Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: Red state Senate Dems face tough early votes

BY: Conn Carroll January 7, 2013 | 7:57 am | Modified: January 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

“I think you need to put everything on the table,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D, told ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday, “but what I hear from the administration – and if the Washington Post is to be believed – that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about. And it’s not going to pass.”

The Washington Post article Heitkamp was referring to, reported that President Obama would soon seek to pass legislation “that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.” And Obama wants all of this “by the end of January” according to The Boston Herald.

While this ambitious agenda and timing may be music to blue state Democrat ears, it can only be a headache for red state Democrats like Heitkamp … and she isn’t even up for reelection this cycle. A total of seven Democratic Senators from states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012 are up for election in 2014. And six of those Senators (Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Jay Rockefeler, D-W.V.) hail from states that Romney carried by double-digits. Only North Carolina’s Kay Hagan will face an electorate that Obama came close to winning in 2012 (Romney +2) … and the only other Democrat on the ballot statewide in 2012 lost by 11.

And gun control is not the only issue Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will ask red state Democrats to take tough votes on. If Obama is serious about not negotiating over the debt limit, then the Senate is going to have to pass a debt limit hike without any mitigating spending cuts sometime before March. Then there is the amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants that Obama promised to address this month too.

Gun control, debt limit, amnesty … that is not an agenda red state Dems want to take home to states dominated by conservative voters.

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In Other News
The Washington Post, Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel for defense secretary: President Obama plans to nominate former senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican and Vietnam War veteran, to be secretary of defense on Monday.
The Wall Street Journal, Bank-Foreclosure Settlement Nears: Banks were closing in on a $10 billion foreclosure-abuse settlement with regulators that could be announced as soon as Monday.
The New York Times, Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits: Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.
The New York Times, Social Security – It’s Worse Than You Think: The Social Security Administration underestimates how long Americans will live and how much the trust funds will need to pay out — to the tune of $800 billion by 2031, more than the current annual defense budget.
The Hill, Democrats look for up to $1 trillion in new tax revenues this year: Democrats say they want to raise as much as $1 trillion in new revenues through tax reform later this year to balance Republican demands to slash mandatory spending.

Righty Playbook
The Wall Street Journal on Obama’s Stealth Tax Hike
Erick Erickson urges conservatives to support Republicans who backed the failed coup against Boehner.
James Pethokoukis on the dismal December jobs report.

Lefty Playbook
Alec MacGillis on Barney Frank’s plan to soak the almost-rich.
Jonathan Bernstein advises Democrats to ignore polling showing raising the debt limit is unpopular.
Kevin Drum wonders how Obama will manage to both negotiate on the sequester but not negotiate on the debt limit.

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