Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Deficit to Go Down
A surge in tax revenue is cutting this year's budget deficit by as much as $90 billion — that according to the Congressional Budget Office (search). The CBO says daily tax revenue is now $1 billion higher than it was a year ago and that will likely bring last year's record deficit of $412 billion to about $325 billion this year.
What's more, according to Bloomberg News, the deficit could drop as low as $250 billion next year — which means President Bush could fulfill last year's promise to significantly cut the annual deficit by 2009, three years early. Just a few months ago, the government was projecting the deficit to rise.
New Poll Results
A new Pew Research poll — taken after last week's terrorist attacks in London — shows that President Bush's job approval ratings have risen, from 42 percent last month to 47 percent now. Meanwhile, in a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 58 percent of likely voters say that if President Bush nominates a qualified conservative to the Supreme Court (search), Senate Democrats should vote to confirm the nominee.
This follows a recent Gallup poll, in which a similar 58 percent said it is "very likely" that Senate Democrats would try to block a Bush nominee for inappropriate political reasons. Another 28 percent said it is "somewhat likely."
Most Stories Were Negative
A new survey of network TV news coverage shows that in the first 100 days of President Bush's second term, the solid majority of stories on ABC, NBC and CBS were negative. Specifically, stories about the president on ABC's nightly newscast were 78 percent negative, on CBS they were 71 percent negative, and on NBC they were 57 percent negative.
Overall, 78 percent of stories on President Bush's Social Security reforms were negative, as were 77 percent of stories on domestic policy, 71 percent on Iraq policy, and 58 percent on foreign policy.
President Like a ‘Mad’ Man?
New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton (search) says President Bush reminds her of Mad magazine's freckle-faced mascot, Alfred E. Neuman (search). In Colorado over the weekend, Clinton said, "I sometimes feel that … Neuman is in charge in Washington," insisting that, like Neuman, the president's attitude toward tough issues is "What, me worry?"
New York Republicans call that "insulting" and a "partisan jab." Meanwhile, the liberal journal The Nation is claiming credit for Clinton's comparison, noting that it "had the same thought" in 2000, when it ran a cover featuring Mr. Bush, then a presidential candidate, as Neuman.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report