Debt: A 318 member bi-partisan House majority rejected President Obama’s request for a clean debt limit increase last night. While 114 Democrats had signed a letter just last month demanding that Republicans allow a clean vote on the debt ceiling, only 97 Democrats ended up voting for the bill. Zero Republicans did. Eighty-two Democrats, however, crossed party lines to vote with Republicans.
Now that House Republicans have sent the White House a clear political message on spending, the regular appropriations process begins today. A scheduled vote on Homeland Security funding is expected to cut $1 billion compared to this year’s spending. In total, the 12 appropriations are expected to cut $30.4 billion from 2011 levels. Cuts to labor, health, education, transportation, and foreign aid make up the bulk of the savings.
Keeping Republicans on board for these cuts while the 12 spending bills make their way to the floor will strengthen Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s, R-Va., hand at the Gang of Biden bargaining table.
The Economy: In a comprehensively negative assessment on the front page, The Wall Street Journal points to the fact that “home prices have sunk to 2002 levels, effectively wiping out almost a decade’s worth of home equity across the U.S. and imperiling the fragile economic recovery as Americans confront the falling value of their biggest investment.” If prices plunge another five percent, the Journal says nearly one in three homeowners will be underwater.
Obama: President Obama set up a battle over spending and trade with his selection of Natural Resources Defense Council co-founder John Bryson as Commerce Secretary. Bryson, to the extent that he is known in the business community, is supposedly a supporter of free trade. But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has pledged to block all trade-related Obama nominees until the South Korean and Colombian trade deals have passed.
The White House has promised their union allies that Obama will not sign any trade deal until Republicans agree to more spending on ineffective trade adjustment assistance programs. Unless Obama caves, the Bryson nomination will go nowhere until the other spending fights (e.g. the debt limit) have been settled.
The Examiner‘s Mark Tapscott notes that Bryson also supported the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill.
Cain: As of publication, Public Policy Polling (PPP) has not released their latest numbers from Iowa, but they have teased that Herman Cain is tied for second. With Mitt Romney not investing heavily in the state, Michele Bachmann imploding, and Tim Pawlenty treading water, the chance that Cain could place second, or even first, in Iowa is growing.
Huntsman: Jon Huntsman has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal titled: “Our Current Time for Choosing,” which goes on to argue: “Anyone who disagrees with Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms has a moral obligation to propose an alternative.”
PPP has also been teasing Huntsman related results from their Iowa poll. Apparently out of 481 Republican respondents, just 1, not 1% but one person, picked Huntsman. According to PPP, this Huntsman supporter voted for Obama in 2008, and would do so again if Sarah Palin or Cain were the eventual GOP nominee.
Gingrich: According to Gallup, Newt Gingrich’s +6 positive intensity score (the difference between his strongly favorable and strongly unfavorable rating) is the lowest it has ever been. Only Gary Johnson’s (4) is lower and Huntsman’s is just two points higher (8).
Energy: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration yesterday alleging that several federal agencies illegally failed to prepare formal environmental impact statements (EIS) for fracking projects in the Delaware River Basin.
The suit will not directly effect other fracking projects throughout the country, but a successful suit would provide a blueprint for all fracking-related energy development to be shutdown.