February, 2013

Who Owns the Sequester?

A new Harper Polling survey of likely voters finds that Republicans are seen as most responsible for the sequester, 46% to 40%.

“The lesson here is that President Obama is on a roll. He has adeptly pinned responsibility for the sequester on Republicans, despite it not being true. It is a remarkable feat by the White House and maddening for Republicans.”

Boehner Bypasses Hastert Rule Again

After roughly a year and a half after its expiration, the Violence Against Women Act passed the House by 286-138 vote and will soon be reauthorized once it garners the president’s signature, NBC News reports.

The House vote was significant, because, for the third time this year, on a significant piece of legislation, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) showed a willingness to bring a bill to the floor without abiding by unwritten, so-called Hastert Rule.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“Being from New York we’re not supposed to be suckers. It’s bad enough that these guys voted against it, that’s inexcusable enough. But to have the balls to come in and say, ‘We screwed you now make us president?'”

— Rep. Peter King (R-NY), quoted by Politicker, urging donors to cut off Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others who “threw a knife in the back in New York” by voting “no” on the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.

What is Rand Paul Up To?

Ross Douthat: “Paul has done what successful politicians tend to do: He’s picked his battles, done outreach to his critics, and consistently framed his arguments in language that conservative voters and activists understand. This has enabled him to break with the party’s hawkish tilt on a number of substantive questions, from the Libya and Syria debates to issues of executive power to the question of whether containment should be an option for dealing with Iran, without coming in for anything like the attacks that greeted Hagel’s nomination. He’s put his foot in his mouth here and there and taken fire from both his friends and foes along the way, and future world events (particularly events related to Iran) may upset his tightrope walk. But at the moment he seems like living, breathing proof that there’s room for actual foreign policy debate within the Republican coalition, and that not every non-hawk need be dismissed as a RINO and read out of the party.”

How the GOP Sees the Sequester Fight

Ezra Klein: “Insofar as there’s a long-term strategy here, it comes down to 2014. Republicans feel that this is a defensive year for them, and if they can resist further tax increases while locking in some spending cuts, that will be more than they could reasonably have expected in the days after the election. But in 2014, they expect the implementation of Obamacare to be a debacle that will give them an opportunity to mount a policy offensive against the White House. If they can just get through this year and get to 2014, their position will strengthen considerably.”

Republicans Pick Convicted Felon to Run for Jackson’s Seat

Republican voters picked ex-convict Paul McKinley (R) as their nominee to run for the seat recently ceded by former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, the Chicago Tribune reports.

McKinley, a convicted felon who served nearly 20 years in state prison for burglaries, armed robberies and aggravated battery, declared victory, beat businessman Eric Wallace (R) by 23 votes.

Why Iowa Is So Important for Senate Republicans

First Read explains why yesterday’s decision by Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) not to run for Senate in Iowa — opening a much clearer path for Rep. Steve King (R-IA) — is so important: “If you take this seat off the map for Republicans – and it’s very premature to do that – then they almost have to run the table on all their other Senate opportunities to win back the Senate.”

“Remember, Republicans have to pick up six seats to take control of the upper chamber. If you give them West Virginia (Rockefeller retiring) and South Dakota (possible Tim Johnson retirement), then Republicans still needs to win four out of these five seats where Dems are probably running for re-election: Alaska (Begich), Arkansas (Pryor), Louisiana (Landrieu), Montana (Baucus), and North Carolina (Hagan). In other words, if Iowa is in play for Republicans, they don’t need to knock off as many Dem incumbents. If it isn’t in play, then they almost have to run the table.”

“One other point here: King would probably have little chance of winning a Senate contest in a presidential year, but he does have a chance in a midterm cycle, so folks ought to be careful making assumptions.”

Rove Defends Effort to Back “Electable” Candidates

Karl Rove defended his move to get involved in Republican primary races across the country, saying a new vetting process would prevent “poor candidates” from giving Democrats an edge in critical races, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said Rove: “My posterior was shredded a little bit by donors wondering why we are writing checks for people who then turn around a run such lousy campaigns.”

The March to War with Iran

Time has new details on the White House debate in which President Obama ultimately committed to preventing an Iranian nuke by force if necessary.

“Every current and former official interviewed for this story believes Obama will resort to war if necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. But only Obama knows for sure… As a former senior official says of the coming year, ‘we are entering the final stages of this drama.'”

Why the Sequester is Here to Stay

First Read: “A bad spending cut for many Republicans is easier to defend than any supposed fair tax hike on anyone. So if the White House really wants to stop the sequester, they might have to come up with their own set of $85 billion in spending cuts for this year to replace it. In this political environment, there is no way Boehner, McConnell and Cornyn can politically survive doing anything short of that. The president can still get more revenue down the road on tax reform, but he may have to fold on sequester if he wants a chance at winning in the long run. But that’s also a hard thing to ask a president who just won re-election on this very issue.”

According to Roll Call, Boehner yesterday told Republicans, “We’re on the side of the angels.”

Suspect in Rivera Probe to Change Plea to Guilty

A key suspect in a criminal case tied to former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) “will officially switch his plea to guilty in three federal charges for illegal campaign activity,” the Miami Herald reports.

“Justin Lamar Sternad’s admission of wrongdoing next Wednesday will be another sign that he’s cooperating with the federal government in its investigation of Rivera.”

Don’t Count Christie Out

Steve Kornacki says that, despite his snub by CPAC, Chris Christie still should be considered a very viable candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination.

“He hasn’t passed the ideological point of no return on any litmus test issues, is much more conservative than the ‘moderate’ label that’s frequently attached to him suggests, and will be free after this November to recalibrate himself for the national GOP stage. There’s also the matter of his personality. Political science tells us that this doesn’t matter in campaigns, but I don’t quite agree. His charisma isn’t the only reason Christie rocketed to national political fame over the past few years, but it’s certainly a big part of the equation. I may be a little biased on this, since I began watching Christie up-close a decade ago, but I’ve long believed there’s is something about his style that makes people – especially Republicans – want to like him and support him.”

Matt Lewis: Christie is the new Jon Huntsman.