TPMDC Morning Roundup

Israel, Palestinians Set For Face-To-Face Talk
Reuters reports: “With a diplomatic push from President Barack Obama, Israeli and Palestinian leaders start direct peace talks on Thursday overshadowed by skepticism on all sides and violence in the volatile West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet at the State Department, relaunching talks after a 20-month hiatus and seeking a deal within one year that will set up an independent Palestinian state side-by-side with a secure Israel.”

Obama’s Day Ahead
President Obama will meet with his national security team at 11:30 a.m. ET. He will receive the economic daily briefing at 1 p.m. ET. He does not have any public events scheduled for today.Romer: U.S. Must Find Will For Further Stimulus
Reuters reports: “Departing White House economist Christina Romer said on Wednesday the United States needed to find the political will for more economic stimulus, even if it pushed up the fiscal deficit in the short run. ‘While we would all love to find the inexpensive magic bullet to our economic troubles, the truth is, it almost surely doesn’t exist,’ Romer said in a speech at the National Press Club. ‘The only sure-fire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less. In my view we should be moving forward on both fronts.'”

Gates in Afghanistan
The Associated Press reports: “U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan’s capital Thursday for meetings with President Hamid Karzai and top NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus. The Pentagon chief also plans to visit U.S. troops. Gates flew Thursday morning to Kabul from Baghdad, where he participated in ceremonies marking the formal close of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.”

Some Democrats See Competitive Opportunity In Alaska
CQ reports: With Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceding the Alaska GOP primary Tuesday night to lawyer Joe Miller, some Democrats now believe they have a chance to pick up a seat in a state no one thought could be in play in a cycle where Democrats are facing a significant loss of seats. Democrats spent the previous week ramping up an organization and excitement for the campaign of Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, the Democratic nominee who would have been the party’s sacrificial offering against Murkowski this fall. ‘It’s night and day,’ a Democratic source close to the campaign said about the feeling on the ground in the state since the primary. ‘People are excited. People are stunned.'”

Senate Upset Erases Alaska’s Seniority
The Washington Post reports: “The defeat of Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski by an upstart fiscal conservative in Alaska’s GOP primary could mark a significant shift for a state that has so long relied on federal pork to survive. The outcome was also an unexpected blow to the seniority Alaska has enjoyed in the Senate. Even as the far northern state stubbornly adheres to its reputation for independence, it relies more heavily on federal spending than any other state, thanks largely to congressional powerhouses such as the late Republican Sen. Ted Stevens.”

Primary ‘Enthusiasm Gap’ Points To November GOP Turnout Edge
The Hill reports: “The GOP has turned out 3 million more voters than Democrats during the primary season so far — reversing the 3 million vote advantage Democrats enjoyed in 2006, the last midterm year. The party not holding the White House normally gains seats in Congress during non-presidential election years, but primary turnout to date points to an extensive ‘enthusiasm gap’ that analysts say should have Democrats worried.”