Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:1. The Washington Post reports: “President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue.”
2. President Obama faces an uphill fight for re-election. The president’s top political advisor told reporters yesterday that he expects that the 2012 presidential campaign will be “very close, a street fight for the presidency.”
3. Washington Post columnist George Will surveys the GOP presidential field and gently points out the flaws of challengers Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. He anticipates that Texas Governor Rick Perry’s will emerge as GOP front-runner Mitt Romney’s principal challenger.
4. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign raised $18.5 million through the first half of this year. That’s a lot more than what his GOP rivals raised. But it only met the low end of expectations.
5. The Arab Spring has given way to a long, hot summer. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, surveys the upheaval across the region and argues, persuasively, that it will likely get worse before it gets better.
6. The Washington Post reports: “A renewed police assault on the key Syrian city of Hama this week has exposed deep cracks in the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to U.S. officials who say the regime is struggling to contain protests in multiple cities while simultaneously grappling with a rapid fall-off in allies, resources and cash.”
7. Abdul Kahn, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, says that the government of North Korea bribed top Pakistani military officials to obtain access to sensitive nuclear technology in the late 1990s. A larger concern is whether those same officials might sell a nuclear device to jihadists.
8. The New York Times reports: “there are growing signs that China’s long-running economic boom could be undermined by….building binges, which are financed through heavy borrowing by local governments and clever accounting that masks the true size of the debt.”
9. For the third time this year, China raised benchmark interest rates in an effort to cool the world’s fastest-growing economy. Inflation in China this year has accelerated at its quickest pace since 2008.
10. 40-six US states began new fiscal years last Friday. Budgets were balanced mostly with spending cuts. “Two years ago there was a historic increase in taxes,” said Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the nonpartisan Pew centre on the States. “This year it was, what can we cut and how deeply do we cut—a pretty significant shift.”
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