Gallup: Obama Leads Hillary By 15 Points in Hypothetical 2012 Matchup

A new Gallup poll finds that President Obama would beat Hillary Clinton by a 52 percent to 37 percent margin in a hypothetical 2012 matchup.

The idea of an Obama-Clinton rematch sometimes comes up in Washington conversations, but I’ve never taken it seriously. There’s no good reason why Clinton would burn bridges and launch an underdog bid to challenge Obama when if she waits four more years, she would be in much stronger position. With Vice President Biden too old to run for president after Obama, that leaves Clinton the most prominent administration official available in 2016. Assuming she continues to serve Obama without much controversy, she can help diminish her problems with his loyal supporters. She can leave the administration at some point to write a book and plan out a 2016 run. This pathway to the 2016 Democratic nomination could be viable whether or not Obama gets re-elected. I’m not saying this is what is going to happen, but only that it makes a lot more sense than her challenging Obama in 2012.

Expected Rahm Replacement Convinced Then-Senator Obama to Vote Against John Roberts

Pete Rouse, the senior White House advisor who the New York Times reports is poised to replace Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, was the person who convinced then-Senator Barack Obama to vote against confirming John Roberts as a Supreme Court Justice, arguing that it would hurt his future presidential ambitions.

In a 2007 article, the Washington Post descibed the relationship between Obama, the freshman Senator, and Rouse, an experience Hill staffer who had run the office of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. After Daschle lost his seat in 2004, Rouse went to work as chief of staff to Obama, where he crafted the Illinois senator’s strategy of cozying up to his colleagues in Washington while preserving his image as an outsider.

During his first year in office, Obama was confronted with the decision of whether or not to vote to confirm Roberts. He was inclined to do so because he respected Roberts’ intellegence, and didn’t want his own nominees blocked should he ever become president.

But, the Post recounted:

And then Rouse, his chief of staff, spoke up. This was no Harvard moot-court exercise, he said. If Obama voted for Roberts, Rouse told him, people would remind him of that every time the Supreme Court issued another conservative ruling, something that could cripple a future presidential run. Obama took it in. And when the roll was called, he voted no.

The article quotes Obama as saying of Rouse, “Pete’s very good at looking around the corners of decisions and playing out the implications of them…He’s been around long enough that he can recognize problems and pitfalls a lot quicker than others can.”

In Obama’s speech announcing his decision, he said that while, “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land,” he could not vote to confirm him because “fe has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.”

NYT: Pete Rouse to Replace Emanuel as Chief of Staff

The New York Times confirms that Rahm Emanuel will be stepping down as chief of staff, and reports:

Mr. Obama plans to name Pete Rouse, a senior adviser, to replace Mr. Emanuel, two officials confirmed. Mr. Rouse has been at the president’s side since Mr. Obama arrived in Washington nearly six years ago as a senator, serving as his chief of staff.

Mr. Rouse will not be an interim appointment, but rather will formally take over Mr. Emanuel’s title. While Mr. Rouse has expressed reservations about holding the chief of staff job for an extended period, he has agreed to do the job — for now.

Mr. Rouse has a low profile outside the White House and across Washington, but he is extraordinarily close to the president and is respected inside the West Wing and on Capitol Hill, where he was known as the “101st Senator” in his role as an adviser to Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, then the Democratic leader.

When Mr. Daschle was defeated in 2004, Mr. Obama hired Mr. Rouse to run his Senate office, a decision that was central to Mr. Obama’s abrupt political rise.

AP: Rahm to Resign on Friday

President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will resign from his post tomorrow and begin campaigning to be mayor of Chicago on Monday, the Associated Press reprorts, citing two people close to Emanuel.

The move would be no surprise, and should set off a wave of speculation about his potential replacement. The question is whether Obama will choose somebody further to the left, to assauge the concerns of liberals who perceive the Obama administration as too moderate, in no small part due to the influence of Emanuel.

Senate to Obama: No Recess Appointments for You

Senate Republicans have cut a deal with Democrats that will prevent President Obama from making recess apointments while Congress adjourns to go home and campaign, the Hill reports. Under the terms of the deal, the Senate will hold pro forma sessions twice a week, because Obama can only make recess appointments if the Senate is in recess for more than three days.

WSJ: McDonald’s May Have to Drop 30,000 Health Plans Due to ObamaCare

McDonald’s has put federal officials on notice that it may have to drop health insurance for 30,000 employees unless it gets an exemption from a new requirement in the national health care law, the Wall Street Journal reports.

ObamaCare forces insurers to pay out at least 80 percent to 85 percent of the revenue they receive in premiums on paying out claims, a percentage known as the medical loss ratio. The problem is, that’s especially difficult to manage in so-called mini-med plans which offer scaled down benefits at a lower price, but have higher administrative costs due to a lot of worker turnover.

If the rule doesn’t get altered, its ramifications could be greater than McDonald’s — as there are 1.4 million people with mini-med plans.

The McDonald’s move is just the latest in a series of revelations that undermine the promises Democrats made when they were selling ObamaCare.

In May, burger chain White Castle announced that a separate provision in the law could cut its earnings in half, causing it to curtail expansion plans and slow hiring.

In June, an administration document revealed that more than half of those with coverage from their employers may have to change plans as a result of ObamaCare.

Earlier this month, insurers announced that they would have to raise premiums, partially as a result of new rules that force them to offer certain benefits.

And just this week, Harvard Pilgrim announced that due to new requirements and reimbursement rates under ObamaCare, they’d have to discontinue Medicare Advantage plans that currently serve 22,000 customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

None of this is surprising and in fact was entirely predictable. It would be imposible to make sweeping changes to the health care system without disrupting current coverage. Even my prefered route, which would equalize the tax treatment of all health insurance, would likely mean that a lot of people would have to change plans. Ultimately, I think they’d end up better off, because we’d have a more competitive market, and they’d be able to choose a policy that suits their budget and medical needs, and they’d be able to take it with them from job to job. But the problem is that Obama and his allies spent more than a year explicitly promising that nobody would have to lose their current coverage from the health care legislation.

For instance, in June 2009, he told the American Medical Association:

(N)o matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.

That quote — and many more like it — will continue to haunt Obama and Democrats in the months and years to come.

UPDATE: McDonald’s is now disputing the report.

CNN Poll: Murkowski Closes Gap in Alaska

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has essentially pulled even with Republican nominee Joe Miller in the three-way Alaska Senate race, according to a new CNN/Time poll.

 Though other polls have shown Miller with a comfortable lead, this poll finds Miller with 38 percent support, compared with 36 percent for Murkowski and 22 percent for Democrat Scott McAdams.

CNN’s poling director suggests that Democrats are starting to decide to strategically vote for Murkowski to prevent Miller from being elected.

That said, Murkowski is running as a write-in candidate, which makes the race incredibly difficult to poll. One would have to think that Murkowski’s name not being on the ballot will cost her a lot of votes, thus I’d still be inclined to give Miller the edge unless polls start to show Murkowski with a big lead.

House to Adjourn Without Vote on Bush Tax Cuts

By a narrow 210 to 209 margin, the House on Wednesday voted to adjourn for the fall campaign season without voting on whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts. Thirty nine Democrats joined Republicans in opposition to the move. The closeness of the vote is further evidence of Democrats in tough races trying to distance themselves from Nancy Pelosi as the election nears.

On Tuesday, 47 Democrats sent a letter to Pelosi urging the extension of the Bush tax cuts on investments. While this hasn’t received as much attention as other aspects of the tax issue, in reality raising capital gains taxes could prove devestating to markets and the dividend tax hikes would hurt seniors who depend on such income.

As it turns out, during one of the Democratic presidential debates, Barack Obama was asked how he could support hiking capital gains taxes when in each case that’s been tried, it’s reduced government revenue. Obama responded that he still supports raising taxes on successful investing for “purposes of fairness.”

Video below:

MoveOn Issues “Red Alert” for Russ Feingold

With progressive darling Sen. Russ Feingold now in serious danger of losing his Wisconsin Senate seat, liberal activist group MoveOn.org is snapping into action. Moments ago, it sent the following email to supporters:

Dear MoveOn member,

Red alert: The latest polls show that Senator Russ Feingold could lose in November. They all have him down by at least 6 points against a tea party Republican who actually thinks climate change is caused by sunspots.
There’s no better, more principled Democrat in Washington than Sen. Feingold: The only senator to vote against the Patriot Act. A steadfast opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And a passionate crusader against corporate influence in politics.

But since those very corporate interests have already spent $650,000 trying to defeat him, he’s now facing the fight of his political life.  Because keeping Sen. Feingold’s voice in the Senate is so important, this race has become our top national priority.

Sen. Feingold’s campaign is up against a critical fundraising deadline that expires tomorrow. Right now he urgently needs the resources to expand his grassroots campaign, reach out to more voters and get his message out in Wisconsin. We’re aiming to raise $300,000 for Sen. Feingold’s campaign before the deadline. Can you chip in $5?

In what was once considered a safe seat for Democrats, Feingold now trails Republican Ron Johnson by an average of roughly 8 points, according to a compilation of polls by Real Clear Politics.

Sestak Fabricates Israel Record

Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, is running an ad that falsely claims, “According to AIPAC, Joe Sestak has a 100% pro-Israel voting record,” Ben Smith reports.

As it turns out, AIPAC doesn’t even offer endorsements or rate candidates. And in reality, Sestak has been a frequent critic of Israel who signed a letter condemning Israel for “collective punishment” of Palestinians in Gaza because of their blockade aimed at preventing Hamas from smuggling weapons. The letter was circulated by the George Soros-funded anti-Israel group, J Street. Sestak also refused to sign onto an AIPAC-circulated letter criticizing the Obama administration for its negative stance toward Israel.

Regardless of your views on these issues, Sestak is clearly being dishonest about his record and shifting based on the political wind. In February, when he was trying to run to the left of Arlen Specter, Sestak defended signing the J Street letter. At the time, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported:

Sestak acknowledged that signing on to the letter was politically risky, and that it could be used “against me.” But he said that it was more important to him to stand up for his convictions.

Now he’s taking out an ad — ironically, running it in the same newspaper — embracing AIPAC with false claims about a non-existent 100% voting record.