N2K Top 10: It's Complicated; Defiance
Friday, November 19, 2010 | 7:33 a.m.
- IT'S COMPLICATED. President Obama will sit down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday in Lisbon. The meeting comes in the aftermath of Karzai’s confounding comments to the Washington Post that he wants to see U.S. troops play a more limited combat role in Afghanistan. Obama will also meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. The U.S.-Georgia relationship has been complicated since the former Soviet bloc country fought a brief war with Russia in 2008 after the Georgian military attempted to retake South Ossetia region from Russia-backed rebels.
- DEFIANCE. Even though he’s down by over 10,000 votes -- with not enough challenged ballots to overcome his deficit -- Joe Miller isn’t even close to conceding to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. In fact, he’s now declaring an injunction to prevent officials from certifying the election, according to the AP. NRSC Chairman John Cornyn can’t be happy about this intraparty battle spilling on past Thanksgiving.
- LET'S MAKE A DEAL? While Democrats have yet to come together for a formal proposal to bring to the November 30 White House Summit, it's becoming increasingly clear that many of them are willing to compromise on the Bush tax cuts. Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said Thursday that it's time to realize the "stark reality," and that if all tax cuts -- including those for Americans making more than $250,000 a year-- have to be extended for two years, "it would be OK with [him]." Likewise, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said it wasn't a matter of who gets the tax cuts, but a matter of for how long everyone gets them for.
- WHO NEEDS TAX CUTS? James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, says letting the Bush tax cuts expire is not such a bad thing, because "you've got a big deficit reduction taking place, which is also a good thing." Clyburn is the first Democratic leader to suggest any failure to extend the tax cuts could be helpful. The White House and every Democratic leader to date have described extension of the middle-class segment of the Bush tax cuts a top economic and political priority.
- BERNANKE FIGHTS BACK. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke today offered a full-throated defense of the Fed's second round of quantitative easing. At a central banking conference this morning in Germany, where political leaders have accused the Fed of intentionally driving down the dollar, Bernanke insisted that the Fed has no interest in that. “The best way to continue to deliver the strong economic fundamentals that underpin the value of the dollar,’’ he declared, “is through policies that lead to a resumption of robust growth” in America.
- STRONG BUT LOOSE. Bernanke also took a swing at his growing chorus of Republican critics back home, including Sarah Palin and John Boehner, who have warned the Fed is about to unleash a wave of uncontrollable inflation. Bernanke promised the Fed “does not seek inflation above the level of 2 percent” and “will not have any problems exiting from this program at the appropriate time.” The empirical evidence is overwhelmingly on his side: Earlier this week, the government reported that consumer prices had climbed just 0.6 percent over the past year. That’s the smallest increase since the government created the consumer price index in 1957.
- CANCUN CONUNDRUM. The shifting dynamic between the United States and China has the potential to doom the upcoming climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, Coral Davenport reports in this week’s National Journal magazine. While the U.S. returns in a weakened position, failing to deliver on its promise to pass climate legislation, China comes to the talks with the upper hand, as a global leader in climate and clean-energy action.
- RELAX. Remember all those presidential campaigns that started two years before Election Day? Not going to happen this time. At the Republican Governors Association meeting in San Diego, two leading presidential potentials, Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Mitch Daniels of Indiana, told Hotline Editor-in-Chief Reid Wilson they won’t announce their plans until the spring.
- HOLD LIFTED. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lifted the hold she had placed on Jack Lew's budget director nomination, a hold she had placed in protest of the administration’s offshore drilling restrictions in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. While Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, thanked Landrieu for her support, he said, “The moratorium will not end until drilling begins again.”
- ACT LIKE ADULTS. Presumptive House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he’s already talked to the 80-plus incoming House GOP freshmen about a tricky vote to raise the debt ceiling. “I’ve made it pretty clear to them that as we get into next year, it’s pretty clear Congress is going to have to deal with it. We’re going to have to deal with it as adults. Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations, and we have obligations on our part,” he said.
Today's Need-to-Know Video: Broadcasters vs. Cable.