The Insiders: Stubborn facts and bothersome polls

(Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)

(Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)

It seems like it has been 10 years, but in reality it has been less than 10 months since the president’s second inauguration. And as President Obama tries to put Syria behind him, nothing on the domestic agenda looks promising. I don’t know what the opposite of the Midas Touch is, but that’s what Obama has.

To try and regain some momentum and credibility domestically, the president is attempting to pivot back to the economy (yet again.) But his remarks yesterday, on the five-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, seemed tone-deaf, as he lashed out at Republicans on economic issues while the tragic events of the Navy Yard shooting were still unfolding.

‎And while the president loves to surround himself onstage with middle class families while he waxes poetic about how much he’s helping them, the truth is that Obama’s economic policies are only helping the rich get richer.  In fact, the Associated Press reported last week that, “in 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent.” ‎

This income equality gap — now the largest since the 1920s — shows that Obama’s policies are failing miserably, with the middle class bearing the brunt of his no-growth economy. No president has been better for the 1 percent than Obama.

Obama was also dealt an embarrassing blow this week as Larry Summers withdrew his name from consideration for Federal Reserve Chairman.  I wasn’t even for Summers getting the job, but this was another telling sign that the president lacks any political capital on the Hill — among members of either party.  If he wasn’t so weak, he might have gotten his pick for the Fed, but as it is, he must defer to the loud voices making demands. The president does not have any influence with members of Congress now, and he isn’t going to have any going forward. I think it’s safe to say he cannot take a leadership role in the looming debt ceiling and budget battles.  ‎

And while Obamacare might be taking a back seat in the media to the other pressing issues of the day, the president’s signature legislation is still proving to be more of a headache than a help for his presidency.  A recent Wall Street Journal poll shows that only 32 percent of the uninsured said they were “fairly” or “very” likely to go on the Obamacare exchanges. As the October 1 deadline for the exchanges creeps up, the law remains deeply unpopular with Americans.  The latest USA Today/Pew Research poll shows that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, “the highest level since it was signed.”

Good grief, even the weather won’t cooperate with the president.  A leaked copy of the Fifth Assessment Report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that, ”there has been a 60 percent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice” in the past year, with some scientists now even predicting an upcoming phase of global cooling. The melting ice cap was supposed to be the final canary in the coal mine. Well, the canary is bigger and stronger than ever.

The president is struggling, but Republicans shouldn’t overplay their hand.  A government shutdown over defunding Obamacare would be the Republican equivalent of the president’s Syria debacle. We are on the brink of starting something that we cannot successfully conclude. And the aftermath would be worse for Republicans, because Americans care far more about health care and economic issues than they care about Syria and foreign policy.

As I’ve said before, 2014 should be a good year for Republicans, but we have to be patient and not overreach. We shouldn’t appear shrill or pick unnecessary fights. In fact, we shouldn’t be afraid to be a little bland and maintain a low profile — if that is even possible for an American political party.

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PostScript: Navy Yard shooting and too much information