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« Quigley Likely Winner In IL-05 Primary | Blog Home Page | Obama Defends Budget, Announces Procurement Reforms »

Strategy Memo: On A Budget

Good Wednesday morning. U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown will speak this morning to a joint meeting of Congress. The Senate will continue consideration of the omnibus appropriations bill, while the House deals with the D.C. Voting Rights Act, among other bills.

Congress also continues to examine President Obama's proposed budget. The Senate Finance Committee begins looking at it today, while OMB Dir. Peter Orszag testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Obama will reportedly sign an executive order today changing the process for awarding government contracts. The rest of his day is in private meetings, but tonight he'll host another social event at the White House, this time a dinner for Congressional committee chairmen.

**President Obama
*AP: This morning, President Obama will announce proposed changes in how government contracts are awarded, which the White House says will save $40 billion a year. "During last week's White House meetings on the nation's financial future, lawmakers and officials bluntly told top Obama aides that government contracts needed to be handled in a better way."

*Obama yesterday suggested that with stocks at historic lows, it may be a good time for investors to buy. "The president's words did little to inspire Wall Street, however. The S&P 500 closed under 700 for the first time since October 1996 and the Dow Jones industrial average sank for the fifth day in a row, closing down 37.27 points at 6,726.02."

*Washington Times looks at the challenges Obama is facing from his fellow Democrats on earmarks. Steny Hoyer and Harry Reid "said that banning earmarks would undermine Congress' constitutional power to control the government's purse strings and would cede to the executive branch critical decisions on where federal taxpayer dollars are spent."

*Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) has an op ed in the Wall Street Journal opposing the current omnibus bill.

*Dana Milbank writes that the Brits did not exactly feel that Obama gave Prime Minister Brown a warm embrace. "For the president -- beloved by the world largely for the fact that he is not Bush -- it was a surprisingly cool reception for an ally. ... In the next 13 visits Blair made to the United States to meet with Bush, all but one included a full stand-at-the-flags-style news conference."

**Congress and the Budget
*Politico: "A group of 14 Senate Democrats and one independent huddled behind closed doors on Tuesday, discussing how centrists in that chamber can assert more leverage on the major policy debates that will dominate this Congress. Afterward, some in attendance made plain that they are getting jitters over the cost and expansive reach of Obama's $3.6 trillion budget proposal."

*USA Today: "Some of President Obama's top economic officials got an earful from members of Congress on Tuesday about what troubles them in the president's budget plan: Spending. Taxes. Deficits. Debt. And the economic forecasts upon which the budget is based."

*Washington Post: "Rebutting Republican charges that the plan would raise taxes on a broad swath of Americans," Peter Orszag and Tim Geithner "said the tax increases -- aimed primarily at business and a few million families who earn more than $250,000 a year -- are essential to reducing record budget deficits bloated by financial-sector bailouts and federal spending to prop up the economy."

**Rush vs. Steele
*Obama campaign manager David Plouffe wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post this morning titled, Minority Leader Limbaugh. "The 2008 election sent many messages. At the top: Americans wanted to turn the page on the politics of division and partisan pettiness, and they wanted a government -- and country -- that would put the middle class first. Watching the Republicans operate this past month, it would appear that they missed that unmistakable signal. Instead, Rush Limbaugh has become their leader."

*Politico's Martin: "Top Democrats believe they have struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a full-scale effort first hatched by some of the most familiar names in politics and now being guided in part from inside the White House."

*Greta Van Sustren, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham went through the Steele vs. Limbaugh argument last night on FNC. Click here for a transcript of what they said.

*Chuck Todd, on "Morning Joe": "It's win-win for Rush. Rush is not exactly upset that he's been picked out as the opposition to the president...He's loving it." On RNC Chair Michael Steele: "He is bordering on becoming a version of Howard Dean on the Republican side...Steele, if he's not careful, will not have the respect of party insiders."

*Politico reports that key GOP leaders are already worried that the party "made a costly mistake" in choosing Michael Steele as chair. "Steadily becoming a dependable punch line, Steele has brushed back Rush Limbaugh, threatened moderate Republican senators, offered the 'friggin' awesome' Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal some 'slum love,' called civil unions 'crazy' and promised more outreach to 'urban-suburban hip-hop settings' via an 'off the hook' public relations campaign." He also does not have a chief of staff, a political director, a finance director or a communications director.

*Steele was on the "Today" show this morning defending himself.

**Campaign Stuff
*IL-5: You can say hello to the new congressman from Illinois's 5th District, Democrat Mike Quigley. He still has to defeat a Republican and Green Party candidate in the April 7 special general election, but his win last night in the primary is tantamount to an election to Congress in this Chicago district, formerly held by Rahm Emanuel. Click here for complete unofficial results.

From the Chicago Tribune: "The special primary in the 5th Congressional District yielded low voter turnout at the end of a two-month campaign -- potentially a plus for Quigley, who started the race as the best-known of the dozen Democrats following years of public battles with two Stroger administrations. With 95 percent of precincts counted, Quigley had 22 percent in the crowded field."

*L.A. Mayor: "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa secured a second four-year term in Tuesday's election," reports the L.A. Times. "With about half of the votes counted, Villaraigosa avoided a runoff against the second-place candidate, attorney Walter Moore.The mayor had been expected to secure the needed majority, given that he had appeared in television commercials for himself and two other campaigns -- and had outspent Moore by a ratio of 15 to 1."

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli