Reuters: President Barack Obama takes his “fiscal-cliff” campaign to the home of a family in Northern Virginia on Thursday (1:35) to illustrate the impact of letting taxes go up on the middle class….
With about three weeks remaining before steep tax hikes and budget cuts that comprise the so-called fiscal cliff are set to begin, the White House said Obama would visit the home of a family that responded to a presidential Twitter request for real-life stories about the burden of a tax increase on the middle class.
Greg Sargent: Public opinion gives Dems all the leverage: Here’s another reason Republicans may have to accept the above way out: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Americans are solidly on the side of Obama and Democrats in this battle. Voters say by 53-36 they trust Obama and Dems more than Republicans on the fiscal cliff mess. And by 51-43, voters say Republicans won’t make a “good faith effort” to cooperate with Obama on issues important to them.
Twitter meltdown of the week:
Politico’s Ben White was in a monster, well, huff because he wasn’t included in Huffington Post’s ’32 Economics Journalists You Should Be Following On Twitter’ list. But, instead of being sensible and ignoring the OUTRAGEOUS snub, what does he do? Yep, he whinged about it endlessly on Twitter.
The tweet above caused a good giggle – talk about revealing your politics. But then, he does work for Politico.
President Barack Obama waves to people gathered along the motorcade route from Osawatomie High School to Osawatomie-Paola Municipal Airport in Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Krugman: One crucial thing you need to understand about political journalists is that with some honorable exceptions, they don’t know or care about actual policy …
…. Hence, the awful decision of Politico to give Paul Ryan an award as healthcare policymaker of the year.
…. what became painfully, embarrassingly clear during the debate over the Ryan plan was that Ryan is, well, incompetent …. it’s true that the plan “got everyone talking”, as Politico says – but mostly it got people talking about what a mess Ryan’s effort was.
Oh, and it was pretty clear that Ryan wasn’t being honest about his own numbers.
What’s going on here, I suppose, is that Politico is mistaking theater for policy. Ryan isn’t an important health care reformer, or even minimally competent in his attempted wonkery, but he plays a deep thinker on TV. And the people at Politico either don’t understand the difference, or they don’t care.
President Obama returns to the White House after a visit to Kansas
Steve Benen: President Obama has decided that, from now on, foreign aid decisions will take into consideration how countries treat their LGBT citizens, and he directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians.
…. today’s announcement marks a historic first …. It also adds to a rather extraordinary record for Obama in this area in his first three years….
…. I realize there are still a sizable number of people in the LGBT community who are unsatisfied with the pace of change, and consider President Obama someone who has ignored, and even betrayed, their interests. Some have even vowed not to lift a finger to help with the president’s re-election effort.
I suspect many social-conservative activists find this inexplicable.
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.
TPM: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will tee up a Friday test vote on a piece of President Obama’s jobs bill that would provide states money to retain or rehire teachers and emergency first responders.
“We are going to make sure there is a vote on our bill this week,” Reid told a crowd of fire fighters and teachers at a rally on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
The $35 billion legislation would be paid for with a 0.5 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year – a tiny new marginal bump that Republicans unanimously oppose. Some analyses suggest the legislation would save or create 400,000 jobs.
“The Republicans who work in the Senate suit up every day and come down and play their game in the Senate by following the lead of their leader – and that is, whatever they do, to make sure they do everything they can to make Barack Obama lose,” Reid said.
He’ll face some resistance from his own caucus as well. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) bucked Reid last week and opposed debate on Obama’s entire jobs bill and have signaled they’ll do the same this time around.
They may be joined by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) who took to Twitter during Reid’s speech to oppose the legislation:
…. remember, this is a test vote about whether to debate the jobs bill – not a vote to end debate, or to pass the legislation itself.
Steve Benen: At an event in North Carolina yesterday, President Obama talked up the next phase in the fight over job creation. We knew Dems would start to move on individual provisions within the American Jobs Act, and yesterday, we learned which component would go first.
…. “So this week I’m going to ask members of Congress to vote on one component of the plan, which is whether we should put hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom, and cops back on the street, and firefighters back to work….”
…. Why are Dems pursuing this first? It may have something to do with the idea’s overwhelming popularity – A whopping 75% supported the measure in a CNN poll …. even 63% of Republicans approve of the spending.
…. the total number of Republican lawmakers in either chamber willing to support the teachers/first responders jobs bill – or even allow a vote on the bill – is currently zero, despite overwhelming support from the American mainstream.
Greg Sargent: ‘Moderate’ Dems may break with Obama on pieces of jobs bill: With the Senate set to vote on pieces of the jobs bill, Senators Ben Nelson and Jon Tester, both of whom voted against the overall proposal, may actually vote against the $35 billion in state aid to avert teacher and first-responder layoffs.
Their objection: The tax hikes on the rich that are supported by big majorities, including among independents and moderates. As always, these “moderates” and “centrists” are not willing to support economic solutions that actually are moderate and centrist – and as a result, they may give more ammo to Republicans to claim that opposition to Obama’s proposals is “bipartisan.”
McClatchy: Even as protests over its political influence grow louder, Wall Street is one of the leading sources of money so far in the 2012 race for the White House. Not surprisingly, the biggest beneficiary has been Republican hopeful Mitt Romney…
…. Romney has attracted $7.5 million from the financial community … That’s nearly twice as much as President Barack Obama has received from it, and almost a quarter of the $32 million that Romney’s campaign has taken in overall.
…. Romney is the top recipient of campaign cash from employees of the five biggest Wall Street banks. Goldman Sachs gave the most — $352,200…. The other banks were Morgan Stanley ($184,800), Bank of America ($112,500), JP Morgan Chase & Co. ($107,250) and Citigroup Inc. ($56,550).
A spokesman for the Romney campaign could not be reached for comment.
… Obama had raised about $3.9 million in Wall Street contributions as of the end of September (just over 4 percent of his overall haul so far of $89 million, which dwarfs the GOP field).
TPM: ….. In a new strategy memo by press secretary Ben LaBolt, Obama’s re-election team ripped into the GOP field as too conservative to win over the middle on issues ranging from taxes to immigration:
From economics to immigration, the Republican field have embraced policies that the American people oppose. The campaign to win the Republican nomination has become a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Tea Party. They would return to policies that have been tried before and done nothing to improve economic security for the middle class, rewarding special interests who can afford to pay for lobbyists instead of looking out for working families.
While the President is fighting to create jobs and put money in the pockets of middle class Americans, the Republican candidates have proposed extending tax breaks for large corporations and tax cuts for the wealthiest while allowing special interests to write their own rules.
The Republican candidates universally want to repeal the protections that the President put in place to prevent another financial crisis and instead allow banks to write their own rules….
…. America’s future will be defined by the success of our middle class, but the Republican candidates are positioning themselves as champions for large corporations and special interests whose plans would leave working families in the lurch.
Ben Smith (GOPolitico): The fall of Tripoli is a foreign policy triumph for which President Barack Obama won’t hold a ticker-tape parade: no flight suit, no chest-thumping, no “Mission Accomplished” banner.
But the low-profile, inexpensive ouster of Col. Muammar Qadhafi marks an important milestone for the administration, foreign policy analysts say – perhaps the most concrete evidence that the more modest American foreign policy approach that has become Obama’s hallmark and perhaps his biggest area of contrast with his more interventionist predecessor might actually work.
….. the scenes of celebration in Tripoli make it difficult to argue with Obama’s methods. And at a moment of fiscal obsession, Qadhafi was deposed on the cheap … the equivalent of a few days of involvement in Afghanistan…
… it is vindication for an important set of ideas that Obama espoused as a candidate: that the United States can still lead while talking and walking more softly and letting allies, particularly the Europeans, take the starring role.
“We need to give the Obama administration credit for finding a way, taking the long view, resisting the pressure to do too much to soon, resisting the old approaches which would have had the U.S. far more involved than it could have or should have been and really blazing a trail for the future of U.S. foreign policy,” said David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration national security official.
… The White House was loath to claim victory however – both because the rolling Arab Spring has repeatedly demonstrated that a revolution is only the beginning and because the nature of Obama’s strategy is to avoid American claims of credit.
…. “I don’t think this is the time to say to the president, ‘You’re a genius,’ but it is a time for those Obama haters to admit the guy made the right call under a tough set of circumstances,” said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official…
Business Insider: After all the speculation that Rick Perry’s threats against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke would hurt his relationship with Wall Street, at least one banker is pledging his company’s support.
WGIR New Hampshire Radio’s Paul Westcott captures this clip of an unknown individual telling the Texas governor at a “Politics & Eggs” event in New Hampshire: “I’m from Bank of America and we’ll help you out.”
UPDATE: ZeroHedge identifies the Bank of America official as James Mahoney the Director of Public Policy for the bank. Mahoney is a member of the board of directors of The New England Council, one of the events sponsors.
It’s worth noting again that Perry threatened Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and said any attempt by the Fed to print more money would be “almost…treasonous.”
UPDATE 2: Mahoney is not registered as a lobbyist, and a BofA spokesman tells POLITICO he works on policy …. Spokesman Lawrence Di Rita: “Bank of America does not endorse Presidential candidates. The reference was about following up on the substance of the speech about job creation and economic growth. Discussing policy issues that affect our company and our customers is something we do with policymakers of both parties routinely at the local, state, and Federal levels.”
ZeroHedge: Should we be surprised, frightened, disgusted or simply say “we knew it” …. At least we know now who is funding what, and whose interests potential future president Perry will be paid to defend.
CNN: Former Treasury official Bruce Bartlett labeled newly-minted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry “an idiot” Friday.
Bartlett, who served at Treasury under former President George H.W. Bush and as a domestic policy adviser to the late President Ronald Reagan, delivered the choice words to the Texas Gov. in reference to his recent comments about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
…Team Perry did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
Ben Heineman (The Atlantic): Many liberals are furious with President Obama over the policies in the debt ceiling deal. But, as usual, their critique – Paul Krugman’s is one example – ignores, or is naïve about, the hard realities of divided congressional politics.
When a “yes” vote was required to extend the ceiling, how should the president have negotiated with a Republican House which had been transformed by the 2010 election and which had a sizable number of ideologically driven republican members who wanted to say “no”? That is the key question.
… We are witnessing for the umpteenth time liberal criticism that ignores the diversity in our political system and the dispersion of power in our constitutional system. From time immemorial, Democratic presidents are harshly criticized by liberals for deviating from their “one true faith,” without much regard for politics. Invariably, they say, if the president had taken a principled public position, he would have mobilized the “base” and countered the forces of darkness (i.e.those with whom they don’t agree), but they don’t offer a cogent political analysis. As in this case. To repeat, how should Obama have negotiated with a transformed House of Representatives when he needed their assent?
…. many liberals don’t want to discuss the politics of this negotiation where one House of the Congress has a large majority and blocking power. Far easier, as always, to hurl ideological imprecations down upon the president (how about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid folks?)…
To be sure, those on the Democratic side can have a spirited debate about the policies and the politics of Obama presidency, which came into office facing terrible conditions caused by the worst decade of public and private leadership in years…
But, one thing is for sure. Spouting policy vitriol from the comfy confines of an office at Princeton is not going to solve problems in a deeply divided country with strongly held views across the political spectrum. In our system, policy only become important when joined with the power of politics. And that power, ultimately, is in elections.
Liberals should be working every congressional and senatorial race, starting yesterday. Grassroots politics against conservatives, not Olympian op-eds against President Obama, is the best answer for liberal critics of the debt-ceiling deal.