Greg Sargent: So the big story of the day is that House Tea Partyers are vowing up and down that they may be willing to allow the country to default on its obligations to prove to Obama how serious they are about cutting spending.
Today, at his presser, Obama reiterated that there will be no negotiating over the debt ceiling….
…. even more so than the fiscal cliff battle, this year’s debt ceiling fight is shaping up as a kind of epic final confrontation — perhaps the Tea Party’s last chance to force Obama to do what the what American people emphatically declared in the election that don’t want, i.e., solve the country’s fiscal problems primarily by dramatically shrinking government, unraveling the safety net, and sparing the rich more sacrifice. And while we should reserve judgment until we see what happens in the end, Obama is certainly behaving like someone who is determined to break the Tea Party once and for all.
Charles Pierce: … Today’s action-packed episode is another in their continuing series: Stuff Republicans Tell Us That We Will Print Verbatim….
In this installment, our intrepid gumshoes manage to pry loose quotes from various vandals and dumbasses … to the effect that they have every intention of blowing up the American economy over the next few weeks if they don’t get absolutely everything they absolutely want. (There are drug gangs in Mexico who are more open to negotiations than these people.) ….
…. Presented with a clear example of how the Republicans have become demented …. Politico instead presents this information merely as a threat to the speakership of John Boehner, as though that’s all that’s at risk here. (This problem might have been solved if the two newshounds had talked to, you know, Democrats, but this is Politico, and y’all know better than that) ….
NYT: Several parents whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting joined the national debate on gun violence on Monday, gathering to begin sketching their response to the massacre by helping start a nonprofit organization intended to help prevent the kind of bloodshed that turned this quaint New England community into a national symbol of grief.
In some of their first public statements since the Dec. 14 shooting that killed 20 children and 6 staff members at the school, the families of 11 of the children and adult victims appeared at a news conference and called for a national dialogue around issues of mental health, school safety and what their organization, called Sandy Hook Promise, described as “gun responsibility.”
Steve Benen: Though much of the right has been unhappy with Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence, an unscripted comment Biden made last week caused conservatives to ring the alarm even more aggressively …. “The president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken….”
…. the right, without having seen the still-unwritten orders, accused President Obama of taking dictatorial actions on guns without congressional approval…
…. The fact that Bush/Quayle administration issued an executive order on guns, within its legal authority, did not mean the then-president had seized authoritarian power in a bloodless coup …. So can we stop pretending perfectly legal executive orders are evidence of creeping tyranny?
Greg Sargent: Yep: The NRA represents an extreme worldview. A new Post poll finds that 65 percent of Americans support banning high capacity magazine clips; 58 percent support an assault weapons ban; and a whopping 88 percent support closing the gun show loophole.
Also: 89 percent of Republicans support closing that loophole, and 69 percent of Republicans support requiring background checks on those buying gun ammunition.
Meanwhile, a new Pew poll finds solid to overwhelming majorities support background checks, a federal gun-tracking database, and bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips….
Charles Pierce: The voices inside the head of Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin are unanimous in their dislike for Chuck Hagel … I think this is an unusual display of harmony for the voices inside Jennifer Rubin’s head since, during the presidential campaign just past, all the voices in Jennifer Rubin’s head had different opinions regarding Willard Romney. Was he merely awesome? Super awesome? Super-duper awesome? Super-duper-infinity awesome? Or was he a steaming super-duper-infinity awesome hunk of brilliantly coiffed man-meat who could make the bobsleds run on time while hitting Lady Liberty’s G-spot until she crooned “Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean.” Now, though, all the voices hate Chuck Hagel. It must be a lot quieter around Rubin’s ears these days….
President Barack Obama at the Fox Theater in Redwood City, Calif., May 23
All times Eastern
11:30: Attends a campaign event at the The Fairmont Hotel, in San Jose (Closed press)
1:00: Departs San Jose en route Newton, Iowa
4:00: Arrives in Des Moines
4:55: Tours TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer
5:15: Delivers remarks on urging Congress to act on the ‘To Do List’
6:55: Delivers remarks at a campaign event (listed in CNN’s live streaming schedule)
9:20: Departs Des Moines en route Joint Base Andrews
11:30: Arrives at Joint Base Andrews
11:45: Arrives at the White House
President Obama greets a crowd upon arriving at the Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, California, on May 23
Steve Benen: We talked last week about Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivering a message to his constituents: the state’s economy is improving, jobs are being created, and there’s reason for optimism. It is, of course, the exact opposite of what Mitt Romney wants Ohioans to believe right now. This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was similarly unhelpful to the larger GOP cause.
….. You can almost hear Romney shouting in the background: “You guys are screwing this up royally. We need people feeling depressed and hopeless, not excited about ‘brighter days.'”
This keeps happening. Many of the nation’s key swing states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania — are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is looking up. They’re hoping to boost their own fortunes, but inadvertently, they’re also helping President Obama in an election year in which the economy is easily the nation’s top issue.
Charles Pierce: I spent four years living under the barely distinguishable leadership of Willard Romney, Governor of Massachusetts. Since he’s out on the road now, running for president, and since he seems to be pretending that it was somebody else who was governor here …. I guess it’s up to the rest of us here to be his living memory of what happened when he won an election for the only time in his life.
…. speaking to a group of Latino businessmen in Los Angeles, Romney took time out from reassuring them that he wasn’t the racist goober he appeared to be in the primaries to excoriate public school teachers and their unions…
….. In 2006, he cut $37.8 million from the state’s higher education budget. Fees skyrocketed, as they did generally throughout the state. In 2003, he tried to cut $100 million from that same budget while raising tuition by $50 million at state colleges and universities. He also wanted to slash job training initiatives and workforce training funding. Things were rather worse at the primary and secondary level, where Romney passed down budget cuts and left cities and towns holding the bag. And that’s the way it was.
TPM: A new poll commissioned by NBC News, the Wall Street Journal and Telemundo shows President Obama with a large lead among Latino voters, 61 percent to 27 percent over likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. President Obama’s approval rating among Latinos polled is 61 percent approve to 32 percent disapprove, while his handling of the economy is at 54 percent approve versus 38 percent disapprove. Romney’s favorablity is underwater at 26 percent favorable versus 35 percent unfavorable.
I chuckled when I saw that even the stomach-churning Rubin concedes that GOPolitico “has gone pro-Romney, big time”.
And I LOLed again when I read our old buddy Byron Tau breathlessly reporting Romney’s attack on PBO’s “administration for allowing the daughter of Cuban head of state Raul Castro into the United States”.
Tau: Castro was allowed into the United States to attend a meeting of the Latin American Studies Association. Romney’s condemnation follows on the heels of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) YouTube comments, where the Cuban-American politican called the younger Castro an “arm” of the regime and slammed the visa as “shameful.”
The Cuban-American community is highly anti-Castro – and the issue could resonate among an influential Florida constituency that is a bit more conservative than the wider Latino community.
What did Tau neglect to mention?
The GWB administration allowed Mariela Castro visit the United States ….. three times.
First lady Michelle Obama is joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the future site of a Northgate Market in Inglewood, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Michelle Obama says the proposed new supermarket in the middle of a blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood in Southern California is an example of how the effort to bring healthy foods to low-income communities is paying off.
AP: First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday said the campaign to bring healthy food to all Americans is happening neighborhood by neighborhood.
Standing in a vacant Southern California store set to be refurbished and reopened this summer, Obama lauded efforts to bring large grocery retailers to inner-city areas that traditional supermarket chains spurn.
…. Obama, who is on the second day of her two-day visit to the Los Angeles area, made the stop in the blue-collar, largely Hispanic neighborhood as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to boost healthy food and fitness.
Part of the campaign includes promoting initiatives such as the $264 million California FreshWorks Fund, which finances grocery businesses willing to open in urban areas.
…. After the Inglewood event, Obama was scheduled to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and to deliver a luncheon speech at the Democratic National Committee.
Washington Post: U.S. factories grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. And builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth straight month.
The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Consumers are buying more cars and trucks, while businesses ordered more machinery and other equipment. That has driven manufacturing, which expanded for the 30th straight month.
Both new orders and order backlogs rose to nine-month highs. Increasing order backlogs suggest manufacturers are lacking the capacity to meet demand. That could mean more growth in production and employment in the near future, economists said.
Export orders also rose, a sign that U.S. manufacturers haven’t yet been affected by Europe’s slowing economy.
“This is a very encouraging report on manufacturing activity that shows particular strength in leading indicators,” said John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics.
Steve Benen: For campaign watchers, Florida’s Republican presidential primary was the big draw yesterday, but there was another noteworthy race on the other side of the country: a U.S. House special election in Oregon’s 1st congressional district.
Just two weeks ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee took an interest in the race, airing attack ads against Democratic candidate Suzanne Bonamici. The GOP candidate, Rob Cornilles, even released an internal poll showing him trailing by only four points.
Yesterday, however, it became clear Republicans were chasing a mirage.
Democrat Suzanne Bonamici swept to victory Tuesday in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, continuing her party’s nearly four-decade-long hold on the seat covering the northwestern corner of the state. With the bulk of ballots counted, Bonamici was defeating Republican Rob Cornilles by about 15 percentage points…..
TPM: The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to receive health coverage through a private insurer, is enjoying lower costs and more customers as a result of the health care reform law.
Yahoo: If you watched President Obama’s Google+ hangout Monday night, you saw two interesting exchanges between the president and Jennifer Wedel, a 29-year-old Texas mother of two.
It turns out that Wedel’s digital meeting convinced her to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election – despite her support for the GOP.
…. Afterwards, Wedel, who described herself as a “good Republican,” is now planning to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election.
“I didn’t vote for him four years ago. But I have been so disappointed with the presidential race. I haven’t seen anybody who would have been a good replacement. I know how Obama is now. I know how he rolls. So I’d probably vote him back in,” said Wedel in an interview with The Atlantic. “I (feel) like I know him a little more,” Wedel said. “There was a connection. He should definitely do this with more people…..”
….. for those who watched the event, a slightly odd moment near the end might have jumped out. During that personal question round, Wedel asked Obama if he would do a little jig. Obama demurred. What was that about? It’s a YouTube meme thing, explained Wedel. An extremely popular video on the site is a minute-and-a-half clip of then-candidate Obama shaking it on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” back in 2007; one version has 12 million hits and counting.
“It’s so funny,” said Wedel. “You’ve got to watch it.”
Don’t miss the ‘2011 Year in Photos’ at the White House site (here)
Steve Benen: Jennifer Rubin today reflects on President Obama’s re-election strategy, and argues he’ll struggle to point to meaningful accomplishments …Obama “accomplished nothing,” she says, other than “jamming through” – which is apparently synonymous with “passing with large majorities in both chambers, following a year-long fight” – the Affordable Care Act.
Well, he also passed the Recovery Act, which prevented a depression and created 3 million jobs.
And there was also the Wall Street reform package …. which featured the most sweeping overhaul of financial industry regulations since FDR.
Come to think of it, we also saw a rescue of the American auto industry, DADT repeal, a breakthrough student-loan-reform bill, ratification of New START, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the biggest overhaul of our food-safety laws in 70 years, new regulation of the credit card industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, net neutrality, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, and health care for 9/11 first responders……