New York Times -- Senate Set to End Stalemate and Extend Jobless Aid

Many kudos to Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio for cutting through the hogwash about unemployment today. Susan points out that on Monday when President Obama dragged three unemployed Americans to the Rose Garden for a pity party aimed at casting Republicans as uncaring plutocrats, Senate Democrats could have been approving the $34 billion in deficit spending to keep the unemployed on the dole for two years.

The humiliating spectacle in the Rose Garden was strictly a stunt. Democrats could have passed the extended benefits anytime in the past two months if they would have agreed to pay for even some of the aid. And with the appointment of Carte Goodwin on Friday to replace Robert Byrd, they were even able to do it without paying for a nickel of it.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page today wonders why the president would call so much attention to a proposal that highlights the woeful economy and his penchant for deficit spending. The piece also examines the cost of extended benefits.

“A March 2010 economic report by Michael Feroli of J.P. Morgan Chase examined several studies and concluded that "lengthened availability of jobless benefits has raised the unemployment rate by 1.5% points."

A 2006 NBER study by Raj Chetty of UC Berkeley on a related subject begins, "It is well known that unemployment benefits raise unemployment durations." The current recession is bearing this out, as a record 6.7 million Americans have now been out of work for at least six months. That's 45.5% of the total jobless, close to the highest share ever recorded. The number was 23.4% in February 2009.”

Would that writer Carl Hulse had read Susan’s story before he wrote his own. He might not have been so quick to use the term “partisan stalemate” to describe what was really a partisan publicity stunt.

“Mr. Obama’s tough attack on Monday signaled the White House’s confidence that it has the upper hand, legislatively and politically. Recent public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans favor giving the long-term unemployed more financial help even if it adds to the deficit.

‘To govern is to choose, and this is a clear choice: You either support extending benefits for people who are out of work or you don’t,’ said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. ‘There are obvious political ramifications to that difference.’”


Financial Times -- Cameron to face BP Libya questions

As British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in Washington today, his country’s largest company seems to have mostly contained the oil well that in three months of spewing has caused one of the worst industrial accidents in American history.

As Examiner colleague Julie Mason points out, it is politically important for Cameron not to come off as a supplicant. BP’s race to seal the well in time may have given him some latitude in that regard.

Cameron also has some wiggle room when it comes to the other big BP issue – evidence that the company, in an effort to secure oil leases from the Quaddafi regime, pushed to have the Libyan terrorist who blew up a Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland released.

The Obama administration suggests that Cameron’s predecessor, Gordon Brown, did not check off the release with Obama. But it seems likely that Obama at least had some foreknowledge. And we also know that BP had ample access to the Obama administration at the time.

Obama evidently does not like the Brts very much, and Obama blames the faltering American economy, in part, on Cameron’s move toward fiscal austerity and away from steroidal stimulus. Also complicating things is that 1,000 British troops are headed out of the Afghan theater and support for Obama’s nation-building efforts are low in the U.K.

So the relationship is still special, but very complicated. The Libyan terrorist makes a handy flash point.

Cameron opposed the release at the time, and has reversed himself and agreed to meet with the New York and New Jersey Senate delegation, which believes BP was the culprit.

But as writer Edward Luce points out, Cameron has to draw the line at any BP conspiracy claims.

“ut he has also insisted that the decision was neither influenced by BP, which has lobbied for oil contracts in Libya, nor one that could have been taken by the British government under the UK’s system of devolution.

Mr al-Megrahi was convicted of a central role in blowing up the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, which claimed 270 lives, the majority American. Doctors gave the Libyan terrorist three months to live when he was released but he is still alive nine months later.”


Associated Press -- Karzai reaffirms 2014 date for Afghan-led security

On her visit to a summit on the future of Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not only sounded some gloominess about the progress of the war, but sat still as Afghan President blew off President Obama’s timeline.

Clinton herself then suggested that July 2011 will be start of a “new phase” and did nothing to contradict Karzai’s four-year timetable.

Liberals who expect the president to begin a withdrawal in 11 months are going to be pretty bummed out. Efforts to punish Karazai and set a timetable have both proven failures.

“I remain determined that our Afghan national security forces will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations throughout our country by 2014" — more than three years after President Barack Obama's date for the start of an American troop drawdown, Karzai said. "Our goal is to transfer the three organs for national security forces into trusted national institutes dedicated to fulfilling their constitutional duty of ensuring the integrity and security of our country."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance will never allow the Taliban to topple the government of Afghanistan. But he said that transition to Afghan-led security would be based on "conditions, not calendars."


Charleston Daily Mail -- Deal reached on special election

West Virginia Democrats relented and allowed Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to run for a sixth term in the House and the Senate seat formerly held by Robert Byrd.

She hasn’t announced, but it would seem churlish for her to have put everyone to so much trouble and then not mount a campaign.

The move sets up another Senate battle for the fall, as Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin is expected to announce his own Senate candidacy this morning. Manchin will be heavily favored in the race, which will feature an Aug. 28 primary and a special election to be held on the same day as the Nov. 2 general election.

Manchin is more socially conservative than Capito, but Capito can move to Manchin’s right on fiscal issues. Her big advantage will be the abysmal approval for President Obama in West Virginia. In order to get the quick cash Manchin will need, the governor can only go so far in bashing the leader of his party. Capito will struggle, though, to cast herself as a change agent in Washington after almost a decade in Congress.

One other point in Capito’s favor, Manchin hasn’t had a real election since the 2004 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Capito has faced tough races every two years. Manchin’s 2004 general election and 2008 reelections were low scrutiny cakewalks against weak opponents. It’s made his team a little rusty. Listen to the nonsensical statement from his top advisor, former chief of staff and new chairman of the state Democratic Party quoted by writer Ry Rivard:. If you’re accusing someone of politicizing an election, you may have lost your chops.

“Both House Speaker Rick Thompson and the chairman of the state Democratic Party, former Manchin chief of staff Larry Puccio, blamed ‘partisan’ House Republicans for the hold up.

‘This is a sad day for the people of West Virginia. It's disappointing that the process for electing Senator Byrd's successor has been politicized by House Republicans,’ Puccio said in a Monday morning statement. ‘They are doing the bidding of Republicans in Washington rather than the people of West Virginia. It's a shame.’”


Washington Post -- Republican immigration position likely to alienate Latinos, Obama officials say

It’s no wonder that House Democrats don’t trust the White House.

In a revealing piece, writer Michael Shear gets the administration to brag about its strategy for turning illegal immigration into the Hispanic version of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – a multi-generational guarantor of political obedience for an entire ethnic group.

It’s a lot of the transformational blah-blah that you expect to hear from Davids Plouffe and Axelrod.

But the takeaway is this – it’s bad for Democrats this year to use immigration as a wedge issue, but it will be helpful to Obama in 2012. Rather chilly thought if you’re a vulnerable Democrat.

Obama’s self absorption is getting to be a real turnoff within his party. And as Democrats become less convinced in the president’s transformativeness, the less likely they will be to go along with the Davids’ far-out plans.

Worst, though, is the admission from the White House that what the president is doing on immigration right now – suing Arizona, demonizing Republicans, refusing to do border security first – is not intended to produce a solution. How unworthy.

“As a result, although the president is unlikely to press for comprehensive immigration reform this year, he has urged his allies to keep up the pressure on Republican lawmakers.

‘Look: The Republicans, if you do the math, cannot be successful as a national party if they continue to alienate Latinos,’ said one Democratic strategist familiar with White House thinking on the issue.