Major budget talks in US--Obama meets Boehner; US$1 trillion could be saved by reorganising federal government bureaucracy, according to expert; South Korea will host 2018 Winter Olympic Games; Hong Kong media reporting that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin has died; Libyan rebels take Western town on way to Tripoli; North Korea bribed Pakistani military for information on nuclear-bomb making; Europeans angry at credit rating agencies for downgrading Portugal; and more
Top of the Agenda: White House and Congress in Budget Talks
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner will meet at a budget summit today, aimed at agreeing on a plan to reduce the deficit and lift the national debt ceiling ahead of an August deadline. Obama and Boehner have been in talks since the weekend (WSJ) over a full overhaul of the budget, which could include a significant revision of the tax code and a revamp of the government's three safety-net programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Obama, who is set to meet at the White House today with a bipartisan group of Congress members, has indicated that he wants to see savings over the next decade that are significantly higher than the $2 trillion (NYT) sought in earlier negotiations.
In a concession by Democrats, the president is expected to propose cuts in Social Security (WashPost) and Medicare, while extracting Republican support for increased tax revenues.
At the same time, the House began debating a bill that would boost defense spending (LAT) by $17 billion for 2012, the only spending bill to move through the Republican-controlled House that would increase funding over 2011 levels. However, The Hill reports that in an effort to avoid tax increases, many Republicans may break with party orthodoxy on defense spending and support national security cuts of $700 billion over a decade to reach a deal on raising the debt limit.
With the U.S. share of global output shrinking, its share of defense spending is neither steady nor sustainable (FT), writes CFR's Sebastian Mallaby.
Democrats and Republicans could save upward of $1 trillion (WSJ) by reorganizing the federal government's bureaucracy, writes Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University's Wagner School of Public Policy.
CFR's Peter Orszag argues that the United States must address both the weak labor market and an unsustainable fiscal path over the medium and long term.
PACIFIC RIM: South Korea Wins Bid for 2018 Winter Olympics
The South Korean city of PyeongChang won the bid (Yonhap) to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games following a decisive vote by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday, bringing the Winter Games to the country for the first time.
China: Chinese state media have denied reports by a Hong Kong television station that former President Jiang Zemin has died (Reuters), news that is fueling speculation over next year's expected leadership transition.