Morning Briefing: July 14, 2011

If Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt limit by Aug. 2, President Obama will be forced to make difficult decisions about who to pay and which essential government services to fund. There will be a $134 billion shortfall in August alone, forcing Obama to choose between Social Security checks, salaries for service members and veterans, unemployment benefits, student loans, and other programs, according to the Washington Post.

A new poll finds that more Americans trust President Obama over Republicans on the economy. Forty-five percent of Americans favor Obama’s “approach to trimming the nation’s debt” and, if a debt deal is not reached, 48 percent would blame congressional Republicans over the president.

Embattled News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch rejected a summons to appear before the British Parliament to answer questions about his company’s hacking scandal. Murdoch and his son, who serves as COO of News Corp, cannot be forced to testify as they are American citizens, but Rebekah Brooks, the executive and former editor at the center of the scandal, will appear.

In a USA Today op-ed titled “Why I sign pledges,” GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum defended signing the FAMiLY LEADER pledge, stating, “It shouldn’t be too much to ask that we offer a guarantee” and “solemn promise.” Thanking the groups who have offered pledges, Santorum said, “I know I speak for my fellow candidates who have signed these pledges in saying it is an honor to be able to do so.”

“Investigators combed rain-soaked blast sites and scoured security videos on Thursday” following the aftermath of deadly terrorist bombings in Mumbai, India. The three bombings yesterday killed 17 people and injured an additional 131. No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

President Obama’s re-election raised a staggering $86 million in the last quarter, more than twice the $35 million the entire GOP field raised combined. The total exceeded the $60 million goal the campaign had set for itself, and included contributions from 552,462 individuals — most of whom contributed small amounts.

A new poll of Arab publics released by the Arab American Institute finds that the “United States is viewed less favorably in much of the Arab world today than it was during the final year of the Bush administration.” The poll also found that Obama has a lower approval rating there than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

And finally: Like video games but find war and car racing too dull? Well now you can gain all the thrills of budgeting with Budget Hero 2.0, a video game that lets users virtually cut spending and raise taxes to balance the federal budget. The new game, developed by the Woodrow Wilson Center and American Public Media, “allows players to pick from some 100 policy cards as they try to earn ‘badges’ that reflect their political leanings.”

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