Politics In 60 Seconds: What You Need To Know, June 21, 2011

Melina MercouriMelina Mercouri

Good morning! Here’s what’s you need to know:1. White House officials and congressional leaders are accelerating negotiations over a deficit-reduction package. There is “mounting concern” that the effort is running out of time. They have six weeks to get a deal done.

2. The Washington Post reports: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday that if congressional negotiators and the White House don’t work out a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan this summer, Congress could vote to raise the debt ceiling for only a few months – and then return to the issue in the fall.”

3. A senior official at Fitch Ratings said today that it would move its ratings on the United States to “restrictive default” if the US government fails to raise its debt ceiling and misses a coupon payment on Aug. 15 as a result.

4. President Obama tomorrow will announce his decision on how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan next month. His spokesman said that the president had not “finalised” his decision.

5. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday zig-zagged between concession and defiance in his first public address since April, saying for the first time that some protesters had legitimate demands, but that “saboteurs” justified the military crackdown.

6. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Prime Minister George Papandreou faces a crucial vote of confidence in parliament late Tuesday as the government tries to shore up support for its economic reforms amid growing popular discontent over a fresh wave of austerity measures.” The vote is expected at midnight local time (5 p.m. ET).

7. Greece will get its next tranche of EU bail-out money only if its parliament passes a package of austerity measures, European finance ministers said as they wound up a two-day meeting in Luxembourg. Financial markets are anticipating that the austerity measures will pass.

8. Former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will announce this morning that he is officially a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.  Amb. Huntsman’s campaign is being managed by veterans of the McCain for President campaigns of 2000 and 2008.

9. Texas Governor Rick Perry is deciding whether or not he should jump into the 2012 GOP presidential campaign. Mr. Perry is positioning himself as a chief executive who knows how to create jobs and as a “no apologies” conservative. He has been all but endorsed by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

10. The Wall Street Journal reports: “The worst-performing public schools in Detroit will be removed from the city’s school system and run by a new state authority charged with turning them around within five years.” Nearly half of Detroit’s residents are illiterate.

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