The Hill -- Reid throws climate lifeline to greens

Harry Reid may not expect his own global warming legislation to pass. He may have suddenly revived a long-dormant initiative in an Obamaian effort to fire up the Democratic base knowing that moderate Democrats would have to vote against it.

But what he may not have considered is that this year, there are liberal Senators at risk too. It won’t help California’s Barbara Boxer, Washington’s Patty Murray or Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold to have to cast symbolic, losing votes on a bill that would increase energy costs and show perpetual government overreach.

Even if the plan is a shadow of the original cap and trade proposal from president Obama, this is not a politically helpful time for anther big bill that leaves liberals unsatisfied, conservatives motivated and moderates sick of Washington.

Even so, Reid is rolling out the bill on July 26.

Writers Ben Geman and Darren Goode explain what may be in it.

Any plan to impose a cost on industrial greenhouse gas emissions faces major hurdles. But Reid’s remarks came as good news for liberal activists, who have seen their hopes of action on a more sweeping climate change bill fall apart given resistance from most Republicans and some centrist Democrats.

A ‘utility-only’ approach has emerged as a fallback as more sweeping plans covering more emissions sources — like factories, motor fuels, refineries and other sectors — ran into political headwinds.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have been negotiating with Reid’s office about the power plant-focused approach. The pair has crafted a more aggressive bill covering an array of industries, but did not make enough headway to keep it in the mix. The House narrowly passed a broad “economywide” cap-and-trade bill last year.”


USA Today -- Coalition eases up on Afghan airstrikes

A sobering report from writers Tom Vanden Brook and Jim Michaels in Afghanistan that puts into real terms the reduction in U.S. airpower being deployed in the Afghan war.

The military continues to take the position that the limited use of allied firepower has not led to a single American deaths. The claim seems subjective, and, one supposes, sets a new goal for reporters in Afghanistan.

“Warplanes in Afghanistan are dropping bombs and missiles on insurgents at about 25% of the rate they did three years ago despite more widespread combat, reflecting commanders' emphasis on reducing civilian deaths.

So far this year, jets have dropped bombs on only 10% of their combat support missions, compared with almost 40% in 2007, Air Force records show. The decline coincides with the arrival of most of the additional 30,000 U.S. troops ordered to Afghanistan by President Obama. Attacks on U.S. and allied troops — as well as deaths — are at all-time highs.”


Politico -- Pelosi vents about Gibbs

Robert Gibbs’ move to try to scare Democrats back into line with a gloomy prediction that Democrats could lose the House in the fall elections continues to clatter through the Party.

Writers Jonathan Allen and John Bresnahan dish the details on Nancy Pelosi’s angry suggestion that the White House shut up about House elections.

The White House is trying to back off Gibb’s too-cute play, even as he is still suggesting was a bold, fresh bit of truth telling.

Republicans agreed and have already made plans to fundraise off of Gibbs’ calculated burst of frankness.

Gibbs, who struggles with his smarmy tendencies anyway, will soon have to make the full swan-diving apology.

What it reveals is that Team Obama overestimates its own ability to play political games and underestimates the severity of the situation for Democrats in the House.

“The fusillade from Pelosi and other Democrats at a closed-door meeting escalated an already fiery clash between the White House and its own party in Congress. During the tense evening meeting, the speaker grilled the top White House aide in attendance, senior legislative affairs staffer Dan Turton, about the impact of Gibbs' comments.

‘How could [Gibbs] know what is going on in our districts?’ Pelosi told her members in the caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol Tuesday night. ‘Some may weigh his words more than others. We have made our disagreement known to the White House.’…

Turton, responding to both Pelosi and accusations from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), said Gibbs was speaking off the cuff and not from prepared material during a controversial appearance on Meet the Press Sunday, sources said.


New York Times -- Oil Still Spilling as Well Test Is Delayed

The cap is in place but not affixed tightly. The concern is that once it’s clamped down, the pressure in the line will increase and reveal other, currently unseen, damage.

Writer Henry Fountain suggests that BP was ready to seal the cap and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu said more tests were needed. It is far preferable to have the oil flow unabated for a couple more days while engineers check computer models than to have another catastrophic failure after almost three months of spilling.

“The test is expected to take as little as 6 hours to 48 hours or more. A short test would mean bad news: the well could not hold pressure, like a leaky soda bottle.

[BP VP Kent] Wells said scientists from BP and the government would be analyzing the pressure readings throughout the test. “When the data says we need to open up the well, we’ll do that,” he said. “When the data says we can shut it in, we’ll shut it in. We’ll just have to see what the test tells us.”


New York Times -- Obama Says Budget Nominee Is Fit for ‘Hall of Fame’

You can almost hear the strains of Fleetwood Mac wafting through the White House.

Under siege on the economy, debt and deficits, President Obama is replacing think-tank lothario Peter Orszag as budget director with Clinton budget boss Jacob Lew.

Writer Peter Baker and others enjoy the neat juxtaposition of Lew’s previous tenure in the rosy budget days of the 1990s with the depleted and defeated American Treasury of today.

But consider also that Obama is increasingly reliant on the Clintons, despite Bill’s recent outbursts. In an effort to remind Americans that Democrats aren’t always socialists, Obama is deploying Bubba to places across the country where an Obama visit would be bad news for incumbent Democrats.

As Obama weakens, he will rely on the Clintons more and more – a precarious position for any politician.

“As Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state for management and resources, Mr. Lew served as chief operating officer, running the department while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton travels the world and focuses on diplomacy. His departure was a blow to Mrs. Clinton, who resisted losing him to the White House.

‘This news is obviously bittersweet,’ Mrs. Clinton wrote in an e-mail message to employees. ‘While I was hoping never to have to replace Jack, the president and our country need his leadership at O.M.B.’

Mr. Obama joked about it. ‘I was actually worried that Hillary would not let him go,’ he said. ‘I had to trade a number of No. 1 draft picks to get Jack back at O.M.B.’