Morning Examiner: The completely unsurprising demise of the Gang of Biden 

The only surprising part about the departures of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ari., from Vice President Joe Biden’s debt-reductions negotiations, is that the farce went on as long as it did.

There are only two people who have anywhere near the needed authority to sign off on a debt hike deal: the leaders of Washington’s two respective parties, President Obama and Speaker John Boehner. The last budget standoff, the April near-government shutdown, was not resolved until those two principals were directly involved in negotiations. There was never any reason to believe it would be different this time.

The simplification of players and issues involved should be clarifying for Americans voters. Do they want higher taxes and higher spending? Or do they prefer the lower taxes, lower spending? Americans tell pollsters they prefer the latter, but then also say they prefer Obama’s economic vision to Republicans. Hopefully this fight will help align those two views.

Around the Bigs
The Washington Examiner, Republicans quit budget talks, Obama to step in: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., both announced they were ending their participation in Vice President Joe Biden’s debt reduction talks yesterday. Both blamed Democratic insistence on higher taxes for their departure. The White House downplayed the development with spokesman Jay Carney admitting that Obama was always going to have to eventually get directly involved.

The Washington Examiner, CBO director on Obama budget framework: We don’t estimate speeches: While testifying before the House Budget Committee Thursday, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf took an apparent swipe at Obama telling Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that the CBO could not analyze Obama’s revised budget framework since: “We don’t estimate speeches. We need much more specificity then was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.” Elmendorf’s harsh tone may be due to a perceived White House end run around Washington’s official score keeper. If Obama is allowed to get away with his current un-scored budget claims, why should any White House submit a real budget to CBO in the future.

The Washington Examiner, Obama taps oil reserves as gas prices rise: The International Energy Agency announced they will be releasing 60 million barrel of oil into the world market over the next month. Half of that total is to come from the U.S.’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve which is supposed to be saved for national emergencies. Energy Secretary Steven Chu justified the SPR disbursement by citing “the ongoing loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in Libya.” But as The Washington Post editorializes, the Libya disruptions happened months ago leaving just one real explanation: politics.

The Hill, Obama to announce $500M manufacturing investment initiative: A day after the U.S. Labor Department announced that initial jobless claims rose 9,000 to 429,000, which as Bloomberg notes is more than was forecast, Obama will announce the launch of a “Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP)” program that would provide more than $500 million for manufacturing investment. Obama’s speech also comes on the heels of Democratic insistence that whatever debt deal is reached must include a new “stimulus” plan. The Washington Examiner editorializes: “That Democrats now demand yet another stimulus program, plus tax increases, is a Hail-Mary reprise of a failed policy. All they can think of is more spending, more tax increases, more federal bureaucracy.”

The Wall Street Journal, Qaddafi Seriously Considering Fleeing Tripoli, U.S. Officials Say: U.S. officials are claiming that Muammar Qaddafi is “seriously considering” fleeing Tripoli for a more secure location outside the capitol. The news leak comes as the White House is fighting back congressional efforts to de-fund Obama’s war in Libya. Today, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on two Libya-related measures, one of which would restrict funds for military intervention in Libya. Also, Gallup reports today that American views on the Libya campaign have become more negative.

CNN, Fixing public pensions to cost taxpayers $300 to $2,400 a year: “A new study shows that, depending on which state they live in, American taxpayers will have to pay anywhere from $329 to $2,475 annually per household for 30 years, to cover expected shortfalls in public employee pensions. Two states saw legislative action on that front yesterday, as New Jersey lawmakers approved government employee benefit cuts sponsored by Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Democrats in the state house defeated a conservative bill that would have made New Hampshire a right to work state.

The Washington Examiner, Trial lawyers won’t give up on Wal-Mart lawsuits: Despite losing in the Supreme Court earlier this week, Diana Furchtgott-Roth reports that the trial lawyers behind a 1.5 million plaintiff class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart are not giving up. Instead of leaving Wal-Mart alone, the trial lawyers now say they will proceed with multiple smaller scale suits at the regional or even store level. Furchtgott-Roth comments: “Millions of dollars spent on litigation are millions that Wal-Mart cannot spend expanding stores and hiring. And with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, more hiring is needed.”

The New York Times, Republican Challenges Administration on Plans to Override Education Law: House Education Committee Chair John Kline announced yesterday he plans to use this year’s No Child Left Behind Law authorization to rein in Education Secretary Arne Duncan recent abuse of power. Kline is upset with Duncan’s promise to use Obamacare-style waivers to exempt favored states from selected NCLB provisions.

The Wall Street Journal, Agency Outlines Role: The still un-confirmed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Elizabeth Warren outlined the six areas that the CFPB will be supervising: debt collection; consumer reporting; consumer credit and related activities; money transmitting, check cashing and related activities; prepaid cards; and debt-relief services. Warren’s high-profile role in the CFPB’s first regulatory action despite her extralegal leadership of the institution can only further politicize and undermine what is already a highly controversial nascent federal agency.

The Wall Street Journal, Lower-Tax Shores Draw U.S. Firms: As Democrats in Washington call for even higher taxes, more and more start up firms are incorporating overseas to avoid what are already relatively high rates.

Campaign 2012
Perry: A Wall Street Journal report claiming Texas Gov. Rick Perry had decided to enter the race sometime in August briefly garnered wide attention. But Team Perry moved quickly to quash the story with spokes Mark Miner telling ABC News: “He hasn’t made up his mind. No decision has been made. Any reports that say a decision has been made are inaccurate.” Meanwhile the Texas Tribune reports that the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials gave Perry a “lukewarm” response at their national convention in San Antonio yesterday.

Romney: A group of former-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney supporters has founded a “super PAC” that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. The Restore Our Future PAC could spend its money attacking both Obama and Romney’s opponents in the GOP primary.

Ames Straw Poll: After it was first delayed by a Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., campaign aide’s refusal to identify which candidate she represented, the Iowa Republican Party Ames Straw Poll auction raised $113,000 yesterday. Rep. Ron Paul’s, R-Tex., $31,000 bid secured Romney’s 2008 stall spot while McCotter’s $18,000 bid placed him second. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain tied for third spending $17,000 for their spots, followed by Santorum and Pawlenty at $15,000. A Newt Gingrich representative was there but did not bid. This is yet another sign that Paul is “in it to win it” in Ames. A third place finish for Pawlenty (behind Paul and either Cain or Bachmann) would be a major setback for his campaign.

Righty playbook

  • A Blackfive reader notes that Obama mistakenly identified the wrong soldier who he personally awarded the Medal of Honor to. He claimed that Jared Monti was the “the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously.” In fact, Sal Giunta was that soldier. Monti died in Afghanistan in 2006.
  • Under the header, Military leaders know Obama’s decision is a disaster, Robert Kagan writes: “Make no mistake, however. The entire military leadership believes the president’s decision is a mistake, and especially the decision to withdraw the remainder of the surge forces by September 2012. They will soldier on and do their best, but as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, put it, in characteristic understatement, they believe the decision will increase the risk to the troops and increase the chance that the mission will not succeed.”
  • The Corner‘s Daniel Foster reads between the lines of Gen. David Petraeus’ Senate testimony yesterday: “Petraeus said that since our troops don’t have the option of quitting, he doesn’t think he does either. It isn’t acceptable, he added, for a commander to resign “in protest” of an order he disagrees with. Basically, Levin inadvertently got Petraeus to say that even if he hated the Obama order — even if he thought it was substantially wrong — he’d carry it out.”

Lefty playbook

  • Ezra Klein on why Cantor dropped out of the Gang of Biden: “Cantor has the credibility with the Tea Party that Boehner lacks. But that’s why Cantor won’t cut the deal. The Tea Party-types support him because he’s the guy who won’t cut the deal. He can’t sign off on tax increases without losing his power base. But if he’s able to throw it back to Boehner, and Boehner cuts the deal, that’s all good for Cantor: Boehner becomes weaker and he becomes stronger. Which is why Boehner will also have trouble making this deal.”
  • Matt Yglesias details how he would like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to play his no-debt hike hand: “The key issue at this point becomes the fact that hitting the debt ceiling doesn’t force an automatic default or a government shutdown. Revenue continues to come in to the federal government. There’s simply a gap between how much comes in and how much the government is supposed to spend. The first step to sound policy in this case is to make sure we keep paying interest on the debt. Thus default and immediate catastrophe is avoided. Second, what you want to do is minimize the impact on government activities. That means that in the first instance you want to try to stiff people to whom the government owes money but who will probably keep working even if you don’t pay them. … My intuition is that various government contractors, doctors, hospitals, etc. will put enough pressure on congress to break the deadlock before these Social Security notes need to start going out. But in political terms it’s a very winnable fight for the White House, and in substantive terms doing it this way should minimize impact on the nation’s credit.”

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Conn Carroll

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