Here’s what’s going on today:
1. Politico reports that with increasingly depressing economic news filling headlines in recent days, Joe Biden’s already-frantic budget talks have gained a renewed urgency. Both parties are quoting Wall Street to their respective purposes, making it increasingly difficult to see how a deal might emerge.
2. A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Americans are convinced the economy would spiral downward unless the debt ceiling is raised by August. Still, 37% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats oppose raising the debt ceiling—even if the parties somehow agree on which trillions of dollars of federal spending to cut.
3. Jon Huntsman—whose former employment by President Obama as Ambassador to China complicates his bid to replace him—aims to lead by example. Politico reports that Huntsman and President Obama have agreed to a “de facto non-aggression pact,” whereby Huntsman does not criticise his former boss by name and the president’s team declines to push opposition research on Huntsman to the press. Despairing of the divisive nature of modern American politics, Huntsman aims to be the “civility candidate” for this election cycle.
3. Citing the most recent Heartland Monitor poll, Joshua Green at the Atlantic says that while Washington is fixated on Medicare and Anthony Weiner, immigration has become “a central and divisive force in American politics, and could have major implications for the next election.” White respondents especially are increasingly concerned about the minority population boom. The Congressional Budget Office’s June report on immigration will only stoke the flames: it claims that the percentage of foreign-born people living in the United States in 2009 was the highest since 1920—just before the federal government imposed restrictionist immigration quotas targeted against southern and eastern Europeans.
4. Gallup reports that Democratic party affiliation increased in May by 1%, and Republican affiliation decreased by the same amount to 39%. This measure often corresponds to a president’s job approval rating, which increased dramatically in the wake of the May 2 Osama bin Laden raid. The 6-point difference in affiliation between the two parties is the largest since November 2009.
5. Just days before the current legislative session is set to end, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed to drastically limit state contributions to public employees’ pension funds—while not exempting New York City employees, as ex-Governor David Paterson’s pension plan did. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a statement supporting Cuomo’s plan, said he expected the legislation would save New York City $30 billion over the next 30 years. Employee contributions would rise from 3% to 6%, and the retirement age would be raised to 65.
6. In what the Daily Beast calls a “redefinition of conservatism,” a least five GOP senators are facing Tea Party-backed primary opposition. Orrin Hatch, despite his best right-ward efforts, might be the first to go.
7. Craig Miller, former CEO of the Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain, is mulling a challenge to Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. Miller, a former chairman of the National Restaurant Association, has some support from Florida Republicans unimpressed with the current slot of candidates. He faces some questions, however, about viability and his comparatively moderate position on immigration.
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