* How John Boehner is handling endgame in budget war: Speaker John Boehner continues to insist that no number for budget cuts has been agreed upon. “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” he said yesterday. But meanwhile, budget staffers from both parties are now actively negotiating over how to spread $33 billion in cuts across the federal government, suggesting they are, in fact, using that number as an agreed-upon target.
How does that square with Boehner’s claim of no agreement? There are three main moving parts in this debate: The total amount of cuts; what specifically would be cut; and which politically-charged “riders” will be included (Planned Parenthood defunding, etc.). By insisting there’s no agreement on the first point (the total to be cut), Dem aides believe, Boehner is hoping to maintain leverage in the talks over the last two points.
Conservatives are already balking at the $33 billion number, saying it isn’t enough. So Boehner needs to be able to win enough concessions on what to cut and on riders to be able to persuade Republicans that the overall package is a victory even if they’re not fully satisfied by the baseline cut number. Until he gets those concessions, there’s no reason for him to publicly agree to the overall cut total. Bottom line: The $33 billion does look like the basis for a compromise, but there’s no deal until there’s a deal on everything.
* CNN reporter gets punk’d by GOP Congressman: This one is pretty clear cut: CNN reporter Joe Johns last night credulously repeated an accusation by GOP Rep. Sean Duffy’s camp that Talking Points Memo posted a selectively edited video in which Duffy claimed to be having a tough time getting by on a Congressman’s $174,000 annual salary. Duffy’s camp insisted the video — which has created a big controversy for the Congressman — was edited to leave out his willingness to take a pay cut.
In fact, TPM originally posted the full video, but it was only pulled down after the Wisconsin GOP demanded it be yanked, and TPM’s original reporting specifically mentioned Duffy’s openness to the pay cut.
It’s not surprising that Duffy’s camp resorted to this maneuver. What’s perverse is that Johns was willing to amplify serious accusations of selective editing by TPM (where I once worked) apparently without making any cursory effort to check out what happened, despite TPM’s well-respected journalistic track record. Meanwhile, mainstream news outlets too frequently give the benefit of the doubt to video “revelations” from right-wing pseudo journalist/activists with known records of deception.
* Dems move forward with recall of Wisconsin GOPer: Wisconsin Democrats say they have amassed enough signatures to trigger an election to recall state senator Dan Kapanke, and will file petitions today to make it happen. This is only halfway through the period alloted for signature gathering, a clear sign that anti-GOP grassroots sentiment remains intense in the state, and if this signals how Dems are faring with efforts to gather signatures for the other recalls, it’s a very big deal.
* Breaking: Another national poll finds support for public unions: Gallup finds that more Americans support public employee unions than GOP governors in their standoffs over collective bargaining, 48-39. Republicans, unsurprisingly, are the only group who support GOP governors; independents side with the unions, 45-40.
Key takeaway: Scott Walker’s overreach, and the intense media scrutiny it received, many have fixed the terms of the national debate in a way that favors unions, with potentially far reaching political ramifications.
* GOP’s union-busting drive alienating cops and firefighters: Relatedly, Politico on an important trend: Public safety workers, who were once reliably Republican-leaning, are now turning on the party in response to the public employee union busting of GOP governors, with potentially far-reaching political ramifications.
This, again, is a sign that public employees are not proving to be the easy scapegoats many expected.
* Monthly jobs report to show gains?Today’s jobs report is expected to show that the economy added 185,000 jobs last month, making February and March the two best month stretch since the recession began and suggesting momentum, though unemployment may remain at 8.9 percent.
Update: The numbers are in: 216,000 jobs added in March, suggesting the recovery is gaining some momentum; unemployment at 8.8 percent.
* U.S. officials using language of regime change: Obama may insist that the Libya mission is all about humanitarian intervention, but his top military officials are describing the mission in far more military terms, and even Democrats such as Jim Webb have had it with the tensions at the heart of the mission’s defined goal.
“It seems to me, and I think everybody else, that we are clearly involved in regime change,” Webb says.
* More Gaddafi amnesia on the right: Senator Lindsey Graham now says we should “drop a bomb” on Gaddafi because of his role over the years as an “international terrorist,” apparently forgetting that he met with Gaddafi way, way back in 2009 as part of our effort to rehabilitate relations between Gaddafi and the United States.
* Have Dems surrendered to GOP in war of ideas? Paul Krugman keeps hammering away:
Democrats are offering little pushback. The White House, in particular, has effectively surrendered in the war of ideas; it no longer even tries to make the case against sharp spending cuts in the face of high unemployment. So that’s the state of policy debate in the world’s greatest nation: one party has embraced 80-year-old economic fallacies, while the other has lost the will to fight.
The problem, I think, is that many Dem strategists and officials believe voters are too easily seduced by the argument that slashing government will magically allow a thousand economic flowers to bloom, and that there’s little that can be done about it except argue over how much to cut.
* 2012 GOP hopefuls avoid taking position on spending fight: Tea Party chieftain Jim DeMint is not pleased that the potential 2012 GOP candidates are mum on whether House GOP leaders should settle for anything less than the $61 billion in cuts Tea Partyers want — another hint of the pressure the 2012 primary candidates will feel to hew to Tea Party positions as the campaign unfolds.
* Big-picture demographic changes favor Dems in 2012? Ronald Brownstein has the big-picture analysis, and adds the crucial point that these big changes could impact the 2012 presidential map in Obama’s favor — something his strategists are already trying to figure out how to exploit.
* Civics lesson of the day: With the House set to vote on a GOP proposal today that would make the House GOP budget law if the Senate doesn’t pass its own budget, Felicia Sonmez reads the Constitution and determines that the whole thing is moot, since bills only become law after they pass both houses and are signed by the President.
* Newt Gingrich’s forgotten wisdom: Great catch by Taegan Goddard on what Gingrich once said about how Republicans should be wary of letting the right-wing base dictate their handling of political battles over taxes and spending.
* And a quick note to readers: I’m taking the rest of the day off, but I’m leaving you all in the very capable hands of Jonathan Bernstein and Adam Serwer, who will be posting here all day.
What else is happening?