Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Chicken and ducks

USA-HEALTHCARE/The wrangling continues over the Bush-era tax cuts. President Barack Obama said he was confident Democrats and Republicans could break the deadlock and reach a deal soon. But with time running out, there is something of a game of chicken being played by the two sides. Each is watching to see who blinks first, and with the economy still struggling, both know the stakes are high.

 

Texas Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling warned of the risks of failure:  “In a lame duck session, a lame duck Congress should not turn our economy into a dead duck economy.”

 

Let’s just hope they don’t duck the issue.

 

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

 

White House memo outlines new anti-leak measures

The White House has set up a special anti-WikiLeaks panel after the embarrassing flood of State Department cables leaked by the website, and its proposals include teams of inspectors who would prowl government agencies looking for ways to tighten security. A four-page draft memo circulated by the White House says President Obama’s national security staff has created an “Interagency Policy Committee for WikiLeaks.”

 

For more of this story, read here.

 

Geithner, lawmakers debate Bush-era tax cuts

President Obama’s top economic advisers and key leaders in Congress haggled over how to extend low Bush-era tax rates on Wednesday, seeking to break a political deadlock and prevent taxes from rising next year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is leading negotiations for the White House with budget director Jack Lew, said participants had a “civil, constructive discussion” but he would not talk about where those talks were heading.

 

For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.

 

U.S. sees big costs for banks to fix foreclosures

Banks will have to cope with big costs to clean up their foreclosure practices, with some lenders also facing “significant exposure” to investor demands that they buy back faulty mortgages, a top official said. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo was hesitant to put a number on the potential costs and told a Senate hearing regulators are trying to get a handle on the threat to the financial system.

Pearl Jam to Obama: Don’t change your tune on Web issues

WASHINGTON – Rock bands Pearl Jam and R.E.M., the founder of Craigslist, consumer activists and others who backed Barack Obama’s technology-fueled presidential win told the Illinois Democrat on Thursday that they expect him to return the favor.

USA/They were among more than 100 organizations that sent a letter to Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, urging him to lift “the stranglehold industry lobbyists have had on communications policy, and put the public’s priorities first.”

Citing Obama’s words back to him in bullet points, the letter reminded the president-elect of his campaign support for net neutrality, universal broadband and other web-friendly positions. It referred to an Obama speech at Google headquarters where he vowed to “take a back seat to no one in my commitment to net neutrality.”