Morning Briefing: September 6, 2011

The United States Postal Service is close to default and may have to shut down entirely unless Congress takes emergency action. The New York Times reports that the USPS is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month. The agency faces a $9.2 billion deficit this year despite pushing a series of major cost-cutting measures.

Seventy-two percent of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll. That pessimism about the country’s direction is up 12 points since May, and 50 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Obama is handling his job. Politico concludes that “the debt-limit showdown and the stalled economy have tarnished” Obama’s standing with voters.

In his Labor Day address yesterday, President Obama offered his strongest support of organized labor yet, stating “As long as I’m in the White House, I’m going to stand up for collective bargaining.” Noting that unions led to the rise of America’s middle class, Obama slammed the slew of union-busting and “so-called right-to-work laws” as a move that is “not about economics” but “about politics.”

Big U.S. banks involved in lawsuits with state prosecutors over improper mortgage practices, including robosigning, have reportedly been offered a deal that would limit legal liabilities in terms for a multibillion-dollar settlement. The banks are pressing for further immunity from other civil suits and have called the latest proposal a “non-starter.”

President Obama “may press Congress for tax cuts that would exceed his past proposals as well as some of the offerings from House Republicans,” as he makes a new jobs push this week. One of these tax cuts is expected to be an extension of the payroll tax cut passed last December.

Veteran Republican campaign operative Ed Rollins has stepped down from running Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) presidential campaign. The campaign cited health concerns as the reason for Rollins’ role change. Yesterday, Rollins seemed pessimistic about the campaign, telling the Washington Post, “The Perry-Romney race is now the story, with us the third candidate.”

Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) officially joined the state’s Senate race today, launching a historic candidacy to be the first openly gay member of the U.S Senate. “The fact is, I’ve been honest about my sexual orientation my entire adult life,” she said. “And integrity is important in public service.”

The “Yugoslav war crimes tribunal sentenced the former chief of the Yugoslav army to 27 years imprisonment Tuesday for providing crucial military aid to Bosnian Serb forces responsible for the Srebrenica massacre.” The case of Gen. Momcilo Perisic marks the “first time the U.N. court convicted a civilian or military officer from Yugoslavia of war crimes in Bosnia.”

And finally: Sarah Palin has finally decided to run — a half marathon, that is. The former Alaska governor entered the “Jump Right in and Run” Storm Lake, Iowa unannounced, which occurred this weekend. Palin came in second place among women 40-49, with a time of 1 hour 46 minutes 10 seconds.