February 26, 2013 |
A majority of Americans think the automatic government spending cuts that are set to begin taking effect Friday will do more harm than good, a new poll indicates, but few say they are paying much attention to the issue, and most do not expect the cuts to have a major impact on their personal finances. The relative lack of attention to the cuts, known as "the sequester," contrasts with the high amount of interest the public showed in the last round of the budget standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans -- the year-end “fiscal cliff.” Four in 10 Americans said in December that they were closely following news about the fiscal cliff, but only one-quarter say that about the current budget fight, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center.
February 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a broad lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the government's program of secret wiretapping of international phone calls and emails, ruling that none of the plaintiffs has “standing” to sue because they cannot prove their messages were intercepted. The 5-4 ruling is the latest of many that has shielded the government's anti-terrorism programs from being challenged in court. Over the past decade, the justices have repeatedly killed or quietly ended lawsuits that sought to expose or contest anti-terrorism programs, including secret surveillance, mass arrests of immigrants from the Mideast and drone strikes that killed American citizens abroad.
February 25, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- House Republicans said President Obama was using the nation's armed forces as a “campaign prop” when he should be working with his party's leaders in the Senate to avoid across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect this week. Notably, House Speaker John A. Boehner and other party leaders were not asking for direct talks with the president, claiming they had already done their part with votes in the previous Congress on an alternative to the so-called sequester cuts.
February 25, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - With Washington stalemated over the coming “sequester,” one Republican lawmaker suggested swapping the steep budget cuts for a rollback of President Obama's regulatory agenda as a way around the impasse. The idea is a new approach, one that shifts away from the Republican-held position that cuts alone can be used to solve the nation's deficit problems. It is a long-shot. “Republicans would be open to a plethora of alternatives,” said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)
February 24, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - With no progress evident in Washington's latest budget battle, the White House opened a new front Sunday by releasing state-by-state estimates on the effects of about $85 billion in spending reductions. The across-the-board cuts are scheduled to take effect Friday, but the two sides appear more eager to pin blame than to avert a potential economic crisis. One of President Obama's top aides acknowledged that a deal was unlikely before the deadline. The sequester, as the cuts are being called, is "going into effect because Republicans are choosing for it to go into effect," senior White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday.
February 24, 2013 |
Tommy Vietor was the first youthful convert to pack his bags, leave home and sign on to the Barack Obama campaign, joining the Chicago operation before his boss, then running for the Senate, had even given the convention speech by which the rest of Democratic America would discover him. He rose from driver of a press van across rural Illinois to fixture of the White House situation room. Now, the 32-year-old is contemplating something new -- a future not working for Obama. Amid the high-level departures and appointments of Obama's second term, a quieter changing of the guard is taking place farther down the food chain.
February 23, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - A White House official made two secret visits to North Korea last year in an unsuccessful effort to improve relations after new ruler Kim Jong Un assumed power, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the trips. The brief visits in April and August were aimed at encouraging the new leadership to moderate its foreign policy after the death of Kim's father, longtime autocrat Kim Jong Il, in December 2011. The ruling elite apparently spurned the outreach effort, however.
February 21, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The lawyers challenging California's Proposition 8 urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to rule that gays and lesbians across the nation deserve an equal right to marry, ratcheting up the pressure on the Obama administration and the justices. Rather than seek a narrow win based on the special situation in California, the legal brief argues that marriage should be available as a constitutional right to all loving and committed couples. "We believe this is a matter of fundamental rights," said Washington attorney Ted Olson shortly after filing his legal brief with the high court.
February 19, 2013 |
The number of homeowners refinancing their loans through a popular federal program that allows underwater homeowners to get new rates surged to more than 2 million in November. In November, almost 130,000 homeowners refinanced their loan through the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which allows underwater borrowers with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans to get lower rates, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Obama administration instituted a streamlined version of the plan last year.
February 17, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The White House scrambled Sunday to keep congressional negotiations over immigration reform on track, reassuring senators it did not leak details of a draft bill being written by the administration. White House aides were caught by surprise when details from a draft of an administration bill were published Saturday, and quickly contacted the eight Republican and Democratic senators who have been working behind the scenes to hammer out a compromise bill. Obama's aides stressed in the phone calls that the president is pleased with the progress in Congress and said the administration had not leaked the details to nudge the process along, according to a White House official who asked not to be named describing private conversations.