Morning Must Reads -- Passing Obamacare didn't stop the bleeding 

USA Today -- USA fumes over politics

After almost two weeks of a media bounce on health care, Democrats are still sinking with voters.

The latest Gallup poll shows the lowest favorability rating for the party (41 percent) since the firm started asking the question 18 years ago while Republicans have rebounded to their normally anemic levels (42 percent), back from the brink of two years ago.

The trend line in the survey shows an even more hostile electorate than at any time since the post-Watergate cycle of 1974. It is disastrously bad for Democrats. If the election were held today, I’d expect the majority party to lose more than 50 seats.

But the election won’t be held today and President Obama has assured his party that he can soften the backlash and bring Americans around to his way of thinking. It seems unlikely since his previous 53-speech sales pitch did the opposite, but as Democrats were chanting about being “Fired up!” in the East Room on signing day, they were certainly felling defiant.

But imagine the terrible realization for Democrats this week as they meet with campaign advisors, try to raise money and rustle votes in their districts. If the turnaround in public opinion does not start soon, this year is shaping up to be a slaughter.

(My column on Democrats' fear of public opinion is here.)

When they get back from Easter, I’d expect the members of majority party to be a lot less fired up than when they left.

“• A record-low 28% say most members of Congress deserve re-election. The percentage who say their representative deserves re-election drops to 49%, only the second time it has dipped below 50%.

• Fifty percent say Obama doesn't deserve re-election, and 26% say he deserves "a great deal" of the blame for the nation's economic problems, double the percentage in July. Bush still does worse: 42% give him a great deal of the blame.”


New York Times -- Obama Oil Drilling Plan Draws Critics

President Obama’s offshore drilling proposal was met with mild appreciation by Republicans and outrage by environmentalists.

Remember that while the eco set is worried about oil spills, oily otters are only part of the complaint. The real goal is to keep oil prices up so that consumption goes down.

They want the president to do to oil what he’s been doing to coal – keep up a regulatory blockade to achieve carbon goals by other means.

Examiner colleague Julie Mason points out that the administration is trying to ditch the “cap and trade” label in favor of a plan with some more drilling, limited new nukes but still a firm carbon cap. Expect to see that roll out over the spring and summer as the president gets ready for the next climate summit now set for November in Cancun.

He has to restart the global warming discussion in Congress if he expects better results than the Copenhagen fizzle.

Writer John Broder explains:

“The eastern Gulf of Mexico tract that would be offered for lease is adjacent to an area that already contains thousands of wells and hundreds of drilling platforms. The eastern Gulf area is believed to contain as much as 3.5 billion barrels of oil and 17 trillion cubic feet of gas, the richest single tract that would be open to drilling under the Obama plan.

Drilling there has been strongly opposed by officials from both political parties in Alabama and Florida who fear damage to coastlines, fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife. Interior Department officials said no wells would be allowed within 125 miles of the Florida and Alabama coasts, making them invisible from shore.”


Wall Street Journal -- Electric Cars Aren't 'Zero Emission,' New Rules Say

Talk about letting the perfect get in the way of the good.

The proliferation of electric cars should be good news. They use the surplus electricity generation capacity already on the grid to get about and don’t produce any ground-level emissions.

But the folks at the EPA and Transportation are concerned that car companies and consumers are really just shifting their pollution from tailpipe to smokestack. It would help smog, childhood asthma, gas prices and other human plights, but doesn’t do enough to fight global warming. So the carbon emissions from the power plant that made the electricity that powers the car will have to be factored in to electric car pricing.

Writer Josh Mitchell explains that, as usual, lobby groups defeat common sense.

“Environmental groups lobbied for the change, saying electric vehicles aren't entirely "clean" unless the power plants are, too. They worried that car makers would use "zero emission vehicles" to effectively subsidize sales of gas guzzlers.

The oil industry had also lobbied for the change, saying greenhouse-gas emissions associated with electric vehicles are significant and should be quantified.”


New York Times -- Deadlock Is Ending on Labor Board

After more than a year of stasis on labor issues, the unions are finally getting some payback for the hundreds of millions they spent getting Democrats elected after the president’s recess appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board – including Craig Becker, aka “Human Card Check.”

The first goal will be to mop up the last remaining non-union spots in government and the non-profit world. Nursing supervisors and exempt public safety agencies had been high on the list. University faculties had been hard to crack because despite a left-leaning base, professors are stubborn folks. But by letting graduate assistants vote, the NLRB could get the job done.

After finishing the sweep through the public sector, the goal will be to give unions a leg up in the private sector. The past two decades have been a disaster in the real world for unions, as workers voted down organization in election after election and employers migrated to right-to-work states.

Steven Greenhouse looks at the stakes:

“Harold P. Coxson Jr., a management lawyer and former Chamber of Commerce official, voiced concern that with Congress unlikely to enact legislation that makes it easier to unionize, the labor board ‘will make the difference in the debate.’ Among the ideas that have stalled in Congress since the Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate is requiring snap unionization elections — within 7 to 10 days of pro-union workers petitioning for an election.

‘We have heard that they are going to engage in rule-making that could impose ‘quickie’ union elections, perhaps in 5 to 10 days,’ Mr. Coxson said. ‘The board will demonstrate with its agenda that they are not irrelevant.’”


Wall Street Journal -- Cash-Poor Cities Take On Unions

Writer Connor Dougherty looks at the strange moment of local government leaders who were elected on the basis of public union support having to actually take on public unions.

Taxpayer dollars fund public salaries, which fund public union dues, which fund campaigns that elect candidates who promise more lavish pay and benefits for public workers, who win with union help in low-turnout local and state legislative elections.

That cycle has ruined California and is now pushing cities and countries across the country to the brink. Now some, like L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, find themselves biting, or at least nibbling at, the hands that fed them.

Dougherty has done a great job with outlining one of the central political battles of the coming decade.

“It is tough to compare government pay to private-sector pay because many government jobs—firefighters, police officers—don't have private counterparts. But, on average, government workers make more in wages and benefits. In December, state and local governments spent an average of $39.60 in wages and benefits per hour worked on their employees, versus an average $27.42 for private employers, the Labor Department said.

The fight over benefits represents a defining moment for public employees and their unions. Government is by far the most unionized sector of the work force, and among the few places left where blue-collar workers can retire with traditional lifetime pensions. In 2009, the nation's 7.9 million unionized government workers eclipsed the number of private-sector union members for the first time since the Labor Department began keeping track in 1983.”


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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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