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Posted at 08:54 AM ET, 11/01/2011

The Morning Plum

* “Moderate” Senators might not support infrastructure spending: Are there any job creation policies requiring tax hikes on the ultra rich that certain “moderate” Senate Democrats and Republicans will support? The Senate is set to vote for another key piece of Obama’s jobs plan this week — new spending to repair the nation’s infrastructure, with the goal of putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job.

But it’s still unclear whether senators Ben Nelson, Jon Tester, and Mark Pryor will vote to allow debate on it, apparently because of concerns about how it’s paid for, even though increased infrastructure spending, and a surtax on millionaires, are favored by large majorities of the American people, including independents and even Republicans.

So it’s time to pull out this handy data from Citizens for Tax Justice once again. It shows that in Nebraska, Montana, and Arkansas — the home states of those three senators — the millionaire surtax that would pay for the measure would hit exactly 0.1 percent of their constituents. Also: Two of the leading so-called moderate Republicans who are likely to oppose this plan — Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins — will be voting to protect the wealth of 0.1 percent of Mainers, too.

* Members of Congress are getting richer: Perhaps relatedly, the fun fact of the day:

Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members’ financial disclosure forms.

* Obama continues going around Congress on jobs: Today’s move: An executive action designating Ft. Monroe a national monument, which the White House says will create 3,000 jobs.

Key takeaway: This sort of thing only underscores just how limited Obama’s actions on the economy will remain as long as Congress refuses to act to alleviate a national crisis afflicting millions of Americans.

* Today in supercommittee follies: The likelihood is mounting that the supercommittee will fail, leading to a great deal of handwringing in both parties about all the public blame that will be heaped on the supercommittee if they fail to reach a deal.

So let’s be really clear. Democrats have agreed to deep cuts in Medicare in exchange for the tax hikes that most fiscal experts agree are absolutely necessary to fix the deficit. The Dem offer is well to the right of previous bipartisan proposals. But Republicans have said No, insisting that the only revenue increases they can stomach will come from closing loopholes.

If the supercommittee fails, brace yourself for a whole bunch of bogus false-equivalence reporting to the effect that both sides, or the generic “Congress,” are to blame.

* DNC amplifies claim that GOP is deliberately tanking economy: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in an Op ed today, crystallizes the emerging Obama reelection message:

The president continues to work hard to turn the economy around. Republicans need to get off the sidelines and join him and stop rooting for the economy’s failure in order to win an election.

With David Axelrod making this charge over the weekend, it’s becoming clearer that the explicit allegation that Republicans are trying to impede the recovery for political gain will be central in 2012. The question is whether media figures will start discussing it more widely — it’s central to our poltics right now — and whether Republicans will feel compelled to respond to it.

Footnote: Senate Dem opposition to Obama’s policies doesn’t make it any easier to make this case.

* The sane conservative view of Herman Cain’s travails: The boneheaded conservative response to the Cain story has been to shriek about a racist liberal media conspiracy. Paul Gigot offers the alternative conservative take: The pressure will now be on Cain to convince voters that the charges are false — and to show that he can handle a new phase of even tougher scrutiny that this episode signals is still to come.

* The other real Herman Cain scandal — campaign finance: Dan Eggen has a niece explainer on the other Cain story of the moment: A Wisconsin tax-exempt charity paid out some $40,000 worth of campaign expenses as his presidential effort got going earlier this year — and federal law doesn’t allow nonprofit charities to donate to political campaigns.

Says one expert: “It looks like a law school exam on potential campaign finance violations.”

* Rick Perry’s tax plan would help the super rich: The New York Times boils it down:

Of all households in the bottom quintile of the tax distribution, only 18.9 percent would pay less in taxes under the Perry plan. Meanwhile, 83.3 percent of households in the top quintile would get a tax cut. Closer inspection shows that almost every household in the top 1 percent would be offered a tax cut. The size of the typical tax cut is also much larger for the richest households, both in raw numbers and as a share of that household’s income. For households in the top 0.1 percent, for example, after-tax income would rise by 27.4 percent

Let me put it on a postcard for you: Under Perry’s tax plan, the richer you are, the better off you’d be. (Update: Error fixed. Apologies for the sloppiness.)

* The conservative case for Mitt Romney: Michael Gerson attempts it, and isn’t an easy one to make. Cliff notes version: His history of ideological malleability could be a positive, because it would make it tougher to abandon conservative principles without provoking a massive backlash from the right; and his pragmatism may ensure that he doesn’t get too radical and turn the public off of conservatism.

Not sure this will fly, but if you start hearing more Republicans making this case, it might mean the establishment is finally coalescing around him.

* Support for Occupy Wall Street flows in: Occupy Wall Street has released its first financial disclosure statement, and claims to have raised nearly half a million dollars in a month, another potential sign of the grassroots support for the protests from around the country.

* And here’s today’s outbreak of Obama derangement syndrome: Virginia’s Loudoun County GOP has circulated an email containing a picture of Obama as a zombie with part of his skull missing and a bullet hole in his head — an image that has drawn strong condemnation Democrats and from the state Republican Party of Virginia.

George Ogilvie, a spokesman for the Secret Service, tells me: “We’re aware of the situation.”

What else is happening?

By  |  08:54 AM ET, 11/01/2011

 
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