President Obama and House minority leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. File photo/Getty images.
It’s not often that a House minority leader’s schedule can dictate the president’s schedule. But that’s precisely what is happening Wednesday.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed in Tuesday’s briefing that the administration chose Cleveland as the location Wednesday for the president’s economic remarks in direct response to House minority leader John Boehner’s appearance in that city a couple of weeks ago.
According to details provided by the Obama administration, “The President will update the American people on the state of the economy, talk about the progress we have made, and discuss some targeted proposals to keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class, and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest. It took years to create our economic problems, and it’ll take more time than any of us would like to fully repair the damage. There are no silver bullets and anyone who is promising them is not being straight with the American people.”
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Boehner was asked if he would get behind a couple of President Obama’s proposals that in the past have won Republican support, including a research and development tax break and the ability for businesses to write off all capital investment expenditures through next year.
“I’m open to the president’s ideas,” Boehner said, adding, “But I think the president is missing the bigger point. Until this uncertainty and spending is under control, I don’t think these ideas are going to have much impact.”
Boehner went on to offer two proposals of his own. He called for passing a bill this month that would set all government spending at 2008 levels. He also called for making all current tax rates permanent for the next two years to help provide certainty in the marketplace.
It’s on that last idea that President Obama has already responded.
“President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies,” reports the New York Times’ Jackie Calmes.
In recent days several Democrats have been urging President Obama to extend all the tax cuts, including those for the wealthy, in the short term as the economy continues to find its way out of the recession.
However, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent is an unfulfilled campaign promise by President Obama, and if he were to delay doing it any longer, he would likely further depress his most ardent supporters. And that’s something he simply cannot afford to do this campaign season.
GET OUT THE VOTE
As if Tuesday’s poll numbers weren’t enough of a disappointment for Democrats, a new study shows that for the first time since 1930 in a midterm election year, turnout by Republican primary voters has exceeded turnout by Democrats — another sign of the enthusiasm gap that exists between the two parties.
The report, released Tuesday by Curtis Gans, director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate, finds that Republican turnout in statewide primaries (U.S. Senate and gubernatorial) surpassed Democratic turnout by more than four million votes.
Republican turnout was 10.5 percent of the eligible electorate, the GOP’s best showing since 1970. Democratic turnout, meanwhile, was 8.3 percent of the eligible electorate, the lowest ever for the party.
Gans framed the results bluntly:
“With no prospect of an economic turnaround before November and no program commensurate with the economic and unemployment crisis being proposed by the Obama Administration (however much it may rightfully claim other achievements), it seems highly likely that the Democrats will suffer major losses, possibly mitigated slightly by the extremism of some GOP nominees.”
To make sure disillusioned Democrats don’t repeat their primary performance and stay home this fall, the architect of Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign victory, David Plouffe, has recorded a video message encouraging supporters to work hard to help the party win in November.
In the nearly four-minute video e-mailed to supporters Tuesday by the president’s political operation, Organizing for America, Plouffe sets a goal of reaching 15 million voters by Election Day.
Plouffe tells supporters that if they help in that turnout effort, Democrats can “turn races we might lost 51-49 into wins by 51-49.”
“We’re going to have a lot of races decided by just a sliver of votes and the work you do can make the difference. If enough of you go out and volunteer, you can swing some of these states and districts into the Democratic column,” says Plouffe.
RAHM’S DREAM JOB
It certainly sounded like senior White House adviser David Axelrod was Rahm Emanuel’s first endorsement for mayor of Chicago when he said Emanuel “would be an extraordinary candidate” on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday morning.
“He’s digesting that news and he’ll make a decision in due time,” Axelrod added.
Indeed, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s decision to not seek reelection after serving for 21 years may cause a significant White House staff shakeup before the anticipated thumping the president’s party is likely to receive at the polls in November.
The Chicago Tribune reports that many White House aides expect President Obama’s chief of staff to leave the White House and take the plunge.
In April, Emanuel told PBS’ Charlie Rose that if Mayor Daley chose not to run, he would hope one day to run and become the mayor of Chicago.
The chatter that Emanuel may soon be headed back home to the Windy City immediately launched the Washington parlor game about who might serve as his successor in the West Wing. POLITICO’s Mike Allen floated Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Vice President Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain as the two most likely possibilities.
STILL FIGHTING IT
A lot can change in a week. Just ask Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Murkowski told the Associated Press Tuesday: “I’m not a quitter, never have been. And I’m still in this game.”
Her remarks come seven days after conceding the Republican primary to attorney Joe Miller, saying she didn’t see a scenario in which the race could turn out in her favor.
That appeared to set up a general election contest between Miller, a Tea Party-favorite endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, the Democratic nominee.
There’s a chance Murkowski could run as a Libertarian candidate, but state leaders of that party previously voted against putting her on the ballot. The decision might not be final, however, as Murkowski met Tuesday with the current Libertarian candidate, David Haase. He would have to withdraw by Sept. 15 to allow Murkowski to run in his place.
There’s also the possibility that Murkowski could seek a write-in candidacy, a move she considers to be “high risk,” according to the AP. Murkowski has up until five days before the general election to decide if she wants to pursue such an effort.
Murkowski cited the many calls and e-mails she’s received from supporters offering encouragement as the reason she hasn’t exited the race.
From NewsHour Foreign Affairs Editor Mike Mosettig:
Just as President Obama opened his fall campaign season Monday in the friendly confines of a labor rally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is launching the autumn diplomatic season Wednesday morning in the welcoming quarters of the Council on Foreign Relations.
State Department officials told the NewsHour that the Secretary will give a policy speech, following up on her address to the council in July 2009. But they promised it would have some news.
It will be a busy September for the secretary as she pushes more front and center — and some would say stepping in ahead of — the passel of special envoys she appointed at the start of her tenure in Foggy Bottom.
Clinton will preside over Round Two of the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians on September 14 to 15. At the end of September, she heads to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where all eyes will be peeled to see if a deal is do-able on Iran’s nuclear program. And if the Israeli-Palestinian talks get past the sticky wicket of the September 26 settlement moratorium, a third round should take place that week at the U.N.