THE MORNING LINE -- September 20, 2011 at 8:41 AM ET
Obama's Deficit Plan Rallies His Base
President Obama presents his deficit reduction plan Monday. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
The political reaction to President Obama's deficit reduction plan has pretty much gone according to script.
Republicans are charging the president with "class warfare" in light of his proposal to raise $1.5 trillion in taxes almost entirely from individuals who earn more than $200,000 per year and families that earn more than $250,000 per year.
Democrats are cheering the president for drawing battle lines against the Republicans, including his threat to veto any bill that attempts to cut Medicare benefits without raising taxes on the wealthy.
It's always important to remember, however, that the president's political imperative is always a both/and proposition, not either/or. President Obama didn't just deliver a red-meat speech for his base; he and his team know that they can have the most energized base in history and it still wouldn't be sufficient to win re-election. The president also displayed a fight for fairness in an attempt to appeal to independents, too.
Jackie Calmes of the New York Times cracks the code:
"So after his initial two years of dealing with an economic and financial crisis while pursuing an activist social agenda with Democrats in control of the House and Senate, and then a frustrating third year sharing power with Republicans, Mr. Obama now begins writing a third chapter for his final 15 months that is not the one he had in mind.
"'It is fair to say we've entered a new phase,' said Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama's communications director. But he disputed what he called the conventional wisdom behind the president's shift.
"'The popular narrative is that we sought compromise in a quixotic quest for independent votes. We sought out compromise because a failure to get funding of the government last spring and then an extension of the debt ceiling in August would have been very bad for the economy and for the country,' Mr. Pfeiffer added. 'We were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. That phase is behind us.'
"In this new phase, Mr. Obama must solidify support among Democrats by standing pat for progressive party principles, while trusting that a show of strong leadership for the policies he believes in will appeal to independents. Polls consistently suggest that perhaps the only thing that unites independents as much as their desire for compromise is their inclination toward leaders who signal strength by fighting for their beliefs."
So, gone is the eager compromiser seeking to be the reasonable adult in the room. Now, President Obama is focusing his appeal to the electorate as a fighter for fairness in the face of intransigent opposition.
The president's political peril, however, remains centered around joblessness. So you can expect his follow-up around the nation to be more focused on his $447 billion jobs bill than on his deficit reduction plan built around tax increases on the wealthy.
PERRY TARGETS OBAMA ON ISRAEL
The issue of statehood for the Palestinian Authority looms over this week's meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York -- and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is set to put the blame for that squarely on President Obama.
Beth Fouhy and Kasie Hunt of the Associated Press report the Texas governor is expected to deliver remarks in New York at 10 a.m. Tuesday signaling his strong support for Israel, while also criticizing the president for demanding concessions from the Jewish state.
"We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership," Perry will say, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press. "And we are equally indignant that the Obama administration's Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith."
The United States has pledged to veto the bid by the Palestinians in the U.N. Security Council, contending that only a negotiated agreement can bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By following through on the veto promise, critics charge President Obama with risking further damage to the U.S. image in the Arab world at a time of great tumult in the region.
The president has also been criticized by pro-Israel activists for calling on the Jewish state to halt construction of housing settlements in the West Bank and urging Israel and Palestine to negotiate a peace deal on the basis of 1967 borders with "mutually agreed" upon swaps.
For his part, Perry is expected to argue the president has failed to lay out a clear vision for achieving Middle East peace.
"It's vitally important for America to preserve alliances with leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region," Perry will say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks. "But today, neither adversaries nor allies know where America stands. Our muddle of a foreign policy has created great uncertainty in the midst of the Arab Spring."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also urged the president to adopt a new strategy in a statement released Tuesday morning.
"What we are watching unfold at the United Nations is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster," Romney said. "It is the culmination of President Obama's repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position. That policy must stop now."
The Republican contenders -- and the world -- will get a chance to hear directly from the president when he addresses the General Assembly on Wednesday.
IOWA OR BUST
For the second time in as many weeks, Michele Bachmann's former campaign manager Ed Rollins has gone on MSNBC to discuss the Minnesota congresswoman's presidential bid in terms he likely wouldn't have used in her employ.
On Monday's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Rollins said that Bachmann must win the Iowa caucuses -- the kickoff event in the nomination race -- to have a shot at surging again to the head of the pack.
"She doesn't have the ability or the resources to go beyond that," Rollins said of her candidacy if she loses in her native Hawkeye State.
No presidential candidate likes to make any state a must-win, which is why Rollins' comments will be unwelcome at Bachmann HQ.
Last week, Rollins called Bachmann's re-telling of a woman's post-debate anecdote linking the HPV vaccine to mental retardation "a mistake."
Rollins' assessment of Bachmann's candidacy comes as a new Gallup poll shows her slipping nationally well behind Perry, Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Bachmann is now tied with Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain at 5 percent support in the latest survey of Republicans and Republican leaning independents.
ON THE TRAIL
All events listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama is in New York for a series of events tied to the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act in Solon, Ohio, at 11 a.m., then attends Democratic National Committee fundraising events in Ohio and Chicago.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry holds a media availability in New York City at 10 a.m.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann visits Amend Packing Co. in Des Moines, Iowa, at 10 a.m.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul holds three town halls in Iowa -- in Council Bluffs at 1 p.m., in Sioux City at 3 p.m. and in Spencer at 5 p.m.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich holds a town hall in Sioux City, Iowa, at 3 p.m.
For all future campaign events check out our Political Calendar.
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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