Skimm for January 23rd

Not Your Average Credit Card

THE STORY: The White House won't roadblock a House Republican bill to suspend the debt ceiling through May 19th. It's looking like the bill will pass later today.

WTF IS THE DEBT CEILING? It is the total amount of money the US government is authorized to borrow to pay its bills. Not to go on a shopping spree, but to cover little (and big) things we have already bought.

WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Congress. During World War I, Congress put a limit on how much national debt we could have. How simple! Except for the fact that every year Congress creates a budget that says how much money we should spend and also determines how much must be borrowed in case we come up short in revenue (we almost always do). So Congress gets pretty used to raising that pesky little debt ceiling roof. Often. You'd think it would be a no-brainer by now.

PIECE OF CAKE! No such thing as a piece of political cake on the Hill. Technically, we already hit the debt limit on December 31st but everyone was in holiday mode so the Treasury helped us out by using some maneuvers to keep us from going over the limit. These measures have an expiration date so we've got to figure it out or face a hot catastrophic mess that could end in the US defaulting. Last time we prolonged this debate, our credit was downgraded.

WHY THE DRAMA? Some Republicans think the only way to cure our spending problem is to take away our back up plan: borrowing. No one likes to be labeled a big spender in DC but eventually enough people come around. Even young Senator Obama voted against a debt ceiling increase once upon a time.

BRING IT ON HOME. Today, the House will vote on a bill to temporarily suspend the debt limit until May 19th. After that, the nation's borrowing authority will increase to accommodate what we borrowed over those three months, just like magic. But there's a catch, Congress has to pass a budget for next year by mid-April. If they don't, the dysfunctional chamber holding things up will have their pay suspended. Really puts a dent on those summer plans. Oh, and the Senate hasn't passed a budget in FOUR YEARS, so the pressure is on for Senate Dems to get along with their Republican brethren. Tricky GOP.

THE WHY (DO I NEED TO SKIMM?): It's the first big test for the new Obama. We've got to find a way to get along and work out our money problems, or we'll really mess up our finances -- again. We're also really tired of talking about Congress fighting.

REPEAT AFTER ME...What to say when you find out secret admirers are actually stalkers...  You can't trust anybody. Not even Bey. Twitterverse and Beyonce diehards were saddened and shocked to ring the alarm after discovering that Beyonce's gorgeous rendition of the national anthem at the Inauguration was -- gasp!-- lip-synced. Someone with the Marine Corps Band said per standard procedure, she pre-recorded the track and for reasons unknown, decided at the last-minute to use it. Sure, even Yo-Yo Ma has faked it for the Inauguration, but Yo-Yo isn't Bey. But maybe the Marine Corps just had a case of deja vu and remembered Bey runs the world, as a spokesman later said they can't say whether or not she faked it. Jay would know.

What to say after a tough workout... That wasn't my best, but at least no one was watching me. Unfortunately, Serena Williams can't say the same. The tennis star is out in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, losing to 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens. Sloane is now the first American player younger than Serena to ever beat her, severely decreasing the likelihood of her making friends with the Williams sisters. It was a tough match for Serena, who hurt her back, and per usual, kept her temper in check by smashing her racket, breaking it, and then throwing it at a chair.

What to say when your Mom won't try social media... As much as it pains me to say this, you need to start getting with the times. The FBI is. That's right G-Men are catching up to the 21st century and need help fighting crime. From people who watch crime marathons (cough, Skimm HQ). The FBI is teaming up with USA's "White Collar" to allow viewers at home to help solve real life mysteries. The campaign will roll out clues from unsolved cases in on-air promotions and online. But who can solve the case of why Matt Bomer is that good-looking?

What to say when a friend needs money... Here, take a few billion. Of course, now I'll own you. Microsoft is allegedly prepared to make an unexpected purchase and buy Dell. Perhaps Microsoft needs new computers or maybe it's a strategic move to buy the computer maker that sells its software products. Microsoft wouldn't be shopping solo, though; the $1 billion to $3 billion investment would be part of a Dell buyout along with Silver Lake Partners in a bid to make struggling Dell a bit more private.

What to do when you want to be heard... Vote. In Israel, voters told PM Netanyahu he could stay but they didn't want to be so right-wing. A centrist bloc surprised everyone by taking some seats in Bibi's government. The need to spin and compromise was in the air, as Bibi promised to work with his "many partners for [his] goals." Voting is also on the minds of the British. PM David Cameron is proposing a major change that would allow Brits to decide by 2017 if they want to remain in the European Union. While he definitely is giving them enough time to think, the suggestion of such a change shows how much political pressure the PM is under and his concerns on how demands of global competition question Britain's relationship with the EU.

What to say to your friend going to Davos... Take pictures and be careful what you predict. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland always draws a list of who's who in business and politics. There are lots of panels with lots of people sharing lots of predictions on the state of the world. Infamously in 2003, Bill Gates doubted Google would have much of a future. Timing is everything, as Google just announced record revenue to the tune of $50.2 billion. Mr. Gates, you are rich but were quite wrong.

SKIMM FAVOR:  Tell us what you want, how you want it, and where you want it. We always want to Skimm better. Then tell five new friends how much you can't live without theSkimm.

BIRTHDAYS:  Lee Anne Grant (San Francisco, CA); Bastien Vandenhende (Renaix, Belgium); Tiffani Amber Thiessen (Los Angeles, CA); Regina Rafael (Brooklyn, NY)

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