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Wednesday, January 28, 2015
650 Days Until Election Day 2016 - Basically almost there!!!It's Wednesday, January 28, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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White House Watch
- Obama Drops Proposed Tax on College Savings Plans After pressure from leaders of both parties, President Barack Obama dropped a proposal Tuesday made in his State of the Union address just one week ago to tax college savings accounts (known as 529s).
- The proposed tax came under fire from members of Congress demanding it be removed from Obama’s budget proposal (which is due Monday) “for the sake of middle-class families,” as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said. Experts say seven million families hold a combined $217 billion in 529 plans; Obama’s proposal was unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Congress in the first place.
- “I was very surprised by the Obama 529 proposal because in many ways it is anti-middle class for families trying to afford college,” Joe Hurley, founder for Saving for College, LLC told The New York Times. “And so much of the emphasis in the Obama administration has been pro-middle class.”
- In fact, the proposal was mentioned as a plank on the President’s “middle-class economics” vision pitched during the State of the Union. Obama’s decision to abandon the tax came after lobbying from prominent members of his own party. This group of Democratic legislators included Sens. Ben Cardin (MD); Debbie Stabenow (MI); Sherrod Brown (OH); and Chuck Schumer (NY), the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate. Others included House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Chris Van Hollen (MD), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. Pelosi took her lobbying to the president’s own plane, pressuring administration officials while aboard Air Force One on a flight to Saudi Arabia, where she joined a congressional delegation paying respects to the late King Abdullah.
- The Obama Administration initially defended the proposal, saying it was aimed at taxing wealthy Americans: “The current 529 is very tilted towards the upper end,” Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers told Bloomberg. “And a variety of research has shown it’s ineffective in serving its goals of getting people to go to college who wouldn’t otherwise have gone.”
- But the White House is standing by the proposal no longer, with an official telling the New York Times, “Given it has become such a distraction, we’re not going to ask Congress to pass the 529 provision so that they can instead focus on delivering a larger package of education tax relief that has bipartisan support, as well as the president’s broader package of tax relief for child care and working families.”
- The President’s Schedule At 3 AM Eastern Time, the Obamas will return to Washington, D.C. after five days of traveling in India and Saudi Arabia.
- Just one public event is on the President’s schedule today: 4:05 PM remarks at a farewell ceremony for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at Joint Base Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia.
- Hagel, who has served in the post since 2013, tendered his resignation in November 2014; Obama has nominated former deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter to replace him.
- ---LINK: Politico: “Chuck Hagel exiting on his own terms” Capitol Hill News
- Lynch to Face Grilling from Judiciary Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and President Obama’s nominee to succeed Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General, will face a grilling from the Senate Judiciary Committee today in Day 1 of her confirmation hearings.
- If confirmed as Attorney General (which she is expected to be), Lynch will immediately have to deal with a wide range of hot-button issues, many of which will likely come up today: terrorism, marijuana, executive power, cybersecurity, use of force by police, prosecuting banks, and more.
- Immigration will likely be the biggest issue for the Republicans who control the panel. Lynch will be grilled today for her stance on President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which she supports constitutionally, an opinion that will not help her gain the approval of GOP senators.
- She will, however, attempt to distance herself from the politically-toxic Eric Holder by casting herself as an “apolitical career prosecutor”. If confirmed, Lynch will be the first U.S. Attorney to serve as Attorney General since William Wirt, who served under James Monroe in 1817.
- Lynch, 55, would also be the first African-American female U.S. Attorney General.
- ---LINK: Washington Post profiles Lynch, interviews the nominee’s parents: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/after-forging-her-path-from-nc-to-brooklyn-lynch-is-poised-to-become-attorney-general/2015/01/26/91804eba-a301-11e4-9f89-561284a573f8_story.html
- Walker Forms Fundraising Committee Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) formed a fundraising committee Monday set to operate as a campaign-in-waiting as he plans for a 2016 presidential run.
- The 527 group is called Our American Revival, which, according to its website, will “focus on reforms that will take control from the federal government and big government special interests and give it back to hard-working taxpayers,” according to its website.
- Don’t be fooled, though: the group will focus on raising money for just Scott Walker, and pushing the agenda of just Scott Walker. A 527 is different from a leadership PAC in that the former is tax-exempt, and able to raise and spend unlimited cash, but also requires more donor disclosure. In addition, if Walker does run for President, the money from his 527 is not allowed to transfer to his campaign, a drawback for forming such a group.
- The group’s executive director will be Rick Wiley, who would likely serve as campaign manager in a Walker presidential campaign.
- KY GOV: Bevin In, Grimes Out Matt Bevin, the tea party primary challenger to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in 2014, announced Tuesday that he was running for governor of Kentucky in November 2015.
- Although Bevin lost to McConnell in a landslide (running such a failed campaign that just one month later, neither I nor two other political journalists could remember his name), the race gave him name ID, helpful in the Republican gubernatorial primary field, which will also include former Louisville Councilman Hal Heiner, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, and former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott.
- Bevin also announced his running mate, Jenean Hampton, who would be the first African-American female lieutenant governor of the state.
- Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergran Grimes, the Democratic nominee in the general election against McConnell in 2014, announced Monday she will NOT run for governor.
- Grimes will instead run for re-election as Secretary of State, she announced. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, the 2010 Democratic Senate nominee, is the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
- The election is November 3 of this year.
- 2016 Must-Reads The Kochs plan to spend $889 million in 2016. That could buy you a 99-minute ad during the Super Bowl.
- Using “science” to figure out the 45th President, the Washington Post arrives at…a general election of Jim Webb vs. Mike Huckabee.
- Biden Wishes Ellen a “Happy Birthday” Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday to wish the host a “happy birthday”.
- Biden came with flowers and a White House bathrobe as birthday gifts for DeGeneres and some Bidenisms (“My mom used to have an expression. She said, ‘Joey, on a child's birthday the mother should get the gift because she did all the work.’”) (When asked what he and his wife were doing on Valentine’s Day: “A lot and I’m not going to tell you.”) (“I’m a member of the good wives club,” because he still stood up and clapped so many times during the State of the Union event hough he had already heard the speech)
- But he didn’t just go to Los Angeles for Ellen’s birthday…Biden also went to pitch Obamacare, saying “Every mom out there to tell their adult child between the ages of 26 and 35 sign up – for no other reason than give mom peace of mind.” The vice president encouraged Ellen’s audience to tell their adult children to enroll by February 15, the deadline to receive coverage under the Affordable Care Act in 2015.
- “It’s easy. And it's finally working – the website,” Biden said.
- Watch Biden surprise Ellen for her birthday here
Question of the Day
- Today’s Question Name at least one of the four other states (besides Kentucky, mentioned above) that hold statewide elections in odd-numbered years.
- Answer by emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweeting (@WakeUp2Politics) me by tomorrow morning with your answer!
- Correctly answer and get your name in tomorrow’s Wake Up!