Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Party games and blame games

September 8, 2010

boehnerA smart move by Republican leader John Boehner today, or a nicely laid trap if you prefer. Boehner echoed yesterday’s call from former White House budget director Peter Orszag, for a two-year extension to the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans. Boehner appealed for both parties to “do this together” to “show the American people that we understand what is going on in this country.” There was, of course, one big difference between Boehner’s and Orszag’s suggestions – the Republican leader conveniently left out the all-important promise to let  all the tax cuts expire at the end of that two-year period. Not surprisingly, President Barack Obama swiftly rejected the offer, insisting that the country could not afford to extend tax cuts for the rich. “This isn’t to punish folks who are better off — God bless them – it is because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag,” he said in Ohio. You get the feeling this partisan battle isn’t going to be settled easily or early, and the lingering uncertainty this creates is probably not good news for the economy. Expect the blame game to continue.

Washington Extra — Not another stimulus

September 7, 2010

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama plans to announce his latest package of plans to stimulate the sagging U.S. economy, most of which are already known. It was hardly a surprise to see Republicans quickly positioning themselves to block the plans, but more disappointing to the White House must have been the cautious response even from the president’s fellow Democrats on the Hill, who simply said they were looking at the proposals.wallst Even more damning, perhaps, was the verdict from the financial markets, which greeted the news with a big yawn. Both the Dow and the S&P indices ended the day more than one percent lower, dragged down by fresh growth worries in Europe. Economists on Wall Street said the plans would not do enough for small businesses or to solve the Democrats’ biggest economic and political problem: finding work for the 14.9 million unemployed. There are big questions, too, about how the plans will be paid for. “If he chooses to take away a corporate tax break to pay for this proposal, the net gain is zero,” said Andrew Busch at BMO Capital Markets. “This is likely why U.S. stocks are not seeing much of a bounce on the news.”

Washington Extra – A glass half full, or half empty

September 2, 2010

hillary_middleastWell at least no-one walked out, as one Middle East veteran remarked to me after the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today. In fact, as our chief blogger Toby Zakaria observed, the public atmospherics between the two men were not too bad.

Washington Extra – Foot in mouth

August 25, 2010

alan_simpsonSuggestion of the day. Encourage top officials to undertake some basic training in what to say and write in public. Specifically, try and avoid insulting and tactless remarks in print, on camera, in public or in front of journalists.

Poll shows Americans are confused on Obama’s religion

August 19, 2010

USA-POLITICS/OBAMAA year and a half  into his presidency, Americans appear to be growing more uncertain about Barack Obama’s religion.

Washington Extra – Fears of economic stagnation

August 11, 2010

dowFear returned to global financial markets today, with stocks sinking and the dollar rising sharply on renewed worries about an economic slowdown in China and the United States. President Barack Obama met with senior economic adviser Larry Summers and “talked through some scenarios” on what was playing out around the globe, and how to keep the U.S. recovery on track.

Obama plays hoops with NBA stars

August 9, 2010

President Barack Obama wrapped up his 49th birthday bash with perhaps the ultimate gift for a basketball fan.obama_basketball

Washington Extra

August 5, 2010

As the administration focuses on Iran, we take a look today at the fallout – a disturbing deterioration in relations between the United States and Brazil.lula_brazil

Washington Extra

August 4, 2010

In the immortal words of Marilyn Monroe (although not in quite the same tone of voice): Happy Birthday Mr. President.

Obama joins call-in to back his pick in Colorado primary

August 4, 2010

President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged people in Colorado to support his pick to run for U.S. Senate in their state, jumping into a close Democratic  primary race in which the other  candidate is  backed by former President Bill Clinton.obama_bennet