Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Congressional Republicans yesterday pulled out of debt-reduction talks with the White House. They demanded that President Obama meet directly with GOP leaders to resolve an impasse over taxes.
2. Ron Brownstein notes that the negotiations to increase the debt limit while reducing government spending are fairly straightforward. The negotiations on how to “bend the cost curve” of entitlement spending (pensions and healthcare), he says, will be truly difficult.
3. GOP front-runner Mitt Romney will not need to donate any of his personal wealth to his campaign this quarter. His fund-raising efforts are leaving his rivals far behind.
4. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is running low on funds. Several top aides have been working for little or no pay. Michele Bachmann is hoping to knock him out of the race at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll on August 13th. Mr. Pawlenty has spent a great deal of time recently walking away from his record on environmental policy issues.
5. Peggy Noonan assesses the presidential candidacy of former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. She finds him a more likely candidate for Secretary of State.
6. The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported: “A Republican campaign veteran tells us that Texas Governor Rick Perry has decided to run for President, though the official word from Team Perry is still a definite maybe.”
7. The New Jersey state Assembly yesterday approved a rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a stunning setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions.
8. Cook County, Illinois (Chicago and environs) oversees 553 local government bodies. These include school districts, municipalities and all the other line-item entries on property tax bills. All of these entities have a combined $108 billion in debt and unfunded obligations. At least.
9. U.N. officials said yesterday that Central America is in danger of being overwhelmed by the drug trade and the cartels that manage it.
10. The New York Times reports: “The mobile phone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency.”
11. Pakistan has become so virulently anti-American that Pakistanis who speak up in favour of the United States risk their lives doing so.
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