Politics this week

Dec 9th 2010
From The Economist print edition

Barack Obama reached a compromise on a series of legislative measures with Republicans in Congress that include keeping the Bush-era tax cuts for another two years and extending benefits for the unemployed. The White House presented the package as a boost to working- and middle-class families, but the deal infuriated many Democrats, who accused Mr Obama of breaking an election pledge to end the tax break for upper-income families. Mr Obama countered that a “purist position” brings “no victories for the American people”. See article



The last result from the mid-term elections in the House of Representatives was settled  when a Republican challenger conceded to the Democratic incumbent in a close race on Long Island. This leaves the Republicans with a total net gain of 63 seats in the House.

The Senate voted to remove a federal judge from the bench in Louisiana, finding him guilty on a variety of corruption charges. It is the first time a judge has been thrown out of office in an impeachment trial for more than 20 years and only the eighth instance in American history.

Julian Assange, the public face of WikiLeaks, was arrested in London after Sweden issued a warrant for him to face allegations of sexual misconduct. Mr Assange’s lawyer said he detected “dark forces” (ie, America) at work, and promised that his client would fight any extradition attempts. In revenge, the websites of companies that have recently stopped providing services to the WikiLeaks organisation, such as MasterCard and Amazon, were attacked by hackers. See article

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the eurogroup of finance ministers, and Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s finance minister, called for the creation of collective euro area “E-bonds” to help relieve pressure on indebted countries. But Germany made clear it wasn’t interested. A separate proposal from the IMF to expand the size of the euro area’s bail-out fund to cope with a possible rescue of Spain, was shot down by the finance ministers. See article

The Irish government won, just, the first in a series of parliamentary votes on an austerity budget that aims for €6 billion ($8 billion) in savings next year. The budget needs to be passed in order for funds to be released from the EU-IMF bail-out package for Ireland. See article

The EU said it would support Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation. Russia is the world’s largest economy to remain outside the WTO.