Happy Friday, fellow political junkies. Of course, it's hard to be happy if you're one of the more than two million federal workers either furloughed or working without pay, or one of the millions of other Americans whose lives are disrupted by official Washington's dysfunction. It's Day Four of the federal government shutdown, 2013 edition. And an end to the disagreement still doesn't seem in the offing.
On that grim note, here are some items of political interest worth mulling over this morning.
Yielding to the logistical challenges of pulling off a major overseas trip with much of the executive-branch staff furloughed by the government shutdown, President Obama cancelled his scheduled Asia trip. An unhappy White House blamed House Republicans for setting back U.S. economic and strategic interests since Obama won't represent his nation among other world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, ceding the field to China and Russia.
The very people Tea Party activists could care less about, the Republican establishment, are even more upset that the conservative insurgents behind the shutdown are damaging the party's effort to reshape its brand after recent national election failures, reports The New York Times' Jonathan Martin.
Some constitutional-law experts have argued that the president could solve the debt-ceiling problem himself by broadly and creatively interpreting his powers to safeguard the nation. The president is apparently not among those experts proposing what one White House official called "unicorn theories" writes Adam Liptak in the New York Times. Obama insists it's Congress' job, not a president's, to ensure the nation doesn't default on its debts. Alas, no $1 trillion coin.
The morning after, the reason is still unclear why Miriam Carey, 34, of Stamford, Conn., drove her car erratically near the White House and Capitol Hill and failed to stop when police ordered her to, causing mayhem and leading them to shoot her to death, reports the Washington Post. The event raised anxieties in a city already on edge because of a recent mass shooting and the political and financial angst caused by the government shutdown.
The federal government shutdown is damaging the private sector. The Labor Department won't issue the all-important jobs-data report, a critical gauge used by economists and financial markets for decision-making. As Daniel Gross writes in The Daily Beast, companies like Sikorsky, the helicopter maker, are facing real or potential layoffs, creating a downdraft on an economy with a ho-hum recovery.
Newark Mayor Corey Booker, a Democrat, seems to have more of a contest in the special election for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey than many observers expected. His Republican rival, Steve Lonegan, a former small-city mayor, has made significant gains in some polls. All of which makes a Friday debate loom larger, writes Matt Friedman of the Newark Star-Ledger. Meanwhile, Politico's Maggie Haberman writes that Booker is seen as having run a campaign far less dynamic than his famous Twitter presence.
Bring back the pork. It's been noted numerous times that in past eras, a House speaker or Senate majority leader could grease the political skids for legislation with ear marks and backroom deals. As Alex Seitz-Wald notes in a National Journal magazine piece, we got rid of much of that approach that made corruption easier but sort of worked. Trouble is, we have yet to replace it with anything that works as well which helps explain our current governing crisis.
How polarized have Americans become? The answer depends on which method researchers use to ask people their views. Princeton political scientists Lori Bougher and Markus Prior write in The Monkey Cage blog that Internet polls made respondents appear more partisan than old-fashioned face-to-face polls.
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