Jobs, the budget and Illinois

In his State of the Union address, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Russian social media is the modern-day Trojan horse Trump records robo-call for Gillespie: He'll help 'make America great again' MORE said job creation is his No. 1 issue for the year. Healthcare reform, his top priority in 2009, is now on the shelf.

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Several Democrats, including Sens. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuYou want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' MORE (La.) and Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), have said the effort to overhaul the nation’s health system is on life support.

Obama and congressional Democrats are not throwing in the towel. But getting a bill passed this year looks less likely every day.

More and more Democrats, most recently Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), are saying the White House should have spent more time on the economy last year.

These lawmakers are no doubt pleased with Obama’s pivot toward jobs.

Friday’s news that the economy grew at the fastest clip in six years was the best news Democrats have heard in the last several weeks. The key now will be to make sure that jobs data improve in coming months.

The House passed its jobs bill in December. The Senate is ironing out its package this week. There is no time to waste.

Most economists believe there is little chance that the unemployment rate will be lower than 9 percent come November. If it stays at 10 percent, Democrats are in trouble.

But if employers start hiring more people than they are laying off, Democrats will tout progress and likely retain control of Congress.

The budget debate will be fascinating. Obama wants to freeze non-defense spending. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants defense included in the belt-tightening.

When Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a huge proponent of earmarks, first heard Obama’s proposal to freeze discretionary spending, he smiled and leaned back in his chair, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and said: “Well, he can call for it, but we’re the guys who make the decision. I always remind them of that.”

“Them” refers to presidents. And Murtha’s comment is a clear indicator that Obama faces an uphill climb in getting what he wants.

On Tuesday, Illinois holds its primaries. Rep. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE is the heavy favorite to win the GOP primary. The Democratic primary has been a fierce three-way contest, and some people on the left are very concerned that the intra-party battle has helped Kirk in his quest to win Obama’s old Senate seat.


Player of the Week: Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderHolder: Sessions is ‘racially insensitive’ and ‘racially unaware’ Let's start giving media manipulation the attention it deserves Hannity slams Maddow, Megyn Kelly: 'Are you proud of that reporting?' MORE

Attorney General Eric Holder is in a difficult spot.

In November, he strongly defended his decision to hold the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other accused terrorists in New York City.

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He told Senate Judiciary Committee lawmakers, “We should not cower in the face of this enemy. Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is sturdy, our resolve is firm and our people are ready.”

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (D-Calif.), who chairs the Intelligence Committee, said then that she “fully” supported Holder’s decision.

Last week, however, Feinstein changed her mind. After receiving classified intelligence briefings, she said she believes the terror trials should not occur in New York.

The Californian added that the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day has changed the situation.

Empire State politicians who want the administration to think again include Gov. David Paterson (D) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I). Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump is right: The visa lotto has got to go Schumer predicts bipartisan support for passing DACA fix this year No room for amnesty in our government spending bill MORE (D) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Senators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff CNN to air sexual harassment Town Hall featuring Gretchen Carlson, Anita Hill MORE (D) are also open to alternative sites.

Obama administration officials have privately said the trial will not be in New York, but publicly, they hew to the line that no final decisions have been made.

If Holder moves forward with the New York trial, he will trigger a backlash from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. If he does an about-face, he will need to make a convincing argument about why he changed his mind.

Many politicians and policymakers are afraid to reverse themselves publicly.

On most occasions, however, the politically awkward second thought is usually a good idea.

Feinstein, for example, has probably seen intelligence information that suggests holding terror trials in New York City would be dangerous.

“There’s nothing wrong with making a change,” Feinstein said on Thursday.

Holder will soon have to make his intentions known. And it’s a good bet that he will follow Feinstein’s lead.