Here And Now

The severe weather is making headlines in upstate New York and around the country.

President Obama at a fundraiser last night at the Waldorf: “My name is Barack Obama. I was born in Hawaii. I’m President of the United States. And I’m running for reelection. Nobody checked my ID on the way in.” (No link).

Obama was in NYC for a trio of fundraisers expected to net up to $3 million for the DNC and his own re-election campaign.

The purpose of Obama’s latest trip to the Big Apple was, in part, to try to make peace with deep-pocketed Wall Street donors.

The Obama campaign is again focusing on the youth vote.

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was invited by the president to join him at the Waldorf event.

Donald Trump pledged to engage in traditional retail politics in New Hampshire if he runs for president.

Riding in Trump’s limo did not improve Andrea Peyser’s opinion of the real estate mogul, although she was impressed the “notorious germaphobe” managed to shake some hands.

Andrea Tantaros on Obama’s decision to release his long-form birth certificate: “Trump, 1; Obama, 0.”

David Mixner floats Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as the first woman president (to run in 2016).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t ruling out a gas tax holiday, saying he has to “look at the numbers.”

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Extras

The president and first lady taped a 70-minute interview with Oprah that will air next Monday.

Donald Trump accused Obama, his supporters and the national media of playing the race card.

Did Assemblyman Joe Morelle jump the gun when he announced NYPA CEO Richard Kessel is stepping down? Kessel certainly thinks so.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s seeking a “most aggressive” strengthening of the rent laws, but stopped short of calling for an end to vacancy decontrol.

A Trump guessing game, compliments of Dan Amira.

Thomas Kaplan deems the news-free post-cabinet experience “a bizarre spectacle even by Albany standards.”

The key talking point for Cuomo cabinet members: “Everybody’s happy.”

A group of parents is suing Bloomberg for $100 million over his appointment of ex-NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black.

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.

On average, school districts are seeking a 3.4 percent increase in the property-tax levy in the 2011-12 school year that starts July 1. (That’s 1.4 percent higher than the 2 percent cap Cuomo’s pushing).

“Leading progressive and conservative experts” Richard Brodsky and Daniel DiSalvo will square off tomorrow at NYU over what lessons New York can learn from the recent political unrest in Wisconsin.

“Client 9″ filmmaker Alex Gibney’s next project looks at sports scapegoats. (I’m sure there’s a hidden in there somewhere, but I can’t find it).

Thanks to Rep. Paul Ryan, the senior citizen vote may be in play in 2012.

Ryan had to leave a town hall meeting in his Wisconsin district through a back door and with a police escort.

Sen. Greg Ball called his predecessor’s desire for diplomatic duty instead of jail time “disgusting” and “a slap in the face to all troops.”

Andrew Giuliani has qualified for the South George Classic golf tournament.

NYC’s newest columnist, Harry Siegel, hopes to avoid “churnolism.”

State Operations Director Howard Glaser has a deputy.

Nearly six in 10 Americans are worried a Japan-type nuclear disaster could occur here.

Hayworth Passes On Health Care Plan She’s Pushing For Seniors

ICYMI: Sen. Nan Hayworth defended the Medicare overhaul proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan during a CapTon interview last night, toeing the GOP line by insisting the so-called “premium support” plan is essentially the same coverage that members of Congress enjoy.

Oh, except her, that is.

The freshman Republican, who ousted Democrat John Hall in NY-19 last fall, revealed she opted to keep her own private insurance when she went to Washington in January.

Hayworth said Ryan’s plan, which the Republicans passed unanimously without a single Democratic vote, would “give seniors into the future the power to do what they know best in their own lives.”

“So by a premium support program, which is what we have now as members of Congress – I personally have my old insurance – but members of Congress have a program that’s been widely praised that provides premium support and lets them choose among an array of approved insurance programs. And that’s what Medicare would do,” the congresswoman concluded.

Hayworth was an opthamologist before she was elected. She and her husband, Scott, co-founded the Mount Kisco Medical Group, of which he is still the president and CEO. Scott Hayworth is an OB-GYN and chairs the Board of Directors at the American Medical Group Association.

The congresswoman sought to put a positive spin on her decision, arguing that she’s actually doing the public a favor by opting to pay for her own insurance.

“Well, not because it’s a bad program at all,” she said when I asked why she had decided not to go with the congressional health plan.

“But simply because, actually, I’m saving taxpayers some dollars by continuing my old insurance, which was a very cost-effective thing to do.”

Gas Tax Holiday Not Ruled Out By Cuomo

A suspension of the state’s gas tax — a proposal that seems to come up in Albany whenever gasoline reaches an uncomfortable price — wasn’t completely ruled out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today.

“You would have to look at the numbers,” Cuomo said when asked about the proposal, which was put out by Sen. Greg Ball, R-Putnam County and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Saratoga.

The lawmakers proposed this week to suspended the 8-cent excise tax, the 8-cent sales tax and the 17-cent petroleum business tax during the big summer holiday weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. The state Conservative Party, which has been issuing Cuomo-friendly signals over the last several months, also got in on the act and issued a memo supporting the suspension.

Cuomo said he feared the impact of gasoline costs would have on the nascent economic rebound.

“I’m afraid of the possible effect it would have on the economic recovery,” Cuomo said. “But I would have to actually take a look at the numbers.”

A suspension of the state’s gasoline sales tax has been proposed off and on over the years, but has been shot down each time over the impact of revenue for the state.

Schools, Localities, Can Live Within Tax Cap, Cuomo Says

Though school districts across the state are, on average, facing a 3.4 percent increase in their tax levies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted that most can live within his proposed 2 percent cap.

“I think it is a question of fiscal discipline and fiscal control,” Cuomo said.

The governor, who wants to cap property taxes at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, said that putting a ceiling on local and school taxes would result in a hard look, and ultimately a reduction, in spending.

“That’s what a property tax cap does,” he said.

Cuomo went down a list of showing that when the state increases spending on school education, the local property taxes went up as well.

“If there is more money, they will spend more money,” Cuomo said.

The state Education Department released their annual property tax cap report card today, finding that though many school districts have reduced spending over the previous year’s budget, most are raising taxes outside of the 2 percent cap that Cuomo wants to see passed.

The pro-business Unshackle Upstate released a “white paper” report today trying to debunk the criticisms of the cap, including the concerns of its negative impact on school districts and local governments.

The Other Royal Wedding, GOP Style

With all the attention being given to the impending nuptials of Prince Willam and Kate Middleton, you’d think the Brits had the market corners on high-profile weddings.

Au contraire!

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And no, we’re not talking about hotel/casino developer Steve Wynn’s wedding, which will take place in Las Vegas this weekend just as the prince is tying the knot for the first time.

A reader forwarded this invite to marriage of Christopher Nixon Cox and Andrea Catsimatidis, who will be a June bride. The ceremony will be held at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity on E. 74th Street, followed by a black-tie reception at the Waldorf Astoria.

The couple is registered at Williams Sonoma and Michael C. Fina.

As you’ll recall, news of the Cox-Catsimatidis union broke last April – right as the groom-to-be was in the middle of what turned out to be a failed congressional run in NY-1 (his family has a house in the Hamptons, but he had been living in Manhattan).

Cox, the only son of Tricia Nixon Cox and state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, was 31 at the time, while Catsimatidis, whose father is supermarket mogul, Democrat-turned-Republican and erstwhile NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, was a 19-year-old undergrad at NYU (Class of ’12).

The two met while Cox was participating in an April 2008 mock presidential debate at Hewitt, her all-girls high school on the Upper East Side. He returned to the school to propose to her in April 2010.

Cuomo: Obama Right To Release Birth Certificate (Video Added)

President Obama was right to release his “long-form” birth certificate in order to show conspiracy theorists they were wrong, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference this afternoon on auditing the Long Island Power Authority.

The governor, an early Democratic supporter of Obama’s primary rival Hillary Clinton (whose campaign is where, arguably, the birther theories originated as Politico pointed out), said the release today of the birth certificate was a good move and not a defensive act.

“I think from the president’s point of view he was right, it shows he was right. It shows there’s nothing to this and all the political forces who wanted something out of this were wrong.

“They want to focus on the real business of this country,” he added, speaking of the administration.

Asked what if he thought developer and possible presidential candidate Donald Trump forced Obama’s hand by discussing the conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t really born in the U.S., Cuomo demurred.

“I don’t know,” the governor said, who is on the long list of Democrats and Republicans who has received campaign donations from the reality-show host. “I don’t know what the conversation is in Washington.”

Cuomo is not attending the Obama fundraiser due to be held in New York City tonight.

Asked if Obama was being hurt in a larger sense by the poor economy and high gas prices, Cuomo said presidents are often blamed — sometimes unfairly — for a nation’s finances.

DNC: GOP Budget ‘Not Selling Very Well’

The DNC is trying to make hay out of the heat House Republicans are receiving in their home districts during this congressional spring break from constituents unhappy with Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan – particularly when it comes to overhauling Medicare.

“While the President’s plan calls for shared sacrifice, the GOP plan put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and passed by the Republican dominated House, places the burden for getting our fiscal house in order on middle and working class Americans, seniors and young people while protecting the wealthy and big oil,” the DNC said. “It’s no wonder the GOP budget plan isn’t selling very well back home.”

The video is a mashup of news coverage and footage from town halls similiar to what I just posted from last night’s event hosted by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-20) in Malta.

This comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he’ll be putting the Ryan plan up for a vote when Congress returns to work, although he did not set a specific date for that.

The idea here is to get Republicans perceived as vulnerable on the record and then try to subject those who vote “yes” to the same negative attention their House colleagues are now receiving.

Gibson Questioned (Again) Over Budget Votes

Joe Seeman, a Capital Region activist and MoveOn organizer, forwarded several links to YouTube videos of Rep. Chris Gibson getting protested/questioned/jeered/drowned out by cheers at a town hall in Malta last night.

It’s hard to tell how many of those in the audience were Democrats specifically targeting the Republican freshman for his “yes” votes on proposals to defund Planned Parenthood, overhaul Medicare etc. and how many were non-affiliated constituents simply trying to get some answers.

It’s kind of the redux of the battle over health care reform that we saw during the 2010 cycle, expect this time the GOP members are on the hot seat.

The Times noted this morning that House Republicans all over the country are on increasingly on the defensive as they try to sell their Medicare plan to the public – a plan Democrats insist will “end” the government-run program that provides health care for the elderly.

This isn’t the first time during Congress’ two-week spring break that Gibson has taken heat for his Medicare vote. He’s also not alone – a number of his fellow GOP members are receiving similar treatment.

There are also dueling radio ad campaigns that either thank (60 Plus) or deride (DCCC, House Majority PAC) freshman GOP members for their Medicare votes.

Main Street: New WIGS Campaign ‘Simply a Joke’

The Last Store on Main Street, a coalition of business groups opposed to the selling of wine in grocery stores, released a statement knocking the new campaign by the New York League of Conservation Voters, saying the argument they’re now pushing is a joke.

From spokesman Michael McKeon:

The idea that putting 4,500 people out of work, stunting the growth of small wineries and increasing underage drinking is some how a means of saving farmland is simply a joke. This plan would in fact hurt small wineries that rely on wine stores to get their products to consumers, potentially putting more farmland at risk.

New Yorkers like wine – we rank second among states in wine consumption. Unfortunately, too often New Yorkers reach for wines from outside New York. The best way to help New York wineries, and retailers, and to preserve farmland, is to educate consumers about the great wines we make in New York and promote New York wines.

The legislature has rejected WIGS over and over again, and we are confident they will see through this latest phony argument as they look for new ways to promote New York wines.

WIGS backers are trying to get a wine in grocery stores provision approved this session and were disappointed it didn’t make it into the final budget plan passed in March.

The group unveiled a new campaign today, saying that selling vino in places other than liquor stores would help preserve the state’s farmland.