* Obama must break the current political dynamic, or else: There’s no sugar-coating it: Today’s new Washington Post poll shows that unless President Obama figures out a way to break out of the current political dynamic, he’s at serious risk. The key tell in the poll is not just that he’s at an all time low of 36 percent approval on both jobs and the economy, though that’s obviously important.
What’s really telling is that Obama’s current approach isn’t even gaining him credit on the deficit, even though he has prioritized the deficit and debt, to take spending off the table as an issue in order to focus on jobs. Only 36 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the deficit, a near low, despite his presiding over a debt ceiling deal creating a Congressional deficit supercommittee that will start its work this fall. Tellingly, this number is identical to the numbers on the economy and jobs — suggesting yet again that voter anxiety about the deficit is merely a proxy for anxiety about the economy.
The poll shows that Obama and Republicans are evenly split on who is more trusted on the economy, and that Republicans edge Obama on the deficit.
The poll also suggests that the preoccupation with the deficit has, if anything, given Republicans an assist with their argument against government spending. It finds that a majority, 56 percent, say they favor a smaller government with fewer services, suggesting voters may be internalizing the GOP claim that spending cuts and austerity are good for the economy. Though this finding has remained relatively consistent, it suggests again that the Dems’ effective endorsement of the conservative austerity/cut-cut-cut frame has reinforced pessimism about government and has left them no room to argue for meaningful government job-creation policies.
In his big jobs speech this week, Obama badly needs to find a way to go “big and bold,” as Paul Krugman put it yesterday, in order to get past the “fatal distraction” that the deficit has become. The President simply must find a way to break the current political dynamic and to shift the conversation to one about jobs and what government can do to create them.
* Obama to challenge GOP on jobs: The President previews the fall message:
“We’re going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party. We’ll give them a plan, and then we’ll say, ‘Do you want to create jobs? Then put our construction workers back to work rebuilding America. Do you want to help our companies succeed? Open up new markets for them to sell their products. You say you’re the party of tax cuts? Well then, prove you’ll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle-class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent Americans. Show us what you got.’”
Obviously Obama knows that Congressional Republicans won’t support anything he proposes, and as Steve Benen notes, he clearly intends to challenge them on jobs in a more aggressive fashion than previous reports suggested. The question is whether he can successfully shift blame for the economy on to them and whether that will do anything to ease his own political plight amid what is expected to remain chronically high unemployment.
* Right-track-wrong-track numbers look terrible: Mirroring the Post poll, the new NBC/WSJ survey finds that only 19 percent think the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest yet under Obama.
* Silver linings for Obama: The new NBC poll does finds that Obama’s personal favorability ratings remain solid, which may mean Americans still want him to succeed. He also beats Rick Perry in a head to head matchup, 47-42, and Mitt Romney by 46-45.
* Rick Perry, frontrunner: Today’s terrible numbers will increase hopes among Dems that a less electable GOPer will win the presidential nomination, so they will likely take solace in the new NBC poll’s finding that Rick Perry is leading Mitt Romney among GOP primary voters by 15 points, 38-23.
* Romney to speak on the economy: Romney is set to give a big speech on the economy today, in which he’ll lay out an economic plan that includes (surprise!) lowering the corporate tax rate, in an effort to elevate himself as the only serious challenger to Obama, who’s also speaking on jobs this week.
But those poll numbers showing Perry surging will raise more questions as to when Romney will seriously engage Perry and drop his strategy of pretending Perry doesn’t exist.
* Rick Perry blasts Romney’s economic record: Perry, after all, is not shying away from engaging Romney. In South Carolina he launched what has to be his most direct attack yet on Romney’s job-creation record, claiming: “While he was the governor of Massachusetts he didn’t create very many.”
Romney has been hoping that anti-government Tea Party voters will see Perry’s longtime government tenure as an inherent liability when compared to his private sector experience, and Perry will respond by highlighting Romney’s public sector failures.
* Dems pour cold Tea on Romney’s economic speech: The DNC is out this morning with a new memo seeking to frame Mitt Romney’s big speech in advance with a series of questions:
Will Mitt Romney offer, as promised, a comprehensive economic plan that strengthens the middle class and helps families across the country feel confident in their futures? Or will he offer the same failed Tea Party infused policies that he and his Republican opponents are campaigning on? Unless Mitt Romney breaks with every policy that he’s adopted on the campaign trail, his plan will just be a retread of the tired policies that led our country to the brink of a second Great Depression.
Of course, the Dem message that Republicans are hostage to Tea Party extremists and will bring back the policies that caused the meltdown didn’t fare too well in 2010.
* The Incredible Shrinking Michele Bachmann: Ed Rollins, her former campaign chief, steps down while making this rather candid observation: “I think legitimately it’s a Romney-Perry race.”
While Rollins also insisted Bachmann has done far better than expected, this amounts to a concession that Perry has rapidly usurped the position she’d hoped to be in.
* The first openly gay Senator? Rep. Tammy Baldwin announces that she’s running for Senate in Wisconsin to fill retiring Herb Kohl’s seat, and this contest will attract national liberal and gay money, as she has a plausible shot at becoming the first openly gay person to serve in the Senate.
* An enormous cultural shift against workers: I’m late to this, but don’t miss E.J. Dionne’s lovely column on the vanishing of workers from America’s public consciousness, and how far today’s GOP has drifted from Abraham Lincoln’s views about the centrality of labor.
* And the takedown of the day: Dave Weigel tells right-wingers to bag their phony outrage about Jimmy Hoffa’s much-discussed “let’s take these sons of bitches out” speech. Weigel:
Can we skip this little drama where conservatives pretend that Hoffa was ordering goon squads into action to pull Republican congressmen out of their homes and break their knees?
What else is happening?