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The Morning Plum

* Anybody remember that promise to end the Iraq War? In a measure of how much things have changed since Obama took office, the president plans to deliver a big speech today underscoring that he's making good on his pledge to pull out of Iraq -- and it's anybody's guess whether it will have any meaningful political impact.

The White House is hoping that Obama's delivery on such a major promise will, you know, matter a bit to people. Public anxiety over Iraq was powerful enough to help decide a presidential election less than two years ago. But now, amazingly, it's unclear how powerful a motivator this will be even for Democratic base voters.

* Framing the week: Obama will continue pushing Republicans to pass a small business jobs bill.

* And Republicans insist compromise is still possible on the small business bill if Dems do the right thing and let them have their way on amendments.

* Also framing the week: Obama desperately needs more moments like his Friday speech in Detroit about how his government intervention saved the auto industry, and now he's aiming to replicate it at a Chicago auto plant on Thursday.

* Something Dems might keep in mind: A big fight over whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich would motivate the base on both sides in a big way.

Which makes it all the more puzzling that Dems may blink on this issue, despite clear signs it's a political winner for them. Republicans aren't blinking, are they?

* Relatedly: Fareed Zakaria ponders the perplexing sight of Republicans claiming the deficit risks destroying the republic even as they're unwilling to let those tax cuts for the rich expire.

* Tellin' it like it is: Alan Greenspan, on the GOP argument that the tax cuts pay for themselves: "They do not."

* Question of the day: E.J. Dionne, writing about the auto industry's rebound, asks: "Can we admit that government intervention worked?" Of course not!

* Nightmare scenario for Dems: Is it possible that Ben Nelson could switch parties after GOP gains in the Senate this fall?

* No DISCLOSE act? The key thing to understand about the tidal wave of corporate cash that will influence the midterms is that it will be heavily concentrated in a small number of contested districts and states, magnifying its power further.

* Also noteworthy in the above link: The confluence of the political environment and the failure of the DISCLOSE act has created uniquely good conditions for big business to swing the elections.

* Fox News wins one: By awarding a front row White House press briefing seat to Fox News, the White House Correspondents Association appears to be informing us that Fox is a legitimate news organization.

* Rightward, ho: Jon Kyl throws in his lot with Lindsey Graham, jumps headlong into movement to repeal birthright citizenship. And he wants Congressional hearings!

* For some reason, House Republican leaders think GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's preaching about doing away with Medicare and Social Security doesn't reflect terribly well on their party.

* And she's still makin' it up: If everyone is going to obsess about the latest thing Sarah Palin wrote on her palm about the Dems' alleged $3.8 trillion tax hike, maybe it's a good idea to point out that it's completely false.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  August 2, 2010; 8:23 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Foreign policy and national security , House GOPers , Immigration , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Republicans , economy  
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Next: Obama admin pushes back hard on right's charge that it's not protecting military voters

Comments

"If everyone is going to obsess about the latest thing Sarah Palin wrote on her palm about the Dems' alleged $3.8 trillion tax hike, maybe it's a good idea to point out that it's completely false."

I guess that's pretty definative proof that the jacka** beltway media didn't learn a thing from the Sherrod mess, doesn't it?

"Which makes it all the more puzzling that Dems may blink on this issue, despite clear signs it's a political winner for them."

There's some grumblings from the corporate members of the Dems, but the Democratic Leadership in Congress and the White House have both shown ZERO interest in renewing the Bush tax cuts for those making over 250k. I'm not sure I agree that there is an indication that Dems will blink.

@Greg

Sorry I didn't stay to play in the open thread over the weekend...my girlfriend moved in on Thursday, so I took Friday off and we had a big welcome weekend. I still think the open thread is serving it's purpose though!

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 2, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

sargent: "By awarding Helen Thomas's front row White House press briefing seat to Fox News..."

I think you may have read Benen's post a little too fast. I believe the AP actually got Thomas' seat; Fox got the old AP seat.

Posted by: converse | August 2, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

FYI, Greg....The Morning Plum isn't showing up on your main page. I got here by going through the Weekend Open Thread.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | August 2, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

There's some grumblings from the corporate members of the Dems...
====================

Unfortunately, those corporatist Dems are the ones who usually get their way. Of course, that is under the '60 votes to pass anything' rules, and these cuts are set to expire on their own.

P.S. Greg, I think Obama would get more credit for getting us out of Iraq if we weren't stuck deep in the quagmire of Afghanistan.
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | August 2, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm tired on this frame of Obama/Dems on the ropes you consistently put out, enough to briefly come out of lurking mode.

Obama's "base" is not the same as the "Dem base" you constantly harp on; we'll see how it all plays out during the mid-terms, but if the so-called "Dem base" wants to stay home in November, that will just erode further its political relevance, already severely damaged in 2008.

There are other voters out there who do appreciate the hard, consistent work of this administration, and want to hear from the President and Congress on their (countless by now) achievements, yes.

Reminder: the so-called "base" didn't elect Barack the first time, they are not supporting him now, so I doubt anyone is actually counting on them for anything but the usual hair pulling and screeching.


"and it's anybody's guess whether it will have any meaningful political impact."

Well - what do you think, hey? A guy who keeps his campaign promise, how about that? Do voters respect that? yes we do. Is it a huge, achievement? Yes it it. Are you pissing on it instead of reporting? Yes you are.

"Obama desperately needs more moments like his Friday speech in Detroit about how his government intervention saved the auto industry,"

Desperately? Is that a joke? The campaign season is just starting, and he and Congressional Dems have a strong record of achievement to run on, yet according to you, they "desperately need another Detroit moment"? lol, did that "Detroit moment" just happen by chance, or is this the start of a carefully choreographed campaign strategy?

/rant

Posted by: Mag3 | August 2, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@ifthethunder

"Unfortunately, those corporatist Dems are the ones who usually get their way."

Eh, when they are the 60th vote they have lots of leverage...but there are just as many examples of them swallowing something they didn't like as them getting something changed.

Moreover, I believe since the Bush tax cuts expire on their own it would take an amendment to renew them...which would take 60 votes. We've heard grumblings from maybe two or three Dems? That's not nearly enough.

@Greg Re: Iraq

I don't think it boosts Obama for ending the war, but it should help the perception that he's keeping his campaign promises a little. Doesn't help Dems in the mid-term a whole lot, but should help him in 2012.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 2, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Ps: "tired of", sorry

Posted by: Mag3 | August 2, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

1) you're welcome

2) what mag3 said

Posted by: converse | August 2, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

converse, thanks, fixed.

BBQ -- no worries, understood, thx.

Schrodingerscat, I'm seeing it. anyone else having that problem?

Mag3, I dont' understand your objection. Of course Dems "desperately" need more moments like that one. Do they have a strategy? Yes, but I don't see how that changes their need for more good moments.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 2, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

converse, "what mag3 said" is absurd. I simply asked *whether* it would matter to people, after pointing out that it was striking that he had fulfilled a major promise.

To say that's "pissing" on that accomplishment is just pure BS.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 2, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Republicans keep claiming that Tax Cuts For the very rich, creates jobs;

Keep Our Message Very Simple.

President Bush gave massive tax cuts to the very rich, and it ended up ballooning the deficit, and put millions of people out of work.

Bush Cut The Taxes; And Unemployment Rose Massively.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

sargent: "...after pointing out that it was striking that he had fulfilled a major promise."

I must have missed that, particularly the part about how "striking" it was. If "how much things have changed" was supposed to do that... mission not accomplished.

Posted by: converse | August 2, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"* Anybody remember that promise to end the Iraq War? In a measure of how much things have changed since Obama took office, the president plans to deliver a big speech today underscoring that he's making good on his pledge to pull out of Iraq -- and it's anybody's guess whether it will have any meaningful political impact."

You can expect Fox to come up with a diversionary story like Shirley Sherod to take away his thunder. I don't think it was a coincident that story broke the day he signed financial reform into law...

Posted by: soapm | August 2, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Converse, you must have missed this line:

The White House is hoping that Obama's delivery on such a major promise will, you know, matter a bit to people.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 2, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Of course the WHPC believes that Fox is a "legitimate news organization." They credentialed Fox, after all, as did every other news reporters association. Major Garret is extremely well-liked, and rightfully so, and is actually a good reporter, much better than, say, Chip Reid and Ed Henry. In fact, he used to work for CNN before he was pushed out in favor of John King. This handwringing over who sits where among the moonbattery is silly and petty. Get a grip.


Go read Jonathan Bernstein for a sane perspective on that.
http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/

Posted by: TomBlue | August 2, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Fox News sought the seat that Helen Thomas held, so you just called them "moonbats", for having "flipped out" over where they would like to have Major Garret seated.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Liam: "Republicans keep claiming that Tax Cuts For the very rich, creates jobs"

Except I think they did create jobs, just not in the United States. The investments made by the rich in the stock market, passes through to become working capital for corporations who are creating jobs...in India, China...also Vietnam.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 2, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"P.S. Greg, I think Obama would get more credit for getting us out of Iraq if we weren't stuck deep in the quagmire of Afghanistan."

Well, I recall that, generally, in both the news and in general from anti-war protesters and critics, the Iraq war was discussed and dissected a great deal more before than after Obama's election. Without an effort to keep the ugliness, and cost, of war in the public's mind--perhaps based on the assumption that, since Obama had been elected, the war was as good as over?--winding down in Iraq isn't going to redound much to Obama's favor. Responses will probably run the gamut from: "Oh, that's good" to "I thought we were already out of there."

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 2, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm a bit puzzled as to why a Ben Nelson defection would be a "nightmare" for the Dems. After all, he already votes with the Republicans, and perhaps if he switched he would no longer have the ability to muck things up in committee the way he has on virtually every important bill he's had the opportunity to muck with in committee. Ben Nelson is a nightmare for Dems no matter what party he belongs to, but at least if he crosses the aisle, he won't have nearly as much sway in perverting and watering down good legislation in committee.

Posted by: JennOfArk | August 2, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

@suekzoo1: "Liam: 'Republicans keep claiming that Tax Cuts For the very rich, creates jobs' . . . Except I think they did create jobs, just not in the United States. "

Well, they may have created jobs in the United States. But the inescapable conclusion is that, though tax cuts for the rich may create jobs, they clearly aren't a panacea. If they were a reliable way of creating a broad range of jobs and investment in the American economy, we wouldn't be having a Great Recession.

@Liam: "Fox News sought the seat that Helen Thomas held, so you just called them 'moonbats', for having 'flipped out'"

While "flipped out" is a fair common turn of phrase (I've been known to flip out, myself), I don't much care for the appellation "moonbats". Whether it's contemporary society or something deeply ingrained in human nature, I'm still impressed by adult human beings ability to conflate other people daring to have different opinions than themselves with insanity or mental illness.

That being said, one can hardly blame Fox for going after the Helen Thomas seat. That was some prime Whitehouse real estate.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 2, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

You never want to give away a Senate Seat to the other side. It is as simple as that.

He has not voted in lockstep with Republicans on every issue, which he would, were he in their Party.

It is silly to say that him switching parties would make no difference. It would move The Republicans one Senate seat closer to being able to regain the majority, and take over all the committees.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

To watch for this week:

REVISIONIST HISTORY ON IRAQ

I've already seen it start to take place.

The key is that Bush did NOT negotiate with the government of Iraq on the "timetable" which was Obama's policy.

Bush negotiated an "end date" aka "time horizon" when the soldiers would be fully out of Iraq.

Big big BIG difference.

Watch the Rovian Dogs salivate at the ringing of the Iraq bell. Guaranteed to happen this week.

Re: soapm: "You can expect Fox to come up with a diversionary story like Shirley Sherod to take away his thunder."

Exactly right.

Nothing like a little REVISION and DIVISION c/o Fox News when a Dem president does something good for the country.

We should expect both to happen this week.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 2, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Again: Keep It Simple:

During The Presidential Campaign of 2008:

John McCain campaigned against setting any draw down deadlines in Iraq. He wanted to leave an open ended war engagement policy in place.

President Obama campaigned to adhere to draw down deadlines.

The Voters need to ask theirselves; would they now prefer what McCain was promising, or do they prefer the deadline that President Obama has followed.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Kevin Willis: "Well, they may have created jobs in the United States. But the inescapable conclusion is that, though tax cuts for the rich may create jobs, they clearly aren't a panacea. If they were a reliable way of creating a broad range of jobs and investment in the American economy, we wouldn't be having a Great Recession."

No doubt there have been jobs created in the US...low paying, dead end jobs. The jobs that are being sent out of the country are the ones that in the past sustained the middle class.

From David Stockman's op-ed in the NYT yesterday:

"The fourth destructive change has been the hollowing out of the larger American economy. Having lived beyond our means for decades by borrowing heavily from abroad, we have steadily sent jobs and production offshore. In the past decade, the number of high-value jobs in goods production and in service categories like trade, transportation, information technology and the professions has shrunk by 12 percent, to 68 million from 77 million. The only reason we have not experienced a severe reduction in nonfarm payrolls since 2000 is that there has been a gain in low-paying, often part-time positions in places like bars, hotels and nursing homes.

It is not surprising, then, that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1 percent of Americans — paid mainly from the Wall Street casino — received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90 percent — mainly dependent on Main Street’s shrinking economy — got only 12 percent. This growing wealth gap is not the market’s fault. It’s the decaying fruit of bad economic policy."


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/opinion/01stockman.html?pagewanted=2&sq=stockman&st=Search&scp=1

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 2, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

If Nelson switches, the "nightmare" won't be losing that big-headed bag of dogshit, but that the GOP has or is close to a majority.

The silver lining is that it would allow for a new Dem to emerge in NE that could hardly be worse.

At least we can hope.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 2, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Re: Nelson Party Switch

Joe Klein is talking out of his a** on this one. Why would anyone worry about Nelson switching parties? He thinks a US Senator would jump ship to be in the minority? LOL!

Truth is, Nelson's days in the Senate are nearly numbered.

The latest poll (7/12) in NE showed Nelson's fav/unfav at 32/57. He's been too much of a hassle for Dems to turn out for him, and he's nowhere near conservative enough for the current GOP.

He voted for Health Care Reform and Wall-Street Reform for goodness sake...Klein thinks he can get reelected as a Republican? HA!

Only way Nelson switches is if the GOP actually regains the majority outright in November, which is really unlikely. At that point, he really wouldn't be the biggest worry for Dems anyways. And he'd only be a problem until 2012, when he'd get creamed in a GOP primary.

Nope...Nelson's likley to stay a Dem and hope that the Presidential turnout machine for Pres. Obama gets him over the hump. Not unheard of, even if Obama is not popular in NE, considering the candidates that Obama may face in 2012...

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 2, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

bbq, if he doesn't get a solid primary challenge for 2012, with the DNC staying out of it and letting him go it alone, I'm moving to Italy and buying a herd of exotic goats.

I won't even watch the last 2 seasons of Lost to see what it's all about. Seriously. I'll be that angry.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 2, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Re: The Nelson Switch. It rarely helps even a much more seasoned candidate than Ben Nelson. Just ask Arlen Specter how that leap to the Democrats helped out his political career.

@suekzoo: I read the Stockman piece. It's pretty good, although he doesn't really paint a picture in which raising taxes or increasing tax revenue is going to have that positive an impact, in the long run. His basic conclusion seems to be that we're in trouble, and we had better get used to it.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 2, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

All, check this out, Obama admin responds forcefully to latest Fox smear:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/obama_admin_pushes_back_hard_o.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 2, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand calling a potential switch by Nelson a "nightmare". I personally wanted Democrats to declare at the beginning of this Congress that anyone who didn't vote with the party on procedural votes (i.e. filibusters) would lose committee assignments. Maybe Ben Nelson would have jumped then, but it would have called his bluff to see if he would really go hang with the minority.

Posted by: flounder2 | August 2, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"Reminder: the so-called "base" didn't elect Barack the first time, they are not supporting him now, so I doubt anyone is actually counting on them for anything but the usual hair pulling and screeching."

I do not understand this in the least. Dems, progressives, and independents all pulled together to elect Obama. Everyone worked their butts off and clearly we need everyone to work that hard again. There may be a small percentage of progressives who will sit out the election or vote third party but I don't think it's substantial. Likewise there is a small percentage of independents who will switch back to the Republicans. Unfortunately, these small percentages may be enough to swing elections one way or another.

As Dems, liberal and progressive we need to keep working to make the middle class healthy. It's as simple as that and is the thing that will keep Dems in the majority if they can accomplish it, so far they haven't. Until the American dream becomes reality again instead of a nightmare voters will keep searching for the right candidates. As Democrats we should have done a better job and I for one am holding out hope that we will.

The Obama Administration is justifiably touting accomplishments and kept campaign promises but until the middle class feels hopeful again none of it is as important as our dreams for the future and prosperity of our children. It's not time to rest on our laurels but rather roll up our sleeves and get to work. If almost 10% unemployment becomes the new normal it won't really matter which party controls the majority.

Here's a good article in the Financial Times highlighting the dilemma and hardship Americans are facing and I contend this is what is driving voter turnout and disappointment.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/1a8a5cb2-9ab2-11df-87e6-00144feab49a.html

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/1a8a5cb2-9ab2-11df-87e6-00144feab49a.html

Posted by: lmsinca | August 2, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Is it possible that Ben Nelson could switch parties after GOP gains in the Senate this fall?"

I say after Dems retain the Senate, we kick his azz out anyway

Posted by: SDJeff | August 2, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

lmsinca As always you are the voice of reason.

Part of the problem right now is the way the debate and the issues are being framed. Fox has successfully pulled the nation's dialogue to the far right.

So in the debate over health care the fact that the MAJORITY of our citizens preferred a single payer solution...see the result of these numerous a varied polls on the subject..

http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/PollResults.html

was not only not reported...instead we heard of absolute BS like "death panels" and "pulling the plug on grandma". Instead of a rational approach to the problem we had the repubs and sen demented concentrating on "Obama's Waterloo" instead of worrying what was best for the country.

And we were plunged into the specter of an incredibly ignorant debate where facts and reality took a back seat to riled up emotion. A health care plan passed by a REPUBLICAN state governor...originally conceived by REPUBLICANS in response to the Clinton push for HCR...was now cast as SOCIALIST. r's are nothing but ignorant effing liars for that one...taking an important debate off the table for ignorant talking points to score cheap political points.

And so why did not one outlet call the r's on the 'socialism' canard by simply getting them to explain what is socialistic about the plan compared to say...Medicare for All...or the most successful Medical System in our nation TRUE SOCIALIZED HEALTH CARE..THE VA!!!

Why were the lies not pointed out and the liars shamed? They are traitors to our nation for stifling such a critical debate for their own political gain...."Obama's Waterloo" indeed!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 2, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I was a diehard Democrat until the last election........I did not support and I did not vote for Barack Hussein Obama. I was one of the few who did my research. I read/looked into the history/background of Obama/listened/recorded/profiled every second of the campaign and the great power speech of "CHANGE" with noting the power bump of he and she, the game plan--let's go for it...words like "This is the first time in my life I can honestly say I am proud of America"/oh and 10 years loyalty to the Rev. Wright---WOW!!/the family tree--muslim and atheist/the NOT putting hand over heart to our flag/never bowing his head in prayer/the eye rolling/body language of "I think this is really all so funny"/no experience/no military experience/YES, he fooled alot of people but I was not one of them so yes, I can speak my mind. Well, how's that whole change thing working out for all of you who believed his promises. OBAMA--One Big Ass Mistake America........I do not feel sorry for him, I feel sorry for our military men and women/hard working middle class legal american's/our homeland economic status....Wake up folks--did anyone read Obama Diaries?? Oh of course you can believe him but not an insider who wrote the truth.....we were already on a downhill slide and he is pushing us really hard to end up at the end of the pit!! America--once the greatest place to be in the world, now folding over/broken/sold out/slowing being destroyed by foreigners that hate us. Can you tell me what has happened to America? Is there anyone who dares to take a stand? We have the blood of little children on our hands....Look up all, talk to the greatest leader we have ever had and ask him to help restore our land.........then trust/honor/praise/believe in his power and watch it all start changing!! Remember it is "God Bless American" please once again. When we chose to take him out of everything--he left us to our own accord---what a mess we have made..Without him we will be nothing and without him we'll surely die! Now please don't just rush into judgement on me...read this over and over and think about each word and search your heart/soul. No, I am not picking on anyone, I am just telling the truth........I am honest and I speak my mind.

Posted by: sweetpea10 | August 2, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

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