Morning Must Reads -- Times helps Dems ignore political reality 

New York Times -- Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated

For 53 percent of American wage earners, today is Tax Day. For the other 47 percent it’s refund day.

Writer Kate Zernike and Megan Thee-Brennan tell us what they think about the 18 percent of the population in the new Times/CBS poll that considers themselves supporters of the tea party movement that got boiling a year ago today.

Their point is that tea party members and sympathizers are whiter and more affluent than the average American. They’re older and more often employed or comfortably retired than the general public.

Zernkie and Thee-Brennan sum up their attitude about their subjects with a kicker quote from their call to survey respondent Jodine White (!), 62, of Rocklin, Calif., who, when faced with the conundrum of her own receipt of Social Security benefits and opposition to government spending seemed to get flustered.

“I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

The overwhelming sentiment: These rich old white people have no right to complain. And they watch Fox News. Gross.

But in a survey that will become a sacred text on the Left this year when explaining why they hate and do not take seriously the rich racists who oppose Obama and his health plan, there are some more interesting things about the movement.

The tea partiers are not the religious right (A 41 percent plurality favor civil unions for gay couples), they’re better educated than the average American (37 percent are college graduates compared to 25 percent nationally) and they’re going to the polls this fall (97 percent are registered to vote compared with 84 percent of the rest of the sample).

The whiteness and oldness and richness of these people is what really seems to have the Times wagging it’s finger, but one obvious conclusion seems to have evaded Zernike and Thee-Brennan: The middle and upper middle class never protest or get this angry, so this represents something very different in the history of American politics.

(My column on misunderstanding the libertarian moment in American politics is here.)

Some of what the Times poll does seems to be fishing for negative results to make Times readers feel superior to tea people -- Has too much been made of the problems facing black people? (52 percent say yes compared to 28 percent generally) Do you think it is ever justified for people to take violent action against their government? (24 percent versus 16 percent generally.)

But there are some truffles to be snuffled out in the poll.

It is noteworthy that 1 percent of tea party supporters think the current members of Congress ought to keep their jobs. But it’s more noteworthy that 10 percent of the general public feels the same way -- 7 points lower than before the 1994 elections. It may be true that only 6 percent of tea partiers trust the government, but only 20 percent of the general public does. It’s interesting that 74 percent of tea partiers think the bailouts were unnecessary but more interesting that now 51 percent of the general public does (only 36 percent think they were needed). It’s not surprising that only 6 percent of tea party fans hold the Democratic Party in a favorable light. It is surprising that the party’s standing with the general public (42 percent) is lower than any time since the fall of 1994.

But the purpose of the Times poll seems to be giving readers (including the ones in Washington) reason to discount the mounting anxiety and anger over federal spending and the size of the government. In doing so, the paper does its readers and preferred political ideology no favors.

They would benefit more from seeing what the 38 million Americans most supportive of the president think about things.


New York Times -- Holder Won’t Rule Out N.Y. 9/11 Trial

Attorney General Eric Holder had a rough go in the Senate Judiciary Committee – getting into a weird legal argument about his belief that Osama Bin Laden would need to be Mirandized after his capture, refusing to identify the seven Justice Department lawyers who as “kids” had done defense work for accused terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, and claiming that the Caribbean military prison would close but confessing that he was unsure how that would happen.

But particularly weird was Holder’s assertion – which seemed mainly for the purpose of being pig headed – that the administration was still considering trying Kahlid Sheik Mohammed in Manhattan, even though the president has said he won’t.

“Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, told Mr. Holder there was an ‘overwhelming consensus’ in New York that the trial ‘should not be held there.’ Mr. Schumer later released a statement saying: ‘We know the administration is not going to hold the trial in New York. They should just say it already.’

Mr. Holder said in November that he had decided to hold the Sept. 11 trial at the federal courthouse in Manhattan. But two months later, the White House pulled that decision back for reconsideration after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg reversed his prior support.”


Washington Post -- Obama calls together congressional leaders in push for new financial regulation

The administration is trying to get congressional Democrats ready for a throw down with the GOP. Like a military commander, the president keeps telling his nervous troops in Congress to refuse to give up any ground in the fight to re-regulate Wall Street.

In the administration’s reckoning, Napoleon won at Waterloo and is now going to drive Wellington right off the continent.

As writers David Cho, Brady Dennis and Scott Wilson explain, the conflict mostly about who will get left holding the bag with voters who are increasingly upset about the original bank bailouts.

The central ideological difference is that Democrats want rules for the next bailout instead of Hank Paulson’s you-write-me-a-check-for$750 billion-and-I’ll-tell-you-how-it-works-out approach. They’re Democrats, so they think that there should be more taxes and more rules.

Republicans want to outlaw bailouts so that there will be no money for Goldman Sachs et al. the next time a bubble bursts. They’re Republicans, so they think that what this country needs is a little more bootstrap pulling.

Expect the bill to grow more liberal as the president and his party look to fire up the base in an election year.

“The proposal by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who chairs the Agriculture Committee, sent shudders through Wall Street. For nearly two decades, five U.S. banks -- J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup -- have acted as middlemen, allowing commercial firms and financial speculators to trade vital goods such as oil, natural gas and cotton, as well as contracts called derivatives. These are essentially side bets on which way such commodities, stocks and other assets will move.

Under Lincoln's plan, as described by her aides, the companies would have to spin off that activity if they wanted to remain banks.

The proposal is tougher than what the administration has sought. The Senate bill, which largely reflects administration thinking, stops short of an outright ban on derivatives trading by the Wall Street companies. Lincoln's proposal, which her staff said is due out this week, could be added to that legislation.”


Wall Street Journal -- Obama Revs Up Fund-Raising Machine

After the president explains to Floridians why he’s going to put the budgetary bite on manned space exploration and the Cape Canaveral economy, he’s going over to Gloria Estefan’s house to raise some dough at $35,000 a couple.

Writer Jonathan Weisman looks at the challenge ahead for the president as he has to spend more and more time begging for money from rich people. By having a milquetoast DNC chairman it’s mostly up to Obama to milk the swells for the big checks It’s politically inconvenient for a president who struggles with a reputation as an elitist.

“In California, which is suffering through a continuing budget crisis and a 12.5% unemployment rate, the president will touch down for no events other than a reception at the California Science Center, with ticket prices between $100 and $2,500, and a dinner at the Natural History Museum, for $17,600 a head. The first $4,800 from each ticket will go to Ms. Boxer, who faces a tough re-election fight. The rest will go to the DNC.

It is unusual for a president to make a fund-raising trip without at least one policy oriented event to match it. It wasn't clear how much the president intended to raise in California.”


Wall Street Journal -- Partisan Scrum on Housing

In Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hearings Wednesday Democrats argued that it was excessive risk taking in pursuit of profits that pushed the publicly backed, privately run mortgage companies. Republicans said it was the fact that Congress and the Clinton and Bush administrations forced the firms to make loans to bad credit risks in the name of a societal good of broader home ownership.

Why can’t both be right?

With board members like Rahm Emanuel looking for bigger checks and presidents looking to keep inflating the housing bubble, isn’t the problem with the very idea of a public-private lender.

The administration favors the status quo and urges Congress to do nothing.

Writer Nick Timiraos considers the costs.

“The government took over the mortgage-finance giants in September 2008 as rising loan defaults threatened to wipe out thin capital reserves. So far, the Treasury has injected $126 billion to keep the companies afloat, and it has pledged to back unlimited losses for the next three years.”


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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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