* The moderate, centrist elite does not speak for moderate voters: My pick for read of the morning is this piece by Politico’s Glenn Thrush, which gently skewers the caterwauling of the moderate elite (Mark Penn, David Brooks) about Obama’s new populist approach.

With the claim gaining currency that Obama’s jobs bill and push to hike high end taxes are all about appealing to the base, and are certain to further alienate independents and moderates, it’s worth reiterating that the use of terms like “moderate” and “centrist” by such opinionnmakers is entirely arbitrary. They have nothing to do with where the center of public opinion, if such a place even exists, actually lies.

As Thrush puts it, saying what must never be said in polite centrist company:

Polls show the major components of the plan, particularly the tax hikes on families earning $250,000 or more — and the “Buffett tax” on millionaires, polls well with all voters, including swing state independents.

This happens to be true. Key takeaway: Self-proclaimed centrist and moderate opinionmakers and pollster types do not speak for moderate voters.

* The imaginary center: Of course, it’s true that some “moderate” Congressional Dems are balking at some of Obama’s proposals. But as Ed Kilgore notes in a smart piece, those Dems aren’t really “centrist” in any meaningful sense:

Barack Obama himself probably represents the views of Democratic “centrists” about as much as any politician presently does.

* But Obama is tanking among independents: All that said, there’s no sugar-coating the fact that Obama’s overall numbers are terrible with indys. A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that indys plan to vote against him by a whopping 53 to 28.

This could be a referendum on the current economy, and Obama’s challenge is to change this by somehow leveraging the fact that indys approve of the actual fiscal policies he’s currently championing. Hence the newly aggressive approach.

* GOP leaders to Fed: Don’t act on economy: GOP leaders send a letter to the Fed chairman, urging him not to adopt any further stimulus to help the economy — on the grounds that more action could hurt it by weakening the dollar, even though many economists think a weakened dollar would be good for the country.

Ezra Klein sense a threat in the public pressure. Steve Benen suggests we’re seeing the latest sign of active GOP sabotage of the economy. And Matthew Yglesias says this should be the story of the day.

* GOP putting political pressure on Fed? Tweet of the day, from former Bushie Tony Fratto:

Even if I agreed with GOP letter (I don’t) I’d still disagree with the effort to put public political pressure on Bernanke.

* Was Obama fibbing about Warren Buffett and his secretary? Paul Krugman knocks down the latest media meme, and concludes:

So why the attack? Probably because it’s such an effective line. And we can’t have populism that actually strikes a chord with the public, can we?

* Obama redoubles outreach to Jewish voters: With Obama at the United Nations today, he’s set to meet privately with former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who has emerged as a kind of national symbol of the sort of Jewish Dem will allegedly be deserting Obama next year. It’s another sign that Obama and his team are treating the possibility of defections as a real possibility, though it’s unclear how significant that is: They’d be committing malpractice if they weren’t preparing for every worst-case scenario.

* Obama’s balancing act at the United Nations: With Obama set to speak out against the Palestinian push for U.N. statehood, Scott Wilson neatly captures the challenge Obama faces and who his intended listeners are:

Obama will seek to draw a distinction between his support for Palestinian statehood and his opposition to pursuing that goal through the United Nations. He will be doing so for two audiences — one suspicious of his intentions toward Israel, the other seeking to understand how he can encourage self-rule in some places and not in others.

* Is Obama an underdog for reelection? Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake catalogue the reasons why Obama is still narrowly the favorite to win next year, even if his political challenges are formidable indeed.

* Casual falsehood of the day: The Wall Street Journal editorial page falsely asserts that raising taxes on those over $250,000 “isn’t popular,” based on — get this — Chuck Schumer’s suggestion that $250,000 doesn’t make you rich in New York. Maybe the Journal meant it “isn’t popular” among Congressional Dems? If so, that’s false, too.

* All part of Obama’s grand plan? Steve Kornacki asks an interesting question: What if Obama’s previous conciliatory and compromising posture, by exposing the GOP as obstructionist and unreasonable, has actually paid off by leaving him more maneuvering room to draw a hard, populist line heading into 2012?

* And the conservative job-creation idea of the day: Courtesy of GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alaska:

“Evict all illegal aliens from America and immediately open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans.”

What else is happening?