Washington Extra – Obama’s BlackBerry 10
Tempers ran high in the Senate today as Republicans blocked a $30 billion Democratic plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses. Democrats are fast running out of time to show they are doing something to cut unemployment ahead of November’s elections, but this is just the latest bill to founder on objections from Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue extra spending should be covered by cuts elsewhere in the budget.
This time Republicans complained they were shut out of the amendment process and that a billion dollars of agriculture spending had been attached to the legislation. Mindful that voters think his administration is not doing enough to create jobs, Obama had been calling for the Senate to pass this bill, and he will likely be dismayed by this latest setback.
If that was the thorn in Obama’s day, the rose was probably his appearance on ABC’s ”The View”, sitting on a couch peppered with questions by five women, including Barbara Walters and Joy Behar. Referring to how his family discuss the highs and lows of their lives, he talked about the “roses” and “thorns” of his life as president, revealed he hadn’t been invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and said his i-Pod included Jay-Z and Frank Sinatra but thankfully nothing by teen sensation Justin Bieber.
Finally, he said only about 10 people had his BlackBerry personal e-mail address. “I’ve got to admit it’s no fun because they think it’s going to be subject to the Presidential Records Act so nobody sends me the juicy stuff,” he ruefully added.
While we all ponder who those 10 might be (Michelle and the girls, Axelrod, Emanuel, Gibbs, Jarrett and ….) we would like to respectfully invite the president to add an eleventh. Mr. President, just send your name, position and email address to email@example.com.
Here are our top stories from today:
Republicans block small business plan in Senate
Senate Republicans blocked a $30-billion plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama’s election-year battle to reduce unemployment. Tempers ran high as Democratic leaders failed to muster the 60 votes needed to advance the measure over Republican objections.
To read the full story by Donna Smith, click here.
Obama seeks his “mojo” on daytime TV’s “The View”
President Barack Obama tried to revive his common touch with a mainly light-hearted appearance on daytime television where five women hosts grilled him about his Blackberry, Lindsay Lohan and the Afghan war.
For more of Patricia Zengerle’s story, read here.
Obama seeks to mend rift with US black community
President Barack Obama sought to repair damage to his relationship with the black community caused by his administration’s firing of an African-American government official. A political fracas erupted last week after Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign when conservative media depicted her as anti-white because of a speech she had given.
Fed officials clash on need for more stimulus
Federal Reserve officials clashed over whether the central bank should be more aggressive in supporting the stumbling economy and one said the Fed’s current policy may be contributing to worryingly low levels of inflation.
The full story by Mark Felsenthal will be on reuters.com soon.
Regulator says Basel capital rules still tight
International bank capital proposals were scaled back this week, but the extent of the easing has been overblown, the regulator of the largest banks said. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan told Reuters the definition of what qualifies as quality capital is still very restrictive — even more so than what bank regulators used when they stress-tested 19 banks last year under adverse conditions.
To read the rest of Karey Wutkowski’s story, click here.
Republican concerns could stall START treaty
Senate Republicans voiced objections to the new START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, raising concerns that could delay efforts to hand President Barack Obama a foreign policy victory ahead of the November elections. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Republicans said the accord could impede plans for an anti-missile defense system and pressed the administration to release the full treaty negotiating record to answer their questions.
For the full story by David Alexander, click here.
For some questions and answers about the key issues under debate, click here.
What could happen with Arizona’s immigration law
Arizona lodged an appeal seeking to lift a judge’s ruling blocking key parts of the state’s controversial law cracking down on illegal immigrants.
For some scenarios on what could happen next, click here.
And from elsewhere in the country…
Bear attack victim says relaxing saved her life
Frantic seconds into an attack by a bear, Deb Freele did something that went against all her instincts but probably saved her life — she totally relaxed.
“I thought I would be dinner,” said Freele, 58, a visitor to the Montana backcountry from Canada, who recalled awakening from a deep sleep in her tent near Yellowstone National Park to find she was being chewed on by a bear.
“Within hundredths of seconds, I felt the teeth in my arm, heard bones breaking. I screamed and that seemed to aggravate him. He sunk his teeth into me again,” she said in a telephone interview from her hospital room in Cody, Wyoming.
“So I decided to play dead and mean it,” she said. “Every muscle in my body went limp, like a rag doll … I thought I could play dead or be dead.”
For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama checks his BlackBerry while walking with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett)