POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/24

Majority Want Hatch to Retire

A new UtahPolicy.com/Opinionology poll shows 54% of Utahns think it’s time for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to retire.

More bad news for the incumbent: In a potential GOP primary, Hatch is in a dead heat with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), 42% to 42%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

— Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), quoted by the Bangor Daily News, arguing there “hasn’t been any science” that suggests a problem with the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

Indiana Deputy Attorney General Fired

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R) dismissed his deputy for posting on Twitter that police should “use live ammunition” against the Wisconsin protesters, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Jeff Cox also messaged back that the demonstrators were “political enemies” and “thugs,” adding “You’re darned right I advocate deadly force.”

First Girlfriend of New York

Vogue profiles Sandra Lee, the Food Network star who is dating New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Said Lee: “I’ve got a good one. He’s loyal and dedicated,” adding “I don’t have to worry about that; I can relax” when former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s name comes up.

And marriage? “Right now I’m happy being a girlfriend, but someday Andrew and I will get there. When his kids say we need to, we will.”

Report Says GOP Spending Cuts Would Hurt Economy

A confidential Goldman Sachs report, which was obtained by ABC News, argues that the spending cuts passed last week by the House of Representatives would be a drag on the economy, cutting economic growth by about two percent of GDP.

The Financial Times quotes Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “This nonpartisan study proves that the House Republicans’ proposal is a recipe for a double-dip recession. Just as the economy is beginning to pick up a little steam, the Republican budget would snuff out any chance of recovery. This analysis puts a dagger through the heart of their ‘cut-and-grow’ fantasy.”

Republican Leadership Works to Avoid Shutdown

Swampland reports that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are working on a stopgap measure that would continue funding the government for an additional two weeks in exchange for around $10 billion in cuts.

“Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been in discussions but if a deal is not reached ahead of time Senate Republicans would offer Boehner’s proposal as a substitute to Reid’s bill. The cuts will include reductions that President Obama has suggested and other non-controversial items in the hopes of luring support from moderate Senate Democrats who are facing tough reelections.”

Sarah Babbage: “Boehner may have a rebellious wing to challenge over a compromise in spending cuts, but to think he would let their demands tarnish the GOP’s popularity, re-election prospects and the 2012 presidential race is to underestimate his skills as a political strategist.

GOP Presidential Nomination Still Wide Open

A new Gallup poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents finds no clear favorite for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, with Mike Huckabee at 18%, Mitt Romney at 16% and Sarah Palin at 16%.

Indiana Senate Drops Anti-Union Bill

The Indiana legislature has decided to drop the “right-to-work” provision aimed at reducing the influence of unions, following calls by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) to kill the measure and the abandonment of the state capitol by House Democrats to prevent a vote, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

Said Senate President David Long (R): “It was a mistake.”

Of course, as Ben Smith notes, Daniels didn’t want a fight because he’s already taken, by executive order when he took office, much of what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) wants in his stand off with unions.

Quote of the Day

“This is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history.”

— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), talking about his standoff with the unions in a prank phone call by a reporter posing as billionaire David Koch.

Novel Coming Based on John Edwards Affair

Bridget Siegal, the former Kerry-Edwards campaign finance director, is writing a book loosely based on John Edwards’ affair, according to the New York Post, which notes that she received cooperation from former Edwards staffers.

“The untitled novel, described as Primary Colors meets The Devil Wears Prada, is about a failed vice presidential-turned-presidential candidate, Landon Taylor, who gets caught in an affair… The story will start back in 2006, before everyone was aware of what was going on. It describes what happens on the campaign trail when a politician is having an affair.”

What the Prank Call Shows

Ezra Klein doesn’t find “anything incriminating” in the prank call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) but notes “if the transcript of the conversation is unexceptional, the fact of it is lethal. The state’s Democratic senators can’t get Walker on the phone, but someone can call the governor’s front desk, identify themselves as David Koch, and then speak with both the governor and his chief of staff? That’s where you see the access and power that major corporations and wealthy contributors will have in a Walker administration, and why so many in Wisconsin are reluctant to see the only major interest group representing workers taken out of the game.”

Santorum’s “Google Problem” Gets Worse?

Dan Savage says the website that gave former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) his Google problem “hasn’t been updated since 2004. But we will be relaunching the site in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!”

Obama Will Not Defend Defense of Marriage Act

Jonathan Capehart: “A well-placed and trusted source tells me that, any minute now, Attorney General Eric Holder will issue a statement announcing that it will no longer defend so-called Defense of Marriage Act lawsuits in court. The source believes DOJ had come to the conclusion that heightened scrutiny would apply, and that these cases cannot be defended in court.”

Walker Pranked

A reporter got through to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) “by posing as right-wing financier David Koch…then had a far-ranging 20-minute conversation about the collective bargaining protests,” Mother Jones reports.

He discussed the GOP strategy to hold Democratic senators’ pay until they returned to vote on the controversial union-busting bill and how they were looking to get Democrats on ethics violations if they took meals or lodging from union supporters.

Most interesting: Walker said he would take “Koch” up on this offer: “Once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”

Ben Smith: “The call is worth a listen though, for the candid glimpse it offers at the suddenly-prominent Walker. It’s also typical in that it reflects politicians willingness to give large amounts of time to rich guys whose obvious weirdness and terrible ideas are to be tolerated for the cash they put up.”

See more…


Whitehouse Looks Safe in Rhode Island

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Rhode Island finds Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) holds a double-digit lead over all his rumored potential opponents next year, including a 17-point advantage over former Gov. Donald Carcieri (R).

Most interesting: Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci has a higher favorability rating than any of the Republicans tested in the poll and does surprisingly well in three way match ups as an independent candidate cutting into both major party candidates’ bases.

Life as a Dog on Capitol Hill

Colin Buckley, an intern for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), writes about his “life as a dog” responding to emails meant for the senator’s dog, Splash, who has had “written” a children’s book called My Senator and Me.

The Voice of the Unemployed

The Washington Post notices that while President Obama has criss-crossed the country to “tout his economic vision and rebuild relationships with the business community, meeting with executives, community college presidents, students, venture capitalists, plant workers and others,” one group has been noticeably absent: the unemployed.

“In eight trips outside Washington since Election Day, Obama – who frequently says he uses such travel to better understand the lives of Americans – has held almost no formal meetings with groups of unemployed people or organizations that advocate for them.”

Interpreting the Wisconsin Polls

Nate Silver looks at several conflicting polls at who is winning Wisconsin’s budget standoff and concludes that “the near-term political risks to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are mostly to the downside. Part of it is that, as in debates over the budget at the federal level, there is an element of what chess players call zugzwang: since any specific solution over deficit reduction is likely to be fairly unpopular, the first mover or perceived aggressor is often at a disadvantage.”

The Next Big Budget Battle

While Congress struggles to move forward on a continuing resolution necessary to avoid a government shutdown on March 4 and little agreement on a budget for fiscal year 2012, the Wall Street Journal looks at another looming battle in Congress, this one over the debt ceiling.

“The Treasury Department’s ability to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid tripping up against the federal debt limit may not be as effective as in the past because of ballooning federal debt levels… As a result, Congress will have much less time to debate increasing the debt limit to prevent the federal government from hitting the fast-approaching $14.294 trillion debt cap.”

The federal government could hit the current debt limit as early as April 5.

Reflecting on Rahm

John Harris: “The man who was a precociously powerful Capitol Hill operative in his early twenties, a senior White House aide to Bill Clinton in his early thirties, and a multimillionaire, a congressman, and chief of staff to President Barack Obama in his forties, will spend his fifties running one of the nation’s top cities. It’s an arc that easily qualifies Emanuel as one of the most successful careerists of his generation.”

Dueling Ultimatums in Wisconsin

As the budget battle in Wisconsin moves into its ninth day, Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D) doubled down on their positions, reports theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walker warned that layoffs could result if Senate Democrats continue to boycott the Senate. Said Walker, “The missing Senate Democrats must know that their failure to come to work will lead to dire consequences very soon.”

Meanwhile, Miller defended Senate Democrats’ decision to leave Wisconsin, saying, “This is a compromise that any good politician, any good leader, should be able to recognize and seize… The only action available to us to slow this down, to allow democracy to work, was to take ourselves out of the Capitol.”

An interesting side note from Greg Sargent: Unions plan to intensify pressure on moderate GOP state senators to break with Walker. Why? 14 out of 19 GOP state senators represent districts carried by Obama in 2008.

Shortest Honeymoon Ever?

The Chicago Sun Times on Chicago’s next mayor: “Rahm Emanuel’s Round One victory gives him a running start on confronting problems so severe, the painful solutions could seal his fate as a one-termer.”

Obama Approval Highest in Hawaii

A new Gallup state survey finds President Obama’s approval rating in 2010 ranged from 66% in Hawaii to just 28% in Wyoming.

“More broadly, the president enjoyed 50% or higher approval in a group of 12 traditionally Democratic states, plus the District of Columbia. At the same time, he suffered average approval rates of 43% or less in 18 other states, most of which are traditionally “red” states.”

The Budget Smokescreen

David Gergen: “The budget showdown shaping up in Washington is dramatic but depressing. What we are mostly seeing so far is a jockeying for political power rather than a serious attempt to rescue the nation’s finances… All of this has lent enormous uncertainty — and a high degree of drama — to the unfolding tale of a possible government shutdown. But here’s the sad part: in the end, the amount of money being fought over is only a tiny fraction of the nation’s budget deficit. In effect, this episode is a smokescreen, making it seem that lawmakers are really struggling over the deficits when, in truth, they are still dodging debates over the big five in government spending: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense and taxes.”

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