Good morning. Here’s the news:1. The US House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation to raise the debt ceiling and cut (not much) the federal deficit. The vote was 269 ayes to 161 nays. The US Senate will vote on the bill at noon today. It is expected to pass there and more or less immediately be signed into law by President Obama.
2. Jon Podhoretz argues that the defining moment of the debt ceiling/deficit reduction political battle for President Obama came when he insisted that the final legislation had to include tax increases. The final legislation did not include tax increases. The emperor, Podhoretz opines, has no clothes.
3. The Financial Times reports: “The question facing (Standard & Poor’s) is whether it will downgrade the triple A credit rating of the US, or whether a tentative debt deal struck in Washington involving up to $2,400bn in deficit cuts over the next decade will avert such a move.” The pressure to not downgrade the US credit rating is immense.
4. The Tea Party is portrayed by the news media as a wild-eyed monolith, hell-bent on destroying Washington’s political culture and reversing decades of unchecked government growth. We should be so lucky. In fact, the Tea Party movement is diverse, divided and depressed by the outcome of yesterday’s vote.
5. All but one of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates opposed the legislation to raise the debt ceiling and cut (not much) the federal deficit. Former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman was the sole GOP candidate to support the bill.
6. Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), who is running for president, is “poised” to announce that he is running for president.
7. Washington insiders think that the debt ceiling debate presages that the 2012 presidential campaign will be fought around big issues. Said big issues are described by The Washington Post as “the size and role of government, and the values that will set priorities for a diminished pool of resources in austere times.”
8. State and local governments await clarity as to how much of the “deficit reduction” in the debt limit legislation will fall on them. Federal aid and transfer payments are an important component of state and local government revenue.
9. The small city of Central Falls, Rhode Island yesterday filed for bankruptcy protection. The question is whether Central Falls is an episodic event or the beginning of a systemic event.
10. Walter Mead reports: “Millions of people in India and Pakistan are victims of a modern form of slavery known as bonded labour or peshgi.” Both countries look the other way.
11. “Militants” in Somalia, otherwise known as radical Islamic paramilitary organisations, prevent safe passage of Somalis to food and medical aid stations. As a result, they die. Most of those who are dying are Muslims. Thus it is the policy of Muslim militants in Somalia to starve to death Muslim Somalis.
12. Forces loyal to Syrian President Assad kept up their assault on the “restive” city of Hama yesterday. The assault was launched on the first day of Ramadan.
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