FROM Jonathan Alter
Income Inequality and Messaging President Obama released his latest budget today, $4 trillion all told. His domestic proposals include what he’s been calling “middle class economics,” or tax hikes on wealthier Americans and lower taxes for middle income families. It’s part of a broader White House focus on income inequality. Republicans, however, are pushing back; Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan criticized the proposal and called it “envy economics.” Is the stage set for a big fight?
Can Corporations Be Patriots? Congress adjourned for the summer with tax reform still caught in political gridlock. Since then, President Obama has seized on a tax proposal once buried in his budget to attack a practice multi-national companies use to avoid paying taxes in the US; it’s called “corporate inversion.”
Can Campaign Pollsters Sell Obamacare to Young Adults? Strategists successfully used Big Data to micro-target the young people who helped elect and re-elect President Obama. Now those same strategists are using the same technology with a new goal: getting young people to buy heath insurance. President Obama today turned a news conference into a selling job with arguments designed to recruit young people to buy health insurance. We hear how they're doing it from Sara Kliff, health policy reporter for the Washington Post , and Jonathan Alter, news analyst for MSNBC and author of The Center Holds : Obama and his Enemies.
The President Who Doesn't Like Politics Barack Obama is the first President since Dwight Eisenhower to win 50 percent of the vote, both for election and re-election. But, for all that, Obama doesn't like politics and doesn't think of himself as a politician. The President is missing the "schmooze gene," a defining characteristic of political animals, according to Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds : Obama and His Enemies.
Presidential Debates and Running the Country Today's New York Times reports that during preparations for last week's debate, advisers saw two presidents: One that was "listless and passive," the other "energetic and aggressive." Even the President himself conceded at a star-filled fundraiser last night in Los Angeles that the wrong one showed up in Denver. Obama 's weak debate performance has raised questions about how much he really enjoys his job. He despises the sound bites and talking points the news media demand. How does he feel about coping with a hostile Congress? What about former Governor Mitt Romney 's record with Democrats in Massachusetts?
Presidential Debates and Running the Country Mitt Romney jumped a bit in the polls after last week's debate , while the President and top advisers concede it was not his best performance. But they're promising a different outcome with two more debates to go. Meantime, what about that passivity and lack of energy? Is it evidence that Barack Obama doesn't really isn't enjoying the job, not just the give and take of debating but getting others to bend to his will? Was Republican Governor Romney any better at working with Democrats in Massachusetts than the President's been at dealing with Congress?
Barack Obama's First New War After weeks of apparent reluctance, the US joined the UN's fight to protect Libyans against their leader, Moammar Gadhafi. President Obama promptly left for South America, and there's still dispute about the mission, its intended outcome and what the US role really is.
Barack Obama's First New War After weeks of apparent reluctance, the United States joined the UN's fight to protect Libyans against their leader, Moammar Gadhafi. President Obama promptly left for South America, saying that the intervention will be over for the US in a matter of days. When he returns, he'll have a lot of questions to answer, especially now that a US plane has crashed in Libya. The crew is safe, but Republicans and Democrats are asking, "What's the mission? Why wasn't Congress asked in advance? How long will this go on?" Beyond that, is there an overall rationale for intervention in one country versus another? If Libya, why not Yemen, Bahrain or the Ivory Coast? Is there an overall strategy that also considers the impacts on Israel, Iran, North Korea and the roles of the UN and NATO?
The Tea Parties and the Consequences in Congress A recent study by the New York Times estimates that about 30 Tea Party candidates have a chance of getting to Congress and eight or so to the Senate. We talk with Tea Partiers and others about where they're coming from and how even a small contingent could have a big influence on Capitol Hill.
The Tea Parties and the Consequences in Congress The New York Times says about 30 Tea Party candidates could get to the House, while eight have a chance at the Senate. There is no official platform, but all want "smaller government," and their constituents' demands range from repealing healthcare reform to abolishing Medicare and Social Security. Many long for what they see as the Good Old Days -- before 1900 -- and they regard the Constitution as a form of holy writ. We talk with Tea Partiers and others about where they're coming from and how even a small contingent could have a big influence on Capitol Hill.
Who's Opposed to Healthcare Reform? Tampa, St. Louis, Houston, Austin, Denver and Milan, Michigan are just some of the cities to see rowdy protests in the past few hours. White House aides told Senators on their way home for the August recess, "If you get hit, punch back twice as hard." But the Democrats are still squabbling over details, so there's no coherent message either for them or a President whose approval ratings are on the decline. The Republican message is "just say ‘No'" to some variation of "socialized medicine." Could the protests backfire? Will the Democrats strike back in kind? When the August recess is over, will it be too late for the President to reset the agenda?
Will Last Night's Debate Make a Difference? In Cleveland, Ohio Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton zeroed in on each other and the economy, with special focus on the North American Free Trade Agreement , but differences over healthcare got more time than anything else. Did Clinton do what she needed to stop Obama’s momentum? Does either one really want to re-negotiate NAFTA? One Houston paper says Obama has already won in Texas, with a week still to go. But a new, national poll says, that either one will have a tough time against John McCain in November, showing their Republican rival with an edge in experience and the war on terror, even on the economy. Although a majority said the war in Iraq was not worth waging, half said McCain was best equipped to deal with it.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.