President Obama is urging Congress to pass a small spending cuts package and tax reforms to delay larger, automatic cuts, known as the “sequester,” from going into effect on March 1. Many Republicans are rejecting the President’s proposals, particularly for what they see as a bid for new tax increases after lawmakers agreed to raise rates for the top earners as part of the fiscal cliff agreement. But a newly released forecast shows the fiscal cliff deal did little to help the nation’s long-term budget situation. The report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects a federal budget deficit of $845 billion in 2013, the first time it will have fallen below $1 trillion under President Obama. The budget revelations come as Republicans continue attempt to re-brand the party in the wake of its defeats in the 2012 election. On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave a closely-watched speech at the American Enterprise Institute, in which he sought to soften the image of the GOP and broaden its appeal. But Cantor’s remarks were preceded by a series of statements that did little to indicate that the party is changing. The comments focused on the President’s three biggest legislative concerns of the moment: the budget, immigration, and gun reform. On the budget, House Speaker John Boehner said the sequester should be replaced with spending cuts. On immigration, Boehner and some other republicans also avoided endorsing a pathway to citizenship. On guns, Cantor showed some openness to the possibility of allowing background checks, but it remains unclear how. And while some other Republicans agree, it’s far from being the party line sentiment. So are Republicans ready for a big overhaul, or are the changes simply “cosmetic?” We’ll discuss the GOP’s extreme party makeover and more when we see you at noon ET on msnbc.
Hendrik Hertzberg, Staff Writer, The New Yorker
Jon Meacham, Author, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power”/Executive Editor, Random House (@meacham)
Maggie Haberman, Senior Political Reporter, Politico (@maggiepolitico)
Hugo Lindgren, Editor, The New York Times Magazine (@hugolindgren)
John Podesta, Chairman, Center For American Progress (@johnpodesta)
Michelle Rhee, Founder/CEO, Students First (@m_rhee)