Tales from the Trail

The Rich and Taxes – Clinton’s lament

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took what appeared to be a coded swipe at Republican refusals to consider raising taxes in U.S. debt limit talks, saying on Tuesday that all leaders must make hard decisions to put their countries on the right track.

Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president in 2008 but now “out of politics” as top diplomat for her one-time rival President Barack Obama,  sounded pointedly political as she recounted a meeting with an unnamed president facing serious fiscal challenges.

“Often times leaders are struggling to get the political support they need to make the hard decisions,” Clinton said at meeting on government transparency at the State Department.

Washington Extra – Beware of frank

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.

Washington Extra – Long day

The longest day of the year probably seemed even longer for some.

Jon Huntsman started the day in New Jersey to formally throw his hat into the ring against the picturesque backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. Here’s the thing about backdrops and TV… Huntsman made it into every shot, but not Lady Liberty. And then he was off to New Hampshire for a rally.

At the Capitol, it was scheduled as a two-hour meeting, but the issues seem never-ending as Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers negotiate on the deficit and debt limit. Some speculation swirling that perhaps a short-term increase in the debt limit may be an option if agreement is out of reach.

Not exactly a sunny day for the economy. Data out today point to a housing market still struggling to regain footing.

Washington Extra – Not enough

The word is not enough. That was the message from the United States to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who pledged reforms in a speech at Damascus University.

“What’s important now is action, not words,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

White House spokesman Jay Carney concurred: “President Assad needs to either lead that transition or get out of the way … I’m not saying the words are meaningless, but he needs to act on them … But first, he needs to stop the violence.”

Washington Extra – Tee party

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?

Republicans hold debt school for lawmakers

Pop quiz: What’s the debt limit?

As the August 2 deadline for raising borrowing authority nears, House Republican leaders have been holding a series of workshops for their 240 members to help “educate” them on the debt limit, according to senior aides.

In the past couple weeks, a few dozen House Republicans have attended each of the meetings to hear House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan discuss options for cutting spending and field questions about the debt limit.

“Any member (can) come in and have a presentation on debt limit,” one aide said, adding, “they can get facts and have a conversation about what it means.”

Washington Extra – One more for the road

Jon Huntsman is in. Well, technically, the Republican announced that he will announce that he is in next Tuesday.

“I intend to announce that I will be a candidate for the presidency a week from today,” the former U.S. ambassador to China said at a Thomson Reuters event in New York.

He advocated “getting our own house in order” to improve ties with China. “As we have a very weak economic core, we are less able to project the goodness and the power and the might of the United States,” Huntsman said.

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CORRECTS POLL NUMBER ON OBAMA’S HANDLING OF ECONOMY

The United States is due to hit its $14.3 trillion debt limit today, and tensions are understandably on the increase with Republicans and Democrats wide apart on the budget deal the GOP wants in exchange for increasing the ceiling.

World markets and America’s economic future could be jeopardized if negotiators still have no deal when the Treasury Department runs out of tricks to stave off default.

But do those fears a crisis make?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggests not. “Rather than thinking of this as a crisis, I think of it as an opportunity to come together and those talks are under way led by the vice president.”

Washington Extra – Mistakes were made

Anyone in public office for more than a nanosecond is likely to have words and deeds come back to haunt them. New political realities sometimes demand a new world view 180 degrees from the old one. And then comes the explanation.

President Barack Obama, who is urging Congress to raise the debt ceiling, is finding his 2006 Senate vote against raising the debt limit when George W. Bush was president has come back to bite him. OBAMA/

The White House has decided to confront the discrepancy head-on.

Asked about the five-year-old vote, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president “now believes it was a mistake.”