Capital Briefs September 7, 2009

OBAMA LOSING HIS BASE: With the burgeoning deficit and the faltering health care scheme, it was no surprise to find President Obama’s approval rating falling so clearly. Veteran pollster Scott Rasmussen’s latest survey showed Obama’s approval dropped among voters nationwide to 45%, following several weeks at 49%. The most recent numbers of pollster John Zogby had Obama’s approval at 42%. But even more significant was Zogby’s report showing Obama’s support falling among his base. 74% of black voters, he found, back Obama — down ten points from the beginning of the summer. Among Hispanics, who voted for Obama by more than 2 to 1 in ’08, Zogby’s polling shows an even split (36% to 36%) in how they rate his performance in the White House. Independents rate Obama negatively, 50% to 37%, and elderly voters give him a similar negative rating, 51% to 42%. Analyzing Zogby’s figures, onetime Clinton political consultant Dick Morris concluded: “The longer [Obama] takes to resolve this political problem [healthcare reform], the more his ratings will continue to slip and his power to achieve any resolution will diminish.”

MORE DEMOCRATIC SLEAZE: As he votes on measures that include penalties and interest for late-filing taxpayers, it turns out House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D.-N.Y.) has a filing problem of his own. The New York Post reported recently that Rangel, whose personal finances are already under investigation by two House subcommittees, failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars of income and assets on the disclosure forms lawmakers are required to file. According to the Post, Rangel filed amended forms last month acknowledging that from 2002-06 he had omitted a number of sources of income — a Merrill Lynch Global account valued at between $250,000 and $500,000, tens of thousands of dollars in municipal bonds, and $30,000 to $100,000 in rent from a Harlem brownstone he sold in 2004. Rangel’s office issued a statement calling the many omissions “inadvertent.”

: After weeks of drawing crowds in various cities throughout the United States, the “Tea Party Express” will hold what is expected to be its largest party yet on the steps of the U.S. Capitol September 12. On April 15, “Tea Party” became part of the American political lexicon after rallies by tax protesters were held in major cities across the United States and drew record crowds (50,000 on the steps of the California state capitol in Sacramento, for example). Among the sponsors of what supporters predict will be the “mother of all Tea Parties” in Washington are FreedomWorks, the National Taxpayers Union, the American Conservative Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, Young Americans for Freedom, and the Club for Growth.  

DELAYED CAP AND TAX: Last Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) and Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) announced that the introduction of their long-awaited Senate version of the House-passed Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy tax bill, slated for September 8, will be delayed. Among the reasons cited for the delay: “Sen. Ted Kennedy’s passing,” and, incredibly, “Sen. Kerry’s August hip surgery.” This is the second time Boxer-Kerry have missed their self-imposed deadline to introduce their version of cap-and-tax, but Capitol Hill sources tell HUMAN EVENTS that it was not Sen. Kerry’s hip surgery but the White House that shut down Boxer and Kerry, because as the White House reportedly said, “‘There’s no way, after a long August with disastrous health care town halls, that we’re going to let Boxer introduce an energy tax.” So Rahm Emanuel effectively told Harry Reid to “cool it.” Moreover, HUMAN EVENTS hears that several Senate Democrats from coal-dependent states continue to say in private that they want nothing to do with climate-change legislation now or in the foreseeable future.  

IS STEVENS NEXT TO GO?: That’s what Supreme Court-watchers were wondering last week, as Justice John Paul Stevens hired only one clerk rather than the usual four for the Supreme Court term starting in October 2010. Court-watchers pointed out that Justice David Souter did not hire clerks this spring and that was a clue to his eventual decision to retire this year. Now 89 and a justice for 33 years, Stevens by next summer will have passed Oliver Wendell Holmes as the oldest justice on the high court (Holmes was 90), but will still be two years shy of William O. Douglas’s record as the longest serving justice (1939-75).