“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” then-Senator Barack Obama said form the Senate floor in 2006. Before going on to vote against raising the debt limit, Obama added, “Despite repeated efforts by Senators Conrad and Feingold, the Senate continues to reject a return to the commonsense pay-go rules that used to apply. … That is why I will once again co-sponsor the pay-go amendment and continue to hope that my colleagues will return to a smart rule that has worked in the past and can work again.”

Pay-go rules were eventually readopted by Congress in 2010, when Blue Dog Democrats demanded they be instituted in exchange for their votes to … raise the debt limit. This is standard practice: of the 17 times the debt limit has been raised over the last 20 years, only three of those were ‘clean’ debt hikes. In other words, contra Obama’s claims, it is perfectly ordinary for members of both parties to insist on attached deficit reduction legislation as political cover for raising the debt limit.

No wonder Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is sending letters to Obama begging him to mint magical trillion dollar coins or otherwise ignore the debt limit entirely. He is desperate to avoid a clean debt limit hike vote himself. With the retirement of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., there are now six Senate Democrats that are up for reelection in 2014 in states that Romney won in 2012. And five of the Senators hail from states Romney won by double digits.

Those six Senate Democrats are going to need a sizable number of Republicans to cross party lines and vote for their reelection. Which is what makes Gallup’s latest poll such a nightmare for Obama and Reid. It shows that Americans named the federal budget deficit as the second most important problem facing the country today. And Republican voters identified it as the top problem.

Reid could significantly step up pressure on the House by passing a clean debt limit hike today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. But no such vote is scheduled. Probably because Reid knows he simply doesn’t have the votes for one.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Obama true to form as the ‘Great Divider’
Phil Klein: Obama blames GOP for credit downgrade, but here’s what S&P actually said
Tim Carney: Corporate Obama inaugural donor pockets federal global warming cash
Byron York: Actually, Democrats have threatened to hold the debt limit hostage

In Other News
The New York Times, Obama Willing to Use Executive Orders on Guns: President Obama this week will embrace a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence that will call for major legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and lay out 19 separate actions the president could take by invoking the power of his office, lawmakers who were briefed on the plan said Monday.
The Washington Post, Most Americans support new gun-control measures after Newtown massacre: More than half of Americans — 52 percent in the poll — say the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has made them more supportive of gun control, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The Wall Street Journal, Fed Chief Sees Bond Buys Continuing: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he still wasn’t satisfied with the economy’s progress, despite recent signs of improvement, and indicated that he plans to stick with the unconventional programs the central bank is using to lift output.

The Washington Post, 401(k) breaches undermining retirement security for millions: A large and growing share of American workers are tapping their retirement savings accounts for non-retirement needs, raising broad questions about the effectiveness of one of the most important savings vehicles for old age.

Righty Playbook
David Henderson on Obama’s false claims bout Social Security payments and the debt limit.
Ross Douthat
warns Republicans will lose if they ask for big concessions on the debt limit.
Mark Krikorian on Marco Rubio’s Groundhog Day immigration plan.

Lefty Playbook
Talking Points Memo reports that Harry Reid told constituents in Nevada that an assault weapons ban had little chance of passing Senate and no chance of passing House.
Benjy Sarlin on how unions went from border hawks to immigration doves.
Charles Pierce notes that there was not one question about unemployment at Obama’s press conference yesterday.