Flournoy Not Interested in Being Defense Secretary

“Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama’s second term,” Foreign Policy reports.

Congress Nears Deal on Business Tax Breaks

“House and Senate negotiators neared a deal to make permanent a list of major tax breaks for business, infuriating White House officials and some liberal Democrats who say the package will blow a hole in the budget deficit over the longer term while providing little for the working class,” the New York Times reports.

“The package shows how sharply power has shifted after the Democrats’ electoral defeat. Republicans are effectively steamrolling the Obama administration and the Democrats who still control the Senate Finance Committee by cutting the deal with the departing Senate Democratic leadership.”

Politico: “The agreement is not final, and its total cost is not immediately available, though aides said it will likely be at least $400 billion. The entire tally will be added to the budget deficit.”

Where’s the Tea Party?

Tea Party Turns Focus to Immigration

“In all its fury and unanimity, the response from the right over President Obama’s decision to change immigration policy without the consent of Congress was the manifestation of a major transformation inside the Tea Party,” the New York Times reports.

“What started five years ago as a groundswell of conservatives committed to curtailing the reach of the federal government, cutting the deficit and countering the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party has become largely an anti-immigration overhaul movement. The politicians, intellectual leaders and activists who consider themselves part of the Tea Party have redirected their energy from fiscal austerity and small government to stopping any changes that would legitimize people who are here illegally, either through granting them citizenship or legal status.”

Stockman Seeks to Brand Climate Change Denial

In his last days in office, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) “appears to be trying to cement his legacy by naming a scientific theory charging climate change is natural after himself,” National Journal reports.

“Stockman, who did not seek re-election this year, introduced a bill last week to ‘study the effect of the Earth’s magnetic field on the weather.’ The bill doesn’t explicitly mention global warming, but would put Congress on record as saying that a ‘decrease in magnetic fields could impact global temperatures’ and instructs the director of the National Science Foundation to commission a study on the impact a shift in the Earth’s magnetic field could have on the weather. That bill’s name? The ‘Stockman Effect Act.'”

“Here’s the thing: the ‘Stockman Effect’ isn’t the name of the theory the Congressman is proposing to study. Scientists contacted by National Journal said they weren’t aware of a ‘Stockman Effect’ related to geophysics or climate change.”

I’ll bet readers can come up with alternative definitions of the “Stockman Effect”

Obama Isn’t ‘Poisoning the Well’ on Immigration

David Leonhart exposes the “poison the well” myth over immigration reform — “the notion that Mr. Obama’s executive action to shield as many as five million people from deportation will prevent a bigger immigration bill from passing Congress and maybe prevent a whole bunch of other legislation, too.”

“Obviously, we can’t run the final two years of the Obama presidency multiple times under different circumstances and see what happens in each. So it’s impossible to know for certain how any one action affects the course of events. But there are all kinds of reasons to believe that the poison-the-well theory is based on a naïve view of politics. And understanding why it’s wrong helps illuminate how politics really does work.”

“Whatever you may think of today’s politicians, they are highly successful people who have climbed to the top of a competitive profession. Most of the time, they make decisions that are in their interests — whether political interests or policy interests. A few notable exceptions aside (like Newt Gingrich’s infamous pique in 1995 over getting a bad seat on Air Force One), they do not make major decisions the way a small child would, based mostly on whether someone else is being nice or mean to them.”

Democrats Mistakenly Focused on Health Care

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Democrats made a mistake by passing President Obama’s health-care law in 2010 instead of focusing more directly on helping the middle class, Bloomberg reports.

Said Schumer: “Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them… We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

“Schumer’s comments represent an unusual public intra-party critique of the way Obama’s signature legislative achievement was enacted.”

Fastest Economic Growth in More Than a Decade

“The economy expanded at its fastest pace in more than a decade during the spring and summer, showing the U.S. sits on a solid foundation despite increasing global uncertainty,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.9% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The agency had previously estimated the third quarter’s growth rate at 3.5%.”

Wonk Wire: Is the era of rock bottom economics over?

Getting Ready for the Real Thing

Ruby Cramer has a great look at the “shadow campaign” or “pre-campaign” coming put together to elect Hillary Clinton as president.

“Political operatives wandered the halls of the hotel between meetings, while two or three reporters hung around near the elevators, aimless. What they were covering, how it would all work, and exactly to what end wasn’t clear at the time. But that small, scattered scene at the conference — a daylong series of panel discussions billed as a 2016 “strategy session” — marked the loose beginnings of a coordinated, unprecedented early effort to elect a U.S. president.”

“Three organizations make up what, together, is considered a formidable triad: Ready for Hillary, Correct the Record, Priorities USA. Respectively, the groups have amassed Clinton supporters, defended her in the press, and made preparations to raise millions to augment her possible campaign.”

Many believe the four-year head start President Obama had over Mitt Romney in planning a campaign made all the difference in 2012. That’s what Democrats are trying to do for Clinton.

Quote of the Day

“Why come out and vote for the Democratic Party? There was no message to say: Here’s what we’ve done. I wish the party or whoever had done a national media campaign and say, here’s what you get when you elect Democrats. But there was no — what was the message out of ’14? I’m asking you rhetorically — do you know? No. What was it?”

— Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), quoted by Politico.

Rhetorical or not, it’s a pretty good question.

Chaos Defines Obama Second Term

First Read: “The news out of Ferguson, MO turns out to be overshadowing one of the low points in President Obama’s national-security record. Consider: He’s now looking for his fourth Defense secretary after forcing Chuck Hagel to resign from the post. And the administration is scrambling after the Iran talks failed to produce a deal, which Team Obama so badly wants. (Yes, the United States and Iran are still talking, but the prospects of an eventual deal don’t look good right now.) More than anything else, chaos — whether it’s ISIS, the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Ebola outbreak in Africa — has defined President Obama’s second term in office. And managing this chaos is perhaps the most charitable way to view the administration’s handling of these issues.”

“Now maybe this is simply the ‘new normal’ after the Pandora’s Box of the 2003 Iraq war and the Arab Spring were opened. But with a new Defense secretary coming in, now’s the time to see if the Obama White House can do more than manage the chaos — and actually begin to control the events.”

Americans Split on Obama Immigration Moves

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters are divided on whether President Obama should take action to address the immigration issue, with 45% agreeing that the president should issue an executive order on his own while 48% disagreeing.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval rating is a negative 39% to 54%, close to his lowest-ever.

Wonk Wire: Is Obama’s use of executive powers unprecedented?

GOP Unites Around Plan to Avoid Shutdown

“House Republican leaders are beginning to coalesce around a strategy to avoid a government shutdown in less than a month,” Politico reports.

“The likely proposal would fund nearly the entire government through September 2015, but immigration enforcement related funding would be renewed on a short-term basis, according to several high-ranking GOP lawmakers and aides who described the plan as it stands now. The strategy is designed to keep the government open, while satisfying the base, which is livid with President Back Obama for issuing an executive order that ends deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.”

Whatever happened to defunding Obamacare?

Emails Detail Effort to Bypass Gerrymandering Ban

“The Republican consultants had to be hush-hush — ‘almost paranoid’ in the words of one — because of their high-stakes mission: Get go-betweens to help circumvent a Florida Constitutional ban on gerrymandering,” the Miami Herald reports.

“The plot was spelled out in a newly released batch of once-secret emails that show how the consultants surreptitiously drew congressional and state legislative maps. They then recruited seemingly independent citizens to submit them in an effort to strengthen the hand of Florida Republicans when the GOP-led Legislature redrew lawmaker districts in 2011.”