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Posted at 08:48 AM ET, 05/11/2011

The Morning Plum

* Left ratchets up pressure on Dems: Take Medicare cuts off the table!

Senate Democrats are set to meet today with Obama to discuss strategies for negotiating with the GOP. One key topic: Now that John Boehner has called for “trillions” in cuts in exchange for a debt ceiling hike, how firm a line will Dems draw against Medicare cuts?

The left thinks Dems have an opportunity on their hands, and MoveOn today will call on its members to deluge Senate offices with demands that Dems urge Obama to “make clear to Republicans, and the country, that he’s not cutting Medicare and he won’t negotiate with hostage takers.”

Liberals think John Boehner’s speech calling for “trillions” in cuts has handed the White House and Dems an opportunity to put Republicans on the spot by asking what they would cut to achieve that goal, since it would have to include Medicare — an opening to mount a firm defense of the popular program. We’ll know more about how the Dems intend to respond after the White House-Senate meeting today.

* Can Dems use Big Oil subsidies to reframe deficit debate? Today, Dems will intensify their push to end subsidies for the nation’s five most profitable oil companies, an effort to force the GOP to drop its staunch opposition to using increased revenues, as opposed to straight tax hikes, as a way to reduce the deficit.

Republicans have countered that the Dem plan does constitute a tax hike. But Steve Stromberg argues that getting rid of oil industry tax breaks are easily understood by the public as an easy way to raise revenues by uncomplicating the tax code.

* Wall Street to GOP: Tax hikes must be on the table! Reuters has the scoop:

A majority of top Wall Street bond dealers and money managers say spending cuts alone cannot solve the U.S. budget problems and tax increases must be part of the mix.

In a Reuters survey conducted on Tuesday, 17 out of 29 fund managers and economists representing major Wall Street bond dealing firms said the Republicans’ favored option of spending cuts alone would not a work.

Steve Benen notes that this could represent another instance where Wall Street and the GOP “aren’t on the same page,” just as Dems tried to drive a wedge between the two over the debt ceiling.

* Bloomberg News fact-checks Boehner’s debt ceiling speech: A tough piece on the Speaker’s speech concludes that he “built his case on several assertions that are contradicted by market indicators and government reports.”

* Outside cash pours into special House election: Here’s video of the new ad that the Rove-founded American Crossroads is running in the nationally watched special House election in New York’s 26th district. The ad doesn’t attack the surging Democrat; instead the target is the independent candidate who’s siphoning votes from the Republican and could help Dems pull off a major upset.

The key question that strategists watching the race are asking: Does this portend more third party challenges that could help topple GOP incumbents next year?

* Can Wisconsin Dems take back the state senate? Sean Trende, who has been skeptical of that possiblity, takes a very detailed look at the state of play in the recall battles and explains why Dem chances are looking up a bit, though he still favors the GOP.

* Did death of Bin Laden give Obama boost on economy? A new Associated Press poll finds that Obama’s post-Bin Laden bounce has lifted him to 60 percent approval ratings. But more interestingly, it seems to have helped boost Obama’s approval on the economy to 52 percent, suggesting that rising general impressions of his strong leadership could spill over into the area of his greatest vulnerability. Of course, the Bin Laden bounce is sure to fade, leaving Obama with the ailing economy as the dominant factor.

* Life as a GOP Congressman in the Paul Ryan era: This is a very interesting look at the pressures and challenges endured by a freshman Republican Congressman in a marginal district — Michael Grimm of New York — as he comes under pressure from Dems over his support for the Ryan Medicare proposal.

* Could Bin Laden’s death intensify pressure to end Afghan war? USA Today/Gallup finds that nearly six in 10 think America has accomplished its mission in Afghanistan and should come home, suggesting that if ever there were a ripe time to declare victory and come home, now is it. Also keep an eye on the bipartisan consensus building in Congress for withdrawal.

* But Pentagon sees different role for Bin Laden’s death: According to this interesting look at the developing debate over what’s next in Afghanistan, Pentagon insiders think that Bin Laden’s death should be a catalyst not for withdrawal, but for securing more gains and pushing the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

* The next brewing controversy: My gosh, why is Obama talking about the death of Osama Bin Laden in his political stump speeches?

* Reality check of the day: It's clear that some on the right are going to accuse Obama of politicizing Bin Laden’s death by mentioning it at all, but as Perry Bacon notes, his killing is unlikely to be any kind of factor in Obama’s reelection campaign next year.

* And is the GOP planning for “permanent war on terror”? Dems are protesting a little-noticed GOP provision that would affirm that the U.S. is at war with an enemy without name, which Dems worry would give Presidents unfettered authority to wage war without Congressional assent.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:48 AM ET, 05/11/2011

 
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