RIP Greg Ham. I met him way back in 1982 at a concert in Charlevoix, Michigan. Great band, great show.
Here now the news:
Ezra absolutely nails the budget problem in Congress. Remember how we were talking about Bowles-Simpson? As you could probably guess, it went nowhere yesterday: "They don't want Senate Democrats to pass a budget. After all, they loathe everything Obama and the Democrats have even hinted at putting forward. They want Senate Democrats to offer a budget that they can attack. They want a budget process where they can force Senate Democrats to take embarrassing and uncomfortable votes. And then, ideally, they want that budget to fail, as that way, they can keep making fun of the Democrats for their inability to pass a budget." Back to my original statement on Friedman, Dems, repeat this until it sinks in - Republicans don't want to compromise with you.
Obama throws down the gauntlet on the budget deal, threatens veto and shutdown if the Republicans keep screwing around. This sets up a scenario for a huge battle with Congress right before the election. While people aren't paying attention now - remember this day.
Harold Meyerson takes a look at how we can grow the middle class again (hint: unions that can bargain for more money) and finds this statistic: "Today, the federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25, which annualizes to a munificent $15,080. Had the minimum wage increased in line with productivity since 1968, when the wage reached its highest level as a percentage of the median wage, it would be $21.72, by the calculations of John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. But since the 1970s, all additional income from productivity increases has gone to the nation’s wealthiest 10 percent, according to economists Robert Gordon and Ian Dew-Becker."
"Who is winning the clash of visions?" from Greg Sargent. Note these numbers: "The (NYT/CBS) poll also finds that 67 percent say the government should do more to help improve the situation of middle class Americans; 52 percent say government shold do more to improve the housing market; 57 percent think the wealthy pay less than their fair share in taxes; and that 51percent think capital gains should be taxed as ordinary income. People say they dislike government in the abstract, but when the talk turns to specifics, suddenly active government doesn’t look so bad."
So, they like the Obama/Dem prescription for what ails us, but then we find this, from ABC: "And in a fresh Quinnipiac University national poll released this morning, just 38 percent of American voters said they approve of the way the president is handling the economy. By a 47 to 43 percent margin, voters also see Mitt Romney as better on the economy than Obama. By an even larger — 44 to 31 percent margin — voters pick Romney as better on gas prices." And this, from the NYT: "A rising number of Americans see improvement in the economy, but a persistent wariness about their own financial circumstances is allowing Mitt Romney to persuade voters that he could improve their economic prospects more than President Obama." Something is not adding up when it comes to the "vision" thing. Why do Republicans have any credibility on the economy?
More on the Quinnipiac poll: Obama leads Romney by 4 pts., 46-42, but as you see above (and other places) it's going to be close. The GOP culls out the numbers on independents, and it's not pretty. Bottom line: "Indies disapprove of his job on the economy, 28%/67% for -39%. Indies don't think Obama deserves reelection by 37%/58% for -21%. Indies favor Romney, overall, by 7%." Snapshot in time, as my man Rick Albin would say.
All that leads to "The fight for 'the persuadables'", from Alex Burns and Maggie Haberman from Politico. In the end, the entire race is going to come down to some undecided guy named Joe currently living in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Better go find him quick.
The New Republic has a great story on the shotgun marriage of Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans. Like most shotgun marriages of convenience, it's doomed.
There's more, but I gotta catch a train. May add to this a little later in the day...