Using the Bully Pulpit

President Obama will hold a press conference at the White House at 11 a.m. on Friday morning to take questions on the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.

The announcement came after a meeting at the White House today ended without an agreement. A source tells Greg Sargent that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) didn’t say a word at the meeting.

Is the Debt Crisis the Ultimate Wedge Issue?

David Frum: “Isn’t it conceivable that Obama’s real end-game in these budget talks is to destroy Republican presidential fundraising for 2012 by goading congressional Republicans in 2011 into appearing maximally reckless and irresponsible? If so, you have to say: the plan’s working brilliantly.”

When Doing Everything Right Doesn’t Work

Walter Shapiro: “If presidential politics were a rational enterprise governed by flow charts and PowerPoints, then Pawlenty — a competent, conservative former governor — would be in serious contention right now, perhaps a few strides off the pace as the GOP race heads into its first turn. But, instead, less than a month before the August 13 Iowa Straw Poll, Pawlenty finds himself struggling to gain his footing. Poll numbers mired in the single digits, a soporific debate performance in New Hampshire, anemic fund-raising — all have contributed to a media verdict that Pawlenty is nearly finished before he has really begun.”

“This storyline has clearly been over-hyped: With a weak GOP field, it is a mistake to write off Pawlenty more than six months before the Iowa caucuses. Yet it is also undeniable that the former Minnesota governor is in serious trouble… Why is it that Tim Pawlenty–for whom everything appeared perfect in theory–cannot seem to break through?”


Bonus Quote of the Day

“We don’t have much time. It’s time to move.”

— Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, quoted by MarketWatch, saying there is “no way” to give Congress more time to increase the U.S. debt ceiling.

Obama Would Lose to Generic Candidate

A new Gallup survey of registered voters finds that they are more likely to vote for the “Republican Party’s candidate for president” than for President Obama in the 2012 election, 47% to 39%. Preferences had been fairly evenly divided this year in this test of Obama’s re-election prospects.

Insiders Differ on Impact of Not Raising Debt Limit

The latest National Journal Congressional Insiders poll shows a big difference in views on what would happen if the United States does not raise the nation’s debt ceiling: 61% of Democrats think it would be “catastrophic” while just 15% of Republicans agree.

Most surprising: 29% of Republicans think the resulting problems would be “minor.”

Romney Still Way Ahead in New Hampshire

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential field with the support of 29% of likely primary voters, followed by Michele Bachmann at 12%, Rudy Giuliani at 9%, Sarah Palin at 8% and Newt Gingrich at 7%.

Debt Summit Idea Rejected by Lawmakers

“Tensions are running so high over debt talks that Capitol Hill leaders are turning down a trip to Camp David before it’s even clear the White House has invited them,” Politico reports.

Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested such a “debt summit” was not needed.

Mark Halperin: “The symbolism for the Tea Party (with shades of a past Andrews AFB deficit deal) would be toxic. And Cantor is unlikely to be impressed by his surroundings. But something has to break the current dynamic — and this could be it.”

Can Democrats Retake the House?

Democrats need to flip just 24 seats to recapture control of the House of Representatives, but as Kyle Kondik notes, “History is not in the Democrats’ favor: In 16 post-World War II presidential elections, the party of the winning presidential party has picked up an average of only about 13 House seats. And that average is skewed upward by the 1948 Truman landslide.”

“The Crystal Ball would place a decent-sized bet on the Republicans to retain the lower chamber of Congress. Yet out of an abundance of caution — instilled by history’s sometimes erratic, fickle gyrations — we are not yet ready to write off Democratic chances in the House completely. There are too many land mines on the long and winding road to November 2012 for both parties to be absolutely sure of anything 481 days before America votes.”

Crist Stronger Than Both Florida Senators

Just eight months after losing a U.S. Senate race, a new Sunshine State News Poll finds former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) with a better favorable rating than either of the state’s two senators.

Crist has a 42% ot 33% favorable/unfavorable rating compared with Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) tighter 38% to 34% ranking and Sen. Bill Nelson’s (R-FL) 32% to 27% score.

Unaired Ad Could Still Haunt Romney

Politico uncovered a tough ad that never aired against Mitt Romney in his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts, but its allegations about his business experience — including Romney’s role in mass layoffs and a federal bailout — would resonate loudly in today’s political environment.

The ad “remains an unexploded grenade from that race, underscoring Romney’s vulnerability in the first presidential election fought since the 2008 financial meltdown.”

See more…



Another Ratings Agency Warns Lawmakers

Standard & Poor’s has warned congressional leaders privately “that it would downgrade the country’s debt if the Treasury Department is forced to prioritize payments because Congress does not raise the debt limit,” Reuters reports.

“The warning undercuts an argument made by some Republicans that the country’s credit rating would not be affected as long as the Treasury Department made debt service a priority over other obligations.”

Moody’s announced it was placing the goverment’s credit rating on review for possible downgrade.

Romney Likely to Cede Iowa to Bachmann

Daily Beast: “One campaign insider who requested anonymity to speak freely on the subject says Romney’s advisers know that some Republican primary voters will never pull the lever for Mitt… that means Romney will likely have to surrender socially conservative early-voting states like Iowa, where Bachmann surpassed him for the first time in a recent poll… Instead, the campaign plans to focus on winning New Hampshire, a more moderate state where Romney lives part-time, and Nevada, where a significant portion of the electorate shares his Mormon faith.”

Cuomo Favorability Ratings Move Even Higher

A new Siena poll finds New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) favorability ratings inching even higher this month, 71% to 21%.

Said pollster Steven Greenberg: “Voters continue to have an overwhelmingly favorable view of Andrew Cuomo and a largely positive view of the job he is doing as Governor. Only among conservative voters does Cuomo’s favorability drop below 60 percent, and even they give him a 59-35 percent favorability rating.  Similarly, conservatives are the only group with a majority giving Cuomo a negative job performance rating.”

Cantor in the Middle

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) “has a lot riding on the outcome of the debt-limit negotiations,” Politico notes. “He’ll share in the public blame if they fall apart and the economy tanks, and he’ll face recriminations from his conservative base in the House if he cuts too soft a deal with the president.”

First Read: “What has become increasingly clear is that Cantor has become the person to watch in this entire debate. He’s either the Tea Party hero or scapegoat. Or both. He also has become isolated — even within his party.”

Signs of Movement in Debt Talks?

Despite dramatic descriptions of what happened, the Wall Street Journal reports that participants in the debt talks “left the White House meeting with a clear set of choices if they want to reach a deal to raise the federal borrowing limit. Republicans can either give in on their opposition to tax increases or back off of their demand for spending cuts that match or exceed the amount of a borrowing-limit increase. Or Democrats can accept more spending cuts and retreat from their insistence on tax increases.”

“Democrats, including the White House, are no longer insisting the deficit-reduction package produce a net increase in tax revenue, officials say. And Republicans are open to ending tax breaks if they’re offset by tax cuts. Officials are looking for ways to satisfy both sides.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Obama “may summon congressional leaders to a Camp David summit this weekend” to continue the talks.

Quote of the Day

“Don’t call my bluff. You know I’m going to take this to the American people.”

— President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post, to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) as he left the debt ceiling negotiations.

Slim Majority Don’t Want Wisconsin Lawmakers Recalled

A new University of Wisconsin Badger Poll sets the backdrop for the contentious recall elections in Wisconsin.

Key findings: 78% said it’s positive that the state constitution allows for the recall of elected officials, though the majority did not want to see senators recalled. In the Senate recalls, 59% of state residents said they wanted the three Democratic state senators to remain in office, while 36% wanted to see them removed. For the six Republican senators, 49% of state residents wanted them to stay in office and 45% wanted to see them removed.

However, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports recent polling by the Mellman Group (D) finds that all of the six GOP senators facing recall elections had approval ratings below 50% and just one of them had more voters approve of his performance than disapprove.

Voters Still Blame Bush for the Economy

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the economy, 56% to 38%, but they trust the president more than congressional Republicans by 45% to 38%.

Most interesting: 71% say the country is in a recession, but by 54% to 27% they blame former President George W. Bush more than President Obama.

The president also has a 47% to 46% job approval rating — significantly better than the 64% to 28% disapproval for congressional Democrats and 65% to 26% disapproval for congressional Republicans.

Palin Says Decision by Late Summer

Sarah Palin admitted to Fox News that she has a deadline for making a decision on whether to run for president in 2012.

Said Palin: “Well, legally, of course, there are time frames, and that time is coming rapidly in front of all of us. August and September you do have to start laying out a plan if you are to be one to throw your hat in the ring, so that’s basically the time frame.”

Public Spin May Hamper Debt Talks

Jay Newton-Small sees House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) impromptu, tell-all press conference after the abrupt end of debt talks as a poor indication of the direction of talks going forward.

“I have never seen negotiations broadcast so openly. It’s not a good sign. For every major successful bill I’ve covered on the Hill…the principals always came out of the room and said, ‘We’re making progress,’ or ‘Nice try, but I’m not going to negotiate with you,’ or even, ‘I’m not going to negotiate with myself.’ An agreement on raising the debt ceiling will not come from winning a spin war… I like getting the story as much as the next reporter… But when talks blow up there’s a real risk: if negotiators can’t trust each other not to snipe in the press, how can they trust each other to join arms and enact something as painful as deficit reduction?”

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

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