By Charles Hoskinson

VOTERS AREN’T OPTIMISTIC THAT the debt-reduction supercommittee will beat the clock and find a path to $1.5 trillion in savings by Nov. 23 — 69 percent of respondents in a POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll released today believe the panel will fail, even though only about half said they were familiar with the panel’s work.

THE GOOD NEWS FOR DOD is that defense is right up there with entitlement spending as the area voters would least like to cut. A whopping 82 percent of those polled said they would oppose further defense spending cuts, with 76 percent opposing cuts to Medicare/Medicaid and 56 percent against Social Security cuts.

ONE-FIFTH OF THOSE POLLED said defense spending would be the worst item to cut, versus 31 percent who said the same about Medicare/Medicaid and 25 percent about Social Security.


THE RESULTS INDICATE STRONG PUBLIC SUPPORT for the position taken by Panetta and defense hawks in Congress as they’ve lobbied the supercommittee to protect DOD from further cuts. But it’s also pretty clear that people want to defend entitlement spending. If it comes down to a choice between the two, which one will be sacrificed?

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MEANWHILE, WITH LESS THAN 10 DAYS TO GO before their deadline, there’s little hope for a supercommittee deal. POLITICO’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report: “Several aides involved in the process said ongoing bipartisan talks – which continued over the weekend in Washington and by telephone – have so far yielded few results. Intraparty fissures on both sides are breaking into the open. And there’s now open talk of putting off tough decisions on entitlements and tax reform and dismantling the sequester mandate to avoid the punishment Congress created for failure – a move that President Barack Obama said he opposes.”

ONE BIT OF POSSIBLE GOOD NEWS FOR DEFENSE SPENDING – GOP Sen. Pat Toomey told “Fox News Sunday” that while negotiations are at a “difficult point,” he doesn’t think the sequestration trigger will be pulled – even if the committee fails.

WHILE THE PANEL STRUGGLES FOR COMMON GROUND, Obama is in the Pacific, seeking to revive U.S. leadership in the region in the face of China’s expanding influence. The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler has the story here:

OBAMA DEFENDED HIS RECORD ON IRAN at a news conference in Hawaii late Sunday, saying that “when I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was unified around its nuclear program. We now have a situation where the world is united and Iran is isolated. And because of our diplomacy and our efforts, we have, by far, the strongest sanctions on Iran that we’ve ever seen.”

GOP CANDIDATES IN SATURDAY’S DEBATE slammed the president’s Iran policy as weak and ineffective in preventing Tehran from continuing to pursue a nuclear weapon. At Sunday’s newser, Obama hit back, saying, “I have said repeatedly and I will say it today, we are not taking any options off the table, because it’s my firm belief that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would pose a security threat not only to the region but also to the United States. But our strong preference is to have Iran meet its international obligations, negotiate diplomatically, to allow them to have peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with international law, but at the same time, forswear the weaponization of nuclear power.

THE WASHINGTON POST TODAY TELLS THE STORY OF Vyacheslav Danilenko, the Russian scientist who appears to have helped Iran’s nuclear program progress over the past several years. You can read Joby Warrick’s piece here:

PANETTA IS LOOKING FOR SOMEONE NEW to lead an independent probe of problems at the Dover Air Force Base military mortuary. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona bowed out Friday after having decided he would seek the Democratic Senate nomination in Arizona.

THE SECRETARY IS TRAVELING THIS WEEK – He’ll visit the General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in Groton, Conn., on Thursday and speaks at an international security conference in Halifax, Canada, on Friday.

LOOK FOR THE HOUSE THIS WEEK to continue discussion of a Coast Guard authorization bill that includes a contentious proposal to retire the nation’s last two heavy icebreakers. Debate on that bill is set to resume Tuesday.

THE HOUSE WILL ALSO TAKE UP a bipartisan Senate bill containing comprehensive measures to help wounded veterans, and is expected to clear it for Obama’s signature.

ALSO TUESDAY, SASC WILL TAKE A LOOK at Iraq policy in a 9:30 a.m. hearing with Panetta and Dempsey.

AL JAZEERA REPORTS TODAY that the Taliban claim to have obtained “highly classified documents detailing the security plan for next week’s Loya Jirga, a traditional assembly of elders called to discuss a crucial strategic agreement with the United States. … The claims were immediately denied by Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for the Afghan ministry of interior, saying the Taliban were desperate for attention.” Read about it here:

AFGHAN OPS UPDATE – Afghan and coalition forces killed one insurgent Sunday and detained several others while searching for a Haqqani network leader in Nadir Shah Kot district of Khost province, ISAF spokesman Lt. Gregory Keeley said.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM INGRAM OF NORTH CAROLINA will receive his third star and become the new director of the Army National Guard. Ingram, a former adjutant general for the state, was confirmed in his new post Thursday by the Senate.

WHO’S WHERE WHEN – Panetta hosts a welcome reception for Carter at the Pentagon. Donley has meetings in the building.