The overnight news of Dominique Strauss-Kahnâ€™s resignation sets up a global battle over who will succeed him in the IMFâ€™s glass-and-steel headquarters in Washington. But, of course, thatâ€™s 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 Ryanâ€™s Republican reform plan. Critics call it aÂ blueprint for privatizing the federal governmentâ€™s healthcare program for the elderly.
A proxy war over Medicare-as-2012-campaign-issue is shaping up around next weekâ€™s special congressional election in one of New Yorkâ€™s most conservative districts, where the Ryan plan has given Democrats the chance for an upset. Â Conservative groups are pouring tons of money into theÂ contest andÂ veteranÂ Capitol Hill staffers are expected toÂ parachute in soon to help get out the vote.
The Medicare issue is the sameÂ albatross thatÂ startedÂ hanging out withÂ Newt Gingrich this week, after the Republican White House candidate trashed the Ryan reform plan as right wing â€śsocial engineering.â€ť The former House speaker apologized amid a storm of criticism from fellow conservatives. Heâ€™s since had â€śhelpâ€ť from potential presidential rival Sarah Palin, who in a TV appearance urged him not to back down in the face of â€¦ lamestream media criticism? hmmmÂ â€¦ butÂ who otherwise made sure she underscoredÂ his offending language.
Palin, who has been in and out of the spotlight in recent months,Â says sheâ€™s still considering a White House run. That could make for a niceÂ rumble between her andÂ Michele Bachmann, that other woman in Republican circles whoÂ rivals Palin asÂ 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 andÂ loads of government experience. The upside (or downside) for someÂ is thatÂ 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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