Washington Extra — Beck, Bernanke and baseball
An â€śAmerican miracleâ€ť or an â€śexercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scaleâ€ť?
Â No, I am not talking about Reuters Washington Extra, but Glenn Beckâ€™s Restoring Honor rally which is due to take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday. Beck, never one to hide his light under a bushel, has described tomorrowâ€™s event as â€śa defibrillator to the heart of Americaâ€ť, â€śthe Woodstock of the next generationâ€ť, and â€śthe turning pointâ€ť in American history. Eugene Robinson in todayâ€™s Washington Post was less optimistic about the rally and its â€śegomaniacalâ€ť host, who will be speaking a few steps down from where Martin Luther King gave his â€śI Have a Dreamâ€ť speech on the same day in 1963. Washington Extra is not taking sides.
Ben Bernankeâ€™s speech at the Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole was considerably less dramatic than Beckâ€™s is likely to be, but does merit a quick mention too. The Fed chairman said the economic recovery had weakened more than expected but downplayed concerns that it might slip back into recession. The Fed, he said, was ready to act if needed to spur growth and said the central bank still had ammunition left. He at least is not reaching for the defibrillator yet.
Finally, commiserations to all you Nationals fans after the news that rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg could miss at least a year and perhaps the whole 2011 season with a significant ligament tear in his right elbow. I will be wearing my Nationals T-shirt this weekend in sympathy.
Here are our top stories from todayâ€¦
Bernanke says recovery softer, Fed to act if needed
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economic recovery has weakened more than expected and the Fed stands ready to act if needed to spur slowing growth. Bernanke downplayed concerns that the economy might slip back into recession, predicting a modest expansion in the second half of this year with the pace picking up in 2011.
For the full story by Mark Felsenthal, click here.
Imports stifle second quarter growth, spending up
Economic growth was revised down to a 1.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter, pointing to an even softer performance in the third quarter. The Commerce Department report showed gross domestic product, the measure of total goods and services output within U.S. borders, was dampened by the largest increase in imports in 26 years. Nonetheless, growth was not quite as weak as anticipated.
For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.
Panel offers Obama ideas on tax overhaul
An expert panel named by President Barack Obama spelled out ideas to simplify the byzantine tax code, including pre-filled-out returns for some individuals and reducing the corporate tax rate while cutting loopholes. The panel’s report stops short of specific recommendations but will likely play into an already bitter tax debate in Washington ahead of the November elections.
For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.
Strasburg could need major surgery on ligament tear
Washington Nationals rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg has a significant ligament tear in his right elbow and will probably need major surgery that could sideline him for a year, the team said on Friday. The promising right-hander will seek a second opinion before the Nationals make a final decision on whether surgery is needed, the team said on its website.
For more of this story, read here.
And for what we are bloggingâ€¦
Laura Bush says every president faces unfair criticism
Former first lady Laura Bush says every president is unfairly criticized and it comes from both friends and foes.
For Toby Zakariaâ€™s full blog, click here.
Economy giving women pause about motherhood?
U.S. birth rates in 2009 declined for the second straight year, a sign the economy may be causing some women to think twice about having children, health officials said.
Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 4,136,000 children were born in 2009, down 2.6 percent from the 2008 estimate.
For the full story, click here.
Â For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.
Photo credit: Reuters/Chris Keane (Beck at an NRA meeting in Charlotte May 15)