Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Two weeks

Perhaps the fifth time will be the charm. (Don’t hold your breath).

OBAMA-SPEECH/Looks like legislation to keep the government funded for another two weeks is heading for approval. “I think we’ll have a vote on that in the next 48 hours,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

But then what?

This would be the fifth temporary measure passed by Congress to prevent a government shutdown this fiscal year. The last one is set to expire on Friday.

That’s a half year the government has functioned on continuing resolutions, with another half year to go. (Yes it adds up).

President Barack Obama called House Speaker John Boehner to talk about the negotiations and they spent 10-12 minutes on the phone, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. Seems like a substantial amount of time to chat between busy men.

Financial regulators and lawmakers came to our Washington bureau for Day 2 of a Reuters finance summit. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh, Senator Jack Reed and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau adviser Elizabeth Warren. See coverage at http://www.reuters.com/summit/FutureFinance11

Washington Extra – Summit day

Our Washington bureau interviewed regulators and lawmakers at a Reuters finance summit today.

FINANCE-SUMMIT/WOLINDeputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin told us he did not see any national security concerns with Deutsche Boerse’s planned takeover of NYSE Euronext.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said America’s big international banks should restructure their operations unless they can prove that they can easily be broken up if they start toppling during a financial crisis.

Washington Extra – Action or inaction

Pizza as a predictor?

CONGRESS GUNFIRECongress returns next week and will decide by action or inaction whether the federal government shuts down.

The White House sounded a note of optimism (which at this point is the only way to go — best to save the podium pounding for when it gets down to the wire).

“All of us agree that a government shutdown would be bad for the economy,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “We believe that a compromise can be reached. But I’m not going to speculate on a position, what position we may or may not hold down the road.”

Washington Extra – Table options

What to do about Libya? Options. So many options.

President Barack Obama is taking his time to think it all through. The White House today threw down the line: “There are no options we’re taking off the table.” OBAMA/

That deliberately leaves murky whether military action is being contemplated.

Former President George W. Bush used the “all options are on the table” line from time to time when talking about Iran’s nuclear program, leaving some wondering if he was signaling an attack on Iran. Obviously he never did.

One option is enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. The United States imposed no-fly zones over Iraq for a decade and it didn’t shake Saddam Hussein’s grip on power.

Washington Extra – Club CEO

At one point, business isn’t just about money.

President Barack Obama just assembled corporate heavyweights to advise him on the economy. OBAMA/

It was the president’s latest move to show that he is trying to get the economy rolling and is reaching out to business.

Those who made the honor list included an eclectic bunch: Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, AOL co-founder Steve Case, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Kodak CEO Antonio Perez.

Washington Extra – Revolutionary wrath

Revolutionaries have a tough time dealing with revolutions.

LIBYA-USA/When Muammar Gaddafi took power in Libya in 1969, he was not yet 30. Today he faces an uprising from youthful protesters who want him gone. His response: You deserve the death penalty. So far it appears about 300 have been killed in the protests.

The United States has little leverage with Libya — the countries have not been on the friendliest of terms for most of Gaddafi’s rule.

So the administration is left issuing words like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s repetition that Libya immediately stop “this unacceptable bloodshed.” Is that enough? Others are calling for sanctions to military intervention.

Washington Extra – Cool science

In the cool equation, can science equal sports in school?

President Barack Obama today tried to promote math and science as exciting pursuits for America’s youth.

OBAMA/At the Intel Corporation in Oregon, Obama showcased the possibilities by describing his encounters during the visit.

“It gave them a chance to talk about things like quantum ternary algorithms, and it gave me a chance to nod my head and pretend that I understood what they were talking about,” he said.

Washington Extra – Royal news

bahraintowerCalling Bahrain.

As is increasingly the case, the United States is finding that talking pro-democracy is one thing. Dealing with the aftermath of uprisings another.

U.S. officials have been on the telephone with officials in Bahrain urging restraint after police attacked anti-government protesters.

The tiny Gulf kingdom that is home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet becomes another U.S. ally in the Middle East seeing unrest with protesters wanting their leaders gone.

Washington Extra – New guy

The crowds, the anticipation, the time checks…

Jay Carney’s first appearance behind the podium in the White House press room as President Barack Obama’s new press secretary had all the markings of a mini-movie premiere… Beltway style. USA/

As the hands on the clock passed 12:30 p.m. the tweeting began — he’s late! On the first day!

No detail was too small to note. “Thanks for retiring the pastel ties. No offense to Robert, but it’s nice to see a dark tie,” one reporter said. We think the color was either plum, maroon, or a combination of both.

Washington Extra – Back pat

President Barack Obama wasn’t shy about praising his handling of the revolution in Egypt.

USA-BUDGET/“I think history will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt that we were on the right side of history,” Obama said at a news conference.

“What we didn’t do was pretend that we could dictate the outcome in Egypt, because we can’t,” he said. So if the United States didn’t dictate the outcome, what did it do?