Obama’s Policies Preferred Over GOP’s

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 52% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the policies President Obama wants to pursue in his second term.

In contract, 55% hold a negative view of the policies they expect the Republicans in Congress to offer in the next four years.


Reaction to the State of the Union Address

President Obama was significantly more combative, audacious and partisan in this State of the Union address than in previous years.

He repeatedly backed policies that most Americans find popular but that Republicans oppose continuing to drive a wedge into his opposition. At the same time, he sought to fire up the Democratic base as he readies a major congressional push to solidify his legislative legacy. And if Congress won’t act, he made clear than many of his proposals could be done — or at least started — by executive action.

One example was climate change. Obama suggested the EPA could regulate carbon emissions without new legislation that might never get out of the House or Senate. But it’s something his liberal base has been waiting four years to hear.

Obama was also particularly sure to tie the nation’s repeated budget crises firmly around the neck of Republicans. He indicated he was ready to compromise but that he would not sacrifice investments in the middle class for the sole purpose of reducing the deficit. Obama also made sure to point out that nothing he proposed tonight would add a single penny to the national debt.

An emotional push for gun control topped off the president’s speech. He repeatedly called for a vote on his proposed gun curbs. “They deserve a vote,” he said as he named victims of gun violence.

But the biggest difference in this speech than those over the last four years is that Obama seems to recognize he’ll get little help from congressional Republicans. Gone were the bipartisan platitudes. Gone were the olive branches to his rivals. Instead, Obama made clear he’s ready for a fight.


McConnell Says Automatic Cuts Will Happen

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) predicted that automatic spending cuts will take effect on March 1 as scheduled, Reuters reports.

Said McConnell: “It’s pretty clear to me that the sequester’s going to go into effect. I have seen no evidence that the House plans to act on this matter before the end of the month.”

He added: “Read my lips: I’m not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation.”


Hagel Nomination Advances Through Committee

The Senate Armed Services Committee endorsed Chuck Hagel for secretary of Defense on a party line vote, amid GOP promises to filibuster the nomination and insist on a 60-vote majority during floor consideration, Roll Call reports.

The approval came “after a fractious markup, with senators getting into heated exchanges over Hagel’s disclosure of certain financial records.”


Imbalance of Power

The New York Times notes that due to redistricting, seven states had a “severe imbalance” between their popular vote and the party makeup of their House delegations: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

All but Arizona were tilted in favor of the Republicans.


Joe Scarborough vs. The Nerds

Jonathan Chait: “What makes Joe Scarborough such an enjoyable figure is his combination of affability, good intentions, high self-regard, low self-awareness, and total lack of analytical reasoning skills. He is not remotely dislikable. He is Ron Burgundy come to life.”

“The nerd is the natural enemy of Joe Scarborough, as nerds defy everything Scarborough has come to believe about the expected order of things.”


Hagel Failed to Disclose Two Speeches

“In the supporting documents he turned over to Senate investigators as part of his confirmation process, Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel did not disclose at least two recent speeches on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Fox News reports.

“Obama administration sources and lawmakers said Hagel was required to declare to the Senate Armed Services Committee any ‘formal speeches’ he had given since the start of January 2008. That Hagel appears not to have declared the two speeches from 2008 could further jeopardize his nomination with Senate Republicans, who have already threatened to block the nomination because they believe Hagel has not turned over enough financial data.”


Christie Still Riding High

A new Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll in New Jersey finds Gov. Chris Christie (R) with an approval rate at 70% and just 17% disapproving.

Christie even has a 58% job approval rating from Democrats and 60% from public employees.


Republicans Plan on Ignoring Obama

Roll Call: “If President Barack Obama has soured on pointless haggling with congressional Republicans, the feeling is mutual. So after Tuesday evening’s post-State of the Union platitudes about working together have been dispensed with, expect House and Senate Republicans to go their own way, ignoring Obama and his demands as much as possible.”


A More Aggressive Obama

New York Times: “Inside the White House and out, advisers and associates have noted subtle but palpable changes in Mr. Obama since his re-election… He is relaxed, more voluble and even more confident than usual, these people say, freer to drop profanities or dismiss others’ ideas — enough that even some supporters fear the potential for hubris.”

Greg Sargent: “If Obama makes good on the threat to be aggressive, there will be a great deal of gnashing of teeth among Republicans — and even neutral commentators — about his lack of ‘bipartisan outreach.'”


Obama’s Last Chance to Go Big?

First Read: “Here’s a reality about a second-term presidency: You have a narrow window — at the beginning of the term — to persuade Congress to do something big. For Ronald Reagan, it was tax reform (which he achieved); for Bill Clinton, it was education reform (which failed); and for George W. Bush, it was Social Security reform (which crashed and burned). And this is perhaps the best way to view President Obama’s State of the Union address at 9:00 pm ET tonight. It is essentially his last chance to lay the groundwork for domestic achievements. In his speech tonight, Obama is expected to push for second term agenda: comprehensive immigration reform, ways to curb gun violence, and his preferences to grow the economy and reduce the deficit. And it’s the issue of the economy where the president will spend a lion’s share of his time.”


GOP Backs Path to Citizenship Unless Obama Supports It

A new Washington Post poll finds that 70% of Americans said they would support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, including 60% of Republicans.

But when the same question was asked of a separate sample of respondents, this time with Obama’s name attached to it, support dropped to 59% overall and just 39% among Republicans.


Sequester Looms Larger

Charlie Cook: “Don’t be surprised if the barometric pressure in Washington’s atmosphere and the blood pressures of many Beltway denizens shoot up this week. As emotional, important, and timely as the debates over immigration and gun control are, the increasing likelihood that budget sequestration will, in fact, kick in March 1 is just now starting to sink in.”

“The thinking behind sequestration was that the penalty for not sufficiently reducing the deficit would be so draconian that members of Congress would do whatever it took to avoid it. No one realized that quite a few members from both parties would prefer sequestration to making the painful concessions necessary for compromise–but that’s where we are.”

Byron York reports the GOP “appears more and more prepared to keep the sequester as it currently stands.”


Impact of the State of the Union Rarely Lasting

Washington Post: “Rarely have State of the Union addresses moved public opinion, and rarely have they led to the kind of broad legislative accomplishments that presidents propose. For all the ritual and attention surrounding these speeches, the State of the Union is, well, sort of lame.”

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