CNN's GUT CHECK | for November 27, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: LAWMAKERS SAY MEETING WITH RICE LEFT THEM WITH MORE QUESTIONS… Republican lawmakers said Tuesday their meeting with Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and the acting CIA director left them with more unanswered questions about her remarks following the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. – Ted Barrett, Eric Fiegel and Dan Lothian
FIRST ON CNN: BROADWELL GRAPPLES WITH HOW TO LIVE 'NORMAL LIFE' IN AFTERMATH OF AFFAIR… In the aftermath of the affair that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, his biographer and paramour Paula Broadwell has remained publicly silent, turning instead to family and friends as she tries to assess just how much news of the affair might impact her future. “It's been hard for her family and her to see the picture that's being painted of her," says Broadwell's brother, Steve Kranz, a DC-based attorney. "Her real focus is her family and her husband and her boys and trying to restore the trust she had with her husband and trying to protect her children from the publicity.” – Suzanne Kelly
Prior to the passage of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 – a part of the Bush tax cuts – what was the federal income tax rate for the highest earners?
It was only a month ago when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was forced to defend himself from fellow Republicans for heaping praise on President Barack Obama for his response to Hurricane Sandy.
Politically, the storm couldn’t have come at a worse time for Mitt Romney as it allowed Obama to stand alone in the spotlight several days before the election. For some Romney supporters, Christie’s glowing praise of Obama felt like a political dagger that they believed helped cripple the GOP presidential nominee at a critical time in the campaign.
While Christie’s public embrace of Obama was not helpful to Romney, it by no means was the reason why the president won a second term. And as New Jersey looks at how to rebuild after the storm and the GOP looks beyond Romney to 2016, it is Christie who is looking at a well-paved path to re-election next year in a Democratic state.
A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows that 72% of New Jersey voters approve of how Christie is handling his job, while 95% said the governor did an excellent or good job in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. To put that in perspective, Obama easily carried New Jersey, as he defeated Romney by a 58% to 41% margin in the 2012 election.
What is equally impressive is that Christie did well with every demographic group. When asked if they approved of how he is handling his job: 95% Republicans, 52% Democrats, 77% independents, 75% men, 76% whites, 70% women, 55% blacks and 66% Hispanics, answered yes.
The last three demographic groups are particularly interesting given that Republicans have had problems wooing each of them, particularly in this past election. The CNN Exit Poll shows that Obama won the women vote by 10 points, the black vote by 87 points and the Hispanic vote by 44 points.
It is too early to really start talking about 2016, as Christie must first focus on winning a second term in 2013. But it would be foolish to think that the New Jersey governor is not seriously considering a White House bid. After all, he was urged to make a run in this past election by some deep pocketed Republicans, but he realized it wasn’t his time.
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Leading CNNPolitics: CNN Poll: Americans rate W.H. response to Benghazi attack and Petraeus resignation
Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it has handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a new national survey. But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, a majority of the public doesn't believe the Obama administration intentionally tried to mislead Americans on the September attack that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. And the survey also indicates a plurality have a positive opinion of Petraeus and are divided on whether he should have resigned as CIA director after acknowledging an extra-marital affair.
Leading Drudge: Ginsburg Wants All-Female Court
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hopes to see an all-female Supreme Court one day. Ginsburg made the comment during a 10th Circuit Bench & Bar Conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder, according to CNS News.
Leading HuffPo: The Sound Of Silence
For the past two years, U.S. workers have enjoyed a 2 percentage-point increase in take-home pay thanks to a payroll tax reduction trumpeted by lawmakers as an effective lift for a sagging economy. Come Dec. 31, that cut will expire - and policymakers don't seem too upset about it. In a victory for the Obama administration during the lame duck session of 2010, Congress reduced the payroll tax rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, giving the average U.S. household an additional $1,000 per year. Democrats demanded an additional extension at the end of 2011, and while Republicans initially balked, the political repercussions of hiking taxes on struggling families proved too much to bear. – Arthur Delaney and Sam Stein
Leading Politico: The other fiscal fight
President Barack Obama made a demand of House Speaker John Boehner near the end of their first White House meeting on the fiscal cliff: Raise the debt limit before year’s end. Boehner responded: “There is a price for everything.” – Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman
Leading The New York Times: Efforts to Curb Social Spending Face Resistance
President Obama’s re-election and Democratic gains in Congress were supposed to make it easier for the party to strike a deal with Republicans to resolve the year-end fiscal crisis by providing new leverage. But they could also make it harder as empowered Democrats, including some elected on liberal platforms, resist significant changes in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. – Robert Pear
The political bites of the day
– Republican senators continue to question Rice over Benghazi –
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: “Bottom line, I'm more disturbed now than I was before the 16th September explanation about how four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, by Ambassador Rice. I think it does not do justice to the reality at the time and in hindsight, clearly was completely wrong. But here's the key: In real time, it was a statement disconnected from reality.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “It was clear that the information that she gave the American people was incorrect when she said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video. There was compelling evidence at the time that was certainly not the case, including statements by Libyans as well as other Americans who are fully aware that people don't bring mortars and rocket propelled grenades to a spontaneous demonstration.”
– Rice responds after meeting with McCain, others –
SUSAN RICE, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, IN A PRESS RELEASE AFTER THE EVENT: “In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While, we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.”
– Focus on Rice is misplaced, says Carney –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “There are no unanswered questions about Ambassador Rice’s appearance on Sunday shows and the talking points that she used for those appearances that were provided by the intelligence community. Those questions have been answered. The questions that remain to be answered, and that the president insists are answered have to do with what happened in Benghazi; who was responsible for the deaths of four Americans including our ambassador, and what steps we need to take to ensure that something like that does not happen again. These are distinct issues. As the president made clear, Ambassador Rice has no responsibility for collecting, analyzing and providing intelligence. Nor does she have responsibility as the United States ambassador to the United Nations for diplomatic security around the globe. The focus on, some might say obsession on, comments made on Sunday shows seems to me, and to many, to be misplaced.”
– Rand Paul warns of GOP becoming dinosaur –
REPUBLICAN SEN. RAND PAUL IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “I think my party, the Republican Party, is shrinking. We're in danger of becoming a dinosaur. We're not competitive on the West Coast, we're not competitive in New England. … We need a new type of Republican (Party), I think, one that involves some of the ideas of libertarian leaning Republicans and people who agree in a less aggressive foreign policy.”
– Economic growth increases revenue, makes tax hikes unnecessary –
REPUBLICAN SEN. MIKE LEE OF UTAH IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “I don't think Republicans have caved on anything related to taxes. We do have to remember that it is possible to bring in more revenue without raising taxes. Any time you stimulate economic growth, that's going to bring in more revenue. I want more revenue because I want more economic growth. That's the best way to bring in more revenue to fund government programs.”
– Senate leaders push impetuous on competing party –
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL IN SENATE FLOOR SPEECH: “My message is pretty simple: A solution is possible. Republicans have been reasonable and the president needs to lead. He’s the only one who can get us to a solution. If that’s what he wants, we’ll succeed.”
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID IN SENATE FLOOR SPEECH: “Several Republican lawmakers have said revenues should be on the table during fiscal cliff negotiations. How common sense is that? It is absolutely so clear to everyone except Grover Norquist. It is time now for those Republicans to turn this happy talk into action. President Obama and Senate Democrats ran on a promise to end the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy. President Obama didn’t hide that. The last year of his campaign every place he went, that’s what he talked about. Americans, when they voted, raised their voices and supported our pledge. Congress must act in accordance with the will of the American people.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Jim Acosta (@jimacostacnn)
New CNN/ORC poll: Did Obama Administration try to intentionally mislead public on Benghazi attack? Nov 16-18 – Yes 40% No 54%
Perry Bacon Jr. (@perrybaconjr)
On Susan Rice, Carney says Sunday shows "have exalted status in Washington" but have limited public policy role.
Sam Stein (@samsteinhp)
Exclusive. Jon Huntsman says focus on Benghazi and Rice's talking points is overblown http://huff.to/SodpPz
Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)
Nude protesters rally against budget cuts in front of Boehner's office in Longworth. US Capitol Police say there are 3 arrests.
Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile)
The biggest threat to Marco Rubio's presidential ambitions? Mentor and friend Jeb Bush http://zite.to/TfL7E7
Damian Paletta (@damianpaletta)
Change in WH strategy on #fiscalcliff is stark. Obama meets w/ small biz execs today. Geithner, others meet more execs, as does Obama Wed.
Jill Lawrence (@JillDLawrence)
Sounds like liberals - unarmed with pledge - are nevertheless trying to box in Obama on #fiscalcliff. http://wapo.st/UUNQEX
McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins)
Amazing. A Chinese website congratulates Km Jong Un for being named Sexiest Man Alive — by The Onion. http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/chinese-website-congratulates-kim-jong-un-on-being
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
When President George W. Bush signed the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 into law, the top marginal income tax rate became 35%.
This bill – which has come to be known as part of the “Bush tax cuts” – lowered the top rate from 38.6%. When Bush took over, however, the rate was at 39.1%, but the president lowered it in 2002 with the ratification of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.
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Congratulations to Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Matt gave an informed answer, stating that the rate went from 39.6% to 38.6% and is now at 35%.
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