Budget Showdown in Washington

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

President Obama speaks at a news conference at the White House June 29, 2011. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Many states are struggling to balance their budgets; how the British view America's debt problem; Greece passes austerity measure; Tom Petty lashes out at Michele Bachmann; President Obama slams Republicans on debt ceiling; breast cancer drug, Avastin, taken off the market; a look back at the career of Defense Secretary Robert Gates; New Mexico fire; dealing with terrorism as the US leaves Afghanistan.

Top of the Hour: Pakistan Militants Were Behind Hotel Attack, Morning Headlines

Coalition forces in Afghanistan say that Pakistan's militant, Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network facilitated the attack on Tuesday on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that left at least 21 people dead. A spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry says the attackers entered Afghanistan from Pakistan. Meanwhile, NATO says that a senior commander involved in planning the attack has been killed in an airstrike in Southeast Pakistan. 


When Will State Budget Stallers Step Into Line?

New York has balanced its budget, and California finally shed its reputation as a fiscal laggard, reaching its budget on time for the first time in years. But other states are not on similar paths. In Minnesota, if the Democratic governor and Republican-led legislature cannot agree on a budget by midnight tonight, all nonessential services will shut down, including state parks—dire news, ahead of the July 4 weekend. So why is it taking so long? And what can we learn from states that have already settled their books? 


Is the US in Denial Over Its Debt?

With the deadline quickly approaching for Congress to make a decision on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama warned that failing to come to a negotiation could significantly impact the nation's economy and investors' confidence in the United States. Beyond that, some experts say Congress's slowness in developing a plan to face the debt crisis may be symbolic of something more—namely that America is in denial over the gravity of its debt problem. 

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Member of Greek Parliament Defends Defaulting

Angry protesters gathered in the streets of Athens yesterday, following a vote on austerity measures which the parliament backed with a vote of 155–138. Was any of this avoidable? Is it possible that Greece’s economy was undone by the structure of the Eurozone’s financial rules that demand strict fiscal requirements, but no political unanimity?

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Your Take: Is Home Ownership Vital to the American Dream?

A new poll by CBS and our partner the New York Times shows that Americans are split on whether owning a home is a safe investment. 49 percent of those polled said it was, while 45 percent said that owning a home in this economic climate is risky. Despite that, nearly nine in ten Americans said that home ownership is vital to the American Dream. We asked Takeaway listeners whether or not they feel optimistic about buying a home right now, or if it's a smarter and safer bet to rent, and rounded up their responses. 


Petty Song Lands "American Girl" in Hot Water

Months ahead of the 2012 primary elections, wars of words are heating up between political rivals, some of whom aren’t even running for office. Right now, Michele Bachmann landed herself in some legal hot water when she chose to use Tom Petty's song "American Girl," without the artist's permission. This isn’t the first time artists have taken offense with the political appropriation of their work. 


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Top of the Hour: US Cost of War Could Reach $4 Trillion, Morning Headlines

According to new research from Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, the cost of America's war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan could reach $4 trillion. Those numbers came out as the White House and Republican lawmakers are trying to reach a budget agreement before an August deadline.


In Debt Reduction Battle, Where Are the Sacred Cows?

President Obama spoke to the press on Wednesday in his first press conference in three months. He said that Democrats were willing to make compromises on spending, and pushed Republicans to "take on their sacred cows" and agree to tax increases for higher income earners and corporations. But the real sacred cow might be in his veiled threat to ask Congress to stay in session through their August summer holidays, if need be.

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Breast Cancer Survivor Questions FDA Decision on Her ‘Miracle’ Drug

After an emotional and tense two-day hearing in Silver Springs, Maryland, federal advisers voted to revoke the approval of the world’s top-selling cancer drug Avastin as a treatment for women with advanced breast cancer. The Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee heard from patients who say Avastin is a miracle drug, and from cancer advocates who point to adverse side-effects in other users. Finally, the committee concluded that research showed that the drug, which costs $88,000 a year per patient, failed to significantly extend patients’ lives or their quality of life. 


Gates to Hand Defense Post Over to Panetta

Tomorrow, the Obama administration will shuffle its top civilian military position when Leon Panetta, 73, replaces Robert Gates as the secretary of defense. For a nation stretched thin by three ongoing military engagements, the new Secretary of Defense is going to have little time for on-the-job training. Instead, he can hope to learn from the example left behind by his out-going colleague.



Residents Voice Concern Over Safety in Los Alamos

11,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where a wildfire has burned more than 110 square miles of land since Sunday. On Wednesday, crews began to burn a blaze to act as a barrier. The new fires are meant to protect the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where 10,000 drums—each containing 55 gallons of radioactive waste—are stored above ground.




With Troop Drawdown, A More Clandestine War on Al-Qaida

A week after President Obama announced the time line for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, his top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, says the US war on al-Qaida is far from over. Immediately following the death of Osama bin Laden, Brennan said in an interview on NBC's Today Show that the US would continue to "pummel the rest of Al Qaida." Now that goal is being laid out in the form of official strategy, with the U.S. vowing to focus more on clandestine operations and attacks to take out key leaders of the terrorism network.


Where is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez?

Hugo Chavez hasn't been seen in public for weeks, reportedly due to mysterious health issues he developed while traveling, forcing him to undergo emergency surgery in Havana, Cuba. This week, his absence led to the postponement of a summit of Latin American leaders that was scheduled to take place next week. Chavez was expected to host the summit, on the 200th anniversary from Venezeula's independence from Spain. The last photo of Chavez was released on Tuesday, and showed him in Cuba chatting with former leader Fidel Castro.