Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Tee party

June 17, 2011

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner get to flex their golfing skills tomorrow and we’re guessing there’s plenty of pre-game strategizing going on.

Is Obama telling Vice President Joe Biden, arguably the best golfer of the four, to hold back on the hole-in-ones? They do after all want Boehner amenable to their views on the debt limit stand-off.

Is Ohio Governor John Kasich giving Boehner advice on how to keep the Veep off-guard so they can ruin his handicap and have bragging rights on the Republican versus Democrat scoreboard?

And will the political foursome keep up with appearances and wear that loud clothing golfers seem to like so much, and which can make a bystander cringe?

But is golf really about winning or how you play the game? In this case it will be a success if no one ends up teed off…

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Retirement changes not likely in debt talks

Negotiators trying to get the country’s debt under control aren’t likely to propose major changes to retirement benefits, but even slowing the growth of those benefits could yield substantial savings. The Social Security retirement program accounts for roughly one-quarter of government spending, but it has been largely spared from scrutiny as Vice President Joe Biden and top lawmakers search for a way to narrow trillion-dollar budget deficits.

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

Payrolls shrink, jobless rates drop in many states

The number of people on companies’ payrolls shrank in more than half the U.S. states in May, even though the jobless rates in many places continued to improve, Labor Department data released showed. The number of employees working for businesses outside of farming decreased in 27 states and Washington, D.C., while it increased in 22 states.

For more of this story by Lisa Lambert, read here.

Factbox: Top budgetary threats to state, local government

The recession that began in 2007 created budget emergencies in most U.S. states and in many cities and counties, casting a harsh spotlight on long-standing fiscal problems. Members of Congress are now worrying publicly that the only solution will be a sweeping federal rescue — one that Washington can barely afford under the burdens of its own massive deficit.

For more of this story by Lisa Lambert, read here.

U.S. advisory panel backs Regeneron eye drug

A new eye medicine from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Bayer AG is a safe and effective way of treating vision loss from macular degeneration, a U.S. advisory panel unanimously said. The advisers to the Food and Drug Administration also said the drug, to be marketed as Eylea, could be dosed once every two months, giving it an edge over the typical monthly dosing of its chief competitor, Lucentis, from Roche Holding AG.

For more of this story by Anna Yukhananov, read here.

Ex-Colonial Bank exec gets 8 years in TBW fraud

A former bank executive who served as the go-between during a seven-year, $2.9 billion fraud scheme at Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Catherine Kissick, 50, who headed Colonial Bank’s mortgage warehouse lending division, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit bank, securities and wire fraud. She also testified against TBW former chairman Lee Farkas.

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

Clinton and Lavrov discuss Syria U.N. resolution

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, trying to break a deadlock over a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Russia and China dislike the idea of any U.N. Security Council judgment on Syria and have played little role in discussions on a draft resolution to condemn Syrian bloodshed against protesters.

For more of this story by Tabassum Zakaria, read here.

From elsewhere…

Debbie Reynolds selling historic movie costumes

If you ever wanted to relive the movie scene in which Marilyn Monroe’s dress is blown upwards by a burst of air, you will get a chance on Saturday when her gown from “The Seven Year Itch” goes on auction. Expect to fork over at least $1 million to $2 million for the ivory rayon-acetate halter dress with pleated skirt, one of about 500 wardrobe items being offloaded by actress and lifetime collector Debbie Reynolds at a Beverly Hills sale.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama plays golf in Hawaii, December 2010)

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