Morning Briefing: August 15, 2011


President Obama is pushing aggressively to extend a payroll tax cut alongside unemployment benefits, warning that a failure to do so “could mean 1 million fewer jobs and half a percent less growth.” The move could “turn the tables” on normally anti-tax Republicans who “have resisted the idea, preferring instead to push” for “permanently lower income and corporate rates.”

Thirty-nine percent: President Obama’s new approval rating, an all-time low. 54 percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing, a new high.

USA Today’s survey of 39 economists finds “the chances of the economy slipping into another recession have risen significantly, and forecasts for economic growth and job gains over the next year have been substantially downsized.” The paper adds, “The gloomier forecast is a stunning reversal.”

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is asking Congress to “stop coddling” wealthy Americans, and calls for higher taxes on those who make at least $1 million a year with an additional tax increase for those making more than $10 million. “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice,” he writes in a New York Times op-ed today.

A “series of blasts and gunshots ripped across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 60 people.” The attacks come at a time when Baghdad is negotiating with Washington about possibly keeping some U.S. troops in the country beyond the planned withdrawal next year.

Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has an op-ed in the New York Times today calling for an end to the use of unilateral drone strikes in Pakistan. Blair says the drones are increasing extremism and called instead for heightened cooperation between Pakistan and the United States to battle extremism instead.

The U.S. consulate in Chennai, India is apologizing after U.S. Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students in Tamil Nadu that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey. The Tamil political party PMK is calling for Chao’s resignation and expulsion from India, declaring her comments “highly condemnable.”

And finally: Political artist Mario Piperni envisions the morphing heads of Rick Perry and George W. Bush. See his illustration below: