Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Senator Levin: partisanship has no place during war

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A war of words over U.S. policy on Afghanistan is heating up between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill as they await President Barack Obama’s new strategy.

“This kind of partisanship in the middle of a war I find to be really out of place,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, said.

He was responding to House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner’s statement that “the current political uncertainty should not be used as a pretext for the White House to back away from the counter-insurgency strategy the president announced in March.”

Levin, at the Reuters Washington Summit, said former Republican President George W. Bush took three months to decide on the troop surge in Iraq — “Nobody was saying that President Bush is jeopardizing anything by taking three months to deliberate on a new strategy.”

Grassley grades Obama’s performance C to F

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We asked Senator Charles Grassley to grade President Barack Obama’s performance (close your ears Sasha and Malia) and the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee was a bit of a tough schoolmaster.

“He’s still learning an awful lot,” Grassley said at a Reuters Washington Summit.

Washington divided, more trouble ahead for Obama?

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Washington insiders say that not since the 1890′s have the people that represent the U.S. been so divided. From Gay rights to Afghanistan lawmakers are at polar opposites on issues that are on the Obama administration’s agenda. What’s next? And, what’s likely to get the green light or the stop sign?

from Shop Talk:

Food safety worries? Join the club

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peanutcorpAre you worried about the rash of high-profile and often deadly tainted-food scandals involving everything from peanut butter and chili peppers to spinach and baby formula?

You are not alone.

"When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week," U.S. President Barack Obama said recently, referring to a salmonella outbreak that has made 683 people in 46 states sick, killed as many as nine and forced the recall of more than 3,000 products. 

Audio – Las Vegas mogul defends fun city

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By Tim Hepher 

Las Vegas casino legend Sheldon Adelson launched a quest for America’s most boring city on Tuesday in a comeback to President Barack Obama’s criticism of bankers who hold meetings in the famous gaming capital.
    
Obama last month warned companies that get bailout cash against spending it on activities potentially seen as perks — sparking a row with hotel and resort operators who say they are already struggling to fill rooms and may have to cut jobs.
    
“The good news is that Las Vegas has become a synonym for a good time for adults. Let me not say adults, I’ll say grown-ups, I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” Adelson, majority owner of casino operator Las Vegas Sands, said.
    
“The bad news is that because it is a place for a good time, President Obama says that he doesn’t want taxpayer’s money to go there,” Adelson told the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit. 
    
“But I’m going to conduct a survey and I’m going to provide a prize for people who will submit the name of the worst city in the country to go to, where people can enjoy it the least. Because that’s the alternative. The alternative is you go to a place where you enjoy, or you go to to a place you don’t enjoy.”
    
The self-made billionaire, who tore down the original Sands to build the Venetian Resort complete with canals, and brought business conventions to Las Vegas, declined to nominate places for his ‘dive prize’ but took a swipe at Obama’s home town.
    
“Look, Chicago has got nine casinos. Now, God forbid if they hold a convention there someone should go to one of those casinos and enjoy themselves. God forbid. And then they’d say ‘Oh I can’t go there’,” he said.

A scandal over perks erupted in October after insurer AIG flew top brokers and executives to a Southern California resort at a cost of $440,000 shortly after it received an $85 billion government bailout.
     
“You can’t take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime,” Obama commented last month.

AUDIO – More money, more money, more money…

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The U.S. government is spending a LOT of money these days.

We generally don’t go for the all-CAPS version of words, but in this case, it seemed appropriate. Every day we’re seeing new multibillion-dollar programs being rolled out of Washington, D.C. for everything from bank bailouts to auto companies programs.

But, according to Wick Moorman, chief executive of Norfolk Southern Corp, much more infrastructure spending still needs to be done for the nation’s railroads.

AUDIO – The costs of war

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Wars have numerous costs and most of those are unimaginable for most of us not in the middle of one.

But, aside from the tragic cost of death or injury, wars also cost a lot of money to finance and President-elect Barack Obama will be facing some of those costs (as well as a whole mess of other stuff) when he takes office in January.

AUDIO – Teddy Roosevelt had it right

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The world is a more dangerous place because of the global economic meltdown, according to Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Ronald Sugar, whose company provides specialized aircraft, radar and other electronics to meet that threat.

Sugar was the kick-off speaker at the annual Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit on Monday in Washington, D.C.

Time Warner Cable and the Audacity of Hope

It’s not every day that you have a top executive in big business talk about how nice it will be to see the back of the Bush administration. Republican presidencies typically tout their adherence to free markets, unbridled capitalism and, most importantly, a smaller pile of what corporations often consider burdensome regulations. That isn’t what they usually expect from Democratic administrations, even ones led by Barack Obama.

That’s why we thought it so interesting that Time Warner Cable’s chief financial officer, Rob Marcus, is happy for some turnover at the Federal Communications Commission. It is the FCC, after all, that has to approve some key licenses for Time Warner Cable’s split from its majority owner, Time Warner Inc. For some reason, the FCC can’t seem to find room on its schedule to do that, and that seems to have irked Marcus. It is, after all, preventing the two companies from separating by the time Time Warner Cable said it would.

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