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OBAMA AGENDA: Budget day
The New York Times: “When President Obama releases his proposed annual budget on Tuesday, he will grab his best opportunity of the year to show, in one comprehensive package of hard numbers and precise detail, how he would have the government address what he has called ‘the defining challenge of our time’ — economic inequality.”
The L.A. Times: “President Obama will propose a series of changes to the tax code in a budget plan Tuesday that would shift benefits from top earners to middle- and lower-income Americans, the White House said. In his 2015 budget plan, Obama will propose expanding or making permanent tax credits aimed at the working poor, families with young children, and college students. Obama’s budget would also expand access to retirement savings for people who do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The new tax breaks would be offset by eliminating tax rules that have benefited top earners.”
The AP points out: “Obama's almost $4 trillion budget plan is likely to have a short shelf life. It comes just three months after Congress and the White House agreed to a two-year, bipartisan budget pact that has already set the parameters for this election year's budget work. Democrats controlling the Senate have already announced they won't advance a budget this year and will instead skip ahead to the annual appropriations bills for 2015, relying on new spending ‘caps’ set by December's budget deal that provide $56 billion less than what Obama wants in 2015.”
The prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians look dim… “Facing a U.S.-imposed April deadline, the Israeli leader [Benjamin Netanyahu] declared pessimistically that, ‘Israel has been doing its part and, I regret to say, the Palestinians have not.’ Netanyahu's comments underscored the slim prospects of reaching an agreement to the long-running conflict, despite a robust effort led by Secretary of State John Kerry,” AP reports.
The latest out of Ukraine: “Accusing the West of encouraging an ‘unconstitutional coup’ in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow reserves the right to use all means to protect Russians there. The Russian leader's first comments since Ukraine's fugitive president fled to Russia last month came just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was flying to Kiev to meet with Ukraine's new government,” AP reports. “Putin also declared that Western actions were driving Ukraine onto anarchy and warned that any sanctions the West places on Russia for its actions in Ukraine there will backfire.”
Putin accused the U.S. of running lab rat experiments. “I think they sit there across the pond in the U.S., sometimes it seems … they feel like they’re in a lab and they’re running all sorts of experiments on the rats without understanding consequences of what they’re doing,” he said. “Why would they do that? Nobody can explain it.”
OFF TO THE RACES: “Things are starting to look grisly for Senate Democrats”
Charlie Cook sounds the alarm for Democrats: “At this point, eight months before the Nov. 4 election, it’s hard to see a lot of good news for congressional Democrats. No matter how you look at it, the House seems out of reach. Today, Republicans appear a bit more likely to gain than to lose seats; it would take a cataclysmic event for Democrats to score the net gain of the 17 seats they need to take the majority. What’s changed is that Democrats’ chances of holding onto their majority in the Senate is looking increasingly tenuous. There are now at least 10, and potentially as many as 13, Democratic-held seats in jeopardy. By contrast, only two GOP seats are in any meaningful danger, and that number hasn’t changed in six months. Things are starting to look grisly for Senate Democrats.”
To that point, despite the public saying it trusts Democrats more on key issues, a Washington Post-ABC poll finds Republicans with a 50%-42% advantage in the 34 states with Senate races.
Several experts weigh in on what Obama’s foreign policy really is in Politico, especially in light of the situation in Ukraine. But forget what Ukraine means for Obama. Politico moves on to see what it means for Hillary Clinton and 2016. Maggie Haberman: “As President Barack Obama grapples to resolve the expanding crisis in Ukraine, the situation underscores Clinton’s dilemma as she looks toward a potential presidential run in 2016: Separating from the White House is a very difficult proposition, if it’s possible at all.”
The Washington Post: “In dozens of exchanges while [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker was county executive and running for governor, he appeared equally fixated on cultivating his political image and tackling the substantive demands of a large local government. Walker in effect, operated as the county executive, chief of staff, press secretary and campaign strategist all at once. He ordered up briefing documents, spun out talking points, recruited the help of a local conservative talk-show host and even wrote a quote for a state lawmaker to issue in her own words.”
ARIZONA: “A Democrat running for the seat of retiring Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor said Sunday he would not drop his bid in deference to freshman Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a fellow Democrat who may opt to run for the newly opened seat instead of her own,” Roll Call reports. “Democratic state Rep. Ruben Gallego, who announced his candidacy on Twitter minutes after Pastor made his retirement plans public, said in a Sunday interview with CQ Roll Call that he will run for Pastor’s seat regardless of Sinema’s plans.”
MICHIGAN: Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity are up with a health-care focused ad in the Michigan Senate race. The New York Times: “Officials at Americans for Prosperity, who have spent more than $30 million on television advertising and other activities in states with competitive Senate races, said they would spend at least $300,000 on the new ad, bringing their total spending in Michigan to about $2 million.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes how Senate GOP candidate Terri Lynn Land supports Medicaid expansion while Americans for Prosperity opposes it.
NEBRASKA: The Hill: “Republican Shane Osborn nabbed the endorsement of social conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly in his bid for Senate in Nebraska. Schlafly, head of the anti-feminist, anti-abortion group the Eagle Forum, said in a statement obtained exclusively by The Hill that she’s endorsing Osborn because the nation needs ‘leaders with strong moral convictions.’”
NEW HAMSPHIRE: Scott Brown is still undecided about running for the Senate, but told Politico Democratic attacks are making him seriously consider jumping in. “They keep running these negative ads and crushing my integrity and distorting my votes and the like — almost antagonizing me, challenging me to get in. Had they left me alone, I may feel a bit different. But they didn’t.”
The filing deadline is in June, and he says he will “probably” decide before then.
TEXAS: AP: “Gov. Rick Perry isn't on the ballot, but a new member of the Bush dynasty is. Wendy Davis can clinch a feat no woman has achieved in Texas since Ann Richards. Heavyweight Republicans are trying to survive, and a new voter ID law gets a major test. Throw in a March blast of winter weather that could dampen turnout, and Texas' primary elections Tuesday figure to be anything but ordinary.”
George P. Bush is expected to win Texas Land Commissioner, a powerful post that could set him up for another statewide office at some point. KENS TV: “Bush is a pro-life, pro-gun and pro-energy candidate part of the Bush dynasty. He is a fluent Spanish speaker and the son of a mother born in Mexico. He's been speaking both languages as he campaigned across Texas.”
By the way, as the 2014 midterm campaign season kicks off, more money has already been spent on this election than by all the presidential candidates in the 2000 election -- $374.4 million to $343.1 million. Here’s the by the numbers breakdown:
Total House and Senate campaign spending so far 2014: $333,035,458
Total Outside 2014 spending: $41,329,892
Grand Total 2014 spending: $374,365,350
2000 total spent by George W. Bush, Al Gore and everyone else running for president: $343.1 million
*** Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons & former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger on the latest news out of Ukraine. Plus, it’s Primary Day in Texas. We’ll speak with the editor of the Texas Tribune Emily Ramshaw and MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow. Plus, Chuck will speak with NBC’s Michael Isikoff, Jim Maceda and Andrea Mitchell who is in Kiev, Ukraine traveling with Secretary of State Kerry. All that plus a packed data bank and Chuck’s Tuesday Takeaway.
*** Tuesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Maya MacGuineas, Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, Retail Analyst Hitha Prabhakar, Former US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, Former US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley, Democratic Strategist Steve McMahon, and MSNBC’s Abby Huntsman.
*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Washington Post Associate Editor Karen DeYoung and Sonoma State University Associate Professor of Russian/Soviet and Eastern European History Stephen Bittner about the latest on the Ukraine; Georgetown University Law Professor Paul Rothstein about Day 2 of the Oscar Pistorius trial; Reporter Larry Hannan of the Florida Times Union about The Marissa Alexander case; and The American Heroes Channel has a new series called “Against The Odds” – Tamron sits down with Iraq War veteran Perfecto Sanchez about his life story highlighted in a new episode of the series.
*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, filling in for Andrea Mitchell (who’s in Kiev) interviews Mitchell, Sen. Robert Menendez, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Ruth Marcus and Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg.