WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama intends to add a senior policy adviser for Native American affairs to his White House staff shortly, first lady Michelle Obama revealed Monday.
The first lady made the announcement while speaking to employees at the Interior Department - the latest stop in her ongoing meet-and-greet tour of federal departments and agencies.
"Barack has pledged to honor the unique government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government," she said. The new senior staffer "will be tasked to work with tribes (on) issues such as sovereignty, health care (and) education - all central to the well-being of Native American families and the prosperity of tribes all across this country."
Repeating a theme from her earlier visits to the Education and Housing and Urban Development departments, the first lady also said she wanted to thank to the Interior Department's staffers at the outset of the new administration.
NEW YORK (CNN) - The top enforcement officer of the Securities and Exchange Commission is stepping down, the commission said Monday.
Linda Chatman Thomsen, who came to the SEC in 1995 and took over the
Division of Enforcement 10 years later, plans to return to the private sector.
During Thomsen's four-year tenure, the SEC saw the second- and third-highest number of actions in a single year, including large investigations into Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, the commission said in a news release.
But Thomsen and the entire commission came under sharp criticism for their handling of the Bernard Madoff case. Madoff, 70, faces a charge of securities fraud in connection with an international scheme that has cost some investors their life savings. Madoff estimated that investors lost $50 billion, according to the criminal complaint against him.
Related video: Madoff whistleblower slams SEC
ELKHART, Indiana (CNN) - Seeking to rekindle last year's election magic, President Obama traded the beltway for the heartland Monday, hitting the road to make the case for his controversial $800 billion stimulus package in a part of the country particularly hard hit by the economic downturn.
Addressing a raucous, campaign-style town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama warned that the road to economic recovery would take years, and that a failure to pass an effective stimulus plan quickly could result in an "economic crisis as deep and as dire as the Great Depression."
The downturn could become a "crisis that at some point we may be unable to reverse," Obama told a packed high school gymnasium. "We can't afford to wait."
Elkhart has seen its unemployment rate triple to more than 15 percent over the past year. The city's jobless rate is roughly double the national average; a number of the nation's top recreational vehicle makers are located in Elkhart, and hundreds of workers at those plants have lost their jobs.
Americans are keeping a close eye on President Obama — just three weeks into his administration — but they’re also focusing on the so-called “fourth” branch of government, the media.
A new Gallup poll shows 38% of those surveyed don’t think the press has been tough enough in its coverage of the new president. 11% say “too tough”, while almost half — 48% — say “about right.”
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WHITE HOUSE (CNN) - There was a minor bump on the road - actually a minor bump on the head - as President Barack Obama departed Monday for Elkhart, Indiana to sell his stimulus plan to Americans.
While boarding Marine One on Monday morning, the president turned to wave goodbye and ever so slightly bumped the left side of his head on the doorway to the helicopter. He seemed to recover quickly, then ducked before boarding the helicopter that would take him to Air Force One. Unfortunately for Obama, there were many cameras there to capture the accident.
This isn’t the first time a president’s head has collided with Marine One: President George W. Bush hit his head on the side of the helicopter while boarding shortly after taking office — also in full view of a row of cameras.
Luckily for both men, no visible signs of injury resulted from the minor mishap.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key Democrat Monday called for the formation of a commission to launch a wide-ranging investigation of alleged wrongdoing by the Bush administration's Justice Department.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, called establishment of such a commission a "middle ground" between those who are demanding prosecutions, and those who simply want to put past disputes to rest.
"I don't want to embarrass anybody. I don't want to punish anybody. I just want the truth to come out so this never happens again," Leahy told a student audience at the Georgetown University Law Center.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will introduce President Obama tomorrow at a Florida town hall meeting plugging the stimulus plan.
Crist was one of 19 governors, including four Republicans, to release a joint letter publicly urging Congress to to pass the president’s stimulus package — a move that earned him an appreciative phone call from Obama.
The Florida governor has said he wants to help Obama push for the measure. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate after failing to draw GOP support in the House.
“Florida has taken prudent steps to cut taxes for our people and balance our budget in these increasingly difficult times,” Crist said in a statement released by the White House Monday. “Any attempts at federal stimulus must prioritize job creation and targeted tax relief for small business owners. I am eager to welcome President Obama to the Sunshine State as he continues to work hard to reignite the US economy.”
Tuesday’s event in Fort Myers — the second of Obama’s stimulus town halls — will be held the same day the administration is slated to announce its economic recovery plan.
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – As a new CNN poll Monday showed President Obama far more popular than his stimulus plan, his team told reporters public support for the package was far deeper than surveys might suggest.
“Here’s the point folks: We’ve got a good plan to deal with a deep crisis,” Senior Advisor David Axelrod told reporters on Air Force One, as the president journeyed to Elkhart, Indiana to push for the plan. “The American people support it, and we’re urging everyone in Congress to catch up with the people on this one.”
Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said the media wasn’t accurately reflecting public sentiment on the stimulus.
“I think David [Axelrod] talked to you about where the public is on this, and I think it's illuminating because it may not necessarily be where cable television is on all of this,” Gibbs said.
(CNN) - Newly-elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is convening a "Tech Summit" at the party's headquarters Friday, a signal the GOP's technology deficit during the last election cycle will be among the new chairman's top issues.
The summit will be held this Friday and is open to anyone who wants to participate. Speakers will be given five minutes to present their ideas.
The issue of technology was among the most prominent during the chairmanship's race, after Democrats clearly outpaced the GOP in tech fluency during the 2008 elections.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans approve of the job Barack Obama's doing as President - but the economic stimulus package he's trying to push through Congress is not nearly as popular.
Seventy-six percent of those quesioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday give President Obama a thumbs-up when it comes to the way he's performing his duties, with 23 percent disapproving of the way Obama's handling his job as president.
The poll's release comes the same day President Obama heads out on the road to Elkhart, Indiana, to help promote his plan to jump-start the economy, and holds a prime time news conference from the White House to pitch the plan.
While the President puts on a full court press, the debate over the more than $800 billion bill, which includes increased government spending and tax cuts, appears to have split the public. A slight majority, 54 percent, favor the bill, with 45 percent opposed.