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Nov 17, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Stood up

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Welcome to the new bipartisan Washington, where Obama and the Republicans are not only at odds over tax cuts, they can’t even agree when to have dinner.

Republicans apparently pulled out of the November 18 meeting called by President Barack Obama because of “scheduling conflicts.” Which is about as convincing a reason for not going to dinner as “I have to stay in and wash my hair.”  Apparently some Republican aides had been grumbling that Obama had called the meeting without consulting with their bosses.

Nov 16, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – From Russia With(out) Love

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Not a great day for US-Russia relations. The United States won the extradition of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout from Thailand against Moscow’s vehement objections. The Russian government said the extradition of the man known as the “Merchant of Death” was not only illegal but also the result of “unprecedented political pressure from the United States.” Earlier this month we had news that a key Russian spymaster and double agent had defected to the United States after unmasking the spy ring here. And then to top it all off, Republicans signaled they would block ratification of the START Treaty this year.  It looks like more of a meltdown than a reset in US-Russia relations.

Not that START is dead yet, with Joe Biden leading the charge today to twist arms in the Senate and Hillary Clinton due on the Hill tomorrow. But if anyone was hoping President Barack Obama would rescue the second half of his presidency by focusing on foreign policy, it has hardly been an auspicious couple of weeks, after the debacle of the G20 meeting, the failure to strike a trade deal with South Korea and now this.  Still, here’s hoping the president can strike peace in the Middle East or negotiate a successful exit from Afghanistan.

Nov 15, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Northern Exposure

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Strange characters, quirky storylines and weird happenings out in Alaska.

Anyone hoping for a remake of Northern Exposure would have been disappointed by Sarah Palin’s Alaska, her new television series that aired last night and delivered a much straighter diet of “family adventure” and “flippin’ fun.”

The reality show, which drew a record five million viewers to TLC, showed the human side of a politician who is among the most polarizing in American politics today. It is the kind of positive media exposure money can’t buy, and got everyone talking again this morning about whether the former vice presidential nominee will run for the top job in 2012.

Nov 12, 2010

Washington Extra -The elections are over, let the campaign begin

WASHINGTON, Nov 11 (Reuters) -The final results of the
mid-term elections are not in yet, but it’s never too early to
start the campaign for the White House in 2012. Former first
lady Nancy Reagan invited Republican candidates to take part in
the first presidential debate, to be held next spring at the
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California.

There are plenty of potential candidates, including Mitt
Romney, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich. Then there’s Mississippi Governor Haley
Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and South Dakota
Senator John Thune. And of course, if no one suitable throws
their hat in the ring, Sarah Palin has offered to step up to
the plate. Honestly, spring seems such a long time to wait.

Nov 11, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – The elections are over, time to start campaigning

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The final result of the mid-term elections is not even in yet, but it’s never too early to start the campaign for the White House in 2012. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan invited Republican candidates to take part in the first presidential debate, to be held next spring at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California.

There are plenty of potential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Then there’s Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and South Dakota Senator  John Thune. And of course, if no one suitable throws their hat in the ring, Sarah Palin has offered to step up to the plate. Honestly, spring seems such a long time to wait.

Nov 10, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – A snowball’s chance?

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American voters made their feelings very clear last week. U.S. government borrowing is too high and needs to be reduced. How sad, then, that the presidential commission tasked with coming up with a credible plan to cut the deficit is already being dismissed as a non-event.

“This is the most predictable economic crisis we have ever faced,” Erskine Bowles rightly said today as he unveiled his joint proposals with co-chair Alan Simpson.

Nov 9, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Under fire

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He is not quite the loneliest man in the world, but Fed chairman Ben Bernanke must be feeling in need of a friend these days. First those nasty Tea party types stormed the capital with their distinctively un-Fed-friendly views. Dismiss them as extremists if you will, but they seemed to have been joined by an array of world leaders in their criticism of quantitative easing, the Fed’s purchases of U.S. government debt in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

The rest of the world fears the Fed’s action amount to a backhand form of competitive currency devaluation. Many Republicans fear the Fed is enabling profligate U.S. budgetary policy. Even Fed governors and regional presidents are uneasy. Governor Kevin Warsh warned on Monday the Fed was not “a repair shop for broken fiscal or regulatory policies” and that the Fed could lose its “hard-earned credibility – and monetary policy can lose its hard-earned sway – if its policies overpromise or underdeliver.” Dallas Fed Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher then chimed in, calling quantitative easing “a bridge loan to fiscal sanity.”

Nov 8, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Natural allies, but not always comfortable ones

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The United States and India are, to borrow the phrase of a recent paper by the Center for a New American Security, “natural allies.” The world’s two biggest democracies, with proud traditions of free speech, separation of religion and state, and racial and ethnic diversity, have much in common, and Indians tend to have more favorable views of the United States than most Europeans.

Ties had deepened first under President Bill Clinton and then improved significantly under President George W. Bush, but progress seemed to have stalled in the first two years of the Obama administration. So it was heartening for Indiaphiles to see President Barack Obama finally putting some weight behind the relationship on his trip there, with an array of business deals and an endorsement of India’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Nov 5, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Down but not out

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How the Democrats could have done with those numbers a week ago, or more precisely how they could have done with three or four months of numbers like that. The U.S. economy created a net 151,000 jobs in October, hiring hitting its fastest pace in six months. It is a sign that the economy is regaining momentum after a desperately sluggish summer, and might have lifted President Barack Obama’s mood a little too as he makes the long trip to India.

They were subjected to some bitter attacks from their opponents, and even had their detractors within their two parties. Both suffered cruel defeats this week, but if you thought you had seen the back of Nancy Pelosi and Christine O’Donnell, think again. The Republican from Delaware, who ended her remarkably upbeat concession speech with an invocation to have a “party”, has already announced she is pursuing a book deal and will still be fighting against the Democrats. Shades of Sarah Palin perhaps.

Nov 4, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Dinner party ideas

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Congress might not get much done in the next two years, but boring it won’t be. Certainly not with Ron Paul as likely head of the monetary policy (aka Fed oversight) subcommittee in the House.

Today, Paul the elder told Reuters correspondent Andy Sullivan that he was looking forward to his new “very, very important” role. The Fed, he said, was ”way too independent” and “totally out of control.” Quantitative easing – the Fed’s controversial program to purchase government securities – is not just lousy economics and lousy monetary policy, he said, it is “central economic planning at its worst.” More here.

    • About Simon

      "Simon is Washington Bureau Chief for Reuters and author of the Reuters Washington Extra newsletter and blog, a daily look at political and economic news from the capital. He has 18 years experience covering politics, economics and financial markets for Reuters for text and television all over the world, including in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Before arriving in Washington, he spent seven years as Reuters bureau chief in Pakistan, Afghanistan and then India, and is the editor of Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia, which was published by Penguin India in 2008 and ..."
      Hometown:
      Portsmouth
      Joined Reuters:
      1992
      Languages:
      French, Spanish
    • More from Simon

      Publications:
      Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia
      Penguin, 2008
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