Tales from the Trail
While Hollywood strutted the red carpet at the Academy Awards, President Barack Obama hosted a black-tie dinner on Sunday for U.S. governors — who are debating whether it’s a good idea to take federal bailout money — at the White House in advance of a self-described “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” on Monday. The afternoon event is part of the push to sell Obama’s broader economic package before his speech to Congress on Tuesday and the unveiling of his first federal budget on Thursday.
All eyes will be on Capitol Hill today as the Senate moves closer to a vote on the massive $900 billion stimulus bill. Lawmakers added expanded help for home buyers late last night in a bid to attract much-needed Republican support, but it’s still unclear whether Democrats have enough votes to pass the measure.
WASHINGTON – Republican critics of the Democratic-backed landmark stimulus package are pointing out that its 800-billion-dollar-plus price tag would — “in one fell swoop,” as Republican Representative Todd Akin put it — consume more resources than have been laid out for two wars, so far.
It’s a busy old day on Capitol Hill.
President-elect Barack Obama’s picks to head the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Homeland Security and his nominees for attorney general and ambassador to the United Nations will be on Capitol Hill for their Senate nomination hearings.
Congress is nervous about spending more money.
In other news, pigs are flying, hell is freezing over and Democrats and Republicans are cooperating for the good of the country.
Two of those things are actually true. The outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration are working together to get Congress to approve the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout, so Obama can hand it out quickly if needed.
But Democrats on Capitol Hill want to attach more conditions to banks that accept federal cash — limits on executive pay, more oversight, and more help for homeowners facing foreclosure.
“My colleagues in the Senate will not provide any additional funds unless they are assured by the Obama administration taht these provisions will be a part of it,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Republicans, meanwhile, question whether the money is needed at all.
Obama is also urging Congress to approve an additional $800 billion economic stimulus package. Should be a stimulating week.
Obama also will discuss trade and the drug war with Mexican President Felipe Calderon today in his first meeting with a foreign leader since his election.
Bush, meanwhile, holds a press conference at 9:15 EST.
President-elect Barack Obama’s pecs were gone from the news Wednesday, replaced by Chicago shenanigans.
Newspapers and television covered the Obama team’s report detailing its contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Blagojevich is charged with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat Obama vacated after his November election victory.
The report cleared Obama and his aides of any misconduct. But it revealed for the first time that the president-elect sat for an interview last week with the U.S. prosecutor investigating Blagojevich. So did two of his aides.
President George W. Bush’s holiday pardons also made the newspapers.
Among those receiving pardons was Charlie Winters, who was imprisoned for 18 months breaking a weapons embargo against Israel by ferrying bombers to the new state in 1948, The New York Times reported.
Winters, an Irish protestant from Boston, is viewed as a hero in Israel. He died in 1984 at the age of 71.
Not on the pardons list: I. Lewis Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of lying and obstructing justice during an investigation into who leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative.
Bush previously commuted Libby’s sentence.
Data out Wednesday showed new jobless claims jumped by 30,000 last week to a 26-year peak. Consumer spending posted a fifth monthly drop. Stock futures were little changed, pointing to a flat opening on Wall Street.
It’s Christmas Eve. Obama continued his holiday in Hawaii and Bush was at Camp David. Congress was in recess.
Not everyone was on holiday though. The folks at NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, were hard at work with their traditional Christmas Eve task – keeping an eye on Santa Claus.
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