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Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 10/07/2011

The Morning Plum

* Economists weigh in on the GOP’s jobs proposals: As I noted here yesterday, one particularly interesting thing about Obama’s press conference was his demand that reporters submit the GOP’s ideas for job creation to genuine scrutiny from the same economists who have evaluated Obama’s jobs plan.

Now Jackie Calmes has done exactly that, and she reports that they agree with the President that his plan will do a good deal more than the GOP’s ideas to help the economy in the short term:

While economic forecasts are not definitive, in that they are predictions, Macroeconomic Advisers, a St. Louis-based firm that the Federal Reserve often uses, has projected that the Obama jobs plan could increase economic growth by 1.25 percentage points and add 1.3 million jobs in 2012. Moody’s Analytics, another firm, has estimated it would add two percentage points and up to 1.9 million jobs.
Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said Republicans had “reasonable ideas” but not ones that could be measured by the firm’s forecasting model. He said he believed the proposals “would have little immediate effect relative to a plan that stimulates aggregate demand” — that is, a plan like Mr. Obama’s, with tax cuts and spending programs.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, similarly said the Republican proposals “are generally good longer-term economic policy, but they won’t mean much for the economy and job market in the next year.” He continued: “Given the high odds of another recession in the next few months, it is vital for Congress and the administration to provide some near-term support to the economy.”

The White House seemed frustrated in recent days by coverage of the economic debate. And Obama and his team have been looking for ways to get the news media to drill down harder on the question of whether the GOP’s contribution to the argument over what to do about the crisis should be taken seriously. Hence Obama’s decision to call out reporters himself yesterday. One of them, at least, took up his “homework” assignment.

* What happened in the Senate yesterday? It’s unbelievably convoluted, but Felicia Sonmez explains the procedural ins and outs of the battle on the Senate floor yesterday. Cliff notes version: Harry Reid and Dems got exasperated with what they charged were GOP efforts to stall a vote on the Chinese currency ma­nipu­la­tion bill, and:

Reid’s action set in motion a precedent-making change. Previously, it had been possible for the majority party to block amendments to a bill but not motions to suspend the rules. From Thursday night onward, it is now possible for the majority party to block both — making it more difficult for the minority to change legislation.

Brian Beutler theorizes that if the GOP takes back the Senate, they could seize on this small move as precedent for much bigger changes, including — gasp! — eliminating the filibuster and further empowering the GOP majority.

* Mitt Romney to light a field of foreign policy strawmen on fire: Romney is set to give a speech on foreign policy today in which he’ll accuse some President who exists only in his imagination of an “eloquently justified surrender of world leadership” and rebut the imagined arguments of “those who assert America’s moment has passed.”

* Twighlight of the neocons? In all seriousness, Richard Stevenson makes some good points in the above link about the decline of consensus within the GOP on foreign policy, which reflects war weariness even among Republicans, the waning influence of the neocons, and the dramatically weakened pull of 9/11 and terrorism on the GOP imagination.

* Obama allies attack Romney on foreign policy: Timed to today’s speech, the pro-Obama group Priorities USA Action is out with a new ad featuring John McCain declaring Romney unprepared for the responsibilities of commander in chief. The increased focus on Romney suggests Obama allies see him as the GOP primary frontrunner.

* Obama’s chances could turn on one key indicator: Real Clear Politics’ Alexis Simendinger talks to political scientists and concludes that his reelection hopes could turn on one thing — whether real disposable income is stable or climbing — and concludes (soberingly) that all the economic and political indicators we’re obsessing over right now might not make the slightest difference to the outcome.

Key footnote: This may be why Obama acknowledges that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago, and why he keeps talking about “stabilizing” the economy.

* Obama team keeps hammering GOP debate audiences: It’s interesting to see that the Obama campaign is continuing to aggressively highlight the booing of the gay soldier, this time to energize gay and lesbian voters. As I’ve been saying, these episodes will figure heavily towards efforts to draw a contrast between the two parties’ values that will frame what’s at stake in the next election and broaden it beyond a battle over the economy.

* The Occupy Wall Street protestors are absolutely right: Paul Krugman says what must not be said in polite company: The Occupy Wall Street protests are rooted in an accurate diagnosis of our political and economic woes:

The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right....
In the first act, bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. In the second act, the bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. And, in the third act, bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis.

Krugman also makes a great point in noting that rising public awareness about the larger story here gives Dems what amounts to a second chance.

* Only right wing uprisings are populist: Eric Boehlert on the puzzling reluctance of media figures to describe Occupy Wall Street as a “populist” movement, a lable many rushed to apply to the Tea Party

* And your comically hackneyed political cliche of the day: Get a load of this, from Clifford Asness, described by The Times as an “outspoken” hedge fund manager, explaining in an email why he’s backing Romney:

“Mitt Romney grasps how a free economy works, and doesn’t think our current problems come from job-killing A.T.M.’s and evil rich people. Nor does he think the solution is more stimulus, regulation and class warfare.”

Reflects so well on his class! Amusing to imagine this genius snickering at his own imagined cleverness and originality while he wrote this.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 10/07/2011

 
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