Tales from the Trail

Obama swipes at “just say no crowd”

President Barack Obama in Detroit demonstrated what is sure to become a familiar theme in the run up to the November elections — Democrats painting Republicans with variations on the ”Party of No.”

OBAMA/Obama patted his policies on the back for keeping automobile jobs and plants open in Michigan — a state hard hit by the recession — and struck out at Republicans for standing in the way of progress.

In defending his handling of the auto industry crisis, Obama said some of the automobile jobs and plants would not have held on if it weren’t for the controversial government bailouts.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re beginning to see some of these tough decisions pay off.  We are moving forward,” he said. “If some folks had their way, none of this would have been happening.  Just want to point that out, right?  I mean … this plant and your jobs might not exist.”

“There were leaders of the “Just Say No” crowd in Washington. They were saying, oh, standing by the auto industry would guarantee failure,” Obama said.

Washington Extra – Obama’s BlackBerry 10

Tempers ran high in the Senate today as Republicans blocked a $30 billion Democratic plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses. Democrats are fast running out of time to show they are doing something to cut unemployment ahead of November’s elections, but this is just the latest bill to founder on objections from Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue extra spending should be covered by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

This time Republicans complained they were shut out of the amendment process and that a billion dollars of agriculture spending had been attached to the legislation. Mindful that voters think his administration is not doing enough to create jobs, Obama had been calling for the Senate to pass this bill, and he will likely be dismayed by this latest setback. OBAMA/

If that was the thorn in Obama’s day, the rose was probably his appearance on ABC’s ”The View”, sitting on a couch peppered with questions by five women, including Barbara Walters and Joy Behar. Referring to how his family discuss the highs and lows of their lives, he talked about the “roses” and “thorns” of his life as president, revealed he hadn’t been invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and said his i-Pod included Jay-Z and Frank Sinatra but thankfully nothing by teen sensation Justin Bieber.

Meg Whitman breaks new virtual ground with Facebook ‘polling’ ads

USA-POLITICS/CALIFORNIA

In 2010 a candidate would be ill-advised to ignore the Internet, especially if he or she wants to reach younger voters who aren’t paying attention to more traditional campaigns — or, even worse, are tuning out politics entirely.

And Republican Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is running for California  governor against Democrat Jerry Brown,  certainly isn’t the first candidate to advertise on Facebook in hopes of tapping into its nearly 500 million users.

But Whitman’s campaign says she has become the first political candidate to use “polling ads” on Facebook — or spots that engage users, asking them to decide which issues they want to hear the candidate address.

Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Obama approval at 48 pct, disapproval at 48 pct

Americans are evenly split over whether President Barack Obama is doing a good job or a bad job — and few are on the fence.

A Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll found that Obama’s approval and disapproval ratings are each at 48 percent.

In the July 22-25 poll of 1,075 adults, Obama’s approval rating is in line with other polls that show his popularity below 50 percent.

House Democrats fret over Rangel case

rangelTwo top Democrats met with Rep. Charles Rangel on Monday, an aide said, while their colleagues fretted about whether his ethics woes will hurt them in the November election.

Rangel had separate meetings with Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, and Jim Clyburn, the House Democratic whip, the Democratic Party aide said.

The aide declined to elaborate on the talks, other than to confirm that Van Hollen shared with Rangel some of his “observations.” Many Democrats fear that if Rangel’s case goes to trial before a congressional panel in September it could become a “political circus” and undermine Democrats’ chances to retain control of the House.

California city’s mess a golden opportunity for Jerry Brown?

Democrat Jerry Brown has taken some heat, even within his own party, for his seemingly minimalist campaign for California Jerry_Browngovernor — which so far has involved few rallies, speeches or even TV commercials — and which some say has allowed Republican Meg Whitman to make critical inroads with Latinos and other voting blocs in a race with national political implications.

Meanwhile supporters are quick to point out that Brown, the state’s attorney general, must husband his resources against Whitman, a billionaire who is  largely bankrolling her own campaign — and can’t possibly hope to match the former eBay CEO ad for ad all the way until the November election.

But political experts say a scandal involving the the massive salaries being paid to local officials in the small Los Angeles suburb of Bell, California — while potentially bad news for state and even local taxpayers – may have given Brown just the shot in the arm he needs.

Boehner says lawmakers should expect to do more reading if he becomes House Speaker

Republican John Boehner wants you to know that if his party wins control of  the House of Representatives and he becomes the chamber’s next Speaker, things will be a lot different.

For starters, Boehner says lawmakers in both parties will get a better opportunity to actually read bills before they vote on them.

USA-HEALTHCARE/“One of the things that the American people are most fed up with is the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to the floor before anyone has had a chance to read them,” Boehner said this week in looking ahead to the November election.

Washington Extra

What do central bankers and slalom skiers have in common? Bobbing and weaving, for one thing.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sat in front of lawmakers for a second day on Thursday to deliver his semi-annual assessment of the economy, cleverly sidestepping the obstacles they placed to his right and left. With election season fast approaching, each side wanted ammunition for their campaigns, and for their partisan readings of the economy.
bernanke

Not surprisingly, the resolutely apolitical Bernanke trod carefully. For the Democrats, there was comforting agreement that this week’s bill to regulate Wall Street had placed the financial system on a sounder footing and reduced the risk of another devastating financial crisis. Last year’s $862 billion economic stimulus had saved or created somewhere between one and three million jobs, Bernanke said, and the government was right to run a fiscal deficit in 2010 to support the economy.

Republicans turning up the heat on tax cuts

An election-year debate over tax cuts and deficits is heating up as Republicans press for extending all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and Democrats debate what to do against the backdrop of a slow economy, huge deficits and feared shellacking in the November congressional elections.

USA/House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Democrats support extending tax cuts for the middle class, but allowing the tax breaks for the wealthy to expire in order to help bring down huge budget deficits.

House Republicans immediately fired off an email to reporters saying “Pelosi announces tax hikes on small business.” Republicans argue that allowing tax rates to rise on individuals making more than $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000 amounts to a tax increase on small business since many small entrepreneurs report business income on their individual tax returns.

Obama may want to cover his eyes, poll numbers not good

A standard public line for presidents is that they don’t make policy based on opinion polls.

But we’re fairly certain no president likes to see his poll numbers drop. Well, President Barack Obama may want to cover his eyes for this one.

OBAMA/The latest Quinnipiac University National Poll found that Obama’s approval rating has dropped to a net low, with 44 percent saying they approve compared with 48 percent who disapprove of how he’s doing his job.