News Wrap: Eurozone Agrees to Spain Bailout Package; Oil Prices Fall
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Eurozone finance ministers agreed today on the terms of a $123 billion bailout package to help Spain’s ailing banks. The debt-stricken country will receive its first payment of more than $36 billion by the end of this month. The E.U. also gave Spain an extra year to cut its deficit.
And speaking in Brussels, the Spanish finance minister welcomed the aid, but acknowledged there’s still much work to be done.
LUIS DE GUINDOS, Spanish finance minister (through translator): During the next 18 months, we have to clean up the Spanish financial system. That also relates to a macroeconomic aspect: the de-leveraging of the Spanish economy. That’s the reduction of Spanish debt and adjusting the prices of assets to reality of the market. We can do this thanks to this financial assistance.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The bailout boosted the Spanish stock market. Other European markets were cautiously optimistic, closing with slight gains.
In early trading on Wall Street, stocks moved higher, but those gains were erased by falling oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 83 points to close at 12,653. The Nasdaq fell 29 points to close at 2,902. The price of oil fell more than 2 percent to finish near $84 a barrel.
There was word today Syrian President Bashar Assad has agreed to a new U.N. plan for peace. The international envoy Kofi Annan said it would focus on containing the most violent areas of the country first, then expanding out.
Annan made the remarks as he traveled around the Middle East to build support for peace efforts. Today, he was in Iraq and Iran, countries he said are both affected by the violence in Syria.
KOFI ANNAN, Former U.N. secretary general: If we do not make a real effort to resolve this issue peacefully and it were to get out of hand and spread through the region, it can lead to consequences that none of us could imagine. So let’s work together to bring peace and stability to Syria.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, in Syria today, amateur video showed shelling in the city of Homs as residents ran to take cover.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague today sentenced a Congolese warlord to 14 years in prison. It is the first time the tribunal has ever sentenced a convicted war criminal since the court was set up 10 years ago. Thomas Lubanga was charged with recruiting and using children as soldiers in his rebel army back in 2002 and 2003. The Congolese ethnic conflict claimed the lives of some 60,000 people.
A court in Israel today cleared former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the central charges in his corruption trial. They involved allegations that he accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from a supporter and pocketed the proceeds from a double-billing travel scam. He was convicted of a lesser charge of breach of trust. Olmert, who had resigned in 2009 as allegations surfaced, will be sentenced in September. He is also standing trial in a separate real estate bribery case.
The House of Representatives began debate today on President Obama’s signature health care reform law in another try at repealing it.
REP. FRED UPTON, R-Mich.: Rather than reform health care, this law epitomizes Washington at its very worst.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN, D-Calif.: Here we go again, wasting time that should be spent on improving the economy and putting people to work.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This latest effort comes less than two weeks after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
This afternoon, Republican Joe Barton from Texas said the law is not affordable and will not provide better quality health care.
REP. JOE BARTON, R-Texas: People like myself oppose the bill not because we don’t want every American to have health care, but because we want Americans to have choices and to make individual choices about their health care.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But House Democrats, like North Carolina’s G.K. Butterfield, said the impending vote only distracts from more pressing legislation.
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD, D-N.C.: We all know that this bill will never pass the Senate, and the president would assuredly veto it. This is purely an act of political posturing, and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle should stop their obstruction.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The first House vote to repeal the health care law came in January 2011.
MAN: On this vote, the yeas are 245, the nos are 189. The bill is passed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Three Democrats joined with Republicans on the measure, but that bill later failed in the Senate. This week’s debate has also extended outside of the House floor.
Yesterday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched online ads that target seven House Republicans.
NARRATOR: Your member of Congress may vote to repeal important health care benefits for everyday Americans, but he protected generous health plans for Congress at taxpayer expense.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And today, the Republican group Crossroads GPS unveiled new television ads opposing the health care law in three states with competitive Senate races.
NARRATOR: Obamacare cuts Medicare spending by $500 billion, gives a board of unelected bureaucrats the power to restricts seniors’ care, and raises taxes by half a trillion dollars.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The vote is expected to take place tomorrow.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.