Obama’s poll numbers inch up: President Barack Obama leaves Tuesday for a weeklong trip to Asia. After a quick stop in Washington state to view the aftermath of the Oso landslide, he’ll continue on to Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Malaysia.
One focus of the trip will be to build support for a large Asia-Pacific trade group - the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
As he departs, Obama is seeing an ever-so-slight uptick - from 41.2% at the end of January to 42.4% - in domestic approval, according to Gallup, which conducts a daily tracking poll and noted a slight improvement for the President in the first quarter of 2014 after a year of decline.
Here's our morning roundup of the big stories Inside Politics on CNN:
The justice and her plans: She’s 81, has had two bouts with cancer and has been on the Supreme Court for 21 years, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made it clear she won’t be rushed off the bench.
It’s no secret that a lot of Democrats would like to see her step down.
There’s certainly no guarantee a Democrat will win the White House in 2016. And more immediately, there’s no guarantee that Democrats will keep their majority in the Senate in 2014. Both elections could complicate Democrats’ hope to replace Ginsburg with an equally liberal justice. FULL POST
Obama to honor LBJ’s civil rights legacy: President Barack Obama on Thursday will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. A lot of people have compared Obama with Lyndon B. Johnson recently. The LBJ people want to rescue his legacy from Vietnam. In a piece in the National Journal, George Condon argues Obama staffers don’t want their guy’s star put up next to the coarse-mouthed Texan. But you can’t argue that Johnson didn’t get a lot done in his first few years in office. Civil rights legislation, the Great Society programs and Medicare and Medicaid - these are legacy items with a more lasting imprint on American culture and society than most presidents can claim.
David Jackson puts it well in USA Today: “There was a time - a long time - when Democratic presidential candidates would not even utter the name Lyndon Baines Johnson. This week, the three Democrats elected president since Johnson traveled to Texas to honor the memory of LBJ - a president once reviled for the Vietnam War, now revered for a domestic record that includes landmark civil rights laws.”
Jackson’s piece points out that when Bill Clinton visited the LBJ library during a 1992 campaign stop, he didn’t once utter the late president’s name.
Yes, it is news that Clinton is officially “thinking” about 2016 run: Hillary Clinton said two important things about a potential presidential run and then got a sweet question from a little girl that literally left her speechless.
Clinton seemed loose and at ease, even candid, during appearances Tuesday in California and Oregon.
And she acknowledged, when asked whether she’ll run in 2016, “I am thinking about it.”
Actually, this remark is a development.
What’s real and imagined about “equal pay day?
Women make less than men, even at the White House: Happy Equal Pay Day! Well, not happy, really. Today is the day in the year when American women’s pay from last year catches up to that of American men. Women, according to the data, make about 77 cents for every dollar a man does. We’re 23% into 2014.
Whether or not there is an actual pay gap and how large it is remain the subject of some debate. The census data that shows women make 77 cents for every dollar men make is calculated by adding all the wages of women and dividing the total by all the wages of men. But that doesn’t take into account a lot of factors, like women taking time off work to have children or choosing different career paths.
Professional fact checkers at Factcheck.org (“exaggeration”), Politifact (“Mostly False”) and The Washington Post (“one Pinocchio”) have all found problems with the claim. The American Association of University Women released a report that concluded the pay gap was closer to 7% than 23%.
For the past several elections, Democrats have adopted the equal pay issue and made the equality of paychecks a huge priority.
Jeb Bush’s “act of love” vs. President Obama as “deporter-in-chief”: The Republican Party base has recently shown no love for candidates who talk about the need for compassion in dealing with undocumented immigrants.
In 2012, for instance, Mitt Romney used the issue of immigration to distinguish himself from rivals like Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, who wanted to let the children of undocumented immigrants stay in the country.
So it was a bit jarring over the weekend to hear Jeb Bush say that coming to the country illegally shouldn’t really be viewed as a felony.
"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love; it's an act of commitment to your family," Bush told Fox News host Shannon Bream at town hall event at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center.
Winter over for Democrats? The U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7% in March, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning. The figure is just shy of expectations for 200,000 jobs to be created. The idea had been that the warming weather will help kick-start the job market, and Democrats hope that with it will come a sunnier outlook for them, too.
The cold and snow, punctuated by the Polar Vortex, had kept earlier 2014 reports below expectations.
The control that presidents have over the economy is generally overstated. But it’s a harsh truth of politics that they unfairly take the blame when things go bad and unfairly get credit when things go well. President Obama, with his low approval rating and with Democrats’ bleak prospects heading into the 2014 midterm elections this fall, will take any kind of credit he can get.
Pair the decent jobs numbers with the news this week that Obamacare - once thought to be on life support - reached (and even exceeded a tiny bit) it’s original goal of enrolling 7 million people in private insurance, and that makes a pretty good week for the President and his party.
Here's what we're watching Thursday Inside Politics:
Turns out money is the same thing as speech in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court.
SCOTUS campaign finance in a nutshell: After the Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC yesterday, you can't just give as much money as you want to any candidate. Those limits are still set at $5,200 every two years. But there's now no limit on how much total you can give to all candidates. The old limit was $123,000 every two years. As Jeffrey Toobin put it on CNN just after the decision, essentially, in the eyes of the court, corporations are people and money is speech.
John Roberts’ majority ruling: “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades - despite the profound offense such spectacles cause - it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”
Stephen Breyer’s dissent: The decision “creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign. Taken together with Citizens United v. FEC, today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
Our morning look Inside Politics:
7.1 million enrolled: President Obama on Tuesday crowed in the Rose Garden about meeting the health care law’s open enrollment goal for private insurance. And he had a message for Republicans who continue to oppose it.
Here’s the good, long, meaty quote from Obama’s speech:
“This law is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s working. It’s helping people from coast to coast, all of which makes the lengths to which critics have gone to scare people, or undermine the law, or try to repeal the law without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand. I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance? Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked. There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans, and in the coming years it will help millions more.”
It’s Monday, March 31. Obamacare D-Day.
If you have procrastinated over the past six months and haven’t tried to log on to get insurance before today, you might encounter some hiccups.
The healthcare.gov website had been functioning smoothly of late, but Monday morning, some users encountered a message that read, “The system isn’t available at the moment. We're currently performing maintenance. Please try again later.”
There’s not too much “later” left. CNN's Jim Acosta reported Monday the site was unavailable in the early morning hours when a scheduled maintenance ran too long. It appeared by 8:30 that the site was again functioning, but record traffic slowed the site down and a queuing system was in place so that some visitors had to wait to proceed to their state’s enrollment section.