* Will Congress let Obama skate on Libya? That’s the question of the day, now that the White House has released its 32-page effort to justify the lack of Congressional authorization for the Libya operation. You can read it right here. House GOP leaders, who had previously slammed Obama over this, now say they need to review the White House’s arguments before deciding whether they’re satisfied. No word yet from Dem leaders, either.
There are some signs that Republicans will continue to push the White House to justify its decision, but if history is any guide, Congress will ultimately back off its confrontation with Obama over this, letting business as usual continue.
* Obama asserts right to sweeping executive powers: Charlie Savage and Mark Landler make a critical point about the battle over whether Obama has the legal right to continue the Libya operation without Congressional authorization:
The escalating confrontation with Congress reflects the radically altered political landscape in Washington: a Democratic president asserting sweeping executive powers to deploy U.S. forces overseas, while Republicans call for stricter oversight and voice fears about executive-branch power getting the United States bogged down in a foreign war.
This is a polite way of saying that Obama is straying into exactly the sort of executive overreach he criticized when Bush was president. The best hope for any push for change now lies with Republican partisanship.
* Bush administration allegedly sought to smear Iraq War critic: Don’t miss this amazing New York Times account from a former Bush CIA official alleging that he was asked to gather discrediting personal information on prominent Iraq War critic Juan Cole. He is now calling on the Senate and House intelligence committees to launch an immediate investigation, arguing that the charges, if true, would indicate “a clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned.”
At first glance, this seems absurd. Did Bush officials really view Cole as a significant enough threat to expend any real time and resources on smearing? But you can’t discount this if you recall the war fever of the time.
* Is Medicare really going bankrupt? Jared Bernstein issues a detailed rebuttal to the ubiquitous GOP charge that Dems are doing nothing while Medicare goes belly-up, concluding:
Complacency is not an option, neither for Medicare nor private sector health care. We need to continue to implement the ACA and get its cost-control functions up and running. But the bankruptcy mantra is a misleading tactic designed to scare you into accepting a privatization scheme that will significantly diminish the health care security of retirees. That too is not an option.
* Breaking: Another poll shows no one gives a hoot about the deficit: Gallup finds that 57 percent cite the economy or unemployment as their top concern, versus only 12 percent who cite the deficit. Maybe it’s time for that pivot to jobs?
* Republicans say No to payroll tax cut: Senator Lamar Alexander gives the idea of a payroll tax cut to stimulate job creation a thumbs down, offering the creative rationale that what we really need is long term tax cuts.
* Whither Rick Perry? The thing to watch for at the annual Republican Leadership Conference, which kicks off today in New Orleans, is whether Rick Perry’s speech signals that he’s ready to respond to the widespread GOP hope for a new presidential candidate.
* Wither today’s GOP? Joe Klein on how the 2012 GOP primary is shaping up as a huge struggle over the party’s identity on multiple levels — between economic and social conservatives; between real candidates and the part’s reality TV wing; and so on.
* 2012 GOP hopefuls agree: Government is really evil: E.J. Dionne notes that none of the GOP candidates had a problem with Michele Bachmann’s call for elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, and remarks:
That’s why I felt nostalgia for Bush, especially the guy who was a candidate for president in 2000. Unlike this crowd of Republicans, Bush acknowledged that the federal government can ease injustices and get useful things done.
* The real audience for T-Paw’s economic plan: Kevin Drum on how Pawlenty’s plan for steroidal tax cuts for the rich is all about catering to the GOP’s real power base.
* Fun fact of the day: Over two dozen of the freshman House Republicans, who campaigned on a vow to reduce the nation’s debt, have themselves racked up debts totaling $50,000 or more.
* Google denies special treatment to Obama campaign: Republicans are raising questions about Google’s alleged granting of special access to a new advertising program to the Obama campaign, but Google and the campaign both flatly deny it.
* Shirley Sherrod update: A very interesting piece on how Sherrod’s firing after the release of the bogus Andrew Breitbart video (has it really been a year already?) has unexpectedly thrust her into the role of civil rights gadfly. Also note her father’s murder at the hands of a white man.
* And Weinergate drags on...and on...and on: House Dem leaders, still struggling to figure out how to push Weiner out, are likely to relieve him of a key committe seat today.
Key takeaway: You can’t overstate how frustrated Congressional Dems are by the degree to which Weinergate has taken the focus off the party’s message on Medicare.
What else is happening?