Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Economy hits Obama’s poll numbers

It’s still “the economy, stupid.”

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan, famously pinned up on the wall of their Little Rock headquarters by James Carville, never seemed more appropriate than it does today.

Our first Reuters/IPSOS national poll dramatically illustrates how the parlous state of the economy is undermining confidence in President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues ahead of November’s mid-term elections. OBAMA/

Americans clearly identified the economy and jobs as the main problems facing the country today. Even more overwhelmingly, they said that Obama was not focusing on the issue enough.

Faith in Obama’s economic policies is also slipping sharply. People were more negative about the president’s handling of the economy than over any other issue. Satisfaction was also dropping more quickly on the issue than on any other question.

In another sign of trouble ahead for the president and his party, Republicans were significantly more energized and likely to vote in the mid-term elections than Democrats.

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.

Washington Extra

The Obama administration admitted today that the economy was facing “strong headwinds” and that government finances were on an unsustainable path. Not a great backdrop as we head into November’s elections, as the White House is only too well aware.

OBAMA-ECONOMY/JOBSBut at least the president is trying to set a good example himself. Yesterday we heard how the Obama family was putting its vacations to work for the good of the economy, visiting the Florida Gulf Coast where tourism has been savaged by the oil spill. Now we learn that the First Daughters are getting lessons in managing their money wisely. Not only do Malia and Sasha have their own savings accounts, but they are nearly ready to start earning money babysitting. While those are valuable lessons for a 12 and nine-year-old girl, I am not sure how the $10 an hour they might earn would cover the costs of their driver and armed guard.

Otherwise, today’s highlights include an analysis of the resurgent fortunes of Sarah Palin and her increasingly influential role in the run up to the November mid-terms. And take a look too at our examination of what might be in store when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveils a stripped down energy bill next week.

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.
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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.

Politics beckon again as Obama’s Maine getaway ends

After a laid-back family getaway on Maine’s scenic shoreline, it’s back to political reality for President Barack Obama.

The first family wrapped up a three-day mini-vacation in the upscale Bar Harbor resort and boarded a small presidential jet headed for Washington, where Obama will again face the daily pressures and policy battles. OBAMA/

In the coming week, he will weigh the latest dose of good news together with lingering concerns about the BP oil spill, sign a Wall Street overhaul into law and hold talks with new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Enduring problems like the struggling economy, high unemployment and the war in Afghanistan also remain on his plate.

Obama seeks help, Clinton (Bill) to the rescue?

In the latest twist in the Obama-Clinton family drama, the current president has enlisted the past president to help shore up sagging confidence in his economic leadership and repair his tattered relationship with business.  OBAMA/

Barack Obama has asked Clinton to come to his meeting with business leaders today to discuss job creation and investment. That is a day after he also enlisted the help of long-time Clintonista Jack Lew to be his budget director after he presided over surpluses during Bill’s tenure.

It is quite a transformation in the Obama-Clinton relationship, from bitter foe with a dash of alpha male rivalry during the primaries (when the other Clinton was running for president), to rock solid partners in the Democratic cause.

Obama a “hottie” in Buffalo, where they need “freakin” jobs

Perhaps that’s how they greet visitors in the region famous for spicy chicken wings.

“You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body,” Luann Haley, 45, said to President Barack Obama when he stopped in at Duff’s Famous Wings during a visit to Buffalo, New York. OBAMA/

For that she got a big hug from the president who said his wife, Michelle, would be watching on television.

Obama promises to work overtime to ease economic impact of oil spill

There’s not much to offer by way of comfort to coastal states threatened by the oil spill that’s spreading over the Gulf of Mexico like The Blob from horror movies past.

OIL-RIG/LEAK-BPAnd then there’s also the threat from the “Loop Current” that could carry the oil around Florida’s peninsula and north…

So there’s not much by way of  lemonade likely to come out of the lemons of this disaster, but President Barack Obama promised to work overtime to limit the economic damage to affected communities and to try and make sure that  jobs created to clean up the mess would go to local residents.

McCain says he was misled, but not everyone agrees

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John McCain says he was misled by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson into supporting the Wall Street bailout.

“We were all misled,” the Arizona Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend.

Misled in what way?

With the economy showing every sign of burning to the ground, McCain says Paulson told Congress the Bush administration wanted to buy up toxic mortgages blamed for the conflagration. But he turned around and gave the money directly to Wall Street.

Obama swipes at ribbon-cutting Republicans — again

President Barack Obama apparently believes he’s found the right formula for chiding Republicans who opposed the $787 billion economic stimulus — because he used it again. OBAMA/

On the one-year anniversary of signing the Recovery Act, Obama acknowledged the controversy that the measure continues to generate.

“And part of that is because there are those, let’s face it, across the aisle who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did, even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts,” Obama said.