CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 5, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: PENTAGON TO EXTEND SOME BENEFITS TO SAME SEX SPOUSES… CNN’s Barbara Starr reports that “Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that same sex spouses of service members will be granted some benefits that they had been blocked from up until now, according to an administration official. Sources in the gay activist community have been given indications as well, that the announcement could come this week. … Among the benefits gay rights groups say can be legally extended are housing on military bases, military ID cards to access on-base activities and programs, access to commissaries and consideration of a same-sex spouse and family in duty assignments. Panetta’s likely replacement, Chuck Hagel, said he supports extending the benefits." Stay tuned to CNN.com/SecurityClearance for more.
COMING THIS SPRING: OBAMA TO MAKE FIRST TRIP TO ISRAEL AS PRESIDENT... President Barack Obama recently discussed an upcoming spring visit to Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the White House. In the planned overseas trip, Obama will visit the West Bank and Jordan "to continue his close work with Palestinian Authority officials and Jordanian officials," Carney added. The trip to Israel would mark Obama's first visit as president. While Obama traveled to the country in 2008 during his presidential campaign, he did not visit Israel during his first term.
At the end of 1942, how many of the nine Supreme Court Justices were nominated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich caught conservative criticism - and our eye - for his decision to expand Medicaid under a federally funded provision of the Obama health care bill.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak writes, “Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined four fellow Republican governors in welcoming part of a program their party has campaigned vehemently against. He also drew the ire of some Republican activists, who had viewed him as a model of small government conservatism and a potential candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination.”
“Kasich isn't the first Republican to sign on to the Obamacare provision – he joins Jan Brewer of Arizona, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota in endorsing the Medicaid expansion. In total, 19 states and the District of Columbia will accept the expanded federal funds.”
“Other Republican governors – including some who are considered potential 2016 presidential candidates – have rejected the measure, including Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Rick Perry in Texas. Ten states in total have said no.”
While political observers are wondering if Kasich’s move will provide cover for other Republican governors, such as Michigan’s Rick Snyder, New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell – each of whom has yet to detail their budget plans for Medicaid expansion, it is important to study the language that the politically savvy Ohio governor rolled out with his announcement:
“By extending Medicaid Eligibility, Gov. Kasich is Putting Ohioans First by Working to Mitigate the Costly Effects of Obamacare,” a graphic declares on Kasich’s “Ohio Jobs Budget 2.0” website. The plan also states its distaste in clear prose: “Given the results of the presidential election, the Supreme Court's decision and Washington's inaction on real health care reform, Obamacare is the law of the land for now.”
Note that the 2012 Ohio exit poll gives Kasich some political cover for remaining a critic of the healthcare bill while accepting federal money for poor seniors under the banner of “Medicaid Reform.” While Obama beat Romney in Ohio 51%-48%, the Romney-Ryan ticket won seniors in the state 55%-44%. And as for “Obamacare”? More than half of the state - 53% - said the 2010 health care bill should be all or partially repealed.
Kasich’s own approval among seniors in the state is at 52% in the latest Quinnipiac University poll – 10% above the general electorate – a number we will continue to watch as 2016 approaches in the battleground state.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Obama calls for short-term fix to imminent spending cuts
President Barack Obama called on Tuesday for a short-term agreement to put off deep cuts to government spending, including the military, set to take effect next month. Obama made his pitch in a statement to reporters at the White House, urging Congress to pass a measure that would offset some of the imminent automatic spending cuts - known as sequestration - that were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal. – Dan Lothian and Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: Drone Strikes On Americans 'Legal'
A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” - even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. – Michael Isikoff
Leading HuffPo: Salt In The Wound: Judges Flout Decades Of Tradition In Obama Smackdown
The research arm of the U.S. Congress has studied the controversial appeals court ruling striking down President Barack Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, concluding that the decision would have theoretically scuttled scores of presidential appointments stretching back to the Ronald Reagan era. In a letter dated Monday, analysts at the Congressional Research Service said the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, known as Noel Canning v. NLRB, would have drastically altered the course of history had it been issued in 1981, the first year the authors studied. Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all likely would have been stymied by the ruling, leaving an untold number of government appointments unfilled, the study said. – Dave Jamieson
Leading Politico: Paul Ryan’s new path to power
Paul Ryan feels pinched by competing paths to power.
His friends tell us the most obvious route — a run for the White House in 2016 — holds less appeal to him with each passing day. “He has no interest in the sheer grind of campaigning,” said a conservative who recently spent time with Ryan. “It’s hard to see him having ‘what it takes.’” Instead, Ryan seems increasingly intrigued with the prospect of amassing more power within Congress, using his juice in the House leadership to promote his trademark Medicare plan and engineer spending cuts. The friends say this path could ultimately lead him to an eventual run for House GOP leader, or even speaker, an option they surmise he has warmed to since the election. – Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei
Leading The New York Times: Obama Offers Deficit Savings to Head Off Automatic Cuts
President Obama on Tuesday called on lawmakers to quickly pass a new package of limited spending cuts that can head off the automatic, across-the-board reductions that are set to take effect on March 1. Mr. Obama said the Congress should delay the automatic cuts for a period of months to give lawmakers a chance to negotiate a full budget that permanently resolves the threat of the so-called sequester. – Michael D. Shear and Jackie Calmes
The political bites of the day
- Obama says fiscal cliff spending cuts are still on the table -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A PRESS BRIEFING: “The proposals that I put forward during fiscal cliff negotiations in discussions with Speaker Boehner and others are still very much on the table. I just want to repeat, the deals that I put forward, the balanced approach, spending cuts and entitlement reform, tax reform, that I put forward are still on the table.”
- Exclusive to CNN: Cantor on rebranding the GOP -
HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S DANA BASH: “What I think is that there's a lot of lessons to be learned from the last election. And, you know, frankly there are a lot of moms and dads out there that are hurting right now, a lot of working people that are having a real struggle trying to get through the month and too many millions of Americans out of work. And I think what we all need to do is to focus on how we're going to make life work for those people again.”
Gut Check Full Service… In a later speech at American Enterprise Institute, Cantor takes softer tone on immigration: “It's no secret that there are more than 11 million people here illegally, many of whom have become part of the fabric of our country. They, like us, have families and dreams. While we are a nation that allows anyone to start anew, we are also a nation of laws, and that's what makes tackling the issue of immigration reform so difficult. In looking to solve this problem soon, we must balance respect for the rule of law and respect for those waiting to enter this country legally, with care for the people and families, most of whom just want to make a better life, and contribute to America. A good place to start is with the kids.”
- Holder explains targeting Americans with drones -
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER IN A PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: “Our primary concern is to keep the American people safe. But to do so in a way that is consistent with our laws and consistent with our values. We have as a basis for action that we take a congressional statute that allows us to operate against al Qaeda and associated entities not only in Pakistan or not only in Afghanistan but in other parts of the world. We say that we only take these kinds of actions when there is an imminent threat, when capture is not feasible and when we are confident that we are doing so in a way that is consistent with federal and international law.”
Gut Check Full Service: Report: Memo backs U.S. using lethal force against Americans overseas… A Justice Department memo determined the U.S. government can use lethal force against an American citizen overseas if the person is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates. The paper provides insights into the Obama administration's policy of targeted killings carried out by the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists. Several of those strikes have killed Americans, notably Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni American who had been connected to plots against the United States but never charged with a crime. Awlaki died in a drone attack in September 2011 in Yemen. – Pam Benson
- Chris Christie has a plan… for his weight -
NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE AT A PRESS CONFERENCE: “I know that some of you who are incredibly concerned about my weight and I appreciate your concern. I have every intention of following through with every plan I have. And anyone who has struggled with their weight over time in this state or in this country will tell you that when they begin the plan they have every intention of fulfilling the plan. So the plan which I begin today I have every intention of fulfilling. I hope I can fulfill it by tonight and if I can then tomorrow I will start and we will go again. But I am not going to be overly self consumed about this, nor should the people of the state be all that concerned about whether I can do my job. I can get out of bed every morning.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
By the end of his four terms, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed a whopping eight justices to the Supreme Court, including William O. Douglas, the longest serving member in the court’s history. Only one other president, George Washington, who appointed the first 10 members of the Supreme Court, has appointed more.
By the end of 1942, seven of the nine justices on the court were appointed by Roosevelt. They were: Douglas, Hugo Black, Stanley Foreman Reed, Felix Frankfurter, Frank Murphy, James Francis Byrnes, Robert Houghtwood Jackson and Wiley Rutledge.
Even with that level of influence, though, Roosevelt wanted more. On this day in 1937, the newly reelected president announced his plan to expand the Supreme Court to 15 justices and “pack” the court with justices that were open to his New Deal policies. This move came after the high court struck down a number of the president’s social legislation on constitutional grounds.
Most members of Congress, even those who shared the president’s political leanings, opposed the packing and when the bill came to the Senate, it was roundly voted down 70 to 22.
For a man who wanted more influence on the court early in his presidential career, he certainly had a great deal by the end.
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