TheDC Morning: Libyan intervention could eat up all those budget cuts Republicans worked so hard to get

Amanda Carey Contributor
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TheDC Morning is being guest hosted today by The Daily Caller’s Amanda Carey. When you’re done reading, be sure to rate Amanda’s performance here!

1.) Libyan sticker shock — Anyone remember the budget debates over the last few weeks, even months? So does the Defense Department. “U.S. military operations in Libya could wipe out a significant chunk of the budget cuts won by congressional Republicans in recent weeks, defense analysts say,” reports The Hill’s Russell Berman and John T. Bennett. “GOP leaders have trumpeted enacted spending reductions that amount to more than $285 million per day since the beginning of March.” Unfortunately, those budget savings are already being burned through over at the Pentagon, which is spending roughly $100 million per day to squelch what amounts to a massive temper tantrum from a billionaire, fashion-disaster dictator. While there’s no official estimate of the total cost yet, here’s to hoping the U.S. and Europe can “go Dutch” on this one and split the tab.

2.) Speculation on how Libya impacts Obama in 2012 to begin in 3…2… — “Democratic political strategists are deeply divided over the political risks and benefits of the Libyan intervention, the resulting media coverage and its impact on the fast-approaching 2012 election,” reports The Daily Caller’s own Neil Munro. According to one professional Democrat, Tad Devine, all Obama needs to do to claim victory is remove Gaddafi (who once said he would “die a martyr” if necessary to hold onto power), and turn the story of American intervention in Libya into one of political progress in the Arab world. Another strategist, Dave ‘Mudcat’ Saunders, is less certain about the benefits and told TheDC “we don’t need another American war now.” The bottom line? The professional left is scrambling to figure out just how much harder Obama’s Libya move will make their jobs during the 2012 election cycle. But hey, if Republicans could do it in 2004…

3.) Puerto Ricans heart Social Security — Here are some fun stats to go with your morning coffee. In 2010, 63 percent of Puerto Ricans who applied for the Social Security Disability Insurance program were approved. That’s more than the two most generous states with Social Security – New Jersey and Wyoming. But that shouldn’t be surprising, considering the fact that nine out of the top ten ZIP codes for Social Security benefits can be found in Puerto Rico. But according to the Wall Street Journal, “The SSDI is set to soon become the first big federal benefit program to run out of cash […] The disability fund, however, will run dry in four to seven years without federal intervention, government auditors say.” If that’s not enough to make your coffee churn, the program is also funded by American taxpayers. Which leads into the best part. “Because someone else pays for the bills, local officials have little incentive to keep the numbers low.” Es muy bueno, no?

4.) And so it begins. T-Paw makes it official! — After months of talk and speculation and talk and speculation (cue drum roll, please), Tim Pawlenty has made it official! The former Governor of Minnesota announced his presidential exploratory committee! In a video posted on Facebook! But as The Daily Caller’s Alexis Levinson reported, that brought its own set of problems. “Pawlenty has come under some criticism for announcing via Facebook […] The timing of the announcement – 3 p.m, when most people are at work, and many of them in offices that block Facebook – also seemed somewhat odd.” The good news? T-Paw can now legally raise money for a presidential campaign. The bad news? Tim Pawlenty … he’s that guy who um…Yeah, he’s the guy who…Exactly.

5.) Obama Administration confused why health care waivers make you angry — Reports the New York Times: “Obama administration officials say they were expecting praise from critics of the new health care law when they offered to exempt selected employers and labor unions from a requirement to provide at least $750,000 in coverage to each person in their health insurance plans this year.” That must explain why, less than a year after the law was passed, the Obama Administration began throwing waivers around to exempt businesses from certain provisions. And oh, the entire state of Maine? Sure you can have a waiver too! Meanwhile, the Republican guy wonders why waivers are necessary if the bill’s so great, the union guy claims waiver bashing is really just “union bashing” (surprise!), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid keeps talking about the miracles of reform. Which brings us to this gem: “At the same time, the State of Nevada has asked the Obama administration to relax the provision requiring insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care.”

6.) Tsk, tsk, Claire McCaskill!!! — Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has a spending problem. And a tax problem. And then there’s that ethics problem. When it was reported Monday that McCaskill owes about $287,000 in back taxes on a private plane, it didn’t look too good. It looked even worse when it was revealed she bought the plane for about $76,000 of taxpayer money, and then used it to fly across the state for a political trip, violating Congressional ethics rules. And according to the National Journal’s Alexander Eichler, “Planegate” is especially bad for McCaskill because she has been a loud proponent of Congressional accountability in the past, Republicans are already trying to capitalize on the incident to oust her in 2012, and when the initial story of the taxpayer-funded flights broke earlier in March, the senator didn’t just come clean with everything then. Tsk, tsk, indeed.

VIDEO: Gary Johnson’s so cool, he can talk budget deficits on the slopes.

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