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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama To Ask For Short Term Budget Plan - AP is reporting President Obama will ask Congress to come up with tens of billions of dollars in short-term spending cuts and tax revenue to put off the automatic across the board cuts that are scheduled to kick in March 1, White House officials said Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon, in a statement from the White House, Obama will ask for a targeted way to reduce the deficit in the short term, perhaps several months. White House officials said that Congress needs more time to work out a 10-year plan worth more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction. Obama is not placing a time span or a dollar amount on the short-term plan. Officials said he will leave that to Congress.
Finding deficit reductions of up to $85 billion would put off the automatic cuts, known as a "sequester" in government budget language, until the start of the new fiscal year, which begins October 1.  You can read more here.


Cantor Hopes To Rebrand GOP - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hopes to put a kinder face on Republican policies in a major policy address on Tuesday.

After maintaining a relatively low profile since the November elections, the Virginia Republican will reassert himself on the national stage with a highly anticipated speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

“Government policy should aim to strike a balance between what is needed to advance the next generation, what we can afford, what is a federal responsibility and what is necessary to ensure our children are safe, healthy and able to reach their dreams,” the GOP leader will say.

Immigration reform for highly skilled labor, school choice, college affordability and Medicare/Medicaid reform will be among the issues that Cantor will tackle. The has more here.


Graham Asks Obama To Reconsider Hagel, McCain Won't Support Filibuster - embattled Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel remains on track to receive confirmation, in spite of comments yesterday from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asking President Obama to reconsider his appointment.

However, Senator John McCain, who grilled Chuck Hagel during his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he will not support a GOP filibuster of Hagel.


Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans - an exclusive NBC News report states 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.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director.  NBC News has more here.


Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Visits Egypt - the first visit by an Iranian leader to Egypt since the two countries broke off diplomatic relations three decades ago and a barometer of the shifts in regional dynamics underway since the start of the Arab uprisings.
While the Egypt’s relations with Iran remains limited, the scene on the tarmac at the Cairo Airport on Tuesday — Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, greeting Mr. Ahmedinejad warmly in a red-carpet ceremony — would have been unimaginable under Mr. Mubarak, and seemed likely to alarm the Obama administration. The NY Times has more here. 


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