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Monday, March 18, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Hillary Clinton Announces Support for Same Sex Marriage


RNC: Voters See GOP as "Scary" and "Out of Touch" - The Republican National Committee concedes in a sprawling report Monday that the GOP is seen as the party of “stuffy old men” and needs to change its ways.
Among the RNC’s proposed fixes: enacting comprehensive immigration reform, addressing middle-class economic anxieties head on and condensing a presidential primary process that saw Mitt Romney get battered for months ahead of the general election.

The committee also proposes major improvements to the party’s voter database and digital technology, which paled next to that of the Democrats and contributed to the party’s losses last year. has more here.


Obama Expected To announce Perez as Labor Secretary Today - as reported previously, President Obama will make the announcement this morning.

Seeking to fill yet another second-term Cabinet vacancy, President Barack Obama is set to nominate Thomas Perez, an assistant attorney general, to be the next secretary of labor, the White House says.

If confirmed by the Senate, Perez, who has been head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for 3½ years, would take over the Labor Department as Obama undertakes several worker-oriented initiatives, including an overhaul of immigration laws and an increase in the minimum wage.

Before taking the job as assistant attorney general, the 51-year-old Perez was secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which enforces state consumer rights, workplace safety and wage and hour laws. has more here.


Obama To Visit Israel for First Time as President - As he embarks Tuesday on his first presidential trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Obama will seek to clarify his support for the Jewish state’s theory of its historical roots — addressing one of several subtle, but essential, missteps he is attempting to fix in his second term. The trip is a mission of remedial diplomacy, rather than the kind of specific peace initiative common for previous presidential visits.

Obama will also travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah during his four-day trip for air-clearing meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders, who are deeply disappointed by Obama and his staunch opposition to their diplomatic push for statehood through the United Nations.

“Rather than a preemptive strike, I see this visit as a preemptive kiss,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy group that favors a two-state solution to the conflict. “It’s a way to say to both sides, ‘I love you, I’m with you, now as we get down to work on this, I don’t want to hear any complaints or excuses that I don’t.’ ”  The Washington Post has more here.


Budget Battles Highlight House and Senate Action This Week - Warring 10-year budget plans come before the House and Senate this week, even as lawmakers must pass a six-month stopgap bill to avert a shutdown and keep agencies operating in the wake of cuts ordered under sequestration.

President Barack Obama is counting on Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to get her resolution across the Senate floor and set up talks this spring with the Republican House. Playing Martha to Murray’s Mary is Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), whose charge is to keep the government household running through the summer while the “grand bargainers” — well, bargain.

Next to this novel sisters act in the Senate, the House can seem déjà vu all over again.
That daring young man from Wisconsin is back with another dare: This time House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says he can bring the whole government into balance in one decade — not three like last spring. To get there Ryan asks Obama only to surrender health care reforms, deny millions Medicaid coverage and food stamps, and accept nondefense appropriations well below what President George W. Bush enjoyed. has more here.


U.S. Stocks Decline With Turmoil in Cyprus Over Bailout Plan - Leaders in Cyprus and Brussels scrambled Monday to contain the fallout from an unprecedented effort to force ordinary bank depositors in this crisis-hit nation to pay for part of an international bailout, as stock markets faltered on concerns about the wider implications for Europe’s long-running debt crisis.

President Nicos Anastasiades was trying to compel policy makers in Brussels to soften demands for a tax to be assessed on Cypriot bank deposits, saying European Union leaders used “blackmail” to get him to agree to those conditions early Saturday in order to receive a bailout package worth 10 billion euros, or $13 billion.
Cyprus, whose banking system is verging on collapse, is now the fifth nation in the 17-member euro union to seek financial assistance since the crisis broke out three years ago.  The NY Times has more here.   


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