to convince supporters to hand over contributions. But he’s a strong social conservative, opposed to abortion rights, gay marriage and stem cell research, and those views match up well with the GOP electorate in states like Iowa and South Carolina.

DEFENDING HEALTH CARE

After watching Republican-allied groups weave a steady of stream of television ad attacks against President Obama’s health care reform law in the 2010 midterm election, Democrats are preparing to fight back in 2012.

A group of Democratic-elected officials and operatives are forming two outside groups aimed at defending President Obama’s signature legislative issue from now through November 2012.

Much like the Karl Rove inspired “American Crossroads” on the right, the new effort will have both a 501c(3) component and an issues-based lobbying effort housed inside a 501c(4) organization.

The primary group will be called “Know Your Care,” and it launches Thursday with the help of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. Former Obama administration officials and health care policy pro Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress will also be on hand at the 1:00 p.m. EDT rollout.

According to the group’s release:

“This new group will undertake an aggressive campaign educating the American people about the Affordable Care Act’s life-saving consumer and patient protections that are already benefiting millions of Americans and protecting these rights from being taken take away by repealing or defunding the law.”

Among the heavy hitters involved with the new effort: Obama campaign veteran Paul Tewes is senior adviser, Eddie Vale will serve as communications director, Jim Margolis handles the TV ads, and former Sen. Ben Nelson staffer David DiMartino will be a communications adviser to the group.

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