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First thoughts: Obama's populist pitch

Obama’s populist pitch… The $3 trillion in deficit reduction he’ll unveil at 10:30 am ET includes $1.5 trillion in increased revenue (read: taxes), $1.1 trillion in ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rest in entitlement savings… GOP slams the plan… White House doesn’t show leg on entitlement reform… Note: The Buffett Rule isn’t part of the proposal… Suskind book represents more piling on Obama… Perry begins portraying Romney as an elitist… Daniels frustrated by GOP field’s rhetoric… Another Reagan for statewide office in California?... And Ovide Lamontange makes his bid for NH GOV.


*** Obama’s populist pitch: The $3 trillion in deficit reduction that President Obama will unveil in the Rose Garden at 10:30 am ET represents another populist turn for the White House. The $3 trillion over 10 years includes $1.5 trillion in increased revenue ($800 billion in letting the Bush tax cuts expire for top income earners, $700 billion in closing loopholes and other tax breaks), $1.1 trillion in ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rest in savings from Medicare and Medicaid (that primarily come from providers, not beneficiaries). Not surprisingly, Democrats and liberals love it, Republicans and conservatives hate it, and it’s unlikely to be adopted by the “Super Committee.” The plan raises two questions: One, should Republicans have taken the deficit-reduction deal Obama offered back in July -- which contained more substantial entitlement changes and less tax revenue? And two, how will Obama’s proposal (and the GOP denunciation of it) impact the Super Committee?


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on 'Meet the Press' Sunday, September 18, 2011.

*** GOP slams Obama plan: Republicans have already panned Obama’s proposal. “We don't want to stagnate this economy by raising taxes,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan added on FOX yesterday, “You already have a $1.5 trillion tax increase coming in current law starting in 2013. Now, we're talking about another tax $1.3 trillion tax increase on top of that?... Why on earth would we go with that, especially when the problem is spending?” Ryan then said this about his vision for the Super Committee: “We see the Super Committee as an opportunity to get a down payment on debt through spending cuts.” A down payment? Both McConnell and Ryan seemed to make it clear that both the Obama jobs bill and the Obama debt plan were non-starters. Republicans are now trying to play four corners a bit in Congress -- do the minimum amount of cooperation with Democrats without giving Obama a big “win” on either jobs or taxes and hope voters hold Obama more responsible for DC inaction than congressional Republicans.

*** WH doesn’t show any leg on entitlement reform: It’s worth noting that Obama’s proposal today doesn’t represent a major effort on entitlement reform. There are no changes to Social Security; the eligibility age for Medicare doesn’t increase; and the savings from Medicare and Medicaid come primarily from providers, with a LITTLE hit on wealthier Medicare recipients (not quite means-testing but on the road to it). Privately, Team Obama folks note he made a major effort on entitlements back in July, and was rebuffed by Boehner. So why show any leg here if Republicans aren’t willing to show leg on raising tax revenue? It would only serve to antagonize the president’s standing with base elites even more.


Warren Buffett in Washington, DC July 18, 2011.

*** “Buffett Rule” isn’t included in proposal: By the way, the so-called “Buffett Rule” that the White House floated over the weekend -- calling for a minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million per year, to prevent investors like Warren Buffett to pay a lower effective tax rate than his secretary does -- isn’t included in Obama’s $3 trillion proposal. Senior administration officials say that the “Buffett Rule” should be a principle guiding how Congress undertakes tax reform.

*** Piling on Obama, Part 37: The other story dominating Washington right now is Ron Suskind’s book on the Obama White House, “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President.” Obama is currently at a moment in his presidency -- facing all-time lows in the polls -- where every little thing (like this book) magnifies his problems right now. And the former Obama aides in the book continue the “pile on” we observed last week. While we’re still plowing through it, it’s worth noting a growing trend as Democrats leave the administration -- it’s not just some West Wing aides or the president who get parting shots, but also Treasury Secretary Geithner as well. Geithner has not fared well in this book, nor in “Too Big to Fail.”

*** Silver Spoons: Turning to the 2012 GOP race, we’ve seen Rick Perry unveil a new line of attack on Mitt Romney -- portraying him as an elitist. “I was the son of tenant farmers and sure wasn’t born with four aces in my hand,” Perry said on Friday night in Iowa, per NBC’s Andrew Rafferty, Alex Moe, and Anthony Terrell. That’s part of the line of attack (in addition to portraying Romney as a flip-flopper) that you’ll see from Democrats if the former Massachusetts governor becomes the GOP nominee. So as congressional Republicans hit the president for class warfare, it’s worth noting Rick Perry is playing the class card of sorts against Mitt Romney. Populism usually works in primaries and general elections.

*** Daniels frustrated by GOP field’s rhetoric: Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels -- who flirted with a presidential bid earlier this year -- “says that he has occasionally been frustrated by the discourse in the campaign and that the field could benefit from at least one more contender whose candidacy was rooted in a message of fiscal discipline,” the New York Times reports. Said Daniels: “Somebody else could still enter and have a competitive chance.” More: “The candidate I could get instantly excited about is someone who is willing to level with the American people and assume they are prepared to listen to the mathematical facts and agree that whatever other disagreements we have aren’t as important.”

*** On the 2012 trail: Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson, and Buddy Roemer are all in New Hampshire… Bachmann begins a two-day swing through Iowa… Cain is in Florida… And Gingrich hosts a screening of his “City on a Hill” in Bluffs, IA.

*** Another Reagan for statewide office in California? On Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Michael Reagan -- a former conservative talk-show host and son of Ronald Reagan -- is considering a bid against Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “One Republican who is considering a run is Michael Reagan. ‘Yes,’ he said in an e-mail to The Chronicle Thursday, ‘but can't talk about it now.’ Reagan, who has never held public office, declined to respond to further questions.” Speaking of California, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) will be in DC today giving a 1:00 pm ET speech on education at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Per an aide, Villraigosa will tell the think tank that “adequate funding and deep reform must go hand in hand.”

*** Ovide for NH governor? And with Gov. John Lynch (D) deciding not to run for re-election in 2012, Republican Ovide Lamontagne is running for the office, NBC’s Jo Ling Kent reports. The New Hampshire Democratic Party released this statement: "The ring leader has now joined the State House circus. Is there even a single instance where Lamontange doesn't agree with the job killing agenda forced on New Hampshire by the reckless Tea Party legislature this year?" By the way, does this mean Ovide will NOT endorse in the presidential primary and instead focus on using his standing to raise money?

*** Monday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: National Journal’s Jim Tankersley and the Economist’s Greg Ip on the economic implications of the president’s deficit reduction and jobs plans … Ed Rendell and Michael Steele on Pennsylvania’s possible shift to awarding electoral votes by congressional district … Plus the latest on the president’s economic push and the 2012 race with Republican Pete Seat, Democrat Karen Finney, and the Washington Post’s Dan Balz.

*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews OMB Director Jack Lew (on the president’s deficit-reduction plan), former Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card, Ed Rollins, and NBC’s Ann Curry, as well as Politico’s Ben Smith, the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, and the New York Times’ David Rohde.

Countdown to Election Day 2011: 50 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 140 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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