Politics: WHITE HOUSE

Obama Not Hands-On in Debt Talks? Carney Says ‘That’s Nuts’

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June 27, 2011, 11:59 a.m.

While “the fed­er­al health care re­form bill passed in­to law earli­er this year isn’t pop­u­lar” in WY, WY Dem chair Leslie Petersen (D) on 10/7 “urged op­pon­ents to give it a second look.” She said crit­ics of the health care over­haul, “do not un­der­stand all the really good things that are in that act for them.”

Petersen’s sup­port for the health care over­haul “is one of her key policy dif­fer­ences” with ex-U.S. Atty Matt Mead (R).

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Petersen “cri­ti­cized those” who have called for WY to join a multistate law­suit chal­len­ging the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the health care bill, par­tic­u­larly one part re­quir­ing most Amer­ic­ans to pur­chase health in­sur­ance. Mead said 10/7 that he dis­agreed that the new law, much of which goes in­to ef­fect in ‘14, will lower health care costs for WY res­id­ents.

Mead also said the cost of join­ing a law­suit would be cheap­er for WY than the cost of the new health care law (Pelzer, Casper Star-Tribune, 10/8).

Every four years, the race for the White House is defined by a turn­ing point, a peri­od when the con­test breaks to­ward one side and the oth­er can nev­er re­cov­er. In the winter and spring of 1996, a re­bound­ing eco­nomy gave Bill Clin­ton a lead over Bob Dole that he nev­er re­lin­quished. In 2008, the grow­ing eco­nom­ic crisis in early Septem­ber shut down any hope that Sen. John Mc­Cain‘s pres­id­en­tial cam­paign had left.

If Re­pub­lic­an Mitt Rom­ney is in­aug­ur­ated as pres­id­ent in Janu­ary, his­tory may look to June as the month in which Pres­id­ent Obama’s fate was sealed.

This may be the month, seen in ret­ro­spect, in which it be­came clear the eco­nom­ic winds that pro­pelled Clin­ton to a second term won’t be at Obama’s back. Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials barely tried to spin last week’s dis­mal jobs re­port, an ac­know­ledg­ment that there was noth­ing to brag about.

The eco­nom­ic tur­moil that ushered Obama in­to of­fice, and dra­mat­ic­ally shaped his first-term agenda, is an ex­ist­en­tial threat to the pro­spect of a second term. Re­pub­lic­ans would love noth­ing more than to con­vince voters that the pres­id­ent is at fault, but the fact is, there’s little the pres­id­ent can do to al­ter the course of the world eco­nomy.

(ON THE EN­VIR­ON­MENT: EPA Of­fi­cials Felled by ‘Cru­ci­fy’ Com­ment, Skips Hear­ing)

And the true threat to the eco­nomy doesn’t even lie in­side our bor­ders. The glob­al re­ces­sion borne of the U.S. hous­ing bubble once spread to Europe; now, like a new strain of patho­gen im­mune to an­ti­bi­ot­ics, the crisis in the euro­zone threatens to leap back across the At­lantic. Greece teeters on the brink of leav­ing the euro­zone, which would mean more eco­nom­ic in­stabil­ity. Greek voters head to the polls on June 17, and most ex­pect an anti-aus­ter­ity left­ist party to make fur­ther gains, put­ting any fu­ture European bail­out money at risk. Spain, mean­while, faces skyrock­et­ing in­terest rates, rais­ing the pro­spect of an­oth­er European eco­nomy headed to­ward a pre­cip­ice.

Back home, the Su­preme Court is put­ting fin­ish­ing touches on a de­cision on the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of Obama’s health care over­haul and its in­di­vidu­al man­date. Obama has signaled that he will run against Wash­ing­ton at large, the Re­pub­lic­an House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives in par­tic­u­lar, and maybe even the Court it­self; if the Court strikes down the health care over­haul, Obama will have a new tar­get but at the cost of his sig­na­ture do­mest­ic achieve­ment. The White House has nev­er found a way to ex­plain health care re­form in a suc­cinct man­ner, and rel­it­ig­at­ing the is­sue in the heat of a pres­id­en­tial cam­paign isn’t a po­s­i­tion of strength for the Obama cam­paign.

(POLIT­ICS: Clin­ton to Obama: Sorry I Went Off Mes­sage)

Demo­crats are also wor­ried that in Wis­con­sin, June may have provided just a taste of what’s to come from a con­voy of wealthy Re­pub­lic­ans will­ing to spend hun­dreds of mil­lions on elec­tions. Re­pub­lic­ans vastly out­spent Demo­crats in Gov. Scott Walk­er’s suc­cess­ful bid to turn back a re­call at­tempt. While most strategists on both sides cau­tion against a spe­cial elec­tion’s abil­ity to fore­cast gen­er­al-elec­tion res­ults, some Demo­crats have a nag­ging sus­pi­cion that the flood of money that gave Walk­er the ad­vant­age will be re­peated in races across the coun­try. Demo­crats are us­ing Walk­er’s win to push skep­tic­al donors off the fence, but it’s un­clear wheth­er even ma­jor buy-in from wealthy lib­er­als can match Re­pub­lic­an donor com­mit­ments already on the table.

Walk­er’s win ad­ded to the per­cep­tion that Rom­ney has mo­mentum. Seni­or Re­pub­lic­ans were once quietly resigned to the like­li­hood of an­oth­er four years un­der Obama; that mood has changed. 

Even some po­ten­tial vice pres­id­en­tial short-listers, who had been cool to the idea of serving as the second-in-com­mand on a long-shot tick­et are more in­ter­ested: Former Min­nesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Paul Ry­an of Wis­con­sin and Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio once ex­pressed  no in­terest in the vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion. Their at­ti­tudes, and their travel and speak­ing sched­ules, have changed dra­mat­ic­ally in re­cent weeks. All three seem to be au­di­tion­ing.

There are plenty of reas­ons Demo­crats should re­main op­tim­ist­ic that June will be but a bump. The co­ali­tion that elec­ted Walk­er told exit poll­sters they favored Obama by a sig­ni­fic­ant mar­gin (a sen­ti­ment re­flec­ted in the most ac­cur­ate poll of the race, out of Mar­quette Law School). Across the na­tion, Demo­crats have a much bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture than Re­pub­lic­ans in key battle­ground states. And Obama leads in both na­tion­al and most battle­ground state polls. The Su­preme Court might end up de­clar­ing health care re­form con­sti­tu­tion­al, and the eco­nomy might be­gin to pick up steam and add jobs at a more im­press­ive clip.

But if Rom­ney wins the White House, re­mem­ber June as the month in which Rom­ney’s cam­paign went from re­sem­bling Bob Dole’s ill-fated 1996 ef­fort to rep­res­ent­ing something closer to Bill Clin­ton’s 1992 win. The tip­ping point to­ward a Rom­ney vic­tory may be at hand.

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