White House and Boehner skirmish over Boehner’s possible deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for only those making less than $250,000… For the White House here, an upside and a downside… Will the Tea Party tolerate such a deal?... Obama to meet with national security team at 11:00 am ET and to discuss the economy at a private residence in Virginia at 2:00 pm… Rahm Watch: Rahm conducts a poll about his possible mayoral bid… The exit interviews… Breaking down Final Primary Tuesday… And Rick Perry goes up with his first general-election ad.
*** Tax Wars: Yesterday, the White House jumped all over House Minority Leader John Boehner’s suggestion that he would work to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 -- if that’s all he could get. “If the only option I have is to vote for those at two hundred and fifty and below, of course I’m going to do that,” Boehner said. “But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs then issued this press release: “We welcome John Boehner's change in position and support for the middle class tax cuts, but time will tell if his actions will be anything but continued support for the failed policies that got us into this mess.” Boehner fired back with his own statement accusing the White House of engaging in “class warfare.”
*** For the White House, an upside and a downside: For the White House, the upside of this tax battle is that it elevates Boehner, and they hope it also draws more attention to the tough New York Times front-page story on the man who might be speaker. (“He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS,” the paper wrote yesterday.) But the spat also has a potential downside for Team Obama, in that it makes Boehner look like he’s the one who is compromising. In addition, as today’s New York Times notes: “Mr. Boehner’s move seemed to deprive Democrats of the argument that Republicans would hurt the middle class to help the rich. And he positioned his party to share credit for continuing the lower rates for most Americans, and still blame Democrats for raising taxes in a weak economy.” For the White House, at this point, all they want is to separate the debate on tax cuts between the middle class and the wealthy. They want the NEXT vote on the Bush tax cuts after this one to SOLELY be about the tax rates for the wealthy.
*** But will the Tea Party tolerate such a deal? This tax skirmish -- and Boehner’s possible compromise to it -- also highlights this question: Will the Tea Party wing of Republican Party tolerate such a deal? Remember: Boehner and Mitch McConnell are legislators, and what legislators do is cut deals and make compromises. (Anyone else remember when Boehner worked with Democrats like Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind?) But if Republicans win power in November, and win on the backs of the Tea Party, will Boehner and McConnell run into some of the same problems Democrats encountered with their base: that deals with the other side aren’t to be tolerated? The short-term political gain the White House is also hoping for on this tax skirmish includes the possibility that Boehner has to backtrack in some way to make sure he doesn't get beaten up by the activist conservative base of the party.
*** If you can’t control Palin or DeMint… : What’s more, check out how difficult of a time the Senate GOP leadership of McConnell and John Cornyn have had in convincing Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin to back the more electable Senate candidate in blue Delaware. How hard is it going to be for them to run a GOP-controlled Senate if DeMint's caucus will not compromise? How come the NRSC couldn't at least get DeMint to stay out of Delaware. We get that Mike Castle is no Jim DeMint Republican (some conservatives fear he's less conservative than, say, Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh). But couldn't they have gotten him to simply stay out, a la Arizona and McCain?
*** Obama today: At 10:30 am ET, Obama speaks at a Historically Black Colleges and Universities reception. Thirty minutes later, he meets with his national security team to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan. And then at 2:00 pm, the president holds a discussion on the economy a private residence in Fairfax, VA.
*** Rahm watch: NBC Chicago affiliate political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reported over the weekend that Rahm Emanuel has a poll in the field testing a potential bid for Chicago mayor. The questions included how voters view his closeness with President Obama. Remember, Rahm has over a million bucks in his old House account.
*** The exit interviews: NBC Senate producer Ken Strickland sat down with nine departing U.S. senators -- off camera -- to get their thoughts on how the Senate works, what has changed during their combined 158 years there, and what they’ve observed about their colleagues. His work will appear on msnbc.com this week, as well as on First Read. Here are a couple of excerpts of what we'll have on our site today. Robert Bennett (R-UT): “I think the [GOP] is on the threshold of what everybody in the press will call a historic victory,” he said. “And we’re on the threshold of real problems if we don’t have a governing philosophy.” And Kit Bond (R-MO) will say he regrets voting to confirm Attorney General Eric Holder.
*** Final Primary Tuesday: Tomorrow is the last big primary day of the cycle, with primaries in D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. The most closely watched contest is probably in Delaware, where establishment favorite Mike Castle is facing off against Palin- and DeMint-backed Christine O’Donnell in the GOP Senate primary. Make no mistake: Republicans’ chances of possibly winning the Senate rest in the outcome of this primary. In New Hampshire, we’ll find out which Republican (favorite Kelly Ayotte, William Binnie, Ovide Lamontagne, and Jim Bender) will take on Democrat Paul Hodes in the state’s Senate race. In New York, embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel has a primary challenge from Adam Clayton Powell IV. In Massachusetts, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D), who voted against health care, faces a primary challenge. And in Wisconsin, we’re watching the GOP gubernatorial primary between Scott Walker and Mark Neumann.
*** More midterm news: In Illinois, Rudy Giuliani stumps for Mark Kirk and Bill Brady… In Nevada’s gubernatorial contest, a new Las Vegas Review-Journal/KLAS-TV poll shows Brian Sandoval (R) leading Rory Reid (D), 52 percent to 36 percent, the AP says… In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey holds a press conference going after what his campaign says are Joe Sestak’s “extreme policy positions.”… And in Texas, “Rick Perry has gone up on television with his first TV spot of the general election campaign - a 30-second ad touting the Texas economy,” the Dallas Morning News writes.
Countdown to DC, MD. MA, NH, NY, RI, and WI primaries: 1 day
Countdown to HI primaries: 5 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 50 days