Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Mistakes were made

April 11, 2011

Anyone in public office for more than a nanosecond is likely to have words and deeds come back to haunt them. New political realities sometimes demand a new world view 180 degrees from the old one. And then comes the explanation.

President Barack Obama, who is urging Congress to raise the debt ceiling, is finding his 2006 Senate vote against raising the debt limit when George W. Bush was president has come back to bite him. OBAMA/

The White House has decided to confront the discrepancy head-on.

Asked about the five-year-old vote, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president “now believes it was a mistake.”

And then Carney proceeded to inject the fear of calamity into the debate, saying failure to raise the debt limit would be “Armaggedon-like,” “devastating,” “dangerous,” “catastrophic,” and let’s not forget “calamitous.”

In 2006, Obama said: “Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Obama wants deficit legislation this year

President Obama’s upcoming proposals to cut the deficit could produce “real” legislation and tangible results before the 2012 presidential election, the White House said. He will offer a long-term plan for deficit reduction less than a week after sealing a deal with Republicans in Congress to cut some $38 billion in spending during the current fiscal year. Congress and the White House are now shifting to bigger battles over the budget for the 2012 fiscal year and raising the $14.3 trillion limit on government borrowing authority.

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

Boehner plays both sides to win
Republican leader John Boehner played the right-wing Tea Party against Democrats to win record spending cuts in last week’s budget fight, and now he’ll use the victory to push for even deeper reductions. The deal left some critics demanding more and questioning his leadership, but Boehner avoided a rebellion from the Tea Party wing of his party in Congress, showed he could stand up to President Obama and made clear he expects more spending cuts on the 2012 budget.

For more of this analysis by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

Q+A: What’s next in the budget fight?

Now that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have reached a deal on spending for the remainder of this fiscal year, averting a government shutdown, what’s left to do on budget matters? Plenty. Or, as the Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Fox News: “This is going to go on and on and on.” Here are some questions for those watching the budget debate and answers to how things might play out over the next eight months.

For more of this story by Richard Cowan, read here.

U.S. reacts cautiously to AU peace plan for Libya

The United States reacted cautiously to a peace plan for Libya rejected by the rebels, saying it was waiting for details and shedding no light on whether the proposal required Muammar Gaddafi to step down. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated the view that the Libyan leader must leave power and the country but she did not include this on a list of “non-negotiable” demands.

For more of this story by Arshad Mohammed, read here.

Inflation, oil prices create new challenges – IMF

Soaring oil prices and inflation in emerging economies pose new risks to global recovery but are not yet strong enough to derail it, the IMF said. The fastest growth in recent years has come from emerging markets like China, Brazil and India, which helped offset the deep downturns in the United States and other rich nations touched off by burst housing bubbles. Now, the IMF warns those very economies risk asset bubbles akin to the ones that sparked the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

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

America Inc wants some CFTC slack on margins

Corporate America has spent a year working to persuade Washington that companies could suffer billions of dollars in collateral damage from the biggest financial overhaul since the Great Depression. This week should give a clue to how successful that effort has been.

For more of this analysis by Christopher Doering, read here.

Americans say Mideast democratic reform good for U.S.

Most Americans believe democratic reforms in the Middle East would be positive for the United States but are divided over whether unrest sweeping the region will lead to greater democracy. The University of Maryland poll found that most believe U.S.-Muslim relations are among the top five issues facing the United States. They also would favor greater democracy even if it meant a country would be more likely to oppose U.S. policies.

For more of this story by David Alexander, read here.

What we are blogging…

Republican Pawlenty hoping he got his money man for 2012

Tim Pawlenty, who is exploring a run for president in 2012 and is sometimes lampooned as somebody nobody knows, has created a buzz in political circles by hiring Nick Ayers as campaign manager for his exploratory committee. The former Minnesota governor, known to supporters as “T-Paw”, announced the hiring of Ayers, the former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, on his website and on Twitter, where he asked followers to follow his new guy @nick_ayers.

For Tabassum Zakaria’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Winklevoss twins must accept Facebook deal: court

Mark Zuckerberg won the latest legal battle against former Harvard classmates who accuse him of stealing their idea for Facebook, a multimillion-dollar feud made famous on the silver screen. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss must accept a settlement with Facebook that had been valued at $65 million, a U.S. appeals court.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (President Obama walks toward Rose Garden)

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