The White House has put forward their plan, but will Congress act to avoid the fiscal cliff and who will be the new Secretary of State?
The White House has put forward their plan, but will Congress act to avoid the fiscal cliff and who will be the new Secretary of State?
Secretary of state isn't the only position of intrigue in a second-term Obama cabinet.
If Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decides to leave his post in a second term, a Democrat with knowledge of the environmental community and appointee process tells First Read that three names top the list of possible successor.
The three, according to this source: former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), retiring Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), and outgoing Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D).
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said negotiations between the White House and Republicans are at a "stalemate" after a proposal by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House Director of Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors was soundly rejected by Republicans yesterday.
“There's a stalemate, let's not kid ourselves,” Boehner said Friday at a news conference following President Obama’s event in Pennsylvania.
Boehner contended that the White House's proposal was "not a serious proposal," and that he's disappointed that three weeks after he gave a speech saying Republicans would be willing to budge on revenues – but not tax rates as the president has called for -- that this is what was offered to them.
“When I come out the day after the election and make it clear that Republicans will put revenue on the table, I took a great risk,” Boehner claimed, adding of the White House plan, “It's not a serious proposal and so right now we're almost nowhere.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor echoed those comments, deriding the White House proposal as “not a serious offer.” He added, however, that they "remain in discussions" to find a solution to avert the fiscal cliff.
“All of a sudden,” Cantor said, “they're asking for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes and nowhere near that number in spending reforms.”
But Cantor would not say if Republicans would make a counter-offer to the White House, only saying that "this is a serious matter," and "we're not interested in playing rope-a-dope."
“What we will do is continue to take this as a serious matter,” Cantor said. “This is not a game. We're not interested in playing rope-a-dope. We're interested in trying to solve the problems of the American people so that you don't see taxes go up on anybody, so that we can engage in tax reform and get this economy going again. We're not playing a game. We're being serious. That offer yesterday was simply not serious.”
President Obama wants Republicans to go along with raising rates on the top 2 percent of Americans. Republican leadership has so far refused to entertain that.
“We take the position that raising tax rates is absolutely not something that helps get people back to work,” Cantor said, adding, “We don't want to increase tax rates; we're not going to increase tax rates, and we want to do something about the spending problem.”
Entitlements are also a sticking point. The White House has accused Republicans of not being specific about what entitlement cuts they would like to see. Asked if the GOP would go back to the White House with which cuts they want, Cantor demurred.
After enduring negative headlines that all of the House Republican committee chairmanships will be filled by men in the next Congress, Republicans have found their woman.
NBC News has learned that Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) will be named chair of the House Administration Committee. Miller did not serve on the committee during the 112th Congress.
Lack of diversity has been an issue for the GOP, and many strategists believe that the party’s problems with women and minorities led to President Obama’s re-election.
Miller has been in Congress since 2003, and her highest committee level post is on the House Homeland Security Committee.
The House Administration Committee deals with the pertinent administrative business of the House. The committee can decide such mundane things as whether or not the House cafeterias will use paper or Styrofoam plates -- or more serious matters such as benefit packages for congressional workers and how the Library of Congress operates. The Committee also monitors the expense accounts of House members.
House Speaker John Boehner issued this statement: “From ensuring the House runs efficiently and smoothly, to making Congress more open and accessible, Candice has a big job ahead as chairman of the House Administration Committee. In her new post, Candice will provide the leadership needed to keep operating costs down, save taxpayer dollars, and help lawmakers use new technology to better engage with their constituents. And her experience as Michigan secretary of state will be invaluable given the committee’s oversight of campaign finance and election laws.
One month away from the fiscal cliff, NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss what the White House is offering in the negotiations including $1.6 trillion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to entitlements. Republicans have rejected the proposal, but negotiations continue.
If Congress can't agree on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the president said taxes will rise by about $2,000 for the average family. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.
HATFIELD, Pa. -- President Obama today continued his efforts to push Congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for income below $250,000 with a visit to a toy factory here in suburban Philadelphia.
"We talked about this a lot... We had debates about it. There were a lot of TV commercials about it," Obama said. “At the end of the day, a clear majority of Americans -- Democrats, Republicans, independents -- they agreed with a balanced approach to deficit reduction and making sure that middle-class taxes don't go up.”
Recommended: White House 'surprised' by GOP 'surprise'
The non-partisan Tax Policy Center says if these tax cuts expire at the end of the year -- as they are set to do -- about 90% of Americans would paid more in taxes and middle-income families would see their taxes rise by about $2,000.
Obama didn’t present any new ideas in his first speech since House Republicans rejected Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s proposal that he presented in meetings with congressional leadership yesterday. That proposal included $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and other programs, and ending Congress' control of the debt limit.
But Obama did couch his frustration with Congress in humor.
“I've been keeping my own naughty and nice lists for Washington," he said at a Rodon Group plant that makes the popular K'nex brand of toys. "So you should keep your eye on who gets K'NEX this year. There are going to be some members of Congress who get them, and some who don't."
Susan Walsh / AP
President Barack Obama looks over a rollercoaster with K'NEX Inventor Joel Glickman, left, and Rodon Group President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Araten, right, during a tour of the company in Hatfield, Pa. Friday, Nov. 30, 2012.
Even the seriousness of the country’s fiscal health couldn’t keep the president from joking about his affable vice president.
Talking about the colorful toys in the factory, Obama said, “Joe Biden was in Costco. He wanted to buy some of this stuff. But I told him he had too much work to do. I wasn't going to have him building roller coasters all day long.”
It has been reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was less than impressed with the White House's fiscal-cliff proposal. So unimpressed was the Kentucky Republican that he burst out into laughter.
A senior administration official provided more detail. When Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner handed over the White House's proposal to McConnell, McConnell looked at it and smiled a smile that said, "Yeah right."
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile," Geithner responded.
At which point, McConnell burst out laughing.
*** UPDATE *** A Republican congressional source says that Geithner's proposal was oral, not written. And the source argues that McConnell "found their un-serious offer amusing."
Republicans should not be surprised at the fiscal proposal they received from the White House last night, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, as President Barack Obama has been highlighting the same position on the campaign trail for the past year.
NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss a week that was largely a repeat of past weeks where the conversation continued to swirl around Susan Rice, the Fiscal Cliff and the post-mortem of the 2012 election.
“I was surprised that they were surprised,” Earnest told reporters traveling on Air Force One for the president’s trip to Hatfield, Pa., where he’ll talk about his tax and budget priorities.
Recommended: Obama proposal sends a message to Republicans
Thursday night, Republicans called the White House’s proposal, submitted by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, “a complete break from reality,” citing the White House’s starting line of $1.6 trillion in additional revenue, which they say is twice as much as what was on the table in 2011.
Earnest said figure reflects the goals of higher taxes on the wealthy that the president articulated on the campaign trail.
“The marker that was presented in the context of the balanced approach deficit reduction the president advocated in the campaign was $1.6 trillion in tax revenue,” he said.
Is the White House’s offer really a laughing matter?... It seems to be sending two messages to Republicans: 1) accepting the middle-class tax extension is less painful than the other proposals, and 2) you need to drag us to entitlement reform… Obama hits the road, delivering remarks on the fiscal negotiations in Hatfield, PA at 12:05 pm ET… Ted Cruz and 2016?... VA GOP blasts Bolling… And “Meet” to interview Geithner on Sunday.
*** A laughing matter? After Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s individual meetings yesterday with congressional leaders in the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations, Republicans leaked to reporters what the Obama White House is offering: 1) $1.6 trillion in tax increases and revenues, 2) a permanent end to Congress’ control of the debt limit, 3) additional stimulus of at least $50 billion, and 4) $400 billion in savings in Medicare and other programs to be worked out next year. Republican aides dismissed the offer as “unbalanced” and “unreasonable,” NBC’s Luke Russert notes. A House GOP aide adds to First Read that the $1.6 trillion is TWICE the revenue that President Obama campaigned on (by not extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy); that the debt-limit demand is a “pipe dream”; and that the revenue in the offer ($1.6 trillion) is four times greater than the spending cuts ($400 billion). The Weekly Standard even reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “burst into laughter” after Geithner offered the plan.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., gestures while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov, 27, 2012.
*** The White House’s two messages: But is the offer really a laughing matter? From what we understand, the White House is sending two messages from the offer it presented yesterday. One, it’s trying to force House Republicans to pass the middle-class extension of the Bush tax cuts -- with the idea of punting everything else until next year. The message: Extending the middle-class tax cuts is MUCH LESS painful than the other revenue, the debt-limit demand, and additional stimulus. (Think Team Obama has learned from its past negotiating offers, when it started out negotiating from the middle?) Two, the White House is sending the message that if Republicans want entitlement reform, they’re the ones who will have to propose it. After all, the administration’s offer is very specific when it comes to taxes, but not specific at all when it comes to entitlements. In other words, the White House is saying: We’re dragging you to agreeing to higher revenues, but you guys need to drag us to entitlement fixes. It is very possible that the White House’s sky-high offer could blow up in its face. But it’s also quite possible that it forces Republicans to think long and hard about the middle-class extension and what they exactly want on entitlements.
*** Road trip! Meanwhile, as we’ve already reported on this week, Obama hits the road today, taking his fiscal message on the road to Hatfield, PA (the Philadelphia suburbs), where he speaks at 12:05 pm ET. Per the White House, the president will make his case “by visiting a business that depends on middle class consumers during the holiday season, and could be impacted if taxes go up on 98% of Americans at the end of the year. The president will tour and deliver remarks at The Rodon Group manufacturing facility, the sole American manufacturer for K’NEX Brands, a construction toy company whose products include Tinkertoy, K’NEX Building Sets and Angry Bird Building Sets. The Rodon Group and K’NEX Brands, both third-generation family businesses, employ over 150 people at their Hatfield facilities.”
*** Ted Cruz and 2016? Wow, Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R) hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and he’s already stoking 2016 speculation. Politico: “Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz advised the Republican Party to rebrand itself under a banner of ‘Opportunity Conservatism’ during a sweeping speech Thursday night that will only stoke speculation about a 2016 presidential run. Speaking before the conservative American Principles Project dinner at a downtown Washington hotel, Cruz said the GOP’s thumping in the 2012 elections was more the result of poor messaging and communication than the wrong ideology.” We’ve seen plenty of new senators come in with plenty of hype and attention (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Marco Rubio), but those worked hard to keep expectations down. This is something else entirely…
*** VA GOP blasts Bolling: Yesterday, we wrote that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling -- who had exited Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, meaning that Ken Cuccinelli would be the GOP’s nominee next year -- hadn’t closed the door to mounting an independent bid. And that in part explained this pretty stunning statement from the Virginia GOP chair: "I am disappointed by Lt. Governor Bolling's remarks over the past 48 hours... The proper venue for challenging a fellow Republican is during a nomination contest. Lt. Governor Bolling chose to suspend his campaign. I hope he will take his own words to heart and work to bring our Party together." Usually, that type of message is delivered through private channels, not via a press release. Bottom line: Bolling isn’t happy, and that’s a problem for the GOP.
*** On “Meet” this Sunday: Finally, NBC’s David Gregory interviews Treasury Secretary Geithner on “Meet the Press” this Sunday.
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*** Friday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: MSNBC’s Chris Jansing interviews The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, Joy-Ann Reid and Rep. Peter Welch about the WH fiscal cliff deal; Carmen Wong Ulrich breaks down what going over the cliff means for the average American; Karen Finney & John Brabender on how personal relationships can make or break a deal; plus Jose Diaz Balart joins 18 year old college student Karla Rojas, one of the first to get a two-year reprieve under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Order.
*** Friday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: Thomas Roberts interviews Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner, Fmr. State Dept. Official Joel Rubin and TVOne Host Dr. Steve Perry. Today’s Power Panel includes Real Clear Politics’ Erin McPike, Fmr. OH Governor Ted Strickland and Fmr. OH Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
*** Friday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: Alex Wagner’s guests include the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, Time’s Michael Crowley, theGrio.com Managing Editor Joy Reid, MSNBC Host Melissa Harris-Perry, and MSNBC Host Chris Hayes.
*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), Palestinian National Authority PM Salam Fayyad, Ambassador Martin Indyk, ONE Campaign CEO Michael Elliot, Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright, Judy Gross, wife of Alan Gross who is jailed in Cuba, National Journal’s Chris Frates, Bloomberg News’ Margaret Carlson and NY Times’ Mark Landler.
*** Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Guests include Democratic strategist Keith Boykin, Politico’s Manu Raju, former Stevens Law Clerk Robert Schapiro, and MSNBC contributor Michael Smerconish.
*** Saturday’s and Sunday’s “Weekends with Alex Witt”: As part of her weekly “Office Politics” segment, MSNBC’s interviews Willie Geist.
Fitting for this campaign… “A power outage in Cambridge forced the cancellation of a forum tonight in which key advisers to President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney were to talk publicly about the recently completed general election campaign,” the Boston Globe reports.
Taegan Goddard: “However, I attended the off-the-record sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and will have quite a big to report once I'm allowed.”
The New Republic’s Scheiber gets his hands on the Romney campaign’s final poll numbers before the election in six key battleground states, which showed Romney ahead in Colorado and New Hampshire and tied in Iowa. And Scheiber spoke with Romney pollster Neil Newhouse to explain the numbers. “Newhouse and some of his colleagues have said that the biggest flaw in their polling was the failure to predict the demographic composition of the electorate. Broadly speaking, the people who showed up to vote on November 6 were younger and less white than Team Romney anticipated, and far more Democratic as a result. ‘The Colorado Latino vote was extraordinarily challenging,’ Newhouse told me. ‘As it was in Florida.’”
Charlie Cook on the poll the GOP should listen to.
Bloomberg/Business Week’s Josh Green reports on the millions of dollars those overly informal Obama campaign emails raised.
Conservatives are not happy with Stu Stevens.
The Boston Globe’s Johnson: “A senior Romney adviser said the two had a conversation that spanned global hot spots and their respective thoughts on innovation and the economy. The adviser said that Romney felt it was particularly important for the country to see the two candidates united after the sometimes acrimonious election campaign. The adviser, who requested anonymity to speak frankly, said Romney has never expressed any interest in a government role other than an elected position, and would more likely turn his attention to charitable or other civic works.”
Johnson also points out that the turkey chili Obama served for lunch yesterday with Romney was “the same meal Romney served up at his June 2, 2011, campaign kickoff.”
AP: “Obama and Romney together: Chili, not chilly.” AP’s lede: “Three weeks after the election, Mitt Romney made it to the White House. For about 90 minutes. After an odd arrival in which a man rushed his SUV and ended up getting arrested by the Secret Service. It wasn’t the start of a term as Romney had envisioned. But it was, at least, all on good terms with the man who defeated him, President Barack Obama.”
Politico: “There was no mention of any formal collaboration, but they “pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future,” the White House said. There was no talk of Romney joining the Obama administration, a source familiar with the lunch said.”
David Axelrod will shave his mustache.
At the Supreme Court… It “wades into a wide array of same-sex marriage cases Friday, and its selections could put an exclamation point on a year of unprecedented progress for the gay-rights movement,” USA Today writes. “The nine justices must decide which case or cases to consider from among seven on their plate, from the right to marry in California to the receipt of federal marriage benefits from coast to coast. While oral arguments and court rulings would be months away, just the choices made in Friday's closed-door conference could doom California's troubled Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage or put the federal Defense of Marriage Act on the defensive.”
NBC’s Luke Russert reported last night: “The gulf between Republicans and Democrats on the ‘fiscal cliff’ grew larger today as the GOP dismissed the White House’s opening offer as ‘unbalanced’ and ‘unreasonable.’
The offer is seen as a major setback by Republicans, but it also signals the White House is not about to start negotiations with major concessions after winning reelection, something the president has previously been criticized for from the left.
USA Today: “House Speaker John Boehner flatly rejected a $4 trillion Obama administration plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff that was presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a private meeting Thursday. Publicly, Boehner said he is ‘disappointed’ with the offer, but he offered no details. Privately, three Republican congressional aides familiar with the president's offer cast it as an ‘outrageous’ proposal that surprised the speaker and has set back negotiations….”
Politico: “Democrats are increasingly confident that rank-and-file Republicans will cave on taxes and force House GOP leaders to pass a tax cut plan for families who earn less than $250,000.” Sen. Chuck Schumer: “You can smell the winds. When so many Republicans say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to give into the Democrats,’ that’s how it works around here. That’s the beginning.”
To that point, Political Wire: “Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) ‘came up with what might be the most creative excuse yet’ for breaking his pledge not to raise taxes, Politicker reports. Gibson says ‘his district number changed from 19 to 20 during this year's redistricting process and he reasoned that the pledge no longer applies to him as it was only to the constituents under the previous district number.’”
USA Today’s Jackson notes of the negotiations: “Sit back and relax, this is going to take a while.” And: “The White House on Thursday made an offer to the GOP -- basically the same plan President Obama proposed during the election, one that emphasizes higher taxes on the wealthy as a way to reduce the nation's $16 trillion-plus debt. Republicans attacked the White House plan -- just as they did during the election -- saying it promotes tax rate hikes but fails to detail meaningful spending cuts.”
More: “Government officials may well spend New Year's Eve crunching budget numbers rather than clinking champagne glasses.”
Outside game… Major Garrett: “If there is one redeeming feature of the otherwise gutless and indolent sequestration process, it is the underappreciated component of hysteria. Already, local news stations are running “fiscal cliff” countdown clocks. Fevered curiosity over the ebb and flow of cliff negotiations is rising and may soon creep near the Kardashian or One Direction pop-culture summit.”
Democratic advantage… Ron Brownstein: “The same dynamic that powered the Democrats’ unexpected Senate gains this fall could also give the party more leverage to drive its legislative agenda through the chamber in the months ahead. At the core of the Democrats’ surprising pickup of two Senate seats was a consistent pattern. In almost every major contested Senate race, exit polls showed that the Democratic candidate won more support among voters who also backed President Obama than the Republican nominee did among voters who backed Mitt Romney.”
The revolving door keeps on turnin’… Politico looks at all the would-be/ex-congressmen and women headed for or likely headed for K Street or lobbying jobs, including Reps. Heath Shuler (D-NC), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Geoff Davis (R-KY), Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA), Connie Mack (R-FL), Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), ex-Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), and GOP favorite Puerto Rico’s Luis Fortuno.
“Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz advised the Republican Party to rebrand itself under a banner of ‘Opportunity Conservatism’ during a sweeping speech Thursday night that will only stoke speculation about a 2016 presidential run,” Politico writes. “Speaking before the conservative American Principles Project dinner at a downtown Washington hotel, Cruz said the GOP’s thumping in the 2012 elections was more the result of poor messaging and communication than the wrong ideology.”
Said Cruz: “I’m going to suggest to you a very simple reason why we lost the election: We didn’t win the argument. We didn’t even make the argument.” He continued: “We need to conceptualize, we need to articulate conservative domestic policy with a laser focus on opportunity, on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder.” And: “I think far more important was 47 percent. … Republicans nationally, the story we conveyed was that 47 percent are stuck in a static world. We don’t have to worry about you, what that clip famously said. I cannot think of an idea more antithetic to the American principle. We embraced in that comment, and in the narrative we made to this country, the Democrat notion that there is a fixed and static pie. … The rich are the rich, the poor are the poor, and all that matters is redistributing from one to the other. The essence of the conservative message should be we want a dynamic nation where anybody with nothing can achieve anything. We did an incredibly poor job at articulating the message of opportunity.”
But before the Cruz speculation goes too far, two points: (1) Cruz isn’t even a senator yet, and (2) watch his stilted RNC Convention speech.
NEW JERSEY: The Cory Booker buzz – here and here -- (with new polls showing Chris Christie leading by a wide margin if he runs for reelection as governor) now has him running for the Senate. He could run in 2014 for Democratic incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenburg’s seat in 2014. Lautenberg, who yesterday said “nobody” can beat Christie, is 88 years old.
The gulf between Republicans and Democrats on the “fiscal cliff” grew larger today as the GOP dismissed the White House’s opening offer as “unbalanced” and “unreasonable.”
Late this afternoon, details of the President Obama’s first proposal in dealing with the fiscal cliff were leaked by GOP aides upset that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented an offer they believed was one-sided and illogical.
Geithner’s offer included a $1.6 trillion tax increase, an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, as well as a request for $50 billion dollars in new stimulus spending for fiscal year 2013.
“We’ve offered a ‘balanced’ approach to deal with the fiscal cliff: raising revenue in a way that protects jobs while cutting spending,” a congressional Republican, familiar with the talks, contended. “But, after two weeks of discussions, the offer the White House made today is completely unbalanced and unreasonable, and amounts to little more than reiterating the president’s budget request – which failed to get a single vote in the House or Senate.”
The aide then laid out the GOP’s problem with the proposal:
1) Earlier this year, the Senate passed a tax bill with 51 votes, after a full-bore lobbying campaign by the White House. That bill – which the White House has constantly been calling on Congress to pass – would raise approximately $800 billion in additional tax revenue. The White House offer today called for nearly twice that amount of tax revenue, including plenty of rate hikes. While $1.6 trillion is the White House’s public position, it is ridiculous to offer that amount two weeks after negotiations began - and less than a month before we must have a solution. Why on Earth would the White House think the Senate would or could pass a bill with DOUBLE that amount in tax hikes? (let alone the House?)
2) The White House keeps saying it wants a ‘balanced approach’ but this offer is completely unbalanced and unrealistic. It calls for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes – all of that upfront – in exchange for only $400 billion in spending cuts that come later. Plus, the only entitlement changes they proposed come from the exact proposals in the President’s budget.
3) They also want a permanent, unlimited debt limit increase – for free. No additional cuts or reforms. Not to mention a host of other, unrelated White House proposals – including even more ‘stimulus’ spending.
The conservative publication The Weekly Standard reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “burst into laughter” when Geithner offered the plan, because it was so “one-sided and vague on spending cuts.”
The flat-out rejection could mark a significant turning point in the negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans. No longer is there post-election optimism for a large, bipartisan deal.
“With this opening offer, we’ve essentially wasted three weeks," another GOP aide told NBC News.
Significant breakdowns were part of the 2011 “Grand Bargain” debt talks in the summer of 2011, but they did not occur this early in the process.
This could also, however, be just the opening salvo in what will be long, intensive negotiations. It signals that the White House is not about to start negotiations with major concessions after winning reelection, something the president has previously been criticized for from the left.
The former bitter rivals displayed a rare show of bipartisanship during a gathering at the White House where they discussed America's leadership in the world. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.
President Obama and Mitt Romney met today for the first time since the president’s sweeping electoral-vote reelection Thursday over lunch at the White House.
Over an hour -- and white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad -- the once-bitter rivals talked about "America's leadership in the world" and "pledged to stay in touch," according to the White House.
Here’s the official White House readout:
This afternoon, President Obama and Governor Romney visited for an hour over lunch in the Private Dining Room adjacent to the Oval Office. Governor Romney congratulated the President for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years. The focus of their discussion was on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future. They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future. Their lunch menu included white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.
The White House
Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama, right, shake hands during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. It was their first meeting since Obama won reelection Nov. 6 by defeating Romney.
NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss what a possible Fiscal Cliff deal might look like and what all of the players have at stake.
Thanks to Frank "Grimey" Grimes for the question!
Video edited by NBC's Jordan Frasier.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: I'm Domenico Montanaro, with another edition of Inside the Boiler Room here with Mark Murray inside our 'boiler room' I guess. It used to look a lot more like a boiler room when we did these more low budget but anyway we have two questions, we are going to combine them from DaNoid and Frank "Grimey" Grimes. DaNoid asks: "If there is a deal to be made to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff", what should we ultimately expect to see from that deal, who has to give more towards making the deal, Democrats or Republicans, and when should we expect to see a deal?" Frank "grimey" Grimes, always a prolific question asker says, "Who stands to gain or lose the most (from a political perspective," and we always like the political perspective, "in the upcoming negotiations on the "fiscal cliff"?
MARK MURRAY: Wow those are some really great questions. I do think we see the broad outlines of what the deal might end up looking like to answer DaNoid's question. It is going to involve either higher tax rates or more revenue or actually a combination of the two which you probably are going to get to see at the end of the day. The Obama White House is basically saying, and Democrats, rates are going to have to go up. These Bush tax cuts are going to have to be gone for good, and the question is maybe they are eliminated but there is something you end up getting in the longer term with some sort of tax reform, or maybe the White House ends up saying, 'Look, you know, the Bush tax cuts on capital gains have to go up but on income they dont.' There are a lot of ways you can negotiate it but it seems to be, the deal is going to be taxes or tax revenues or tax rates have to go up and that Democrats are going to have to give a little on entitlements. Right now we are in this negotiating stage of who is putting out the offers as kind of a wait-and-see approach. As far as when we actually might end up getting a deal, a really smart Democrat said to me expect around the middle of December and that is particularly why you are getting closer to the deadline you usually end up getting these deals right now but don't expect anything for the next couple of weeks.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Yeah, I agree that there wouldn't be probably something for the next couple of weeks. I do think that it comes down to this idea that we've said that everybody agrees they need to raise some money from the rich but they don't know how, if it is going to be revenue or tax rates. Then the other side of the ledger is what do Democrats give on Medicare? It seems to be that the phrase "means testing" has become popular. You heard (Rep.) Jim Clyburn say it, the assistant leader, you've heard Republicans talk about it. So we will see what they can do, if there is something small on Medicare they would end up doing or something a little bit bigger. I would lean toward something smaller.
MARK MURRAY: And then to answer Grimey's question on who has the most to lose, probably I would think the answeris Washington and actually the governance. Both President Obama and House Republicans, they all ended up winning re-election, so they have plenty of time before- you know President Obama is not going to run again, House Republicans have two more years. You can make the argument that if this thing turns into a huge problem that somehow all of these sides can actually repair their reputations, which is possible. But after the debt ceiling fight, it almost seems as if Washington at large--I think people are looking to see if it actually--if people can make the tough decisions, make compromises to actually give faith that you know what, when the chips are down political leaders can actually come together. We saw that after Hurricane Sandy where Chris Christie was there with President Obama. I think people are looking to see if there can be a deal where John Boehner and Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell are all together and they can cut some type of deal.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well Chris Christie wasn't without criticism from the right, and you are going to hear all those kind of disparate voices from the fringes on both sides who aren't happy with whatever deal might wind up being struck. The thing is, I think Democrats start out with an advantage on this. Polling is showing that if there is no deal people will blame Republicans. But it's all about perception. As the negotiations continue, who does it appear to be that is more willing to work with the other side, versus the side that looks like they are more entrenched in their position. That perception over the next few weeks is really going to determine who wins or who loses politically if there is no deal, but I think at the end of the day everyone was hurt in the debt ceiling fight, everyone will be hurt if something isn't done with this "fiscal cliff".
MARK MURRAY: That is a great answer and great questions from DaNoid and Grimey!
From the beginning of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, aides from both sides have said that November would be for saber rattling and December would be when a deal is put together between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s blessing.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a press conference on Thursday attacked President Obama and the White House for not taking firm action in avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff."
Well, consider comments from Boehner and Reid today to be the November saber rattling reporters were warned about.
In his weekly press conference Boehner called out Obama and the Democrats.
"The president has warned us about the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff, but his actions have not matched his public statements,” said Boehner, who acknowledged speaking with the president Wednesday night and called it “very nice” but “direct.” “Members of his own party seem quite comfortable sending the economy over the fiscal cliff."
Boehner said that no “substantive process had been made over the last two weeks” and that he was “disappointed” with the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations. He also chided Democrats for not offering, he says, serious spending cuts in exchange for his promise of some increased revenue.
Republican leaders say they've put revenues on the table, but are waiting on President Barack Obama to give, and offer something up on ballooning federal retirement programs like Medicare. Fortune Magazine's Carol Loomis discusses.
Speaking later in the day, Reid took this blunt shot at Boehner: “I don’t understand his brain.”
Reid called for Republicans to make “a serious offer” and indicated that Democrats would not act until they heard Republican demands on cuts to entitlements.
Along with raising tax rates, entitlements are also a major sticking point in the negotiations. Neither side wants to be the first to put their fingerprints on any specific entitlement cuts due to the risk of a major public backlash from seniors.
Asked by NBC News what specific cuts to entitlements the GOP would like to see, Boehner pointed to previous budgets passed by the House GOP and rejected by Democrats, but he declined to be precise in what he wanted out of these negotiations.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, after private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the fiscal cliff negotiations.
“It's been very clear over the last year and half,” Boehner contended. “I've spoken to the president about many of them. If you look at our budget, where we outline very specific proposals that we passed in last year's budget and the budget before, we know what the menu is; we don't know what the White House is willing to do to get serious about our debt crisis."
Boehner dismissed an assertion that the talks had broken down, but his tone was far from optimistic. Wall Street is hoping to see a deal reached, is paying close attention, and both sides are acutely aware of that.
In what could be another potential headache for the White House, Boehner did not back down on his 2011 position regarding raising the nation’s debt limit, saying, “Any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts."
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said he was “surprised” by Boehner’s debt limit comments.
NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss President Obama and Mitt Romney's lunch at The White House today and how Romney adviser Stuart Stevens may not be as ready to bury the hatchet as the former candidate appears to be.
As Obama and Romney have lunch at 12:30 pm ET, not everyone is moving on from the ’12 race… Romney chief strategist Stu Stevens explains Romney’s loss by essentially suggesting Obama was black and poor people voted overwhelmingly for him… As it turns out, Obama’s victory was more decisive than Bush’s in ’04… Tom Cole and the cover he gives to John Boehner… NYT: Other Benghazi-related questions get lost in all the attention on the talking points… 112th Congress on track to be least productive Congress since 1947… And the importance of Virginia and its gubernatorial contest.
*** Moving on? At 12:30 pm ET today, President Obama holds a private lunch with Mitt Romney -- their first meeting since the election and just seventh overall according to our count. The lunch allows both men to bury the hatchet and show that this country is able to move beyond its elections. But not everyone is moving on. In a Washington Post op-ed published yesterday, Romney chief strategist Stu Stevens defended Romney and his campaign. “Over the years, one of the more troubling characteristics of the Democratic Party and the left in general has been a shortage of loyalty and an abundance of self-loathing. It would be a shame if we Republicans took a narrow presidential loss as a signal that those are traits we should emulate.” It was more than appropriate for Stevens to write about Romney and the campaign after the election; in fact, Stevens speaks today at Harvard along with the top officials from the Obama campaign to discuss the 2012 race. But what’s especially striking about Stevens’ op-ed is that it doesn’t contain an iota of introspection about why the Romney campaign was unable to win a winnable race. It was an odd tone for Stevens to strike, and it will be curious to see if he’s just as defiant today at Harvard.
After a hard-fought election, President Obama fulfills his promise to engage with Mitt Romney, hosting him for a one-on-one lunch at the White House. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.
*** Explaining Romney’s loss -- Obama was black and poor people voted overwhelmingly for him: Indeed, the entire piece appears to rationalize that the campaign’s strategy was right. (And for the reporters who received emails from Stevens during the campaign, the tone was very, very familiar.) In the op-ed, Stevens essentially suggests Romney lost because poor people overwhelmingly voted for Obama. “On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters.” Yet that analysis ignores that those making less than $50,000 represented 41% of the electorate in 2012, and many of those people probably would argue that they’re in the middle class. Stevens also seems to argue that Obama won because he’s a black man whose campaign and party raised $1 billion. “[H]e was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?” But that also leaves out the fact that Romney was a white man who had a famous name in American politics and whose effort also raised close to $1 billion. By the way, there’s a lot of contradictory evidence to suggest the president carried the middle -- the swing suburban counties. In every swing state, the largest major suburban county tipped to the president.
President Barack Obama plans to fulfill the promise he made on Election night to engage with Mitt Romney by meeting him for lunch on Thursday. The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd reports.
*** Obama’s victory was more decisive than Bush’s in ’04: And here’s one final observation about the 2012 race. Per the excellent work by the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman, Obama’s national lead over Romney continues to expand as votes keep on coming in. It’s now Obama 50.9%, Romney 47.4%. That’s a bigger (and more decisive) margin than Bush’s victory over John Kerry in 2004 (which was Bush 50.7% and Kerry 48.2%). What’s more, the president’s lead has grown to close to 3 points in Ohio, 4 points in Virginia and 6 points in Colorado. One doesn’t win Colorado by six points without winning swing voters; there isn’t a big-enough Democratic base to make that argument.
Mike Segar / Reuters
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney arrives to deliver his concession speech during his election night rally in Boston, Massachusetts, November 7, 2012.
*** Cole gives cover to Boehner: In today’s “fiscal cliff” news, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is meeting individually with top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders. Bloomberg News: “Geithner will meet separately with each of the four top leaders in Congress: House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Rob Nabors, the administration’s director of legislative affairs, will accompany Geithner.” And speaking of Boehner, GOP Rep. Tom Cole -- who on Tuesday said that Republicans should extend the Bush tax cuts for only those making $250,000 or less -- did a big favor for the House speaker. Why? It gives him A LOT more space to cut a deal with the Obama White House. After all, when is the last time that a conservative (albeit an establishment) House member go to the left of Boehner? Bottom line: Cole’s move gives Boehner more negotiating flexibility than he had previously. Also, don't miss David Gregory's interview with former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, who is very critical of Geithner.
*** Other Benghazi-related questions get lost in all the attention on the talking points: For weeks now, there’s has been so much attention on Susan Rice and those CIA-drafted talking points about the attack on the Benghazi consulate. And after more critical comments from GOP senators, Obama showered praise on Rice during a photo spray of his cabinet meeting yesterday. “Susan Rice is extraordinary. I couldn’t be prouder of the job that she’s done.” But the New York Times makes a pretty good point: Lost in all of the attention over the talking points are bigger and perhaps more important questions. “Were requests for greater security for diplomats in Libya ignored? Even if Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan has been decimated, what threat is posed by its affiliates and imitators in other countries where they have taken refuge? How can crucial diplomacy be conducted amid the dangerous chaos that has followed the toppling of dictators across the Arab world?” Also, while this hasn’t been the best P.R. week for Rice, it does look like she can survive a confirmation process. The person who may have had a worse week in these meetings? CIA acting dir. Mike Morrell. He could end up the real political loser in all this.
*** Do-Nothing Congress? NBC’s Kyle Inskeep notes that this 112th Congress is headed to achieve a dubious distinction: the least productive Congress since the 1940s. With just weeks left, this Congress (2011-12) has passed just 196 bills into law (and many of those have been ceremonial pieces of legislation, like the naming of courthouses). The previous low was set by the 104th Congress (1995-96), which passed just 333 bills into law. So to avoid earning the distinction as the least productive Congress since 1947, 138 bills must move through the House and Senate before the end of the session next month -- an unlikely feat. Then again, reaching a deal on the fiscal negotiations would be a big legislative accomplishment. Also, there are plenty of conservatives who would argue that NOT passing bills actually means this was a productive Congress. It’s all eye-of-the-beholder stuff.
*** The importance of Virginia its gubernatorial race: Virginia has arguably become the most important swing state in the country (in the past two presidential elections, the state has exactly matched the national popular vote). And Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial contest has recently set the tone for the party of out of power. In 2005, Tim Kaine (D) won his race by appealing to independents and the suburbs -- a model the Democrats replicated in 2006 and 2008. In ‘09, the socially conservative Bob McDonnell (R) focused like a laser on the economy, which congressional Republicans followed in ’10 and even Romney tried to replicate in ‘12. Yet here’s the conundrum for Republicans in 2013: The very conservative and outspoken Ken Cuccinelli is going to be the face of the GOP next year. Now it’s more than possible that Cuccinelli runs a strong race that national Republicans will copy in 2014. Or it’s also possible that his candidacy reinforces some of the negative stereotypes that the party wants to erase. By the way, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling -- whose exit cleared the way for Cuccinelli’s nomination -- isn’t going away quietly. Per the Roanoke Times, he isn’t ruling out a gubernatorial bid as an independent.
*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) on his news-making nudge to fellow House Republicans… ABC’s Jake Tapper on his book “The Outpost”… NBC’s Martin Fletcher from Tel Aviv on today’s U.N. consideration of Palestinian statehood… Evaluating evolving numbers and margins from Election Day with NBC’s Mike Viqueira, former DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell and former Bush 43 political director Sara Taylor Fagen.
*** Thursday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: Thomas Roberts interviews Sen. Kent Conrad (R-ND), Fmr. NM Governor & UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, and MSNBC Hosts Ed Schultz and Melissa Harris Perry. Today’s Power Panel includes: MSNBC Contributor Perry Bacon, Democratic Strategist Keith Boykin and Republican strategist Alice Stewart.
*** Thursday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: Alex Wagner’s guests include Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Bloomberg Businessweek Sr. National Correspondent Josh Green, Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim, former DNC Communications Dir. Karen Finney, former. Asst. Sec. of State P.J. Crowley, and msnbc Contributor Rula Jebreal
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Fortune’s Carol Loomis, Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center Executive Director Yousef Munayyer, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and NBC’s Mary Carillo.
*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Today’s guests include former State Dept. Officer Joel Rubin, the National Journal’s Nancy Cook, MSNBC contributor & journalist Rula Jebreal, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, MSNBC Contributor Michael Smerconish, and Newsweek columnist & Daily Beast Contributor Zachary Karabell.
Politico’s VandeHei and Allen: “[B]behind the scenes, top officials who have been involved in the talks for many months say the contours of a deal – including the size of tax hikes and spending cuts it will likely contain — are starting to take shape. Cut through the fog, and here’s what to expect: Taxes will go up just shy of $1.2 trillion — the middle ground of what President Barack Obama wants and what Republicans say they could stomach. Entitlement programs, mainly Medicare, will be cut by no less than $400 billion - and perhaps a lot more, to get Republicans to swallow those tax hikes. There will be at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and ‘war savings.’ And any final deal will come not by a group effort but in a private deal between two men: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The two men had what one insider described as a short, curt conversation Wednesday night — but the private lines of communications remain very much open.”
Obama’s pitch yesterday on the importance of getting a deal on the fiscal cliff: “It’s too important for Washington to screw this up.”
The AP: “President Barack Obama said Wednesday he believes that members of both parties can reach a ‘‘framework’’ on a debt-cutting deal before Christmas, making his case with a mix of optimism and pressure on congressional Republicans to keep tax rates from rising on the middle class.
Is Obama open to “raising revenue” from the wealthy but not necessarily raising rates? Erskine Bowles says yes. National Journal quotes Bowles from a Christian Science Monitor breakfast yesterday: “I heard it not only from the team, but from the president.” He added, “It all doesn’t have to come in the form of higher rates.” (But note the word ALL…)
Recently, the Washington Post editorial page urged Obama and the Democrats to tackle entitlement reform in the fiscal negotiations. “Elections do have consequences, and Mr. Obama ran on a clear platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy. But he was clear on something else, too: Deficit reduction must be ‘balanced,’ including spending cuts as well as tax increases. Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs.”
But the New York Times editorial page counters, “[T]he fact is, the Obama administration has already pledged to extract more than $1 trillion in savings over the next decade from these programs [Medicare and Medicaid]. There is not much more that can be cut without hurting the most vulnerable Americans.”
The Wall Street Journal: “Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman enlisted his employees to pressure Congress to reach a bipartisan deficit-reduction deal, one of the most high-profile in a series of moves by major corporations seeking to influence the course of negotiations. Mr. Gorman, in an email Tuesday, asked Morgan Stanley ’s more than 16,000 U.S. financial advisers and branch managers to contact their members of Congress and urge them to reach “a bipartisan compromise” to avoid a year-end budget crisis known as the ‘fiscal cliff.’”
The Boston Globe: “In a meeting that has been weeks in the making, Romney will join President Obama for private lunch at the White House just 23 days after he lost the election. It will be the first time they have met since the election, and it follows several weeks in which Romney has started to contemplate life outside of politics. It marks both an early olive branch extended to a vanquished political rival and also is a potentially pivotal moment for Romney.”
How the meeting happened: “Just before Thanksgiving, the White House called Matt Rhoades, who was Romney’s campaign manager, to see if Romney would be interested in having lunch at the White House. Rhoades replied that he would, and the lunch started to be pieced together.”
The meeting is something of a tradition, beginning in 1960 when JFK met with Richard Nixon at his Key Biscayne, FL, home.
More: “Those close to Romney say he hasn’t decided yet what he wants to do next. He is planning to move into an office within Solamere Capital, a venture capital firm on Newbury Street that was co-founded by Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, and his finance chairman, Spencer Zwick. Former Romney advisers say that he is subleasing office space, but he has no plans to actually have a role within the firm. Still, the move does indicate that Romney is beginning to lay the groundwork for a Boston-based life after the presidential campaign.”
The AP: “White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had no specific agenda for the meeting, but he said the president would like to discuss Romney’s ideas for making government more efficient.”
Politico: “Lunch is on the menu, but that’s probably about it. For President Barack Obama, the meal he’s having with Mitt Romney at the White House on Thursday is another important post-election, post-partisan moment. For Romney, it’s a chance to make sure his last impression on the political consciousness isn’t all about the word ‘gifts.’ But like most Washington rituals, the former rivals’ post-election get-together is expected to be more symbolism, less substance.”
The meeting also comes a day after top Romney adviser Stu Stevens labeled the sitting president, in a Washington Post op-ed, as “a charismatic African American,” who benefited from the support of minorities.
Jennifer Rubin, for one, wasn’t impressed with Stevens’ interpretation of the election: “Stevens fails in precisely the way in which the campaign failed: a refusal to acknowledge real and material incompetence by himself and others on the campaign. … Look, if understandably he still wants to keep charging large sums for his services and therefore not openly confess his mistakes, that is fine. But then don’t write a self-serving op-ed.”
By the way, the guy who got the Romney “R” logo tattooed to his face and vowed never to have it removed is going to be doing exactly that. The turning point for him were Romney’s post-election “gifts” comments. “It stands not only for a losing campaign but for a sore loser,” the man said. “He’s pretty shameful as far as I’m concerned, man. There’s no dignity in blaming somebody else for buying votes and paying off people. I can’t get behind that or stay behind that.”
Kids, let this be a lesson to you – it’s going to take seven to 10 sessions that doctors describe as painful to get that tattoo off his face.
National Journal notes: “U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has failed to ease the concerns of Senate Republicans she met with this week, which could hinder a potential nomination as Secretary of State.”
Yesterday, it was Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Corker (R-TN), who appeared no less critical after meeting with Rice.
National Journal has a graphic explaining the moving parts in Obama’s national security team.
Politico contends: “In just two quick meetings on Capitol Hill, Susan Rice may have blown up any goodwill she had with the very senators she’ll need for confirmation if she’s ever tapped as the next secretary of state. … It’s not clear what Rice said behind closed doors to anger all these senators, but it’s obvious the meetings went badly and this was hardly a nominee-in-waiting charm offensive. … [O]ne GOP senator told Politico Wednesday that McCain, Graham and Ayotte were so incensed after their powwow with Rice because they felt she was not being straight or candid with them about Benghazi.”
But, not so fast, The Hill writes: “Susan Rice’s bridge-building visit to Capitol Hill this week left Republicans divided on her possible nomination as secretary of State. While some Republicans appear outright opposed to Rice replacing Hillary Clinton, there are enough GOP senators who are open to voting for her. Should President Obama nominate her, Rice would need only a handful of GOP votes to overcome a filibuster if all Democrats back her… Privately, some Republicans say they'd prefer to avoid a bitter political fight over Rice, an African-American woman who is viewed as qualified and competent.”
For one, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on CNN called Rice a “very smart, very intelligent woman” who's been “upfront,” adding that “you don't want to shoot the messenger.”
More: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not made Rice a top priority. That is an early signal that the GOP conference will not go to the mat to thwart a Rice nomination.”
Similarly, McConnell’s office did not express the outrage at a potential Rice nomination in the same way McCain, Graham, and Ayotte have, and it deferred when asked by First Read if the minority leader would go along with a filibuster if Rice is nominated.
McConnell “typically doesn’t take positions on the nominations of people who haven’t even been nominated—or had their hearings, etc.,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told First Read.
NORTH CAROLINA: In NC-7, one of the last remaining contested House races, Republican David Rouzer has conceded to incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre, giving Democrats a final net gain of eight seats. Politico notes: “There is one remaining undecided congressional, in Louisiana’s 3rd District, where two Republicans are paired in a Dec. 8 runoff.”
NEW JERSEY: MSNBC’s Michael LaRosa sizes up the state’s gubernatorial contest next year and whether Cory Booker (D) will challenge incumbent Gov. Chris Christie (R).
NEW YORK: After an op-ed penned by Anthony Weiner about a Rockaway neighborhood devastated by Sandy, the New York Daily News speculates if Weiner’s thinking about a political comeback. For his part, Weiner told the Daily News: "I care very deeply about the people in Rockaway as well as Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay. I owe them my political career and they have been very good to my family. I want to make sure their plight is known."