1.) Democrats are prepared to shut down the government over next to nothing — As D.C.’s streets likely pile high with uncollected garbage and our troops begin fighting for free over the coming days, here’s a fun brainteaser with which to ply your friends: If the difference between what the GOP wants to cut and what Democrats are offering to cut is as small as Democrats say it is, why aren’t we cutting it? TPM’s Brian Beutler pointed out yesterday that “[i]f $7 billion separates Dems and Rs then the shutdown will happen over about half of one percent of the domestic discretionary budget.” The suggestion here is that this is a miniscule amount of money, so why lose sleep–or shut down the government!–over it? Obama seems to agree. Late last night he said, “It would be inexcusable, given the relatively narrow differences when it comes to numbers between the two parties, that we can’t get this done.” If $7 billion is only so much dust in our national winds of discretion, who looks pettier for not compromising: The party that was voted into power expressly to cut spending, or the party that managed to pass a trillion-dollar bill last year, but couldn’t pass a damn budget?
2.) John Boehner will stand by the Tea Party, but will the Tea Party stand by John Boehner? — Hear Boehner roar: “Listen, there’s no daylight between the Tea Party and me,” the speaker said in an interview with Good Morning America. “None?” asked George Stephanopoulos. “None,” said Boehner. “What they want is they want us to cut spending. They want us to deal with this crushing debt that’s going to crush the future for our kids and grandkids. There’s no daylight there.” Strong words! And later in the interview: “The Democrats controlled the House last year, they controlled the Senate. Big majorities in both the House and Senate. And we had a Democrat in the White House. They should have done this budget last year. They couldn’t come to an agreement.” Hunh. Was it really just last year that the Democrats controlled the entire federal government?
3.) Trump is pumped — “With polls showing major traction for real estate mogul Donald Trump even as he ventures ever-deeper into conspiracy theories about PresidentObama, a strategy focusing on Florida is emerging as his potential path to victory in the Republican presidential primary – if he indeed runs,” writes The Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong. “The strategy is to do well enough in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, lose badly in South Carolina, where there are ‘too many Evangelicals,’ and secure a momentum-building win in Florida, said Roger Stone.” Trump also has one eye on Hawaii, where he is reported to have dispatched investigators to find Obama’s Kindergarten report card, SHOULD IT EVEN EXIST.
4.) Twenty-seven percent of the time, #newtone fails every time — A recently released Harvard study found that “modern members of Congress spend about 27 percent of the time just taunting each other,” reports the Washington Post. The study adds a fourth category to the preexisting three-part theory of crap congressmen say. Previously, the theory held that “the only thing members of Congress do is advertising, credit-claiming or position-taking,” said a Harvard professor, who saw the newest category as a sign that Congress is dysfunctional. Dave Mayhew, the Yale professor who came up with the three-part theory, says that taunting is actually a good thing. “You’ve got to have an opposition that taunts and a government that taunts back,” Mayhew told WaPo. “For the public, it’s sort of like watching a tennis match. . . . I think it’s productive in that sense.”
5.) Gingrich proves it’s hard to climb in the polls when you have both feet in your mouth — “In the second edition of The Daily Caller/ConservativeHome GOP 2012 Presidential tracking poll, Tim Pawlenty and Donald Trump are on the rise, while Newt Gingrich appears to be slipping,” writes TheDC’s Alexis Levinson. An increasing number of respondents believe Trump could grow the economy, while a smaller number believe he could control spending. “Pawlenty jumped five percentage points in the most likely to win category, placing him third place, with 11 percent of the vote, behind Romney and Christie. He also saw significant gains in likeability, gaining 4 percentage points,” but respondents were unsure about Pawlenty when it comes to the specifics. “Gingrich, on the other hand, seems to be slipping. His percentage of the vote dropped in every single category,” due to a series of gaffes over the last few weeks. According to Levinson, “the share of voters who called Gingrich the best candidate on foreign policy dropped by three percent.”
6.) Alice Rivlin comes out against the Path to Prosperity — According to Rep. Paul Ryan, former OMB Director Alice Rivlin helped him design his Medicaid and Medicare reforms. But Rivlin tells Ezra Klein that she’d rather not attach her name to the reforms included in Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. “That’s a reason for me saying very strongly that I don’t support the version of Medicare premium support in the Ryan plan. It’s both because the growth rate is much, much too low, and because it doesn’t preserve fee-for-service Medicare as the default option,” Rivlin told Klein. When asked if she can explain what makes the Ryan-Rivlin health care exchanges different than the exchanges created by Obamacare, Rivlin says, “No. I can’t. I think [Ryan]’s sort of backed himself into an intellectual corner here.”
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