December 10, 2013
With approval ratings flagging and his healthcare law at risk, President Obama is bringing on board John Podesta "who helped guide President Clinton through the darkest days of his presidency," the Los Angeles Times
"The Democratic veteran arrives as the president scrambles to fix the troubled start-up of the Affordable Care Act and to recover public support for his most important domestic achievement. Sources familiar with the decision said Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough asked Podesta to take on the role of guiding healthcare implementation as well as advising on other big domestic and foreign policy matters."
: "Podesta's arrival comes at a critical juncture for Obama, as the president tries to regain credibility after the flawed rollout of the insurance marketplaces under his signature health-care law. Obama also has recruited Phil Schiliro, the legislative affairs director during the president's first term and a veteran congressional operative, to return to the White House and spearhead health-care issues."
A new New York Times/CBS News poll
finds that last week's "reports of hopeful economic indicators did nothing to improve the American public's negative opinion of President Obama's stewardship of the nation's economy. However, while most Americans describe the economy as in bad condition, there has been a slight uptick in the number who view the nation's fiscal circumstances positively."
Key findings: "37% of those surveyed approve of Obama's handling of the economy; 58% disapprove. These numbers are indistinguishable from the results of a CBS News poll taken last month, although better-than-expected unemployment numbers and other positive economic data were released last week."
New York Times
: "In the coming months, the African National Congress will face what may be its most fiercely competitive election since it came to power in 1994 -- and, for the first time, will do so without its most important moral figure, Mr. Mandela."
December 09, 2013
A new Inc./WomanTrend poll
in Arkansas finds Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) by seven points, 48% to 41%.
Key finding: 62% of those polled have an unfavorable view of the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) told WND
that he will run against against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the state's Republcian primary race.
Stockman blamed the incumbent GOP senator for undermining Sen. Ted Cruz's "fight to stop Obamacare."
Said Stockman: "We are extremely disappointed in the way he treated his fellow congressmen and broke the 11th commandment and undermined Ted Cruz's fight to stop Obamacare. And now, it looks like Cruz was right and Cornyn was wrong. He sided with the president, essentially, in making sure Obamacare became law while Cruz did everything possible to stop it."
The lawyer representing Mark Obenshain (R) in the pending statewide recount in the Virginia attorney general race on "for the first time openly raised the issue of contesting the election in the General Assembly if the tally does not sway the result in the Republican's favor," the Richmond Times Dispatch
"If he loses the recount, Obenshain could ask a joint session of the General Assembly -- which is dominated by Republicans -- to reverse the results. Under state law, grounds for a contest include objections to 'the conduct or results of the election accompanied by specific allegations which, if proven true, would have a probable impact on the outcome of the election.'"
A new Pew Research/USA today survey
finds that 43% of Americans disapprove of the agreement between the U.S. and Iran over its nuclear program, 32% approve of the deal, while 25% do not offer an opinion.
Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire
"There's no telling what might happen now that Barack Obama and George W. Bush find themselves taking a long Air Force One flight from Washington to Johannesburg to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela. But history suggests something will," Time
"When Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower shared a limo back from Arlington cemetery in November 1963, following the burial of John F. Kennedy, the two men, bitter enemies for more than a decade, finally found a way to set their animosity aside... The two men got to talking and all the years of difficulty and pain melted away as the hours ticked by and the cocktails were refilled."
"Defenses came crashing down again in 1981, when Ronald Reagan sent Richard Nixon, Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter to Cairo to attend the funeral of Anwar Sadat...The ride over on the old Boeing 707 was long, crowded and awkward. But on the way home, Nixon peeled away on a different trip and Carter and Ford dropped a half decade of resentment and realized they had more in common than either imagined. They both hated raising money, they both dreaded 25 years of unexpected retirement; they both disliked Reagan. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship: over the next 25 years, Ford and Carter joined forces on two dozen projects."
looks at seven races to watch for how Obamacare could impact the 2014 midterm elections.
"In 2010, Republicans rode a wave of frustration over the economy and
health-care overhaul, recapturing control of the House of
Representatives. This time around, they're focused on keeping that
majority and looking toward gains in the Senate - and they'll rely on
the bungled HealthCare.gov rollout to fuel voter support."
says the Newtown school shootings last year derailed President Obama's second term agenda.
"Suddenly, priority No. 1 wasn't immigration reform but gun control. The base that had just elected Obama was clamoring for background checks and magazine-clip restrictions, threatening to desert the president before his second inauguration... That meant immigration would have to wait. The clock was ticking on both gun control and immigration, but Democrats moved ahead with gun control first, recognizing that as the memory of the tragedy at Sandy Hook faded, so too would the impetus for new laws. The Senate spent months on a bill, which eventually got whittled down to a universal background-check provision, before it finally died at the hands of a Republican filibuster in mid-April."
"In the process, the administration fatally, and irrevocably, antagonized the populist libertarian Right, the same people whom mainstream Republicans and Democrats needed to stay on the sidelines for immigration reform to succeed. By engaging in such an emotional, polarizing issue so early on, Obama poisoned the (admittedly shallow) well of goodwill and the willingness to compromise by Republicans before his term even began in earnest."
The Miami Herald
caught Adam Hollingsworth, now Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) chief of staff, lying about his academic credentials.
"Hollingsworth didn't just verbally deceive people. He twice explicitly allowed his former employer, CSX Corporation, to issue press releases in 1998 and 2002 saying he graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree. Hollingsworth had no degree at the time. He earned one years later."
Said Hollingsworth: "I am not proud of this and I deeply apologize for this misrepresentation. I have learned from this failure in judgment and know that, over the last several years, my life and character have and will continue to grow from this."
Here's an interesting new book: Getting Primaried: The Changing Politics of Congressional Primary Challenges
by Robert Boatright.
calls an improving economy the sleeper issue for 2014.
"Consider that stronger attitudes about the economy and nation's direction could raise the president's job-approval rating five, six, or seven points. Democrats' chances next year are much better if Obama's approval is in the high 40s than the low 40s."
"Then there are the vulnerable GOP governors in states like Florida (where the unemployment rate is 6.5%), Maine (6.7%), Ohio (7.5%), Pennsylvania (7.5%), and Wisconsin (6.5%). The unemployment rate dropping another full point in these states would represent quite the talking point for these governors. Ditto vulnerable Democratic governors in Colorado (6.8%), Connecticut (7.9%), and Illinois (8.9%)."
Former South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) is not ruling out a third-party run for governor next year, the Columbia State
Said Bauer: "I'm hearing more and more people say they are fed up with the two-party system. And they have asked me about running."
When asked if a third-party run would end up siphoning enough votes away from Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to give the race to Vincent Sheheen (D), Bauer shot back: "You don't think a third-party candidate (can) win?"
: "Bauer is a VERY flawed candidate, but we're believers that his message ("people are fed up with the two-party system) is a potentially powerful one for folks in 2014. Just something to keep an eye on..."
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), "to the surprise of almost no one, apparently plans to announce a bid for re-election Monday morning at a Portland elementary school," the Oregonian
Kitzhaber "served two terms starting in the mid-1990s and won a historic third term in 2010. He has been giving signs in recent weeks that he plans to run again, identifying tax reform as his next big initiative."
"Kitzhaber's entry into the race would essentially clear the primary field of Democrats who might have gubernatorial ambitions, and would make him the immediate front-runner against any Republican in the general election."
: "Democrats increasingly view championing the pay of hourly workers as a can't-lose issue that revs up their base of liberal, black, and Hispanic voters. Perhaps more importantly, it also resonates with the white, blue-collar workers who overwhelmingly side with Republicans."
"Since minority participation tapers off in mid-term elections, assailing Republican opposition to hiking the minimum wage could be a more potent Democratic wedge than immigration reform, particularly in red states with competitive U.S. Senate campaigns, such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Louisiana."
"In what could be the final act in a long-running drama, ex-Mayor Bob Filner is set to appear in court Monday to be sentenced on three counts of mistreating women, the kind of accusations that drove him to resign," the Los Angeles Times
"The judge is widely expected to approve a plea bargain that includes no jail time, three months of home confinement, a reduction in his city pension, mandatory mental health counseling and a bar against seeking public office."
notes that some moderate Republican groups are getting the financial backing of labor unions in their efforts to beat back the tea party.
"That puts these labor groups on the front line of the GOP's intra-party ideological conflict, a battle where the affiliation to unions won't be considered advantageous, to say the least."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) "has captured headlines by pressuring such industry titans as Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd C. Blankfein for transparency... With less fanfare, she's forging alliances with Republican Senate
colleagues, expanding her political network in Massachusetts, and
tapping her backers to help Democrats running for re-election in other
"It's a strategy that sounds a lot like one adopted by another woman who entered the chamber with a national profile that made her a lightning-rod for praise and derision as she was dogged by questions about her presidential aspirations."
A new McClatchy-Marist Poll
finds that a congressional budget deal expected this week "might not be a grand bargain to solve the country's long term fiscal woes, but it is largely what Americans want."
"The likely deal would ease the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, with more defense and domestic spending, no major cuts in popular programs and no big tax increases - all what majorities of American voters prefer, according to the survey."
That said, 68% "do not think Obama and Congress could reach a budget deal before government funding runs out in mid-January, despite reports that a congressional agreement could come this week."
A new U-T San Diego/10News poll
in San Diego finds the two-month sprint to become San Diego's next mayor begins in a statistical dead heat with Kevin Faulconer (R) just edging David Alvarez (D), 47% to 46%, among likely voters.
Kevyn Orr, "who has never run for political office, finds himself in an extraordinary role. He holds power even more concentrated than that of the emergency control board that intervened when New York City was teetering near bankruptcy, an unelected lawyer chiefly responsible for the reinvention of a major American city in decay. And there's a deadline -- 10 months," the New York Times
"The assignment is enormous, a peculiar mix of duties, some stated and others not, for a man who by all accounts had been leading a comfortable life as a bankruptcy lawyer. His new job? Urban planner, numbers cruncher, city spokesman, negotiator, politician, good cop, bad cop."
"I'm happy to see Thanksgiving and Christmas come around so that we can have some real celebration away from this place because there's nothing to celebrate around here."
-- Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), quoted by The Hill
"A Congress stymied by partisan divides, blown deadlines and intraparty squabbling gets a late chance this week to end the year with an elusive budget deal and to make headway on other fronts," the Wall Street Journal
"In the final week of 2013 that the Senate and House are scheduled to be in Washington at the same time, lawmakers and aides are optimistic that negotiators can reach a budget accord and continue to make progress on a farm bill and other measures."
"Meanwhile, a Senate rule change pushed through by Democrats should help ease the way for confirmation of several of President Barack Obama's executive-branch and judicial nominees, even as Republicans still have the power to prolong the process."