President Obama’s political base is getting worried as pressure builds on him to abandon his “no negotiations” stance over the partial federal shutdown and looming debt-limit breach. The Pentagon decision to suspend death benefits for families of troops killed in Afghanistan is prompting outrage over the Obama administration’s handling of the partial shutdown. Republicans continue to pass legislation that would restore full funding for essential programs, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues his blockade and the president has promised vetoes of several mini-spending bills. Obama told reporters Tuesday that he would not allow emergency funding because he wanted to keep the “political heat” on Republicans. But Americans are unlikely to tolerate such gamesmanship where war widows are involved.
[“This is an on-purpose, in-your-face, middle finger…to military families.” – former Marine combat veteran, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., to Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File” | Watch Fox: Hunter is scheduled to appear in the noon ET hour today.]
A path takes shape – Despite more tough talk on Tuesday, the president also opened the door for a short-term increase in the debt limit to provide time for negotiations. While House Speaker John Boehner rebuffed Obama’s demand for what the speaker called “unconditional surrender,” a path around the current impasse is starting to take shape. A move earlier in the day by House Republicans to create a new committee to hash out budget disputes with Senate Democrats suggests that something like the 2011 “supercommittee” that resulted in current caps on spending, known as “sequestration.” But while Obama and Boehner were shadowboxing, Democrats were growing concerned, but for different reasons.
Ed Henry Wants to Know – “Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Tuesday became the first Senate Democrat to say the president should negotiate over the debt ceiling to get a broader budget deal. Was it an aberration, or is Arkansas’ Mark Pryor next?”
[“People may be talking about no negotiation. You’ve got to negotiate. That’s what we’re here to do.” – Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, to reporters Tuesday]
Left wants cliff dive NOW – While moderate Democrats are talking compromise, the president’s liberal base is calling for drastic measures. The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber lays out the liberal position: That Obama should reject the idea of a short-term increase in the debt limit as a gateway to further negotiations. The reason, echoed across the left side of the Internet and on liberal news outlets, is to speed the destruction of the GOP: “The sooner we have the final debt ceiling showdown, the fewer opportunities Boehner has to back himself further into a corner from which he may never emerge,” he wrote. Or, as WaPo’s Ruth Marcus put it: “Better to edge up to, or even leap off, the cliff of default disaster now than to be saddled with it forevermore.”
Senate to go ‘nuclear’ over debt – Liberal Democrats are pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take the unprecedented step of changing Senate rules and invoking the “nuclear option” that would end the 60-vote threshold for Senate legislation if Republicans refuse to allow a vote for a one-year increase in the federal borrowing limit, Politico reports. Liberal senators have already reportedly forced Reid to banish dealmaker Vice President Joe Biden from the process to prevent concessions. It’s not clear that there would be the 51 Democratic votes needed to blow up Senate procedure, especially given calls from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for negotiations, but it’s a sure sign that the left is in an uproar.
Ryan offers to spurn sequester for entitlement fix – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis, in a WSJ OpEd: “We could provide relief from the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act in exchange for structural reforms to entitlement programs.”
[Noonan: “[W]hat all this means is that Republicans, who hate big government, are fighting to keep it open, and Democrats, who love big government, are fighting to keep it closed. Strange.”]
FOREIGN AID UNDER SCRUTINY AMID SHUTDOWN – The White House denied reports that the administration plans to cut all military aid to Egypt following a coup that deposed the Islamist government that took power in a U.S.-backed revolution. “The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false,” said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, in a statement. But the WSJ reports that President Obama is set to suspend most financial assistance to Egypt, with an announcement expected as early as Friday.
BAIER TRACKS: OUTSIDE GAME…“People are obviously seeing how much traction Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., is getting from talking about Washington’s shutdown/debt ceiling standoff. On the eve of the shutdown Christie, in his trademark blunt style, said he’d lock Washington’s leaders into a room at the White House until they came up with an answer.
Anyone OUTSIDE Washington picks up some points in this heavily ANTI-Washington moment (for the record, there are many ANTI-Washington moments – this one just happens to be more intense). Here is another potential 2016 Republican hopeful breaking to the outside: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, R-Wis., in an OpEd in today’s Washington Post: ‘What Wisconsin can teach Washington.’
Walker has a compelling story and probably realizes, in this environment, he should be getting it out there.” – Bret Baier
PUMP IT UP: YELLEN TO GET FED NOD – WSJ: “President Barack Obama will nominate Janet Yellen to run the Federal Reserve, calling on the central bank’s second in command to become the world’s most powerful economic policy maker after months of sometimes bitter debate about Chairman Ben Bernanke’s successor… Yellen’s nomination would mean the Fed is unlikely to make any unusual lurches in its easy-money policies in the near term.”
“I voted against Vice Chairman Yellen’s original nomination to the Fed in 2010 because of her dovish views on monetary policy.”—Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talking to Washington Examiner
HOUSE HEARINGS HOUND OBAMACARE – Twin House hearings today on President Obama’s signature health law:
-The Oversight Committee on how the IRS will enforce health-insurance fines of $45 billion from individuals and $140 billion from employers over the next decade.
-The Small Business Committee considers how ObamaCare’s 30-hour a week definition of full-time employment affects small businesses.
[Watch Fox: Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif., head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, appears in the 9 a.m. ET hour]
Pro-lifers seek abortion coverage disclosure – Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., will unveil the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” requiring transparent disclosure of abortion coverage for each plan offered on an ObamaCare exchange.
[WaPo looks at how early warnings did not prevent failure for ObamaCare’s online portal.]
BENGHAZI SUSPECT BOLTED? – NYT: “The Libyan government in recent weeks tacitly approved two American commando operations in its country, according to senior American officials, one to capture a senior militant from Al Qaeda and another to seize a militia leader suspected of carrying out the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi… While American officials expected that the Libyan government would claim that it had known nothing about the operation, news of the raid has raised concerns that the suspect in the Benghazi attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has now been tipped off that the United States has the ability to conduct an operation in Libya.”
‘Imperfect intelligence’ scuttled Somalia raid – American officials told the NYT that weekend mission to capture Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, accused of plotting Kenyan terror attacks, “quickly became even more difficult when Navy SEALs discovered many more civilians than they had expected, making for the kind of ‘imperfect intelligence’ that ended up scuttling the mission.” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., slammed the Pentagon’s failure to capture Abdulkadir during a Tuesday Senate hearing saying, “The fact is that it was an intelligence failure there, otherwise the mission would have been completed.”
OBAMA COURTS KRAUTHAMMER – Breitbart: President Obama reportedly held an off-the-record White House meeting Tuesday with Charles Krauthammer and other conservative journalists, including Washington Examiner’s Byron York, WSJ’s Paul Gigot, National Review Online’s Robert Costa and columnist Kathleen Parker.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…John Stossel discusses the lessons from fiscal drama in Washington for Fox News Opinion in Shutdown Theater: “If the public starts noticing that life goes on as usual without all 3.4 million federal workers, we might get dangerous ideas, like doing without so much government. Politicians don’t want that.”
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POLL CHECK – Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.8 percent//Disapprove – 49.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27 percent//Wrong Track – 63.6 percent
OFF TO THE RACES – Christie leans toward 2016 bid: “I can walk and chew gum at the same time.” – In a debate with his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie faced accusations that he was more focused on national politics than the Garden State and would skip out on Trenton if he wins a second term in November. Christie, who holds a wide lead in state polls, didn’t do anything to quell speculation that he was preparing a presidential run. “I am not going to declare tonight … that I am or I’m not running for president,” Christie said, later adding, “I won’t make those decisions until I have to.”
More GreenTech fallout for McAulife – Daily Caller: “New emails reveal that [Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Terry McAuliffe pressured Homeland Security officials to approve visas for foreigners investing in his electric car company [GreenTech], using friends within the department to urge the head of Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to hasten the process.”
Shutdown air wars intensify in Arkansas – Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., hit back at Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in a new ad over the partial government shutdown. In the ad Pryor slams Cotton for, “raising big bucks from Texas fat-cats” after a report surfaced Cotton missed two “non-controversial” votes days before the shutdown. The conservative Club for Growth launched an ad Tuesday criticizing Pryor for not supporting delays for ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
Obama cousin to challenge Roberts – Kansas City Star: Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will face a primary challenge from Tea Party activist Milton Wolf. Wolf, a radiologist and distant cousin of President Obama, told supporters Tuesday, “no one should be in the Congress for four decades.”
YOU TOO CAN BE HOMELESS… FOR JUST $2,000
A Seattle entrepreneur is offering well-heeled adventurers the chance to experience life on America’s original skid row. Mike Momany is offering clients willing to pay $2,000 the chance to live undercover as a homeless person for three days. Momany’s site calls it a course in “applied homelessness,” adding, “You will see the seedier side of Seattle in a new light and have an experience that you will never forget. Embrace the Experience!” From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “… [Momany] will first transform a customer’s ‘look and persona into an anonymous homeless person.’ Then he’ll take his customer to ‘favored homeless spots.’’’
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“[President Obama] can’t afford to be remembered as the first president who defaulted… he pointed to an exit ramp for [House Speaker John Boehner]. He basically says, ‘Well, I said I won’t negotiate while the debt ceiling is hanging over us, so you give me a three-week extension.’” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News