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Posted at 09:04 AM ET, 11/17/2011

The Morning Plum

* Newsflash: Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street’s message: There was a good deal of crowing in some quarters yesterday about a new poll showing support dropping for Occupy Wall Street. And there’s no sugar coating the fact that the movement should be very concerned about its image and direction.

But a new poll today from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests something that national Dems should not lose sight of as the battle over Occupy Wall Street’s meaning continues: Americans agree with the basic critique of the system embodied by the movement.

It finds that 67 percent of Americans agree that government should do more to reduce the gap between rich and poor, which a large majority says is growing. Sixty nine percent favor hiking taxes on millionaires. Fifty seven percent favor eliminating tax breaks for corporations. Sixty seven percent oppose cutting federal programs that help the poor (though a large majority also says the poor are too dependent on government). A plurality, 48 percent, thinks the American Dream — that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead — no longer holds true. These general findings are borne out in many other polls.

Caveats: Those were not presented directly as ideas embodied by Occupy Wall Street. Only 29 percent say the movement shares their “values,” though an identical number says that about the Tea Party. In this poll the two movements command roughly equivalent levels of support. But Occupy Wall Street still seems to be perceived as radical, and is still in danger of fizzling. It may never succeed in persuading Americans of this fact, but for all the excesses and violence, the concerns about inequality, economic unfairness, and an increasingly rigged system that are driving the protests are thoroughly mainstream in nature. As the broader conversation continues, Dems should not forget this.

* What polls really say about Occupy Wall Street: The Associated Press, to its credit, gets it right about public opinion and the movement:

Polling shows the public supports the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement even if people have reservations about the encampments themselves. And political observers say Democrats may be missing a chance to reinvigorate their base. “It’s injecting energy and life into progressive ideas and values, and it’s showing some weak-kneed Democrats they should be more aggressive on those issues,” Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic strategist and longtime labor leader, said.

* Widespread GOP panic about the possibility of new revenues: The latest in supercommittee follies: Discussions about raising new revenues to close the deficit are now sparking a massive backlash among some Congressional Republicans and conservative groups, who are urging their supercommittee colleagues not go give an inch of ground lest they violate sacred party orthodoxy.

Since this keeps getting lost in the discussion, it bears repeating: Conservatives are denouncing this proposal for new revenues even though it also includes making the Bush tax cuts permanent, which would constitute a huge tax cut for the wealthy.

* The latest supercommittee machinations: Dems have made a new offer that would cut spending by nearly$900 billion in exchange for $400 billion in new revenues. My handy Plum Line calculator tells me that the spending cuts in this new offer are more than twice the amount of new taxes.

But Republicans are rejecting the offer because it doesn’t make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

* The best way to reduce the defict: Relatedly, E.J. Dionne has an important reminder:

Here is a surefire way to cut $7.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. Do nothing.
That’s right. If Congress simply fails to act between now and Jan. 1, 2013, the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush expire, $1.2 trillion in additional budget cuts go through under the terms of last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, and a variety of other tax cuts also go away.

In that light, the prospect of supercommittee failure doesn’t look all that frightening.

* Obama reelect reality check of the day: Democratic pollster Peter Hart conducted focus groups and crunched the numbers and found worrying signs for the president: Americans don’t have a clear sense of his values or what he stands for.

Key context: Obama advisers have been hoping to make the 2012 election about a clash of values and visions for the future.

* GOP difficulties may hamper ability to take back Senate: It’s widely believed that Dems are at serious risk of losing the Senate, but Jennifer Steinhauser has a useful overview of the Senate map which demonstrates that public anger at Congress, and the real threat of multiple Tea Party primaries, could frustrate GOP hopes.

Also: Elizabeth Warren’s race is one place where Dems are not on defense, and that campaign could be pivotal to Dem hopes to hold the Upper Chamber.

* Can Mitt Romney survive a loss in Iowa? Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy has an interesting look at Romney’s ambivalence towards Iowa, where he expects he may lose now that Iowans are entering decision time, and at how he hopes to limit the damage an Iowa loss would inflict on his overall chances.

* The face of modern slavery:Not our usual fare, but Nick Kristof’s column this morning vividly detailing the reality of child slavery, and calling for a 21st Century abolitionist movement, is just heartbreaking.

* Rick Perry calls Obama a socialist, and no one cares: Kevin Drum on the lack of criticism of Perry’s new ad:

Is calling Obama a socialist now so routine that it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore? I guess I must have missed it when we passed that milestone.

We passed that milestone long ago. The claim that Obama is moving the country “towards socialism” has been the quasi-official position of the GOP for years, one that’s been voiced by leading RNC officials with barely a media ripple. When Republicans say this kind of thing, it’s seen as merely “part of the game.”

* And meet another GOPer who hearts Federal energy money: Good Post scoop here: Add GOP Rep. Fred Upton to the list of Republicans who have criticized the Solyndra loan while simultaneously seeking Federal assistance for a clean energy firm in their home states. In Upton’s case, the solar firm in question halted operations last week, and its fate is similar to that of Solyndra.

What else is happening?

By  |  09:04 AM ET, 11/17/2011

 
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