WASHINGTON (CNN) - Several dozen mayors from across the country emerged from their meeting with President Barack Obama on Friday with one message - they are determined to get their money.
The mayors met with Obama to discuss the implementation of city-related funding from the $787 billion stimulus package.
"This plan does more to lay a new foundation for our cities' growth and opportunity than anything Washington has done in generations," Obama told them at a White House reception.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration will not support a policy of taxing drivers based on their mileage, the Transportation Department said Friday after a published interview in which Secretary Ray LaHood called it an idea "we should look at."
In a written statement, the department said, "The policy of taxing motorists based on how many miles they have traveled is not and will not be Obama administration policy."
The idea - which involves tracking drivers through global positioning system (GPS) units in their cars - is gaining support in some states as a way of making up for a shortfall in highway funding. Oregon carried out a pilot program and deemed it "successful."
Speaking to The Associated Press, Transportation Secretary LaHood, an Illinois Republican, said, "We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled." The remark was part of a discussion about various options to help make up for the highway funding shortfall on the federal level.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd suggested Friday that some troubled banks might need to be nationalized in the short term.
“I don’t welcome that at all, but I could see how it’s possible it may happen,” Dodd told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt when asked about nationalization. “I’m concerned that we may end up having to do that, at least for a short time.”
Shares in Citigroup and Bank of America fell Friday amidst fears that the two institutions could soon lose their independent status in a government takeover.
Dodd isn’t the first senator to hint at a government takeover of financial institutions. Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said this week that the nationalization option should “remain on the table” if banks fail a "stress test" applied by the Treasury Department.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to the nationalization fears on Friday, assuring the public that the administration “continues to strongly believe that a privately held banking system is the correct way to go, ensuring that they are regulated sufficiently by this government.”
UPDATE: Sen. Charles Schumer, who initially rejected the idea of nationalization, told The Huffington Post Friday that a government takeover of banks could be an option, but only as a last resort.
"It should be the last arrow in the quiver," Schumer said. He distinguished between short-term and long-term takeovers, explaining that an extended takeover would be "bad nationalization" because governments have historically proven to be poor managers of assets in the long run.
But short-term nationalization, he said, would allow the government to wipe out shareholders in "zombie banks" and clean up management before turning the banks back over to the private sector.
(CNN) - America's first family appears to enjoy entertaining –the Obamas hold weekly cocktail receptions at their residence - so it's likely they are looking forward to the first official White House Dinner.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle will welcome governors to the White House Sunday for the 2009 Governors' Dinner, according to a statement released by the White House Thursday. The gala will follow this weekend's gathering of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington.
"The White House is the place where our bond as Americans is strengthened," said White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. "We look forward to welcoming the nation’s governors to celebrate our democratic ideals, our diversity, our shared values and the best of the American spirit."
The black-tie affair will be Rogers' debut social event.
The evening will feature musical performances by the Marine Corps and the 1960's R&B group Earth Wind and Fire, a six time Grammy award-winning band formed in Obama's hometown of Chicago.
(CNN) - It's the one-month anniversary of President Obama's swearing-in, and not surprisingly the Republican National Committee is out with its' verdict: It's been "disappointing."
"Obama's first month has been marked by wasteful spending, failed bipartisanship, and questionable ethics," the RNC said in a document circulated to reporters.
The RNC specifically faults the new president for failing to garner a significant amount of GOP votes for his massive stimulus plan, despite pledges of bipartisanship during the presidential campaign.
Republicans also criticize the stimulus measure for including some money for interest groups, despite the president's earlier view that the bill would be kept clean of excess spending projects.
The lengthy document goes on to criticize Obama for not being more transparent with what is in the stimulus bill and appointing individuals to government agencies who appear to have lobbied in the past.
It didn’t take long at all for Bill Clinton to get in on the act. A month after his wife was sworn in as Secretary of State, the former president is out with some advice on how President Obama should handle his job.
In an interview with ABC News Clinton gives the new president an “A” for his first month in office yet says he should put on a more positive face when talking about the economy. Clinton says he likes the fact that Mr. Obama didn’t come out with a bunch of “happy talk” about the economic crisis. He added, “I just want the American people to know that he’s confident that we are gonna get out of this and he feels good about the long run.”
Here’s the issue: this is exactly what many Obama supporters feared would happen if he brought Hillary Clinton on board as vice president, or in any cabinet position for that matter.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called on Sen. Roland Burris to resign Friday.
"At this time we have a senator who has a cloud over his head," Quinn said at a news conference. "It's time (for Burris) to put the interest of the people of the land of Lincoln ahead of his own and step aside and resign from office."
Earlier: Pressure mounts on Burris
Quinn said he supported a bill introduced in the Illinois legislature that would set up a special election for all future U.S. Senate vacancies.
The bill would allow the governor to set the date of a special Senate primary within 72 days of the vacancy. A general election would follow within six weeks after the primary.
The governor would be empowered to name a temporary replacement until the special election.
Quinn said that, if given the power to name a replacement, he would not name someone with an interest in running in the special election.
UPDATE: An aide to Burris told CNN's Dana Bash he is currently not planning to officially respond, but the aide did tell CNN that the senator has "no plans to resign," and that he intends to "let the process work itself out - in Illinois and in the Senate ethics committee."
This Burris aide said he does not believe the governor called the senator before publicly announcing he should resign.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will send two Cabinet officials to the Gulf Coast next month to assess progress in rebuilding the region that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the White House announced Friday.
The president is also extending the operations of a federal office tasked with overseeing reconstruction efforts along the Gulf Coast. Obama signed an executive order keeping the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding open through Sept. 30, 2009. It was initially scheduled to close at the end of this month.
“The residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who are helping rebuild are heroes who believe in their communities and they are succeeding despite the fact that they have not always received the support they deserve from the Federal government,” Obama said in a statement. “This executive order is a first step of a sustained commitment by my Administration to rebuild now, stronger than ever.”
The office was established by former President Bush in November 2005.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will head to the region on March 5 and 6.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that two out of three Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president of the United States.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, released Friday, also suggests that six in 10 support the economic stimulus package that Obama signed into law Tuesday.
Obama's approval rating stands at 67 percent in the new poll. That's down 9 points from the most recent previous CNN poll, which was conducted in early February. But a breakdown by party suggests that the drop doesn't mean that the new president is in serious trouble.
"Since nearly all of the decline came among Republicans, this doesn't indicate that the honeymoon is already over," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Democrats, Obama's approval went from 96 percent to 92 percent; among Republicans, it dropped from 50 percent in early February to 31 percent now."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama met Friday with 85 mayors from across the country to discuss the implementation of city-related funding from the $787 billion stimulus package.
"You shouldn't have to succeed despite Washington; you should be succeeding with a hand from Washington, and that's what you're getting now," Obama said at a White House reception.
"This plan does more to lay a new foundation for our cities' growth and opportunity than anything Washington has done in generations."
The economic stimulus package sets aside billions of dollars for highway construction, transit improvements, school modernization and community development block grants. Obama promised that the money would not be squandered or lost to graft and corruption.
"What is required in return is unprecedented responsibility and accountability on all our parts," he said.