The Night Beat: Christie Wants to Oust Norcross

Good evening.

HE CARES: President Obama's immigration speech tomorrow, pre-synopsized, according to people who've been briefed on it: I care. I'm committed. We must get this done. I call on Republicans to work with me.

ON THE CROSS: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, is moving to replace David Norcross, one of the longest serving members of the Republican National Committee, with his close friend Bill Palatucci at the next member election. Palatucci is certainly qualified to be an RNC member: he's a former state party finance chair, ran the state's efforts for the Reagan and Bush campaigns in 1984 and 1988, managed a winning governor's race, and has been a prodigious fundraiser for the party.

Norcross, who did not respond to an email seeking comment, is an expert on delegate selection rules and is currently the president of the Republican National Lawyers Association and a member of the RNC executive committee. A partner at Blank Rome in Washington, he spends most of his time living in Alexandria, VA. This has proved a sore point among New Jersey Republicans for years, but Norcross has blunted criticism by virtue of his seniority and his ability to represent the interests of the state on the committee. Norcross has been an ally of Christie's, but Christie wants to move on and install a more trusted friend. 

#HCR ON TRIAL: Tomorrow, Ian Gershengorn, the head of the Justice Department's federal programs division, will make the first oral arguments in Virginia's challenge to the Democrats' health care reform bill. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, you'll recall, believes that the bill's insurance mandate violates the Commerce clause of the Constitution. The administration thinks this argument is bogus. The tougher challenge will be the conjoined suit of 13 states, led by Florida gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Bill McCollum. 

#FINREG: The House passed the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill by 46 votes. Three Republicans voted for the bill: Rep. Mike Castle, who is running for Senate in Delaware, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, and Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina. The Senate gets the conference report in July.

NO BUDGET:  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger meets tonight with the two Democratic leaders of his legislature in an attempt to hash out a budget before the midnight deadline. Schwarzenegger's bottom line is that the budget include reform mechanisms and no new taxes. The Democrats are stressing job creation, a tax on oil production, and funding for schools. The two sides appear to be negotiating in good faith, but they aren't very close to a deal. ... Earlier today, Schwarzenegger told reporters that the state would have to slash nearly $2 billion from its welfare funding if Congress fails to pass an extension of Medicaid benefits. The man to follow for California budget news (which really does effect the nation) is Kevin Yamamura of the Sacramento Bee.

BUSINESS BEAT: The Atlantic Business Channel's Daniel Indiviglio is looking out for May auto sales and construction spending numbers. The latter are almost certainly going to be awful. Not sure about auto sales, but time will tell. ... Re: the new CBO numbers. Supporters and opponents of the President each have something to take comfort in, but note the way the Washington Post wrote it up:

President Obama's overhaul of the health-care system has done little to improve the nation's budget outlook, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday. They also said the president's tax agenda -- including a pledge to extend an array of tax cuts for the middle class -- would only make things worse. 

The White House would point out that "done little" is not the same as "done nothing," but they're still fighting the perception that #HCR will make the budget picture worse -- which is manifestly NOT what CBO found. As HuffPost Hill notes:

[CBO Director Doug] Elmendorf got his scary headlines, but he also got reamed by Max Baucus for putting out projections based on cost-saving elements of health care reform not going into effect. "I question the wisdom of the Congressional Budget Office embarking on such a course," Baucus said at the deficit commission meeting, which HuffPost Hill valiantly sat through. "It's a little bit curious that now CBO comes back and says, 'No, Congress won't do that.'" So if Congress sticks more or less to paygo over the next 75 years, there's no budget problem. Can we move on now?

ISSA'S LATEST: Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican and the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, releases a report tomorrow entitled:  "How the White House Public Relations Campaign on the Oil Spill is Harming the Actual Clean-Up." The report is based on interviews with local officials that committee investigators conducted in New Orleans last week and is said by Issa's staff to show "a very different picture of how the administration has responded to this crisis than the one being portrayed by the White House."

NO STONERS: The Atlantic's Brian Goldsmith observes that Jerry Brown's potential eccentricities as a candidate for governor in California continue to emerge. Yesterday, we reported on his relationship with a controversial GOP strategist. Today, Brown defended his opposition to a marijuana legalization initiative on Good Day LA, the local Fox affiliate's morning news program, by saying, "We got to compete with China, and if everybody's stoned, how the hell are we going to make it?" He also exulted in a recent poll showing him 6 points ahead of Meg Whitman. "Mrs. Whitman has spent over $100 million and I think I've spent a few hundred thousand. I haven't even started yet and I'm not going to start for while," he said.

OBSESSION: A preview of The Atlantic's Joshua Green's column in the Boston Globe:
"Why the obsession with the Citizens United campaign finance case?'' griped a Washington Post columnist. ''Enough already.'" The answer is that liberals recognize that citizens' ability to challenge corporate power is being seriously eroded, possibly with profound implications. As the elected branches of government have moved to the left, the Court has moved right. In the years ahead, it will likely hear challenges to many of the laws and regulations passed by this Congress, from new rules governing Wall Street to the health care law.

-- Christopher Hitchens has postponed his book tour because he's been diagnosed with cancer. "I've been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me," he said in a statement. 

-- The Veterans of Foreign Wars want the Army to give up control over Arlington National Ceremony.

-- Rep. Tom Perriello, a Virginia Democrat, tries to be serious and funny at the same time in this new ad. Does he succeed?  

-- Patrick Ottenhoff's Map of the Day points out where it's good to be a waffler in politics.