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Tags: Patty Murray

Dealing With the Budget Deal



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The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features a look at why the Washington area can never seem to cope with any amount of snow (or even rumors of snow!), another inspiring example of your tax dollars at work, and, of course, examining the budget deal announced last night:

Budget? Deal With It.

Great news for everyone who was tired of the recent Republican unity over Obamacare and fantastic momentum heading into the midterm elections: House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) worked out a budget deal with Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray (D., Tennis Shoes).

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion — about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.

The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion.

This is not what most of us would consider a “good” deal. The deficit reduction is pretty paltry. The “non-tax revenue” includes things like raising the $2.50 per-passenger per-flight “TSA fee” on flyers, which will sound a lot like a tax hike to a lot of folks. But there is a tiny bit of pension reform for federal workers:

These sections increase federal-employee contributions to their retirement programs by 1.3 percentage points. The proposal affects new employees hired after December 31, 2013 with less than five years of service.

And there’s a bit of what we would consider to be entitlement reform in the treatment of military pensions:

This provision modifies the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees by making the adjustments equal to inflation minus one percent. This change would be gradually 3 phased in, with no change for the current year, a 0.25 percent decrease in December 2014, and a 0.5 percent decrease in December 2015. This would not affect service members who retired because of disability or injury. Service members would never see a reduction in benefits from one year to the next.

This, or any other long-term deal, avoids a government shutdown for the next two years. And you have to figure Barack Obama and Harry Reid are itching to have another government shutdown, as it provided the Democrats their one most optimistic political moment, just before Obamacare the Destructor appeared on the horizon.

Above: Obamacare, in marshmallow form.

Here’s the political environment at the moment, according to Quinnipiac:

President Barack Obama’s job approval among American voters drops to a new low, a negative 38 – 57 percent, as the outlook for Democrats running for Congress and the U.S. Senate fades also, according to a national poll released today. He even gets a negative 41 – 49 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old and a lackluster 50 – 43 percent approval among Hispanic voters.

American voters say 41 – 38 percent that they would vote for a Republican over a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives, the first time this year the Democrats come up on the short end of this generic ballot. Independent voters back Republican candidates 41 – 28 percent. Voters also say 47 – 42 percent that they would like to see Republicans gain control of the U.S. Senate and the House. Independent voters go Republican 50 – 35 percent for each.

If Quinnipiac’s not to your liking, here’s the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this morning:

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that more Americans disapprove of the president’s job performance than ever before; half say they’re either disappointed or dissatisfied with his presidency and 54 percent believe he’s facing a long-term setback.

Perhaps more significantly, Obama has seen a drop in key presidential attributes.

Just 28 percent give the president high grades for being able to achieve his goals (down 16 points from January); only 37 percent give him high marks for being honest and straightforward (down 5 points from June); and 44 percent give him high marks for being able to handle a crisis (down another 5 points since June).

Only 34 percent believe the health law is a good idea (down 3 points from late October), while 50 percent say it’s a bad idea (the highest percentage on that measure since the NBC/WSJ poll began asking this question).

Also, by a 51 percent to 43 percent margin, respondents say they are bothered more by the Obama administration’s troubled health care website and some Americans losing their health plans than by the Republican Party’s continued efforts to undermine the law.

And asked which one or two issues have been most important in shaping their views about the president, the top response was the health care law (58 percent) — followed by the economy (25 percent), the government shutdown (23 percent) and the situations in Syria and Iran (16 percent).

The Ryan-Murray deal puts Obama and Reid in a box. Only a few events would be big enough to change this dynamic, and the most likely is another shutdown. But to get another government shutdown, they have to shoot down this deal — putting them on the wrong side of a happy-talk “bipartisan compromise” and making them the scapegoats for any failure to reach a deal. Sure, they could dig in and force another government shutdown, but they would get the blame for this one.

Mike Memoli nicknames it “The Bland Bargain.”

Tags: Paul Ryan , Patty Murray , Budget , Barack Obama , Polling

Patty Murray: I Can Talk Forever About GOP’s Obsession With Social Issues



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“Republicans made a very calculated decision to change the focus away from our economic recovery and focus instead on divisive social issues,” said Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The current top news items on the DSCC web page right now, as of 11:10 a.m. Eastern time:

Demand Republican Leaders Denounce Rush Limbaugh

Stop the Republican War on Women!

Demand that Republicans End the Planned Parenthood Witch Hunt

So . . . who’s focusing on divisive social issues? And if it’s so important that we focus on our economic recovery . . . why isn’t the DSCC doing that?

Tags: DSCC , Patty Murray

Patty Murray’s Embarrassing Fundraising Effort



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Have a Koch Response Letter and a Smile

Thank goodness the good folks at Koch are here to provide us with a lighter note to end the week. Philip Ellender, president of Government & Public Affairs at Koch Companies Public Sector, responds to a fundraising letter and phone call from an unexpected source:

“Dear Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

“For many months now, your colleagues in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership have engaged in a series of disparagements and ad hominem attacks about us, apparently as part of a concerted political and fundraising strategy. Just recently, Senator Reid wrote in a DSCC fundraising letter that Republicans are trying to “force through their extreme agenda faster than you can say ‘Koch Brothers.’

“So you can imagine my chagrin when I got a letter from you on June 17 asking us to make five-figure contributions to the DSCC. You followed that up with a voicemail* indicating that, if we contributed heavily enough, we would garner an invitation to join you and other Democratic leaders at a retreat in Kiawah Island this September.

“I’m hoping you can help me understand the intent of your request because it’s hard not to conclude that DSCC politics have become so cynical that you actually expect people whom you routinely denounce to give DSCC money.”

“Apparently, Satan was screening his calls,” suggests Moe Lane. It does not really require much in the way of elaboration, or anything else except a certain aesthetic appreciation for the way that its author (Philip Ellender) manages to call Senator Murray (to say nothing of her party) a vicious, stupid hypocrite without once actually using any of those words.  I have spent some time trying to learn how to be elegantly rude to people who richly deserve it, and let me tell you: Ellender has the right skill set.  Enjoy.”

ADDENDA: Jon Huntsman’s spokesman Tim Miller has an easy job, some days, noticing, “Actual line from Florida Democrat’s release on @JonHuntsman: ‘Huntsman supports radical Republican plan that would balance the budget.’”

How dare he!

Tags: Koch , Patty Murray

For Embattled Incumbents, Those Final Poll Numbers Are Often Painfully Accurate



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Let’s look back at last cycle, focusing on Senate incumbents who were washed out with the wave . . .

NC: Elizabeth Dole’s totals in the last few polls: 46, 45, 46, 43.

Elizabeth Dole’s final result: 44.2 percent.

OR: Gordon Smith’s totals in the last few polls: 40, 42, 42, 46.

Gordon Smith’s final result:  42.5 percent.

AK: Ted Stevens’s totals in the last few polls: 46, 45, 44. (I’m not counting a Research 2000 one, for obvious reasons.)

Ted Stevens’s final result:  46.5 percent.

Now let’s go back to 2006.

OH: Mike DeWine’s totals in the last few polls: 42, 44, 44, 42.

Mike DeWine’s final result: 43.3 percent.

PA: Rick Santorum’s totals in the last few polls: 39, 40, 43, 39.

Rick Santorum’s final result: 41 percent.

VA: George Allen’s totals in the last few polls: 49, 45, 44, 44.

George Allen’s final result: 49.3.

Here and there, you could find an incumbent finishing a little better than the polls suggested; Conrad Burns finished 3 percentage points higher than the RCP average; Jim Talent finished 1.2 percent higher.

This would appear to confirm a gut-level suspicion we have, that an incumbent in the mid-40s or lower swimming against a tide tends to finish right around that final poll level; the undecideds split between the challenger and third-party options.  

With that in mind:

CA: Barbara Boxer’s totals in the last few polls: 46, 43, 48, 46.

NV: Harry Reid’s totals in the last few polls: 47, 46, 46, 47.

CO: Michael Bennet’s totals in the past few polls: 46, 45, 45, 45.

WA: Patty Murray’s totals in the last few polls: 50, 49, 48, 49.

Of course, there’s still 13 days for these poll numbers to change . . .

Tags: Barbara Boxer , Harry Reid , Michael Bennet , Patty Murray

I Think They Fumbled Their Sample



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Partisan breakdown of the exit poll in Washington state in 2008: 36 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 39 percent Independent.

Partisan breakdown of the latest Elway Poll, showing Democrat Patty Murray 13 points ahead of Republican Dino Rossi: 39 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 35 Independent.

So . . . Democrats in Washington are more enthused than they were in 2008?

Apparently this is the Super Bowl XXIV Elway poll.

Tags: Dino Rossi , Patty Murray

‘Patty Murray Says She Works for Washington. But Which One?’



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In early September, Democrats were feeling pretty good about the reelection chances of Washington senator Patty Murray, and with pretty good reason. In the month’s first four polls, she led by 9, led by 9, led by 5 and led by 2.

Here are the results of the past four polls: Patty Murray by 1, Dino Rossi by 6, Rossi by 1, Rossi by 3. Rossi’s total in those past four polls: 47, 48, 48 and 49. Almost there.

And Dino Rossi raised $4.4 million last quarter.

Tags: Dino Rossi , Patty Murray

‘Patty Murray Is Helping the Wrong Washington.’



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Up in Washington state, the “Shadow“ Committee for Truth in Politics is running this ad hitting Patty Murray. It seems like a concise description of the frustration with Congress today.

It’s running for “1000 [gross rating] points,” I am told, which a GOP consultant described as roughly standard for a campaign message in the month of October. Another advertising guy described it to me as, “a 100 GRP buy means that everyone in the station’s audience has been exposed to the message an average of once (i.e., some once, some twice, some not at all). With a 1000 GRP buy, everyone in the audience is exposed to the message an average of 10 times. This is a heavier than average buy but not necessarily overwhelming.”

UPDATE: I knew this race would be close, but this result is interesting: “In an election for United States Senator from the state of Washington today, 08/20/10, Republican challenger Dino Rossi jumps from the primary slightly ahead of incumbent Democrat Patty Murray 52 percent to 45 percent, according to a new SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KING-5 TV News in Seattle.”

Tags: Dino Rossi , Patty Murray

Washington, Wyoming, Time to Go Vote!



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It’s primary day in Washington and Wyoming.

Washington has an odd system in which the two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election, regardless of party. Most often, this means the front-running Republican and front-running Democrat advance to the general election, but it is theoretically possible, though not likely, that enormous turnout for one major party could leave the other one out in the cold for the November ballot.

The statewide race that has garnered the most attention is the Senate race, where Democrat incumbent Patty Murray is almost certain to get one of the two November slots, and the other will probably go to Dino Rossi, two-time gubernatorial candidate (and, many Washington Republicans believe, the legitimate winner of the 2004 gubernatorial election). Rossi’s strongest rival is Clint Didier, farmer and former tight end for the Washington Redskins, who scored an endorsement from Sarah Palin.

Liz Mair has some excellent analysis from Washington state consultants.

There are also two interesting House primaries. In the state’s 3rd district, incumbent Democrat Brian Baird was a surprise retirement; the Democratic candidate is likely to be former state representative Denny Heck. On the GOP side, the hard-fought primary battle between David Castillo and state representative Jaime Lynn Herrera comes to an end today. This district ought to be competitive, although by no means easy for the GOP, either way in November.

In the 8th district, Republican incumbent Dave Reichert has been a top Democratic target since he was first elected to the House in 2004. He survived Obama carrying his district, 57 percent to 42 percent, so he ought to be okay this year; Suzan DelBene appears to be the Democrat most likely to take him on in November.

In Wyoming:

four major candidates are competing for the Republican nomination for governor: former U.S. attorney Matt Mead, State Auditor Rita Meyer, former legislator and director of the Department of Agriculture Ron Micheli and outgoing House Speaker Colin Simpson. Democratic voters will choose between two major candidates for governor: retired real estate saleswoman and former director of the Wyoming Democratic Party Leslie Petersen, and Pete Gosar, director of operations for the Wyoming Aeronautics Division and a small business owner.

Tags: Clint Didier , Dave Reichart , David Castillo , Dino Rossi , Jaime Herrera , Patty Murray

Dino Starts Washington Senate Bid With Bedrock of Support



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Obviously, this race is just getting started, but in Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi starts out just 4 percentage points behind incumbent Democrat Sen. Patty Murray. I wouldn’t bet the ranch on a Rossi win, but the ingredients of an upset appear to be assembling: The electorate is roughly split evenly on whether the state is moving in the right direction; only 33 percent describe themselves as certain to vote for Murray; the economy and health care are the top issues on the electorate’s mind.

Tags: Dino Rossi , Patty Murray

Will Dino Soar?



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In Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi will run for Senate against incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.

A reader calls it the “best news out of Washington State since they invented the Windows program.”

Rossi lost the 2004 Washington governor’s race to Democrat Christine Gregoire by 133 votes, the closest margin for a governor’s race in U.S. history, in circumstances many Republicans suspected reeked of fraud. He lost a rematch in 2008 by six percentage points.

While Murray begins favored in a heavily Democratic state, Rossi seems well positioned to give her a much tougher race than the other, lesser-known Republicans already running.

UPDATE: It seems safe to say that Murray has never run as an incumbent in a political and economic environment like this. Washington’s unemployment rate the October before Patty Murray last faced voters, in 2004, was 5.4 percent.Washington unemployment when Patty Murray last faced voters before that, in 1998, was 4.4 percent. The time before that, in 1992, was 6.6 percent.Washington’s unemployment today: 9.2 percent; it was 9.9 percent in March.

Tags: Dino Rossi , Patty Murray

If Patty Murray Loses, Maybe She Can Work In One of Those Day-Care Centers



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Even if this poll is off a bit, it tells us that Patty Murray is probably more vulnerable this year than she has been in years:

SurveyUSA polled 850 Washington state residents, then narrowed it down to 517 who are likely to vote in November. They were asked who they would vote for in a matchup between Murray and any one of these six candidates: Dino Rossi, State Sen. Don Benton; former NFL player Clint Didier; businessman Chris Widener; businessman Paul Akers; or Dr. Art Coday.

Fifty-two percent say they would vote for Rossi over Murray while 42 percent said they would choose Murray. Seven percent were undecided.

However, both Dino Rossi and the Murray camp agree that these numbers don’t seem right. Rossi says the internal and public polling shows Murray has the advantage.

Even if this recent poll is an outlier, Rossi would presumably give Murray her toughest competition, and force the DSCC to use up funds there instead of in places like Nevada, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado…

Patty Murray, of course, is the senator who declared not long after 9/11, that Osama bin Laden has “been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. He’s made their lives better. We have not done that.”

Tags: Dino Rossi , Patty Murray

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