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Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:1. After weeks of wrangling, negotiations on a possible budget agreement that would slash federal spending by as much as $33 billion appeared to be back on track. “We’re all working off the same number now,” Vice President Biden told reporters yesterday.
2. Tea Party partisans will rally outside the Capitol today, keeping up the pressure on Republicans and Democrats alike to hold the line on federal spending. Indiana Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) will be the “keynote” speaker.
3. Times are good for the American grain farmer and agricultural America generally. The Financial Times reports that US farm income will rise 20 per cent this year to $94.7 billion, after climbing 27 per cent last year, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates.
4. The Ohio State Legislature has passed legislation that “hobbles” the ability of public-employee unions to bargain collectively and sharply undercuts their political clout. Ohio Gov. John Kasich will sign the legislation into law shortly.
5. The battle over public employee unions (and their political clout) has been largely fought in the Middle West. But the critical battles will likely be fought in California, because the stakes there are so high.
6. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Ireland’s central bank on Thursday is expected to unveil the results of “stress tests” of four major lenders. Analysts expect the exams will show the banks need upward of €20 billion ($28 billion) in additional capital. That is likely to leave the Irish government as majority owner of virtually the entire banking sector.”
7. The yield curve of Portuguese debt has inverted.
9. Libya’s foreign minister defected. Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi continued to push back the rag-tag rebel army, calling into question the “air force only” strategy of the United States and its NATO allies.
10. US Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot through the head in January. She is rehabilitating in Houston, Texas. Everyone hopes that her recovery will be complete. Democrats want her to be their nominee for the open US Senate seat in the 2012 election.
Extra: It’s Opening Day. Prime time: SF Giants versus the LA Dodgers at 8pm eastern time, ESPN.
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