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


1.  Interest payments on the national debt will quadruple in the next decade, according to President Obama’s new budget plan.  Starting in 2014, interest payment costs will exceed all other discretionary expenditures outside of defence.

2. US and Pakistani officials appear to have worked out a resolution to the case of Raymond Davis, an American official facing murder charges in Lahore, Pakistan.  Tensions between the two countries remain high.  Anti- Americanism in Pakistan is at a fever pitch.

3. A new US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) asserts that Iran’s leadership is sharply divided over whether to go forward with the development of nuclear weapons.  Iran’s government is under pressure internationally and domestically to step off the nuclear track.

4.  Protests, “days of anger” and “days of rage” continue to roil the Middle East.  Tens of thousands of people turned out in Bahrain to challenge the monarchy. 

5.  Downgrades loom for cash-starved states and municipalities, after Fitch Ratings announced it had changed the way it assesses pension risk. 

6.  Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) wants to borrow another $8.75 billion to pay unpaid bills.  Republicans went insane.

7.  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to raise government worker pension contributions and weaken collective bargaining rights has enraged public employees.  “For us it’s simple,” the governor said, “we’re broke.”

8. Michigan’s new Republican governor presents his first budget today. He is expected to seek major tax changes, as well as extensive cuts in government programs and state employee benefits.

9. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the state capitol, spending will likely outpace revenue by March, just as the cash-strapped city faces payments on more than $5 million of municipal debt. State consultants, who have taken over the city’s badly mismanaged finances, have called for a freeze on hiring and discretionary spending. 

10.  The US presidential election in 2012 will likely set a record for expenditure.  The FT projects that the two major party candidates and their campaigns will spend a total of $2 billion.

11.  Mitch Daniels’ speech at the CPAC convention last Friday continues to garner good reviews.  Our take is here.

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