Morning Briefing: May 31, 2011

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"Morning Briefing: May 31, 2011"

President Obama’s approval rating rose to 54 percent in May, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday. The rise is bolstered by positive approval ratings on three national security issues – Iraq, Afghanistan, and terrorism – on which a majority of Americans approve of the president’s performance. Obama’s approval among Republicans is up 12 points to 27 percent, the highest rating in a CNN poll in more than two years.

Today, the GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on and reject a “clean” debt ceiling raise that would increase the nation’s ability to borrow money without also making major cuts in federal spending. The vote is a symbolic move that Republicans hope will set the stage in their favor as they prepare for weeks of negotiations with the White House and congressional Democrats.

Although job growth is slowly returning to the economy, the new jobs that are created come with lower wages. National “pay figures on rank-and-file workers, who hold 80% of nongovernmental jobs, show a steady rise in earnings from the mid 1990s through 2009 — and then a significant drop the past two years.”

“House Democrats are showing real unity for the first time in pressuring Barack Obama on Afghanistan,” with just 8 members of their caucus voting against a demand last week to set a timetable for withdrawal. Just last year, 98 Democrats opposed a similar measure in a vote.

A growing number of Republican governors are moving ahead on implementing health exchanges, a key part of President Obama’s health care reform legislation. GOP governors like Mitch Daniels and Scott Walker, who oppose health care reform and have vowed to fight it in court, are striking a “delicate balancing act,” and wagering that it’s better to try to control the process themselves rather than letting the federal government take the lead.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is torn between Florida’s Tea Party grassroots groups who “say the burgeoning Republican star needs to deliver on campaign rhetoric for tougher [immigration] enforcement,” Washington elite, and his state’s large Latino population. A national Republican consultant told the Miami Herald that Rubio is probably going out of his way not to talk about the issue and to “motivate Hispanics to look at Democrats and Obama.”

Marking Memorial Day, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli acknowledged an epidemic of suicides among veterans returning from lengthy deployments in seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ve been fighting for a decade, and I don’t think we as a nation know the total effect of a decade of war,” Chiarelli said on CNN’s State of the Union.

And finally: A health board in Washington state nixed an ad campaign from a colon cancer awareness organization, after complaints that its “What’s up your butt?” billboards were in poor taste. The “butt billboards” were earlier displayed in Yakima to raise awareness and encourage people to get their “butts” screened.

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