Politics In 60 Seconds: What You Need To Know Right Now

US drone afghanistan

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Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:1. The Wall Street Journal reports: “President Barack Obama is considering how strongly to push for extending a payroll-tax break for workers and creating a new tax break for employers to jump-start the economy, reflecting White House concerns about joblessness but also complicating efforts to rein in the federal deficit.”

2. Talks between the White House and Congressional Republicans on a plan to reduce the deficit are “intensifying,” according to OMB Director Jack Lew.  Mr. Lew said this week and next are a “critical period” in the negotiations.

3.”Failing to raise the debt ceiling in a timely way would be self-defeating if the objective is to chart a course toward a better fiscal situation for our nation,” US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said yesterday. These are among some of his strongest words yet on fiscal policy, the FT notes, a subject on which he is normally cautious.

4. There is general consensus among liberal policy makers that more stimulus is required to keep the economy from sliding back into recession. Roger Altman lays out the case today in a Financial Times op-ed.

5. Most voters hoped he would be Bill Clinton redux.  Many voters see him now as Jimmy Carter redux. Walter Mead looks at Barack Obama and sees Herbert Hoover.

6. The New York Times reports: “Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.” That sort of sums up governance in Pakistan in one sentence.

7. The fourth war in a Muslim nation continues.  The CIA is building a secret air base somewhere in the Middle East from which it will launch drone attacks on Al Qaeda in Yemen. The building of a dedicated base points to a lengthy campaign of attacks.

8. Many of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates are noticeably less hawkish on Afghanistan, Libya and even Iraq. This new “realism” reflects voter unhappiness with mission-creep wars and “nation-building.”

9. The ability of the United States “to drive forward its vision of international trade and economics” has been weakened. As the US weakens, global order fractures.

10. Rep. Michele Bachmann is endeavouring to expand her appeal beyond her Tea Party base.  Yesterday, she enjoyed the lift she got from her strong performance at Monday night’s GOP debate in New Hampshire.

11. Texas Governor Rick Perry was in New York City yesterday, ostensibly to drum up support for his expected 2012 GOP presidential nomination campaign. But he wouldn’t talk about the campaign publicly.