Palin Poaches Mitt's Moment

Romney Launches Bid in the Midst of Palinpalooza

“I will insist that Washington learns to respect the Constitution, including the 10th Amendment. We will return responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of government programs – and that begins with a complete repeal of Obamacare.”

-- Advance excerpts of a speech to be given by Mitt Romney today in Stratham, N.H. announcing his presidential candidacy.

It’s not just the national press corps that’s getting tangled up in the nomadic movements of the Palin tribe through New England. It’s also Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, who makes his bid official at a chili cookoff at a farm in New Hampshire today.

Romney, as befits his personality and style, has long planned and choreographed the event for his campaign rollout. Palin, meanwhile, is just trucking up the seaboard eventually heading for the Granite State. As Romney tries to get another look, all eyes are on Palin’s bus as it flirts with the state’s southern border today.

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Is she doing mischief? Trying to help her own chances? Rolling without any plan? She’s sure not telling.

But if you look at the advance text of Romney’s remarks, he’s clearly looking to embrace some of the same Tea Party energy that fuels the Palin caravan. Romney will talk about the need to woo libertarian voters (not a bad move as Ron Paul staffs up in the state) and will preach a bit on states’ rights.

The biggest knock on Romney from the roguish wing of the GOP is that he’s an establishment wanna-be and technocrat who doesn’t really feel their kind of pistol-packing conservatism in his well-structured bones.

With Palin hovering around today, Romney is going to try to show that he’s got Goldwater fever too.

But the Romney plan is more about money.

National Journal reports that Romney has scheduled 33 fundraising events in 14 states and the District of Columbia. The goal is to show a massive bankroll at the end of the first quarter, maybe even one to rival the $60 million Obama insiders say the president will seek in the same period.

Dems Dabble with Debt

"I simply explained what our plan is, how it works, it's been it's been mis-described, by the president and many others, and so we simply described to him, what he is proposing so that he hears from us how our proposal works so in the future he won't mischaracterize it."

- Rep. Paul Ryan, to reporters after a White House meeting, saying he asked President Obama to stop “demagoguing” Republican proposals.

President Obama’s courtesy call/photo op with House Republicans at the White House on Wednesday was, according to a Power Play source who was there, “basically a total waste of everyone’s time.”

Republicans and the president talked past each other.

The GOP has already passed its debt reduction plan – the live wire that is Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for slashing spending and overhauling Medicare – and made its demand for what it expects in exchange for meeting Obama’s request that the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit be increased – a dollar in cuts in exchange for every dollar in new debt.

Obama and his Democratic colleagues have not so far offered anything in the way of specifics and the president continued in that vein Wednesday, deferring specific negotiations until next week when Vice President Biden returns from a European trip with his wife, Jill.

Republicans say Obama talked about the need to “win the future” and to “invest” in priorities. Republicans accused him of failing to lead and of irresponsibly vilifying them for trying to address a fiscal crisis which the president allows is looming.

It’s this kind of thing that upsets the GOP. In a magazine interview with the Democratic-leaning group for older Americans, AARP, Obama talked about “lopping off benefits under Medicare” to characterize entitlement plans offered by Republicans as compared to his own, more nuanced approach.

But unproductive meetings are often the easiest kind to have. When there’s no common ground, the meeting itself is the event. Everybody offers up their boilerplate, grabs a bottle of water and a cookie and heads home.

Today, though, Obama will face a tougher crowd when the members of his own party in the House come over to talk. Half of these folks voted against a plan to provide the “clean” debt limit increase initially sought by Obama. Many in the other half are convinced that the president will again trade away core issues as he did in his deals on extending current tax rates and funding the government.

There may also be uncomfortable questions about Obama’s war strategies in Afghanistan and Libya. Remember, minority House members, even of the same party as the president, are usually ignored. This is their chance to sing out about whatever has been bugging them.

Obama needs to convince the shrunken band of Democratic deficit hawks that he is serious about debt issues in order to set the stage for a future debt-ceiling vote, but he will have to listen to a lot of flummery in order to do that.

Economy Gets the Shakes

“However you try and spin this report, it is an ugly report, which will pose severe downside risks to people’s payroll estimates.”

-- Economist David Semmens of Standard Chartered Bank talking to the Financial Times about a May jobs report that showed private-sector hiring falling by 50 percent from April.

Signs continue to suggest that the growth rate for the second quarter of the year will be slower than the one before it, which was slower than the one before that.

Such a scenario would be politically disastrous for President Obama who is pushing hard on the notion of a slow but steady climb back to economic vitality for the nation. It’s not that the numbers themselves are bad but that they reveal what American voters already know: things are not improving.

There will be another jobs report today for weekly unemployment claims, but the number everyone is most interested in is the Department of Labor’s May jobs report due out on Friday. If it reflects the findings of private firm ADP which showed a collapse in private-sector job growth watch for already anxious retailers and manufactures to trim their sails again in preparation for more bad weather.

The grimmest news on Wednesday came from a 19-month low the Purchasing Managers Index, a combination of new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment that is considered one of the best metrics of the health of the manufacturing sector.

That came on the heels of Tuesday news that home prices have yet to hit bottom as vacant homes continue to pile up amid an ongoing riptide of foreclosures and tight credit markets.

The administration is struggling to look proactive on the subject, but lacks the political possibilities to do any of the things that their economics team would recommend. There is no chance of stimulus spending and the Federal Reserve is pulling back it’s own unprecedented cash dumps ahead of increasing scrutiny from Congress.

But Power Play has to wonder if this downturn isn’t taking the administration by surprise.

The president has chosen a controversial environmentalist and former California utility executive John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department, theoretically the agency tasked with helping facilitate American industrial growth.

Bryson, who is one of the leading figures in the movement to shift the American economy into carbon neutrality because of concerns about global warming, is the pick of a president looking to advance his environmental agenda by other means, not a guy desperate to do anything to turn the economy around.

Administration Takes Big Risk to Shield Planned Parenthood

“… Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice. Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers…”

-- Letter to Indiana health officials from Medicaid Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick refusing to approve a state plan that bars subsides for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

The Obama administration is threatening to strip $4 billion in federal matching funds from the state of Indiana over that state’s new ban on providing tax dollars for subsidized care at health providers that also perform abortions.

Democrats have engaged in considerable political risks so far to shield Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, from Republican efforts to deny the group federal funding. Democrats traded away substantial cuts during the March showdown over current government funding to prevent a Republican effort to take funding away from the organization.

But the decision to have Dr. Donald Berwick, the controversial Obama recess appointee charged with implementing the president’s health care law as the head of Medicaid, start a showdown over the issue is evidence of just how far Democrats are willing to go to defend the organization.

Planned Parenthood holds a special place for Democrats. Aside from providing the cheap abortions that many liberals believe help alleviate poverty, the group provides basic gynecological care for millions of women. Like maintaining federal funding for National Public Radio, keeping money flowing to Planned Parenthood is an expression of Democratic principle and priority. It’s like school choice programs for Republicans.

And if Indiana succeeds in its effort to cut off Planned Parenthood from Medicare – a health care welfare program for poor adults and middle-class children funded jointly by state and federal taxpayers – it could quickly spread to other pro-life states with grave consequences for the group.

While House Republicans were talking only about a direct subsidy provided to the group, this plan attacks a more important funding source: reimbursements for treating poor women.

The potential consequences for the group explain why the administration is willing to expose Berwick, a proponent of government rationing of health care, to further controversy at a time when the president’s health law is under constant assault.

Weird Weiner

REP. ANTHONY WEINER, D-N.Y.: We're concerned about saying anything definitively – you know pictures get manipulated, pictures get dropped into accounts, and so we've asked an Internet security firm and a law firm to take a hard look at this and try to come up with a conclusion about what happened and how we make sure it doesn't happen again.

BRET BAIER: People are sitting at home saying ‘Is there a picture out there of you in your drawers that you are worried about?’

WEINER: We've been sitting down for a brief moment and you're already asking if there are picture of me in my drawers, let me say this, that in…

BAIER: You invited us here

-- Exchange between Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and FOX News colleague Bret Baier regarding photo of a man’s turgid, underwear-covered crotch posted on the congressman’s Twitter account.

New York Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner’s plan to filibuster the media feeding frenzy surrounding a photo of a man’s crotch that briefly appeared on his Twitter account is not working.

Weiner got what would normally have been a dream day for the publicity-hungry rising star of Empire State politics roadblocked evening news coverage (except for NBC, which smacked down New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie for taking a state helicopter to his son’s little league game) and big names from all five major television outlets in his office for interviews.

But Weiner lacked cogent answers to the only two salient questions that could be ask of him: Is that your crotch and why haven’t you brought in police?

Weiner engaged in a bit of self-criticism in his series of interviews, evaluating his own effort to simply bull past the accusations and talk over the questions of a bewildered press corps. You could see a media savvy guy who had long lamented the way other pols handled scandals realizing that he was no better than most (and in fact, quite worse than many).

Weiner’s chief tormentor, Big Government’s Andrew Breitbart, is threatening today to drop a new bombshell in the case. He seems to be suggesting in his opaque, dramatic, Breitbart-y way, that he knows the identity of the Twitter user who found the picture lurking on Weiner’s feed. The hints are that perhaps the user, who appeared to be a conservative Twitter troller, may have actually been someone known to the congressman who was nursing a vendetta against him.

Breitbart promises details at 2 p.m. Eastern, so get ready for the next episode of “As the Weiner World Turns.”

And Now, A Word From Charles

“JONAH GOLDBERG: You have Anthony Weiner who is exactly that kind of Democrat, who has been that kind of guy all along, out there saying it can't confirm if it's him in the underwear. I have to sympathize. If you have that many pictures of you in your underwear maybe it's hard to figure out if it's you.

BRET BAIER: I used drawers.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Excellent choice of words. It had a British sophistication about it.”

-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”