The decline in President Obama's popularity has heightened the vulnerability of his fellow Democrats in this fall's congressional elections.» Read More
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's reward for his deal with Democrats to lift the default threat: a burst of oxygen for his tea party primary challenger.
That would be Matt Bevin, a 46-year-old investment executive who has aligned himself with Sen. Ted Cruz's challenge to Obamacare. Bevin dismisses warnings from Wall Street and elsewhere about a default, as well as polls showing that the shutdown was a disaster for the Republican Party.
"There was no threat of default," Bevin said at his campaign headquarters outside Louisville, Ky. "Many of these things are Chicken Little-like, the sky is falling, when in fact that's not the case."
"I understand exactly what polls are telling us, but you have to look at the source of those," Bevin said. Referring to the hero's welcome Cruz recently received in Texas, he added, "I also see the very man who supposedly was responsible for this hurting just received an eight-minute standing ovation when he went home to his state."
In the New York City mayor's race, the leading candidates' differences are quite clear. Republican Joe Lhota is running as the pro-business law-and-order guy, while Democrat Bill de Blasio is prioritizing schools, pledging higher taxes on those earning more than $500,000 and fighting stop-and-frisk police tactics.
At the moment, de Blasio leads his Republican opponent in the polls by a whopping 40 points. But does it matter much to Wall Street which candidate lands in the mayor's office?
"The impact that the mayor has on Wall Street ... is gigantic," said Jason Ader of New York-based Ader Investment Management, a New York-based alternative investment manager. "Every effort should be made to insulate it (Wall Street) by the mayor."
Ader praised Mayor Mike Bloomberg for "running the city like a businesses," and worries higher taxes under de Blasio could drive Wall Street business out of New York.
Judging from the speech Obama gave following the deal to end the government shutdown, Republicans better get wise to the president's next fiscal gambit when the three-month stop-gap budget and debt measures come due. As was the case with his hard-line defense of Obamacare, the president likely will be inflexible on ending sequestration budget caps, pushing for massive tax hikes, and permitting only the most inconsequential entitlement reforms.
Obama is interested in busting the GOP in 2014. He's not interested in true budget restraint or other economic-growth measures.
Example: This week, instead of a conciliatory work-together message for the negotiations ahead, President Obama gave us another Republican scold speech: "All of us need to stop focusing on lobbyists and bloggers and talking heads on radio, and professional activists who profit from conflict."
You've likely heard the number about 800,000 times already: Approximately that many federal workers have been furloughed because of the partial government shutdown that began last Tuesday. That number will be cut nearly in half now that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called back almost all of the roughly 350,000 furloughed civilian employees of the Defense Department.
Still, if the number of furloughs sounds big, just how big is it? And what does having that many workers sent home without pay—temporarily, since Congress appears set to follow historical precedent and grant them back pay after the shutdown is resolved—really mean for the economy?
"The federal government is America's largest employer," President Obama noted before the shutdown started—a point that critics charge is part of the problem.
Washington is still far from resolving its differences over the fight to reopen the U.S. government.
That's according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" following a meeting at the White House Wednesday night.
"It was cordial but unproductive," McConnell said. "The President continues to maintain privately the position that he has had publicly, which is he doesn't want to negotiate about the continuing resolution to operate the government or over raising the debt ceiling."
After a two-hour meeting with President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. McConnell offered no timeline for Congress to pass legislation to end the government shutdown.
(Read more: Obama, congressional leaders meet as shutdown wears on)
"Obama can't get his way exactly the way he likes it," McConnell said. "The American people expect us to come together and figure out how to solve this problem and sooner or later, we're going to do that."
"The shutdown will end," he added. "Nobody is in favor of a government shutdown, but these are important principles that we are fighting for, for the American people. We obviously want to continue the operation of the government, but we want to keep it within constraints with the Budget Control Act."
McConnell insisted on maintaining spending levels under the Budget Control Act, the 2011 law which created sequestration. Tax increases to reopen the government, he said, are off the table.
"We don't want to walk away from the spending reductions we have already promised the American people for the next two years," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the Bush tax cuts are now permanent law. We don't want to walk away from the permanent tax relief that we achieved New Year's Eve. "
McConnell shifted the debate to the debt ceiling, saying "America is not going to default on its debts."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that the government's flexibility to continue to fund itself without additional debt will end around Oct. 17.
"Our view is it's time to talk to eliminate the government shutdown, to find out what conditions need to be attached to raise the debt ceiling so the full faith and credit of the United States continues to be honored," McConnell said. "But we also need to do something about this enormous debt that has been accumulated during the Obama years."
In response to President Obama's insistence on a "clean" budget proposal in an interview on CNBC earlier Wednesday, McConnell said the President's position is "unacceptable."
"The President's position so far is that he wants it clean no matter what," McConnell said. "I think that's an unacceptable position for Senate and House Republicans. It should be an unacceptable position for the American people."
McConnell said the President fails to recognize that the American people elected a divided government under the assumption that both parties would negotiate.
"There will have to be a compromise no matter what the President says today because his party doesn't control the entire government," he said. "The American people have frequently elected a divided government. When they do that, they don't expect us to do nothing, to not talk to each other."
Senate Democrats, McConnell said, are reinforcing the stalemate in their refusal to negotiate with House Republicans.
"The House has sent over a number of different proposals, including the last one to go to conference and have a discussion about this," he said. "Senate Democrats voted that down, too. Who's being unreasonable here?"
From the White House to the classroom, professor Robert Reich has advocated for greater income equality in the United States for more than three decades.
Now, he's taking his fight to theaters near you.
"The reason we entitled this film 'Inequality for All' is that it is critically important that everybody, regardless of their economic position, understands this problem is getting worse," he said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
The problem, Reich explains in the new documentary, is the widening income gap in the United States, exacerbated in the economic recovery. The economist cited a recent University of California, Berkeley study stating 95 percent of income gains since 2009 have accrued to the top 1 percent.
As President Obama and congressional Republicans move dangerously close to a government shutdown early next week, it's time to take stock of how a shutdown would affect federal workers, the military, government contractors and average Americans reliant on government programs and benefits.
The last two government shutdowns – in late 1995 and early 1996 – were chaotic for federal workers, posed major inconveniences for the public, and prompted a political backlash against Republicans who controlled the House and Senate at the time.
This time may be different. Americans today are almost equally divided over the issue of culpability—with 39 percent saying they would blame the Republicans and 36 percent saying they would blame the Obama administration, according to a study released today from the Pew Research Center.
The dispute, this time, is over congressional Republicans' attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act as part of a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government operating through Dec. 15.
One of the biggest mistakes President Barack Obama is making in the current debate over the threat of a government shutdown and the failure to raise the debt ceiling is his repeated and stubborn refusal to negotiate. In speech after speech, Obama crusades against negotiation. Has anyone ever seen anything like this? He's the president. Supposedly, he's the chief executive. But Obama doesn't want to dirty his hands by talking to Republican congressional leaders.
Now, this is an odd paradigm, given the fact that the president and his lieutenants are willing to negotiate with Russia's Vladimir Putin, Syria's Bashar Assad and, most recently, Iranian President Rouhani Hassan. A motley crew at best, and a bunch of dictatorial mass-killing thugs in truth.
Just when life looked like it couldn't get any worse for disgraced Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., it has.
An auction to help the Chicago Democrat repay the $750,000 in campaign funds that he illegally spent on personal items has been canceled after the U.S. Marshals Service received "legitimate concerns" about the authenticity of one of Jackson's forfeited assets: a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.
The auction, which was held online through auction house Gaston & Sheehan at txauction.com, began Tuesday, and conspicuously only had 12 items listed—despite a U.S. Marshals press release promising 13 of Jackson's treasures would be open for bidding. The guitar was not listed, but other memorabilia included framed, matted albums, such as Michael Jackson's "Blood on the Dance Floor."
More from NBC News:
Obama strikes back at Congress: 'They're focused on trying tomess with me
What the food-stamp vote tells us about the shutdown debate
Shutdowns and debt limits: Making sense of the fiscal deadlines ahead
The market is agreed: It's Yellen and a taper.
Former Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn barely registered in second with just 6.3 percent of the votes.