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First Thoughts: Obama to offer compromise budget to Republicans

Obama to offer compromise budget to Republicans… A last chance at reaching a deal?... The monthly jobs numbers: Economy adds just 88,000 jobs in March (lowest in nine months), but unemployment rate falls to 7.6%... The week’s 2016 round up… What happened to Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers?... Scott Brown eyeing Senate seat in … New Hampshire?... And SENATE MADNESS -- introducing our Final Four: Webster vs. Clay and LBJ vs. Kennedy.

*** Obama to offer compromise budget to Republicans: With his budget to be officially unveiled on April 10, President Obama had a choice of two paths to take. He could either release a budget that contains a pie-in-the-sky wish list comporting with Senate Democrats, or one that tries to make a serious offer to congressional Republicans to get them back to the negotiating table. Well, we now have an early answer -- he’s selected Door No. 2. NBC News has confirmed that the White House on Wednesday will release a budget that contains an additional $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years ($600 billion in new revenues on top of the fiscal-cliff deal reached at the beginning of the year, $930 billion in spending cuts, and $200 billion in reduced interest payments). Among the spending cuts is a reduction in cost-of-living payments for Social Security recipients, known as chained CPI. As the New York Times, which broke this story, writes, the budget essentially “will embody the final compromise offer that he made to Speaker John A. Boehner late last year, before Mr. Boehner abandoned negotiations in opposition to the president’s demand for higher taxes from wealthy individuals and some corporations.”

*** A last chance at reaching a deal? The administration maintains that these offers -- including chained CPI -- are only valid if Republicans accept more revenues as part of a compromise deal. “The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth,” a senior administration says. This budget is going to get grief from everyone: The left is already howling at the chained CPI, because it amounts to a cut for beneficiaries; critics will charge that the administration is once again negotiating from the middle (or with themselves); and House Republicans point out that chained CPI produces more revenue, which they don’t think is acceptable. But if you assume that the White House’s only opportunity to cut a budget deal is with Senate Republicans who aren’t part of leadership -- remember that Obama has another dinner with Senate GOPers the night he releases the budget -- this compromise offer is maybe his best chance to get them on board.  

*** And why he had to dangle compromise, including chained CPI: Had the White House decided to withhold chained CPI, then the charges of being “not serious” or “moving the goalposts” would have come fast and furious from Republicans, including those in the Senate where the White House has some opportunity to deal. And the president already has been out in public defending the idea of changing the CPI as a budget tool, so why back off now? The only way the president’s budget was going to be relevant -- coming two months late and AFTER the House and Senate already passed theirs -- was to use it as an attempt to start the negotiations. And that’s what the White House calculated.

*** Economy adds just 88,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate drops to 7.6%: Here’s the other big story this Friday morning: In the first post-sequester jobs report, the U.S. economy added just 88,000 jobs in the month of March (the fewest in nine months), although the unemployment rate dropped from 7.7% to 7.6%. More from the AP: “The weakness may signal that companies were worried last month about steep government spending cuts that began on March 1. March's job gains were half the pace of the previous six months, when the economy added an average of 196,000 jobs a month. The drop raises fears that the economy could slow after a stronger winter.” Don’t be surprised if this lower-than-expected number puts pressure on Congress to alleviate the sequester cuts. One other thing worth noted: This data confirms the pattern we’ve seen over the past few years -- as spring rolls in, job growth slows down.

*** The week’s 2016 round up: In our weekly look at the emerging -- and very early -- 2016 race, perhaps the biggest thing we learned is that it doesn’t take too much for Hillary Clinton to launch a thousand news clips. By delivering a speech on Tuesday at a global women’s organization she founded (and at an event also attended by VP Joe Biden), Clinton became the topic of numerous political pieces speculating about her 2016 intentions. Elsewhere: On Thursday, Biden’s office released a “Being Biden” audio from the vice president discussing his appearance at the Kennedy Center with Clinton… A McClatchy/Marist poll showed Clinton besting Marco Rubio (52%-40%), Rand Paul (52%-41%), and Jeb Bush (54%-38%), but narrowly edging Chris Christie (46%-43%). The same survey had Biden topping Rubio (53%-39%), Paul (50%-41%) and Bush (49%-41), but losing to Christie (43%-46%)… Over the weekend, Marco Rubio tapped the brakes on the immigration-reform proposal that the bipartisan group of senators (including him) is working on… On Wednesday, Chris Christie said he supported the firing of ex-Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice… We learned that both Joe Biden and Ted Cruz will be in Columbia, SC, May 3 delivering speeches helping to raise money for the local parties… And we learned that Rand Paul will be speaking at a New Hampshire dinner on May 20.

*** What happened to Jindal’s poll numbers? There’s one other piece of 2016 that we can’t ignore: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s declining poll numbers. Per a new Southern Media Opinion & Research poll, just 38% of state residents approve of Jindal’s job as governor -- which is down from 51% last October. What happened to Jindal? You could argue that, nationally, he’s been doing all the right things to lay the groundwork for a 2016 bid. But locally? Ouch…

*** Scott Brown eyeing Senate seat in  … New Hampshire? After delivering a speech in New Hampshire yesterday, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) refused to rule out a 2014 Senate run in … the Granite State, not his home state of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe: “Brown, speaking to reporters after delivering the keynote speech at a dinner to mark the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, noted that he owns a home in New Hampshire, has ‘been a taxpayer’ there for 20 years, and has relatives who live in the state. When asked directly if he would rule out a run for office in New Hampshire, Brown — who lost his reelection bid in Massachusetts in November to current Senator Elizabeth Warren — left his options open. ‘I’m not going to rule out anything right now, because I really haven’t thought a heck of a lot about it.’” But actually, we can report that his last statement is NOT true. He’s actually been pondering this for a while; we’ve been hearing that Brown has been whispering this New Hampshire idea to former colleagues. But in addition to trying to become the first popularly elected senator to serve in the Senate from two different states, Brown might have this other challenge: He recently joined a prominent lobbying and law firm with a concentration of business and governmental affairs.

*** Senate Madness -- yesterday’s results: In the 19th Century, #1 Daniel Webster defeated #3 Charles Sumner… In the Mixed Era, #1 Henry Clay bested #14 Scoop Jackson… In the 20th Century, #1 LBJ beat #11 Mike Mansfield… And in the Modern Era, #1 Ted Kennedy triumphed over #2 Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

*** Senate Madness -- the Final Four: So that means we have just four senators left, and they’re all the #1 seeds. (Talk about chalk!) So in our Final Four, it’s Daniel Webster (“The Great Orator”) vs. Henry Clay (“The Great Compromiser”), and it’s Lyndon Johnson (“The Master of the Senate”) vs. Ted Kennedy (“The Last Lion”). Be sure to cast your votes here.

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