Washington Extra – Beware of frank

July 7, 2011

When officials in Washington describe talks as “frank,” the usual translation is: “didn’t go my way.”

President Barack Obama emerged from a meeting with congressional leaders on the deficit and proclaimed: “People were frank.”

Uh-oh. Doesn’t sound like the president’s persuasive personality prevailed.

So they’re all going to meet again on Sunday, when Obama said he wants to see everyone’s “bottom lines” so they can engage in “the hard bargaining that’s necessary to get a deal done.”

Deals on issues of this magnitude usually go to the wire in this town, and Aug. 2 is still more than three weeks away…

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Obama, lawmakers still far apart on US debt

President Obama and lawmakers emerged from talks still far apart on breaking a budget deadlock and said negotiators will work through the weekend for a deal. Obama and top lawmakers are aiming for a broad deficit reduction agreement in negotiations that could involve changes to popular entitlement programs such as Social Security.

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

White House tries again to help jobless homeowners

The Obama administration unveiled plans to give unemployed borrowers and their bankers more time to delay home foreclosures, the latest effort to help struggling Americans stay in their homes. With 13.9 million Americans out of work and a glut of foreclosures depressing home prices and the overall market, the administration has been forced to tweak some of its foreclosure prevention plans.

For more of this story by Rachelle Younglai, read here.

Texas governor Perry likely to run in 2012

Among political insiders in the Texas state capital, one thing is considered certain: Governor Rick Perry will jump into the presidential race. But what happens then, in a campaign where many Republicans are hungry for an alternative to vulnerable frontrunner Mitt Romney, is much less predictable.

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

Private hiring jumps, sparking recovery hopes

Companies hired four times more workers in June than in May, strengthening views the economy was starting to escape the doldrums. A drop in the number filing applications for unemployment benefits offered hope for the labor market, although too high to signal robust growth. With gasoline prices falling, automakers cranking up production and the decline in house values moderating, the dark clouds over the economy are starting to lift.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

U.S. ambassador in Hama to support Syria protesters

The U.S. ambassador to Syria traveled to the restive city of Hama to show solidarity with protesters concerned that Syrian security forces ringing the city could stage a new crackdown. The State Department said Ambassador Robert Ford met with at least 12 Hama residents on his trip, and hoped to stay in the city through Friday when more protests are planned.

For more of this story by Andrew Quinn, read here.

Senate deal would axe $6 billion ethanol tax credit

Three senators reached a deal to repeal the $6 billion per year ethanol tax credit by the end of July, an agreement that must still be passed by Congress. “This agreement is the best chance to repeal the ethanol subsidy, and it’s the best chance to achieve real deficit reduction,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein.

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

A year after Dodd-Frank, CFTC tackles manipulation

The futures regulator launched a frenzied effort to finalize nearly 50 rules as it reinvents itself as an overseer of the swaps market. The CFTC, which has been beset by delays as it carries out Dodd-Frank, finalized five rules, including one that will give it more muscle to crack down on market manipulation and fraud.

For more of this story by Christopher Doering and Charles Abbott, read here.

From elsewhere…

Special Report: Murdoch row – why UK tabloids bin-dive and blag

Benjamin Pell made a second career out of digging through people’s rubbish bags and selling it to the British press. The office cleaner’s low-tech operations in the late 1990s fed stories on a high-profile libel case and even Elton John’s flower bill. British tabloids have a long and colorful history of finding new ways to get the story. Now, though, one tabloid has gone too far. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation will close its Sunday scandal sheet News of the World after the next edition as a result of an escalating phone hacking scandal.

For more of this special report by Mark Hosenball and Kate Holton, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama and House Speaker John Boehner at meeting on deficit)

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