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Right Turn
Posted at 07:45 AM ET, 07/17/2011

Morning Bits

Looking for the best description of the Quartet? “Folie à Quartet: A condition in which symptoms of a mental disorder, such as the same delusional belief or idea that a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians is within reach if only. . . .” Read the whole thing.

Lurching toward a double-dip recession. From Goldman Sachs: “Following another week of weak economic data, we have cut our estimates for real GDP growth in the second and third quarter of 2011 to 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively, from 2% and 3.25%. Our forecasts for Q4 and 2012 are under review, but even excluding any further changes we now expect the unemployment rate to come down only modestly to 8¾% at the end of 2012. . . . The main reason for the downgrade is that the high-frequency information on overall economic activity has continued to fall substantially short of our expectations.”

Lifting the political discourse. “Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Friday that a sweeping social conservative pledge, pushed by the Iowa-based Family Leader group, was ‘over the top’ and contained ‘inappropriate language.’ Branstad said it would be a mistake for 2012 presidential candidates to get involved in signing strict pledges when ‘Iowa voters are intelligent enough to make up their minds’ based on politicians’ records.” Bravo!

Listing the Republicans’ errors. Fred Barnes: “One, their leverage in a fight over a debt limit increase turns out to be far less than McConnell, among others, had figured. Two, by agreeing to secret talks, they let Obama and Democrats pretend to support deep spending cuts without offering any public evidence, like a budget. And three, they played into Obama’s hands by walking out of the Biden talks and calling on the president to take over.” Conservative pundits grousing about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan seem oblivious to the first item.

Leading from behind. “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today in Istanbul that the United States now recognizes the Libyan rebels’ Transitional National Council (TNC) as the country’s official government. . . . It took a full four months following the White House’s decision to attack Col. Moammar Gaddafi for the administration to abandon its recognition of Gaddafi’s regime. The administration played all sorts of word games, such as calling the TNC ‘the legitimate and credible interlocutor for the Libyan people,’ but such statements weren’t enough to enable the TNC to get their hands on some of the over $30 billion of frozen assets the rebels say they need to help the Libyan people and successfully wage war against the Gaddafi regime.”

Letting the cat out of the bag. “President Obama famously played to grandma’s Social Security fears . . . [last] week. . . . To which a friend of ours replied, whatever happened to the trust fund? That’s the fund that, according to our politicians, is holding all those Social Security taxes that workers pay. Why can’t Congress or Mr. Obama dip into that $2.6 trillion cash hoard to pay benefits until this debt-limit business gets sorted out? After all, as White House budget director Jack Lew put it in a February USA Today op-ed, ‘Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing.’ ” But they aren’t, of course.

Lacking the luster that once made liberals swoon. “[T]he press conference was dispiriting. Obama seemed unusually hesitant and unsure of himself. I’m not sure what he hoped to achieve by it. . . . His answer on Bowles-Simpson was telling. Among other things, he said that the public is already there, so a Bowles-Simpson-like plan never needed any great effort of selling on his part. All it requires is a spirit of compromise on Capitol Hill — and a new willingness in both parties in Congress to listen to public opinion. Rubbish. . . . Obama is right that Congress needs to behave more responsibly and start doing its job. But so does he.” (h/t Michael Barone).

Losing the populist mirage. “Nearly 250 bundlers have raised $50,000 or more for President Obama just three months into the 2012 campaign, including more than two dozen who have each raised $500,000 or more.”

Limping along. “Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign is more than $1 million in debt.”

By  |  07:45 AM ET, 07/17/2011

Categories:  Morning Bits

 
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