CNN's GUT CHECK for January 14, 2013
January 14th, 2013
05:31 PM ET
7 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for January 14, 2013

CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 14, 2013 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: GEITHNER SENDS DEBT LIMIT LETTER TO CONGRESS “Treasury currently expects to exhaust these extraordinary measures ('to avoid default on the nation’s obligations') between mid-February and early March of this year. … Congress should act as early as possible to extend normal borrowing authority in order to avoid the risk of default and any interruption in payments. If the extraordinary measures were allowed to expire without an increase in borrowing authority, Treasury would be left to fund the government solely with the cash we have on hand on any given day. As you know, cash would not be adequate to meet existing obligations for any meaningful length of time because the government is currently operating at a deficit.”

DEVELOPING: OBAMA SAYS GUN LOBBY STOKES FEAR OF FEDERAL ACTION The gun lobby is "ginning up" fears the federal government will use the Newtown shooting, exactly one month ago, to seize Americans' guns, President Barack Obama said on Monday. At least part of the frenzy is little more than marketing, the president inferred. “It's certainly good for business he said,” responding at a news conference to a question about a spike in weapons sales and applications for background checks following the Connecticut massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, 20 of them children. – Michael Pearson

OBAMA HINTS AT EXECUTIVE ORDER … “I'm confident that there are some steps that we can take that don't require legislation and that are within my authority as president. And where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it,” Obama said. FULL TRANSCRIPT

IMMIGRATION BEING CROWDED OUT? OBAMA MENTIONS IMMIGRATION, BUT NO QUESTIONS ABOUT TOPIC … “We have got to create more jobs,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “We have got to boost the wages of those who have worked. We've got to reach for energy independence. We have got to reform our immigration system. We've got to give our children the best education possible. And we've got to do everything we can to protect them from the horrors of gun violence.”

ORAL HISTORY: JUSTICE THOMAS SPEAKS; SILENT TRADITION BROKEN ON THE BENCH It was just a few words, and a humorous aside at that, but Justice Clarence Thomas broke his seven-year long silence and spoke at oral argument Monday. His comments made fun of lawyers from Yale, his law school alma mater. Thomas made a joke about the competence of Yale lawyers when compared to their Harvard colleagues, according to two witnesses. The official transcript released by the court does not capture the flavor of the colorful exchange. After that aside, Thomas kept to his silent routine for the rest of the public session. – Bill Mears

(Answer below)
Which governor won the presidency only three years after declaring bankruptcy?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

How many different ways can people in Washington say “I won?”

From President Barack Obama to Speaker John Boehner and his House majority, the news cycle is being driven by conflicting and accurate claims to political power.

At a news conference on Monday, Obama claimed that his electoral victory in November proves that the American people agreed with him on the way to reduce deficits.

“We just had an entire campaign about it,” Obama said. “And by the way, the American people agreed with me, that we should reduce our deficits in a balanced way that also takes into account the need for us to grow this economy, and put people back to work. And despite that conversation, and despite the election results, the position that's been taken, on the part of some House Republicans, is that, ‘Nope, we got to do it our way. And if we don't, we simply won't pay America's bills.’”

Obama continued: “Well, you know, that - that can't be - that can't be a position that is sustainable over time.”

Yet, as Obama was speaking, CNN’s Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh filed a story from Capitol Hill that said it all, “House GOP: No one's blinking

It reminded us that the same American electorate that gave President Barack Obama another four years also left the House in Republican control for the 113th Congress. It is currently split this way: Republicans 233, Democrats 200, and 2 vacancies. Boehner still has the speaker’s gavel and the negotiating power.

So, perhaps the debate over the Second Amendment will be joined this spring by a discussion of Article 1 of the Constitution, in which divided government starts with a simple sentence: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives” and ends in divided government.

Buckle up.

No better example of how this plays out than in our divided media culture. Moments after the news conference ended, some reporters ran to their corners to proclaim the headline that would most directly rally their respective bases. Huffington Post blasted Congress: “PAY YOUR BILLS!” Drudge admonished the president: "I HAVE EXECUTIVE POWERS OVER GUNS...”

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Decisive action or imagery: Gun control and the power of political symbolism
The pictures told the story: Vice President Joe Biden looked solemn, patrician and in control as he sat at a long table in the White House, flanked by people on both sides of the gun control issue. The images conveyed a sense that the White House was in command on this issue. And that's the point. Historically, presidential administrations have used symbolic imagery—at times coupled with marginal actions—to shift public opinion or affect larger political or social change. – Halimah Abdullah

Leading Drudge: White House To Miss Budget Deadline; Breaks Law
The White House has informed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that it will miss the legal deadline for sending a budget to Congress. Acting Budget Director Jeff Zients told Ryan late Friday that the budget will not be delivered by Feb. 4, as required by law, a House aide said. – Erik Wasson

Leading HuffPo: Obama's Job One: Middle-Class Employment Problems Loom Over Second Term
On election night in Chicago two months ago, President Barack Obama triumphantly pledged to fight for a middle class he'd appealed to relentlessly - and successfully - on the 2012 campaign trail. The central challenge of Obama's second term is whether he can keep that founder’s "promise" to working Americans. It won't be easy, and in an era of divided government and amid cries for austerity and budget cuts, it does not seem likely that the president will offer sweeping new proposals to do so. The administration has said that its top two priorities at the outset of its second term are immigration reform and gun control. Despite an ongoing jobs crisis, creating quality jobs seems to have fallen a few slots on the president's to-do list. – Dave Jamieson and Arthur Delaney

Leading Politico: Obama press conference: No ‘ransom’ for raising debt ceiling
President Barack Obama on Monday repeated his call for deficit reduction but warned against the potentially catastrophic effect on the economy by tying cuts to raising the debt ceiling. “While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficit, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they’ve already racked up,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House at what aides have billed as the final news conference of his first term. “To even entertain the idea of this happening, of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd.” – Jennifer Epstein

Leading The New York Times: Both Sides in Gun Debate Agree: Punish Background-Check Liars
Nearly 80,000 Americans were denied guns in 2010, according to Justice Department data, because they lied or provided inaccurate information about their criminal histories on background-check forms. Yet only 44 of those people were charged with a crime. The staggeringly low number of prosecutions for people who “lie and try,” as it is called by law enforcement officials, is being studied by the Obama administration as it considers measures to curb gun violence after the Connecticut elementary school shootings in December. – Michael Schmidt

The political bites of the day

- Republican ask for seriousness in response to Obama’s combative news conference -
SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “The president and his allies need to get serious about spending, and the debt-limit debate is the perfect time for it. I do know that the most important issue confronting the future of our country is our deficit and debt. So we are hoping for a new seriousness on the part of the president with regard to the single biggest issue confronting the country and we look forward to working with him to do something about this huge, huge problem.”
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved. Without meaningful action, the debt will continue to act as an anchor on our economy, costing American jobs and endangering our children’s future. The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation’s obligations and keeps the government running, and we will insist that the Democratic majority in Washington do the same.”

- Bloomberg, O’Malley team up on guns, hold summit –
MARYLAND GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY: “There is a sickness in our country and that sickness is gun violence. … We need a comprehensive approach that puts the focus on the practical, common sense things that we can do together to save lives. There may not be, perhaps there is no way to completely prevent the next Newton tragedy, but then again, perhaps there is.”
NEW YORK MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: “This is not about ideology, it is about human dignity, the dignity of every individual life, the dignity of every one of those little kids in Connecticut, the dignity of every child and every person in the United States of America. … Enough is enough. It's time for Congress and the White House to put public health above special interest politics.”

- No scalping inauguration tickets, says Schumer -
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION: “Some people are going to use these tickets as a chance to make a quick buck. So let me be clear, the tickets are free and must remain free it says here on the ticket 'not for sale' right on the back. Now we've asked the online dealers in these tickets not to sell them. Stubhub has cooperated but today I'm asking Craigslist and eBay not to sell inaugural tickets for money.”

- Lonely Obama -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A WHITE HOUSE NEWS CONFERENCE: “The nice thing is that now that my girls are getting older, they don't want to spend that much time with me anyway, so I'll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I'm getting kind of lonely in this big house. So maybe - maybe a whole bunch of members of the House Republican caucus want to come over and socialize more.”

- I have more joy in my life outside of Congress, thank you -
FORMER FIRST LADY OF SOUTH CAROLINA JENNY SANFORD IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “I have decided not to run for Congress at this time. I enjoy private life and find the work I am doing in business and charitable endeavors and particularly my time as a mother are all more rewarding, important and productive than serving in today's US House.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less


Even future commander-in-chiefs, at times, can hit a financial rough patch.

While serving as governor of Ohio in 1893, future President William McKinley cosigned on a friend’s business loan. When the business failed, the bank came after McKinley and he was forced into bankruptcy.

In total, McKinley was in the red for about $130,000 before friends helped him right this financial hardship.

Politically, however, the ordeal didn’t hurt the governor. Just three years later, in 1896, McKinley defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan and swept into the White House.

McKinley is not the only president to be forced into bankruptcy. Two of America's most famous leaders, President Abraham Lincoln and President Thomas Jefferson, also filed for bankruptcy

As a young man, Lincoln tried many occupations, including buying a general store in New Salem, Illinois, in 1832. Lincoln and his partner began purchasing other stores' inventories on credit, but their own sales were dismal. As debt mounted, Lincoln sold his share, but when his partner died, the future president became liable for $1,000 in back payments. The bank came after him, took away his horse and some surveying gear, but Lincoln continued paying off his debts until well into the 1840s.

Jefferson filed for bankruptcy several times, including after leaving office, possibly because he spent an enormous amount of money on food and wine.


In Friday’s Fantasy Politics feature, we asked whether Gary Hart or George H.W. Bush would win the 1988 presidential election had Hart won the Democratic nomination. One of our best responses, from former Hart adviser Thom Serafin (@ThomSerafin), came in right after we published, but we enjoyed reading it so much, we wanted to share it with everyone.

Serafin writes: “No doubt in my mind that Gary would have beaten the former CIA Director and Vice-President George Bush.

“I have always believed that Governor Dukakis lost the election, rather than The Vice President winning it.

“Gary Hart was, and continues to be, one of the brightest Democratic minds in the country. The focus during those times had much to do with Foreign Policy and, contrary to conventional wisdom (for Democrats,) Gary Hart had a progressive and enlightened world view; he was ahead of his time. He had a very good relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, and authored a very progressive outlook on the world, called ‘Enlightened Engagement’!

“No doubt he would have won the general.”

You can read the entire WCOE here.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Greg Dean (@gregdean11) and Peter Sonneveld on Facebook for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.

Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits:
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Second Amendment is bunch of bull. Obama, please sign on gun-control law. You signed on Healthcare. Good luck, buddy.

    January 14, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. granny

    Noooo, actually Biden, Feinstein, Obama and all the dems are stoking the fire for gun sales.

    January 14, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. CBP

    Will Congress do its duty or will we be subject to the financial fight again? It is time to set the debt limit and move on. Congress spent the money and now they need to make sure we pay our bills. Much of that money goes to cover the cost of war which Congress never, never paid. They did not budget for any of this war and Congress is responsible for teh expenditures and needs to cover the costs. Let's do this and then move on. Sen. McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Rep Cantor plus Sen. Reid and Rep Pelosi need to stop playing games and move us forward.

    January 14, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. FedUpInSeattle

    In my household if I have make $3000 and all my expenses add up to $3000 I don't get to call up one of my credit card companies and complain that my credit limit is too low. I don't get to harass them because I need more debt so that I can pay for that Smart Phone bill, that High Definition Cable and those Rib Eye steaks. NO America does not have an income problem it has a spending addiction.

    January 14, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |