Today's Power Play

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Early Intel - Washington is Giving Voters the Business

A battle over business is brewing in Washington.

As predicted, Democrats have fallen out over the issue of how to deal with a raft of looming tax increases that will take effect at the end of the year if Congress doesn't step in.

But knowing that the only measure that could pass before the elections would be to extend the current tax rates for everyone, Democratic leaders are going to put off the decision until after Nov. 2. Once voters aren't watching so closely, it will presumably be easier for the president to convince the members of his party that a tax increase would be prudent.

Economists disagree about whether to extend all, some or none of the Bush tax cuts set to expire three months hence. But they almost all agree that a decision must be made now.

The longer Congress waits to act, the more capital remains on the sidelines and the graver the possibility of a double dip recession. The looming tax hikes on income, inheritance and payroll are all of concern to employers.

A Bloomberg survey of American investors out this week found that 77 percent thought Obama was "anti-business," steady from January. And 70 percent told the financial wire service that they were holding back capital because of concerns about a pending tax increases.

FOX News battleground polls consistently show that voters believe the president's policies are hurting their states' economies. The decision to punt on the tax hikes so hated by businesses will surely not help the president and his party on those measurements.

The tool that Democrats have to combat this is a bill that has the government borrow money to lend to community banks in hopes that they will lend to small businesses. There are also some small, targeted tax breaks for small businesses in the plan.

You get the sense of how much Democrats have riding on this measure from a fawning Politico piece on the measure that calls it "ambitious" and said it gave Obama a "much needed (sic) victory in trying to boost the slow recovery" and calls Republican opposition to the deficit-funded bill "surprisingly partisan."

If you ever wonder why politicians talk so much about "small business," it's because it ranks second only to the military in Gallup polling on the institutions in which Americans have confidence. Sixty-six percent have "a great deal or a lot of confidence," compared to, say, the 11 percent who feel the same way about Congress.

President Obama will sign the bill into law on Monday and tout Democratic commitment to helping small businesses. Republicans will counter that the measure is small recompense for employers facing big tax hikes next year.

Power Play predicts that as more people become alarmed about the prospects of a post election tax hike, the Democratic message on their limited small business package will likely get drowned out.

Thanks to today's Power Play crew: Lee Ross, Nikoletta Gonji, Gretchen Gailey, Whitney Ksiazek and L.A. Holmes

The Day in Quotes

"We're not here to make Comedy Central look good. We do that all by ourselves"

-- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to FOX News colleague Megyn Kelly, on Steven Colbert's scheduled testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee.

"I can't prevent the vice president or president from wanting to come to Ohio."

-- Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH) to the Wall Street Journal, before quickly adding that the he would be "honored if they came to our district."

"[Republicans] don't know that the model for success in the 21st century is a vigorous private sector, an effective government, a partnership -- not these hysterical tirades against government,"

-- former President Bill Clinton in an interview with Bloomberg TV's Al Hunt.

"Everybody knows that behind the scenes that he's the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there."

-- Former New York Governor and CNN host Eliot Spitzer, on New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo.

"I saw the guy she was running against. He was just this side of plant life."

-- New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, quoted by the New York Observer, on Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell's foe, Democrat Chris Coons.

"We know you are taking it in the head a lot. We got your back, sir."

-- A Tea Party activist to House Minority Leader John Boehner, as quoted by National Review.

"We drank water so our minds could be as clear as possible."

-- Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) to the Chicago Tribune about a long, late dinner with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as the two tried to cut a deal on running for Chicago mayor next year.

"I feel grateful that Michelle -- so far at least -- has not run for any offices I have been running for. She would beat me thoroughly."

-- President Obama introducing his wife at the Clinton Global Initiative summit in New York.

"Neither party is much of a bargain these days for the American people... There is plenty of blame to go around."

-- Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) lamenting Congress' failure to act on a raft of looming tax hikes to FOX News colleague Neil Cavuto.

"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."

-- Liberal blogger Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars to Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod on a conference call with "netroots" activists.

Trail Riders - Carlyfornia on FOX; Castle Run Could Help O'Donnell; Krauthammer Reconsiders

Castle Write-In Could Help O'Donnell

Rep. Mike Castle is reportedly testing the waters for a possible write-in Senate candidacy with a poll in Delaware.

A top pollster tells Power Play that any survey will likely show Castle that he's competitive in a three-way race but that his entry might help Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell win.

The pollster, who recently completed a Delaware survey for another candidate, says most of Castle's votes would likely come from Democrat Chris Coons, leaving them to split 60 percent of the vote. If O'Donnell could hold on to 35 percent of the vote, it might be enough to win.

Biden to Florida for Delaware Pol

Vice President Biden heads to Florida today for a pre-scheduled fundraiser for the state Democratic Party at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood.

But Biden has added an event for the man that hopes to take his former seat in the Senate, Delaware's Chris Coons.

Fight Night - Blunt Up, Out of Debates

When trailing or tied in the polls, Missouri Republican Senate nominee Roy Blunt challenged Democratic nominee Robin Carnahan to six debates. But Blunt now leads in every poll taken. And mindful his frontrunner status, Blunt has dropped out of four of the debates and has agreed to only two: one on Oct. 14, hosted by Kansas City Public Television, and another on Oct. 15, hosted by the Missouri Press Association.

Poll Check - Pelosi Approval Sags... In California Half of Californians want Nancy Pelosi ousted at speaker of the House, according to a new survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Pelosi has high disapproval - 48 percent overall and 62 percent among independents.

That doesn't mean that Pelosi stands much chance of being defeated in her district, the tip of San Francisco. But it does help illustrate the troubles for Democrats running statewide in California, which is usually true blue.

Ad Watch - In the Tanker

Washington Republican Senate nominee Dino Rossi may have run afoul of a top local issue - the still dangling Air Force contract to build a fleet of new aerial refueling tankers that Boeing wants in a big, big way.

When asked whether the government should tilt the bidding process against Boeing's competitor, European maker Airbus, because the company is subsidized, Rossi said no. His campaign subsequently said that Rossi meant no findings on subsidies, including those relating to Boeing, should be a factor in the $30 billion contract.

Murray's team has swiftly put up an ad on Rossi's response. In a state with so many Boeing jobs and still smarting over the loss of the corporate headquarters, the ad is tough stuff.Tea Party Express in Alaska for Miller Oct. 4th

From FOX News colleague Dan Springer:

"The Tea Party Express is headed back to Alaska the first week of October to try to help Joe Miller get to the Senate. Amy Kremer, the Director of Grassroots and Coalitions, tells me a team will arrive around October 4th. They'll hold some news conferences and unveil campaign ads attacking Lisa Murkowski for her decision to run a write-in candidacy after losing in the Republican primary. She says she'll have a better handle (today) on how much money they'll be able to spend on the race and if any group members will stay there through Election Day."

Follow the Money - Colorado Gets Pricey In the past five weeks, outside groups have spent nearly $4 million on the Colorado Senate race according to an analysis by the Sunshine Foundation.

The contest between Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Republican challenger Ken Buck trails only the $4.12 million spent by outside groups in the Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak, which has been raging since May.

NRA Backs Top GOP House Target

The NRA is backing one of the GOPs top House targets, Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). Perriello is facing State Sen. Robert Hurt, a race heavily targeted by both national parties, but much coveted by Republicans.

The Southside Virginia district is a bird hunter's haven and a place where the NRA has long wielded serious electoral clout. Perriello, liberal on most issues, has sided with the firearms groups on most votes.

The move is sure to rankle the organization's Republican allies.

And Now, a Word From Charles

"Had I seen how weak would be the Democratic response, as we've seen today, I would say it probably isn't an error."

-- Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier," rethinking his opposition to House Republicans issuing a policy platform.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.