* Obama and Dems winning the battle over Medicare: New Post polling out this morning demonstrates this in the clearest terms yet. The poll finds that Obama holds a double digit lead over Republicans on who is most trusted to do a better job “protecting the Medicare system,” 49-35. That’s almost as big an advantage that Bill Clinton held on the issue amid the standoff with Republicans in 1995, which Clinton decisively won.
That’s not all. The poll also finds that less than a third of Americans, 32 percent, support the GOP Medicare plan, even though the question merely says it would “change” Medicare, not end it, and specifies that the plan would not change the status of those over 55, a key GOP defense of the proposal. Forty-nine percent oppose it.
Still more: A plurality, 49 percent, believe the GOP plan will force future generations of Medicare recipients to pay more for health insurance, while barely more than a fourth, 27 percent, thinks things would stay the same. Though Dems have been widely accused of demagoguing the GOP Medicare plan, it just may be that the public has rejected it on the merits.
* It’s false to claim Dems have no plan on Medicare: Post fact checker Glenn Kessler knocks down the ubiquitous claim that Dems would destroy Medicare by doing nothing (though he also faults some Dem claims about the GOP):
It’s incorrect to say they have no plan, because...there are proposals and plans within the new health-care law that seek to reduce Medicare costs. To some extent, the Democrats already passed their Medicare plan last year. One certainly can argue whether the ideas are good or bad — or go far enough — but it is disingenuous for Republicans to claim that either a) there is no Democratic plan or b) the Democrats want to steer Medicare on a course toward bankruptcy.
The larger political context here is important. As I wrote the other day, the claim that Dems have previously cut Medicare or would destroy it by doing nothing is part of a broader effort to muddy the waters by attacking Dems from the left on the popular entitlement program, and it’s an implicit acknowledgment that Dems have won the argument over the issue.
* But Republicans have the leverage in the debt ceiling fight: The Post poll also finds that barely half of Americans support raising the debt limit even with deep spending cuts, and even though large majorities think failing to do so will harm the economy.
It’s a sign public attitudes on the debt ceiling are being shaped by general hostility to government spending. Raising the debt ceiling is not about additional spending, as the White House points out; it’s about the U.S. government honoring its obligations. But nonetheless, the political landscape in this fight clearly favors Republicans.
* Dems keep hammering Mitt for getting auto bailout wrong: With Romney set to do a fundraising swing through Detroit today, the DNC is out with a new Web video featuring footage of him sharply criticizing Obama’s decision to bail out the auto industry, which is now widely seen as the right move.
Key takeaway: Amid a lot of bad economic news, the rescue of the auto companies is an example of Federal intervention resulting in a clear, unequivocal success story, and Dems will make it central in the battle for swing states in the industrial midwest.
* Romney sticking by belief in climate change, come what may: An amusing look at the political difficulties Mitt has brought upon himself among conservatives by refusing to abandon his sensible position that climate change is caused by humans.
Yup: Romney — who was the personification of ideological malleability and opportunism n 2008 — has now emerged as the most consistent of the GOP candidates.
* Obama reelect reality check of the day: Chris Cillizza and Perry Bacon on how Dems are privately conceding the 2012 route to victory will be much narrower than last time and are acknowledging they face a major challenge as the economy continues to lag badly in the key swing states.
* Obama reelect knows economy is make or break: Indeed, Obama’s decision to tap Austan Goolsbee to play a big role as an economic spokesman for the reelection campaign is an implicit acknowledgment that the bad economy will define the 2012 campaign more than any other issue.
* 2012 question of the day: But there’s also this, from ABC’s The Note: “If Obama is so vulnerable, then why is the GOP field so unsettled?”
* Sighting: New policy to deal with unemployment? Bloomberg reports that the Obama team is eyeing a temporary cut in the payroll tax to spur hiring.
* Top GOP fundraiser faces new scrutiny: Dan Eggan has the tale of a House GOP fundraising leader, Rep Vern Buchanan, who is facing new questions about his previous ownership of a car dealership that’s been accused of illegal donations to his own campaign.
* A quick solution to the Anthony Weiner mess: Dems may simply redistrict his seat out of existence.
* Weinergate headline of the day: From Dave Weigel, on news of his wife’s pregnancy:
Weiner Will Soon Have Family to Spend More Time With
* And can we stop talking about Sarah Palin now? A new CBS poll finds that a majority of Republicans, and fully 50 percent of Tea Party supporters, don’t want her to run for president. Note to media: The bus tour was a massive con job.
What else is happening?