Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:1. A Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 78 per cent of Americans oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69 per cent of Americans disapprove of cuts.
2. Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike are aligned in their opposition to President Obama’s proposed advisory oversight board for Medicare, known as IPAB. Republicans and some Democrats would like to eliminate IPAB altogether.
3. President Obama yesterday criticised Standard & Poors’ decision to lower the US credit rating outlook, arguing that the US not in danger of a downgrade and that a deficit reduction deal in Congress is within reach. Treasury Secretary Geithner, meanwhile, appeared all over television yesterday, talking up US creditworthiness.
4. The FT reports on how two major US debt holders reacted to the S&P downgrade: “While Japan played down concerns about US creditworthiness after the decision, China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday urged Washington to protect investors in its debt. “We hope the US government will take responsible policies and measures to safeguard investors’ interests,” it said.”
5. Martin Wolf describes the global economy as “unsteady, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” The avalanche of debt all across the world makes policy-making fiendishly difficult.
6. The Federal Reserve is expected to begin to gradually tighten monetary policy once QE2 runs out at the end of June. But the path to monetary “normality” is tricky and fraught with peril for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and for policy-makers generally.
7. Greece announced yesterday that it would appoint international advisers to kick-start its ambitious €50bn ($72bn) privatization programme. The country’s most powerful trade union pledged to disrupt the plan.
8. France’s largest trade union warned European governments that they risk labour unrest if they push ahead with the French-German “pact for the euro” adopted by eurozone members last month.
9. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is simultaneously promising political reforms and violently cracking down on public protests. Anger towards the Assad regime continues to build.
10. The war in Libya continues to go badly for the NATO-backed rebels. The United Kingdom said yesterday it would send “about a dozen” senior military officers to assist the rebel military, which is divided and inept. Meanwhile, Libya’s Foreign Minister proposed “free and fair” elections in six months.
11. Political items: Jeb Bush crushes President Obama (57%-38%) in a hypothetical 2012 match-up in Florida. US Ambassador to China John Huntsman has hired a group of McCain campaign consultants to help him plan a possible run for the 2012 GOP nomination. They’ve give him the McCain campaign plan. The Wall Street Journal reports that the presidential campaign of Donald Trump is picking up steam and being taken seriously. Business Insider disagrees.
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