Washington Extra – Patriotic millionaires
As Democrats and Republicans hunkered down on opposite sides of the Capitol on Wednesday, showing no signs of a compromise on slashing the deficit, a group called the Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength made its move.
Nearly 140 members wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to “do the right thing” and “raise our taxes.” Next they hit up the bipartisan “super committee,” laboring under a Nov. 23 deadline to reach agreement on the deficit or trigger unpalatable budget cuts.
One of the corporate patriots said if Congress ended Bush-era tax cuts it would affect him and his fellow millionaires in his group “about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic.”
Another added “those of us who can afford it should step up. That is our message to the super committee. We hope they listen.”
Yeah, well, good luck with that. With just a week to go and members expressing some pretty serious doubts about a deal, the super committee twelve sound like they can’t even listen to each other.
Here are our top stories from Washington…
Deficit committee locked in budget stalemate
Budget talks in Congress were locked in stalemate as Democrats and Republicans showed no sign of moving toward a compromise on taxes and health care. With a deadline less than a week away, members of the “super committee” tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in budget savings confronted the same barriers that have thwarted earlier efforts to rein in the growing national debt. Both sides waited for the other to make a move as they hunkered down on opposite sides of the Capitol.
For more of this story by Richard Cowan and Donna Smith, read here.
U.S. millionaires ask Congress: ‘Raise our taxes’
Nearly 140 millionaires asked Congress to increase their taxes for the sake of the nation. “Please do the right thing,” the entrepreneurs and business leaders wrote President Obama and congressional leaders, noting that they benefited from a sound economy and want others to do so. “Raise our taxes.” The group was created a year ago during a failed bid to persuade Congress to end tax cuts for millionaires enacted under President Bush. The group is now making the same request of the “super committee.”
For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro, read here.
President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled plans to deepen the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific, with 2,500 marines operating out of a de facto base in northern Australia. China, already worried the United States is caging it in, immediately questioned whether strengthening military alliances would help the region when economic woes put a premium on cooperation. From next year, U.S. troops and aircraft will operate out of the tropical city of Darwin, only 820 kms from Indonesia, able to respond quickly to any humanitarian and security issues in Southeast Asia, where disputes over sovereignty of the South China Sea are causing rising tensions.
For more of this story by Caren Bohan and James Grubel, read here.
Police arrest suspect in shooting of White House window
Police arrested a 21-year old man suspected of shooting at the White House last week, after federal agents found two bullets that had hit the mansion, including one that struck a window. Oscar Ortega-Hernandez was picked up by Pennsylvania state troopers at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Secret Service said. No one was hurt in the Friday night shooting. The Secret Service said one of the bullets broke a window but was stopped by protective ballistic glass behind the executive mansion’s historic external glass. The other round struck the exterior of the building.
For more of this story, read here.
Energy Secretary Chu faces showdown on Solyndra
Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said it may take similar skills to navigate Washington politics as it does to make advances in physics research, in which he won a Nobel Prize in 1997. “You have to keep your wits about you, you have to dispassionately analyze what’s the best path to go forward,” Chu said this month. “Breakthroughs will happen, setbacks will happen. You use those breakthroughs to work around those setbacks to go forward.” Chu’s ability to rise above political setbacks will be put to the test on Thursday, when he will face the toughest grilling to date in his Washington career.
For more of this analysis by Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe, read here.
Consumer prices fell for the first time in four months, taking pressure off strapped households and giving the Federal Reserve more room to ease monetary policy if the economy falters. But for now, growth is gaining traction and a separate report showed industrial output rebounded strongly last month as factories and mines ramped up production. “The consistent theme in the recent flow of economic data has been one of accelerating momentum in economic activity,” said Millan Mulraine of TD Securities.
For more of this story by Jason Lange, read here.
Fannie, Freddie chiefs defend pay packages
Top executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac defended their companies’ pay practices from attack by lawmakers angry that the government-controlled firms were paying out nearly $13 million in executive bonuses. The chief executives argued the compensation structures at the mortgage finance firms were needed to retain and attract qualified staff. The two money-losing firms have been propped up by about $169 billion in federal aid since they were rescued by the government in 2008.
For more of this story by Margaret Chadbourn, read here.
Gingrich acknowledges Freddie Mac consulting fees
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged that he had received consulting fees from troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac for providing “strategic advice.” Campaigning in Iowa, Gingrich said he did not believe he was contracted by the government-owned housing finance giant as a friendly voice who would avoid criticizing it. “I was approached. I was glad to offer strategic advice and we did it for a number of companies and Gingrich Group was very successful,” he told reporters.
For more of this story, read here.
For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.
Washington Bureau Chief
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Aide peeks in committee room as Democrats on ‘super committee’ wrap up meeting) REUTERS/Larry Downing (Obama in Australia); REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (Shoppers in New York)