* The big disconnect: Public strongly supports Obama’s deficit policies, but disapproves of his handling of issue, anyway:
New Washington Post/ABC News polling released this morning is unequivocal: There is strong across the board support for Obama’s policy preferences on the deficit.
And yet, in what appears to be an emerging pattern, that support is not matched by general approval of Obama’s handling of fiscal matters.
The poll finds that 72 percent overall, and 68 percent of independents, support hiking taxes on those over $250,000. Even 54 percent of Republicans support this.
Meanwhile, 65 percent say Medicare should remain as it is today and should not be transformed into a voucher program. Only 34 percent favor changing the program.
A solid majority, 59 percent, also supports a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts to reduce the deficit — the Dem approach — versus only 36 percent who support only cuts.
But only 39 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the deficit, versus 58 percent who disapprove. That’s better, but only marginally so, than the GOP’s 33-64 spread on the same question. And more say the GOP is taking a stronger leadership role than Obama, 45-40. This matches yesterday’s McClatchy poll, which found the same disconnect.
Either voters don’t know what Obama’s proposals are; or they do, but the GOP’s success in creating generalized anxiety about Dem overspending continues to dominate; or perhaps all views of Obama are colored by unease about the economy. Whatever the cause, closing this disconnect — translating support for Obama’s policies into confidence in his economic and fiscal leadership — is perhaps Obama’s central political challenge.
* Obama sticking with harsh critique of GOP fiscal vision: Republicans have been arguing that Obama’s speech denouncing the GOP in harsh terms risks alienating independents, but polling like the above may help explain why Obama seems to be sticking with the voice he found last week.
ICYMI: Obama’s two-track approach for winning back independents.
* Lefty groups gear up against Ryan Medicare plan: The House Majority PAC, a super PAC created to win back the House for Dems, is going up with a new radio spot slamming ten House GOPers for backing a proposal that “cuts taxes by trillions for the wealthiest Americans” in order to “end Medicare as we know it.”
The spot is another sign of how quickly Dems and the left are moving to make Medicare and high end taxes the central issues in the 2012 elections.
* White House to move against anonymous spending? This could be big today: The White House is reportedly considering a number of ways of forcing disclosure of the sort of anonymous contributions that funded millions of dollars worth of attack ads against Dems last year — and are expected to do so again in 2012.
The Chamber of Commerce is already denouncing the move as “intimidation,” a reprise of the right’s complaint when Dems sounded the alarm about secret money last year.
* Business groups set to push for debt ceiling hike: his is interesting: The U.S. Chamber and other business groups are set to increase the pressure on Congress to approve a raise in the debt ceiling, and some have been privately lobbying House Republicans on the issue.
As I’ve noted here before, Dems are hoping to use the issue to drive a wedge between the GOP’s big business backers and the Tea Party base.
* Debt ceiling vote creating “dilemma” for House Republicans: Good piece by Philip Rucker taking us inside GOP Rep. David Schweiker’s thinking as he grapples with the fact that his desire to vote against raising the debt ceiling would cause the economy to “crash.”
Also note Rucker’s point that the dilemma Schweiker and other GOPers face is partly of their own making.
* Dems failed to draw hard enough line on debt ceiling: E.J. Dionne on how the White House and Dems botched an opportunity by failing to draw a hard enough line demanding a “clean” debt ceiling vote at the outset.
* Obama saying the right things on Social Security? David Dayen finds encouraging evidence that Obama isn’t going the way of the “Gang of Six” on Social Security “changes.”
Key dynamic to watch: The real nature of the role Dick Durbin, a close ally of the President, is playing in the “Gang of Six” talks. More on this later.
* Republicans still struggling to slay “birther” monster: The drive by establishment Republicans to put the “birther” genie back in the bottle is getting more and more urgent by the day, as GOP leaders recognize the potential for catastrophe in 2012.
* And today’s 2012 Trump hucksterism alert: It’s good to see that national reporters are beginning to press Donald Trump hard on his claims about his brilliant business acumen. Keep in mind: All that matters is whether Trump will really open his books — until he agrees to do so, all the presidential talk is pure B.S.
What else is happening?