Yesterday’s White House-vs.-Boehner standoff: Picking up where they left off a month ago… The spat epitomized Team Obama’s communication struggles and its over-willingness to accommodate and compromise… And it epitomized the House Republicans’ continued pettiness… That said, did Boehner bail out Obama?... Reid on Obama’s speech and the Tea Party… And Huntsman on “TODAY.”
*** Picking up where they left off: Just like they did a month ago in the debt-ceiling fight, the Obama White House and Republican-led House yesterday battled over something that used to be routine: a presidential address to Congress. Once again, both sides looked bad. The White House scheduled Obama’s speech on Sept. 7, the same night as the already-scheduled NBC-Politico debate at the Reagan Library -- hardly a coincidence. Then, in a move congressional historians say is unprecedented, House Speaker John Boehner rejected the president’s request, inviting him instead to speak the next night. And once again, the White House caved and agreed to the Sept. 8 date (which, by the way, coincides with the NFL’s season first football game). “If the objective of the White House and Speaker Boehner was to demonstrate to the American people that they have gotten the message from the markets and from voters that our economic straits are so dire that it is time to set petty politics aside, they have failed before they started,” former Clinton administration official David Rothkopf told the New York Times. Exactly.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner meeting with Congressional Leadership at the White House, July 13, 2011.
*** Epitomizing the White House’s communications struggles and over-willingness to accommodate: Yesterday’s standoff epitomized the chief weaknesses of both the White House and House Republicans. Team Obama struggles mightily in communicating and in its relationships on Capitol Hill and the rest of Washington (just talk to any Democrat who works on the Hill). Perhaps more importantly, when it’s engaged in a conflict, the White House’s first instinct is to accommodate the other side (see the debt-ceiling fight). In retrospect, you can understand why the White House picked Sept. 7 (the date of the debate) over Sept. 8 (the date of the first NFL game). But why didn’t it try to consult with Boehner earlier (say last week) and see if Tuesday could have worked? The White House apparently was aiming for the venue of Congress for this speech for weeks. Again, channeling “Cool Hand Luke,” it was “a failure to communicate.”
*** Epitomizing the House Republicans’ pettiness: Meanwhile, House Republicans -- once again -- looked petty and disrespectful to a head of state who won his office by a convincing margin in 2008, even if they were right on the protocol front. Think back to Joe Wilson’s “You lie” screed, or to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refusing to agree to a White House meeting after the 2010 midterms. It adds to the appearance that, overall, congressional Republicans have one goal above all others: defeating the president no matter what.
*** Did Boehner bail out Obama? All that said, you could argue that Boehner bailed out the White House politically. Obama’s speech on the same day as the GOP presidential debate would have been treated as a political address, and it would have resulted in a split-screen story (Obama addressing Congress, the presidential candidates responding to his speech). But now that Obama gets to go by himself on Sept. 8, the speech will be treated more as a jobs/economic plan. What’s more, the Republican presidential candidates who will be debating on Sept. 7 won’t really have the opportunity to respond to it. The White House did not seem to think three moves ahead on this one; elevating the presidential candidates to his level this early wouldn’t have been good politics for him.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) during a news conference in Nevada on Monday, August 29, 2011.
*** Reid on Obama’s speech and the Tea Party: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave some interesting remarks after a speech he delivered in Nevada yesterday. Some highlights, per NBC’s Sarah Blackwill: “I'm confident during that speech [Obama’s] going to talk about some of the things we need to do to create jobs.” More: “My Republican counterpart [McConnell] has said the No. 1 issue in this Congress is to beat Obama, so that's why we're having a few problems, because that's the No. 1 issue. It makes a little tough to get things done.” And: The Tea Party is the result of the economic downturn. As soon as the economy gets better, these folks will all be gone… The Republicans have to get off of this no new revenue. Very few people, very few Democrats want to raise taxes, but there are big loopholes we need to get rid of.”
*** Huntsman on “TODAY”: In an interview on “TODAY” this morning, Jon Huntsman said that the White House-Boehner standoff on the president’s speech represented what Americans dislike about politics today. “I think it’s such nonsense,” he said. “It’s what people hate about politics.” Huntsman also talked about the economic plan he unveiled yesterday in New Hampshire, saying he based it upon what he had accomplished as Utah governor. “I’ve been there, and I’ve done that… We’ve got to lower the [tax] rate and broaden the base.” In fact, Huntsman borrowed a Democratic phrase in talking about the corporate tax code: “corporate welfare” in describing some loopholes.
Republican presidential candidate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at a campaign stop in Hudson, N.H., Wednesday, August 31, 2011.
**** On the 2012 trail: Huntsman today remains in New Hampshire, holding events in Bedford and Concord… Bachmann addresses the American Legion convention taking place in Minneapolis… Buddy Roemer, in DC, unveils his “Made in America” jobs plan… And Ron Paul holds a town hall in New Hampshire.
*** Thursday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer and NBC’s Mike Viqueira on yesterday’s back-and-forth over the president’s plans for an address to Congress… Latest news on the Northeast flooding… NBC’s Carrie Dann on the Perry campaign’s money raising and poll rising… NBC’s Luke Russert with some college football kickoff politics… More 2012 news from the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page and USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich.
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up (guest-hosted by NBC’s Chuck Todd): The show will interview National Journal’s Michael Hirsh, Romney adviser Kevin Madden, as well as CNBC’s Ron Insana, the Financial Times’ Gillian Tett, and the New York Times’ David Leonhardt.
Countdown to NBC-Politico debate at Reagan Library: 6 days
Countdown to NV-2 and NY-9 special elections: 12 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 68 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 158 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up
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The New York Times: “Any hopes that a kinder, gentler bipartisan Washington would surface once Congress returns after Labor Day were summarily dashed on Wednesday when President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner clashed over, of all things, the date and time of the president’s much-awaited speech to the nation about his proposal to increase jobs and fix the economy.”
President Obama agreed to make his speech before Congress Sept. 8 – next Thursday – instead of Wednesday when he requested. House Speaker John Boehner suggested changing the date, which coincided with the NBC-Politico Republican presidential debate, to a day later.
NPR reports this is the first time in history that a president’s request to speak before Congress was rejected.
The New York Daily News’ cover: “Political football: Bam OKs GOP plea to shift speech date, but now he’s up against NFL opener.”
The New York Post: “Obama backs down.”
“For the first time since the American invasion of Iraq, an entire month has passed without a single United States service member dying,” the New York Times says.
This is embarrassing for the White House… “The California solar panel manufacturer that received a high-profile $535-million Energy Department loan guarantee said it was ceasing operations, laying off 1,100 workers and preparing to file for bankruptcy protection,” the L.A. Times reports. “Solyndra of Fremont, Calif., said it had been rocked by stifling global economic conditions and faced heavy competition from Chinese firms that were undercutting it on costs. It was quite a fall from late 2009, when Solyndra received a $535-million federal loan guarantee as part of the $787-billion economic stimulus package. In May 2010, company executives hosted President Obama on a factory tour and said they expected to add employees.”
The Wall Street Journal: “Solyndra was the first company to receive funds under the Department of Energy's loan-guarantee program. On a trip last year to the company's Fremont complex, President Barack Obama touted Solyndra for creating jobs. About 3,000 construction workers were employed to build a new factory. But amid competition from larger panel makers, Solyndra subsequently laid off staff and recapitalized. The loan to Solyndra came under fire earlier this year from Republicans in Congress and sparked renewed criticism Wednesday.”
Roll Call: notes this isn’t the first time the White House and congressional Republicans have had a hard time getting on each others’ calendars.
The Hill: “Washington was beset Wednesday by political gamesmanship involving both the presidential election and the autumn session of Congress. A public spat between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over the timing of a joint-session speech to Congress on jobs and the economy set a combative tone for the fall’s political high season.”
Backtracking… “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Wednesday amplified vows that Congress will provide emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Irene, but he declined to say whether Republicans will insist the funding be offset with cuts elsewhere,” The Hill writes. “ ‘I believe there’s an appropriate federal role, and the monies will be there,’ Cantor told reporters in his district, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.” Despite pronouncements right after the earthquake that offsets must be found, “Cantor’s office softened that position Tuesday, saying Congress should ‘find offsets whenever possible,’ because ‘that is the responsible thing to do.’”
BACHMANN: The Los Angeles Times notes how Bachmann has been an outsider on Capitol Hill. “It is difficult to find Republicans willing to discuss her on the record. House leaders have kept their distance and rarely rewarded her with legislative responsibilities. Bachmann was recently criticized by other Republicans in a private meeting where members blamed her near-constant cycle of television appearances for undermining the House Republican message.”
However, the National Review’s website has a piece on two of Bachmann’s closest friends and political allies in Congress: Iowa Rep. Steve King, and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Speaking to FOX
by telephone, Bachmann said this about Perry, per NBC’s Jamie Novogrod: "It's natural when you have a new candidate come in, that sucks a lot of oxygen out of the room." (Here's the video.)
“South Carolina appears to be the firewall where [Rep. Michele] Bachmann must lay to rest the questions about whether her campaign can go all the way. Those questions have intensified with the entrance of Perry, who matches Bachmann’s faith-centered, small-government politics, with an added measure of executive experience to boot,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes.
CAIN: “Last night, Herman Cain slammed Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) for saying that the tea party movement would love to see African-Americans ‘hanging on a tree,’” GOP 12 writes. Cain said, "It was despicable. It was disgusting. And it was desperate. You see, the Democrats have no results to run on. … They have taken the race card to a new low."
HUNTSMAN: “Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, the Obama administration's former ambassador to China, called for sweeping tax changes and new trade agreements to help revitalize the nation's manufacturing sector and create jobs,” AP reports.
“Lagging badly in the polls, GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. turned his attention to jobs Wednesday afternoon, unveiling a plan to jump-start the economy by revising the tax code, repealing financial regulations and opening up foreign markets,” the Washington Post reports.
“Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman yesterday advocated a dramatic restructuring of the tax code in a way that will help businesses but could hurt those earning lower incomes by getting rid of tax breaks for mortgages or for low-income workers,” the Boston Globe writes.
PALIN: "Sarah Palin soon will end the will-she-or-won't-she presidential speculation that has trailed the former Republican vice presidential candidate for two years — and that she has fueled with abandon, perhaps to the detriment of her potential candidacy," the AP writes. "But, should she run, she may have hurt herself by playing the wait-and-see game for so long. Two candidates with strong tea party support — Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann— have blossomed in recent months, raising questions about whether the cat-and-mouse game Palin has played has done irreparable damage by turning off potential supporters."
She’s heading to South Korea Oct. 11-13 for a “U.S. leadership perspective on how to lead the world out of the latest crisis" at the World Knowledge Forum, GOP 12.
PERRY: Perry promised attendees at a private weekend retreat that nothing in his personal life could derail his presidential bid. The Texas Tribune: "'I can assure you that there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for president,' Perry said, according to one of the participants, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly."
Social Security will loom large in Perry's vetting, writes the Statesman's Embry.
Perry supports ending lifetime tenure for Supreme Court justices, writes the Dallas Morning News.
ROMNEY: The Wall Street Journal is the latest to write about Romney’s shift in courting the Tea Party.
So is the Boston Globe: “In an apparent strategic shift, Romney will be standing beneath a Tea Party Express banner in New Hampshire on Sunday night, and by Monday afternoon he will be at a Republican gathering in South Carolina hosted by Senator Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican and Tea Party kingmaker. What changed? Governor Rick Perry of Texas entered the race, accepted swoons from the Tea Party, and immediately replaced Romney as the Republican frontrunner.”
Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss whether the 2012 Republican presidential field is set, the chance of any late additions that could significantly impact the race, and how they see it all playing out in the months ahead.
Thanks to Frank "Grimey" Grimes, Springfield, USA for the question!
Keep an eye out for our next post to submit questions for future Boiler Room segments.
Video edited by NBC's Matt Loffman.