Politics Today: G-20 Reflects New Global Power Structure

Politics Today is CBSNews.com's inside look at the key stories driving the day in politics, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

** Latest from the G-20

** New CBS News Polls on Afghanistan, Health Care

** Kirk Named Massachusetts Senator, but Controversy Remains

** Updates on New Jersey and Virginia Gubernatorial Campaigns

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
G-20, U.N. MEETINGS: President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France came out in front of the cameras this morning, ahead of G-20 Summit meetings in Pittsburgh, to publicly demand that Iran open up a secret nuclear fuel facility to international inspectors.

Overnight, it was revealed that Iran had a second underground facility for nuclear enrichment.

The other big news to come out of the G-20 Summit is that "leaders endorsed the G-20 as the premier forum for their international economic cooperation," the White House announced late Thursday.

The Los Angeles Times' Don Lee and Jim Tankersley write,: "The change reflects the world's shifting economic powers and a need for the U.S. and the traditional European powers to secure the cooperation of fast-growing economies such as China, India and Brazil to make progress on pressing issues.

"The G-8 -- made up of the U.S., Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia -- has been criticized as an elite, anachronistic body that couldn't get much done because the main issues they faced often involved emerging nations that weren't at the table

"The U.S. also is pushing in Pittsburgh to give greater representation to those emerging countries at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"The moves are part of an Obama administration effort to win the broad support here for a U.S. proposal calling for major economic structural changes designed to cure global imbalances."

"The move highlights the growing economic importance of Asia and some Latin American countries, particularly since the United States and many European countries have found their banking systems crippled by an economic crisis originating in excesses in the American mortgage market," the New York Times' Edmund L. Andrews points out.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
"Traditionally, the Group of Eight has served as the gathering place for the world's top economic powers, but in recent years its membership -- dominated by the United States and other Western nations -- has increasingly been criticized for leaving out several of the world's fastest-growing countries," add the Washington Post's Annys Shin and Michael D. Shear.

"The G-20's ranks include nations such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa -- all of which have expanded their economies at a meteoric pace in the past two decades. ...

"As leaders gathered on the eve of Friday's meetings, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said that officials had reached "a strong consensus" on strengthening oversight of the global financial system."

Politico's Josh Gerstein, "G-20 mood looms over reform": "Signs that the global economy is perking up are welcome news for the world leaders President Barack Obama has invited to the G-20 Summit here.
But the increasing talk of recovery could stall or even doom the forum's efforts to overhaul regulation of the financial markets.

"The crisis atmosphere that prevailed when the same group met in London in April has dissipated, and with it also has gone some of the urgency about putting in place new systems to prevent complex financial instruments and multifaceted financial services companies from triggering another economic crash."

McClatchy Newspapers' Margaret Talev and Kevin G. Hall, "What's a global economic summit without protests?": "In a chaotic scene near downtown Pittsburgh, police in riot gear quashed an unauthorized march by an estimated 2,000 protesters, some clad in black and carrying posters with anarchist symbols. Police responded with tear gas and arrests. However, the streets around the meeting site were well secured and generally peaceful."

(AP)
Meantime, yesterday at the U.N., "President Barack Obama won United Nations Security Council approval for a resolution that targets nations that attempt to use civilian nuclear technology for military purposes, part of his campaign to galvanize international support for nuclear disarmament," report the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman and Jay Solomon.

"The Obama administration touted the passage as a key win for the president at his first appearance at the U.N.'s annual General Assembly, and the first Security Council summit of heads of state to be chaired by any U.S. president. U.S. officials said the resolution could be used, with Chinese and Russian support, to confront the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea -- though they weren't mentioned by name, to help get agreement on the resolution."



(CBS)
AFGHANISTAN: CBS News' David Martin's interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal airs Sunday at 7pm ET on "60 Minutes": "As the news from Afghanistan moves to the front pages of Americans' newspapers, the general tasked with turning things around there tells 60 Minutes that the spread of the violence in Afghanistan was more than he expected. ... Martin spent a week speaking to the general in Kabul and following him on his daily mission overseeing the coalition forces in Afghanistan.

"Asked if things are better or worse than he expected since his arrival a few months ago, the general replies, 'They're probably a little worse. I think that in some areas that the breadth of the violence, the geographic spread of violence, is a little more than I would have gathered.'

"The increased violence has resulted in 265 civilians killed in U.S. or coalition action in the past 12 months the general says, a situation that must stop if victory is to be attained. 'This civilian casualty issue is much more important than I even realized. It is literally how we lose the war, or in many ways how we win it,' McChrystal explained."

(CBS)
CBS News Polls: On Afghanistan, "Fewer than one in three Americans believe the number of troops in Afghanistan should be increased, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds, despite a leaked memo from General Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S.'s top military commander in Afghanistan, suggesting that an increase is necessary for the United States to avoid failure there.

"Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed say troop levels should be increased, while thirty-two percent say they should be decreased. Another 27 percent say troop levels should be kept at the level they are now.

"Still, news of McChrystal's position may have had some effect: In August, a higher percentage - 41 percent - wanted troop levels decreased, and slightly fewer (25 percent) backed a troop increase."

On health care, "The president's approval rating for handling health care is up seven points from one month ago, and more Americans overall support his plans than oppose them - but four in 10 say they still don't know enough about the proposals to say.

"The public has yet to accept some of the points the president has been making about his reform ideas. For instance, many aren't sure if illegal immigrants will receive coverage. But three in four Americans think the Republicans have not explained their ideas for reform and are not trying to work with the president."

Poll: Improved Perceptions of Stimulus Package
Poll:Obama Overexposed? Most Say No
Poll: On Issues, Obama Approval Rating Lags

HEALTH CARE: "In the high-stakes battle over health care, the White House and the drug lobby make an unusual -- and unusually powerful – team," reports the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly.

"The extent of their combined clout showed Thursday as Democratic senators tried unsuccessfully to override a deal the industry struck months ago with the Obama White House and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). If the deal fell apart, industry allies warned, the drug lobby could pivot from health-reform cheerleader to committed opponent armed with a $125 million war chest."

Wall Street Journal's Greg Hitt and Janet Adamy, "Pelosi Presses for a Public Option": "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped up her push for a publicly run health plan that has divided congressional Democrats, saying it could 'save enormous amounts of money.' The struggle among House Democrats came as the chamber voted 406-18 to block a scheduled increase in Medicare Part B premium payments next year. Lawmakers of both parties are trying to appeal to elderly voters who are concerned about longer-term reductions in Medicare spending included in Democratic versions of a health overhaul."

New York Times' Robert Pear and Jackie Calmes, "Senate Panel Rejects Bid to Add Drug Discount"

Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr., "Overhaul Divides Business and Its Traditional GOP Allies": "Business is parting from its traditional allies in the Republican Party on health care as companies and big corporate lobbyists lend tentative support to a congressional overhaul that conservative lawmakers staunchly oppose. The rift mirrors a similar divide on other issues, including immigration and climate change, where many companies have backed legislative action that Republican lawmakers oppose. But the health-care debate, in particular, casts a spotlight on the split in the longstanding alliance between economic conservatives and the business community."

Bloomberg News' Brian Faler, "Budget Office Misses on Big Bills Cloud Health Debate"

(CBS)
SUCCEEDING TED KENNEDY: Paul Kirk, who was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., to temporarily fill Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat, will be sworn on the Senate floor by Vice President Joe Biden today at 3:15pm. However, the 3 month appointment, which seemed to go fairly smoothly, has resulted in a political firestorm, reports the Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot.

"Gov. Deval Patrick's Kennedy-backed selection of Paul G. Kirk Jr. to the U.S. Senate sparked outrage on both ends of the political spectrum, as Republicans fired off a legal challenge to halt the temporary appointment and liberal supporters of former Gov. Michael Dukakis vowed payback," writes Chabot.

Boston Globe's Michael Rezendes and Andrea Estes profile Kirk, "Lawyer brings political experience, skill as a mediator to his new post"

Meantime, watchdog groups are up in arms over an earmark to fund the institute honoring Ted Kennedy, reports the Boston Globe's Bryan Bender.

"A large military spending bill moving through Congress contains a little-noticed outlay for Boston that has nothing to do with national defense: $20 million for an educational institute honoring late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

"The earmark, tucked into the defense bill at the request of Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, requires US taxpayers to help the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate realize its goal of building a repository for Kennedy's papers and an accompanying civic learning center on the University of Massachusetts at Boston campus in Dorchester, next to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

"The item is drawing fire from fiscal watchdog groups, who assert that military funds should not be raided to pay for an institution that has nothing to do with improving military readiness."

Boston Herald's Dave Wedge, "Martha Coakley's covert ops": "Attorney General Martha Coakley has run a shadow Senate campaign for months, shelling out $126,000 from her state campaign account for expenses likely tied to her Capitol Hill bid, including $15,000 for Web site upgrades just days before Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died, records show. The spending spree began in January but ramped up the last two weeks of August as Coakley funneled $31,000 to consultants, fund-raisers and a Web design company in preparation for her foray into the high-stakes Senate race."

MIDTERM ELECTIONS: "Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party's harsh rhetoric about big business," reports the Washington Post's Paul Kane.

"The trend is a marked reversal from recent history, in which Democrats have erased the GOP's long-standing fundraising advantage. In the first six months of 2009, Democratic campaign committees' receipts have dropped compared with the same period two years earlier."

CBS News' Anthony Salvanto and Mark Gersh, "For Republicans, Could 2010 Be Like 1994?"

(AP)
2009 NJ GOVERNOR: NY Times' David M. Halbfinger and David Kocieniewski, "Meanwhile, Next Door, It's Team Obama for Corzine": "While President Obama's political team seeks to nudge David A. Paterson out of the New York governorship, they are fully engaged in trying to get Gov. Jon S. Corzine re-elected here.

"Every TV ad that Mr. Corzine puts on the air is being screened by the president's team. The governor's aides are giving daily briefings to the White House. Mr. Obama's pollsters have taken over for Mr. Corzine's polling team, and White House operatives are on the ground for everything from internal strategy sessions to obscure pep rallies with Latino supporters."

2009 VA GOVERNOR: Richmond Times-Dispatch's Tyler Whitley, "Wilder declines to endorse Deeds": "Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, despite pleas from President Barack Obama and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, yesterday declined to endorse fellow Democrat R. Creigh Deeds for governor.

"Wilder, who also is a former Richmond mayor, said he disagrees with Deeds' willingness to raise taxes and with his opposition to a gun-control law that Wilder had championed as governor.

"Wilder, who never has endorsed a Republican, also declined to endorse Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee. Wilder described both Deeds and McDonnell as "fine and honorable men" capable of governing."

ALSO:

Washington Post's Robert Barnes, "Justice Ginsburg Is Hospitalized As Precaution": "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was admitted to Washington Hospital Center on Thursday when she fell ill at the court after being treated for an iron deficiency."

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Chicago Sun-Times' Natasha Korecki, "Sources: Emanuel wanted Claypool to be placeholder": " It has long been claimed that Rahm Emanuel wanted to find someone to keep his congressional seat warm while he served as President Obama's chief of staff. Now, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned that Emanuel wanted then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool to his 5th Congressional District seat. Claypool would serve one or two terms and then be considered for a place in Obama's Cabinet, according to sources familiar with Emanuel's proposal. That would give Emanuel the option of returning to Congress, where he could vie to become House speaker. Reached Thursday, Claypool said he knew of no such plan. Emanuel declined to comment, as did the White House. In the end, Blagojevich did not have the authority to appoint somebody to the congressional seat, as Emanuel had thought."

McClatchy Newspapers' Kevin G. Hall, "Banks fight to kill proposed consumer protection agency": "If you doubt that U.S. banks long to return to the days of impotent regulation, you need only look at one of the financial sector's top legislative priorities: killing a proposed new agency that would be dedicated solely to protecting consumers' financial interests."

Bloomberg News' Mike Dorning, "Volcker Criticizes Obama Plan on 'Systemically Important' Firms": " Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker criticized the Obama administration's plan to subject 'systemically important' financial firms to more stringent regulation by the Fed. Volcker told lawmakers today that such a designation would imply government readiness to support the firms in a crisis, encouraging even more risky behavior in a phenomenon known as 'moral hazard.'"

Wall Street Journal's Deborah Solomon and Michael R. Crittenden, "Battle Brews Over Unused TARP Cash": "The U.S. Treasury Department is discussing ways to keep in reserve some emergency bailout funds even if the Troubled Asset Relief Program isn't extended beyond the end of the year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may opt to extend the program, which expires on Dec. 31. But even if the program isn't extended, officials want to keep at least some of the money that has yet to be committed to any particular program on hand in case financial conditions worsen and the government is forced to step in."

Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig, "ACORN Funded Political, For-Profit Efforts, Records Show": " Documents released by a Senate Republican on Thursday show that leaders of the ACORN community organizing network transferred several million dollars in charitable and government money meant for the poor to arms of the group that have political and sometimes profit-making missions. ACORN's tax-exempt groups and allied organizations, long a target of conservative ire, used more than half their charitable and public money in 2006 to pay other ACORN affiliates, according to an analysis by the tax staff of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)."
  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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