8 a.m. ET: Friday's storyline in Pittsburgh was supposed to be all about the economy, as leaders of the G-20 are set to announce plans to work together on the kinds of global economic reforms that had previously been driven by the G-8.
But talk of economic cooperation has been overshadowed by concerns about Iran, which has admitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is building a previously secret uranium enrichment plant outside of Teheran. The admission comes after Obama, Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy were reportedly preparing to confront Iran publicly on the subject. The New York Times reports: "American officials say that they have been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the project."
The Times of London adds, "The emboldened calls to action came after Russia finally conceded that sanctions may be inevitable, after intense lobbying by the Americans." (And after Obama's controversial decision on missile defense that was aimed partly at earning Russia's cooperation against Iran.) Iran's admission occurred two days after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a rambling speech to the UN in which he largely ignored the nuclear issue, and after he told the Washington Post he wanted to build trust and "engage in cooperation" with the U.S. on the subject.
Meanwhile, in today's edition of "Do These Polls Make Sense?", we bring you the new New York Times/CBS News survey, which delivers another set of mixed results for Obama but also differs notably on some subjects from the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released earlier this week. The NYT survey found that 30 percent of respondents "mostly support" Obama's health-care proposals, while 23 percent don't support it and 46 percent don't know. The WSJ poll concluded that 39 percent thought Obama's plan "a good idea," 41 percent a bad one and 17 percent had no idea. (Note the huge difference in undecided respondents.) On the economy, the WSJ reported that 34 percent believed the economic stimulus package passed in February was a good idea and 45 percent a bad idea. But the NYT found that its respondents, by a 36-13 margin, thought the stimulus had already made the economy better. And by a 47-21 margin, they believed the stimulus would improve the economy "in the long run."
As for the topline numbers, the NYT pegged Obama's job approval rating at 56 percent, which, the paper notes, "is similar to what President Ronald Reagan’s was at this point in his first term (53 percent); President Bill Clinton’s was at 43 percent. Still, Mr. Obama’s approval is down from 68 percent in the spring." Obama's rating for his handling of Afghanistan has dropped 12 points since April. And a new USA Today/Gallup survey is also out this morning, revealing that just 41 percent of respondents (and only 30 percent of Democrats) favored sending more troops to Afghanistan.
In the Senate, Thursday's health-care deliberations were all about the drug industry, as Max Baucus and his allies fought off an effort by some Democrats to extract more money from the drug industry than PhRMA had agreed to in its controversial deal with Baucus and the White House. As long as the deal holds, drug makers are backing Obama's health-care plans along with many other big corporations. "[T]he health-care debate, in particular, casts a spotlight on the split in the longstanding alliance between economic conservatives and the business community," the Wall Street Journal writes. McClatchy notes that the CBO's cost estimates for all the different reform proposals are uncertain, particularly since the Finance Committee's measure is in "plain English" rather than legislative text.
On the House side, moderate and liberal Democrats continue their fight over whether a public option should be included in that chamber's bill, though Nancy Pelosi has left no doubt where she stands on that subject. Chuck Schumer and Jay Rockefeller are also escalating their campaign for passage of a public option.
September 25, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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