Good news, for a change:
ABC: Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent at NBC News, and his production team have been released amid gunfire at a Syria checkpoint after they were taken prisoner in the civil war-torn country.
“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed. We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country,” NBC said in a statement.
Engel, 39, and his crew vanished Thursday after crossing into northwest Syria from Turkey, the network said, adding that there had been no contact between the Engel and NBC since last week
10:15: President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
4:35: President Obama meets with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
Steve Benen: As fiscal talks in Washington continue, it’s generally wise not to react too strongly, one way or the other, to various offers and counteroffers …. Two weeks ago, for example, a lot of folks seemed convinced that President Obama was poised to accept an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, and now that idea is apparently “a line White House is unwilling to cross.”
… [but] there is ample evidence that Obama and Boehner are inching closer to a deal….. it’s worth paying close attention to its most glaring flaws … From a progressive perspective, “chaining” the CPI is obviously the most problematic element. For many Democrats in Washington, there seems to be a sense that some kind of entitlement cut will invariably be part of any bipartisan deal, and that the CPI measure is arguably the least offensive of bad options, but that’s not much of a defense.
…. For what it’s worth, the NYT noted that Obama is “insisting on some protections for what he has called the ‘most vulnerable populations,'” as part of this CPI provision, but it’s unclear at this point what those protections might be …. we should know more fairly soon, including whether the entire process will completely fall apart.
Full post here
Greg Sargent: …… The big picture: With this deal Obama will have broken the GOP’s fundamentalist opposition to raising tax rates on the rich (albeit only on income over $400,000) something that would have been deemed very unlikely a year ago. He will have held the line against the GOP demand for two years of Medicare — a victory. Debt ceiling hostage taking will have been deferred for two years, meaning it won’t get tied up in the next elections. He will have obtained stimulus spending — on infrastructure, and in the form of an extension of unemployment benefits — and as Paul Krugman notes, that wouldn’t happen if we go over the cliff. (I’m told the talks have not focused on the exact sum of stimulus spending the White House wants.) The price: The expiration of the payroll tax cut and the cut in Social Security benefits. That’s bad, but the damage could be limited, if the White House insists on it.
Full post here
Washington Post: President Obama on Monday began the first serious push of his administration to attempt to reduce gun violence, directing Cabinet members to formulate a set of proposals that could include reinstating a ban on assault rifles.
The effort will be led by Vice President Biden …. The tentative steps ended a paralyzing debate within the administration over how hard to pursue gun-control legislation, which has been a politically perilous issue for many Democrats. There were signs Monday, however, that such fear was abating on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Democratic Sens. Harry Reid, Joe Manchin and Mark R. Warner made clear that Congress should consider a range of options to address the issue; all three have been strong supporters of gun rights. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she would introduce legislation that would reimpose the assault-rifle ban that lapsed in 2004.
Morning everyone, a very slow start today, will catch up with more news soon-ish.