IN THE NEWS: Rogers prepares stopgap spending bill … Obama’s SOTU road show hits N.C. factory … Boehner defends 'courage’ comments … McCain hints he’ll delay Hagel vote … Postal Service could need $45 billion bailout … Poland Spring takes a bow after Rubio’s water bottle moment.
Cayman Cash Becomes a Payback
Republicans on Capitol Hill were almost giddy as they flipped the script on President Obama today, grilling his pick for Treasury secretary over his Cayman Islands investments during Jack Lew's Senate confirmation hearing.
After a campaign season in which Republicans watched Obama use rival Mitt Romney's Cayman Islands accounts to erode his likability, painting him as a guy betting against America, they seemed to relish the chance to question Lew about his.
Not only did Lew once have $56,000 in personal money in a Caymans account, he also ran Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit, which controlled at least one subsidiary based in the Cayman Islands.
Despite the juicy irony, there’s little chance that the disclosure will derail Lew’s nomination. If former Secretary Timothy Geithner’s tax and housekeeper troubles didn’t keep him from confirmation, a little Cayman Islands cash is unlikely to fatally wound Lew.
But it does give the Republicans at least a few more days of political payback.
ROGERS PREPARES STOPGAP SPENDING BILL. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., says he is preparing to introduce a bill to keep government agencies funded through the end of the fiscal year that will be written with a spending level beyond what Speaker John Boehner has promised rank-and-file conservatives. Read more
OBAMA’S SOTU ROAD SHOW HITS N.C. FACTORY. President Obama traveled today to a once-shuttered North Carolina factory that now produces automotive parts to build momentum for the economic message he offered in Tuesday night’s State of the Union, which called for revitalizing the nation’s manufacturing sector. He said the site of the factory, Asheville, has a “comeback story to tell.” Read more
BOEHNER DEFENDS COMMENT ON OBAMA’S LACK OF ‘COURAGE.’ House Speaker John Boehner defended his earlier comments that Obama lacked the “courage” and “guts” to get a debt deal done. “What I suggested was that during the debt talks the president didn’t have the courage to take on members of his own party,” Boehner said in an interview that aired on NBC’s Today show Wednesday morning. Following Obama’s address, Boehner put out a statement saying that Obama had “chosen a go-it-alone approach to pursue his liberal agenda.” Read more
McCAIN HINTS HE’LL DELAY HAGEL VOTE. Just a week after saying he would not try to block Chuck Hagel’s nomination for secretary of Defense, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested that he might go that route unless he gets further information regarding Obama’s actions on the night of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Politico reports. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will not honor holds on the nomination, and is pushing for a quick vote on Hagel, which may come by the end of the week. Read more
- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has threatened to place a hold on John Brennan’s nomination for CIA Director, USA Today reports, unless he gets information on the use of drones, specifically whether American citizens can be legally killed by drone strikes in the U.S. Read more
NAPOLITANO: WE DON'T NEED MORE BORDER SECURITY. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano rejected demands to boost border security, emphasizing instead the need to create a path to citizenship for up to 11 million illegal immigrants, The Los Angeles Times reports. She said the Obama administration has doubled the number of border patrol agents and deported a record number of illegal immigrants during its tenure. Read more
USPS COULD NEED $45 BILLION BAILOUT IF CONGRESS DOESN’T ACT. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe implored lawmakers to let his agency go forward with a plan to cut Saturday mail delivery and warned that if Congress does not permit it more flexibility to restructure, the Postal Service could require a more than $45 billion taxpayer bailout by 2017, Reuters reports.The service lost $16 billion last year.Read more
EXPLAINING RUBIO’S WATER-BOTTLE MOMENT. The New Yorker tries – in its very New Yorker way – to explain why people found Rubio’s dry-mouth so transfixing. “It was a defensible act, and perhaps several minutes overdue, but physically clumsy to such a magnificent degree that it smudged out the actual meaning of everything he had said before and everything he would say after,” Ian Crouch writes. Meanwhile, Poland Spring is basking in the glory of its cameo. Read more
OBAMA HEADS TO GEORGIA TO TOUT UNIVERSAL PRE-K. President Obama will continue touting the proposals he outlined in his State of the Union address Thursday, this time in Decatur, Ga., where he’ll visit a school there and discuss opening up pre-kindergarten education to low-income children, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Read more
BIG ADMINISTRATION NAMES TO TESTIFY ON SEQUESTER. The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the “impacts of the sequestration” Thursday at 10 a.m., and the witness list includes a number of Cabinet members, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, in addition to Danny Werfel of the Office of Management and Budget. Read more
HOW ARE INSURANCE EXCHANGES DOING? The Senate Finance Committee will get a progress report on health exchanges Thursday. Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, will be a witness, as will health and local officials from Arizona, Delaware, and Rhode Island. Read more
EZRA KLEIN AND HIS F-YOU TRAFFIC. Twenty-eight-year-old “prince of D.C. media” Ezra Klein’s influence goes well beyond his 4 million page views-per-month Wonkblog. “The president talks to Ezra,” a White House official told The New Republic. “The audience for having someone explain Washington’s often esoteric policy debates has proved to be far larger than anyone could have anticipated a decade ago, when Klein first started blogging, and he has franchised himself to keep pace,” the publication writes. One of Klein’s colleagues explains, “It’s ‘f--- you traffic.’ He’s always had enough traffic to end any argument with the senior editors.” Read more
"The president and I get along fine. We have a very good relationship. We come from very different worlds. He has a liberal ideology, I come from a more conservative side. But having said that, the American people on Election Day gave us a mandate, a Republican Congress and a Democrat president. And the mandate was to find a way to work together, find common ground.” — House Speaker John Boehner, on NBC.
TOP BLOG POSTS
- OBAMA’S AMBITIOUS, UNLIKELY SPEECH. In Bloomberg Businessweek, Josh Green writes that “Obama’s State of the Union speech was billed as an address that would focus heavily on jobs and the economy.… But that’s not how the speech played out.… For all its unexpected ambition, this wasn’t a speech that’s likely to drive the legislative agenda in Congress. (There’s a reason Obama’s tone was imploring, rather than commanding.)” Read more
- OBAMA’S MAGIC DIME.Slate’s David Weigel points out that over the past four years, Obama has often used the “won’t add a dime to the deficit” line. “He also, so far, has been right about this,” Weigel writes. “The Affordable Care Act cut the deficit. The American Jobs Act was paid for if every part of it passed.” Read more
- WHY BOEHNER SAT: DIGNITY. National Review’s Robert Costa points out an explanation for House Speaker John Boehner’s seated demeanor during the State of the Union via his spokesman, Michael Steel. “Speaker Boehner and Vice President Biden agreed last year to try to limit the number and duration of standing ovations during the State of the Union in hopes of having a more dignified, less partisan atmosphere,” Steel said. Read more
- OBAMA’S ‘MERCANTILIST’ SPEECH.Foreign Policy’s Daniel Drezner writes, “Wonks like Fred Kaplan have argued that there wasn't much foreign policy content in the speech. That's true only if one has a rather narrow definition of foreign policy. What was striking to me was Obama's global justifications for a lot of his economic policy. Throughout his speech, he used the specter of foreign economic threats to prod Congress into action.” Read more
- A BLAST TO A SLOW-GROWTH PAST. John Tamny of Forbes writes that voters “can take it to the bank that Obama’s economic proposals outlined in his fifth State of the Union address will fail.… Our economy is weak precisely because President Obama, in possession of the gene that infects nearly all politicians, chose to ‘do something’ in response to troubled times, and the economy is sagging for it.” Read more
- @AnnieLowrey: At Lew hearing, @SenatorBurr notes he's related to that other Burr, the one who killed Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary.
- @NirajC: Sen. Burr assures Lew that his family's issues with Alexander Hamilton do not extend to other Treasury secretaries.
- @ggreenwald: When you think DC can't get any sleazier or more disgusting: the Iraqi Govt goes and hires Dem lobbyist Tony Podesta
- @ColbertReport "A rift in the GOP -- some deny global warming, while others deny climate change."
- @TedNugent: My presence at SOTU made all the corrupt liars squirm with guilt & anger. So be it