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White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer previewed the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014, which is to be presented to Capitol Hill in the coming week.
Highlights of the plan have been released and it includes a mix of tax increases and entitlement cuts.
Pfeiffer said the budget plan resembles the last offer the president made to House Speaker John Boehner “before he walked away” from negotiations last year.
The proposal seeks to cut roughly a trillion from entitlements and other spending areas, but would also enact what the administration calls “investments” in areas such as infrastructure spending. Pfeiffer defended the stimulus spending.
It is a “false choice between deficits and job creation, you can do both, that’s what the budget does,” Pfeiffer said.
In conjunction with the release of his budget, the president will have dinner with some Senate Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, something he has already done once this year to try and gather support from that side of the aisle for his priorities.
Pfeiffer said “what we are looking for is a caucus of common sense” adding, “there have been some willing members among Senate Republicans.”
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Is public support waning for gun control legislation? Should the president have moved faster?
Captain Mark Kelly (USN ret.) – the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), addressed these questions on “Fox News Sunday.”
Kelly argued that the American people are demanding action now, as over 90% support a universal background check. Kelly also cited “incredible momentum” in Congress to get something done.
Addressing the 5 Republican senators threatening to filibuster any gun control measures, Kelly said GOP senators should not get in the way of allowing a debate on legislation.
Further, Kelly dismissed the alternative GOP bill currently being floated, stating that “any bill that doesn’t include a universal background check is a mistake.”
Kelly also discussed the recent video published through his organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Kelly said the video he filmed that shows his purchase of a firearm in 5 minutes demonstrates that background checks are “not the burden that the NRA leadership says it is.”
According to Kelly, the current system where law-abiding citizens submit to a background check while permitting others to avoid one is “crazy.”
Regarding mental illness, Kelly stated that he “would love to work with leadership of NRA to make sure we get those records in the system.” On this issue, Kelly said he agrees with the NRA.
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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says people are hungry for those who will stand up on principle, and this explains his rise in popularity over the past several months.
Paul, who has been both praised and criticized for his 13-hour filibuster over the issue of the use of drones, won the CPAC straw poll this month and is scheduled next month to address a Republican dinner in the influential presidential caucus state of Iowa.
Paul says he wants to be part of the debate, but whether that means he is going to run for president, “I don’t know that.”
“Someone like myself could appeal to young people, moderates and independents,” Paul said.
Paul added that a candidate is needed who would appeal to those on the left and right.
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Two leading voices in the Senate sounded optimistic that a grand bargain dealing with entitlement reform and debt reduction could be met in the coming months.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said that all Republicans want to see a solution to entitlements but suggested new revenues could be part of that package through tax reform
“There is a chance on a deal,” Corker said.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) emphasized that Democrats recognize the need to shore up entitlements, and they too are anxious to act.
“Ten to twelve years, Medicare goes broke, that’s unacceptable,” Durbin said, adding that reform of these programs is imperative.
However, Durbin made clear he did not endorse the House Republican plan.
Durbin characterized the Ryan plan as “destructive” to Medicare.
In the end, the two agreed that a deal between the two parties was within reach.
Senator Corker says there is enough commonality to build towards a grand bargain.
“There are elements we all agree on.”