N2K Top 10: Is the 14th Amendment 'Plan B' for Debt Ceiling?; Questions Raised in DSK Case
Friday, July 1, 2011 | 7:50 a.m.
- IS THE 14TH AMENDMENT 'PLAN B' FOR DEBT CEILING? The continuing rift between the two parties’ deficit reduction strategies has led to new consideration of untested legal remedies for the potentially devastating economic repercussions of a failure to raise the debt limit by August 2. The fourth section of the 14th Amendment makes clear that that United States’s public debt “shall not be questioned.” Written to prevent resurgent Southern politicians from canceling Civil War debts, it could now be invoked to supersede the debt ceiling and allow the administration to continue borrowing, but it also reinforces conservative arguments about paying bondholders first.
- QUESTIONS RAISED IN DSK CASE. The sexual assault charges against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn may collapse, The New York Times reports. Prosecutors are beginning to doubt the credibility of the New York hotel maid who claimed Strauss-Kahn attacked her despite forensic evidence showing “unambiguous evidence” of a sexual encounter between the two, according to The Times. If the charges are dropped, Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from the IMF after the charges were brought, could return to France and play a major role in the upcoming presidential elections.
- GEITHNER CONSIDERING LEAVING THE WHITE HOUSE. White House and Treasury officials stressed that no decision has been made, but they didn’t dispute reports that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is considering leaving office after the debt ceiling vote. With the departure of Austan Goolsbee already planned for this fall, Obama would have two big holes in his economic team that would be hard to fill. Given the heated debates on Capitol Hill right now over tax and entitlement policy, finding a candidate to replace Geithner who could be confirmed would be a nightmare for the administration.
- HOLDER DECIDES ON PROBE INTO CIA INTERROGATION PRACTICES. The Justice Department will launch a criminal investigation into the deaths of two detainees held in CIA custody, but is dropping a wide-ranging probe into the agency's past interrogation and detention activities, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday. The decision frees most CIA agents from facing prosecution for harsh interrogation practices carried out under the George W. Bush administration.
- DEBT DEBATE SENDS ETHANOL TALKS TO BACKBURNER. A trio of senators trying to find middle ground on ethanol subsidies seems doomed for deadlock as the broader debt battle takes over, but for now they’re trudging onward. “We’re still talking,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said on Thursday afternoon with her negotiating partner, Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., walking beside her. She and Thune seemed more confident that they were close to a final deal earlier in the week. While talks are ongoing, it’s becoming less likely their potential compromise will have the juice to pass.
- QE2 WRAPS, ASSESSMENTS ROLL IN. The Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing ended on Thursday. What has improved since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke promised QE2 in Jackson Hole last August? Stocks are up, profits in corporate America have risen, and crude oil and gold prices have climbed, The Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday. On the other hand, The Journal added, dollar index is down, unemployment remains high, and home prices have continued to fall. The Fed has not announced plans for any further monetary easing, but markets aren’t worried yet. Stocks continued their four-day rally on Thursday, with the Dow closing up 152.92 points, or 1.25 percent.
- NO MORE TALK ABOUT WHAT WON’T PASS. With the president’s press conference on Wednesday and press secretary Jay Carney’s briefing on Thursday, the White House tried to send a strong signal that they are tired of talking about what Congress can’t do. Carney pointedly noted that Obama declined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's invitation to the Hill because he “invited the president to hear what would not pass.” Carney said: “That's not a conversation worth having. What we need to have is a conversation about what will pass.”
- CLOSING THE BOOKS. The second quarter has come to a close as of midnight Thursday (you may have noticed the 10,000 fundraising e-mails you received). Now all that's left is to count up the hauls. Mitt Romney's team is trying to convince reporters they'll be in the $15-20 million range. That's a serious lowball. But some folks are buzzing that it could be President Obama who surprises the most, especially if he breaks the $60 million barrier. Keep an eye out as the numbers trickle out over the next two weeks.
- LONE STAR SHOWDOWN. A sweeping new redistricting plan about to be enacted in Texas is already setting off a prairie fire of political activity, writes House Race Hotline editor Jessica Taylor. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, might have run out of luck. And two Republicans with the same last name are duking it out for an open House seat. And this is before the courts decide whether the map will take effect. One thing is certain: This is going to court.
- 9/11 HEALTH FUND STARTS DOLING OUT ASSISTANCE. Congress’s “Christmas miracle” of 2011 came into effect this week, as the 9/11 health fund started covering medical costs for rescue workers sickened in the 2001 terrorist attacks. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be in New York City today to deliver remarks commemorating the unlikely passage of the bill in the last moments of the Democrats' full congressional majority.
(YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who played the gender card more than once in pushing the Supreme Court nominations of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in recent years, said on June 21 that Michael Simon, recently confirmed as a District Court judge, had faced opposition because he had “filed amicus briefs on behalf of several Jewish organizations.” In a letter on Thursday, Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice -- one of groups opposing Simon -- accused Leahy of “grasping at straws to suggest that Mr. Simon’s critics are anti-Semitic” and took offense at the “suggestion that such critics are motivated by anti-Semitism.” Levey said his group was concerned about Simon’s links not to “Jewish groups” but to the ACLU.)
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