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Morning Action: Waging the Budget Battle

BUDGET.  This week, the House and Senate will consider separate budgets, one offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the other by Sen. Parry Murray (D-WA):

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.

Of course, there is little “common ground” between the budgets.  The alternative to the Ryan budget being offered by Sen. Murray would never balance; it would increase revenues to an average 19 percent of GDP over the next ten years, which will harm the economy; and it is grounded on the mistaken idea that our fiscal problems are a result of insufficient tax revenues rather than excessive spending.

GRAND BARGAIN.  Dan Holler explains why the GOP should not be so impressed by President Obama’s playbook this year, and they should not fall for his claims that he’s not at all concerned with beating Republicans in 2014 elections.  Holler explains why the President is suddenly so willing to get things done with Republicans.  It is going to reflect well on him:

For Obama, a deal is heads he wins, tails Republicans lose. Not only will his poll numbers increase, but it also has the potential to weaken his political adversaries. Any Republican who votes for a grand bargain littered with tax increases is likely to encounter significant primary opposition. At the very least, that Republican will have to use resources to repel a challenge from the right and will limp into a general election fight against a well-funded Democrat.

Obama and his team understand this. 

Before Republicans resume negotiations with the President, they need to have an accurate read of the political playing field. Right now, Team Obama is selling some “particularly impressed” GOP lawmakers a blueprint to surrendering the Speaker’s gavel to Pelosi.

LABOR THUG.  President Obama’s selection of Thomas E. Perez is alarming to conservatives, based on Mr. Perez’s reputation as head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.  Republicans and especially conservatives are alarmed:

The announcement comes just days after a Justice Department inspector general’s report found that the voting rights section has been torn by “deep ideological polarization” with liberal and conservative factions in sharp conflict. The divisions date back to the George W. Bush administration, and most occurred before Mr. Perez was confirmed in October 2009. He portrayed the report as largely clearing the section on his watch.

But the report also raised questions about testimony he gave, and Republicans made clear that they would take issue with his handling of some cases over the last three and a half years. His critics question, for example, whether he acted inappropriately in persuading the City of St. Paul to drop a lawsuit seeking to limit fair housing claims when there is no intentional bias.

MARRIAGE.  The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson has argued that marriage between one man and one woman is an institution essential to having limited government.  Heritage’s President-Elect Jim DeMint highlighted this at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, as well.  Anderson explains:

Marriage is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. All Americans, especially conservatives, should respect this crucial institution of civil society. This is why 41 states and the federal government affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.

But these laws are on the line. Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral argumentsin cases that challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. The Court should uphold these laws and respect the constitutional authority of citizens and their elected officials to make marriage policy.

GOP OVERHAUL. What can the GOP do better?  Party leaders have some ideas:

Republicans, trying to heed the lessons of their 2012 losses in advance of the 2016 election cycle, also plan to unveil proposals for improving the way the party talks about its ideas, turns out potential voters and raises money. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was set to outline the plans at a news conference in Washington on Monday morning, acknowledging Democrats’ comparative success with digital strategy and outreach to voters in critical demographic groups.

We’ll be watching this closely to make sure conservative principles are not jettisoned and the Establishment doesn’t craft rules to exclude conservatives.

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