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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:44 AM ET, 09/13/2011

The Morning Plum

* Obama team aggressively moving to reset the dynamic on jobs: The notable thing about the current standoff over Obama’s jobs bill is that the White House seems to be aggressively trying to reset a dynamic that has repeatedly bedeviled the President in the past.

Yesterday Republicans came out against Obama’s plan to fund his proposal largely by raising taxes on the rich, and signaled a willingness to entertain passing only parts of his jobs bill. But Obama and his advisers continue to rebuff the GOP’s overtures, such as they are. Rather than signaling a willingness to compromise at the outset, as Obama and Dems repeatedly have done previously, Obama advisers continue to insist the GOP must pass his whole jobs package.

The exchange this morning on ABC News between Obama senior adviser David Axelrod and George Stepanopoulos is notable:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it all or nothing?
AXELROD: The President has a package. The package works together. We need to do many things to get this economy moving and people back to work, not just one thing. Tokenism isn’t enough. We want them to pass the plan. The American people want them to pass the plan. We don’t want to play games. We don’t want to engage in brinkmanship. We want to put people back to work. This package will do that. They ought to act now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it’s all or nothing?
AXELROD: We want them to act now on this package. We’re not in a negotiation to break up the package. It’s not an a la carte menu. It is a strategy to get this country moving.

Stephanopoulos is echoing the GOP framing of the debate here, but Axelrod isn’t taking the bait. Even if Obama advisers don’t expect the plan to pass in its current form, and are staking out this hard line only to strengthen their leverage, that alone is notable, and represents an effort to try a new approach, one rooted in a more accurate reading of the current political reality than the one that drove Obama’s approach in past standoffs. Make no mistake: If this approach holds, it’s a major reset.

* White House insists things will be different this time: Relatedly, here’s Eugene Robinson:

A senior White House official told me last week that this time is different. The official said Obama will continue to push for the whole enchilada — the tax cuts, the infrastructure bank, the targeted assistance for veterans and teachers, all of it. Such resolve, if Obama follows through, is music to the Democratic base and good news for the economy.

* Rick Perry can’t be bought ... for $5,000: Dana Milbank has all the highlights from last night’s debate in one tidy package, and concludes that Perry has been exposed as a sham. But this quote from Perry, responding to charges of cronyism over a contribution from Merck, has to be the best of the night:

“It was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”

* GOP establishment in a panic over Rick Perry? A must-read from the New York Times on the growing worry in top Republican circles about the prospect of having a nominee who won’t clarify whether he thinks Social Security should end as a Federal program. The fear is that Perry’s views will alienate the moderate and independent suburbanites that would be key to beating Obama.

Worth watching: Whether Perry angst will compel GOP establishment types to gravitate towards Mitt Romney despite considerable doubts about Romney’s ideological malleability and opportunism.

* Romney’s problem in attacking Perry over Social Security: As Steve Stromberg notes, whenever Romney tries to pin down Perry over his hostility towards Social Security, he risks seeming too “supportive of government-sponsored benefits for his conservative audience.”

This is a key dynamic to watch: How can Romney portray Perry as too extreme to be electable without alienating GOP primary voters and conservative opinionmakers who want to see Perry’s brand of swaggering combativeness towards government in their nominee?

* Romney acting like a Democrat on Social Security? Relatedly, as Steve Kornacki notes, influential conservative leaders are giving Perry valuable cover on Social Security by likening Romney’s attacks on him to the entitlements scare tactics employed against Republicans by — gasp! — Democrats. See, for instance, Rush Limbaugh.

* But Romney is finding his groove: A smart National Journal piece on how the need to respond to the Perry surge is making Romney a better candidate who’s now relentlessly focusing on winning the centrist wing of the GOP.

Key takeaway: If he prevails, a sustained battle with Perry will make Romney into a formidable general election candidate.

* The GOP primary audience was on display, too: As Steve Benen notes, the cheering and applause that greeted Wolf Blitzer’s question about whether we should let someone without insurance die may have been at least as revealing about GOP primary politics as anything the candidates said.

* Why national Dems are so worried about losing Weiner’s seat: Stuart Rothenberg notes that the possibility of a loss in NY-9 today has Beltway Dem party insiders panicked because it will serve as a bracing reminder that jobs, and not Medicare, will be the defining issue in House races next year, deflating one of the most cherished of Dem narratives.

* Medicare falling short as an issue: Indeed, as Jessica Taylor notes in a useful preview of today’s contest, the Dem candidate campaigned extensively against the GOP Medicare plan among the many seniors in the district, and it may prove to have been insufficient, which will be a serious cause for concern among Dem strategists.

* And now for some real straight talk on Social Security: Never mind Rick Perry’s fake straight talk about the program’s future. If you want real gutsy talk on what it will take to save Social Security, read Kevin Drum.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:44 AM ET, 09/13/2011

 
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