The overnight news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn‚Äôs resignation sets up a global battle over who will succeed him in the IMF‚Äôs glass-and-steel headquarters in Washington. But, of course, that‚Äôs not the only fight in town.
The bipartisan group of budget negotiators now known as the Gang-of-Six-Minus-One is expected to meet today to try to salvage hopes of a budget compromise after a shouting match over Medicare sent Republican Senator Tom Coburn to the exit door.
Medicare is the third-rail political issue that recently had Republicans showing signs of retreating from House Budget Chief Paul Ryan‚Äôs Republican reform plan. Critics call it a¬†blueprint for privatizing the federal government‚Äôs healthcare program for the elderly.
A proxy war over Medicare-as-2012-campaign-issue is shaping up around next week‚Äôs special congressional election in one of New York‚Äôs most conservative districts, where the Ryan plan has given Democrats the chance for an upset. ¬†Conservative groups are pouring tons of money into the¬†contest and¬†veteran¬†Capitol Hill staffers are expected to¬†parachute in soon to help get out the vote.
The Medicare issue is the same¬†albatross that¬†started¬†hanging out with¬†Newt Gingrich this week, after the Republican White House candidate trashed the Ryan reform plan as right wing ‚Äúsocial engineering.‚ÄĚ The former House speaker apologized amid a storm of criticism from fellow conservatives. He‚Äôs since had ‚Äúhelp‚ÄĚ from potential presidential rival Sarah Palin, who in a TV appearance urged him not to back down in the face of ‚Ä¶ lamestream media criticism? hmmm¬†‚Ä¶ but¬†who otherwise made sure she underscored¬†his offending language.
Palin, who has been in and out of the spotlight in recent months,¬†says she‚Äôs still considering a White House run. That could make for a nice¬†rumble between her and¬†Michele Bachmann, that other woman in Republican circles who¬†rivals Palin as¬†an outspoken darling of the Tea Party movement.
But the real 2012 campaign action today is in New Hampshire, where former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman begins a campaign-style tour of the early voting state — also known as potential GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s backyard.
But some think he could do well by positioning himself as an underdog in the still-open GOP field. After all, he is the telegenic son of a billionaire with a smooth articulate tongue and¬†loads of government experience. The upside (or downside) for some¬†is that¬†he could make a better president than a presidential candidate.
But if the current storm clouds over Medicare signal a swing back to the center for Republican and independent voters, five months after the Tea Party stormed the House, Huntsman could be the only Republican waiting there to greet them.
Reuters Photo Credits: Darrin Zammit Lupi (Medieval Re-enactors); Lucas Jackson (Pillow Fighting World Championship Bout); Hand Out (Tank Firing Exercise); Javier Diaz (Bull Fight)
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