Morning Examiner: Obama’s debt deal desperation 

The Gang of Biden is dead. President Obama has met with one Republican leader once on the debt limit. And that meeting produced nothing. Meanwhile there are only 24 working days until financial armageddon supposedly begins on August 2nd. The White House is getting desperate.

They appear to have realized that the Republicans are 100 percent serious when they say they will not pass any debt-limit hike that includes any tax hikes. But Obama's base would be demoralized if he failed to win tax hikes. So the White House needs a game changer. Two possibilities have emerged.

From the White House, National Journal’s Marc Ambinder reports that Obama believes he can get the Republicans to cave on taxes if he first lets the bond markets panic in late-July. Obama then hopes that Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will force Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to compromise, like he did on the FY 2011 budget deal earlier this year.

Outside the White House, more and more prominent Democrats are questioning whether the debt limit is even constitutional. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., became the latest Democrat to raise the argument yesterday. If there is no debt deal, and bond markets do panic, what is stopping Obama from just ordering Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to issue more debt? If Obama can just ignore the War Powers Act, why not the debt limit too?

Around the Bigs
National Journal, Obama to hold press conference: President Obama will hold a press conference today at 11:30 am from the White House. His opening remarks will likely address the debt limit negotiations, Libya, Afghanistan, and his reelection campaign. This will be his first press conference since March.

The Hill, HHS cancels ‘mystery shopper’ proposal: Facing backlash from the medical community and Congress, Obama’s Health & Human Services Department canceled its proposed “mystery shopper” program which would have had government employees calling doctors’ offices posing as potential Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The Washington Examiner, Democrats to huddle again over debt talks: Obama will again meet with Senate Democratic leaders today about the debt limit negotiations. No new talks are scheduled with any Republicans and Obama’s Monday meeting with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., produced nothing.

Associated Press, Delay Medicare eligibility: Coburn and Lieberman: Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., introduced a plan to cut $600 billion from Medicare over the next ten years by raising the eligibility age to 67 and increasing monthly premiums.

The New York Times, White House and Congress Clear Trade Deal Hurdle: The Times reports that “the White House struck a deal with House Republicans Tuesday” on trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, but it is difficult to tell what exactly the deal is. Obama had been insisting that the trade agreements must be paired with Trade Adjustment Assistance spending that Republicans believe is ineffective and wasteful. The Times reports that Obama officials ” hastened to clarify that that deal did not extend to the question of how that agreement might be approved.” Indeed, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is still insisting that he will hold separate votes on each trade deal and the TAA welfare program. It is unclear whether or not Obama would sign the trade deals without also signing the TAA spending.

Fox News, Obama Troop Cuts Went Beyond Largest Withdrawal Offered By Top General: Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen, Obama’s choice to replace Gen. David Petraeus as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, told Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that President Obama’s decision to draw down 10,000 troops by the end of this year and the rest of the surge forces by September 2012 was not one of the options proposed to the president by Gen. Petraeus.

The Hill, Ethics watchdog calls for FBI to investigate Rep. Richardson:
A leading watchdog group is touting new evidence of alleged ethics violations by Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and calling for a criminal investigation.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is accusing Richardson of habitually threatening her congressional staff with their jobs if they didn’t work on her campaign, and has asked the FBI to investigate.

Boston Globe, Obamas returning to Vineyard in August: The Obamas will return to Martha’s Vineyard again for vacation this summer. They are expected to stay on the island for seven to ten days in mid-August.

Campaign 2012
Bachmann: According to pollsters, the Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., boom is for real. Gallup reports that entering her Monday Waterloo, Iowa announcement her name recognition had risen from 52 percent in March to 69 percent. More importantly, the more people know about her, the more they like her. She is tied for the highest positive intensity score (+24) in the GOP field. Bachmann is also improving in statewide polling from PPP who place her as the front-runner in Oregon and Montana.

The Bachmann surge has not been missed by the liberal media. ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos pressed her yesterday on her contention that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father and her 2005 claim that eliminating the minimum wage could “virtually eliminate” unemployment. NBC News later attacked Bachmann’s husband for receiving $137,000 in Medicaid payments through their counseling clinic.

Bachmann also took a hit from her former campaign manager who wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register endorsing former-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: “As the former chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party during the tenure of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as well as the former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, I have watched both candidates from behind the public scene. … Having seen the two of them, up close and over a long period of time, it is clear to me that while Tim Pawlenty possesses the judgment, the demeanor, and the readiness to serve as president, Michele Bachmann decidedly does not.”

Pawlenty attacked Senate Tea Party Republicans who oppose Obama’s war in Libya Tuesday morning telling the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that some in his party were “trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments.” Pawlenty also endorsed Obama’s interpretation of the War Powers Act as it applied to Libya during the question and answer session. Pawlenty declined to say that the War Powers Act was unconstitutional but did say that Obama did not have to consult Congress since the Act “does not apply” to the U.S. intervention there.

Former-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is going backwards according to Gallup. While Huntsman’s campaign roll-out has upped his name identification from 20 percent to 39 percent, his Positive Intensity Score among Republicans actually got worse.

Righty playbook:
Hot Air‘s Tina Korbe details the push back from industry, government, and academia against The New York Times Monday hit piece on fracking.

Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s Chris Schneider provides more details on the incident between Justice Ann Walsh Bradley claims Justice David Prosser in Wisconsin.

Lefty playbook:
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., became the latest prominent Democrat to voice the opinion that the 14th Amendment’s clause, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned,” makes the debt limit unconstitutional. If Obama can’t reach a deal that raises taxes in exchange for a debt limit hike, the odds of him just ignoring the debt limit entirely just went up.

National Journal White House correspondent Marc Ambinder reports that Obama may be purposely stalling the debt talks hoping a late-July panic in the bond markets betters his position at the bargaining table. From Abinder: “That’s when the public will begin to understand what happens when the U.S. can’t make its payments to creditors. That’s when the president can use his bully pulpit to call for an adult conversation.”

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