Washington Extra – Comfort Zone

September 27, 2010

President Barack Obama was jubilant at the bill signing for the small business lending legislation, but with just slightly more than a month to go before the election, voters appear consistently unmoved by White House attempts to lift the economy.

USA-ECONOMY/OBAMAThe president acknowledged that the small business bill came after a “long and tough fight,” and he castigated Senate Republicans – well, all but the two who bucked their party – for standing in the way.

Be on the lookout for the Reuters/Ipsos poll on Ohio tomorrow, you can find it on our midterm election page.

And my colleague Deborah Zabarenko points out the following that would rattle anyone’s comfort zone: A telescope on Maui has detected an asteroid that will come within 4 million miles of Earth in mid-October — close enough to be considered a “potentially hazardous object,” according to astronomers at the University of Hawaii.

The space rock won’t hit Earth in the immediate future, but we still have a one-word reaction: YIKES!

Here are our top stories from today…

Obama signs small business bill into law

President Barack Obama signed a $30 billion small business lending bill into law, claiming a victory on economic policy for his fellow Democrats ahead of November congressional elections. The law sets up a lending fund for small businesses and includes an additional $12 billion in tax breaks for small companies.

For more of this story by Jeff Mason, read here.

Oil companies must show can clean up spills: panel

Oil companies should be required to prove they can respond to major oil spills before they are allowed to acquire leases for offshore oil and gas development, White House oil spill commission co-chair Bill Reilly said. He said such a requirement would help place some of the responsibility for improving oil spill response technology on oil companies, although he said the government should lead this effort.

For more of this story by Ayesha Rascoe, read here.

Bank regulators delay “too big to fail” reform

Banking regulators put off proposing how the government would use its new authority to dismantle large, collapsing financial companies, saying they need more time for industry and other regulators to weigh in. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp had tentatively planned to vote on issuing an interim final rule that would have put in place some aspects of how the agency would handle the winding down of large financial firms previously considered “too big to fail.”

For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.

FBI employees reportedly cheated on security test

FBI agents and several supervisors cheated on an exam about new rules for terrorism and criminal investigations and for collecting foreign intelligence, according to a Justice Department report. The report by inspector general Glenn Fine found that some FBI employees improperly consulted with others while taking the exam, and others used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that essentially provided the answers to the test.

For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.

IMF to do mandatory checks on key financial systems

The International Monetary Fund said it will conduct mandatory check-ups of the financial sectors of 25 systemically-important countries to try to prevent another damaging global financial crisis. Until now, IMF financial sector evaluations have been voluntary for IMF member countries.

For more of this story by Lesley Wroughton, click here.

Obama administration fights for stem cell funding

The Obama administration pleaded with a U.S. appeals court to allow federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research to continue, arguing a ban would ruin numerous projects and cost millions of dollars.

For more of this story by Jeremy Pelofsky, read here.

What we are blogging…

Obama sounds note of optimism about Democrats and November

President Barack Obama sounded an optimistic note about the Democratic Party’s prospects in upcoming congressional midterm elections, saying in an NBC interview that Democrats would “do just fine” if they could keep the focus on issues of substance.   

For David Morgan’s full blog, read here.

From elsewhere…

Interview: China should keep yuan stable, resist U.S.

China should keep the yuan stable and not give in to U.S. pressure because a rapid rise in the value of the currency would harm the economy, a prominent government economist said. Yi Xianrong, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think-tank, described U.S. legislation aimed at forcing China to speed up the rise of the yuan as “nonsense.”

For more of this story, here.

North Korean leader’s son named army general

Secretive North Korea‘s ailing leader Kim Jong-il has named his youngest son as a military general, state media said, marking the first stage of a dynastic succession. Kim Jong-il, 68, is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, but despite his declining health is not expected to go into retirement just yet, experts say. They say his son Kim Jong-un is too young and inexperienced to fully take the reins.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama winks at audience before signing into law the Small Business Jobs Act)

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