Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Seven up

June 13, 2011

Ready… Set… Go… And they’re off to the races for 2012. The Republicans went north. The Democrat went south.

Seven Republicans go head-to-head in New Hampshire tonight in the first major debate in the battle for their party’s presidential nomination.

The One they hope to unseat next year, President Barack Obama, sought a head start by talking jobs (he said the word 21 times) in the battleground state of North Carolina, before attending three back-to-back Miami fundraisers in fickle Florida.

“Today, the single most serious economic problem we face is getting people back to work. We stabilized the economy. We prevented a financial meltdown. An economy that was shrinking is now growing. We’ve added more than 2 million private sector jobs over the last 15 months alone,” Obama said at Cree, Inc. in Durham, North Carolina.

That’s probably not quite how the Republicans see it. They are likely to criticize Obama’s economic performance and harp on the stubbornly high unemployment rate.

Will the Republicans who would be president propose specific ideas for turning the economy around or simply criticize the other guy?

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Obama job creation panel suggests modest steps

With few tools left to heal the economy, President Obama pledged to act on job-boosting ideas from a panel of top executives whose modest proposals fell short of a quick fix for high unemployment. Obama’s jobs council, led by GE chief Jeffrey Immelt, called for measures to cut red tape, provide more loans, invest in energy efficiency and attract more tourists, many of which have been suggested before.

For more of this story by Alister Bull, read here.

Republicans to debate, Romney the frontrunner

Seven Republican presidential contenders meet face-to-face in their first major debate as the fight for the party’s 2012 nomination enters a new phase. The nationally televised forum will include most of the top-tier contenders in the battle to challenge President Obama. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, leads the Republican pack in most polls but is an uneasy front-runner in a group that has drawn complaints for being a weak field. Obama heads most polls against the hopefuls, despite high unemployment.

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

For a factbox on what to look for during the debate, click here.

Top Republican sounds optimistic on US debt talks

Democrats and Republicans are starting to agree on significant spending cuts as they step up talks to stabilize the country’s long-term finances, a top Republican lawmaker said. “There’s room for us to agree on trillions of dollars in savings,” Eric Cantor told reporters. “We are beginning to see the essence of convergence on savings begin to happen.”

For more of this story by Andy Sullivan, read here.

Lagarde dominates IMF race, but not a ‘birthright’

Christine Lagarde looks set for the plush corner suite at the IMF headquarters but unlike most Europeans who cruised into the top job, she has hard bargaining to do with emerging economies. “Christine Lagarde must not be handed a blank check,” said one senior official from a developing country. “If she wants the support of developing countries, she must commit to continue reforming the institution.”

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

Who might be behind attempted IMF data hacking?

A national government is the most likely culprit in an apparent cyber attack on the IMF, say experts, given the complexity of the assault and its targeting of the organization’s secrets. With the IMF leadership up for grabs as it mulls Eurozone bailouts and global financial reform, there are no shortage of states who might like to read its mail.

For more of this analysis by Jim Wolf and Peter Apps, read here.

White House calls sex scandal lawmaker a “distraction”

The White House ramped up pressure on Democratic lawmaker Anthony Weiner to resign, calling his Internet sex scandal a distraction from the work that needs to be done in Washington. “Congressman Weiner has said himself — his behavior was inappropriate, his dishonesty was inappropriate,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

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

U.S. top court rules for Janus in securities case

Janus Capital Group Inc and a subsidiary cannot be held liable in a lawsuit by shareholders over allegedly false statements in prospectuses for several Janus mutual funds, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. By a 5-4 vote in a narrow decision, the justices overturned a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that a class-action securities fraud lawsuit could go forward.

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

EPA delays rollout of CO2 rule on power plants

The EPA, under pressure from Republicans and big utilities, said it had extended a deadline by two months on draft rules that would for the first time limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA said it moved the date after listening to businesses and states that will have to implement the regulation. The rule, known as a performance standard, would limit the amount of carbon dioxide that U.S. power plants may emit.

For more of this story by Timothy Gardner, read here.

From elsewhere…

S&P slashes Greece to lowest, says default likely

Greece became the lowest-rated country in the world in the rankings of Standard & Poor’s on Monday, putting it below Ecuador, Jamaica, Pakistan and Grenada. The rating agency cut Greece three notches and warned it would view a likely debt restructuring as a default. This was the latest blow for the country’s Socialist government, which is scrambling to push a new austerity package through parliament to clinch continued funding under a year-old bailout plan despite rising public discontent.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama in North Carolina)

 

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