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Obama agenda: Overhyped?

National Journal calls the immediate impact of the sequester “overhyped.” “Let’s be clear about one thing: The across-the-board spending cuts known as the ‘sequester’ aren’t a doomsday scenario, or a meteorite that will blow up the economy,” it writes. “Teachers, FBI agents, and Border Patrol officers will not get fired tomorrow, when the sequester kicks in. The Internal Revenue Service will still be able to process your tax return in April. Preschool programs won't kick out 70,000 little kids until the fall, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan—and that’s if the spending cuts stick. Unemployed people, arguably some of the worst-off of the lot, will not see their federal benefits reduced by 11 percent until April at the earliest, says the National Employment Law Project. This is roughly four weeks away, giving Congress and the White House time to act beyond the March 1 deadline that has been touted in headlines and press conferences for the past week.”

“With further skirmishes over the debt ceiling and government funding not far off, the White House finds itself in choppy political waters for the first time since Obama won reelection. Its best-case political course hinges on the economy screeching to a halt, assumes that Republicans will again cave on revenues, and relies on the public being on his side. It’s a political gamble that could go bust,” National Journal writes. “The stakes for Obama could not be higher. At risk are high-priority items such as immigration reform and gun control, which are languishing as the sequester hogs the limelight. It’s not only the president’s agenda that could be at risk--the full-time attention to the fiscal fight is sucking valuable attention on more-pressing progressive priorities.”

USA Today: “The Obama administration came out forcefully Thursday against California's ban on same-sex marriage and, by extension, implicated similar bans in 37 other states.”

Bob Woodward’s throwing Politico under the bus, saying that he never used the word “threat.” “I never characterized it as a ‘threat.' I think that was Politico’s word," Woodward told the Washington Post. But as Dylan Byers (of Politico) notes,  “Woodward never used the word "threat" in his interviews with POLITICO and CNN, but he frequently fastened upon Sperling's use of the word ‘regret’ as an example of the White House trying to exert power. Woodward has also said that the word made him feel ‘uncomfortable,’ despite the fact that Sperling's email has been interpreted by many reporters as cordial and friendly.” And: “During the course of his interview with CNN, Wolf Blitzer characterized Sperling's remarks as a threat and Woodward accepted that characterization.” And last night on Hannity, he called the language “coded,” like, “you better watch out.”

This is the top story, above-the-fold of the Boston Globe: “Roberts remarks on Mass. disputed.” Massachusetts officials are pushing back against Chief Justice John Roberts, who accused the state of having “the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout” and the greatest disparity in registration. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin called Roberts’ comments a “slur.” “I’m calling him out,” Galvin said Thursday, adding, ““We have one of the highest voter registrations in the country,” he said, “so this whole effort to make a cheap-shot point at Massachusetts is deceptive.”

The Boston Globe: “Galvin was not alone in his view. Academics and Massachusetts politicians said that Roberts appeared to be misguided. A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to offer supporting evidence of ­Roberts’s view, referring a ­reporter to the court transcript.” More: “Galvin and political scientists speculated that Roberts drew his conclusions using US Census Bureau data known as ‘The Current Population Survey,’ which collects information on voting and registration every other year. Political scientists say this is one of the few national databases, if not the only one, providing state-by-state voting information. But a review of those census data appears to contradict ­Roberts, showing such states as Washington, Arizona, and ­Minnesota with similar if not bigger gaps between black and white voters.”

From the turnout expert: “The margin of error is huge,” said Michael P. ­McDonald, a professor of government and politics at George Mason University who specializes in American elections. “They’re not reliable numbers.”

“Former Mitt Romney supporter Clint Eastwood, who infamously debated an empty chair at the Republican National Convention, has joined the long list of GOP signatures on a legal briefing supporting same-sex marriage,” the New York Daily News writes. “The amicus or friend-of-the-court brief will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court, which is scheduled next month to take up a challenge to the California gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8, as well as a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.”

Here’s the full list of the 131, featuring many top Republicans and strategists, led by former Bush campaign chairman Ken Mehlman.

USA Today on climate change: “More American children are getting asthma and allergies, and more seniors are suffering heat strokes. Food and utility prices are rising. Flooding is overrunning bridges, swamping subways and closing airport runways. People are losing jobs in drought-related factory closings. Cataclysmic storms are wiping out sprawling neighborhoods. Towns are sinking. This isn't a science-fiction, end-of-the-world scenario. Though more anecdotal than normal — today, at least — these scenes are already playing out somewhere in the United States, and they're expected to get worse in years ahead. In fact, a remaking of America is likely in our lifetimes — a flicker in geological time. This will transform how and where we live, work and play.”

“Private government aircraft travel for the attorney general, the FBI director and other top Justice Department officials cost $11.4 million during a four-year period ending in 2011, according to a federal review,” USA Today writes. “The Government Accountability Office review found that the travel of three attorneys general who served during that period and FBI Director Robert Mueller accounted for 95% of all flights that ferried Justice executives to official meetings, conferences and personal business. For security reasons, the attorney general and FBI director are required to take private government aircraft, even on personal business.”