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

Newt Gingrich

Photo: Pete Souza via Wikimedia

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:1. Newt Gingrich’s national campaign staff quit en masse, as did his entire Iowa political operation. They were apparently frustrated by Mr. Gingrich’s “lack of focus.” Mr. Gingrich vowed to press on without them. 

2. Mr. Gingrich’s implosion was not unexpected. Some argue that it opens the door for Texas Governor Rick Perry to get into the race. Mr. Perry has been preparing to do just that for some time now.

3. Mitt Romney will skip the Iowa straw poll in August.  This is front-page news in The Wall Street Journal, as it likely diminishes Romney’s chances of winning the Iowa caucuses, which in turn makes winning the Iowa caucuses that much more important for the other GOP candidates.

4. Yale economist Robert Shiller says that the U.S. economy is at a tipping point where a double-dip recession is possible and home prices could have much further to fall.  Mr. Shiller says that home prices could fall another 10-to-25 per cent.

5. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Congressional leaders from both parties agreed on Thursday to accelerate their negotiations over reducing the federal deficit, signaling a heightened sense of urgency to avoid a potential default on the government’s debt. The negotiating group, led by Vice President Joe Biden, plans to meet three times next week, compared with the six meetings it has held since March.”

6. defence Secretary Robert M. Gates today tongue-lashed NATO nations for what he said were shortages in military spending and political will, warning of “a dim if not dismal future” for an alliance at risk of becoming irrelevant in a dangerous and uncertain world.

7. Syrian security forces today began military operations in the country’s restive northwest, heightening fears of a brutal crackdown on dissent.

8. After the revolution comes the hard part.  The Egyptian economy has ground to a virtual halt. Tourism has collapsed. There appears to be no strategy to get things going again. “People in the neighbourhood are talking about going back to the streets for another revolution — a hunger revolution,” one man told The New York Times.

9. Egypt’s fundamentalist Salafist movement is poised to make major gains in this fall’s elections. “There is going to be a battle between two visions for Egypt,” said Abdel Moneim El-Shahat, a Salafist leader.

10. Finally, muni market inflows! The Wall Street Journal reports: “Investors put $274 million into municipal-bond funds in the week ended Wednesday, Thomson Reuters unit Lipper FMI said Thursday, the first money coming into funds since mid-November.”

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