Romneys Revealed

Ahead of one of the biggest weeks of their lives, Mitt and Ann Romney welcomed “Fox News Sunday” into their home. The couple treated us to Mrs. Romney’s signature buttermilk pancakes where we learned the former governor of Massachusetts prefers peanut butter on his flapjacks.

Joining his parents were the Romney’s oldest son Tagg, his wife Jen and their six-children. Tagg reflected on family life after the governor told us he enjoys being able to talk with his family about the big decisions in their lives:

Chris: Tagg and Jen do you like having your parents and your brothers and your sisters-in-law, do you like having them weigh in on your lives?

Tagg: Yeah, we're careful with what issues we bring forward…

Mrs. Romney admitted to FNS that her husband gets advice from everyone, even her. When pressed about the issues the two may differ on she wouldn’t comment saying, “I think we have to have a united front on that area.”

In the early 90’s Mrs. Romney donated money to Planned Parenthood. In regards to her husband’s plan to cut federal funding, Mrs. Romney says, “I think that it's important that distinction is made that it's federal funding. It doesn't mean that there's not going to be a Planned Parenthood. He and Paul are going to get to Washington. And they are going to balance this budget. And they're going to have to be make -- there's going to be cuts. There's going to be cuts made to a lot of programs people aren't going to like.”

Mr. Romney responded, “I think Planned Parenthood, given the fact that it's also a major provider of abortions, shouldn't be receiving federal funding. I think it should be receiving funding from people who want to contribute and support the effort of -- of breast exams and so forth. But I don't think it's a -- it's a responsibility of the federal government to be providing money to -- to Planned Parenthood.”

The Romney’s say that they love to shop at Costco and that Mitt irons his own shirts and does the laundry. To people who view him as out of touch, Romney referenced a Popeye line, “I am what I am and that's all what I am.” Mrs. Romney explained how her husband was there for her and the family when she was diagnosed with MS, “When I was really, really sick -- and this is where I think people need to understand where Mitt comes from. I was unable to do anything that any in -- in a normal life. I couldn't go to the grocery store. I couldn't cook dinner or anything.

This was during the time Mitt was running the Olympics and he was, you know, putting in long hours. He would come home, on his way home, he would stop at the grocery store. He was making dinner. He was doing all of those things and saying, Ann, it's OK. You just -- you're fine. Don't worry about these things. That's not why I love you, because you go to the store and you make dinner. I love you because I love you, not what you do.”

On the coast of their lake house, a New Hampshire Marine Patrol laid watch making sure the Romney family is safe, showing that this man soon could become the President of the United States. Romney reflected, “It's a critical time for the country and the things I've learned over my life and the people that I've learned to work with, I think are the kind of people we need to get the country on track.”

At Home With The Romneys

Chris and the crew is in Tampa, Florida, to cover the Republican National Convention.

But earlier this week, Chris sat down with the presumptive Republican nominee, at his summer home in New Hampshire.

Be sure to tune in Sunday morning to see our exclusive interview with Governor and Mrs. Romney.

Mr. Sunday's Saturday Night Chicken: By Lorraine Wallace


More Than 100 Delicious, Homemade Recipes to Bring Your Family Together

By Lorraine Wallace

On the heels of the hugely successful Mr. Sunday's Soups, Lorraine Wallace—wife of Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace—shares another family tradition: the night before taping his show, Chris always wants something familiar and comforting for dinner: chicken. Faced with the challenge of keeping the meals interesting—like so many people at home eating chicken meals at least once a week—Lorraine created more than 130 delicious chicken and side dish recipes the whole family will love.

In MR. SUNDAY’S SATURDAY NIGHT CHICKEN (Wiley Paperback; $19.99; May 15, 2012) you'll find chicken favorites prepared in almost every way: grilled, baked, fried, butterflied, barbecued, pan roasted, and stir-fried, as well as in salads, fajitas, wraps, quiches, and enchiladas.

Featured recipe: Stovetop Summer Chicken (pictured below)












9/11 and My Generation

By: Jake Serwer, Fox News Sunday Staffer

September 11, 2001 was a date that fell during the calendar in the first early weeks of my freshman year of high school. As a fourteen year old, I vividly recall the trauma, uncertainty and near-hysteria of attending and preparing for my first week of classes, while at the same time experiencing my first football game as a student fan under the Friday night lights of a cool autumn night in Michigan.

Everything about the first week in September as an incoming high school freshman was ordinary, and ordinary in the sense that all was normal, customary, and in place as things were understood to be. Students gathered in hallways to chat about classes, the good and bad teachers they had encountered and typical teenage stuff, such as how long until one could obtain a driver's license. Boys talked about girls, girls talked about boys. The far-off homecoming dance was discussed and who would be going with whom. This was a textbook safe, secure, predictable and iconic small suburban town first week of high school, as repeated year after year. However, that overwhelming sense of familiarity, history and security in our time-tested traditions and customs vanished immediately during the second week of high school when the school's principal made the announcement that planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and into a farm field in Pennsylvania. Our country was under attack.

Like all Americans on that horrific day, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the alarming news. I sat in my second period speech class, taught by Mr. LaBond. He lectured about public speaking, insisting that the number one fear in America was indeed public speaking. Ironically, when my class heard the announcement about the attacks, the room became speechless. Honestly, I didn't know what to think at first. I could barely process the information coming in. There was a moment for about 30 seconds right as the announcement concluded where the room was silent, not like the silence of a library, but like the hush of the crowd while a football player is lying motionless on the ground after a hit to his head. This kind of silence means trouble. Soon after the class ended, students gathered in the cafeteria to watch the news reports on television. That's when it hit me that our country would never be the same. New York would never be the same. Personally, the worst part about watching the footage of the planes crashing into the towers came not from what I directly witnessed, which was already unimaginable, but from my own thoughts and speculations of what the passengers on board the planes were thinking right before they were killed. That instilled more fear in me than anything.

September 11, 2001 ("9/11") forever changed the United States. Ten years have passed since the horror and shock of that awful autumn day, but the memories still remain. Like many people around the country, I was in disbelief when our country was attacked. For the first time in my life, I felt vulnerable and defenseless, as was the case for all Americans - not just fourteen year old high school freshmen. All of us eventually learned that a radical terrorist group, al-Qaeda, and its leader, Usama bin Laden, planned the attack, which killed nearly 3,000 Americans, from distant shores.

Throughout my life, I heard stories about Pearl Harbor from my grandparent's generation, but this was entirely different. This was New York City. This was Washington, DC. This was innocent Americans jumping out of burning buildings, plummeting to their death, because it was the better option. Ten years later, my generation, the "9/11 generation," essentially grew up in a different world than that of our parents.

We later learned about al-Qaeda and their terrorist operations, but this was not like the previous enemies our country had faced. In addition, most of my generation's parents lived through the Vietnam War era and were leery of committing our young people to war against an unknown enemy. President Bush made a speech a few weeks after 9/11 calling on all Americans to go back to their normal lives - enjoy life, go shopping, travel and take your kids to Disneyland. And that's exactly what my generation did. We went back to our routines. We finished high school. We went to the prom. College. The reaction of my peers was essentially non-reactive.

Americans were closely united after 9/11, and for a brief moment we came together, extending our hands and hearts to those whom we did not know, offering kind words to those in need of comfort. Political affiliation did not matter. Americans were unified and we had each other's back.

After ten years, it's obvious that America is going through trying times. We often blame each other instead of lifting each other up. My final message to my generation... we should have taken the opportunity in the months following 9/11 to keep the unity going. It's not too late. We can and should be unified again.

Fox News Sunday Snippets: August 14, 2011

"Fox News Sunday" is live from Ames, Iowa, this morning, the day after the big event.

Ames Straw poll winner Michele Bachmann joins "Fox News Sunday" to react to Saturday's results and talk about the way forward after this big win.

Our panel today, Special Report's Bret Baier, Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn and Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, joins Chris to discuss the results, the impact of the newly-minted Rick Perry campaign, as well as what the president has on his agenda this coming week.

Check here for local listings.

What we are reading to prepare for the show.

Bachmann wins Iowa straw poll as Perry jumps in-Washington Post

The events of Saturday marked the opening of an accelerating chapter in a 2012 GOP campaign that has been slow to take shape. With Mitt Romney established as the frontrunner for the nomination, the entry of Perry and the victory here by Bachmann are likely to reorder the field and intensify the competition to emerge as the former Massachusetts governor’s principal challenger.

Perry overshadows Bachmann's Iowa victory-Los Angeles Times

Perry's name was excluded from the ballot because he didn't announce his candidacy in time, but backers mounted a write-in campaign. His late-starting campaign shakes up a wide-open nomination fight and poses a potentially serious threat to Romney, the presumed front-runner.

The former Massachusetts governor won the straw poll four years ago but chose to save money — and potentially prevent an embarrassing setback — by not actively competing. Romney's name was on the ballot, however, and he wound up seventh, with 567 votes, trailing the Perry write-in, which drew 718.

Pawlenty to hold morning conference call-Politico

Tim Pawlenty, low on cash and reeling from a distant third-place finish at Ames, will hold an early-morning conference call Sunday with top campaign staff and donors to discuss his next move, a source tells POLITICO.

Santorum: Happy With 4th Place in Iowa Straw Poll-Wall Street Journal

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says he’s feeling pretty good about his fourth-place finish in the straw poll here, and for one reason: He apparently doesn’t think much of the top three finishers.

The top two winners, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, remain long shots for the nomination much less the presidency. The third place finisher, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, may have already peaked.

“All I can say is I feel very good looking at the people above,” Mr. Santorum said, calling himself “the fine wine candidate,” as in, “we will age very well.”

White House Debates Fight on Economy-New York Times

As the economy worsens, President Obama and his senior aides are considering whether to adopt a more combative approach on economic issues, seeking to highlight substantive differences with Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail rather than continuing to pursue elusive compromises, advisers to the president say.

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view. Democrats are also pushing the White House to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Pressure’s on for deficit panel-Washington Post

The 12 congressional lawmakers appointed last week to the new, high-stakes deficit reduction panel will convene next month amid super-partisan pressures that have blocked past efforts at bipartisan compromise on debt reduction. Skepticism that they will reach a mutually acceptable agreement is running high.

But in their early public comments since receiving the assignment, several of the lawmakers appointed to the panel have sounded unexpectedly eager to find common ground — and to avoid taking the kind of rigid stands that would be difficult to rescind once negotiations begin.

'Doomsday' defense cuts loom large for select 12-Associated Press

For the dozen lawmakers given the task of producing a deficit-cutting plan, the threatened "doomsday" defense cuts hit close to home.

The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors -- Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and Boeing Co. -- build missiles, aircraft, jet fighters and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers.

The potential for $500 billion more in defense cuts could force the Pentagon to cancel or scale back multibillion-dollar weapons programs. That could translate into significant layoffs in a fragile economy, generate millions less in tax revenues for local governments and upend lucrative company contracts with foreign nations.


Fox News Sunday Snippets: July 24, 2011

With the August 2 debt ceiling deadline closing in, leaders from both parties are scrambling to agree on a deal that can muster passage from both houses of Congress.

This week, Treaury Secretary Tim Geithner joins "Fox News Sunday" to discuss the administration's position in the negotiations as well as give his perspective on what a deal would mean to the markets and the economy.

Next, we have an exclusive interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner, the Republican leader at the center of these ongoing negotiations. We will get an update from him on where a deal stands and his take on whether a deal will be ready for Congress's consideration this week.

What we are reading to prepare for the show.

Boehner wants debt ceiling plan by Sunday-Politico

House Speaker John Boehner hopes to have a framework for a debt-limit plan in place by Sunday afternoon to avoid roiling the Asian markets, he told colleagues on a Saturday conference call.

An immediate deal would raise the debt ceiling and cut spending, Boehner said, and there are still options on the table for more comprehensive deficit reduction of $3 trillion to $5 trillion, according to GOP sources on the call. He is also aiming for a framework in the form of Cut, Cap and Balance — the plan that has failed in the Senate, Obama has threatened to veto but House Republicans passed overwhelmingly.

Lawmakers Renew Push to Reach Deal on Cutting Deficit-New York Times

The tense series of high-powered meetings on Saturday was reflective of the sense of urgency among lawmakers with little more than a week before the federal government risks defaulting on its debts, a fate that could be avoided if Congress agrees to increase the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Congressional Republicans, Democrats and Mr. Obama have seized on the debt fight as a way to win approval of a debt-reduction package but have disagreed sharply over what it should include.

The speaker, who abruptly broke off budget talks with Mr. Obama on Friday evening, said that he hoped the plan could be finished within 24 hours and indicated on the conference call with House members that the savings would most likely be achieved in two stages. As described by knowledgeable Congressional aides, the agreement under discussion would enact a first round of cuts of just under $1 trillion, an amount they said was sufficient to clear the way for a debt limit increase through 2011. A second increase would follow after a newly created legislative commission considered a broader range of spending cuts, program overhauls and potential revenue increases.

Boehner tells GOP he will unveil new debt strategy-Washington Post

In a conference call with House Republicans, Boehner ruled out the most likely alternative to a short-term extension: a process proposed by McConnell this month that would authorize Obama to raise the debt limit in installments, without explicit congressional approval.

“The goal of our discussions now with the leaders is not to do something in the Reid-McConnell framework,” Boehner said, according to one participant. “It will be something new.”

A senior GOP aide, meanwhile, accused Obama of trying to shape the debt-limit debate to suit his political needs, saying, “It would be terribly unfortunate if the president was willing to veto a debt-limit increase simply because its timing would not be ideal for his reelection campaign.”

Meanwhile, there were lingering doubts about Boehner’s ability to rally support for a debt-limit increase of any size or duration. Many House Republicans continue to push their plan to sharply cut spending over the next decade and adopt a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the budget. Such a plan passed the House, but failed Friday in the Senate on a party-line vote.

Default Seen as Unlikely, but Markets Prepare-New York Times

Over the last few weeks staff members in the Office of Debt Management, a part of the Treasury, have been phoning the desks of the 20 major Wall Street dealers for Treasury bonds to assess investor demand for coming debt auctions, and to seek assurances that the dealers themselves will buy any surplus.

About $87 billion in federal debt comes due on Aug. 4, and roughly $410 billion comes due throughout the rest of August. If interest rates climbed even a tenth of a percentage point, the added cost to roll over the debt would be an extra $500 million a year.

Wall Street is also worried about the effect that a ratings downgrade would have on various assets that are implicitly backed by the federal government, including agency mortgages or municipal bonds.

Leaders in Congress scramble toward deal-Boston Globe

Despite the shortness of time, and the high-stakes involved, both Democrats and Republicans pushed for a complex, comprehensive, and long-term deal rather than settle for a stop-gap measure.

“Absolutely, positively not,’’ House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, when asked whether a short-term deal was viable. Obama has continued to insist that any legislation be for a long-term extension.

“I will not support any short-term agreement, and neither will President Obama nor leader Pelosi,’’ Senate majority leader Harry Reid said. “We seek an extension of the debt ceiling through at least the end of 2012.’’

Democrats appeared to be digging in last night, illustrating either last-minute political posturing to get a better deal or an impasse in the talks.

“I am deeply disappointed in the status of negotiations with my Republican colleagues,’’ Reid said in a statement, specifically saying he would oppose any agreement that does not raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012.

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"2012: One on One"

Fox News Sunday's "2012: One on One" featured Herman Cain this week.

Watch and let us know what you think.

Fox News Sunday Snippets: June 17, 2011

House Republicans plan a vote on "Cut, Cap and Balance" this week as the president and Congressional leaders continue to search for a deal that will raise the debt limit by August 2.

Joining "Fox News Sunday" to discuss it are Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH).

Then, we continue our "2012: One on One" series with presidential candidate Herman Cain.

A look at what we are reading to prepare for the show

Parties assess debt options as time runs short-Associated Press

Congress and the Obama administration are weighing their options as time closes in on the deadline for raising the nation's debt ceiling, and the White House may call another meeting Sunday of congressional leaders and President Barack Obama.

House Republicans are preparing to vote this week on allowing an increase in the government's borrowing limit through 2012 as long as Congress approves a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, which is highly unlikely.

In the Senate, the Republican and Democratic leaders are working on a bipartisan plan that would allow Obama to raise the debt limit without a prior vote by lawmakers. The talks are focusing on how to address long-term deficit reduction in the proposal to satisfy House Republicans.

Washington Post

Even as President Obama and congressional leaders focus on a fallback plan to lift the nation’s debt ceiling, top Democrats and Republicans have begun to map a new way to craft the same sort of ambitious deficit-cutting plan they abandoned last week.

As part of the deal being discussed to raise the debt ceiling, leaders on Capitol Hill are forming an especially powerful congressional committee that would be charged with drawing up a new “grand bargain,” possibly by the end of the year

Key elements for a big deal remain in place. Obama has been clear that he wants one and has started making the case to skeptical factions of his own party that getting the nation’s fiscal house in order is in their best interest. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) also remains committed to an ambitious plan, having told his troops that he didn’t become speaker to do small things. And, perhaps most critically, the markets are demanding it. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s says Washington must agree to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over 10 years to avert a downgrade.

Former pizza chain executive Herman Cain, a GOP presidential hopeful, addresses Ala. GOP group -Associated Press

He's run a pizza chain, served as a radio talk show host and now he's seeking the GOP nomination for president, telling his latest audience in Alabama: "I'm a problem solver, not a politician."

Herman Cain, the former Godfather Pizza chief executive, spoke Saturday night to an audience of Shelby County Republicans at the their GOP's 2011 Reagan-Lincoln Dinner fundraiser at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center. His comments were reported by the Birmingham News.

Cain struck up conservative themes, saying the U.S. has become a country of crises, wrestling with moral, economic, immigration, energy and leadership issues.

On the current debate in Washington to raise the debt limit: "I can tell you what to do with the debt ceiling -- leave the sucker where it is!"

Cain said if he were president, he would have dealt with the issue well before it became a crisis.

On federal spending: "They've put $14 trillion in the caboose" instead of in the economic engine of business.

On his lack of political experience: "I've been told, `Mr. Cain, you don't have a lot of foreign policy experience.' This one does?" He said, referring to President Barack Obama.

On Obama: "The biggest crisis we have is a severe deficiency of leadership."

Cain said strict government regulations are stifling business and outlined his vision for changing the nation's tax structure and making steep cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency.

A Cain-led government, he added, would be "more empowerment, less entitlement."

As for Arizona and its stance on illegal immigration, he said: "I wouldn't have sued Arizona; I would have given them a medal."

Arizona passed one of the nation's strongest illegal immigration bills in the country.

G.O.P. Freshmen Say Debt Concerns Them More Than Re-election-New York Times

“Re-election is the farthest thing from my mind,” said Representative Tom Reed, a freshman Republican from upstate New York. “Like many of my colleagues in the freshman class, I came down here to get our fiscal house in order and take care of the threat to national security that we see in the federal debt. We came here not to have long careers. We came here to do something. We don’t care about re-election.”

It is not clear how genuine or widespread that sentiment is in Congress, but regardless, it has upended what President Obama said on Friday had been a “difficult but routine process” in past years.

The sheer size of the debt and its rapid growth in recent years have emboldened fiscal conservatives in the House, prompting some of them to pledge not to vote for a higher debt ceiling even if a compromise can be reached before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department says it will hit the $14.3 trillion debt cap and run out of borrowing authority.

Since Mr. Obama took office in January 2009, near the end of a long recession, the total federal debt — including debt held by the public and by government trust funds — has increased 35 percent. While debt exploded, the economy was stagnant, so debt as a share of the gross domestic product has also increased.

The current battle over deficits and debt could become the norm if Republicans hold on to their seats or make gains in Congress. The federal debt represents the accumulated total of past borrowing. So even if the government slashes the annual budget deficit, it generally cannot reduce the debt unless it runs a surplus

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Fox News Sunday Snippets: July 10, 2011

Speaker Boehner step back and reaction

"Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase."

- Speaker John Boehner

"The President believes that solving our fiscal problems is an economic imperative. But in order to do that, we cannot ask the middle-class and seniors to bear all the burden of higher costs and budget cuts. We need a balanced approach that asks the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share as well, and we believe the American people agree.

"Both parties have made real progress thus far, and to back off now will not only fail to solve our fiscal challenge, it will confirm the cynicism people have about politics in Washington. The President believes that now is the moment to rise above that cynicism and show the American people that we can still do big things. And so tomorrow, he will make the case to congressional leaders that we must reject the politics of least resistance and take on this critical challenge."

- White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer

"The President and Vice President have encouraged a bipartisan, balanced approach to lower the deficit as we lift the debt ceiling. As we work to reduce the deficit, we must do so in a way that creates jobs, ensures tax fairness for the middle class, respects our seniors and educates our children. Whatever our views, the August 2nd deadline is certain and we cannot walk away from our obligation to the American people."

- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

"Like the Speaker, Sen. McConnell has consistently said that we should cut Washington spending without raising taxes on job creators, particularly in the middle of a jobs crisis. And he remains concerned with the Democrats' unwillingness to take steps to protect entitlement programs from bankruptcy, but hopes the President will be able to use Sunday night's meeting to encourage them to take action on needed reforms."

- Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

"I am disappointed that Republicans are unable to work with us to take a historic step forward that would have dramatically reduced our long-term deficit. We asked Republicans to consider a balanced approach that would have required shared sacrifice, but they would not. We still need to make sure we avert the economic catastrophe that would occur if we were to let America fail to pay its bills for the first time in our history, and I am confident that we will. Americans have a right to expect their leaders to rise above partisanship and do the right thing for our economy and the middle class."

- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

"It's disappointing that the Republican fixation with protecting tax breaks for corporate special interests and the very wealthy prevented them from agreeing to a balanced and broad deficit reduction plan to help our economy and our country."

- Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Democratic Member of the House Budget Committee


Top Headlines

The Washington Post

Deficit talks scaled back

Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery

House Speaker John A. Boehner abandoned efforts Saturday night to cut a far-reaching debt-reduction deal, telling President Obama that a more modest package offers the only politically realistic path to avoiding a default on the mounting national debt.

On the eve of a critical White House summit on the debt issue, Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama that their plan to "go big," in the speaker's words, and forge a compromise that would save more than $4 trillion over the next decade, was crumbling under Obama's insistence on significant new tax revenue.

"Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes," Boehner said in a statement released less than 24 hours before the White House meeting was scheduled to begin. "I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the [Vice President] Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase."

Boehner's decision leaves negotiators reexamining a less-ambitious framework - aimed at saving roughly $2.4 trillion over the next decade - that had been under discussion between Biden and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. But that framework is hardly complete; the group broke up last month when Republicans walked out over the tax issue.

The sweeping deal Obama and Boehner had been discussing would have required both parties to take a bold leap into the political abyss. Democrats were demanding more than $800 billion in new tax revenue, causing heartburn among the hard-line fiscal conservatives who dominate the House Republican caucus. Republicans, meanwhile, were demanding sharp cuts to Medicare and Social Security, popular safety net programs that congressional Democrats have vowed to protect.

New York Times

Deficit Talks Scaled Back Over Tax Increases

Carl Hulse

Citing differences over tax revenues, House Speaker John A. Boehner said on Saturday night that he would pull back from joint efforts with President Obama to reach a sweeping $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan tied to a proposal to increase the federal debt limit.

On the eve of a second round of high-level bipartisan talks set for Sunday, Mr. Boehner issued a statement saying he would now urge negotiators to instead focus on crafting a smaller package more in line with the $2 trillion to $3 trillion in spending cuts and revenue increases negotiated earlier by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes,” Mr. Boehner said. “I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”

The decision was a major reversal for Mr. Boehner, a veteran Congressional deal-maker who along with Mr. Obama had been the major advocate for seeking a far-reaching deal that would have combined a debt limit increase with substantial spending cuts, significant changes in social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and perhaps Social Security, and as much as $1 trillion in new revenues. Following a secret meeting between the two last weekend, Mr. Obama went public with his own call for a broad package.

The White House, in its own statement, followed Mr. Boehner’s announcement with the suggestion that the president would try to change Mr. Boehner’s mind in their Sunday session.

“Both parties have made real progress thus far, and to back off now will not only fail to solve our fiscal challenge, it will confirm the cynicism people have about politics in Washington,” Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said. “The president believes that now is the moment to rise above that cynicism and show the American people that we can still do big things. And so tomorrow, he will make the case to Congressional leaders that we must reject the politics of least resistance and take on this critical challenge.”

But the prospect of getting the bulk of his own Republican majority behind a $4 trillion, 10-year agreement was looming as a very heavy political and policy lift for the speaker who is still in his first year in the position.


Under pressure from right, John Boehner steps back on debt deal

House Speaker John Boehner, under pressure from the right and facing resistance from his own deputies, backed away Saturday from a bold $4 trillion deficit-reduction package that he once hoped would resolve the August debt ceiling crisis and give a shot in the arm to a lagging economy.

Tax policy disputes were at the center of the collapse, including differences with the White House over President Barack Obama’s demand that future tax reforms must maintain or increase the progressivity of the tax code. But for days Boehner has been under relentless pressure from conservatives to step away from the deal, which Saturday’s Wall Street Journal editorial writers dubbed “Boehner’s Obama Gamble.”

The White House signaled it will continue to make its case for the plan in a meeting Sunday evening with congressional leaders, including Boehner. But without the speaker’s support, it has no chance of being implemented, and the focus is expected to turn toward a smaller package more in the range of $2.4 trillion.

Boehner spoke with the president prior to making his announcement Saturday evening and continues to demand that the deficit reduction match dollar-for-dollar whatever debt ceiling is agreed to prior to the August 2 deadline set by Treasury.

That will not be an easy matter, given the Republican hard line against new tax revenues. Weeks of negotiations led by Vice President Joseph Biden have identified deficit-reduction savings in the range of $1.7 trillion to $2 trillion in savings. But that leaves a gap of $400 billion to $700 billion to be filled, and Democrats have argued strongly that revenues must be part of the mix.


Obama faces new obstacles in high-stakes debt talks


Boehner and Obama, whose 2012 re-election prospects are tightly linked to U.S. economic and fiscal health, spoke by phone on Saturday and failed to resolve key differences over taxes and entitlement spending.

But after Boehner's announcement, the White House said Obama would not "back off" his efforts toward a comprehensive deal and suggested he might try to change the Republican's mind. Sunday's session is set for 6 p.m. EDT.

"Both parties have made real progress thus far," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said. "Tomorrow, he will make the case to congressional leaders that we must ... take on this critical challenge."

Obama had summoned congressional leaders to lay out their "bottom-line" demands for what the White House has billed as vital phase in the quest for a sweeping budget agreement.

There had been growing pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers who must approve anything hammered out in closed-door White House talks. Critics on the left and the right had voiced unease at some options on the table, and they are now expected to dig in their heels even further.

The biggest obstacles to an agreement remain.

Democrats want to shield popular domestic programs from huge cuts and say that any deal must include increases in tax revenue, including an expiration of Bush-era tax cuts on wealthier Americans.

Republicans -- under pressure from Tea Party conservatives -- reject any increased taxes and want curbs on popular benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

Washington Post

Boehner’s decision means an opportunity lost

Dan Balz

House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise announcement late Saturday that he was abandoning efforts to reach a comprehensive budget agreement brings a sudden end to what may have been the best opportunity in years to deal with the country’s looming fiscal crisis.

Boehner pulled the plug on talks with the White House on a package that would have called for cuts in major entitlements programs as well as new tax revenues. It was a stunning decision, coming a day before President Obama and congressional leaders were due to resume their negotiations.

But though the timing was a surprise, the decision also may have been utterly predictable. Facing a potential revolt in his caucus, one that was growing as more details about the components of the possible agreement were leaking out, Boehner apparently decided to cut his losses now rather than risk a major insurrection and possible rejection by his party.

What comes next, after what could be some rancorous talks, will be a far more limited agreement, one that will get the government through the deadline when its borrowing authority expires, but one that still leaves for the future what to do about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and revenues in ways that put the nation’s long-term fiscal house in order.

New York Times

Presidential Candidates Warn About Debt Deal


Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota seized on the issue and used the first television commercial of her campaign to highlight her opposition to raising the debt ceiling. She drew enthusiastic applause on Saturday as she amplified her position.

“It’s time for tough love,” Mrs. Bachmann told supporters at a rally. “Don’t let them scare you by telling you that the country’s going to fall apart.”

Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, who was critical of the deal brokered this year between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner that averted a government shutdown, said he was not convinced of the dire consequences predicted by Democrats if no deal was reached and the government lost its authority to borrow on Aug. 2.

“I hope and pray and believe they should not raise the debt ceiling,” Mr. Pawlenty told voters here last week. “These historic, dramatic moments where you can draw a line in the sand and force politicians to actually do something bold and courageous are important moments.”

On the presidential campaign trail, Representative Ron Paul of Texas said Republicans should not accept any deal that includes a tax increase, calling it a “ploy.” While Mrs. Bachmann has suggested that virtually no bipartisan deal would be acceptable, Mr. Pawlenty told voters last week that “if it comes to a point where they feel that they must,” he said a balanced-budget amendment was an essential trade-off.

Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has said he would agree to increasing the debt limit only if a deal was “accompanied by a major effort to restructure and reduce the size of government.” Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former governor of Utah, has said spending cuts must be equal or greater than the value of any debt ceiling increase but told reporters Saturday in Florida: “I have every confidence that cooler heads are going to prevail.”

Wall Street Journal

Government to Tackle Problem Tax Policies


Ideas for closing the government's yawning fiscal deficits keep getting more creative and complicated.

One idea being floated would basically try to plug a couple of slow leaks that have developed over the years in the federal government's finances. These arise from two related tax policies, the alternative-minimum tax and the Bush tax cuts.

The AMT is a tax increase that Congress keeps postponing. The Bush tax breaks are a set of tax cuts that Congress keeps extending. Both actions add significantly to annual deficits.

Now, the Obama administration and many lawmakers apparently would like to solve both of those political problems once and for all.

But fixing them costs more money, and doing it in a package that is supposed to be reducing deficits, rather than increasing them, is going to be tricky to say the least.

The AMT was originally designed to hit high-income people who accumulate so many deductions and other breaks that they don't pay much tax under the regular rules. But the AMT was never indexed for inflation. Now, it threatens to hit tens of millions of middle-class taxpayers each year. So Congress keeps patching the rules to exempt most people who would otherwise be hit. This annual exercise has gotten brutally expensive -- the patch Congress passed in December to get us through 2011 cost $137 billion.

The Washington Post

Job growth takes a dive in June

Job growth came to a near-halt in June, according to surprisingly grim new data released Friday that raise doubts that the economy will bounce back from its spring lull soon.

Midway through a year that began with expectations that the ailing U.S. economy would finally take off, the nation is stuck in a muddle, growing too slowly to keep the jobless rate from rising, let alone to put some of the 14 million people looking for work back to earning paychecks. The odds that job creation will take off in the remainder of the year look slimmer with every new piece of data.

The 18,000 jobs U.S. employers added to their payrolls in June was less than a fifth of what economists had expected and far below the 125,000 or so needed to keep up with an ever-growing population. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent.

"This does throw a lot of cold water on the idea that we'll get a quick rebound," said Michael Hanson, a senior economist at Bank of AmericaMerrill Lynch.

The jobs survey was exceptionally bleak even in its details. Job growth in April and May was revised downward by a combined 44,000 positions. Temporary employers, often a leading indicator of future activity in the labor market, cut 12,000 jobs. And roughly 272,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force, perhaps out of frustration with their job prospects. The unemployment rate would have risen even higher had they continued their job hunts.

A broader measure of unemployment - including those who have given up looking for jobs out of frustration and those with part-time work who want a full-time job - rose to 16.2 percent from 15.8 percent.

Associated Press

Weak hiring report makes debt limit an even harder sell for Obama

WASHINGTON -- Immersed in an intense struggle to cut the national debt, President Barack Obama faces a dilemma that will stay with him even if he succeeds in striking a grand deal with Congress: convincing Americans that the entire effort will do anything to create desperately needed jobs.

Obama ties deficit reduction to jobs, on the basis that trying to balance the nation's books will promote economic stability and give businesses more confidence to hire. But that's a tough sell to the millions of Americans out of work right now. And the communications problem just got harder.

The latest snapshot of the economy, out Friday, was a body blow that showed employers added a meager 18,000 jobs in June. The leaders of the country, meanwhile, are consumed with negotiating a major debt-reduction deal built upon cutting spending and raising taxes. It is not directly aimed at boosting jobs.

Obama's challenge is to link all this in meaningful terms and to get faster results. At stake are the country's economic recovery and his re-election chances.

In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said that it will take a "balanced approach" that mixes limits on domestic programs and the Pentagon, curbs to Medicare and elimination of some tax breaks for the wealthy.


Democrats Press Obama for Stimulus in Debt Deal After Jobs Data

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats pressed for some form of economic stimulus in the debt deal President Barack Obama is negotiating with Republicans following a U.S. Labor Department report yesterday showing job growth slowing.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the chamber’s third- ranking Democrat, called for an “immediate jolt” to the economy by extending and enlarging a one-year payroll-tax cut that’s set to expire Dec. 31. He asked for action “as quickly as possible by including it in the final debt-limit agreement.”

Jared Bernstein, until recently Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economic adviser, predicted the White House would step up efforts to include in the debt deal additional infrastructure spending or a new temporary payroll tax reduction.

In addition to continuing a 2 percentage-point break in the employee payroll tax, the White House may push for an equal cut in the employers’ part of the levy, according to a Democratic official.

“It would be a mistake for them not to ratchet up the urgency on the jobs side, given the labor market really appears to be in a stall,” said Bernstein, now a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. “It’s not something you can ignore.”

The Labor Department reported the unemployment rate in June unexpectedly climbed to 9.2 percent, the highest this year. Employers added 18,000 jobs, the weakest growth since September 2010. Payroll growth for May also was revised downward, to 25,000.

Wall Street Journal

ATF Chief Denies Blame for Gun-Tracking Program

The head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told congressional investigators he wasn't to blame for a troubled gun-tracking operation, saying he wasn't aware of its details until after public questions had been raised.

Kenneth Melson, the acting ATF director, in his first detailed comments on the gun program, contradicted testimony and documents previously released by lawmakers suggesting he was more familiar with the initiative known as Fast and Furious.

Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa, both Republicans, released details Wednesday of the Melson interview, which took place Monday, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

The Fast and Furious operation was designed to monitor purchases by people suspected of buying firearms for others—in particular drug cartel gangs in Mexico. But many of the arms turned up at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico.

Messrs. Issa and Grassley say the ATF should have known it couldn't track the weapons and that firearms ended up in the hands of deadly drug squads.

Fox News

Justice Department Obstructing 'Fast and Furious' Gun Probe, ATF Director Says

William Lajeunesse

The Justice Department is obstructing the congressional investigation of a U.S. law enforcement operation intended to crack down on major weapons traffickers on the Southwest border, according to the embattled leader of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Ken Melson, the acting director of the ATF, lobbed the accusation when he sneaked in for an interview with congressional investigators on July 4, two days ahead of his scheduled interview with the inspector general about the operation known as "Fast and Furious," Fox News has learned.

"If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand," Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder. "That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation."

Associated Press

Panetta: US within reach of defeating al-Qaida

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Al-Qaida's defeat is "within reach," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Saturday during his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief. He said eliminating as few as 10 of the group's top figures could cripple its ability to strike the West.

Panetta's assessment could stoke the debate in Washington over how soon to pull the U.S. military from the land where Osama bin Laden's network launched the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, against the United States. Some question why a continued military commitment is necessary if al-Qaida's end is in sight, given that it was the reason the U.S. began the war.

Although not as specific as Panetta about what it will take to break al-Qaida, the top American commander in Afghanistan said in a separate interview that he agrees the group is on the ropes.

NY Times

U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid

The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.

Coupled with a statement from the top American military officer last week linking Pakistan’s military spy agency to the recent murder of a Pakistani journalist, the halting or withdrawal of military equipment and other aid to Pakistan illustrates the depth of the debate inside the Obama administration over how to change the behavior of one of its key counterterrorism partners.

Altogether, about $800 million in military aid and equipment, or over one-third of the more than $2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan, could be affected, three senior United States officials said.

This aid includes about $300 million to reimburse Pakistan for some of the costs of deploying more than 100,000 soldiers along the Afghan border to combat terrorism, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in training assistance and military hardware, according to half a dozen Congressional, Pentagon and other administration officials who were granted anonymity to discuss the politically delicate matter.


Sunday Guests – July 10, 2011

•“Fox News Sunday,” 9 a.m.: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra, California, Republican; Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina

•ABC’s “This Week,” 9:30 a.m.: Bill Daley, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff; Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” 11:30 a.m.: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican; Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat.

•CNN’s “State of the Union,” 8 a.m.: Rep. Kevin McCarthy, California Republican; Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat; Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum; NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; NASA scientist James Garvin.

•NBC’s “Meet the Press,” 9 a.m.: Geithner; Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, Mort Zuckerman

C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” This weeks "Newsmakers guest is REP. JIM JORDAN, R-Ohio, Republican Study Committee Chairman

Fox News Sunday Snippets: July 3, 2011

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) joins us to offer up the latest on the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling.

Then we'll get an update from Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who're in Afghanistan, to view firsthand how the US troop withdrawal will play out.

Here's a look at what we are reading to prepare for the show.

National Journal

Clinton Calls on Obama Not to 'Blink' on Debt-Ceiling Deal with GOP

By Ronald Brownstein

Former President Bill Clinton Saturday night urged President Obama not to “blink” at Republican demands to exclude revenue increases from any agreement to extend the government’s debt ceiling.

If Republicans maintain their opposition to revenue increases, Clinton said, Obama should pursue a short-term deal to extend the debt ceiling based on spending cuts both sides have already accepted in the negotiations between the administration and Congressional leaders from both parties.

“I hope they will make a mini-deal,” Clinton said in an interview conducted with him at the Aspen Ideas Festival here.

… The talks have foundered amid demands from Congressional Republicans to exclude any revenue increases from that prospective deficit reduction package.

Asked what the administration could do if GOP leaders hold to that posture, Clinton replied: “First the White House could blink. I hope that won’t happen. I don’t think they should blink.”

If Republicans will not accept revenues in a package to lift the debt ceiling by August 2, Clinton said, Obama should pursue a short-term agreement based on the spending reductions both sides have already accepted.

“There are some spending cuts they agree on …and he can take those and [get] an extension of the debt ceiling for six or eight months,” Clinton said.

“I don’t think you can agree to some mega-deal on their terms. And so I think as they get closer I believe they will agree on a more modest package of cuts and the Republicans, if I were in their position, I would say this only counts for six months or eight months or whatever but we don’t want to let the American people’s credit go under, let our credit get downgraded.”

To a much greater extent than Obama, Clinton said any long-term deficit reduction plan should be based on the plan proposed last fall by the bipartisan deficit commission chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson.

Clinton, who compared the current showdown with the government shutdown he faced with congressional Republicans led by Newt Gingrich in 1995-96, argued that a failure to extend the debt ceiling would constitute a “significant error” with potentially serious consequences not only for the U.S. but other economies around the world.

He added: “You have to assume that our credit rating will be downgraded and our interest rates will go up which will make the deficit problem worse and make it much more difficult to recover because it will be harder for people to get credit, even harder than it is now.”

Washington Post

U.S. envoy: Troop extension in Iraq is possible

By Ed O’Keefe

The United States remains open to keeping thousands of troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year if asked, but will require Iraqi forces to provide them with greater security, the U.S. envoy to Iraq said Saturday.

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey told reporters at a roundtable in the capital that the Obama administration would consider a request to keep some of the roughly 46,000 U.S. troops here, but added, “We do need the Iraqi forces to help us secure our troops and, frankly, to secure themselves.”

Most U.S. forces are scheduled to leave by year’s end as part of a three-year security agreement, while about 17,000 U.S. diplomats and private contractors stay on.

But Iraq’s top political leaders are expected to meet again this week to consider asking the United States to keep forces here into next year. Jeffrey would not say Saturday how many troops would be likely to remain.

New York Times

Taking Lead, Iraqis Hope U.S. Special Operations Commandos Stay


…Iraqi and American commanders worry that this crucial military legacy of the war may be at risk now that American forces are withdrawing this year under an agreement between the countries. Americans say the Iraqi special operations force, which was deliberately balanced with the country’s main sects and ethnicities, is more capable than the Iraqi Army and may be critical in preventing a resilient insurgency from exploding into a sectarian civil war. Even as few Iraqi politicians are willing to admit publicly that they need American help, Iraqi soldiers say that American troops must stay longer to continue training and advising.

“The Americans need to stay because we don’t have control over our borders,” said Maj. Gen. Fadhel al-Barwari, commander of the Iraq Special Operations Force.

The commandos make up a tightknit community where relationships between Iraqis and Americans are especially strong, having been nurtured over multiple deployments. In some cases the Americans here are on their eighth or ninth rotation. “Would we hope after spending eight years in this country, sharing blood, sweat and tears, dying side by side, working with each other, that we would maintain a relationship?” Col. Scott E. Brower, commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, said in an interview at a base north of Baghdad. “Of course we would.”

The senior Iraqi military leaders have advised Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that some troops should stay. American officials have said they would agree to a such a request.

Even though combat has officially been declared over, Iraq still looks like a war to the Special Operations units scattered around the country.

Associated Press

African Union Opposes Warrant for Qaddafi

The African Union has called on its member states to disregard the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, a move that could weaken the court’s ability to hold him accountable for any crimes committed against his people.

The motion, adopted late Friday, says that the warrant against Colonel Qaddafi “seriously complicates” efforts by the African Union to find a political solution to the crisis in Libya.

The African Union’s chairman, Jean Ping, told reporters that the court was “discriminatory” and focused on crimes committed in Africa but ignored those committed by Western powers, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

“With this in mind, we recommend that the member states do not cooperate with the execution of this arrest warrant,” the motion said.

If the bloc’s 53 member states abide by the decision, it will open the possibility that Colonel Qaddafi could avoid prosecution by taking refuge in a neighboring nation. That was the path taken by the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, who was given asylum in Senegal over 20 years ago and who has yet to face trial over accusations that he tortured hundreds of opponents.


Clinton slams Gaddafi threat to attack Europe

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped up Western calls on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to quit, brushing off his threat to attack Europeans in their homes and offices.

"Instead of issuing threats, Gaddafi should put the well-being and the interests of his own people first and he should step down from power and help facilitate a democratic transition," Clinton told reporters on a trip to Spain.

In an address relayed to some 100,000 supporters in Tripoli's Green Square on Friday, Gaddafi urged NATO to halt its bombing campaign or risk seeing Libyan fighters descend on Europe "like a swarm of locusts or bees."

Washington Post

U.S. turns to other routes to supply Afghan war as relations with Pakistan fray

By Craig Whitlock

The U.S. military is rapidly expanding its aerial and Central Asian supply routes to the war in Afghanistan, fearing that Pakistan could cut off the main means of providing American and NATO forces with fuel, food and equipment.

Although Pakistan has not explicitly threatened to sever the supply lines, Pentagon officials said they are concerned the routes could be endangered by the deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations, partly fed by ill will from the cross-border raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

While reducing the shipment of cargo through Pakistan would address a strategic weakness that U.S. military officials have long considered an Achilles’ heel, shifting supply lines elsewhere would substantially increase the cost of the war and make the United States more dependent on authoritarian countries in Central Asia.

A senior U.S. defense official said the military wants to keep using Pakistan, which offers the most direct and the cheapest routes to Afghanistan. But the Pentagon also wants the ability to bypass the country if necessary.

With landlocked Afghanistan lacking seaports, and hostile Iran blocking access from the west, Pentagon logisticians have limited alternatives.

U.S. military officials said they have emergency backup plans in case the Pakistan routes became unavailable.

In such an event, however, the military would have to deliver the bulk of its cargo by air, a method that might not be sustainable; it costs up to 10 times as much as shipping via Pakistan.

As recently as 2009, the U.S. military moved 90 percent of its surface cargo through Pakistan, arriving by ship at the port in Karachi and then snaking through mountain passes, deserts and remote tribal areas before crossing the border into Afghanistan. The Pakistan supply lines are served entirely by contractors instead of U.S. military convoys and are vulnerable to bandits, insurgents and natural disasters.

Today, almost 40 percent of surface cargo arrives in Afghanistan from the north, along a patchwork of Central Asian rail and road routes that the Pentagon calls the Northern Distribution Network. Military planners said they are pushing to raise the northern network’s share to as much as 75 percent by the end of this year.

Washington Post

Afghans infuriated by shelling from Pakistan

By Sayed Salahuddin

Public and political anger at weeks of cross-border shelling from Pakistan boiled over in Afghanistan, as protesters took to the streets of the capital, lawmakers demanded explanations from the central government, and a senior border police official submitted his resignation.

According to Afghan officials, more than 760 rockets have been fired into the eastern Afghan border provinces of Konar, Nangahar and Khost in the past six weeks, killing at least 60 people and wounding or displacing hundreds more.

Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai, have lodged formal objections with Pakistan’s government, but Pakistani officials have denied direct involvement in the attacks, saying they are being carried out by anti-Afghan militias beyond their control.

Associated Press

NATO Airstrikes Target Western Libya

NATO said Saturday it has begun ramping up its airstrikes on military targets in the western part of Libya, where rebel forces claim a string of advances through territory still largely under Col. Moammar Gadhafi's control.

Gadhafi's regime is determined to stand firm against opposition fighters moving from southern and eastern fronts toward the capital Tripoli. The rebels have largely solidified control over the eastern third of Libya but have struggled to push out of pockets they hold in the west.

NATO's latest comments suggest the alliance is hoping to tip the balance further in the rebels' favor despite threats by Col. Gadhafi to carry out attacks in Europe unless the airstrikes stop.

The coalition said it has destroyed more than 50 military targets in the west this week. It says it is targeting government forces in cities and along "major lines of communication."

Associated Press

Attacks Kill 18 in Afghanistan

A roadside bomb ripped through a van carrying a family Saturday in southern Afghanistan, killing all on board—the deadliest incident in a string of attacks that killed 18 civilians, according to officials.

The Ministry of Interior said four women and two children were among 13 people killed in the van in Shamulzayi district of Zabul province.

In neighboring Kandahar province, two civilians riding a donkey were killed Friday night when the animal stepped on a bomb in Maruf district, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, police chief of the district's province of Kandahar.

When villagers came to recover the bodies, another roadside bomb went off killing two more civilians, he said.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, saying in a statement that "bombings that kill innocent civilians are the work of people who don't want the nation to have a life without sadness."

Also in the south on Saturday, two gunmen on a motorcycle killed Wakil Mohammad Khan, a member of the local council in Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand province, the Interior Ministry said.

In the north, a local government official in Ghazi Abad district of Kunar province was ambushed Saturday morning by militants as he drove to work with his son and two body guards, said provincial spokesman Wasifullah Wasifi. The son and bodyguards were later released, but the district chief's whereabouts are not known, said Mr. Wasifi.

Separately, NATO reported the deaths of two coalition service members in roadside bombings—one Saturday in the west and the other Friday in the south. Italian defense officials said the service member killed in the west was an Italian who died when a bomb exploded near a village in Farah province.

New York Times

Europe Agrees to Give Billions to Greece


European finance ministers staved off an imminent Greek default Saturday, agreeing to release a vital installment of financial aid to Athens, while delaying a deal on a second large rescue for Greece, possibly until September.

After a two-hour conference call, the 17 euro zone ministers said they would sign off on an 8.7 billion euro ($12.6 billion) loan that had been expected as part of a 110 billion euro package agreed upon last year. The board of the International Monetary Fund is expected to approve its current contribution, 3.3 billion euros, in the coming days.

Without the loans, the Greek government faced the prospect of insolvency within weeks. The euro zone ministers’ decision followed two votes in Greece’s parliament to approve a tough austerity package, a condition for international assistance.

National Journal

McCotter Launches Campaign for GOP Nomination for President

The field of Republican presidential candidates, already saturated with contenders, grew by one on Saturday as Rep. Thad McCotter, a long-shot from the suburbs of Detroit, announced he is running.

McCotter filed paperwork for the run on Friday, but made an announcement at a Fourth of July event in Michigan.

…McCotter represents Michigan’s 11th District, which includes the suburbs of Detroit.

…The chances of McCotter’s capturing the Republican nomination are slim. He is coming to the race relatively late; his name is comparatively unfamiliar to voters; his chances of raising enough money to be competitive are low.

Sunday Shows

Fox News Sunday

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Meet the Press

"Meet the Press" will not air this week. Pre-empted by Wimbledon tennis coverage.

Face the Nation

Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio; Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass.; Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis.; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

This Week

Michael Eric Dyson, professor, Georgetown University; Jill Lepore, professor, Harvard University; and Richard Stengel, editor-in-chief, Time magazine. Guests: Michelle Rhee, former chancellor, D.C. schools; former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.; and Jose Antonio Vargas, former Washington Post reporter.

State of the Union

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., from the Middle East. Steve Case, former chairman and CEO of AOL and chairman of Startup America Partnership; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone; Suze Orman, personal finance expert; Russell Simmons, entrepreneur, founder, Def-Jam Recordings.



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