Morning Briefing: July 29, 2011

Effects of Congress’ impasse over the debt ceiling are being felt in short-term credit markets, as big banks and companies yanked $37.5 billion out of money market funds that invest in U.S. Treasury debt and other safe securities. “It’s a big deal, no doubt about it,” said one market tracker. “If this were to continue for another week or two, it would be very disturbing.”

House conservatives are angry that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) included $17 billion in supplemental spending for Pell Grants. The conservatives wanted to see funding cut, while it was actually increased to allow the program to finance its maximum grants.

Tea Party leaders announced yesterday that they will target four GOP “Tea Party defectors” who declared yes-votes for Boehner’s debt plan. Tea Party Express, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Founding Fathers, and United West are targeting GOP Reps. James Lankford (OK), Allen West (FL), Mike Kelly (PA), and Bill Flores (TX) because they say a plan that does not enact great spending cuts or pass a balanced budget amendment enables a “debt ceiling giveaway.”

The News of the World, the scandal plagued British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, allegedly hacked the phone of a woman whose 8-year-old daughter was murdered by a repeat sex offender in 2000. Scotland Yard added the mother, Sarah Payne, to their list of probable victims Thursday. Payne’s charity, in a statement: “Today is a very dark day for us.”

A new poll finds that 40 percent of Americans approve of President Obama’s performance during the debt-limit negotiations. While his overall approval rating is at 52 percent, Obama’s position in the debt deal edges out House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at 31 percent approval.

Yesterday House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) argued that President Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling as a last resortto prevent default. Hoyer joins a growing chorus of Democrats who are encouraging Obama to use the Constitution if negotiations in Congress fail. He told MSNBC it’s “better to take the action and find out later that perhaps he went beyond his authority but at least protected the credibility of the United States of America.”

The powerful seniors’ group AARP is endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) deficit reduction plan over Speaker John Boenner’s (R-OH). In a letter, the group commends Reid’s decision to leave entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security intact and argues, “This plan would resolve the current debt ceiling crisis which has created great anxiety among our members.”

An AWOL soldier who allegedly had refused to fight in Afghanistan was arrested near Fort Hood in Texas, as authorities suspect he was plotting an attack on the base. Pfc. Naser J. Abdo may face federal charges after bomb-making materials were found in his hotel room.

And finally: Long-shot presidential candidate Gary Johnson is known for being fit — he’s triathlete who has climbed Mount Everest — and couldn’t help but take a pot shot at Newt Gingrich’s physique when asked who was the fittest candidate. Agreeing he was the fittest, Johnson asked, “Who else?ā€ He quickly added, ā€œIā€™m sorry. I take that back. I forgot about Newt. What was I thinking?ā€