Morning Examiner: Obama flailing to defend economic record 

Around the Bigs: If the White House does have a credible plan for reducing the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate, they need to come up with a much better message to sell it, because President Obama has had a disastrous two weeks of economic soundbites. First President Obama tried to explain away May’s weak jobs report by telling factory workers in Ohio that, “There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has already turned that clip into a devastating web ad. Then on Monday, Obama joked about his failed stimulus telling his Jobs Council that, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” Then yesterday, Obama flailed again on explaining the bad economy, telling NBC News that ATMs were to blame for high unemployment. Obama has never had to defend his record in a reelection campaign before. His inexperience is showing.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Supreme Court reinstates collective bargaining law: “Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan to end most collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers. … The court found that a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when it hastily approved the collective bargaining measure in March and made it possible for the Senate to take it up.”

The Washington Post, GOP governors push back against Obama on federal Medicaid rules: “This week, 29 GOP governors wrote a letter asking congressional leaders for greater flexibility in spending Medicaid dollars. They say that would give them much-needed control over the soaring cost of Medicaid, often the largest single item in state budgets. … If [Obama] allows states to tighten eligibility requirements, it would outrage many of his core supporters while undermining the central goal of his signature health-care law: expanding health insurance coverage. But if the president turns his back on governors struggling to gain control of their finances by trimming their most costly program, he risks intense criticism just as his administration is locked in a battle with Republicans over the nation’s soaring debt.”

The Washington Post, Senate vote to repeal ethanol tax credit fails, but some in GOP break ranks: “A majority of Senate Republicans appeared to break Tuesday with two decades of GOP orthodoxy against higher taxes, voting to advance a plan to abruptly cancel billions of dollars in annual tax credits for ethanol blenders. … The measure, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster threat. But it had the support of 34 of 47 Republicans, most of whom have signed an anti-tax pledge that specifically prohibits raising taxes by any means but economic growth.”

Fox News, Obama Blames ATMs for High Unemployment: “President Obama explained to NBC News that the reason companies aren’t hiring is not because of his policies, it’s because the economy is so automated. … ‘There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.’”

Reuters, US Small Business Sentiment Dims: “Small business sentiment in the United States fell for a third straight month in May, landing squarely in recessionary territory due to consumer reticence, high unemployment, and inflation worries, according to a monthly survey released on Tuesday. … “The most apparent reason for the weak optimism is the weak recovery,” the National Federation of Independent Business, a trade group, said in its May report.”

The Wall Street Journal, Escape From Illinois, Cont.: “The line of businesses looking for tax relief in Illinois keeps growing, with the latest plea coming from the owner of the iconic Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade. CME Group Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy told a shareholders meeting last week that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s 30% hike in the corporate tax rate enacted in January will cost the company $50 million this year. “We don’t want to leave Chicago,” Mr. Duffy said, but “we have to do what’s right for our shareholders.” A spokesman confirmed that the company is exploring all options to save money.”

The Washington Times, Boehner gives Obama Friday deadline on Libya: “Stepping up a simmering constitutional conflict, House Speaker John A. Boehner warned President Obama on Tuesday that unless he gets authorization from Congress for his military deployment in Libya, he will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution. … In a letter sent Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Boehner, the top Republican in the constitutional chain of succession, said Mr. Obama must provide a clear justification by Friday for committing troops to Libya.” The article does not say what Boehner will do if Obama fails to comply.

The Los Angeles Times, Report describes gun agents’ ‘state of panic’: “Federal gun agents in Arizona — convinced that “someone was going to die” when their agency allowed weapons sales to suspected Mexican drug traffickers — made anguished pleas to be permitted to make arrests but were rebuffed, according to a new congressional report on the controversial law enforcement probe. … Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told congressional investigators that there was “a state of panic” that the guns used in the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in January and two U.S. agents in Mexico a month later might have been sold under the U.S. surveillance operation.”

The Washington Post, Nuclear waste dump is mired in inertia: “Yucca Mountain is a case study in government dysfunction and bureaucratic inertia. The project dates back three decades. It has not solved the problem of nuclear waste but has succeeded in keeping fully employed large numbers of litigators.”

The New York Times, Social Security Overpaid $6.5 Billion: “The Social Security Administration made $6.5 billion in overpayments to people not entitled to receive them in 2009, including $4 billion under a supplemental income program for the very poor, a government investigator said Tuesday. In all, about 10 percent of the payments made by the agency’s Supplemental Security Income program were improper, said Patrick P. O’Carroll Jr., the inspector general for Social Security.”

Campaign 2012:

CNN, Focus group’s satisfaction grows for GOP field during debate: “At no point did the response graph dip into negative territory; perhaps not surprising in a group of 13 Republicans and 8 Republican-leaning independents. Still, it is notable that every statement received a favorable response, especially when President Obama’s policies were in the crosshairs.”

Gallup, Obama Approval Rally Largely Over: “President Obama’s job approval rating averaged 46% for the week ending June 12, a significant decline from his weekly averages for most of May and nearly back to the level before Osama bin Laden’s death on May 1.”

Minnesota Star Tribune, Bachmann says she won’t seek re-election to Congress while running for president: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced she’s not running for re-election while she’s campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, but the 2012 political calendar makes it easy for her to change her mind. … If she stumbles in the primaries, state law would allow her to discontinue her presidential campaign and file for re-election to the House by June 5, 2012.”

Righty playbook:

  • Jennifer Rubin, and others on the right, were initially worried about a possible shift in former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s position on Afghanistan. But after tracking down a Romney adviser to clarify the candidate’s position she reports back: “Well, that doesn’t sound like he’s bugging out prematurely or that he thinks the war was misguided at its inception.”
  • NewsBusters catches CNN posting the following headline on their website above pictures of Newt Gingrich, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., “Wingnut debt ceiling demands.” The headline appeared late on the same day that CNN was hosting a GOP debate in New Hampshire. CNN later changed the headline without explanation.
  • The Corner’s Rich Lowry and Brian Bolduc both report from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s visit to the New York County Republican party. Both say he sounds like he is running.

Lefty playbook:

  • Daily Kos‘ Joan McCarter links to a Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., interview with Ezra Klein and worries that Senate Dems may be going weak on Medicaid. The left is beginning to realize their full out press on Mediscare may have left Medicaid vulnerable.
  • TPMDC‘s Brian Beutler reports on a Capitol press conference where Democratic Senate leaders drew a clear line between Medicare cuts (“can be on the table”) and Medicare benefit cuts (not on the table). Democrats think they can keep cutting doctor pay without effecting seniors benefits. We’ll see how that plays out in 2012 when Medicare starts paying doctors 30% less then they are paid today.
  • Daily Kos‘ Jed Lewison notes that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is one of many Republican governors who have accepted $1 million HHS grants to begin implementing Obamacare. Some on the right hit Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for accepting the same grant while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty turned down the money. If Perry does announce, this is a possible line of attack for current candidates.

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