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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:33 AM ET, 11/04/2011

The Morning Plum

* Obama’s very difficult route to reelection: My pick for read of the morning is Ron Brownstein’s very sobering look at the Obama team’s assessment of the unpleasant political realities the President faces as his advisers map out what is shaping up as an extremely narrow path to reelection. Obama advisers don’t expect the economy to rebound fast enough to give him significant help, and are prepared for his approval rating next fall to remain in the danger zone in key swing states:

Unless Obama can rebuild his approval rating above 50 percent, which seems unlikely without faster economic growth, he’ll win reelection only by convincing several million voters currently disappointed in him that they would like the Republican alternative even less. That points toward a bruising year.
Obama strategists say that no matter whom the GOP nominates, the president will deliver the same core message: A Republican president would rubber-stamp the agenda of the GOP Congress and return to policies that caused the crash, favor the wealthy, and squeeze the middle class. Against any Republican, Obama appears determined to stress the populist notes he’s amplified lately about economic inequality.
But the GOP alternatives will provide very different contexts for those arguments...Texas Gov. Rick Perry, they believe, might be a stronger competitor than Mitt Romney for blue-collar whites and Latinos but ease Obama’s recovery with economically discontented white-collar whites who still generally prefer that their president believe in evolution. The former Massachusetts governor offers the inverse equation: Although his boardroom background may play well in white-collar suburbs, it could alienate blue-collar whites if Obama can portray him as embodying cutthroat corporate greed.

This dovetails exactly with my own reporting. The Obama team hopes Romney’s corporate past, low millionaire tax rate (he violates the Buffett Rule) and his string of quotes hinting at a lack of empathy for the middle class represent potentially serious, but unexplored, vulnerabilities. After crunching the demographics in key states, Obama advisers are hoping all this will render him the wrong candidate for the current cultural, political and economic moment, provided that resurgent populism and anti-Wall Street hostility continue to shape the political environment next year.

* Today’s jobs report: Just in:

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend up in October (+80,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment in the private sector rose, with modest job growth continuing in professional and businesses services, leisure and hospitality, health care, and mining. Government employment continued to trend down.

More austerity, please!

* Putting millionaires before jobs: This New York Times editorial puts yesterday’s Senate GOP blockade the infrastructure and jobs bill in the proper perspective:

...the bill would pay for itself with a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million. That would affect about 345,000 taxpayers, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, adding an average of $13,457 to their annual tax bills. Protecting that elite group — and hewing to their rigid antitax vows — was more important to Senate Republicans than the thousands of construction jobs the bill would have helped create, or the millions of people who would have used the rebuilt roads, bridges and airports.

This is a stark and unpleasant prospect to entertain. But it’s getting harder and harder to avoid.

* Awful media coverage of GOP blockade of jobs plan: Yesterday, Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered the infrastructure plan, voting en masse against it even advancing to debate. But as Steve Benen explains, some major news orgs are simply unwilling or incapable of explaining what actually happened to their readers and viewers.

* Even the wealthy would benefit from more jobs: Economist Brad DeLong makes a great point — the “one percent” should recognize that they, too, have a strong interest in seeing jobs legislation pass, because they “have an interest in full employment, high capacity utilization, and general prosperity just as the rest of us do.”

* Today in supercommittee follies: The chart of the day, courtesy of Brian Beutler, shows in the starkest terms possible that the GOP contribution to the supercommittee contains exactly zero in the way of expansionary fiscal measures:

The GOP plan contained about $2.2 trillion in cuts — well over the $1.2 trillion minimum required of the Super Committee by the debt limit law. That left the Republicans ample room to include many kinds of near-term growth measures, but they picked none.

* Dems drawing a hard line on taxes? John Boehner is claiming that Dems are proposing a compromise with too much in the way of tax increases and too little in the way of “entitlement reform.” But the GOP counteroffer contains no tax increases, and Dems are saying No Way:

The Republican counteroffer, by contrast, contained no tax increases. Instead, it offered to generate new revenue solely through economic growth and through the less-generous inflation index, which would push people into higher tax brackets faster. Until Republicans agree to significant taxes, several Democrats said, the supercommittee would remain at a standstill.

Are both parties offering a compromise proposal that would involve major concessions from both sides, or is only one party offering that?

* Fact checking Obama/Dem claims about jobs: Glenn Kessler takes a look at Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s claims that unemployment would have been far worse without his policies, and concludes that they are guilty of a selective shading of the facts and numbers, but no outright falsehoods.

For context, consider that conservatives claim precisely the opposite: That Obama’s policies are what made things worse than they otherwise might have been, rather than better than they might have been.

* Schooling the inequality deniers: Paul Krugman knocks down all the arguments of the inequality deniers, one by one, and has the last word on what’s really hanging in the balance:“the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake.”

* Gun-running saga stretches back to Bush years: The Associated press scoops that Bush attorney general Michael Mukasey was briefed on the federal program to track illicitly purchased guns — now being probed by GOP investigations chief Darrell Issa, who has his sights on Eric Holder — way back in 2007:

The information contained in one paragraph of a lengthy Nov. 16, 2007, document marks the first known instance of an attorney general being given information about the tactic known as “gun-walking.”

Expect Dems to press Issa on the fact that he previously promised to investigate the Bush administration if necessary.

* Herman Cain saga continues apace: One of Cain’s accusers has prepared a statement rebutting his version of events, and is awaiting the National Restaurant Association’s approval to release it. (Linked fixed.)

* But no stopping the Cainmentum!!!Scandal? What scandal? Today’s Post poll finds that Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are still neck and neck, and — crucially — seven in 10 Republicans say the allegations against him don’t matter when it comes to picking a candidate.

* And Cain is set to take victimization narrative to new heights: He’s preparing to blitz Iowa and Nevada with TV ads and robocalls explicitly casting himself to a persecuted latter-day Clarence Thomas. No word on whether the new spot will feature Cain wearing a crown of thorns.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:33 AM ET, 11/04/2011

 
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