Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Across a wide range of measures — employment growth, unemployment levels, bank lending, economic output, income growth, home prices and household expectations for financial well-being — the economy’s improvement since the recession’s end in June 2009 has been the worst, or one of the worst, since the government started tracking these trends after World War II.”
2. President Obama’s re-election prospects rest uncomfortably on the borderline between defeat and narrow victory, according to Gallup Poll editor-in-chief Frank Newport. The most recent Gallup survey finds the president trailing a “generic” GOP candidate by a margin of 44%-to-39%.
3. Mitt Romney maintains his wide lead in New Hampshire, according to the most recent WMUR Poll of GOP primary voters. Rep. Michele Bachmann now runs second. Mr. Romney’s campaign spent much of yesterday in a meaningless dialogue with the press corps over the meaning of three words: “things are worse.”
4. Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign has been on a roll throughout 2011. The question political professionals are asking is this: how long can his luck hold?
5. Former aides to President George W. Bush are firing warning shots at Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has, on occasion, been quite critical of his former political patron. Gov. Perry is mulling a campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
6. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination raised only $2 million in the last quarter and is roughly $1 million in debt. He presses on.
7. Rep. Michele Bachmann is tempering her views on gay rights as she seeks to broaden her appeal to a national electorate. She and her husband have been ardent opponents of “gay rights” for many years.
8. President Obama yesterday invited Congressional leaders to the White House on Thursday to close a deal on raising the debt ceiling and cutting the federal deficit. Mr. Obama rejected the idea of a short-term debt ceiling hike and implored GOP lawmakers to give a little and get a deal done.
9. Martin Wolf becomes the 827th erudite commentator to elucidate why the eurozone is in such deep trouble. “The biggest question in any debt crisis,” Mr. Wolf writes, “is whether a credible path back to solvency can be found. For Greece, this now seems very unlikely. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for Ireland and Portugal.”
10. The New York Times reports: “The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United States over the past 30 years has sputtered to a trickle, and research points to a surprising cause: unheralded changes in Mexico that have made staying home more attractive.”
11. Billions upon billions of dollars have been spent on the “War on Poverty.” The results have been catastrophic. Walter Mead reports: “There is more drug addiction and more social and family breakdown among this population than when the Great Society was launched. Incarceration rates have risen to levels that shock the world (though they make for safer streets); the inner city abortion rate has reached levels that must surely appall even the most resolute pro-choicers not on the Planned Parenthood payroll.”
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