OBAMA AGENDA: “A surge in government spending”
The AP, on Obama's pitch to House Democrats: "Declaring an end to "mindless austerity," President Barack Obama called for a surge in government spending Thursday, and asked Congress to throw out the sweeping budget cuts both parties agreed to four years ago when deficits were spiraling out of control."
MORE From the Philly Inquirer: “A defiant President Obama came to Philadelphia on Thursday to urge Democrats to keep aggressively promoting their beliefs, despite an Election Day drubbing. Embodying that combative outlook, Obama added a swipe at Republicans and Mitt Romney for, in his view, trying to imitate Democrats' concern for the average American.”
From the New York Times: "President Obama on Friday will announce a major biomedical research initiative, including plans to collect genetic data on one million Americans so that scientists can develop drugs and treatments tailored to individual patients’ specific characteristics, administration officials said."
Some top officials are concerned that the Secret Service needs even more of a shakeup to fix its problems, writes the Washington Post. "Two weeks after the Secret Service forced out four of its top officials, lawmakers are questioning whether the agency should have ousted one more — its influential second-in-command."
Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to smooth things over with congressional Democrats, but it's not going all that well, reports the New York Times.
CONGRESS: Keystone passes Senate
From our Capitol Hill team: "After years of political wrangling, the Republican controlled Senate on Thursday passed its first priority of the new Congress: the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The legislation easily passed by a 62 to 36 vote, with support from nine Democrats."
The Loretta Lynch hearing had just a few fireworks, but she's poised for confirmation.
OFF TO THE RACES: GOP to benefit from Koch spending spree
Here’s NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell with another smart take on that big budget number out of Koch-world. “The $889 million pledge by wealthy entrepreneurs Charles and David Koch and their network for the 2016 presidential cycle will come as welcome news to Republican candidates and causes who are likely to see the benefit of the spending spree, but for the Republican Party apparatus, it causes a bit of heartburn.”
Will Hillary Clinton even bother debating her primary opponents? National Journal: "[H]ow many debates, where and when they're held, and what they look like depend entirely on which Democrats end up getting into the race—and if Clinton faces second-tier opposition, there's a chance there won't be any debates. Unlike with Republicans, who have long known the likelihood of a big field and could plan their debates accordingly, the Democrats' process has always been more uncertain."
BUSH: Romney's top Iowa guru is signing on with Jeb Bush.
POLITICO talks to Michael Schiavo about Jeb Bush. “It was a living hell,” Mr. Schiavo said, “and I blame him.”
PAUL: CC: Ted Cruz, Rick Perry. "Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri is set to announce Friday that he is resigning his party post in early March and joining Mr. Paul’s team of advisers for a possible 2016 presidential campaign," writes the Wall Street Journal.
ROMNEY: Kasie Hunt confirms that Mitt Romney will discuss his 2016 intentions with supporters on an 11am call today.
From Bloomberg: "Those who have been helping Romney make up his mind say there are three factors in favor of a run, and two factors against. The main rationale on the “go” side is Mitt and Ann Romney’s strongly held conviction that no one in the current field would make a better president. "
RUBIO: The Washington Post says Rubio's skipping of the Keystone vote for a fundraising swing may one be one of "the clearest signals yet that he intends to run for president rather than seek reelection to a second term in 2016."
And around the country:
A non-political tidbit from our latest poll: "Ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl showdown, nearly four-in-10 Americans - 37 percent - say they would encourage their child to play another sport other than football due to concerns about concussions."
INDIANA: From the Indy Star: "Gov. Mike Pence killed his administration's plans for a state-run news service Thursday amid a national uproar that spurred ridicule for the idea across the political spectrum. Pence announced in a memo to state agency heads that they would no longer be launching the JustIN website and that they would instead update the state's online press release system and state calendar."
NEW YORK: Via the New York Times: “The magic number is 76. And on Thursday, State Assemblyman Carl E. Heastie appeared to be tantalizingly close to, or past, that threshold and thus on the precipice of ascending to the soon-to-be-vacant speakership of the New York Assembly.”
PROGRAMMING NOTES. *** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews “Shark Tank’s” Mr. Wonderful Kevin O’Leary, Former NFL player Ben Utecht, Bloomberg Editor Jeanne Cummings, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and NBC’s Chuck Todd, Bill Neely and Craig Melvin.