Morning Briefing: July 18, 2011

A new CBS News poll shows that 71 percent of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans have handled debt limit negotiations, while only 21 percent approve of the GOP’s “intransigent resistance to raising taxes.” More than half of Republican respondents disapproved of the way their party has handled the talks.

Ratings agency Moody’s today suggested that the U.S. should eliminate the debt ceiling to reduce uncertainty among its bond holders. “We would reduce our assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty,” a Moody’s analyst wrote in the agency’s report. Moody’s warned last week it would cut the U.S. credit rating if debt payments were missed.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has tried to make her presidential campaign about economics, but LGBT rights advocates are hoping to “drag her back into the fray” of social issues to both target her anti-gay ideology and to make her an example of the larger anti-gay rights conservative movement. They hope to remind the world of her intolerant past comments about gays and keep her on the defensive about them.

In one of the clearest indications yet that he intends to launch a presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) told the Des Moines Register he feels “called” to run. “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs,” Perry said.

The intense heat wave across the country spurred Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) to call for a statewide day of prayer for divine intervention. “I think if we have a lot of people praying, it moves the heart of God,” Fallin said.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) called for congressional hearings and investigations into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire “to determine whether it employed illegal practices in the U.S.” Durbin said yesterday that “there are questions about whether the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has been violated.”

“Insurgents killed a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai at his Kabul home on Sunday night,” striking another blow to the country’s central government. The Taliban took credit for the attack.

And finally: When Newt Gingrich is not taking a Mediterranean cruise and actually campaigning for president, he stills like to travel in style. Gingrich spent nearly a quarter of his campaign’s money last quarter on private jets, racking up over $500,000 worth of charter flights from a single company, according to campaign finance reports. Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) shelled out for “burgers, barbecue and farmers markets,” while Tim Pawlenty’s staff “dropped more than $600 on teleprompters and cosmetic services for his campaign kickoff.”

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