Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Slipping away

October 13, 2010

congress1The Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the House of Representatives are slipping away. Our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that Republicans are poised to win around 227 seats and Democrats about 208 seats in next month’s election. Unemployment is top of the agenda for voters, and there is no good news coming on that front between now and November 2 (the next reading on the jobless rate doesn’t even come until the Friday after the election). That means there is very little chance that Democrats can pull off a late surge.

A Social Security reality check for deficit hawks

October 13, 2010

President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission is expected to recommend changes to Social Security to help reduce the deficit when it issues its report in early December.FRANCE-PENSIONS/ But protests in France over pension reforms there could serve as a reality check to U. S. deficit hawks who want to raise the U.S. retirement age  and make other benefit changes to the popular  retirement plan.

Washington Extra – Nobel committee polishes Diamond’s credentials

October 11, 2010

After irking the Chinese with the award of the Nobel peace prize last week, the Nobel committee set a few feathers flying in Washington today by awarding the economics prize to Peter Diamond, an MIT professor who has also been nominated by President Barack Obama for a spot on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.pdiamond

Washington Extra – Obama kills the bill

October 7, 2010

Last night Reuters correspondent Scot Paltrow revealed that a bill had sailed through the Senate last week — without public debate — which would have made it significantly harder for homeowners to challenge improper attempts to foreclose on their houses.foreclosures2 The legislation, which was sitting on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature, would have forced courts to recognize out-of-state notarizations, including those stamped en masse by computers in other states, a practice critics say has been used improperly to push through foreclosure orders. Computer notarizations, now valid in around a dozen states, would effectively have become legal nationally, and challenges to improper notarizations made in other states would have become harder and costlier.

Washington Extra -Soothing business, suing business

October 4, 2010

President Barack Obama had some soothing words for business leaders at the White House today, telling them that, despite some impressions to the contrary, he was really on their side after all. Financial regulatory reform was necessary, but “it is important now that there is a period of healing and consolidation and implementation that is less disruptive.”

Washington Extra – Obama and the young vote

September 28, 2010

obama_rallyIf  President Obama really wants to get his groove back with young voters, he might want to get a bit more in synch with their musical tastes and a bit less in line with songs their parents — and grandparents — listened to. He’s got about 2,000 songs on his iPod, but – as he put it – his selections are more weighted to his childhood – his very young childhood – than to much that 20-somethings are listening to today.

Washington Extra – Two to tango

September 23, 2010

One of the more surreal experiences at the Reuters Washington Summit this week was hearing Republicans saying they are prepared to work with President Barack Obama over the next two years and then listing their priorities – which started with undoing and repealing almost everything he has done in the past two.

Washington Extra – Gridlock and the fiscal deficit

September 21, 2010

summit

The term gridlock may have first entered the vocabulary during the 1980 New York transit strike, reportedly coined by “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, chief traffic engineer in the city’s transport department.  In those days it was definitely not something to aspire to. It is a different story in 2010.

Washington Extra – I see your gauntlet, and raise you a gauntlet

September 13, 2010

On Friday, President Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Republicans on taxes, effectively daring them to vote against a tax cut for the middle classes, just so that they can give an average of $100,000 in tax cuts to millionaires.

Washington Extra – Shuffling the pack

September 9, 2010

cabinetWe hear the White House is not wildly pleased with former budget chief Peter Orszag for abandoning the party line on tax policy this week. Now Democrats in Congress are beginning to distance themselves from President Barack Obama’s push to let taxes rise for the wealthiest Americans. We are unlikely to see this resolved before the mid-terms anyway, and there are still several different ways this could pan out. One possible compromise would be a short extension of the tax cuts for the rich and a longer extension for the middle classes, keeping any crucial decisions as far away from the 2012 campaign season as possible.