Why are Republicans seemingly ignoring their problems as a party? Ron Brownstein answers: Because of the midterms (in part). “Republicans have a problem with young voters. Democrats have a problem with young nonvoters. That simple equation, which applies equally to minority voters, helps explain why Republicans could enjoy another strong midterm election in 2014 without solving any of the underlying demographic challenges that threaten them in the 2016 presidential race. Next year’s election could both disappoint Democrats (by frustrating their hope of recapturing the House) and mislead Republicans (by tempting them to believe they have overcome the trends that allowed Democrats to win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections.) It could also highlight one of the forces that is making it difficult for either party to sustain unified control over Washington, even as they struggle to reach consensus on almost anything while power is divided.”
NEW JERSEY: How close are Christie and Attorney General Jeff Chiesa? The Star-Ledger’s Jenna Portnoy: “Chiesa grew up in in Bound Brook with two younger sisters. His father worked at a chemical plant and died when Chiesa was 8, leaving his mother — a public school teacher — to raise him and his two sisters. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1987, and returns every year to see a football game. He earned his law degree from the Catholic University of America in 1990 and a year later joined the Cranford law firm now known as Dughi & Hewit. It was there that he met Christie. Chiesa followed Christie to the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2002. He became Christie's trusted eyes and ears, and led some of the office's most high-profile public corruption cases, like the one against former state Senate president John Lynch. He moved again in 2009 after Christie was elected governor, taking the reins of his transition team.
“He told The Star-Ledger that year that he wanted to help Christie hit the ground running ‘because I'm personally and professionally so invested in seeing him succeed.’ He was named Christie's chief counsel when the governor took office. Their close relationship has spawned questions about how well Chiesa would be able to stand alone as attorney general.”
Warning sign: “Candidates must file papers to run by Monday.” Here’s looking at you, Cory Booker.
NEW YORK: 67% of New York voters support Andrew Cuomo’s push to expand abortion rights, according to Quinnipiac.
PENNSYLVANIA: Rep. Alysson Schwartz (D) would beat incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R) 45%-35%, a Quinnipiac poll finds.
And Hillary Clinton leads the presidential field in Pennsylvania, although her favorability score has slipped nationally, thought it’s still at 58% in Bloomberg’s poll. That’s down from a high of 70 in December.
The House Judiciary Committee said Thursday that it wants Attorney General Eric Holder to appear before the panel again this summer to answer more question about the Department of Justice's surveillance of reporters' records.
The committee's chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said that Holder should appear to clarify earlier testimony regarding the DoJ's monitoring of journalists' phone and email records as part of an investigation into leaked classified data.
Holder had previously told Congress that he hadn't been involved with prosecuting reporters. Revelations of Justice Department activities have led some Republicans to conclude that Holder misled Congress.
Here's a copy of Goodlatte's letter to Holder.
President Barack Obama launched a new initiative on Thursday seeking to connect every school in America to high-speed internet, a proposal framed as part of the administration's broader, long-term economic investments.
"In a country where we expect free wifi with our coffee, why shouldn't we have it in our schools?" Obama said at a school in North Carolina, where achievement rates improved after upgrading its internet access.
The president tied the proposal into his longstanding bid to make investments in education and infrastructure, a core element of Obama's jobs proposals. His speech came the day before the government releases its latest tabulation of the number of jobs created in May.
"These are the tools our children deserve, and there's no reason we can't do all of this," the president said, likening the new project, called "ConnectED," to other historic infrastructure projects in the class. "I am determined to see it through on behalf of our kids."
Obama won audience applause when he noted that he did not need approval from Congress to move forward with this initiative.
From North Carolina, Obama travels next to California for fundraisers tonight and then weekend meetings with the new Chinese President, Xi Jinping.
As the Senate prepares to begin debate on immigration reform, advocates for the legislation are pointing to yet more data showing that Republicans stand to make political strides if they are perceived as embracing the new law.
According to a new survey released Thursday by polling group Latino Decisions and pro-reform group America’s Voice, 45 percent of Latino registered voters say they would be more likely to support a Republican candidate in the future if the party takes “a leadership role” in passing a comprehensive reform bill, a stable finding from a similar survey in March.
There is “huge potential to move and swing the Latino vote based on this issue,” said Latino Decisions pollster Matt Barreto in a conference call with reporters Thursday.
Politico Playbook: "As the Senate prepares to consider immigration reform next week, two powerful issues dividing lawmakers could be resurrected on the floor: guns and gay rights," Politico's Seung Min Kim writes. Mike Allen joins Morning Joe to discuss.
The survey also showed that while Latinos have a less favorable opinion of the GOP than their Democratic counterparts, Republicans and Democrats will both be on the hook if the legislation fails.
Asked which party will be “most responsible” if the bill is not passed, nearly half of respondents said both parties will be to blame. Thirty-nine percent said only Republicans would be responsible, while just 9 percent said only Democrats.
Proponents have reiterated that they will push to keep out changes to a bipartisan immigration bill in the Senate that would stiffen border security requirements – including an amendment proposed by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and crafted with the backing of original Gang of Eight member Marco Rubio.
“Do I think that the Senate immigration bill can pass the Senate by the end of June by a 2-1 margin? Yes,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice. “Do I think that John Cornyn is the key to getting there? No.”
“I think he’s being mischievous, devious and destructive,” he added.
The Senate is expected to begin initial debate on the bipartisan immigration bill Friday, and will vote on bringing the bill to the floor next week.
The new data also comes as House Republicans passed a measure sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would end the authority of the Department of Homeland Security to delay deportation of young undocumented immigrants and other “low-priority” individuals who are in the country illegally. Reform advocates said the amendment, which only six Republican members opposed in the 224-201 vote, amounts to the forced deportation of DREAMers – immigrants who came to the country as children.
That’s the wrong track for the party’s political future, reform proponents said.
“When uncontrolled, House Republicans are willing to destroy the lives of DREAMers in a play to a dwindling base of anti-immigrant Republican primary voters,” Ana Avendano, the director of immigration at the AFL-CIO, said in a statement. “We hope and expect that the leadership of the Republican party will understand that this is not only abhorrent policy but suicidal politics.”
That’s in part because of data showing that as many as two-thirds of respondents in the Latino Decisions poll know an undocumented immigrant personally, advocates said.
“This issue is about family and community,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, director of immigration policy for the National Council of La Raza. “It is deeply personal.”
The poll interviewed 500 registered Latino voters between May 25 and June 1. The margin of error was +/- 4.4 percent.
This story was originally published on Thu Jun 6, 2013 3:28 PM EDT
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announces state attorney general Jeffrey Chiesa as his choice to fill Sen. Frank Lautenberg's vacant seat until the October special election.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday he will appoint the state’s Republican attorney general Jeffrey Chiesa to serve as an interim senator to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Chiesa, a longtime Christie aide and former federal prosecutor, will not run for the October special election Christie has set, leaving a wide-open GOP field and a growing Democratic primary for the seat.
Since Christie’s Tuesday announcement that he would call for a special election, the governor has been criticized by both parties for making a shrewd political calculus in picking the October date, with detractors arguing Christie didn’t want a competitive Senate race concurrent with his own re-election bid.
While Christie is heavily favored over Democrat Barbara Buono, many believe that Christie didn’t want to endanger a crushing margin, helping him make a case for a possible 2016 presidential bid that he’s won big in a solidly blue state. Christie has argued he set the date as early as possible to give New Jersey voters a voice, and defended even the $24 million it will cost to hold another vote just three weeks before the state’s regularly scheduled general election.
The choice is a safe pick as Christie looked to a longtime confidante and friend to fill the seat for the next four months. Christie has known Chiesa since the 1990s, when the two worked at a law firm together. Chiesa would go on to serve in the U.S. Attorney’s office, and later was Christie’s chief counsel as governor and managed his transition team before Christie appointed him as attorney general in 2012, when he was confirmed unanimously by the state senate.
“I only have these chances because of the governor,” Chiesa said at a press conference announcing his nomination, saying the governor had first met with him about the position on Monday and, after discussing it with his family, accepted via text message.
Christie praised Chiesa as a man of integrity, saying there were “very few people in my life I know better than Jeff.”
Chiesa will head to Washington on Monday to assume his duties, and admitted he’s a novice to the legislative process, but that he’s looking forward to learning from other lawmakers.
“These issues are new to me and the details are new to me,” said Chiesa. “I will try to contribute in any way that I can.”
On the issue of immigration, he did note that border security was an important issue to him, something that’s been a lynchpin as a bipartisan compromise moves through the Senate.
Chiesa said he’s a “conservative Republican, generally speaking,” but like Christie, he’s supported some policies that could irk some on the right. When he was sworn into office, Chiesa said he would defend the state’s civil union laws as constitutional. Chiesa has also enforced the state’s gun buy-back program.
With Chiesa not seeking a full term though, the field to succeed Lautenberg becomes even more murky, especially on the Republican side. Former Bogota mayor and conservative activist Steve Lonegan, who now directs the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity and ran against Christie in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, became the first to announce his candidacy on Wednesday.
At the press conference announcing Chiesa, Christie seemed to brush aside his past squabbles with his former primary opponent, but said he wouldn’t speculate on the field on either side.
“Steve hasn’t been a sharp critic of mine,” said Christie. “We’ve agreed of much more than we’ve disagreed on.”
Among Democrats, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who was already running in 2014, and Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt have all made moves to run. Booker still has an edge, but Pallone has a $3.7 million war chest that can’t be ignored. Booker had $1.6 million in his Senate campaign account at the end of March, while Holt has about $800,000 in his House campaign fund.
With the compressed time frame Christie set, candidates only have until Monday at 4 p.m. to submit 1,000 signatures. Christie brushed aside criticism that was too quick a turnaround, saying viable candidates should be able to get those signatures easily.
“You think it’s hard to get 1,000 signatures, wait until you try to get one million votes,” Christie laughed.
“People should have the right to make a choice,” Christie said, underscoring again that he felt a primary process and election was the right move, and he blamed the state’s seemingly contradictory statues for the ensuing confusion.
“It’s the fault of legislature for setting up less than clear guidance,” said Christie.
This story was originally published on Thu Jun 6, 2013 1:38 PM EDT
As the country “evolves” on the issue of gay marriage, Republicans are taking a closer look once again at the political reality of officially opposing it -- particularly in terms of the youth vote.
College Republicans put a number to it, Monday. Their national committee’s post-election report said one-quarter of voters ages 18-29 said that that they could not vote for a politician who opposed same-sex marriage. (This figure is based on two national surveys with 800 registered voters in that age group in addition to sessions with six focus groups of young voters considered “winnable” for the GOP, including Hispanics and Asian Americans.)
The report, which stayed away from specific policy recommendations, comes as support for gay marriage continues to climb. Overall, 53 percent of voters now say they support same-sex marriage, according to an April NBC News/WSJ poll. But there is a sizable gulf between Democrats (73 percent support) and Republicans (66 percent oppose). But when it comes to younger voters, they overwhelmingly support it; 64 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds favor it, while 29 percent oppose.
The December “Growth and Opportunity” report by the Republican National Committee, seen as an autopsy of what went wrong with the 2012 election, also alluded to gay marriage as a potential problem for the GOP in trying to appeal to younger voters.
“On messaging, we must change our tone — especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters,” the report read. “In every session with young voters, social issues were at the forefront of the discussion; many see them as the civil rights issues of our time. We must be a party that is welcoming and inclusive for all voters.”
But the RNC’s recommendations were met with opposition from socially conservative groups, which pointed out that the party’s official platform stands against same-sex marriage.
“We believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage,” the platform reads.
Thirteen prominent groups issued a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, rebuking him for a perceived “abandonment of principles.” They asked that he confirm the party platform in opposition to gay marriage, by ordering a fresh resolution.
At the RNC’s quarterly meeting in Los Angeles the following week, the 168-member RNC voted unanimously to reaffirm the platform.
“The only reason that we see support among young voters falling on the marriage issue is that there aren’t enough public advocates explaining why it matters,” contended Ryan T. Anderson, who writes about marriage and religious liberty for the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Anderson and others want conservatives to “redouble efforts” to prevent gay marriage, because, as Anderson sees it, what’s driving the change is young voters’ perception that Republicans who oppose gay marriage are wrongly involved in the romantic lives of consenting adults. That’s not the case, Anderson said, arguing that he and others are concerned with keeping biological families together.
“The political community is concerned with making sure that the man and a woman, who created a child, commit to each other and then take responsibility for the child,” he said. “That’s what [traditional] marriage does.”
Sam Bain, outgoing state chairman of the Ohio College Republican Federation -- who said he personally believes in traditional marriage, but doesn't believe the government should have any role -- said that, if there is a change in the party, it will come when the next generation is in power.
“Youth will drive any change that comes about as opposed to the establishment of the party,” he said.
To that point, as Anderson noted, and polling shows, young Republicans are increasingly breaking away from the party on the issue. A Pew survey released in March, for example, found that 37 percent of young Republicans support same-sex marriage, as opposed to just 26 percent of the party overall.
While he does not necessarily think a policy change in favor of gay marriage is in order, Bain said he has noticed it is not as galvanizing an issue for his members.
“It might turn some people off,” he said, “but I think the youth are more open. I don’t think it would turn a number off.”
Even among those who oppose gay marriage, a majority – 59 percent – see legalization as “inevitable,” according to a survey released, Thursday, by Pew; that’s compared to 72 percent all totaled who say legalization is going to happen.
Crystal Benton, a member of the Young Conservatives Leadership Committee for Freedom to Marry -- a pro-same-sex marriage group of which Meghan McCain and Jon Huntsman’s daughters are part -- feels more strongly than Bain. Benton said she thinks younger voters --many of whom have gay friends or family members -- see a stance against gay marriage as discriminatory and that communicating the old message differently won’t matter.
“Saying we’re for family values, bolstered by marriage, but then adding, ‘But not for you,’ is no way for our party to lead,” Benton said. “And it’s certainly no way to win.”
This story was originally published on Thu Jun 6, 2013 1:21 PM EDT
Here is how we THINK this program works, based on several calls.
The National Security Agency, with approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, goes to the phone companies and says: Every day, pump your data about phone calls into our big government tank -- only phone numbers (not names), along with other data about the calls, such as where they came from, how long they lasted, what numbers were dialed, and so on.
The government does this for two reasons. First, the phone companies themselves retain this data only for 30-90 days. Second, having this data aggregated in one place avoids the need, when checking out a specific number, to have to go get a court order for each phone company to track a specific number, when the government does not know what company handled that number.
(USA Today reported on this program back in 2006.)
So the order made public by the Guardian covers part one of this process.
Part two, however, involves the authority to dive into the government's big tank of phone data to check out a specific number. It does this under protocols and internal controls that are approved in advance and must be reviewed by the FISA court periodically. This means that the tank can be accessed only for specific reasons -- not to generally roam through.
So, for example, when the police in London bust up a terror cell and find a U.S. number was on one of their cell phones, the U.S. government can then check that number against its big tank of phone data, without having to go to every carrier.
But there are several questions for the administration to answer, among them:
-- How does the FOREIGN intelligence surveillance court have authority to order the phone companies to turn over records of DOMESTIC calls, as well as international ones?
-- How does it satisfy the Fourth Amendment to require a company to turn over all its data in advance?
-- And what's the Fourth Amendment authority to tell a court what specific searches were conducted on that data after the fact, instead of in advance?
New controversy facing the Obama administration: London Guardian reports that NSA has collected Verizon phone records… Questions we have about the story… Is the support for immigration waning or not? New NBC/WSJ poll numbers show a slight majority (52%) favoring a pathway to citizenship… Also from NBC/WSJ poll: Health care law’s unpopularity hits new highs… And Obama heads to North Carolina, to deliver remarks on the economy and education at 2:55 pm ET.By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower
*** A new controversy facing the Obama administration: The big political story that’s driving the day in Washington comes courtesy of the London Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald. “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.” While not specifically confirming any aspects of the Guardian story, a senior Obama administration defended the practice. This official maintains the following: 1) Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders (what this appears to be) are classified; 2) the government isn’t listening in on calls -- rather, it’s acquiring data like telephone numbers and lengths of calls; and 3) there’s a “robust legal regime" governing these activities, which includes Congress and the courts. Make no mistake: This will only further the political debate between civil libertarians and the national-security community.
Sen. Lindsey Graham addresses Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday over a recent report that the NSA is collecting people's Verizon phone numbers.
*** Questions we have: It’s important to note that we don’t have the full story here, but we have plenty of questions. Was Verizon the only carrier issued this order? (Highly unlikely.) Was the motivation behind collecting these telephone records a current national-security threat? Or was it something like building a database -- to be able to pursue future threats? NBC counter-terrorism expert Michael Leiter, on “TODAY”, seemed to hint that this could be more about maintaining a database than anything else. But the fact is, the Obama administration has been silent on this issue for years, which brings up this question: Is this consistent with what Candidate Obama promised in 2007 and 2008? One caveat worth pointing out, however: The 2005-2006 NSA controversy surrounding the Bush administration involved wiretapping, not phone records.
Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images
President Barack Obama walks down the West Wing Colonnade to announce that current UN Ambassador Susan Rice will replace outgoing National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 5, 2013.
*** Is support for immigration waning or not? Our new NBC/WSJ poll shows a slight majority -- 52% -- saying they favor a proposed pathway to allow undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens. This is a drop from our April poll, when 64% said they supported this pathway. But a note of caution: The wording on our question changed. In April, we asked: “There is a proposal to create a pathway to citizenship that would allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens.” In our new poll, we excluded the words “who have jobs.” Our pollsters believe it’s significant that a majority still backs the pathway even after the language change. More importantly, when told in the current poll that the proposed pathway to citizenship includes requirements to pay fines, back taxes and pass a background security check, the percentage favoring it jumps up to 65%, including 58% of Republicans.
*** Upset or happy if Congress doesn’t pass a bill? But if you’re a supporter of the immigration reform legislation, you might be a little troubled by this finding: Respondents are divided if they want Congress to pass a bill this year. Per the poll, 47% say they would be upset if Congress doesn't pass a bill, and that includes a majority of Democrats (54%). But an equal 47% say they wouldn't be upset if Congress doesn’t pass immigration legislation, and that includes a majority of Republicans (53%). (Strikingly, the partisan divisions have flipped since this question was last asked in 2006, when former President George W. Bush was supporting comprehensive immigration reform. Back then, more than six-in-10 Republicans said they would be upset if immigration reform didn't pass, and an almost equal percentage of Democrats -- who were out of power in the White House -- said they wouldn't be upset. Yet note that there’s not a whole lot of intensity to these current immigration numbers: 21% said they would be VERY UPSET if Congress doesn’t pass legislation, and 26% said they would be NOT AT ALL UPSET if that happens. But compare that to a gun question we also asked: 34% said they would be VERY UPSET if Congress doesn’t pass a background-check law, versus 31% who said NOT AT ALL UPSET. Bottom line: The immigration debate isn’t as highly charged as the gun debate.
*** Health care law’s unpopularity reaches new highs: Meanwhile, just months before President Barack Obama's signature health-care law fully goes into effect next year, it remains unpopular with the American public, according to the new NBC/WSJ poll, with 49 percent saying they believe the law is a bad idea. That’s the highest number recorded on this question since the poll began measuring it in 2009. Just 37% say the plan is a good idea. The poll also finds that 38 percent say they and their family will be worse off under the health-care law, which also is the highest percentage on this question that dates back to 2010. By comparison, 19% say they'll be better off, and 39% say the law won't make much of a difference. The poll, however, shows deep divisions by political party and health insurance status. By a 35%-to-11% margin, Democrats say they'll be better off under the health-care law. But Republicans say they'll be worse off, 67% to 4%. What's more, those who currently don't have health insurance have a more positive view of the health-care law than those who have insurance -- either through individual purchase or through their employer. Bottom line here: The Obama White House has a massive PR problem with health care. The biggest reason: Opponents of this law have been very vocal, while supporters have done very little to drum up support. The president doesn’t sell it that often, and many arms of the Democratic Party essentially avoid it. Politics abhors a vacuum, and opponents -- not supporters -- have filled the health-care vacuum.
*** Carolina in mind: Lastly, President Obama heads to Mooresville, NC, where he’ll deliver remarks on the economy and education at 2:55 pm ET. Per the White House, Obama “will travel to Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, North Carolina, to deliver remarks and see first hand the school's cutting edge curriculum that maximizes the benefits of technology and digital learning.”
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*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: Much more on the NSA news and the new wave of NBC/WSJ poll numbers… NBC’s Pete Williams on his Holder interview… highlights from last night’s Markey-Gomez debate in Massachusetts… The Washington Post’s Robert Kaiser on his new book “Act of Congress” and how a bill really becomes a law… a Deep Dive with Gallup’s Frank Newport into the polling giant’s self-review after 2012 and what changes they’re making to get back on track… Plus the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, the Grio’s Perry Bacon Jr. and the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter join the Gaggle.
*** Thursday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Rachel Smokin/Politico on revelations that the NSA has been secretly collecting millions of phone records from Verizon, Sen. Jeff Flake/(R) Arizona – member of the Senate’s Gang of Eight on fears that Immigration Reform effort is falling apart, Ed Primeau/Audio Forensics Expert and Kendall Coffey/Attorney on hearing today on key piece of evidence in the trial of George Zimmerman, Emily Tisch Sussman and John Brabender on what Obama’s latest national security picks mean for his foreign policy, Matt Viser/The Boston Globe on the big debate in the Massachusetts Senate Race and Dr. Sudeepta Varma on Paris Jackson’s apparent suicide attempt
*** Thursday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: MSNBC's Thomas Roberts talks with former RNC Chair Michael Steele about the NSA secretly collecting Verizon phone records. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) joins to discuss whether the GOP is killing immigration reform. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) will talk about Holder on the Hot Seat. Co-Host of The Cycle SE Cupp will discuss whether the GOP is losing women. And Tony-award winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein will join to talk about Kinky Boots and the culture of intolerance when it comes to LGBT rights.
*** Thursday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: Alex Wagner’s guests include NYC Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, MSNBC’s Karen Finney, Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, CNBC’s John Harwood, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), MSNBC Contributor Robert Gibbs, NBC’s Pete Williams, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, USA Today’s Susan Page and The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons.
*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: MSNBC’s Tamron Hall interviews Time magazine’s Bobby Ghosh, Attorney John Burris and Voice recognition expert David Notowitz on Zimmerman Hearing, and E! News Melanie Bromley on Paris Jackson
“President Barack Obama wants to see the nation’s classrooms transformed into digital learning centers and he is ready to ask federal regulators to use billions of dollars to pay for the broadband and high-speed Internet connections that will be needed to make it happen,” AP writes. “During a stop Thursday in Mooresville, N.C., Obama was expected to call on the Federal Communications Commission to use a program that funds Internet access in schools and libraries to bring these faster connections to 99 percent of students within five years.”
National Journal: “The National Security Agency is collecting the telephone data of millions of Verizon customers in the U.S., according to a Wednesday Guardian report, and the information collected could be incredibly revealing even if it doesn't seem so at first. That's because big data sets—even supposedly anonymized ones—can often be used to uniquely identify individuals.”
Former Vice President Al Gore (D) called the NSA collection “obscenely outrageous.”
Via Political Wire: "Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency's Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Attorney General Eric Holder told NBC’s Pete Williams he has “no intention” of stepping down.
By the way, former Congressman Allen West compared Holder to al Qaeda.
Politico: “Not every Republican learned Todd Akin’s lesson from 2012 – and Democrats noticed. This week alone: Sen. Saxby Chambliss blamed sexual assaults in the military on hormones, conservative pundit Erick Erickson credited biology for male dominance in society and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said working moms are making kids fail in school.”
Deal or no deal? Roll Call: “A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has come to an agreement on immigration overhaul legislation, but one key Republican member will not sign off on it and will write his own proposal instead.”
Said Labrador (R-ID): “I am actually not going to be a member of the group anymore,” he said. “I’m just going to move on and work with other members of the House Judiciary Committee to try to craft legislation that can actually … pass the Judiciary Committee and pass the House. … We just couldn’t agree on the health-care language and I think we’ve been going around in circles on the health-care language for a long time.”
“From pre-kindergarten to No Child Left Behind, from broadband-wired schools to college loans, students in every age group are suddenly finding the spotlight on Capitol Hill,” AP writes. “After months of relative neglect, education issues are getting the attention of lawmakers from both parties — as well as President Barack Obama — just as the school year is ending and, for many college students, the cost of education is about to go up.”
Hostage takers… “If Harry Reid goes nuclear, Senate Republicans plan to make the fight personal—and their first target will be the man sitting atop the still-controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” National Journal writes. “Democrats are eyeing the so-called nuclear option to blow up Senate rules that allow Republicans to block the confirmation of President Obama’s nominees. And should Reid try to neuter the opposition, Republicans plan to make life miserable for the nominees, starting with Richard Cordray, the man installed at CFPB.”
Politico: “Shortly after Darrell Issa dubbed Jay Carney a “paid liar” on CNN last Sunday, House Republican leadership staffers called the California Republican’s aides with a message: Cool it. Issa’s aides promptly responded: The remark was over the top, they agreed, according to sources familiar with the interaction.”
On Friday, John Dingell (D-MI) becomes the longest-serving member of Congress in history. Norm Ornstein reflects on Dingell’s tenure and notes that Congress could use a few more like him.
Per NBC’s Carrie Dann, foes of the immigration bill are continuing their onslaught against what they call inadequate security measures in the Senate immigration bill. They say that even the proposed border security fixes being promoted by pro-reform Republicans are still not enough to defend against public safety threats. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) office circulated a letter late Tuesday from the head of a union representing Customs and Immigrations Services employees arguing that the Senate bill would result in a massive casework backlog.
“Even if you completely rewrote your proposal to resolve the many border security concerns and changed the ordering to delay legalization, the legislation would still fail—and would still endanger the public—because of the fatally flawed interior enforcement component,” wrote union head Kenneth Palinkas, who announced his organization’s opposition to the bill last month.
ARIZONA: Coming around… “Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has become an unlikely warrior for Obamacare,” Politico writes. “Brewer is a conservative Republican who sued to topple the health law, refused to set up a health insurance exchange and memorably wagged her finger at President Barack Obama on a Phoenix airport tarmac. But now she’s so determined to put the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in place in her state that she’s vetoing any legislation that reaches her desk until the Republican Legislature caves. … It’s a posture that’s confounding conservatives who once embraced her for signing a toughest-in-the-nation crackdown on illegal immigrants and for defying the Obama White House. Brewer says it’s been quite the firestorm, but she insists that expansion saves money and saves lives — and that everybody would realize that if they weren’t so ‘hung up on the fact’ that it was part of Obama’s health law.”
FLORIDA: Beth Reinhard: “Risking a Hispanic backlash in favor of his conservative base, Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday rebuked President Obama's immigration policy by vetoing a bill intended to help children of illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses. The governor’s action is largely symbolic since the state already provides driving permits to young people whose deportation has been deferred by the Obama administration. The bill quietly sailed through the Republican-controlled Legislature without the governor’s office raising any objections, sponsors said.”
More: “The last-minute block and tackle suggests Scott’s sensitivity toward conservative activists, who were aghast when the onetime crusader against Obama’s health care law embraced in February the administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid.”
MASSACHUSETTS: The Boston Globe: “Democrat Edward Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez clashed in their first debate in Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election Wednesday, sparring on abortion, national security and gun issues. A recurring theme of the one-hour matchup at the WBZ-TV studios was Gomez’s claim that Markey is representative of old-style Washington politics while Markey suggested that Gomez would be another Republican vote for gridlock in Congress.”
The Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan details the awkwardness of both candidates in last night’s debate: “Neither Gomez nor Markey demonstrated himself as a forceful, effective debater, in line with expectations for many who observed the Republican and Democratic primary debates.”
Gomez is out with a new ad, a positive bio piece, labeling him a “new kind of Republican.” Rudy Giuliani is stumping with Gomez today and they’re visiting the Boston marathon bombing site. Markey’s going across the country to raise money in Beverly Hills.
VIRGINIA: National Journal: “Can a white, wealthy political operative and businessman emulate President Obama's historic success at turning out voters who don't regularly participate in elections? Terry McAuliffe is betting on it. Even the most optimistic Democrat knows that for McAuliffe, ginning up turnout to presidential levels in an off-year election is near impossible. Behind the scenes, however, the Democratic frontrunner has been trying to build an Obama-style, technologically savvy, grassroots campaign to crank out voters who helped the president carry the state twice but don't normally vote in gubernatorial elections.”
And then there’s this… In a 2008 book by E.W. Jackson, per Politico and first posted by National Review, he said yoga leads to Satan and said “most people are dead spirits.”
“When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana. … The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. … [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. That is why people serve Satan without ever knowing it or deciding to, but no one can be a child of God without making a decision to surrender to him. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.” …
“[M]ost people are dead spirits. As such they have the nature of Satan who does not want to have anything to do with God or anyone related to Him. Of course they are not aware that they are imbued with the nature of Satan. They would be mortified by the idea of becoming Satanists or devil worshippers. Satan benefits far more from people who do not know they serve him than from those who knowingly bow to him. Your spirit was made for attachment. It is either attached to God or to Satan, but it is not neutral, no matter how much people think themselves to be.”
President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law remains unpopular with the American public just months before it fully goes into effect, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The poll shows 49 percent of Americans say they believe the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea. That’s the highest number recorded on this question since the poll began measuring it in 2009. Just 37 percent say the plan is a good idea.
As the political battle over implementation of the law heats up in Washington, the numbers mark an increase in unpopularity since July 2012, right after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama’s overhaul. Back then, 44 percent of NBC/WSJ poll respondents called it a bad idea, vs. 40 percent who called it a good one.
Mandel Ngan / Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act in this file photo from May 10, 2013 in the East Room of the White House.
GOP leaders have been unrelenting in their calls to reverse the law. "For the sake of my constituents in Kentucky and for the sake of Americans across the country, I urge my friends on the other side to join with Republicans and stop this ‘train wreck’ before things get even worse," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor in April.
Obama countered earlier this year, "Despite all the hue and cry and 'sky is falling' predictions about this stuff, if you've already got health insurance, then that part of Obamacare that affects you, it’s pretty much already in place. And that’s about 85 percent of the country.”
"What is left to be implemented is those provisions to help the 10 to 15 percent of the American public that is unlucky enough that they don’t have health insurance," he added.
Pollsters Fred Yang and Micah Roberts join The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd to talk about the latest poll numbers.
For individuals, the current poll also finds 38 percent of respondents saying that they (and their families) will be worse off under the health care law. That’s the highest percentage of respondents to express a negative outlook toward “Obamacare” since 2010, when the president signed this signature piece of legislation into law following an extended, bruising battle in Congress.
By comparison, 19 percent say they'll be better off, and 39 percent say the law won't make much of a difference.
The poll, however, shows deep divisions by political party and health insurance status.
By a 35 percent-to-11 percent margin, Democrats say they'll be better off under the health care law. But Republicans say they'll be worse off, 67 percent to 4 percent.
What's more, those who currently don't have health insurance have a more positive view of the health-care law than those who have insurance -- either through individual purchase or through their employer.
Majority backs pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
Meanwhile, with bipartisan immigration reform legislation expected to hit the Senate floor next week, the NBC/WSJ poll shows a slight majority -- 52 percent -- saying they support a proposed pathway to allow undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
When told that the proposed pathway to citizenship under the legislation includes requirements to pay fines, back taxes and pass a background security check, the percentage favoring it jumps up to 65 percent, including 58 percent of Republicans.
NBC's Chuck Todd joins Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss the latest NBC News/ WSJ poll and the changes to President Barack Obama's national security team.
But respondents are divided over whether Congress should pass an immigration bill by the end of the current Congress: 47 percent say they would be upset if Congress doesn't pass a bill, and that includes a majority of Democrats (54 percent).
But an equal 47 percent say they wouldn't be upset if Congress doesn’t pass immigration legislation, and that includes a majority of Republicans (53 percent).
Strikingly, the partisan divisions have flipped since this question was last asked in 2006, when former President George W. Bush was supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
Back then, more than six-in-10 Republicans said they would be upset if immigration reform didn't pass, and an almost equal percentage of Democrats -- who were out of power in the White House -- said they wouldn't be upset.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted May 30-June 2 of 1,000 adults (including 300 cell phone-only respondents), and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told reporters on Wednesday that he is leaving the House bipartisan immigration group called the "Group of Eight," citing disputes over "health care issues" as the reason for breaking away.
"I think my exit just means that I couldn't agree with them on language," Labrador told reporters. "I don't think it means anything for immigration reform."
The announcement comes after the conservative Republican Study Committee group met Wednesday afternoon with six Republican senators, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, to discuss immigration reform.
After that meeting Labrador said he plans to introduce legislation of his own. He also expressed his frustration with the Senate bill, particularly what he saw as a lack of strong border security provisions.
"I don't think you get anything out of the Senate without strong border security," Labrador said after the meeting. "And we definitely don't get anything out of the House without strong border security."