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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: House of Representatives

Last minute poll in New York City's special House election finds Republican leading

anthony Weiner

Remember New York's disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner, the representative who shared his junk online with too many people?

Well, forget him. He's gone now, resigned.

Next Tuesday is the special election in New York's reliably Democratic Ninth congressional district to replace him.

And, breaking news, the Ninth seems to be no longer reliably Democratic. Whether it's Weiner or Obama's fault or a combo, we don't know. And who cares?

If the latest poll numbers from Magellan Strategies hold up six more days, the new New York representative from Brooklyn/Queens will be Republican Bob Turner . And the GOP will have at least temporarily turned its tide of special election losses.

The news this week will be President Obama's meaningless jobs speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow evening. None of what he says he seeks will happen, which he knows and hopes. Because how's he going to run against a Republican House next year if he asked for something now he knew they'd give him?

It's Kabuki theatre at its most amateur. But that's where we all are right now because while Obama is still saying 'Yes, We Can,' he can't explain why we haven't these last 32 months. Obviously, it couldn't be his fault. Nothing ever is.

Anyway, Magellan surveyed 2,055 likely voters in the Ninth and found Turner leading Democrat David Weprin by four points, 44.6-40.4, with 36% firmly committed to Turner and only 28% firm for Weprin.

Interestingly, Obama's job approval there is 36%, compared with 52% disapprove.

If Turner wins, a Republican will soon sit in Weiner's presumably sanitized House seat. And a week from this morning the news will be all about what the latest defeat means for Obama.

Honestly, not much, just more bad PR to endure along with the sagging poll numbers. A loss won't change the balance in the House, which is overwhelmingly GOP now thanks to the historic voter turnaround in last November's midterms.

But the No. 9 would become the latest symbol of mounting political trouble for president No. 44.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Meagan Broussard / ABC News (Weiner).

Urgent Democratic vocab alert: Pelosi bans the S-word (stimulus)

Democrat Nancy Pelosi Grabs the microphone 8-30-11

Actually, it's understandable. And actually surprising that ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) took this long. She must not be getting out much.

Remember way back in 2009 when D.C. Democrats were promising that the $787-billion you-know-what program was going to start you-know-whating the economy almost immediately with those shovel-ready projects that were going to keep unemployment below 8%?

President Obama even flew Air Force One almost four hours round-trip one day for a 10-minute speech to point out how well the you-know-whating was working in Ohio. The rate there is 9% now and, nationally, 9.1% with no new jobs created last month.

Other than that, all of Joe Biden's hundreds-of-thousands-of-new-jobs-any-month-now promises came true.

Fact is, utter the S-word in political conversation these days and chuckles are the most likely response -- if you're not among the 14-plus million officially unemployed. And the many millions of others who've given up.

Which Pelosi hasn't.

The S-plan didn't really S-anything sufficiently. But that's not stopping Pelosi et al from pushing yet another S-plan, this one maybe even bigger than the other one that didn't work. Can you say $1 trillion?

The unions would love it. And although their membership is only 11% of U.S. workers now, they make up a much higher percentage of the crumbling political base Obama needs to win reelection.

So, Pelosi has launched a campaign to pressure Obama to include some kind of gigantic "job creation" package in his grand Thursday night jobs address to Congress that will finally surely fix the nation's troubled economy once and for all.

He's had -- what? -- 961 days to get his economy act together and chew through all those economic advisors. Obama won't be calling his plans S-plans either. They'll be investments, which sound less lethal than another dying S-word, "spending."

Also, FYI, "Recovery Act" is also gone the way of the Obama administration's "man-caused disaster." Now, it'll be something about Made in America. Make It in America. That sort of thing. Which will make all the difference in the world.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pelosi on Aug. 30. Credit: Ed Andrieski / Associated Press

Sunday shows: Cheney, Huntsman, DeMint, Trumka

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) with Dana Loesch, Jon Karl, Clarence Page, Michael Gerson, Carol Lee, Jared Bernstein and Douglas Holtz-Eakinformer vice president Dick Cheney Book In My Time

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt:" AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Frank Gehry, Heather Knight, Zanab Salbi, Sheryl WuDunn and husband Nicholas Kristof, and Platon

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: DeMint, James Hoffa of the Teamsters, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Michael Duffy and Peter Baker

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Dick Cheney with Ed Gillespie, Bill Kristol, Kirsten Powers and Mara Liasson

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Paul Gigot, Mark McKinnon and Tom Friedman

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Weekly remarks: GOP's Rep. Bob Goodlatte seeks balanced budgets

Capitol Hill

Weekly remarks by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, I’m Congressman Bob Goodlatte from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s a pleasure to speak with you on Labor Day weekend as we honor the ingenuity and perseverance of America’s workers.

Of course, ours are the best workers in the world, and given a level playing field, they can compete and win against anyone.

Except we don’t have a level playing field. Our employers face some of the highest tax rates in the world.  Endless red tape makes it harder to plan and invest. Our national debt – much of which is owed to China – is on track to exceed the size of our entire economy.

The president’s ‘stimulus’ spending has proven counterproductive. Government has gotten in the way when it can be part of the solution.  With millions of Americans still asking ‘where are the jobs?,’ the president should help lead a bipartisan effort to remove government barriers to job creation.

We can start by eliminating burdensome mandates and regulations; stopping policies that drive up gas prices; expanding American energy production in order to increase jobs and American manufacturing; and approving free trade agreements that open new markets to American-made goods.

These ideas and other much-needed reforms are part of Republicans’ Plan for America’s Job Creators.  Learn more by visiting Jobs.GOP.gov

While our workers are being held back by Washington, there’s nothing in place to stop the federal government from bankrolling further big government spending ... the kind that leads to government expansion into private-sector jobs, burdensome mandates on job creators and skyrocketing national debt.

For hard-working families, making tough decisions to live within your means is a necessity. For 49 out of 50 states, it’s the Virginia Republican Representative Bob Goodlattelaw.  So you’re right to expect no less from Washington.

This fall, both the House and the Senate will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that would force Congress to spend only what the government takes in. 

This would ensure spending cuts made today don’t easily disappear tomorrow. That doesn’t just mean a fiscal house in order: it also means more certainty for the private sector and a better environment for job creation.

That’s why, in his upcoming jobs speech, President Obama should call on both parties to come together this fall and send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states for ratification.

This amendment isn’t my idea; it’s not a new idea. Thomas Jefferson expressed strong support for it in 1798. On March 2nd, 1995, the U.S. Senate failed – by one vote – to send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states. 

More than $9 trillion has been added to our national debt since. That’s a 180 percent increase.   Imagine how different things would be if the amendment had passed. We cannot afford to make the same mistake.

This won’t be easy.

As you know, a constitutional amendment requires the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress before it goes to the states. We need bipartisan support to get the Balanced Budget Amendment across the finish line.

So to help spread the word, we’ve set up a website where you can learn more and share information about the importance of a Balanced Budget Amendment. The address is gop.gov/balancethebudget.  We’ll also be talking about this on Twitter using the hashtag ‘BBA4jobs.’

This Labor Day, America’s workers are right to ask where the jobs are. You deserve better answers.  The policies coming out of Washington aren’t getting it done.

By focusing on removing barriers to job creation – and creating barriers to debt creation – we can get our economy back on track.  Together, we can restore the promise that for all of us is America. Thank you for listening, and enjoy your Labor Day weekend.     ####

(UPDATE: As of publication time, the president's weekly remarks had not been received. They will be added if they do arrive.)

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Photos: Alex Wong / Getty Images; Rep. Goodlatte's office.

Minutes after his Sept. 8 address to Congress is set, Obama bashes both houses

Within minutes of agreeing with congressional leaders Wednesday night on an address to a joint session next week, President Obama flashed out an email to millions of supporters criticizing the chambers, their members and vowing to pressure them to enact his as yet unspecified job creation ideas.

"It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American peoplObama during his address to the American Legion 8-30-11e need them to be focused on," the Democrat charged in an email with the subject line: "Frustrated."

It's not exactly clear how long "a long time" Obama was thinking of. But until midterm voters produced a historic House turnover to Republicans last November, Obama's Democratic Party controlled both houses with substantial majorities and gave him vast spending, reform and healthcare programs.

It was, at least in part, voter reaction to such legislation that produced the divided government in D.C. now.

This evening's email is likely revealing of the strategy this White House intends to follow for the 2012 presidential election, blaming Congress for what hasn't happened in the economy and employment sectors.

Polls show approval of Obama's economic leadership now down around 1 in 3, with 2 out of 3 feeling the country is on the wrong track.

Speaking of his joint session address Sept. 8, Obama's email says:

Next week, I will deliver the details of the plan and call on lawmakers to pass it. Whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them. But both you and I can pressure them to do the right thing.

We can send the message that the American people are playing by the rules and meeting their responsibilities -- and it's time for our leaders in Congress to meet theirs. And we must hold them accountable if they don't.

Other than the chief executive's threats and the lousy job performance review of both parties, it looks like Obama and Congress are in for a really nice working relationship in coming months.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Obama addresses the American Legion this week. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Does Joe the Congressman sound better than Joe the Plumber?

Of course, you remember Joe the Plumber.

He's that T-shirt-clad Everyman who lives on an Ohio cul-de-sac and forthrightly confronted a campaigning Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential contest about the Democrat's crippling small business tax policies. (See video above.)

Joe the Plumber Samuel Wurzelbacher, fileDuring the course of their taped street discussion, Joe's questions prompted Obama to utter the accidentally revealing words "spread the wealth," which set off socialist alarm bells that can still be heard in conservative quarters.

Republican candidate John McCain mentioned "Joe the Plumber" several times in an ensuing debate in New York and turned Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher into a passing political icon that changed the course of the worker's life.

Since then, Joe has been a globe-trotting correspondent for conservative publications, a celebrity speaker and "tea party" worker.

And now -- guess what? -- Toledo Republicans are touting him as the 2012 challenger to Democrat Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in Congress (14 terms).

Joe says, yup, he's thinking about it. 

The chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, Jon Stainbrook, cites “high-level interest in the national Republican Party” in a Wurzelbacher campaign.

With Joe's broad tea party ties, it could become one of those symbolic races that draws donors from across the country.

Of course, what really matters is voter interest in Ohio's Ninth.

Such a challenge would surely be suicidal in Kaptur's heavily Democratic district that hasn't seen a GOP representative since Ronald Reagan was fighting Jimmy Carter's recession.

Oh, but wait!

Ohio is losing a pair of House seats following last year's census. And Buckeye voters were so happy with Obama's first two years that they not only replaced Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland with former House member John Kasich, they turned the Legislature over to the GOP too.

As it turns out, those are the folks drawing the new districts. Maybe they'll help Joe out. And help Kaptur to join Lucas County's 10.5% unemployment lines.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. Credit: Madalyn Ruggiero / Associated Press

Weekly remarks: Obama 'confident in our future'; John Kasich urges real presidential leadership

Democrat president barack Obama enjoys an Oval Office phone call

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House

Hello from the Country Corner Farm in Alpha, Illinois!  For the past few days, I’ve been traveling to small towns and farm towns here in the heartland of this country. I sat down with small-business owners in Gutenberg, Iowa; and ranchers and farmers in Peosta.  I had lunch with veterans in Cannon Falls, Minnesota; and talked to plant workers at a seed distributor in Atkinson, Illinois. And to the girls volleyball team at Maquoketa High School, let me just say one thing: Go Cardinals.


Now, I’m out here for one reason: I think Washington, D.C., can learn something from the folks in Atkinson and Peosta and Cannon Falls. I think our country would be a whole lot better off if our elected leaders showed the same kind of discipline and integrity and responsibility that most Americans demonstrate in their lives every day.

Because, the fact is, we’re going through a tough time right now. We’re coming....

Continue reading »

Joe Biden update: His GOP 'terrorists' quote reaffirmed

an iowa protester in peosta carries a sign referring to joe biden calling tea party members terrorists aug 2011

So, did Vice President Joe Biden really liken Republican House "tea party" members to terrorists during the debt deal roughhousing, just as President Obama was publicly professing a desire for political civility?

In a way, it doesn't matter anymore, because the belief that he did has hardened like cement (see the photo above, the protester on the right, all the way out in Iowa).

In an unusual move within the fraternities of Washington journalism, Politico, which broke the original hot story, issued a reaffirmation of the piece Wednesday, apparently in response to another Washington news organization questioning Politico's sources as "dubious."

To refresh your memory, hours after Biden met behind closed doors with unhappy....

Continue reading »

On Day 938 of his presidency, Obama says he'll have a jobs plan in a month or so

Obama's new armored Bus 8-16-11

OK, let's see if we can sort out this White House jobs package hocus-pocus because President Obama is counting on us not to. And no one wants to fail to not disappoint him:

Last winter in his State of the Union address, oblivious to the gathering storm over the nation's national debt, the Democrat proposed massive new spending and loan programs -- he calls it investments -- to extend unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts and to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges and other union-made infrastructure kinds of stuff. He had a plan he would share soon.

When in trouble, give a speech. Say, early September. Before all this Rick Perry 40% of the nation's jobs come from Texas stuff really gets going.

The president has mentioned the plan often, despite widespread skepticism due to the lack of stimulus that came from spending $787 billion in stimulus money that was for sure going to hold national unemployment at 8%, but it's now 9.1%.

So, perhaps another such plan might work.Obama's armored Bus Motorcade takes over the road in Iowa 8-16-11

As this administration sees reality, those Republican tea party terrorists kind of hijacked the marathon talks about raising the national debt ceiling, stubbornly and unreasonably making the debt negotiations over reducing the debt and  spending rather than over spending spending.

As a result, it's all their fault that Standard & Poor's lowered the federal government's credit rating for the first time because the rating agency didn't see sufficient cuts.

The next day after the spending cuts agreement, with his obedient cabinet in attendance as witnesses, Obama said, yes, spending cuts were important as long as they didn't affect vast investments for the future to extend unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts and to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges and other union-made infrastructure kinds of stuff.

Other Democrats are designing job plans costing $200 billion per year.

Because the country hasn't heard enough of Obama calling on Congress to do things and his job approval touched a new low of 39%, he laid on a three-day campaign swing through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois this week at taxpayer-expense because the White House declared it an official trip.Obama Eating Ice Cream cone Dewitt Iowa 8-16-11

Because Obama wanted to hear from regular Americans, he's encased in an armored Darth Vader bus with heavily-tinted windows so no one can see him looking out at regular Americans.

And as the commander-in-chief meanders through the Heartland in this black vehicle, the entire road in both directions is cleared of regular Americans for the president's entourage and motorcade to pass by safely.

The bus is reported to cost about $1 million, which works out to about $333,000 per day for this foray among regular Americans.

On its second day out Tuesday Obama's bus made a couple of stops to chat with high school athletes and to acquire healthy presidential provisions -- one for ice cream cones (POTUS got vanilla) and another to load several bags of popcorn.

At his speaking engagements, Obama stressed the need to extend payroll tax cuts and to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges and other union-made infrastructure kinds of stuff. Also some free-trade agreements. This was a repetition of what he had said on the first day of his Grand Ground Tour.

On his 938th day in office President Obama also said he would soon have a completed jobs plan. Maybe early fall, something like that. And he complained, "We could do even more if Congress is willing to get in the game."

Tomorrow with all this heavy work in his rear-view mirror, the president is scheduled to join his family on Martha's Vineyard for a nine-day vacation.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

For unpredictable commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Jason Reed / Reuters (Obama's new armored bus, Obama's armored bus motorcade takes over another Iowa highway and Obama downs an ice cream cone in Dewitt, Iowa).

Americans downgrade Congress to historic low 13% job approval

Obama and biden Laugh Big

Finally, some good news for President Obama, who just scored his own record lowest job approval.

Congress got an even lower grade -- 13% job approval with a record 84% disapproval.

Or put another way, somehow 13% of Americans still approve of Congress.

That would seem to pretty much narrow down the approvers to members' families and staff.

Imagine how bad Congress' job approval would be if it hadn't left town for another month of vacation.

Speaking of which, Obama and Joe Biden are both out of town too. Joe is in Asia. No, seriously. What harm could he do over there?

The president is taking a bus across parts of Iowa and Minnesota and Illinois this week, not for political purposes, you understand, but to explain again how America needs more jobs and creating them is still his top priority.

Gallup reported earlier this week that the Democratic chief executive's job approval had fallen to 39%, its lowest level since he took office 14 trillion seconds ago. No, it only seems that long. Obama's really been living in the White House for 938 days and he still hasn't come up with his own debt reduction plan.

More than two-out-of-three Americans believe the country is on the wrong track for some reason.

This new Gallup Poll on Congress is the first rating since members spent so many rancorous weeks concocting that budget/deficit deal that so impressed the Standard & Poor's credit agency it dropped the federal government's rating to AA+ with a negative outlook.

The previous time Gallup measured Congress' job was early July when 18% of Americans approved. Gallup has only been rating Congress for 37 years. The average approval in that time was 34%. But that number has been dropping in recent years.

Republicans were kind of thinking that with Democrats having to defend 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for election next year, the GOP had a good chance of taking control of that body after having captured the House in last fall's historic midterm turnover.

But they might want to be careful counting their gavels too soon. Americans' disapproval of Congress is a broad-based bipartisan sentiment, meaning any incumbents in either chamber could be in trouble come Nov. 6, 2012.

Independents are the most critical of Congress now, with only 9% approving and 86% disapproving. Among Democrats it's 15-83. And among Republicans it's 17-81.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

For unpredictable commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Larry Downing / Reuters (Obama and Biden celebrate someone having a lower job approval than they do).

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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