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Posted at 08:31 AM ET, 10/14/2011

The Morning Plum

* Who’s winning the epic argument over government? The 2012 campaign is shaping up as an epic argument over the core question of whether the Federal government can act at a time of severe national crisis to bring Americans relief from serious economic suffering, and a new National Journal poll gives some solace to both sides.

It suggests public attitudes on this question are in serious flux — which only raises the stakes for this showdown. The poll finds that the percentage of those who say that “government is not the solution to our economic problems; government is the problem” has edged up to 40 percent. That bolsters the widely made claim that skepticism about government’s ability to act to create jobs is perilously high for Democrats.

At the same time, though, a total of 56 percent wants government to play an active role in the economy. The rub is that 29 percent of those are not sure whether government can be effective in this regard, even if they want to see it try, anyway. Meanwhile, 27 percent do have confidence in government’s ability to regulate the marketplace. That’s unquestionably low — but there’s a sizable bloc out there (the 29 percent) that wants to be persuaded of government’s efficacy.

In other words, amid high public anxiety about the economy, attitudes are mixed and unsettled on the core question at the heart of the public argument right now — meaning there’s plenty of room for things to go either way in the next 13 months. This could be looked back on as a pivotal moment in the larger sweep of our politics.

* Public skeptical of Obama policies, but even more so of GOP: Speaking of mixed attitudes, the poll also finds that a plurality of 48 percent say Obama’s policies have run up a record deficit while failing to slow job loss — obviously bad for Obama. And as the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes, disapproval of Obama is beginning to harden.

But it also finds that 42 percent say his policies are starting to move things in the right direction, and 11 percent say we’re significantly better off because of them, for a total of 53 percent — versus only 41 percent who buy the conservative argument that he’s made things worse. While the 40 percent who trust Obama to solve our economic problems is low, an even more abysmal 33 percent trust Congressional Republicans.

Also: Very solid majorities believe the Dem argument that a combination of Bush’s economic policies, and risky loans and investments by banks and investment firms, caused the crisis. So again: Public attitudes are very much up for grabs, adding to the urgency of winning this argument.

* Nope, government regulations are not to blame, part 973: CNN becomes the latest news org to deliver a decisive takedown of the false claim that government regulations are strangling the recovery.

In the first two quarters of this year, only 2,085 new unemployment claims were attributed to government regulation, while 55,759 were tied to insufficient demand, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data on mass layoffs. Furthermore, less than 20% of small business owners cite government regulations as their most important problem, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business.

It’s worth noting that news orgs have done a pretty good job of knocking this one down. More links here.

* Occupy Wall Street wins one: Brookfield Properties has decided to postpone its cleanup of Occupy Wall Street’s unofficial headquarters, seemingly out of a desire to avoid a major confrontation between protestors and police that would have been international news, suggesting a victory for the movement and perhaps a sign of its durability.

Greg Mitchell is liveblogging the day’s events right here.

* The right’s wretched and dishonest response to OWS: Brian Beutler has a nice takedown of one of the most reprehensible conservative memes out there: The attack on the poor, disabled and elderly who make up the much-maligned “47 percent.”

* Republicans love green energy projects — in their own districts: Add Orrin Hatch to the list of GOPers who touted green energy projects in their own districts: USA Today reports that he hailed the potential of a green energy company in his own district, one that got Federal money, just before it went belly-up.

* DNC keeps hitting Romney over payroll tax cut: The DNC is out with a new Web video signaling that Dems are hoping to turn Mitt Romney’s description of the payroll tax cut as a “little Band-Aid” into a representative moment, and a flashpoint in the battle for middle class voters.

“Fifteen hundred dollars might be a Band-Aid to Mitt Romney, but for middle class families, $1,500 goes a long way,” the vid concludes. Look for Romney’s wealth to be turned into an issue in various subtle ways.

* The GOP and rabbit hole economics: Paul Krugman on how the GOP is responding to the financial crisis that discredited the conservative anti-regulatory worldview by becoming a charicature of itself — and why that’s “terrifying”:

It’s a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But it’s much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that already has the power to block anything the president proposes — and which may soon control the whole government.

* Massachusetts Senate race update: As I’ve been saying, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the attacks on alleged “elitist” Elizabeth Warren from “school of hard knocks” Scott Brown ensure that this is shaping up as a battle of their biographies, as well as a showdown over deregulation and the economy.

* And the Tea Party will fall behind Romney: Ignore all the noise Tea Partyers and right-wingers are making about Romney’s faux conservativsm: The bottom line is that Tea Partyers will rapidly fall behind Romney should he become the nominee — because the alternative is total irrelevance.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:31 AM ET, 10/14/2011

 
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