Morning Briefing: September 27, 2011

Last night, the Senate reached a deal to avert a government shutdown. Republicans and Democrats had been bitterly divided over funding for disaster aid, with the GOP insisting that FEMA funding be offset with spending cuts, but the agency said it had enough money to squeak through the end of the week, allowing the Senate to pass a straightforward government-funding bill.

Undisclosed campaign funds allowed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling will continue to grow and lead to scandal if the system isn’t reformed, according to a report from the Committee for Economic Development. “The lack of transparency poses a grave threat to our democracy,” said the report, which 32 business leaders and university professors signed.

The Supreme Court will likely decide the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act by next summer after the Justice Department decided Monday to not ask the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta to take up the case. Last month, a three-judge panel from the 11th Circuit decided 2–1 that Congress overstepped its authority in passing the law.

Every major Republican presidential hopeful is courting real estate mogul Donald Trump, despite the fact the fact that he was laughed out of the 2012 field just a few months ago for his obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate. Mitt Romney had a 45-minute meeting with the Donald yesterday, while Rick Perry dined with Trump earlier this month.


Republican donors and elites are still hoping for some new choices in the 2012 field, as a group of wealthy businessmen are desperately trying to recruit New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Meanwhile, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) looks increasingly like she may run.

The recession has reshaped the American economic map as the once-booming South is now home to higher unemployment rates than the Midwest, a reversal from pre-recession trends. Of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates, six are now in the South, as their economies have failed to recover at the same pace as states in other regions.

American cities face another difficult year of declining revenue and worker layoffs, according to a new survey from the National League of Cities. Nearly a third of cities are laying off workers this year, more than half have canceled or delayed infrastructure projects, and many have raised fees.

The U.S. will soon be “lowering the size of home loans that the federal government will guarantee.” The “move to lower loan limits is the first major effort by the federal government to reduce its footprint in the mortgage market,” as the government currently supports 90 percent of new mortgages.

An NYPD officer who has been made infamous over pepper spraying demonstrators occupying Wall Street is facing possible legal action for abuses allegedly committed during 2004 protests against the Republican National Convention, The Guardian reports. The lawyer for a protester who alleges abuse in 2004 expects the case to be heard next year.


And finally: Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has commissioned three 8-foot tall bronze statues of himself. The $100,000 statues are based on a 1980 portrait of the scandal-plagued actor-turned-politician’s, “pumping iron” days.

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