Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:
1. President Obama’s re-election campaign, now in its second week, is off to a rocky start. In a recent poll, a plurality of voters said they were definitely planning on voting against Mr. Obama in the 2012 election.
2. The S&P downgrade of the US “outlook” from “stable” to “negative” raises the stakes for policy-makers seeking to contain US debt.
3. President Obama campaigned at Facebook headquarters in California yesterday. Mr. Obama escalated his attacks on the House budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, calling it “radical” and not “courageous.”
4. The New York Times profiles House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, the principal architect of the House GOP’s deficit reduction plan. Mr. Ryan hopes that a deal can get done on the deficit and says that he is not interested in running for higher office.
5. Politico reports: “One day after being named to a presidential task force to negotiate deficit reduction, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fired off a stark warning to Democrats that the GOP will not grant their request for a debt limit increase without major spending cuts or budget process reforms.”
6. Washington insiders think that the “Gang of Six” in the Senate will be more productive than the “Gang of Six” led by Vice President Joe Biden in coming up with a “big picture” deficit reduction plan.
7. Former New York Governor George Pataki will not seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, but will instead lead an advocacy group pressing for US debt reduction.
8. President Obama held an “immigration summit” at The White House on Tuesday, signaling his continued support for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Opponents call it amnesty. The “summit” was aimed directly at Hispanic voters.
9. The Obama administration will send $25 million in assistance to Libyan rebels who seek to overthrow the Qaddafi regime by force of arms. Weirdly, the support will not include arms or other military backing.
10. Afghanistan’s central bank said Wednesday that “it will break Kabul Bank into two parts to isolate hundreds of millions of dollars in bad loans and create a new bank that guarantees customers’ deposits,” The Washington Post reports. Many see the Kabul bank as a metaphor for the US-backed Afghan government.