Welcome to our rolling coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration for another four years as US president, complete with agenda-setting speech. By Tom Burgis, Lina Saigol and Ben Fenton with contributions from FT correspondents. All times are EST.
11.00 For ease of reading, we’re going to switch into a new post. Like the transition between two presidential terms, this is meant to happen seamlessly. Just click here to go on reading the latest updates from our colleagues in DC.
The fiscal cliff may or may not have been averted. But even if the House passes the deal that was hurriedly brokered by Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell on Monday and passed the Senate at 2am yesterday it would merely set up a larger showdown two months from now.
Alan Simpson (left) and Erskine Bowles Getty Images
If there is one thing at which Washington does not excel (an admittedly rich menu), it is self-deprecation. The city operates to a kind of Gresham’s Law in which self-importance drives out whatever humour is to be found. Which makes the latest intervention from Alan Simpson, the co-keeper of the nation’s fiscal conscience, along with Erskine Bowles, all the more enjoyable. At 81, the former Republican senator has made his fair share of gaffes – not least his remark in 2010 about the “lesser people” who rely on Social Security. He added: “We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310m tits.” He never really apologised.
With just three weeks to go before the US arrives at a deeply sobering fiscal cliff, Mr Simpson has developed a better line in humour since then. Last week, Mr Simpson said that he hoped that Grover Norquist, the keeper of the Republican anti-tax conscience, would “slip into” the same bathtub in which he famously wants to drown government. Then on Wednesday, Mr Simpson descended into the idiom of the lesser people – or at least the younger ones – with the releases of a “Gangam-style” video exhorting viewers to take to the social networks and campaign against the fiscal cliff .
Welcome to the election news round-up on the morning before the third and final presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy.
While investors may increasingly focus on the threat of the so-called fiscal cliff facing whoever wins on November 6, this potential catastrophe for the US economy will remain off the agenda as Washington DC remains obsessed with the minutiae of an incredibly tight race.
A bumper edition to take you into the weekend:
We’ve got some gripping reads for you today, from our own pages and elsewhere: