Morning Briefing: August 4, 2011

The debt ceiling deal signed by President Obama could endanger billions of dollars in initiatives from the Affordable Care Act if the super committee doesn’t come up with required spending cuts. Money to fund community health centers, state-based exchanges, low-income subsidies, and many other programs, could all be cut under the agreement.

The “United Nations now estimates that 12.4 million people are facing severe food shortages” in the Horn of Africa. The U.N. is calling on the world community to donate $2.5 billion to avert catastrophe, but only $1 billion has been donated so far.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is expected to stay at his post for the rest of the president’s first term after the White House exerted “intense” pressure. Speculation has been swirling that Geithner had planned to leave the administration after the debt ceiling fight, but Obama reportedly asked him to stay on to avoid a contentious Senate battle to confirm his replacement.

An American contractor who was allegedly tortured by the U.S. military in Iraq can sue former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a judge has ruled. The Justice Department had argued Rumsfeld cannot be sued because judges can’t review wartime decisions. But the court found “no convincing reason” why citizens should give up constitutional rights during war.


The United Nations Security Council yesterday “condemned the Syrian government for attacks on civilians and widespread human-rights violations.” The condemnation comes as the Syrian government launched an all-out assault on the city of Hama, considered the largest hub of the uprising.

New York City Mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is investing $30 million of his own money in a program to aid minority youth. The program is “the most ambitious policy push of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term” and is aimed at 315,000 young black and Latino men who are cut off from New York’s civic, educational and economic life. Fellow billionaire George Soros will donate another $30 billion, and together their contributions will fund half of the program.

Embattled Rep. David Wu (D-OR) officially resigned from office last night at 11:59 pm in the wake of sexual assault allegations. In his final statement, Wu said “however great the honor and engaging the work, there comes a time to hand on the privilege of elected office — and that time has come.”

Senate leaders reached a deal on the “long-stalled trade agreements” with Panama, South Korea, and Colombia, which will now move through the Senate in September. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will guarantee a vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, a program Republicans previously objected to linking to the trade deals.

And finally: President Obama celebrates his 50th birthday today with a big party and campaign fundraiser in Chicago, but he got started yesterday when took his likely exhausted economic team to burgers in DC yesterday, where he remarked, “Michelle eats here all the time, but I don’t get out” much. He is youngest candidate, by only a matter of months, in the 2012 election.

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