8 a.m. ET: For all the current focus on health-care reform, it may just be the economy and the perceived effectiveness of the stimulus package that drive results in next year's midterm elections.
With that in mind, Vice President Biden was out on the hustings Thursday, making the case that the stimulus package has created or saved several hundred thousand jobs and played a key role in boosting the economy. If the political fortunes of Democrats are going to turn around ahead of 2010, the White House would like to see more headlines like this one from Wednesday's Wall Street Journal: "U.S. Economy Gets Lift From Stimulus." Similarly, The Washington Post writes today that the economic stimulus package "is contributing to what increasingly looks like a budding recovery," though concerns remain over unemployment and other lagging stats. Alternatively, the White House would prefer fewer stories like this Associated Press "Fact Check," which concludes that Biden's "glowing assessment overlooks many of the program's problems, including delays in releasing money, questionable spending priorities and project picks that are under investigation."
Doubts about Democrats' policies -- whether on the economy, health care or other topics -- haven't necessarily translated to a boost in support for Republicans' plans. The latest CNN survey showed that 52 percent of respondents believe the policies of Obama and Democrats in Congress would move the country in the right direction, while 43 percent said the same of GOP policies. Since May, Obama's number on that question has dropped more (11 points) than Republicans have gained (4 points). Still, Charlie Cook warns, "top Democrats should be very frightened about the sharp drop in support among independents, because it could ultimately threaten their party's hold on the House and shrink their majority in the Senate." Looking further ahead to 2012, in a story designed more to attract Google searches than to reflect reality, Politico reports that Joe Scarborough and David Petraeus are being considered by "top Republicans" as potential presidential candidates.
As for next Wednesday's joint address on health care, it will be packed with specifics, according to Biden and assorted White House aides. David Brooks urges Obama to focus on the fundamentals, partly by reading this much-praised Atlantic story. Chuck Grassley tells the Wall Street Journal that he wants Obama to scale back his plans, and take a more "incremental approach" to reform. Is there still a compromise to be had that could attract more than a couple of Republican votes? Yes, Bob Corker tells the Washington Post, but it would have to be a scaled-back bill, "half a loaf, possibly, from the administration's viewpoint." The Post also takes a look at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in Wisconsin, the original source of the end-of-life planning reform provision that has sparked so much controversy.
Obama plans to rally his fellow Democrats, Politico reports, by warning against a repeat of the failed 1994 reform effort. Nate Silver wonders whether "some Blue Dogs aren't opposed to a public option precisely because liberals support it," and looks at how party leaders "have to help Democrats out of a prisoner's dilemma in which each member's individual interest harms the party's collective interest." Would Blue Dogs support a public plan "trigger"? The New York Times takes a look at the concept, as does The Los Angeles Times.
In Afghanistan, NATO airstrikes on two hijacked fuel tankers sparked an explosion that reportedly killed up to 90 people. At the same time, Robert Gates now says publicly that he is open to a troop increase in Afghanistan. The New York Times says the question of sending more troops "has divided senior advisers" to Obama, with Biden opposed and Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke in favor.
September 4, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Go to full archive for The Rundown »
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.