President Obama has dinner with campaign donors and winners of the “Dinner with Barack” contest at The Liberty Tavern in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va.
MSNBC: Medicare’s basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.
…. In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” she said. “People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs.”
ThinkProgress: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry released a tax plan this week that he and many media reports called a “20 percent flat tax.” But Perry’s new alternative tax scheme is hardly “flat”.
Leaving aside the fact that it is layered on top of the existing tax code, it establishes not one but two different tax rates: 20 percent for wages, and zero percent for investment income. Because capital gains and dividends would be sheltered from taxes under Perry’s plan, some of the wealthiest Americans would wind up paying nowhere near 20 percent overall.
In fact, billionaire Warren Buffett, who has lamented the fact that he currently pays only 11 percent of his adjusted gross income in federal income taxes, would pay as little as 0.2 percent under Perry’s plan.
ABC: Today’s New York Times story … includes an intriguing reference to a staff memo directing those traveling in a car with Mr. Cain, “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to.”
Could the affable Mr. Cain really have a “don’t-talk-to-me-unless-I-talk-to-you” policy?
Yes. He does. Really.
A top aide to Mr. Cain explains to me why.
“It’s the same policy for any Secretary of Defense or four-star general,” a senior Cain staffer explained to ABC News. “You don’t talk to them unless they talk to you, generally. Sometimes you get guests in the car and they want to talk and talk and talk, and then Mr. Cain wants to prepare for the next interview or the next speech and he’s very engaging, so it can be a distraction. After a while, he gets to the point where he doesn’t want to talk, but wants to prepare for what he’s doing next.”
More excellent comedy from Dick Halperin today in Time. He magnificently ignored all the polls that show President Obama leading RomPerryCain in swing states, and concluded that if the election was held today he’d lose.
It’d be nice, though, if Halperin had an original thought:
Mark Halperin (today): Is President Obama on the ropes? …. The coalition that helped elect the President …. has been disbanded.
Mark Halperin (December 2010): The coalition that got Barack Obama elected President just two years ago has been shattered ….
Last year, Alex Pareene of Salon (which I seriously hate linking because it’s become Firebagger Central) did a series on “the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer …. the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media.” Halperin had to settle for the runners-up prize, behind Richard Cohen. It’s worth a read again:
Alex Pareene (2010): Mark Halperin – The Drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong …. his belief in the unerring political instincts of Karl Rove and the godlike omniscience of Matt Drudge ….
…. Halperin’s worst quality is actually that he is constantly wrong. He is a professional political analyst, yet he often seems to be completely, 100 percent wrong about even the horse-race aspects of politics that he specializes in. He kept promising, in 2006, that Bush’s approval ratings would once again surge past 50 percent. Remember when John McCain “suspended his campaign” to fix the economy? Mark Halperin said McCain won the week.
The book Halperin wrote …. “The Way to Win,” his preview of “the way to win” the presidential election in 2008. His advice was to emulate Karl Rove and worship Matt Drudge – the key to victory seemed to involve a lot of Matt Drudge – and the 2008 election as it actually happened made the whole book (which he co-wrote with Politico co-founder John Harris!) look utterly ridiculous.
… All we ask for is a little accountability. At the very least, Halperin’s TV chyron should read, “ALWAYS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.”
Marketwatch: With a little more than two trading days left in the month, it is shaping up to be the best October ever for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And that is saying something, since the Dow has existed since 1896, 115 years ago.
As of mid-day trading on Thursday, the Dow INDU is ahead more than 11% for the month. The previous record for the month of October was held by 1982, when the Dow turned in a 10.7% return. That’s an auspicious historical precedent, since that month came very early in that decade’s spectacular bull market which, arguably, didn’t end until nearly 20 years later.
First Lady Michelle Obama escorts John Sexton Elementary School students William Porter and Breann Rouse across the tarmac at Tampa International Airport, Oct. 27
March 2010: A 100-square-meter brick art tribute to President Barack Obama unveiled in Sydney, Australia. The tribute wall was erected as a lead-up to Obama’s visit to Australia, which was later cancelled
AFP: President Barack Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Australia’s Northern Territory next month, the White House said on Thursday.
Obama will visit Darwin after making a previously announced address to the Australian parliament in Canberra during his one night stay in Australia, a trip that has been postponed twice under the pressure of US domestic politics.
The president’s visit on November 16 and 17 will mark the 60th anniversary of the military alliance between Australia and the United States and stress an increasing US diplomatic and military focus on the Pacific region.
Obama will travel to the Indonesian resort island of Bali following Australia for the East Asia summit and will begin his visit by hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit (APEC) in his native Hawaii.
NYT: … Despite a school of thought in Washington that Mr. Obama’s support among blacks has weakened because of the poor economy and a sense of unmet expectations, interviews and public opinion surveys show that his standing remains remarkably strong among African-Americans.
….Some believe the president will be hard-pressed to reproduce those (2008) results, with a political narrative emerging in Washington that African-Americans have begun to sour on the president. Various black leaders – including Representative Maxine Waters of California, the television host Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, a prominent professor – have criticized Mr. Obama for what they see as not doing enough for black Americans…
Outside Washington, however, the story is markedly different. Mr. Obama’s support among African-Americans appears strikingly strong, even among many who are out of work, who might be expected to complain the loudest.
In a recent Pew Research Center poll, black voters preferred Mr. Obama 95 percent to 3 percent over Mitt Romney, “which is at least the margin he got in 2008,” said Michael Dimock, associate director for research at Pew. “There’s no erosion at all.”
Even more noteworthy, less than 10 percent of black voters in a New York Times/CBS News survey taken last month said that Mr. Obama had failed to meet their expectations as president, while nearly 3 in 10 said he had exceeded expectations…
…. Sitting in a chair at the Ultimate Choice Barber Shop in Charlotte, Brian Gainey, 28, a truck driver, initially hesitated when asked if he was going to vote again for Mr. Obama. “Yes,” he said finally, adding: “I’d almost like to see someone else win though. Maybe then they’ll see how much better Obama was than whoever will come after him.”
To Lemar Foster Jr., 48, a barber at Ultimate Choice, the Obama family epitomizes a bigger cultural change. …. “ … having the Obamas in the White House?” he asked. “Yeah, I’m very proud. And I’m definitely voting for him again.”
Bloomberg: President Barack Obama’s “tsunami” of new government regulations looks more like a summer swell.
Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News.
…. The scope of government regulation has emerged as a major issue in the 2012 presidential race and on Capitol Hill. Republican presidential candidates have accused Obama of stifling job creation by imposing rules on businesses, and House Republicans have vowed to rein in proposed regulations on everything from the environment to health care to banking.
….. Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, 4.7 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame….
12:00 PM: Michelle Obama delivers remarks at a Democratic National Committee luncheon in Jacksonville, Florida
3:10 PM: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Petr Necas of the Czech Republic
3:30 PM: Michelle Obama delivers remarks at a DNC reception in Tampa, Florida
5:05 PM: The President greets city and municipal leaders from across the country
6:45 PM: The President has dinner with winners of a campaign contest
7:00 PM: Michelle Obama delivers remarks at a DNC reception in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Robert Shrum: Critics berate the president for taking his inspiring new progressive message to the American people. But it’s the critics who ought to be ashamed
The president must be doing something right. He’s now getting advice (from all the wrong quarters) that he ought to stop standing up for the people, not the privileged. Of course, such arguments largely rest on pre-cast assumptions and self-serving calculations.
…. New York Times columnist David Brooks, on the other hand, sounds agonized and genuinely disappointed as he mourns Obama’s passage from compromising to fighting for progressive values….. Brooks contends that instead of fighting such battles, Obama should “champion a Grand Bargain strategy.” When he did just that this summer during the debt-ceiling fight, the Republicans wouldn’t meet the president even a quarter of the way….
…. So fight on, Mr. President. You’re renewing your voice and your vision, and America is beginning to hear you again as it did in 2008….
As long as you keep fighting, the critics will keep complaining. Every time they do, think of Harry Truman in 1948, written off, facing a “do-nothing Congress,” assailed for class warfare, but clear in purpose and in principle. And think of what he promised as he came to the podium of a weary and worried Democratic convention: We “will win this election and make these Republicans like it — don’t you forget that…The reason is the Democratic Party is the people’s party, and the Republican Party is the party of special interest, and it always has been and always will be.”….
Steve Benen: By most measures, the third quarter – July through September – wasn’t pretty. The Eurozone crisis intensified; the debt-ceiling scandal rattled investors; and Republican intransigence generated a downgrade in U.S. debt. Talk of a “double-dip” recession was ubiquitous.
But as it turns out, the U.S. economy muddled through anyway. The Commerce Department released its report this morning showing that the nation’s gross domestic product rose at 2.5% annual rate in the third quarter. It’s the strongest economic growth in a year, and a marked improvement over the anemic growth we saw in the first two quarters (January through June).
Indeed, economic growth in the third quarter was nearly double the rate seen in the previous quarter.
That said, it’s important to note that 2.5% GDP growth is hardly great news. It’s a clear improvement relative to the first half of 2011, but as Neil Irwin put it, we’re still dealing with “the diminished economic expectations of the post-crisis age.”….
I mention this in part because, while faster economic growth is encouraging, policymakers and pundits would be making a tragic mistake if they saw today’s numbers as an excuse for inaction….