December 2011

Dec 27, 2011

U.S. Troops: Coming Home

By Martha Raddatz, ABC News
The last U.S. troops have now left Iraq. Was it all worth it?
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Dec 23, 2011

Medicare Spending Growth Rising Slower but Enrollment Will Rise

By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

Throughout Medicare’s 46-year-old history, monitoring the cost of the government health plan for the elderly has been a bit like the old joke: No one asked if spending would jump. They only asked how high. But in early 2010, the number crunchers at Medicare headquarters in Baltimore saw something surprising: a sharp drop in the volume of doctor visits and other outpatient services. Instead of growing at the usual 4 percent a year, the number of claims was suddenly climbing by less than 2 percent. Was this a one-time blip, or a fundamental shift in how seniors were receiving care?
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Newt Gingrich: Kibitzer-in-chief?

By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

As Newt Gingrich will be the first to tell you, he is a man with a vast and deep résumé. One boast he has been offering lately makes the former House speaker and current presidential contender sound like a cross between Mr. Chips and Sun Tzu. “I am the longest-serving teacher in the senior military, 23 years teaching one- and two-star generals and admirals the art of war,” Gingrich said at the most recent GOP presidential debate in Iowa.
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Capital Corner: Safe Fiscal Bets Fading Away?

WIth David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

WSJ Global Economics Editor David Wessel discusses a shortage of low-risk bonds, what he terms 'super-safe financial assets', and the shortage's potential impact on the economy.

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Lawmakers Reach Deal on Payroll Tax

By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

The ice cracked under House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday. A deal to quiet a bruising political eruption over the payroll tax finally took shape -- after relentless criticism from within GOP ranks that House Republicans had dug themselves knee-deep in quicksand. After days of thrashing and teeth-gnashing, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a way out of the mess with a statement underscoring similarities between the measures in the two chambers, rather than differences.
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Gingrich Blasts Obama in VA Stop for Signatures

By Charles Babington, Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is blasting President Barack Obama during a side trip to Virginia.
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Bradley Manning Hearing Ends with No Clear Sign of Harm Done to U.S.

By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

After seven days of testimony and the submission of more than 300,000 pages of documents, a key question remains unanswered in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning: How exactly did his leak of hundreds of thousands of secret documents, logs and at least one video - which he passed to WikiLeaks - directly harm U.S. national security?
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Behind the Scenes of the House Republicans' Self-Inflicted Wound

By Major Garrett, National Journal

There was no formal cease-fire. Speaker John Boehner didn’t even call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to offer up his payroll-tax sword of surrender. The great Christmas conflict over tax cuts ended at the staff level. Boehner’s chief of staff, Barry Jackson, cut the deal with Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone. If the weeklong tussle over a two-month or one-year extension of payroll taxes was over principle, the principal antagonist, Boehner, in the end, had neither the will nor the stomach to directly sue for peace.
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House Speaker John Boehner announces a Payroll Tax Cut deal (CNN)

Dec 22, 2011

Obama, Senate Democrats Rally for Benefits Extension

By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

President Obama and Senate Democrats appealed to House Republicans on Wednesday to return to Washington and approve a two-month extension of benefits for American workers before they expire Dec. 31. The House GOP remains opposed to a short-term patch despite mounting opposition to the strategy, even from within the party.
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Gingrich Condemns Senate on Payroll Tax Vote

By Trip Gabriel and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

Newt Gingrich put a pox on all parties in Washington on Wednesday for failing to pass a payroll tax extension, but he especially condemned the Senate, where Republicans joined Democrats to vote for a two-month extension of the tax break, which affects 160 million Americans. House Republicans under Speaker John A. Boehner rejected that plan.
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Benefits Fight Heats Up in Washington

With Eamon Javers, CNBC

Labor to launch attacks on Republicans in benefits fight, with CNBC's Eamon Javers. "The Democrats are secretly loving this," he says. "

Watch on CNBC

Obama Makes Christmas Shopping Stop at Best Buy

By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

The official White House line is that President Obama is delaying his Christmas trip to Hawaii on the off-chance that House Republicans will act on the payroll tax to his liking. But even as his press secretary was saying that during the afternoon briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Obama was unwittingly revealing another possible explanation: he hasn't finished buying his Christmas gifts yet.
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