8 a.m. ET: "Health care reform is not something I just cooked up when I took office," President Obama told attendees at a town hall meeting in Green Bay yesterday. Instead -- as is also the case with the auto industry's meltdown, the budget deficit and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the nation's health care problems were already in full bloom when Obama took office.
Whether he's talking about the financial crisis, Guantanamo Bay or a half-dozen other issues, Obama "wastes few opportunities to remind the country that the problems are not of his making," Peter Baker writes in today's New York Times, adding: "But at a certain point, a new president assumes ownership of the problems and finds himself answering for his own actions. For Mr. Obama, even some advisers say that moment may be coming soon."
Politically, what does that mean for the president? To start, his poll numbers may drop. On some issues, they already have. It was widely noted earlier this week that a Gallup survey showed a measurable uptick in the percentage of respondents who disapproved of Obama's economic policies. And a new Gallup poll shows 55 percent of Americans disapprove of current U.S. policy toward GM. Numbers like that will affect Obama, regardless of whether it was him or President Bush who started the country on the path of bailing out auto companies.
Right now, for example, Obama is working to get a supplemental spending bill through Congress that is mostly about issues predating his presidency -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, closing Guantanamo and controversial photos of military detainees. The measure looks likely to move now after Obama personally intervened to save a deal, as long as Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham don't still try to block the measure unless it prohibits the release of the detainee photos.
Here's another problem for Democrats as a party that predates Obama -- John Murtha. The House ethics panel announced yesterday that it has begun a preliminary probe of the defunct lobbying firm PMA, which was particularly close to Murtha as well as Pete Visclosky and Jim Moran. The publicization of the ethics committee probe "moves Republicans closer to gaining a corruption issue in 2010," Associated Press writes. The ethics issue has already gotten House Republicans excited.
What else will the GOP focus on this summer? Gas prices. Republicans are reportedly considering another floor protest on energy this summer similar to the effort they mounted last August. This year's version would be aimed at the climate change bill, which already faces opposition among some Democrats, particularly those on the Agriculture Committee.
And finally, in case you have lived in a cave in recent months and didn't know, the digital TV transition takes effect today. Will the world come to an end? The Los Angeles Times headlines their story, "Smooth digital TV transition is expected." But the Wall Street Journal went with, "Millions Of US Homes Still Unprepared For Digital-TV Switch." Whatever the case, rest assured that you will still be able to read The Rundown every morning without buying any new equipment.
June 12, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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