Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:1. The Washington Post reports: “U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly convinced that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al Qaeda to the brink of collapse.”
2. To paraphrase Politico: it’s not the default, it’s the downgrade. ”(W)hat really haunts the administration is the very real prospect, stoked two weeks ago by Standard & Poor’s, that Barack Obama could go down in history as the president who presided over his country’s loss of its gold-plated, triple-A bond rating.”
3. Holman Jenkins opines that the ratings agencies have turned an artificial crisis into a real one. “S&P says it plans a U.S. debt downgrade, regardless of any debt-ceiling outcome, unless it sees a “credible” plan to reduce future deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.” Jenkins dismisses the ratings agencies as officious, unelected and uninvited intermediaries.
4. House Republican leaders last night delayed a vote scheduled on the Boehner plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. The CBO said that Mr. Boehner’s plan did not deliver the promised savings. Conservative lawmakers, sometimes known as the Tea Party caucus, were not on board.
5. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page scolds Tea Party members of Congress for not supporting the Boehner plan and tells them to grow up and get with the program. One can only imagine how this advice will be taken.
6. The consequences of a downgrade in the credit rating of the United States government will be widely felt. The most immediate impact will be upward pressure on interest rates.
7. And for those of you hoping that August 2nd was a real deadline, bad news. The New York Times reports: “Thanks to an inflow of tax payments and manoeuvring by the Treasury Department, the government can probably continue to pay all of its bills for several days after August 2nd, providing potentially critical breathing room for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.”
8. Rep. Ron Paul may win the Ames, Iowa Presidential Straw Poll next month. Rep. Paul dismisses the “debt crisis” in Washington as Kabuki theatre. “There’s no way the checks aren’t going out to Social Security,” he tells Iowans. “The real question is what is the money going to buy when you get it.”
9. The Financial Times reports: “Moody’s announced Wednesday that it was downgrading Cyprus’ government bonds two notches, bringing it closer to junk levels, in the latest sign the island nation may become the fourth eurozone country heading towards a multibillion-euro bail-out.”
10. North Korea’s top nuclear arms negotiator arrived in New York yesterday for talks with the US government about his country’s nuclear program. Why anyone would bother to meet with him remains a mystery.
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