(CNN) – As the Senate debates spending measures in President Obama’s stimulus bill, a non-partisan group launched a million-dollar ad campaign Wednesday to urge the new administration to create a task force to tackle rising entitlements costs.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an institution dedicated to fighting wasteful government spending, printed ads in the Washington Post and Roll Call on Wednesday calling the current financial crisis “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“We must also focus on a much larger yet less visible threat: the $56 trillion in liabilities and unfunded retirement and health care obligations (that’s $483,000 per U.S. household), and the dangerous reliance on foreign lenders, that threaten our ship of state,” says the ad.
The group is asking Obama to appoint a bipartisan task force to deal with the current financial crisis and to fix structural problems with the economy overall. Congressional Democrats like Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Republicans like Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia will join the group’s president and CEO David Walker for a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday to talk about the mission and ad campaign.
A spokeswoman for the foundation said the group is planning to spend a minimum of a million dollars on the ad campaign launched Wednesday, which will include an ad in the New York Times this week as well as television spots in the near future.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mayors from across the country descended on the nation's capital Wednesday with a clear message to Washington that their cities were in urgent need of an immediate economic stimulus.
Miami, Florida, Mayor Manny Diaz, president of the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, led the delegation of mayors, whose first meeting of the day was with top White House senior advisers.
Later Wednesday, Diaz and other mayors are scheduled to attend meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and other key congressional leaders.
The U.S. Senate is debating a nearly $900 billion economic stimulus package backed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. Senate Republican leaders are pushing for a bill with more tax cuts and less spending. They also have said they want more emphasis on helping homeowners.
Los Angeles, California, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, told reporters that "it's time to stop the bickering and start the tough negotiating to get this bill out to ensure that the American people in our cities get the relief that they need right now."
(CNN) – The Obama administration's new policies on Guantanamo Bay prison and the treatment of detainees makes it more likely a terrorist attack against the United States will succeed, former Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday.
In an interview with Politico, the former vice president issued a stringent defense of the Bush administration's record on the war on terror, and said he worries the President Obama has already made the country more vulnerable.
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said in the interview published Wednesday.
Cheney also predicted the Obama administration is likely to backtrack on its pledge to end coercive interrogation techniques, since the protection of the United States from terrorists is a "tough, mean, dirty, nasty business.”
"These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek," he said.
The blunt comments come two weeks after President Obama issued executive orders that will close Guantanamo Bay within a year, and shut down secret CIA prisons abroad. Obama also signed an executive order calling on U.S. personnel to follow the Army Field Manual's guidelines when it comes to interrogation.
In the interview, Cheney suggested Obama was irresponsibly adhering to “campaign rhetoric,” and called Guantanamo Bay a “first-class program.”
(CNN) – President Obama will unveil a revamped office of Faith-Based Initiatives Thursday, and a new approach to the controversial program established by former President George Bush.
The office, tasked with steering federal funds to charitable organizations tied to churches and faith-based organizations, will be headed by Josh DuBois – a 26 year-old Pentecostal minister who was in charge of religious outreach for the Obama campaign.
According to a White House official, the basic structure of the office will remain the same as it was under Bush, but Obama is introducing a new component: an advisory council of 25 leaders - secular and religious - who will help inform the Office and provide advice on other policy issues.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. John McCain will cross the Potomac next month to campaign for Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor’s race, making him the latest prominent Republican leader to lend a hand in a campaign certain to draw national attention as the GOP seeks a much-needed victory this November.
McCain’s Senate office confirmed the visit, as did a McDonnell campaign official.
Bobby Jindal, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson all campaigned with or raised money for McDonnell in 2008, nearly a year before election day.
According to McDonnell campaign manger Phil Cox, McCain’s former running mate Sarah Palin has also been offered an invitation to campaign for McDonnell, but nothing has been finalized. However, Cox said Palin staffers “have indicated the governor wants to help.”
Palin launched a political action committee last week called “SarahPAC,” which will allow her to travel around the country stumping for candidates.
McDonnell announced Tuesday he will step down from his attorney general post on February 10 to devote his attention full-time to the governor’s race.
He will face the winner of a three-way Democratic primary race between former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, former House delegate Brian Moran and state senator Creigh Deeds.
(CNN) - The Senate's first attempt to make a change to the economic stimulus package failed Tuesday night, a sign that Republicans do have some power to change how the bill is structured.
The vote was on adding $24 billion in infrastructure spending on things like highways, mass transit and improvements to water and sewer systems. Had the amendment passed, the Senate's version of the economic stimulus package would have topped $900 billion.
The procedural vote that would have allowed the Senate to waive the budget rules and move forward on the amendment failed.
Democrats needed just two more votes to proceed on the amendment. The provision failed, with a vote of 58 in favor and 39 opposed. A three-fifths majority was required on the motion.
The vote was mostly along party lines. Only three senators broke ranks: Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, and Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, voted in favor of it; and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, voted against it.
(CNN) – President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced plans to limit executive pay to companies that accept government bailouts.
Earlier: Obama officials reveal pay limits
Read Obama's full remarks after the jump
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - A Minnesota state representative has introduced a bill that - if passed - would result in the seating of Democrat Al Franken as Minnesota's junior senator, at least temporarily.
State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a Democrat, introduced a bill in the Minnesota legislature Monday that would provisionally seat the winner of the statewide recount in instances where a post-election lawsuit is imminent.
If passed, it would take effect immediately, allowing Franken would be seated in the interim period while the legal battle brought by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman plays out in court.
(CNN) - New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, burdened by a job approval rating of just over 40 percent, is losing ground in his 2009 re-election bid against the leading Republican challenger, a new poll suggests.
According to a Quinnipiac survey of New Jersey registered voters, Republican Chris Christie - a former U.S. attorney who made his name locking up corrupt public officials - now leads Corzine in a hypothetical match-up by a 44 to 38 margin.
That’s a 12-point turnaround from Quinnipiac’s last poll of the race in November, which showed a 42 to 36 lead for the incumbent.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Sen. Tom Daschle's decision to withdraw his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services has observers buzzing about what the loss means to President Obama's health care agenda.
Daschle had been fighting to save his nomination after facing controversy regarding his tax records - filing amended tax returns and paying more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest - and questions over his work in a field that some consider lobbying.
Obama stood by Daschle's side despite the criticism until Tuesday when the former Senate majority leader formally withdrew his bid for HHS secretary. The president said he accepted Daschle's decision with "sadness and regret."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the health care crunch is more important than any one politician.
"I don't think the effort for health care slows down, and I think Daschle and others would agree the effort for health care is greater than any individual," Gibbs said at a press briefing Tuesday.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said finding a new nominee quickly was imperative.
"You have 50 million people with no insurance, and we need to step forward on health care for the American people," Reid said.
So how does the prospect of a sweeping health care overhaul look now that Daschle won't spearhead it?