Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:
1. At some point this morning, the US Treasury will auction off the last legally permissible US government debt to the public. Negotiations on raising the debt ceiling become that much more important as a result. If the debt ceiling is not raised by early August, the United States will have to default on its obligations or sharply cut back its social insurance program payments.
2. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday that if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling limit and the US defaults on its obligations, a “double-dip” recession will occur.
3. IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested Saturday in New York on charges of attempted rape. The “champagne socialist” (as he is known in Paris) was thought to be the leading candidate for president in France. Not anymore.
4. The eurozone has only one policy tool for dealing with its various “issues:” continued bailouts combined with continued austerity. Wolfgang Munchau’s latest dispatch on the Greek death spiral and the unravelling of the EU is, as always, worth reading.
5. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Global health officials are expected to decide this week whether to grant a stay of execution to the last known stocks of smallpox, a move the U.S. argues is critical for the development of medicines to counter a potential bioterrorist attack.”
6. Many people believe that the most powerful political force in Tunisia today is the Islamist Ennahda Party. WIth elections forthcoming on July 24, there is acute concern that its candidates will win overwhelmingly at the polls and usher in an Iranian-like theocracy.
7. The collapse of US efforts to broker an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is perhaps the Obama Administration’s greatest failure. Walter Mead has a brutal assessment.
9. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday was sharply critical of the House Republican plan for “transforming” Medicare, saying that it was too radical a step for such an important program.
10. A Rhode Island policy initiative to reduce the cost of Medicaid without reducing care for the state’s poorest patients is being watched closely as states grapple with the problem of controlling the cost of Medicaid.
11. Republican chances of recapturing control of the United States Senate in the 2012 elections are pretty good, most analysts agree. The decision by Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl puts another Democratic seat in play.
12. President Obama is in surprisingly good political shape at this point in his re-election campaign. Roughly 60% of Americans will either definitely vote for him or will consider voting for his re-election, according to a poll commissioned by Politico.