CNN's GUT CHECK | February 20, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING… THE ERA OF BIG GOVERNMENT IS BACK? OBAMA BUDGET TO BOOST SPENDING, DITCH ‘GRAND BARGAIN’ – “The White House budget to be released early next month will propose $56 billion in new spending on domestic and defense priorities and drop a proposal that was included in last year's budget as a way to attract Republican support - a plan that would have included less generous payouts of Social Security benefits.”
“The budget would aim to reduce the emphasis on austerity that has been the preoccupation of American politics for the past four years and also highlights top Democratic priorities in a year when Democrats hope to save their majority in the Senate.” – Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb
HEADS UP: POTUS BACK IN THE SADDLE NEXT WEEK… President Barack Obama will speak at the Organizing for Action summit in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday “ to discuss the ongoing importance of grassroots organizing in driving progress on key issues.”
MEANWHILE… SEN. RAND PAUL FIGHTS FOR FELON VOTING RIGHTS… The issue of restoring felon voting rights has made for some unusual alliances as former felons see in lawmakers like Paul, a tea party-backed Republican, a champion. .. Nationally, about 5.8 million people are prohibited from voting because of current or previous felony convictions, according to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder. In the swing states of Florida and Virginia, one in five black adults is unable to vote because of these laws, according to Holder. In Paul's home state of Kentucky, it's also one in five. – Halimah Abdullah
FRIENDLY FIRE: SEN. TED CRUZ HITS HIS GOP LEADERSHIP…
Sen. Ted Cruz accused his own Republican leadership of “trickery” in trying to force a “show vote” on raising the debt ceiling last week, warning Republicans will get “clobbered in the polls” for not standing up for principle.
"What Republican leadership said is we want this to pass, but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes, then we can all cast a vote no and we can go home to our constituents and say we opposed it. And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the – to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating. In my view, we need to be honest with our constituents. And last week, what it was all about was truth and transparency. I think all 45 Republicans should have stood together and said of course not.” – Dana Bash
MORE CRUZ - PRESIDENT HEARTBURN: Can Ted Cruz imagine being in the Oval Office in 2017? He didn't say no, but he did pause to acknowledge how much heartburn that would cause the people he likes to call the Washington establishment. "I think you'd probably have to - to buy some Alka Seltzer for an awful lot of people in Washington, if - if 2017 occurred and that happened," Cruz said with a chuckle. – Dana Bash
GET OUT THE GRITS: “Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Wednesday his plan would establish a March 1, 2016 primary for Georgia, and that he’s reached out to other Southeastern states to form a new Super Southern Tuesday bloc that would give the region a broader say in the eventual presidential nominee. Georgia is the first state to publicly express interest in a March 1 primary for the wide-open presidential race.” – Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Kristina Torres
THE BUZZ: BARNEY FRANK: I AM WORRIED PEOPLE THINK HOUSE OF CARDS IS HOW D.C. ACTUALLY WORKS… “A far better portrayal of how government actually works was ‘The West Wing,’ in which the characters made mistakes, were occasionally wrong in their judgments, failed to anticipate important events, and were often troubled by doubt. Not the Kevin Spacey character. He always knows exactly what to do, and does it perfectly. In other respects, ‘House of Cards’ demeans the democratic process in ways that are unfair, inaccurate, and if they were to be believed by a substantial number of the public, deeply unfortunate.”
“I have never met anyone in a position of power in Congress who resembles that caricature (Underwood) … What troubles me is that people will watch this, think that this is the way government functions and be further disillusioned from trying to influence it. I hope people will enjoy the drama, but ignore the message.”
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end higher as bad weather blamed for negative economic data. Dow adds 92 points. NASDAQ rises 0.8%.
Who is the only member of Congress that competed in a Winter Olympics in U.S. history?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNN Politics: Obamacare success not all about numbers
Vice President Joe Biden said what others have basically conceded - the Obama administration may fall short of its original enrollment target for Obamacare. That might give critics another reason to attack the health care law, but the acknowledgment is consistent with what number crunchers have said previously. – Adam Aigner-Treworgy
Leading Drudge: Despite truce, new fighting erupts in Kiev; at least 50 reported killed
Hours after a truce was declared between Ukrainian government forces and opposition protesters, fighting broke out once again Thursday morning in the streets around Kiev’s Independence Square, and a top human rights official said at least 50 people were killed. – Will Englund
Leading HuffPo: Liberal Groups Lobby Senators To Reject Controversial Obama Judicial Nominee
More than two-dozen progressive groups are appealing directly to Senate Democrats to sink the confirmation of Michael Boggs, a judicial nominee they say is far too socially conservative. – Jennifer Bendery
Leading Politico: Senate battle in Michigan: Whiskey and sled rides
Thought to be the front-runner at the outset of the campaign, (Democratic Senate candidate Gary) Peters has been running narrowly behind Republican Terri Lynn Land in recent weeks. They are vying for the seat that retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin has occupied since Jimmy Carter was president. – Manu Raju
The political bites of the day
- Bachmann: People don’t desire a female president –
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINNESOTA, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH SYNDICATED COLUMNIST CAL THOMAS: “I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt … People don’t hold guilt for a woman … I don’t think there is a pent-up desire (for a female president).”
- Pelosi: GOP criticisms pay my bills -
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI TO MCCLATCHY: “Those people, to me, they're unimportant … What the Republicans say about me - if I were not effective they would not be trying to knock me down. And every time they try and knock me down it fills my coffers."
- Boehner has more than a recliner in Ohio, spokesman says -
SPOKESMAN FOR HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER MICHAEL STEELE IN A STATEMENT: “This area of Florida has been the Boehners’ family vacation spot for many years, and rather than continue to put money into vacation rentals year after year, they decided to buy a condo … Their home is in West Chester, Ohio, and will continue to be.”
- (Move over Olaf) Crist: I have to hug -
FORMER GOP GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, D-FLORIDA, IN THE WASHINGTON POST: “I can’t help it; I have to hug … Can you even imagine not hugging?”
- Abbott defends Nugent –
TEXAS GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE GREG ABBOTT IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S ED LAVENDERA:
ABBOTT: “Ted Nugent was a way to expose Wendy Davis for her flip flopping on gun-related issues.”
LAVENDERA: “But this is Texas. Finding someone who is pro-guns is not that hard. Why does it have to be Ted Nugent?”
ABBOTT LOOKS AWAY TO ANOTHER REPORTER: “What’s your question?”
- Christie: FEMA is the new ‘F word’ -
NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE AT A TOWN HALL EVENT IN NEW JERSEY: “The entire flood insurance business in this country has been taken over by the federal government. It's called the National Flood Insurance Plan which all of you painfully now know, NFIP. I said there should be a new ‘F word,’ in there. FEMA is the new ‘F word'.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Josh Rogin (@joshrogin)
If you were Ukraine's gov, would you choose the country offering sanctions or the one offering $15 billion? #deepstatethoughts
Obama can't enforce a red line, Putin can't defend a blue line.
jennifer bendery (@jbendery)
Asked if Obama left chained CPI outta budget b/c doesn't think big deal possible this year, Earnest says that's up to GOP.
Jake Tapper (@jaketapper)
not uttered once at Christie's town hall today: the word "bridge"
Jim Avila (@JimAvilaABC)
Town haller asks gov Christie why he doesn't he destroy his Springsteen CDs. He is not your friend gov responds my heart says I can't
Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN)
ICYMI: Bevin labels Sen. Pat Roberts an “establishment republican,” endorses Milton Wolf in Kansas race. http://bit.ly/MF3eXx
Candy Crowley (@crowleyCNN)
like @senpatroberts, @marklevinshow spends most nights at Va. home but Levin has radio show that beams in2 Ks http://bit.ly/OfdeYw
April Hannewald (@ahannewald)
Bank of America gives CEO a 17% raise to $14M because $12M is hard to live on. Meanwhile, banks search for ways to increase fees.
Matt Galligan (@Mg)
WhatsApp founder signed $19m acquisition docs at the welfare office he once received food stamps. Incredible. http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2014/02/19/exclusive-inside-story-how-jan-koum-built-whatsapp-into-facebooks-new-19-billion-baby/?utm_campaign=forbestwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social …
Sapna Maheshwari (@sapnam)
Gap says its (big) decision to raise minimum wage to $10 nxt year isn't "political," tho Obama praised the move: http://www.buzzfeed.com/sapna/gap-raising-minimum-wage-for-more-than-65000-us-employees-to …
Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist)
At @AEI American Enterprise Institute talk by @DalaiLama on economics, happiness. He says individual action is source peace, happiness
Kelsey Osterman (@kelseyosterman)
"Otherwise, my impression capitalism only take money, exploitation," @DalaiLama jokes, saying he has a better opinion thanks to AEI
The White House (@WhiteHouse)
.@pmharper and I bet on the women's and men's US-Canada hockey games. Winner gets a case of beer for each game. #GoTeamUSA! –bo
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Sen. Wendell Anderson, D-Minnesota, is the only member of Congress in U.S. history to have competed in a Winter Olympics, winning a silver medal as a part of the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1956.
There have been seven lawmakers who have competed in Olympic Games; all but Anderson competed in Summer Olympic events.
In the House: Rep. Bob Mathias, R-California, Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kansas, and Rep. Ralph-Harold Metcalfe, D-Georgia, all medaled in track and field events. Rep. Tom McMillen, D-Maryland, played basketball and was awarded a silver medal, although he declined it, and Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who later became a Senator, competed in Judo.
In the Senate, longtime New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley was a gold medalist in basketball.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to David Daniel (@CNNLADavid), Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) and RobertBialeVineyards (@BialeVineyards) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
WANT TO SIGN UP?
Do you have a friend who wants to sign up for GUT CHECK or our new CNNPolitics Breaking News Alerts? Click here, log on and scroll down.