Paul Krugman on business competitiveness:
This may be smart politics. Arguably, Mr. Obama has enlisted an old cliché on behalf of a good cause, as a way to sell a much-needed increase in public investment to a public thoroughly indoctrinated in the view that government spending is a bad thing.
But let’s not kid ourselves: talking about "competitiveness" as a goal is fundamentally misleading. At best, it’s a misdiagnosis of our problems. At worst, it could lead to policies based on the false idea that what’s good for corporations is good for America.
President Obama faces a choice in his State of the Union message: Does he spend the next two years consolidating the gains he has made, or does he retreat?
My prediction: He will go for consolidation that conservatives will try to label as retreat, even as they attack him for not retreating fast enough.
Ask people whether Obama has delivered on his broad-brush promise of change, and 42 percent — the biggest share — say it's still too soon to tell, according to an AP-GfK poll. One-third say he's failed to deliver; one-quarter think he's kept his promise.
The public is divided, too, on whether Obama is attempting to change things at the right pace, according to the poll. About one-third think he's moving too fast, and almost equal shares think his pace is just right or too slow.
Where do we stand? "I think I'd use the word transitional," says Rutgers political scientist Ross Baker. "There's a sense of expectation on the part of the public. I think it's tinged with hopefulness."
The nation may have weathered its economic crisis, but the same cannot be said for many people.
Obama’s frustration could set the tone for the remainder of his term. For all the trials of war and terrorism, the economy has come to define his presidency. During the first half of his term, he used the tools of government to shape the nation’s economy more aggressively than any president in 75 years. As the national debt rises and Republicans assume more power on Capitol Hill, it won’t be easy finding ways to juice the economy that are exciting, effective and politically viable. Every day, in briefings, in trips around the country, in letters from the public, Obama is reminded of the many people who are still hurting. And he surely knows that if he cannot figure out in the next two years how to create jobs, he may lose his own.
Contrary to what many people are saying, when the national debt approaches the limit set by Congress, as it could by March, it will not mean that the federal government suddenly won't be able to pay its bills. In fact, the government has enough projected cash flow and other resources to pay its outside debt obligations on time and in full for much longer - at least several more months - than the administration has been letting on.
Shorter Pawlenty: "the good name of the US govt and its credit rating needs to take a back seat to my pandering to the tea party. It's important. I need them to be President. National interest? That can wait."
Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) says he hasn't yet decided whether to make another Senate run in 2012, but it sure sounds like he doesn't want Linda McMahon to.
In an interview with The Ballot Box, Simmons said much of his 2012 calculation hinges on what direction his party decides to move toward next year.
"Are we looking for a candidate who has actually won races? A person who's committed to public service?" asked Simmons. "Or are we still looking for a multi-millionaire?"
He didn't mind losing to Linda McMahon, did he? Yet another graduate of the John McCain School of Gracious Losers.
More on CT from Howard Dean:
With two of the most senior senators in the country retiring from Connecticut's delegation, and the elevation of Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy to the governor's office, the state's leadership is undergoing a rapid generational change. The likely results are that a new, relatively moderate group of Democrats will be running Connecticut for a very long time, and the Republican party, which had previously played a major co-equal role in running the state, will be squeezed out.
McCain said he would sit with Democratic New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and that he hoped the new arrangement would cut down on unnecessary interruptions that he said distracted from the speech.
But McConnell said the symbolism was overblown.
Being minority leader sucks, doesn't it, Senator? You don't really set the agenda, you just talk like you do.
Added: h/t to Davinci for pointing out John Heilmann's The West Wing, Season II, an excellent read.