Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra — Summer’s end

August 23, 2010

Summer is clearly coming to a close. Not only did children head back to public school in Washington Monday, but everywhere you look people are wrapping up old business or preparing for a new start.USA-EGGS/RECALL

Vice President Joe Biden was doing it. Speaking to Indiana military veterans, he noted the U.S. is on track to end its combat role in Iraq at the end of the month. And he pressed Baghdad to form a government six months after its election.

Some debates still linger, though. Whether to extend the Bush tax cuts to people earning over $250,000, for example. The biggest U.S. companies stepped up their lobbying on behalf of the breaks.

The wisdom of the government’s big bank bailouts is another lingering question. Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig said the bailouts lowered capital costs for banks that are too big to fail, making it more difficult for their smaller rivals to compete.

You know what they say: You can’t make an omelet without cracking eggs.

But that’s the day’s other tale.

Here are our top stories…

Biden pressing Iraqi leaders to form government

Vice President Joe Biden said he is pressing Iraq’s leaders to settle their differences and form a government, almost six months after the country’s election and a week before the scheduled end of the U.S. combat mission. The Pentagon plans to cut troop numbers in Iraq to 50,000 by September 1 — from 176,000 at the peak of the deployment after the 2003 invasion to topple dictator Saddam Hussein.

For the full story by Patricia Zengerle, click here.

U.S. business wants hearings on Bush-era tax cuts

The biggest U.S. companies stepped up their lobbying to block Democrats’ plans to let taxes on wealthier Americans rise at year’s end, asking lawmakers not to cut short the hearing process in Congress. The Senate is set to take up expiration of tax cuts on nearly all individuals enacted under former President George W. Bush when it reconvenes in September. The thorniest issue involves taxes for the top income classes — families earning at least $250,000 a year — which President Barack Obama and most Democrats want to let expire.

To read the rest of this story by Kim Dixon, click here.

FDA head says more egg recalls possible

The Food and Drug Administration commissioner said there may be more recalls of eggs in the salmonella outbreak and the agency did not yet know how the eggs and chickens were contaminated. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the U.S. is probably involved in the largest recall that has happened in recent history.

For more of this story by Tabassum Zakaria and Alina Selyukh, click here.

Fed’s Hoenig: “too big to fail” hurts small banks

The viability of community banks is threatened by policies that have conferred “too big to fail” status on larger banks, reducing their cost of capital, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said.

For more by Carey Gillam and David Lawder, click here.

From elsewhere…

AIG pays back $4 billion of loan

Bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc said it paid back nearly $4 billion in U.S. loans in its single largest cash payment so far to reduce its debt to taxpayers. The partial repayment of a Federal Reserve Bank of New York credit facility came after International Lease Finance Corp, AIG’s aircraft leasing unit, sold $4.4 billion in debt to investors and used the bulk of the proceeds to repay $3.9 billion in government loans three years early.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Big-spending novices now lag in Florida campaigns

A pair of wealthy outsiders who spent their way to prominence in Florida’s Senate and governor’s races now lag the political insiders backed by the party hierarchies in Tuesday’s primary election. The free-spending novices, real estate billionaire Jeff Greene and healthcare multimillionaire Rick Scott, held double-digit leads over their opponents in July but slipped steadily as their rivals turned the spotlight on the newcomers’ business dealings and character.

To read more of this story, click here.

Tiger Woods and wife Elin divorce

The world’s No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods and his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren have divorced following the sex scandal that embroiled Woods late last year, a statement from their lawyers said.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Plate of eggs at a Washington restaurant Monday)

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