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Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

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Posted at 09:14 AM ET, 10/04/2011

The Morning Plum

* Obama’s political dilemma: Yesterday, Eric Cantor said that the American Jobs Act is dead on arrival in its current form. This isn’t a surprise; no one expected it to pass in its current form. Obama and his advisers have been urging Congress to pass the whole bill as is, but no one expected Congress to listen to him, perhaps least of all Obama himself. He will continue to prod Congress to pass the whole bill, in hopes of getting parts of it passed, and in hopes of persuading the public that he is trying to act on jobs, but Congress won’t let him.

A new CBS poll finds that nearly seven in 10 don’t think Obama has made real progress in fixing the economy. Today’s Post poll finds Obama’s approval at an all time low of 42 percent. Yet at the same time, multiple polls have shown that large majorities, including of independents and moderates, support the fiscal policies Obama is championing — and that Republicans oppose.

The political dilemma Obama faces is stark: Republicans benefit politically from blocking measures that majorities think would help unemployment. Even if Republicans hold lower approval numbers than the president — and even if Republicans are blocking job creation measures that the public supports — the plain fact is that as long as the economy struggles, Obama will continue to pay the largest political price for it. He runs the place.

The only conceivable way out of this trap is to either get something passed or to get the public to focus their anger and blame on Republicans for refusing to support his proposals. And that’s where the American Jobs Act — dead, or not — comes in. The White House will continue to campaign for it. For all their griping about it, Senate Democrats will take it up this month, and it remains to be seen how Democratic leaders will proceed.

But we do know that practically nothing will happen in the House. And the White House will have to hope that House Republicans will make a potent enough foil to enable Obama to break a political dynamic that, at present, seems unbreakable.

* What’s the GOP jobs plan? Bruce Bartlett, in a hard hitting piece, lays it on the line:

Republicans have a problem. People are increasingly concerned about unemployment, but Republicans have nothing to offer them. The G.O.P. opposes additional government spending for jobs programs and, in fact, favors big cuts in spending that would be likely to lead to further layoffs at all levels of government.
Republicans favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, but these had no stimulative effect during the George W. Bush administration and there is no reason to believe that more of them will have any today.

The question for Obama is: How can he get this to matter to voters?

* Rick Perry’s 15 minutes are almost up: Perry seems to be self-destructing as a national candidate as more and more of his positions and controversial statements get aired out in public. Today’s Post poll finds that Perry is dropping as fast as Herman Cain is rising, with Perry and Cain now tied for second place among GOP leaners. Mitt Romney is ahead with 21 percent, while Perry and Cain each have 14 percent.

* The more they see of Perry, the less they like: Here’s why Perry is dropping: A plurality of Republicans, 44 percent, say they more they see of him the less they like, while 47 percent say the opposite of Cain.

* Romney winning the electability argument: Key number for Romney: Fifty one percent of Republicans say he has the better chance of beating Obama, versus only 31 percent who say that about Perry.

Remarkably enough, Romney’s argument is working: Republicans are coming around to the idea that someone who issues a quasi-threat towards the Fed chairman, wants to repeal the 16th Amendment, compares Social Security to a criminal enterprise, and won’t clarify whether he wants to devolve aspects of the program to the states might not be an ideal general election candidate.

* Romney poised to broaden his appeal: The Post poll finds that Romney is the second choice of supporters of both Sarah Palin and Chris Christie, suggesting that Romney seems to be broadening his appeal among a widening range of the GOP primary electorate

* Still pining for Christie? Maybe not so much: Nearly six in 10 Republicans either doesn’t want Christie to enter the race or doesn’t have an opinion, suggesting that the notion of a massive groundswell for Christie was largely a media creation. And this is before Republicans have even gotten to know his positions on their key issues!

* Cain slams Christie’s liberalism: As Herman Cain rightly pointed out on Fox News, GOP primary voters don’t know about Cristie’s more sensible and moderate positions, and if he runs, soon enough they will.

Indeed, CBS News’s poll finds that 63 percent of GOPers don’t know if they support Christie or don’t know enough to say.

* Obama edging all GOP challengers: The President is ahead in head to head matchups with Romney (47-46), Perry (49-44), and Christie (46-44), a reminder that for all Obama’s bad approval numbers, presidential elections are, you know, choices between two people.

* Elizabeth Warren’s first big test: She’s set to debate her Dem primary opponents today. Asked how much time she spent preparing, she replied: “Oh, probably about 30 years? These are the issues I’ve been working on probably my entire adult life.”

Warren has undeniable depth on the issues, but this will be the first time she faces off directly against hostile opponents in a campaign setting.

* Occupy Wall Street gaining labor support: The protests are gaining the support of top New York labor unions, and the question remains how — or whether — the budding movement can gain support and direction from major lefty groups while maintaining its spontaneous, grassroots character.

* Defining Occupy Wall Street: With so many people demanding that the protest coalesce around an agend, Betsy Reed offers a rejoinder:

Sometimes, you also need a spark. “Occupy Wall Street,” as an idea and an action, is a stroke of brilliance. It’s not poll-tested or focus-grouped, but it expresses perfectly the outrage that is the appropriate response to the maddening political situation we find ourselves in today. It succeeds as symbolic politics: taking back the square is just what we need to do.

* And the sob story of the day: Democratic Senators and their aides are now running to the press to anonymously gripe that ... Obama left them on a phone call for a few minutes. Do Republicans anonymously leak stories about their own internal discored even a fraction of the time Dems do?

By  |  09:14 AM ET, 10/04/2011

 
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