James Fallows (The Atlantic): … but then he gets a chance to sing at the White House tonight, doing Sweet Home Chicago with Mick Jagger and also B.B. King?? Jeesh, talk about being the most powerful man in the world.
…. The guy does have a charm that is hard to imagine the Santorums or Romneys ever matching …. for extra enjoyment check out the shots of White House chief of staff Jacob Lew bopping in the background. A real hep cat, for sure!
AP: A surging Rick Santorum is running even with Mitt Romney atop the Republican presidential field, but neither candidate is faring well against President Barack Obama eight months before Americans vote, a new survey shows.
Obama tops 50 percent support when matched against each of the four GOP candidates and holds a significant lead over each of them, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll….
….. Obama holds an 8-point lead over Romney, 9 points over Santorum and 10 points over Gingrich or Paul…. Notably, the survey showed the president dominating among independents, a group central to Obama’s 2008 victory, whose support for him had faltered in recent months. According to the poll, 6 in 10 independents would choose Obama over any of the Republicans.
Marquette: President Barack Obama leads each of his Republican rivals in Wisconsin, according to the new Marquette Law School Poll. Obama leads former Senator Rick Santorum 51 percent to 40 percent and leads former governor Mitt Romney by 53 percent to 38 percent. In January, Obama’s lead over Romney was 48 percent to 40 percent. The president holds a 52 percent to 36 percent lead over Rep. Ron Paul and a 56 percent to 33 percent margin over former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Charles Pierce: It should be A Very Special Episode, this Wednesday night’s season finale of the 1,329,465,771.5 Republican debates. They should invite the whole cast back, all the people who left the show for their own spinoffs, the way they brought Rhoda and Phyllis back when Mary Richards got fired at WJM. Look, here’s Herman Cain, and there’s Michele Bachmann, and there’s Rick Perry, stumbling and falling into the potato salad. And there’s the formerly invisible Jon Huntsman. Who knew he was so tall?
Steve Benen: Last week, the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, held a one-sided hearing on contraception access, featuring an opening panel of five conservative men – and no one else. Democrats on the committee had invited a witness, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, but Issa refused to allow her to participate.
House Dems aren’t taking “no” for an answer …. Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that a Democratic panel will meet this week to hear testimony from just one witness: Sandra Fluke….
…. There was, however, an unexpected twist yesterday afternoon … the Republican-controlled Committee on House Administration has refused to allow the hearing to be televised ….. what is it, exactly, about Fluke’s perspective that has Republicans so concerned? The law student wants to share the story of a classmate who lost an ovary due to an ailment that could have been treated with birth control.
President Barack Obama holds Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office, Feb. 1, 2012. Arianna’s mother, Angela Holmes, is a departing Special Assistant in the International Economic Affairs office of the National Security Staff. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama holds up a book that he was given by author and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been setbacks. Last week, for example, was a step in the wrong direction. This week’s report, however, was a little more heartening:
U.S. jobless claims dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ended Jan. 28, the Labor Department said Thursday….
…. when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.
Washington Post (editorial): Higher education is both crucial to America’s economic competitiveness and hard for many students and their families to afford … As President Obama quite rightly insisted in his State of the Union address, institutions of higher learning must do more to hold down their costs if college education is to remain affordable for the next generation of young people. What’s more, he’s talking about using the federal government’s financial clout to encourage cost containment.
…. he is proposing long-overdue reforms to existing formulas for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in campus-based aid, such as Perkins loans and work-study funds. Current policy skews in favor of better-off students at relatively pricier colleges. The president wants to shift dollars in favor of schools that restrain tuition and graduate more low-income students. Meanwhile, he would establish a $1 billion fund to encourage cost-saving innovations, complemented by $55 million for research, evaluation and dissemination of the best practices….
Needless to say, a lot depends on how the president and Congress would end up defining what constitutes a good value in higher education … what’s important is that the president has put the prestige and power of his office behind this effort.
Jonathan Cohn: Romney’s political strategy here seems clear to me: He’s trying to drive a wedge between the poor and the middle class, convincing the latter that they lose out to the former when Democrats are in charge. And the strategy may work. It’s certainly helped Republicans before. But the big beneficiary of Romney’s plan to reorder fiscal priorities is not the middle class. It’s the very wealthy, who would get substantial tax benefits and who will usually be fine with weakened public services.
MSNBC: ….. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took a hard line on Wednesday against government getting involved in offsetting the cost of drug prices. Before exiting the stage, Santorum was prodded by members of the 300-person crowd to take one last question from a young boy standing in the front row. The child asked what the candidate would do to lower the cost of medicine. But the former Pennsylvania senator said it was the cost of drugs that allowed for the innovation that keeps Americans with life-threatening illnesses alive.
“People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900. But paying $200 for a drug they have a problem with – that keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned in thinking health care is something you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profitability, because if they don’t, then how are we going to regulate costs?…..”
While some of in the audience applauded Santorum’s tough stance against government involvement in drug prices, others protested. The mother of the child yelled out that she was going bankrupt just to pay for her child to keep breathing.
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire) read a a swooning piece about Fox ‘News’ in Politico…. he didn’t like it very much:
“Stuff in Politico That Makes Me Want to Guzzle Antifreeze…. I say only that, in my own, personal, constitutionally protected opinion, this may very well be the worst bag of pulverized, unexpurgated, beat-sweetening chickenshit in the history of American political journalism. It makes Peggy Noonan read like Thuycidides….
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): No matter what Willard Romney said on Tuesday night, a tough primary can really damage you. If these latest PPP numbers are in any way accurate, the rockfight between Romney and N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of the Civilizing Forces, has pushed Romney’s unfavorability ratings in Ohio northward toward 60 percent……
….. Eighty-four percent of the respondents are white and, even with that, Romney is six points down with a 57 percent disapproval rating. He better tack like hell, is all I’m saying.