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First Thoughts: Obama to make an offer he hopes GOP can't refuse

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the economy, Thursday, July 25, 2013, at the Jacksonville Port Authority in Jacksonville, Fla.
President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the economy, Thursday, July 25, 2013, at the Jacksonville Port Authority in Jacksonville, Fla.John Raoux / John Raoux / AP

Obama to make an offer he hopes GOP can’t refuse: corporate tax reform for job investment… But so far, GOP appears to be refusing; it also wants tax reform for individuals… Obama to deliver his offer during 2:00 pm ET speech in Chattanooga, TN… Republicans still divided over funding Obamacare… The fascinating Fed chair race… The danger of focusing on the Weiner freakshow… And Breaking Bread, Episode 2: Hillary has breakfast with Biden.

*** Obama to make an offer he hopes GOP can’t refuse: When he speaks at 2:00 pm ET in Chattanooga, TN, President Obama hopes he make congressional Republicans an offer they can’t refuse -- promising to cut corporate taxes in return for investments for job creation, First Read confirms. The AP has more: “Administration officials wouldn't put a price tag on the proposal or say how much would be a ‘significant’ investment in jobs since the dollar figures would be part of negotiations with Congress. But in an example from this year's State of the Union address, Obama proposed $50 billion to put Americans to work repairing roads and bridges and other construction jobs. The officials said money to pay for the jobs creation would come from a one-time revenue boost from measures such as changing depreciation rules or having a one-time fee on earnings held overseas.” This is all about redefining the “grand bargain.” Where it used to mean trading deficit reduction and entitlement reform for increased taxes, Obama is trying to make a new deal to entice Republicans (as well as the business community that traditionally supports the GOP) and make the effort look like it’s about jobs by directly connecting new taxes to job creation. Yet perhaps more than anything else, it’s how the White House is positioning itself -- P.R.-wise -- for the upcoming fall fight over the budget. 

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the economy, Thursday, July 25, 2013, at the Jacksonville Port Authority in Jacksonville, Fla.John Raoux / John Raoux / AP

*** But so far, GOP appears to be refusing: Boehner spokesman Michael Steel responds to the offer by stating that the GOP also wants individual tax reform. “The president has always supported corporate tax reform. Republicans want to help families and small businesses, too. This 'grand bargain' allows President Obama to support President Obama's position on taxes and President Obama's position on spending, while leaving small businesses and American families behind." In other words, it doesn’t look like the GOP is biting. Many Republicans, Boehner included, believe that it’s hard to deal with the corporate tax code without also dealing with the individual side, because so many individuals file as small corporations. Still, there are some Republican senators who have been meeting a lot with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, who have shown an openness to consider simply doing corporate tax reform first.

*** Obama waltzes into Tennessee: The president will make his announcement today at an Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga, after the company announced it was adding 7,000 new jobs in 13 states, USA Today reports. It will be Obama’s fourth speech on the economy in the past week. Meanwhile, Boehner’s office responds to the president’s Tennessee event with a blog post entitled: “Seven Ways President Obama’s Policies Are Hurting American Manufacturers.” Among the seven GOP criticisms: not approving (at least for now) the Keystone Pipeline, doubling down on stimulus spending, and implementing the health-care law.

*** Republicans still divided over funding Obamacare: So as the White House further positions itself for the fall fight over the budget and debt limit -- with this new offer to the GOP -- we ask again: What is the GOP’s strategy? We raise the question because you have Republicans divided over whether to defund the health-care law, which is something the Obama White House will never agree to. And Roll Call reports that this effort is a potential headache for Speaker Boehner. “With 60 Republicans already pushing the Ohio Republican to defund Obamacare in any spending bill, the speaker may not be able to cobble together a House majority on a bill that President Barack Obama would sign without Democratic votes. And he’s not likely to get those votes for free.” We have an additional question here: What does Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell do? Does he join the Mike Lees, Marco Rubios, and Ted Cruzes who want to defund Obamacare, so he doesn’t give GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin any room to maneuver? Or does he join with the Tom Coburns and Richard Burrs to make the point that such a move only sets up the GOP to get blamed if there’s a government shutdown? Republican need to use August to come to some sort of consensus, because right now, even as the president’s popularity may be waning, the GOP public infighting and lack of agreement here is only helping the White House.

*** The fascinating Fed chair race: The surprisingly public campaign to replace Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke -- between former White House economic adviser Larry Summers, current Vice Chair Janet Yellen, and maybe someone else -- has become fascinating to watch. And it’s all about winning the approval of one person: President Obama. It pits male (Summers) vs. female (Yellen), as well as economic liberals (who back Yellen) vs. business Democrats (who support Summers). What’s more, it features someone who’s incredibly outspoken and has obvious ties to the White House (Summers) vs. another person who’s relatively reticent and doesn’t know Obama that well (Yellen). And then you have Wall Street types (see Bob Rubin) who support Summers, vs. other Wall Street people who champion Yellen, because they believe she’ll continue Bernanke’s expansionary monetary policies. We don’t know who’s going to win, but we can tell you this: A large chunk of people will be disappointed regardless whom Obama ultimately picks.

*** Could the ultimate choice be someone else? If the president is truly leaning toward Summers (who will have trouble winning over some Senate Democrats), then he ought to make this decision sooner rather than later. The longer this indecision hangs out there, the more the anti-Larry forces will continue to beat him up in public (see today’s New York Times editorial page). For those reading the tea leaves, the White House’s public signal last week that the president wasn’t going to make a choice until AFTER Labor Day was perhaps a signal that NEITHER Yellen nor Summers would get it. If the president has doubts about Yellen and if Summers is seen a political fight not worth having (some Senate Democrats are signaling this), then don’t be surprised if the president makes a last-minute run at convincing former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to take the job. It could be that Geithner is (and was) the president’s first choice all along.

*** The danger of focusing on the Weiner freakshow: The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter makes a good point that every politician and political journalist should consider: All the attention on Anthony Weiner only debases American politics. “At the end of the day, the best way to ensure we get more of the good people and fewer Anthony Weiners in office is to take away the one thing folks like Weiner need to survive: attention. Weiner would rather hold 100 humiliating press conferences than live the life of an anonymous New Yorker. Take away the cameras and you’ve taken away his oxygen,” Walter writes. Where the cameras and attention should be focused, however, is on Filner and the women he harassed and humiliated. This behavior festers in the dark. Daylight is the best disinfectant.  The light can also serve as a beacon to those women around the country who may be struggling with their own lecherous – or worse – supervisors.” The question we have: If more polls, like Quinnipiac’s yesterday, show Weiner falling into fourth place, will the attention on him fade?

*** Breaking Bread, Episode 2: Finally, a day after President Obama lunched with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – sending much of the political world into a tizzy – Clinton this morning has a breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden at his Naval Observatory residence. 

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