POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/26

Obama Warns Nation

President Obama warned Americans that a stalemate over the debt ceiling negotiations is risking “a deep economic crisis.” He repeatedly used the words “danger” or “dangerous” to make the points that this is not an ordinary political debate and that a “balanced approach” is necessary.

In contrast, House Speaker John Boehner used a rebuttal to play down the consequences, blaming the crisis entirely on Obama while suggesting he just needs to back the Republican proposal to avoid a crisis.

Threat of Downgrade Looms

The Wall Street Journal reports Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings have all warned they might cut the U.S. credit rating if a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit is not reached.

However, S&P now says it could move “even if a debt-reduction deal is met and the $14.29 trillion federal debt ceiling is raised. S&P has cited $4 trillion in debt reduction as a figure that would be appropriate for keeping the triple-A rating. S&P has also said it wants a credible agreement, meaning one that has bipartisan support.”

When All Else Fails, Triangulate

In a televised address to the nation, President Obama is expected tell the American people that neither the Boehner plan or the Reid plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling has the votes to pass. The president will say the nation’s economic well being is stuck in a stalemate on Capitol Hill and that Americans must push their lawmakers to compromise.

Jake Tapper: “Why speak to the country tonight? A prime time address is different than his middle-of-the workday press briefings, reaching a different audience, an official said. ‘I guarantee you that 80% of the audience tonight has never seen more than a 10 second clip of the president talking about this.’ Officials also said that given the possibility that this might come down to the wire next week – or worse – the president needs to address the nation to prepare the public.

What the First Lady Knew

Just five days after the death of Osama bin Laden, First Lady Michelle Obama described to AARP The Magazine what she knew about the covert operation.

Said Mrs. Obama: “I knew something was happening, but when it gets down to that level of secrecy, there’s just a small number of people who know anything… I was actually out to dinner with girlfriends, and I didn’t know until I walked in the door. It was later in the evening, and Barack had his suit on, because he was going to the press conference. And I said, ‘What’s going on?'”

Her reaction? “I was like ‘Wow.’ Then I wanted to know the details: ‘How did it happen? Then what? And then what happened?’ I was probably like every media person.”

 

Obama to the Bully Pulpit Again

President Obama will update the nation on the debt ceiling negotiations tonight from the East Room of the White House at 9 p.m. ET.

Interestingly, House Speaker John Boehner will be giving a Republican response after the president’s speech.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“That the United States of America has come this close to defaulting on its debts — a failure that would have potentially disastrous economic consequences for us all — ought to be all the evidence anyone needs that there’s something profoundly wrong in Washington.”

— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, quoted by the New York Times, in scathing comments that he intends to deliver later today.

 

Reid’s Plan Unveiled

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) proposed a plan for $2.7 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years in return for raising the nation’s debt ceiling through the end of 2012,Reuters reports.

The Wall Street Journal notes the plan would have no increase in tax revenue but would cut both domestic and military spending, but they wouldn’t target entitlement programs such as Medicare.

The White House issued a statement backing Reid’s approach: “We hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan so that America can avoid defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history. The ball is in their court.”

Boehner’s Plan Unveiled

Fox News has the details of House Speaker John Boehner’s two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling:

In the first phase, there would be $1.1 trillion in non-defense cuts with an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling by $1 trillion which should last until April.

In the second phase, there would be a vote on a balanced budget amendment, which is designed to secure the votes of 59 House Republicans who have already pledged not to vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances.

Right Scoop notes Boehner unveiled the plan on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

Another Blue Dog Calls it Quits

Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), the only Democrat among Arkansas’ four House members, announced he won’t seek re-election next year, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.

“Ross, who has expressed interest in running for governor in 2014, said in a statement that he wants to spend time with his family and explore ‘new opportunities here at home in Arkansas.’ He later said opting out of next year’s House run keeps the gubernatorial race an open possibility.”

Perry Leads GOP Field in Florida

A new American Research Group poll finds Rick Perry leads the Florida Republican presidential primary with 16%, followed closely by Michele Bachmann at 15%, Mitt Romney at 15%, Sarah Palin at 13%, and Herman Cain at 11%.

Most Don’t Know Romney’s Religion

A new Public Religion Research Institute survey shows that only 40% of Americans could correctly identify Mitt Romney as a Mormon

But many people still don’t know President Obama’s religion either: 18% think he’s Muslim, while just 34% identify him as “Protestant” or “Christian.”

Gingrich Closes Credit Line at Tiffany’s

Newt Gingrich released a personal financial disclosure report which shows he closed his interest-free credit line at Tiffany’s, the Washington Post reports.

Boehner Bets Everything on His Caucus

House Speaker John Boehner is planning to introduce a two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling, but First Read notes he’s “counting on passing this in the House with Republicans only” despite the fact that the House GOP leadership “has quietly argued they need Democratic votes to a get plan passed in the House.”

Nate Silver explains Boehner math problem noting Republicans “have 240 members in the House, and 217 votes are currently required to pass a bill. That means they could lose at most 23 votes, or about 10 percent of their caucus, assuming they picked up no Democratic support. Mr. Boehner had previously indicated, however, that at least 59 Republicans would not vote to raise the debt limit under any circumstances, a number that appears to coincide with the 60 Republicans who are members of the Tea Party Caucus.”

The bottom line: “If the vote on Mr. Boehner’s proposal fails, the risks to him are clear. It would presumably rattle markets, while making him look ineffectual. Most importantly, it would demonstrate that Republicans could not pass a bill, even through the House, without Democratic support, which would substantially reduce their leverage, as Mr. Boehner explicitly acknowledged in the conference call.”

No End to Stalemate in Debt Talks

A senior White House official tells ABC News that there’s a 50/50 chance that “the current deficit reduction mess will not be resolved by this time next week, the day before the federal government may officially run out of money to pay all its bills.”

Said the official: “We may be here as we tick down to midnight.”

Republicans Started This Fight

First Read: “All of this finger-pointing, posturing, and politics — with the U.S.’s credit rating at stake — have generated a considerable disgust at Washington, at both Democrats and Republicans. But it is important to note that Republicans started this fight by tying deficit reduction to the debt ceiling (when many of these same Republicans have voted for clean debt-ceiling hikes in the past). The president and his party have indicated their willingness to pay the ransom — with some concessions — but Republicans won’t accept it. The irony to all this is that Republicans have won the larger argument they started; they just haven’t figured out how to declare victory. What seems to upset many Republicans is how the president (using the bully pulpit) got to the right of them on deficit reduction. Of course, now both parties have a lot on the line, the president doesn’t want to look like he can’t lead, even a broken Washington, and the Republicans want to prove they can govern.”

McCotter’s Quirky Campaign

Roll Call looks at Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s (R-MI) “quixotic” presidential bid noting it “provokes more head-scratching than it earns headlines or cash.”

Highlight: “One of his signature pieces of legislation was the removal of dozens of outdated Michigan laws, including one from 1915 that rewarded 10 cents to anyone bringing in a dead rat’s head. City clerks, including McCotter’s mother, had to burn those rat heads under the old law.”

Obama’s Business Charm Offensive Flails

President Obama’s efforts to improve relations with business after a rocky first two years have “gone cold only six months into the effort,” according to The Hill, as some claim personnel changes have not translated into substantial policy shifts.

“Obama has added business-friendly veterans like his chief of staff, William Daley, and economic adviser Gene Sperling to his inner circle… Obama agreed to extend Bush-era tax rates in December, and is pushing trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that are vehemently opposed by labor unions… Yet business still isn’t feeling the love, and suggests there’s more show than substance to Obama’s efforts.”

Bunny Mellon Talks About the Edwards Scandal

In an interview with Meryl Gordon, reclusive philanthropist Bunny Mellon talked for the first time about her support of John Edwards during an extramarital scandal. She remains an enthusiastic defender of the former senator and presidential candidate.

Said Mellon: “He would have been a great president… He and I were great friends. Every time he’d go on a debate against Hillary, he’d call and we’d talk…I was so surprised when this thing came up.”

She added: “You know that John had a hard time with Elizabeth.”

Obama Cancels Fundraisers

President Obama has cancelled two political fundraising appearances tonight because of the debt ceiling impasse, CNN reports.

Palin Documentary Bombs

“With its Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated increasing its playdates by 40% this weekend, only to watch box office revenue decline by more than 63%, distributor Arc Entertainment announced Sunday that the film will soon be available on pay per view,”Reuters reports.

“The movie played in 14 Tea Party-friendly locations this weekend — up from the 10 in which it opened last week — but grossed just $24,000.”

Christie Steals the 2012 Spotlight

Thomas Beaumont notes that while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has forcefully and repeatedly said he will not run for president in 2012, his flirtation with the trappings of a run — including a trip to Iowa today — are setting him up as both a kingmaker and a distraction.

“Christie is inviting national attention at a time when GOP voters have been slow to embrace the field of announced candidates… efforts to court Christie have continued this summer even though he has said that his four school-age children and further goals in his first term make a White House bid out of the question… It makes sense for Christie to stay in the good graces of Iowa Republicans, should he keep the door open for running for president in 2016, as he has.”

Key quote from influential Iowa Republican Doug Gross: “Any time Christie comes out here, he’s obviously going to take some air out of the room. He again creates this sense that the current field isn’t complete or isn’t sufficient.”

Wu Faces Investigation But Will Not Resign

Rep. David Wu (D-OR) said that “he would not resign, declaring instead that he will complete his term and then retire from Congress in 2012,” the Oregonian reports.

“The surprising decision came one day after senior Democratic leaders urged the seven-term Democrat to resign quickly after reports that he was accused of an unwanted andaggressive sexual encounter with a young woman last November.”

Perry Will Likely Announce in Late August

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is all but certain to launch a presidential campaign and is nearing an announcement set for the second half of August, Real Clear Politics reports.

Potential donors to Perry’s presidential effort met Tuesday in Austin and were told he will announce a campaign between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31. Perry himself said on Friday that he’ll at least make his intentions known within the next three to four weeks.

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