POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/27

The Republican Party’s Reality Test

The Wall Street Journal editorial page rips into the House Republicans rebelling against House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) debt reduction plan.

“The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against … Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame…. This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.”

The Centrist President

Paul Krugman: “We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.”

“So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship. The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president.”

Boehner Faces GOP Rebellion

House Speaker John Boehner “faced a growing rebellion Tuesday among conservative Republicans, putting at risk his proposal for raising the borrowing limit, less than a week before a possible government default,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Boehner’s problems were compounded late Tuesday when the Congressional Budget Office said his plan, which was intended to initially cut $1.2 trillion in spending over 10 years and raise the debt limit by $900 billion, would actually only cut $850 billion. That forced him to begin rewriting the bill because it appears not to meet his own demand that any debt-limit increase be matched by spending cuts of equal or greater value.”

As a result, Republicans delayed the vote on the plan, originally scheduled for Wednesday, to either Thursday or Friday, according to the Washington Post.

Roll Call: “Part of the problem for Boehner is that he and his leadership team have never taken a strong-arm approach, and many conservatives did not appear to be moved by their sudden reliance on traditional hardball tactics.”

Economists See Downgrade Coming

Reuters poll of economists finds that 30 out of 53 surveyed over the past two days said the United States will lose its AAA credit rating from one of the three big ratings agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s or Fitch.

 

Stabenow Holds Decent Lead in Michigan

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with a nice lead over challenger Pete Hoekstra (R), 50% to 41%.

“The key for Stabenow is that she has Democrats lined up almost 100% behind her. She leads Hoekstra 90-4 with voters of her own party. In a Presidential year in Michigan there are going to be a lot more Democrats voting than Republicans. That means for a Republican to win statewide requires some combination of meaningful crossover support from Democratic voters and a large victory with independents. Hoekstra actually does lead Stabenow 44-38 with independents but he needs a much wider advantage than that if he’s only going to get 4% of the Democratic vote.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“The sad truth is, the most we can do on our committee is the equivalent of a pitcher who gets tired of a batter crowding the plate. Our hearings can maybe brush him back a little.”

— Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), quoted by NBC News, on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating President Obama.

Majority Back Obama on Debt Negotiations

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 83% of those polled said they were either very or somewhat concerned about the potential for a U.S. debt default on August 2.

The poll found that 56% of Americans want to see a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases included in a deal to bring down the U.S. budget deficit and permit a vote to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. This is the approach favored by President Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Public Wants Compromise in Debt Ceiling Debate

A new Pew Research poll finds 68% of Americans say that lawmakers should compromise on the debt ceiling debate, even it means striking a deal they disagree with. Just 23% say lawmakers who share their views should stand by their principles, even if that leads to default.

Breakdown: 81% of of Democrats and 69% of independents favor a compromise to avoid default, but Republicans are more divided: 53% favor a compromise, while 38% say lawmakers should stand by their principles even if it leads to a default.

Five Resignations So Far

With Rep. David Wu’s (D-OR) resignation announcement, Roll Call’s casualty list shows five members of Congress have resigned this year but just one, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), left without scandal.

Lugar Faces Tough Primary Challenge

A new Basswood Research poll in Indiana finds Richard Mourdock (R) edging Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) in a U.S. Senate Republican primary, 34% to 32%.

The race is technically a statistical dead heat with the poll’s 4.4% margin of error.

Boehner Plan Faces Uphill Battle in the House

Despite appeals from the House GOP leadership, National Journal reports several House Republicans “said it would be an uphill battle for Boehner to secure the needed votes from his own conference for his plan to raise the debt ceiling.

The House is set to vote as early as Wednesday on the measure, while in the Senate is waiting to see the outcome of the House vote before pushing ahead with Sen. Harry Reid’s plan.

However, Greg Sargent explains what Senate Democrats plan to do in the event the Boehner bill passes:

“Aides say Dems would then vote it down in the Senate… Senate Dem aides say they would then use Boehner’s bill — which passed the House but died in the Senate — to expedidate their own proposal… Senate Dems would vote to ‘amend’ Boehner’s bill by replacing it completely with Reid’s proposal — which the Senate could then pass more quickly than they otherwise could… After that, Reid’s proposal — having passed the Senate — would then get kicked back to the House.”

UpdateRoll Call reports Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) warned that he is confident Boehner “does not have enough Republicans to pass his debt limit bill.”

The End of the Blue Dogs?

The Fix looks at the dwindling Blue Dog Democrats, a caucus “formed in 1995 after Democrats’ stunning losses in the 1994 election. Their ranks grew dramatically in the 2006 Democratic sweep, and they had a major impact on last year’s health-care reform debate. In the 2010 elections, another Republican wave decimated their ranks.”

The group had 54 members in the 111th Congress; it now holds less than half of that number at 25, and three of them are retiring next fall. Redistricting is likely to further chip away at the once powerful group.

Wu Will Resign

Scandal-plagued Rep. David Wu (D-OR) will be resigning from Congress after the debt ceiling crisis is resolved, National Journal reports.

“The move followed pressure from Democratic Congressional leaders after newspaper reports surfaced that he had a sexual encounter with a teenage girl. The news comes one day after he said he would not seek another term.”

Could this be the new district Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is looking to run from?

Quote of the Day

“If you want to steal an election, the absentee box is the place to begin, and if you want to calculate the likelihood of fraud in a county, first figure the percentage of its total vote that is cast in absentia.”

— Retired Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Tom Glaze, writing in his memoir Waiting for the Cemetery Vote.

Congress in Charge

David Brooks argues that President Obama’s aggressive appearance on Friday after House Speaker John Boehner ended debt talks with the White House “had a gigantic unintended consequence. It brought members of Congress together. They decided to take control. The White House is now on the sidelines. Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders are negotiating directly with one another.”

First Read emphasizes this point: “The fact is this: whatever gets through Congress, the president will sign. The president is not going to own default by vetoing anything so close to Aug. 2. But, what can get through both chambers?”

Cartoon of the Day

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Americans Trust Obama More on Debt Talks

A new National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found that Americans “expressed more trust in President Obama than in congressional Republicans to make decisions about both the federal deficit and debt ceiling, but continued to display little urgency about the risk of default if the two sides remain stalemated.”

Key findings: 46% said they trust Obama most to “make the right decisions” on the deficit while 34% said they place more faith in congressional Republicans. Regarding the debt ceiling, a virtually identical 46% leaned toward Obama and 35% chose the GOP.

However, Americans “remain divided almost exactly in half on whether they would prefer increasing the debt ceiling at all.”

Not Allowed to Compromise

First Read looks back to House Speaker John Boehner’s 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl in December which suggested he knew his caucus would not let him compromise with Democrats.

J. BOEHNER: We have to govern. That’s what we were elected to do.

STAHL: But governing means a — compromising.

J. BOEHNER: It means working together. It means find…

STAHL: It also means compromising.

J. BOEHNER: It means finding common ground.

STAHL: OK, is that compromising?

J. BOEHNER: I made clear I am not going to compromise on — on my principles, nor am I going to compromise…

STAHL: What are you saying?

J. BOEHNER: … the will of the American people.

STAHL: And you’re saying I want common ground, but I’m not going to compromise. I don’t understand that. I really don’t.

J. BOEHNER: When you say the — when you say the word “compromise”…

STAHL: Yeah?

J. BOEHNER: … a lot of Americans look up and go, “Uh-oh, they’re going to sell me out.” And so finding common ground I think makes more sense.

Boehner Plan Would Lead to Downgrade

House Speaker John Boehner claimed last night if President Obama simply signed theHouse legislation he has introduced, which would raise the debt ceiling in two stages, the “crisis” atmosphere over the nation’s credit rating would simply disappear.

However, CNN reports that Boehner’s debt plan would actually not meet the threshold of ratings agencies to avoid a downgrade of the naton’s debt while Sen. Harry Reid’s debt plan would would preserve the country’s AAA credit rating.

See more…

Americans Blame Both Parties for Economy

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds “roughly as many people blame Republican policies for the poor economy as they do Obama. But 65% disapprove of the GOP’s handling of jobs, compared to 52% for the president.”

Wealth Gap Widens Between Whites and Minorities

New Census data shows “the wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century,” the AP reports.

“The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics.”

Republicans Could Face Extended Primary Season

Despite new RNC rules which pushed back the first presidential nominating contests to February, a month later than in 2008, the New York Times notes “at least a half dozen states are threatening to defy the rules and move up their primaries.”

“The result is that the first ballots are once again likely to be cast in January as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina move up the dates of their contests to protect their franchises as the early voting states.”

“At the same time, the rush toward the front of the calendar by Florida, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and Missouri is accompanied by another trend: several states are pushing back their presidential primaries — or canceling them entirely — because of tight state budgets.”

Huntsman Building Huge New Hampshire Staff

Jon Huntsman added two more New Hampshire staffers this week, “bringing to 21 the size of his paid staff in the state. That’s almost triple the size of any other presidential contender, including Romney,” the AP reports.

If the campaign follows through with its plans, “it would be the biggest paid operation for a Republican campaign in New Hampshire primary history.”

Bachmann Skipping Many Votes

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) “has missed nearly 40% of votes in the House since she formally launched her presidential campaign,” The Hill reports.

Bachmann’s absentee rate is significantly higher than the two other House members running for president, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).

Obama Speech Crashes Congressional Websites

David Beard reports that the websites of a number of members of Congress crashed on Monday night after President Obama called on Americans to contact their representatives in support of a debt ceiling deal.

Among those affected were House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH), including both his leadership and separate representative sites, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).

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