Morning Briefing: July 22, 2011

The New York Times reports that President Obama and Speaker Boehner (R-OH) are nearing a deal on a sweeping deficit reduction package they both may have a difficult time selling to their respective parties. The deal to avert a government shutdown in less than two weeks calls for $3 trillion in savings from substantial spending cuts, but only “future revenue produced by a tax code overhaul.”

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confronted White House budget director Jack Lew about secret talks on a deficit reduction deal that violates core Democratic principles. “I’m the Senate majority leader — why don’t I know about this deal?” Reid demanded when Lew walked in for a meeting with Senate Democrats. Reid made it clear he didn’t appreciate being kept out of the loop on the potential agreement.

Two former top staffers in News Corp’s British subsidiary are contradicting COO James Murdoch’s testimony before Parliament this week, saying he misled lawmakers and suggesting that “wrongdoing at the News of the World tabloid was more widespread than the company let on.” A top opposition Labor MP is already calling for an investigation.

The Obama administration deported a record number of people, 393,000, last year. Though Obama’s stated enforcement policy seeks to target the “worst of the worst” criminals for deportation, only “half of those were considered criminals” — a fact Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says doesn’t reflect that “the more serious offenders are still in prison” in the U.S.


FCC officials halted their review of the proposed AT&T;/T-Mobile merger late Wednesday while they wait for AT&T; to provide further information about potential economic benefits of the deal. The “air of invincibility is fading” as the deal faces increased scrutiny from regulators and many congressional Democrats, who argue the deal will be bad for consumers.

“Exactly one year to the day that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act became law,” the House of Representatives approved a bill that would restrain the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The bill would allow the body known as the Financial Stability Oversight Council to overrule CFPB regulations with a simple-majority vote instead of a two-thirds vote.

Iraq is likely to miss its deadline to ask American troops to stay beyond December, as its political leaders remain divided over whether troops need to stay. Despite the Saturday deadline, American officials don’t expect a formal request until September. Until an offer is received, 46,000 American troops continue plans to withdraw by Dec. 31.

A new Saudi law being proposed “would give the Interior Ministry sweeping powers and mandate jail sentences for criticizing the king would effectively squelch political dissent.” The law would also allow wiretaps of homes without judicial approval.

And finally: Presidential wannabe Tim Pawlenty is clearly an underdog right now, so he wanted to give supporters some hope with a commercial presenting a well-known come-from-behind victory — the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” win of the U.S. Olympic hockey team over the Soviet Union. One problem: Pawlenty violated copyright protections to make the ad and ABC Sports, which owns the rights to the footage, is now threatening legal action.

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