The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.
Royal Baby Watch, D.C. Edition
Syria's still in flames. John Kerry's pushing hard for Mideast peace talks. Japan has a new government. But all everyone wanted to talk about Monday was Duchess Kate's baby, even in Washington. Two hundred and thirty-seven years after Thomas Jefferson and Co. gave King George III the boot, Americans still seem to be feeling a little wistful over the split-up. American excitement over Princess Diana's new grandson shows that while you can take the colonies out of the kingdom, you can't always take the kingdom-y stuff out of the colonies.
Or maybe it's just that, at the moment, Americans don't have a lot of good news to relish. While Congress and the White House remain in a standoff over almost everything—including another stimulus—Britain's about to get a $400 million economic spike from partying and tourism, thanks to the new heir. We don't have many heroes here to look up to either, except maybe Phil Mickelson. But he's over in Blighty too.
OBAMA TO STUMP FOR ECONOMIC VISION THIS WEEK. President Obama is set to begin a campaign-style blitz around the country this week in an effort to sell his second-term economic agenda, The New York Times reports. Obama's first stop will be in Galesburg, Ill., where he will speak about economic policy at Knox College--an appearance White House aides are comparing to the president's 2011 speech in Osawatomie, Kan., that highlighted economic inequality. Obama will follow his broad Galesburg address with a series of smaller, policy-driven speeches that will focus on health care, housing, higher-education affordability, and creating more manufacturing jobs, as well as the economic benefits of overhauling immigration laws. Read more
- Whether some Senate Republicans are willing to break with party leadership on a key appropriations vote on Tuesday could determine whether Obama will see success later this year with his economic agenda, Roll Call's David Hawkings writes. Read more
LAWMAKERS FACE CRUNCH TIME BEFORE AUGUST RECESS. With their August vacation around the corner, the House and Senate enter this week still without a budget deal, far apart on spending bills, and with no plan to raise the debt ceiling by autumn, National Journal's Billy House reports. The Senate does expect to vote as early as Tuesday on an agreement that would retroactively address student-loan interest rates that doubled July 1. The Senate also is planning to proceed to floor action on the first of its 12 annual spending bills for fiscal 2014, dealing with transportation and housing and urban development. The House is planning this week to take up its Pentagon spending bill, and perhaps its own transportation bill. Read more
BIDEN'S VISIT TO INDIA TO HIGHLIGHT TRADE AND SECURITY. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday began his four-day visit to India, a trip intended to strengthen trade and security ties with the Asia-Pacific region, the Associated Press reports. Biden's tour—his first to India as vice president—began with a stop at a museum honoring Mohandas Gandhi and features a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "Our goal is to help tie Asia-Pacific nations together—from India to the Americas—through strong alliances, institutions, and partnerships," Biden said last week in advance of his trip, which also includes a two-day stop in Singapore. Read more
MITCH McCONNELL FACES ANOTHER POTENTIAL CHALLENGER. Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin is set to announce a primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday at the Kentucky State Capitol, The Atlantic Wire reports. McConnell, whose popularity has waned in Kentucky, now must fend off Bevin, who will run as a Republican, as well as Alison Lundergan Grimes, a popular and well-connected Democrat who is Kentucky's secretary of state. The key test for Bevin in the upcoming weeks is whether he can generate support from conservative groups such as the tea party. Democrats believe Bevin will bring some intra-party squabbling to the race, diverting some of McConnell's attention and advertising away from Grimes. Read more
KERRY BEGINS ASSEMBLING TEAM FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN TALKS. Secretary of State John Kerry has pegged former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk to head the team that will manage the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, The New York Times reports. In recent weeks, Kerry has been adamant about resumption of peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, have expressed their approval of the selection. While Indyk is the most likely choice to spearhead the negotiations, the State Department has said that a final decision has not yet been made. Read more
- Despite skepticism after five years without a formal meeting between the two delegations, The New Republic's Ben Birnbaum lists seven reasons for optimism for this round of talks. Read more
MORSI FAMILY ACCUSES EGYPT'S MILITARY OF KIDNAPPING. Mohamed Morsi's family on Monday accused Egypt's powerful military of kidnapping the ousted president, whose whereabouts have been unknown since his detainment three weeks ago, the Associated Press reports. "We hold the leaders of the bloody military coup fully responsible for the safety and security of the president," said Morsi's daughter. The former president has not been seen or heard from since his removal on July 3, and has had no contact with lawyers or family. The military insists Morsi is safely detained as the Muslim Brotherhood continues leading daily protests calling for his reinstatement. Read more
RUSSIA CLAIMS SYRIA'S ASSAD EAGER FOR PEACE TALKS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is willing to begin peace negotiations with Syrian rebel groups, The New York Times reports. Lavrov urged the U.S. and other Western powers to help bring opposition forces to the negotiating table, and blamed rebels for the lack of progress thus far. "To our regret, in contrast to the Syrian government, a significant part of the opposition, including the National Coalition, does not show such readiness," Lavrov said. The Western-backed National Coalition, meanwhile, is accusing Assad's forces of using chemical weapons to attack Palestinian camps in Damascus. Read more
CIA DRONE STRIKES RESPONSIBLE FOR HIGH CIVILIAN DEATH COUNT IN PAKISTAN. Refuting claims by U.S. authorities to the contrary, a leaked document obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals the Pakistani government's finding that CIA drone strikes in the country have killed many more civilians than the previously suggested. The 12-page internal document tallies that of the 746 people listed as killed by drone strikes from 2006 to 2009, at least 147 were civilian victims and 94 of those are listed as children. It also shows that Pakistan's government was aware of the high civilian casualty count but maintained support privately for the CIA's drone strikes. Read more
LEGAL FIGHTS CONTINUE FOR DETROIT FOLLOWING BANKRUPTCY FILING. A federal court judge has set the first hearing in Detroit's bankruptcy case for Wednesday, agreeing to expedite a request made by the city's emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Reuters reports. The hearing follows a ruling made Friday by a Circuit Court judge blocking the city's Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing after current and retired municipal workers, fearing reductions to their pensions, looked to derail the filing on grounds that their retirement benefits are guaranteed under the state constitution. Following the circuit court order to withdraw the bankruptcy filing-- the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history--Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette also petitioned the state Appeals Court, which has not yet acted on the matter. Read more
BIDEN MEETS WITH INDIAN LEADERS IN NEW DELHI. Vice President Joe Biden will meet separately in New Delhi with Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and President Pranab Mukherjee. Later, Biden and his wife, Jill, will depart for Mumbai.
PREVIEWING THE 2014 ELECTION CYCLE. Charlie Cook, National Journal political analyst and editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, will discuss the trends and dynamics that he believes will shape the 2014 midterm election environment, top congressional races to watch, and early thoughts on the 2016 presidential nominations in a briefing at 8 a.m. at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
"My constituents don't look at me as a white person. They say, 'You're one of us.' They come up in the basketball line, going to the game, all the business domos in line, the wealthy boys that run the corporations, and the black guys that sell the cars come up and grab me by around the chest and pull me up and they say, 'You can't have him; he's ours.'" -- Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., explaining a bizarre weekend tweet (The Washington Post)
THE CUBAN MODEL: SEEKING AN ECONOMIC BALANCE? Cuba's attempt to move its economy forward comes not "with a bang but rather on the heels of a series of cumulative measures," including relaxing self-employment rules, balancing land ownership and extending the amount of time a citizen can spend abroad without facing punishment, Julia Sweig, the director for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Michael Bustamante, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, report for Foreign Affairs. But the nation still has to overcome some major challenges, with its Communist Party trying to achieve economic expansion while favoring central planning over free market principles. Meanwhile, Sweig and Bustamante write, the Obama administration can "definitively lead U.S.–Latin American relations out of the Cold War and into the 21st century only by shifting its Cuba policy." Read more
UPWARD MOBILITY IS ABOUT LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.The New York Times reports on a new study which finds a significant correlation between income mobility and geography. Researchers from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley examined millions of earnings records to gauge the potential impact of local and state tax policies on intergenerational economic mobility. The data indicated that larger tax credits for the poor had a relatively minor effect on mobility, while the greatest mobility existed in communities in which poor families were dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods rather than concentrated in pockets of poverty. "Where you grow up matters," said Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, one of the study's authors. "There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty." Still, the study's authors are careful to note that their findings indicate correlation, not causation, and that further research will be required. Read more
VIDEO OF THE DAY
JAMMING IN THE VOLUNTEER STATE. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined Grammy Award-winning country-music singer and songwriter Steve Wariner in a performance of "Johnny B. Goode" during a "Salute to Middle Tennessee Republican Party Chairmen" on Saturday. Wariner provided vocals and guitar accompaniment, while Huckabee and Alexander played bass guitar and keyboard, respectively. Watch it here