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Watch: David Frum Talks Debt Ceiling and Obama

July 26th, 2011 at 7:34 am 5 Comments

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Cain: I’ll Attack Iran If It “Messes With Israel”

July 18th, 2011 at 2:56 pm 16 Comments

The Washington Times reports:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says he would attack Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons or to respond to aggression against Israel.

Asked if he agreed with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s contention that the “only realistic alternative … is to use force preemptively against Iran’s nuclear weapons program” since diplomacy has failed, Mr. Cain said he did, with one caveat.

“There would be some other pieces of information I would need before I gave that order, but I’m saying that would be Option B,” Mr. Cain said during an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“Option A is, ‘Folks, we are not going to allow you to attack Israel‘ … If they call my bluff, they already know — they will know — what Option B is.”

Mr. Cain said that, as commander-in-chief, he would “make it crystal clear [that] if you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the United States of America,” but stressed that his “Cain Doctrine” would not be a “blank check” for Israeli military action.

WH Rejects Linking Debt Limit To Balanced Budget

July 18th, 2011 at 2:51 pm 6 Comments

The Washington Post reports:

The White House formally threatened Monday to veto a Republican measure requiring congressional approval of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution before the nation’s debt ceiling can be raised.

House Republicans scheduled a vote Tuesday on the proposal, which would impose strict new spending caps and require that Congress give the balanced-budget amendment the two-thirds vote necessary to send it to the states for ratification before the debt limit could be raised.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced that the chamber would not recess until Congress passes a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing limit.

“The Senate has no more important task than making sure the United States does not fail to pay our bills for pre-existing obligations like Social Security for the first time in our history,” Reid said in a statement Monday afternoon. “To ensure that we meet this responsibility, the Senate will stay in session every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, from now until Congress passes legislation that prevents the United States from defaulting on our obligations.”

Reid’s move came as negotiations over the debt ceiling entered their final two weeks. The White House has said that leaders must agree on a deal by Friday to give both chambers time to move the legislation before an Aug. 2 deadline, when it says the government would begin to default on its debt obligations.

Former Gov. Roemer To Launch WH Bid Thursday

July 18th, 2011 at 2:43 pm 2 Comments

Politico reports:

It’s official: Buddy Roemer will formally announce his presidential campaign Thursday from New Hampshire.

While the former Louisiana governor’s campaign has not set a location for the announcement, he’s scheduled to speak at Dartmouth College that afternoon as part of a national politics series.

“We’re ready to move forward,” said Roemer’s newly-minted campaign director, Carlos Sierra. “He’s one of the first candidates to file his exploratory committee, and now we’re one of the last, if not the last, to make it official.”

A former Democratic member of Congress who switched to the GOP in 1991, midway through his only term as governor, Roemer has gained little traction since launching his exploratory committee in March. He’s rarely been higher than 1 percent in polls, and been shut out of all televised debates, offering him few chances to introduce himself to voters.

Bond Rating Firm Threatens U.S. With Debt Downgrade

July 18th, 2011 at 2:39 pm 2 Comments

Politico reports:

Another major bond rating firm on Monday reiterated its threat to downgrade the U.S. government to a B-plus rating if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by August 2 and the government defaults on its debts.

The warning from Fitch Ratings comes after Moody’s and S&P warned last week that they would lower the U.S. rating from the top mark of AAA if the country is unable to repay its debts next month.

Fitch said Monday that it will place the U.S. rating in what it calls “ratings watch negative,” a status that can lead to downgrading in three-to-six months.

The ratings agency said it still expects congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama to reach a deal in the next few weeks, but would downgrade the rating if the Treasury Department is unable to pay the $90 billion in Treasury bills that mature on August 4.

“Agreement on a credible fiscal consolidation strategy will secure the U.S. ‘AAA’ status; failure to do so will inevitably weaken the sovereign credit profile and may result in a sovereign rating downgrade,” the agency said in a statement.

Reid to Keep Senate in Session Until Debt Limit Raised

July 18th, 2011 at 2:34 pm Comments Off

Politico reports:

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday the Senate will remain in session every day – including weekends – until Congress approves an increase to the nation’s debt ceiling.

“The Senate has no more important task than making sure the United States does not fail to pay our bills for pre-existing obligations like Social Security for the first time in our history,” Reid said in a statement. “To ensure that we meet this responsibility, the Senate will stay in session every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, from now until Congress passes legislation that prevents the United States from defaulting on our obligations.”

Treasury officials have warned that Congress needs to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by Aug. 2 when the government is expected to run out of money to pay its bills.

With debt talks stalled between President Barack Obama and House GOP leaders, Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are working on a fallback plan that calls for some spending cuts and would hand Obama broad authority to hike the debt limit.

The Republican-led House plans to vote this week on a proposal backed by conservatives to “cut, cap and balance” the budget, but the plan has little chance of passing the Senate and Obama threatened Monday to veto the bill should it reach his desk.

Earlier this month, Reid cancelled the Senate’s weeklong Fourth of July recess after Obama chided Congress for leaving town with the debt issue unresolved and Republicans threatened to block the chamber from adjourning.

Clashes In Yemen Kill Six

July 18th, 2011 at 2:22 pm Comments Off

Reuters reports:

Fighting between government forces and opposition supporters erupted in Yemen’s capital Sanaa Monday, killing six people, opposition sources said.

The fighting was the first to break out in Sanaa since President Ali Abdullah Saleh flew to Saudi Arabia for treatment after sustaining severe burn wounds when an attempt to assassinate him was made in June.

Murdoch Scandal Whistleblower Found Dead

July 18th, 2011 at 2:14 pm 12 Comments

The Guardian reports:

Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.

Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home.

Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but the force said in a statement: “At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for the welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”

Boehner, Cantor Met Privately With Obama Sunday

July 18th, 2011 at 1:09 pm 4 Comments

Politico reports:

President Barack Obama and the two top House Republican leaders held an unannounced meeting at the White House Sunday, trying to get debt talks back on track with just two weeks left before the threat of default.

Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were both part of the discussions which come even as the House GOP has scheduled floor votes Tuesday on a newly revised debt ceiling bill that is remarkable for its total absence of compromise at this late date and represents a real shift to the right.

Boehner’s office confirmed the meeting to POLITICO Monday but said that the goal was to keep lines of communication open, not to change the legislative plan for this week.

“As we said throughout the weekend, the lines of communications are being kept open,” said Kevin Smith. “But there is nothing to report in terms of an agreement or progress. We believe cut, cap and balance represents the best path forward, and we are looking forward to the House vote on it tomorrow.”

Syria Sending More Missiles To Hezbollah

July 18th, 2011 at 12:52 pm 2 Comments

The Times reports:

Syria has accelerated its supply of weapons, including advanced ballistic missiles, to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon in a move that could further inflame an already destabilised region.

According to intelligence sources in the West and the Middle East, the unrest facing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has not halted its build-up of military hardware.

With the help of experts from Iran and North Korea, Damascus is pressing ahead with its development of sophisticated missiles at a secret site nicknamed “missile city” built into Jabal Taqsis, a mountain near the opposition stronghold of Hama.

The missile program is allegedly run by the Scientific Studies and Research Centre in Damascus, an organisation that is already on a US sanctions list.