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First Thoughts: Why the Super Committee ultimately might fail

Why the Super Committee ultimately might fail… And why this debate will be a big issue in next year’s presidential election… GOP to Obama: Come home to end the Super Committee impasse… Secretary Clinton to head to Myanmar next month… More rough stories for Newt… Cain gets Secret Service protection… How transparent would a Romney administration be?... And “Meet the Press” to interview Sens. (and Super Committee members) Jon Kyl and John Kerry.

*** Why the Super Committee ultimately might fail: Last spring, congressional leaders rolled up their sleeves -- at the final moment -- to break the standstill in funding the government’s operations. The reason: Failure to do so would have shut down the government, furloughing federal workers. Then, in the summer, they reached an agreement -- after weeks of partisan wrangling and frustrating negotiations -- to raise the debt ceiling. The reason: Failure to do so would have jeopardized the U.S. government’s full faith and credit. But as the Super Committee races against its deadline to come up with a way to find $1.2 trillion in spending cut by Wednesday (and get its Congressional Budget Office score by Monday), it’s likely to fail. The reason: The penalty of $1.2 trillion in automatic military and civilian cuts probably isn’t strong enough to force the Super Committee to cut a deal that would result in increased taxes/revenues (which many Republicans don’t want) and cuts to entitlement programs (which many Democrats don’t want to see). If members of Congress already think they can change these military and civilian cuts, what’s the penalty for failure?

*** And why this debate will be a big issue in next year’s election: As NBC’s Luke Russert reported yesterday, 72 House members from the conservative Republican Study Committee told the Super Committee that they won’t accept any tax hikes or new revenue -- under any circumstance. Meanwhile, from the left, Paul Krugman is rooting for the Super Committee’s failure, because he believes 1) that Republicans would eventually renege on any tax increases for the wealthy and 2) that the cuts to entitlement programs would hurt the poor and the economic recovery. And if the Super Committee fails, that means that next year’s presidential election could settle this budget fight, with President Obama campaigning on a balance of tax hikes and spending cuts and with the GOP nominee campaigning on keeping the Bush tax cuts and cutting discretionary and entitlement spending.

*** GOP to Obama: Come home to end the Super Committee impasse: Speaking of Obama, who remains on his overseas trip, Republicans are calling for him “to jump into the deficit-reduction talks gripping Washington, reflecting the widespread view that the congressional supercommittee is now headed for a failure,” The Hill reports. “It’s hard to see us getting a deal unless he comes in at the last minute,” GOP Sen. Dan Coats told the Capitol Hill publication. “We’re in the two-minute drill and closing in on a ‘Hail Mary’ and the quarterback is on the sidelines.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits down with NBC's Chuck Todd to discuss diplomacy in Myanmar and Syria, two nations with fledgling democratic movements. She also weighs in on who she thinks is ready to answer that 3 a.m. phone call in 2012.

*** Secretary Clinton to head to Myanmar next month: Per NBC’s Scott Foster, Secretary of State Clinton says she's headed to Myanmar next month to make a first-hand evaluation about how serious the isolated nation is in implementing democratic reforms. In an interview today with NBC's Chuck Todd in Bali, Indonesia, Clinton said the United States is encouraged by some steps taken by Myanmar, but she wants to see more action. Earlier in the day at the East Asia Summit in Bali, Foster adds, President Obama announced the U.S. is reopening ties with Myanmar after the nation showed what he described as "flickers of progress." In recent weeks the new civilian government of Myanmar has released political prisoners and eased restrictions on the media. Obama says he's dispatching Clinton to the nation, in what be the first Secretary of State visit there in more than 50 years.

*** More rough stories on Newt: Turning to the GOP presidential race, Bloomberg News has yet another tough story on Newt Gingrich that highlights something conservative and Tea Party Republicans might not like: Gingrich’s status as a Washington insider. “When U.S. House Republican leaders in 2003 were short of votes to pass a $395 billion Medicare prescription drug benefit, they recruited former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for help,” Bloomberg writes. “What Gingrich didn’t mention during the Republican caucus meeting was that he was also building a for-profit, health-care research company and seeking financing from drugmakers, which were investing $128.6 million in lobbying for passage of the new benefit for seniors.” The New York Times also reports that Gingrich had been a paid advocate for another health-care interest -- Gundersen Lutheran Health System -- which had been pushing for end-of-life health services, which conservatives later compared to “death panels.” The question: Will GOP voters punish him for these things?

2012 GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman to discuss the New Hampshire primary and why he thinks it will be a "market moving event" for him, and why he believes President Obama hasn't built a framework for confidence in the U.S.

*** Cain gets Secret Service protection: NBC’s Andrew Rafferty reports that the Cain campaign confirmed their candidate started to receive Secret Service protection last night. That makes him the first GOP presidential contender to get that protection. The Washington Post has more: “The Cain campaign asked for the security and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and congressional leaders approved the request Thursday, said a government official, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed that agents would be providing security for Cain, but declined to say what the security would entail or what prompted the decision. The agency rarely comments publicly on security operations.” One immediate consequence of this move: Journalists following him won’t be allowed the same access and proximity they were getting earlier.

*** FOIA war! The Romney campaign and DNC engaged in a Freedom of Information Act battle yesterday. After the Boston Globe reported that top aides to then-Massachusetts Gov. Romney had purchased their government hard drives and the Romney administration’s emails were all wiped from a server, the Romney camp fired off this FOIA request to Gov. Deval Patrick’s (D) office in Massachusetts: “Given the amount of time your staff is apparently spending to assist the Obama campaign, I request that you provide us with copies of all email correspondence, phone logs, and visitor logs showing contacts that David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina have had with you and members of the Executive Office from 2007 to the present.” Later in the evening, the DNC issued its own FOIA request asking for “[a]ny and all electronic correspondence (i.e., email) to or from Governor W. Mitt Romney or Romney Administration officials between January 2, 2003 and January 4, 2007 containing any of the following terms in either the subject line or the body of the message: ‘delete emails,’ ‘destroy records,’ ‘government transparency,’ ‘president,’ ‘presidential,’ ‘campaign,’ ‘flip-flop,’” etc.   

*** How transparent would a Romney presidency be? Yet as NBC’s Garrett Haake noted yesterday, the Globe story (about the purchased hard drives and wiped-out emails), the fact that the Romney campaign hasn’t released the names of its bundlers, and the fact that Romney hasn’t released his tax returns all raise this question: How open and transparent would a Romney presidency be?

*** On the 2012 trail: Cain campaigns in Florida…  Paul and Santorum are in Iowa… Romney stumps in New Hampshire… Perry attends the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Annual Reception in New York City… Gingrich hosts a screening and Q&A in Cambridge, MA… And Callista Gingrich and Anita Perry speak at a Women Working for Change Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland.

*** Friday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up (with guest host Chris Cillizza): One of us (!!!) with an interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton… FAMILY LEADER’s Bob Vander Plaats on Saturday’s Republican presidential candidate forum in Iowa… Reps. John Carney (D-DE) and Jim Renacci (R-OH)… Former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore and Reagan White House Political Director Frank Lavin on the economics and politics of President Obama’s trip to Asia… And more 2012 news with the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich and msnbc/TheGrio.com’s Jeff Johnson.

*** Friday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: MSNBC’s Craig Melvin interviews Democratic economist Jared Bernstein, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore, University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, and former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney.

*** Friday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts interviews GOP Rep. Steve King (on the Super Committee talks), MSNBC Host Chris Hayes (on Gingrich and Cain), and millionaire producer Charles Fink (on why Congress should tax the rich).

*** Friday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: MSNBC’s Alex Wagner’s panel includes MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe, Politico’s Ben White, SE Cupp, and Naomi Wolf.

*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Dem Rep. Barney Frank, NYC Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

*** Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: MSNBC’s Tamron Hall interviews Robert Traynham, Peter Mirijanian, and Jonathan Weisman to talk about Decision 2012.

*** Saturday’s and Sunday’s “UP with Chris Hayes” line-up: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes interviews former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn (on Saturday) and Dem Rep. Steve Cohen (on Sunday).

*** Saturday’s and Sunday’s “Weekends with Alex Witt” line-up: MSNBC’s Alex Witt interviews MSNBC’s Chris Matthews as part of her “Office Politics” segment.

 *** Sunday’s “Meet the Press” line-up: On Sunday, NBC’s David Gregory interviews Super Committee members Jon Kyl (R) and John Kerry (D).

Countdown to Iowa caucuses: 46 days
Countdown to New Hampshire primary: 53 days
Countdown to South Carolina primary: 64 days
Countdown to Florida primary: 74 days
Countdown to Nevada caucuses: 78 days
Countdown to Super Tuesday: 109 days
Countdown to Election Day: 354 days

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