Today’s Headlines

December 23, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

For the world’s bad guys, 2011 was a dangerous year (Richard Haass, The Washington Post)

This was a bad year for bad guys. Departing the political scene — or departing the scene altogether — were Osama bin Laden, North Korea’s “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong Il, and a trio of Arab leaders: Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi.

Smart Power

Cutting U.S. Diplomacy Budget May Have Costs: The Ticker (Katherine Brown, Bloomberg News)

As part of the congressional $1 trillion dollar spending deal, the core international affairs budget was cut by 9 percent, to $43.7 billion for 2012. Specifically, the State Department’s operations budget decreased by $2.6 billion and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s went down $258 million.  These cuts could have been much deeper. Republican legislators in the House had threatened to slash the overall foreign operations budget by 27 percent. Democrats such as Representative Nita Lowey, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, argued that this would have crippled foreign operations and threatened U.S. leadership around the globe.

Politics/Foreign Policy 

U.S. exit from Iraq leaves a power void (Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times)

Since the 2003 invasion, U.S. service members had woven themselves into the fabric of Iraq’s power structure – its politicians, soldiers, village elders and tribal sheiks…Now all that persuasive power is gone. Left to fill the void are the State Department and a limited diplomatic presence at the U.S. Embassy and two stations outside Baghdad.

House G.O.P. Leaders Agree to Extension of Payroll Tax Cut (Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times)

Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party, House Republican leaders agreed Thursday to accept a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut, beating a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.

Christie opens door to VP job (MJ Lee, Politico)

Chris Christie says that while he and Mitt Romney have never discussed a potential vice presidential role for the New Jersey governor, it would still be “presumptuous” for him to turn his back on the possibility.

In an interview with Fox News that aired on Thursday, Christie said the topic of being Romney’s 2012 running mate has “never come up.”  “I don’t think you talk about that stuff. I think if you’re the nominee you’re afraid to talk about that stuff because you don’t want to jinx yourself,” he said.