TPM News

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday, nearly seven in ten Americans say the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since Obama took office.

That finding caps three months of diminishing confidence in where the nation is headed, a sharp downward trend that began back in mid January, shortly after the new Congress was sworn in.

In the poll, 69% of Americans said they think the country is headed in the wrong direction, versus just 25% who said the country was headed in the right direction. Those results resemble the current TPM Poll Average, which shows that 67.7% of Americans believe the country is heading in a negative direction, while 25.7% believe the opposite.

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Shortly after President Obama finished delivering his speech on deficit reduction, semi-official Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty offered a short response: "Today's speech was nothing more than window dressing."

He then launched into a full-throated attack on the other big government spending story moving on Capitol Hill on Wednesday: the vote for the shutdown-averting 2011 budget deal forged by Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and, of course, the leaders of Pawlenty's own party in the House last week.

"The more we learn about" that deal, Pawlenty said, "the worse it looks."

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President Obama extended an invitation to Republicans in his speech today to hammer out a bipartisan deficit agreement within months, but Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he'll hold tight to Paul Ryan's budget instead.

"Unsustainable debt and deficits threaten the prosperity of our children and the health and retirement security of our seniors," Boehner said in a statement after Obama's speech. "Republicans, led by Chairman Ryan, have set the bar with a jobs budget that puts us on a path to paying down the debt and preserves Medicare and Medicaid for the future. This afternoon, I didn't hear a plan to match it from the President."

Boehner went on to decry "promises, hollow targets, and Washington commissions" and reiterated GOP demands that any deficit plan not include tax increases. Obama, for his part, strongly condemned the Ryan plan in his speech for lowering taxes for the wealthy while simultaneously cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits. So let's just say the President's goal of a bipartisan deal by June might be a tad optimistic. Full statement after the jump.

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President Obama outlined his plan to cut $4 trillion from the deficit over the course of the next 12 years through a combination of targeted spending cuts and tax increases that would allow the nation to balance its books and retain its "generous and compassionate" values.

In a 43-minute speech at George Washington University Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Obama said Republicans and Democrats both share the goal of getting the country's fiscal house in order but have starkly different approaches to doing so, arguing that his is more balanced by spreading sacrifices across the board and including tax increases for the wealthiest Americans.

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Are Republican voters seriously considering hiring Donald Trump to run for the White House?

Trump has the blogosphere atwitter over the past few weeks with his sudden sprint to the front of surveys of the 2012 Republican presidential primary race, matching -- or in some cases even beating -- big-name GOPers like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. A CNN poll released this week showed Trump tied for first place with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. But a closer look at the candidates reveals that Trump's high support may not be so much a sign of his strength, but of a sign of the overall field's weakness.

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Is Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the national Tea Party movement star who is considering a run for president, becoming the LensCrafters of gaffes?

On Monday, in a speech in Iowa, Bachmann declared: "The executive director of Planned Parenthood in Illinois said they want to become the LensCrafters of big abortion in Illinois." (As CNN points out, Planned Parenthood Illinois CEO Steve Trombley actually said in 2008, "I like to think of Planned Parenthood as the LensCrafters of family planning" -- which is a much wider category of health care services than just abortion.)

But besides the facts, Bachmann is also catching objections from some innocent bystanders in this political battle: in this case LensCrafters!

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Bill O'Reilly opened his show tonight eager to debunk many myths about President Obama. One by one, O'Reilly tackled various allegations about Obama's past in an effort to eliminate all of these issues once and for all. While O'Reilly confirmed that some claims are actually true, Donald Trump certainly will not be happy with at least one O'Reilly conclusion.

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Representatives from the 77-member House Progressive Caucus gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to roll out their plan to cut the deficit and put the budget back into balance. Their simple solution: pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, install a public option for health care, raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and voila, America is fixed.

The caucus plan, known as The People's Budget, was explained in some detail by Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs last week. Today, progressive members extolled the virtues of the plan as members sat waiting for President Obama to introduce a deficit reduction plan many Democrats worried would sacrifice necessary spending on the altar of a mistaken understanding of fiscal responsibility.

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The White House has released the text of President Obama's speech on the deficit, as prepared for delivery. Here's the full text:

Good afternoon. It's great to be back at GW. I want you to know that one of the reasons I kept the government open was so I could be here today with all of you. I wanted to make sure you had one more excuse to skip class. You're welcome.

Of course, what we've been debating here in Washington for the last few weeks will affect your lives in ways that are potentially profound. This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page, more than just cutting and spending. It's about the kind of future we want. It's about the kind of country we believe in. And that's what I want to talk about today.

From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America's wealth and prosperity. More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.

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The framework for deficit reduction President Obama will lay out Wednesday is a mixed bag for members of his party. It borrows heavily in some areas from the conservative-leaning Bowles-Simpson recommendation, but commits elsewhere to enhancing the cost-cutting programs in the health care law and rejects Republican proposals to privatize entitlements, or maintain or reduce the tax burden on the upper class.

His Republican critics have made clear that the vast majority of Obama's ideas are non-starters. They reject all calls for tax increases and remain committed to repealing -- not strengthening -- the Affordable Care Act.

In his speech, he'll return the favor by drawing very sharp contrasts between his approach to reforming health entitlements and the GOP's which includes privatizing and unwinding Medicare and dramatically slashing Medicaid.

But progressives and liberal Democrats will blanch at many of Obama's other ideas. For instance, he will call for setting an arbitrary three-to-one ratio to govern how much deficit reduction should come from spending cuts vs. tax increases, and back the Bowles-Simpson cap on non-defense discretionary spending.

He also will endorse separate efforts to eliminate Social Security's long-term budget shortfall that leaves the door open to benefit cuts for future beneficiaries.

Here are the highlights. Taken together, the White House claims the program will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years.

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