WASHINGTON (CNN) - "This country is facing an economic recession probably the single most challenging in any our lifetimes." With that, Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Edward Rendell opened the annual meeting of the National Governors Association Saturday.
Most of the nation's governors are in Washington through Monday for a series of events that include at least two meetings with President Barack Obama.
During an introductory statement, Rendell, who chairs the NGA, touched on the importance of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan signed by President Obama to help states as they cope with the effects of the recession.
"The bill that was passed by both chambers and signed by the President isn't a perfect bill. But it's a bill that is of tremendous help to us," said Rendell.
Programming note: The following governors will appear on "State of the Union with John King" on Sunday: Haley Barbour, R-Mississippi, Deval Patrick, D-Massachusetts, Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California, Brian Schweitzer, D-Montana.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama - in his weekly address aired Saturday - announced that the Treasury Department is starting the process of implementing tax cuts from the $787 billion economic stimulus plan he signed into law Tuesday.
"I’m pleased to announce that this morning, the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks – meaning that by April 1, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month," he said. "Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans."
While Obama touted the stimulus plan, he also cautioned that it’s only "a first step on the road to economic recovery."
"And we cannot fail to complete the journey. That will require stemming the spread of foreclosures and falling home values, and doing all we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, which is exactly what the housing plan I announced last week will help us do," he said.
The president also looked ahead to the White House fiscal responsibility summit Monday, his Tuesday address to Congress and Thursday’s release of the budget, which he said is "sober in its assessments, honest in its accounting, and lays out in detail my strategy for investing in what we need, cutting what we don’t, and restoring fiscal discipline."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be visiting President Barack Obama next month, the White House said on Saturday.
Brown - who will be visiting the White House on March 3 - will be discussing several issues with Obama, including Afghanistan, the global financial crisis, an April economic summit in London, and the 60th anniversary NATO summit.
"The United States and the United Kingdom share a special partnership, and the President looks forward to working closely with the Prime Minister to
address common global challenges," the White House said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Roughly 97% of American households could see tax savings as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to a new analysis by a nonpartisan research group.
The Tax Policy Center crunched the numbers and concluded that the average savings would be $1,179. But how much a household actually gets depends on income, marital status and whether a filer has children. The savings range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
The law, which President Obama signed on Tuesday, contains a range of tax breaks for individuals. Those likely to affect the greatest number of households are the new Making Work Pay credit worth up to $400 ($800 for joint filers); a patch to protect middle- and upper-middle-income families from having to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax; and expansions of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit for low-income families.
There are also breaks that address specific situations: a new credit for first-time home buyers, a sales tax deduction for car buyers and a new credit to help pay for college tuition. For people receiving unemployment benefits, the first $2,400 will be tax free.
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Afghan President Hamid Karzai America's "new strategy" in Afghanistan will focus on reconstructing the war-battered country and maintaining strong counter-terrorism measures, his office said.
Karzai's office passed along a statement with details of a meeting Saturday between Karzai and a Pelosi-led congressional delegation visiting Afghanistan.
Both sides discussed bilateral relations, counter-terrorism strategy, Afghan-U.S. bilateral relations, counter-terrorism strategy, economic improvements, and America's long-term security commitment to the country.
"Ms. Pelosi during the meeting said that the process of democracy in Afghanistan was on the right track and she assured President Karzai that the new American strategy for Afghanistan, which also has the views of the Afghan government included, will consider every necessary measure for a better coordination of the counter-terrorism effort in the region and have achievable goals.
"Ms. Pelosi also reaffirmed her country's continued commitment to the reconstruction process in Afghanistan and said that the new strategy would concentrate on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan as well."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration told a federal court late Friday it will maintain the Bush administration's position that battlefield detainees held without charges by the United States in Afghanistan are not entitled to constitutional rights to challenge their detention.
"Having considered the matter, the government adheres to its previously articulated position," said a Justice Department document filed in federal court in Washington.
In a controversial 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court last year ruled that detainees held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay had a right under the constitution to challenge their continued detention. However, the court did not say whether it applied to prisoners in other locations abroad, including Afghanistan.
Five prisoners held at Bagram Air Base, backed by human rights groups, have gone to court to claim the same rights as the men detained in Guantanamo Bay.
The new administration, which was given a month by a federal judge to declare whether the government wants to change its position, has now indicated it will continue to argue that it is against its security interests to release enemy combatants in a war zone.