WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama has named one of his economics advisers to the No. 2 post at the Treasury Department and will keep a Bush administration appointee in another top job, the White House announced Monday.
Obama has picked Neal Wolin, an insurance executive who now serves as a White House adviser, as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's deputy, the White House said. He also named Lael Brainard, a global economics specialist at the Brookings Institution, as the department's undersecretary for international affairs, and will keep Stuart Levey as the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
The moves will beef up staff in the Cabinet agency that is handling much of the Obama administration's economic recovery efforts. Monday's announcements are aimed at filling three of the four top posts in the Treasury Department that require Senate confirmation, the White House said.
"I am grateful for the service of these dedicated and talented
individuals and have the highest confidence that, under the leadership of Secretary Geithner, they will serve the American people well as we tackle the challenges ahead of us," Obama said in a written statement.
Levey was the first person to hold the job of undersecretary in charge of disrupting the financial networks behind terrorism, weapons proliferation and drug trafficking. Former President George Bush appointed him to the post after its creation in 2004, and he will not have to face a new confirmation hearing, the White House said.
(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, the Obama administration unveiled a plan to buy toxic assets from banks to unclog jammed credit lines, but critics say it’s a risky move. Will the president’s plan help you acquire money for homes, cars, and small businesses, or will it be a multi-million dollar waste of money? CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian takes a look.
Plus: Is Afghanistan the new Vietnam? Republican Strategist Alex Castellanos and Democratic Strategist Steve McMahon talk about how the war could shape President Obama’s legacy in Monday’s Strategy Session.
Also: The Latin American leader who called President Bush the devil is now calling President Obama “ignorant.” CNN’s Zain Verjee has the story.
Finally: Whose anti-terror policy makes America safer? President Obama takes some heat from former Vice President Dick Cheney on closing Gitmo and the president fires back. Republican Strategist Alex Castellanos and Democratic Strategist Paul Begala “Talk Politics.”
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(CNN) - President Obama's chief economic adviser Monday beat back recent criticism from liberal economist Paul Krugman over the administration's latest bank rescue plan, telling CNN Krugman was too quick to pass judgment.
"Paul's a great economic theorist and I wish he'd waited until the plan had been announced and the steps had been described before he had written his column," said Larry Summers, the director of the White House's National Economic Council.
Writing in the New York Times Monday, Krugman said the latest plan unveiled by the Treasury "fills me with a sense of despair" and "assumes that banks are fundamentally sound and that bankers know what they’re doing."
The plan, fully unveiled Monday morning, proposes taxpayer funds to seed partnerships with private investors that will buy up toxic assets backed by mortgages and other loans. The goal is to buy up at least $500 billion of existing assets and loans, such as subprime mortgages that are now in danger of default.
Speaking on The Situation Room, Summers defended the plan, saying it is not designed to be a cure all for the banking system.
"What Mr. Krugman did today surprisingly was he took an action in one area - strengthening the capital markets - and he said it didn't solve another problem - the issues in the banking system. He's right about that. But it wasn't intended to," Summers said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced over the weekend that she successfully beat breast cancer. Now, she's trying to help other women do the same.
The Florida Democrat announced a new initiative at a press conference on Monday afternoon, called the EARLY Act, which would direct the Centers for Disease Control to develop an educational campaign to teach young women about breast cancer. Specifically, her program would focus on promoting early detection, increasing awareness of which ethnic backgrounds face higher risk and teaching ways to help women lower their chances of developing it.
Wasserman Schultz plans to introduce this legislation on Monday evening.
"I found my cancer early because of knowledge and awareness," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "I knew that I should perform breast self-exams, and I was aware of what my body was supposed to feel like. We need to ensure that every young woman in America can rely on more than luck because their survival depends on it."
Wasserman Schultz revealed over the weekend that she had privately fought breast cancer for over a year and that she was now cancer-free. She decided to have a double mastectomy and have her ovaries removed to prevent a recurrence, but she remained active in office during her treatment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - National Republicans are already stepping up their efforts to help Bob McDonnell take back the Virginia governor's mansion from Democrats this November.
The latest prominent Republican to lend a hand is Arizona Senator John McCain, who will headline a fundraiser for McDonnell - Virginia's former Attorney General - at the home of Republican donor Carter Pate in McLean, Virginia on Wednesday night.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Tennesee Sen. Fred Thompson have all already raised money for McDonnell, who is running as a pragmatic moderate in a state that has grown increasingly purple over the last decade.
The McCain visit will be followed by twin fundraising appearances by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in Bristol and Roanoke on March 30 and in Virginia Beach 31.
With three Democrats scrambling for their party's nomination and drawing considerable media attention, McDonnell has been free to raise money and begin building a campaign organization in advance of the general election.
Republicans may benefit from a historic pattern that demonstrates Virginia's contrarian political streak: The party controlling the White House has not won a governor's race in the commonwealth since 1973.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In Virginia, where this fall's gubernatorial election will likely be seen as a test of the White House's political muscle, Democratic hopeful Brian Moran has become the first candidate of the 2009 cycle to launch an online social network - and it doesn't stray far from President Obama's winning model.
Last year, the Obama campaign's social networking platform - My.BarackObama.com - became an indispensable tool for mobilizing the grassroots supporters that helped propel him to victory.
Moran's new site is called "Organize Virginia," a title that calls to mind "Organizing for America," the Obama perma-campaign apparatus that undertook a nationwide canvass over the weekend to rally support for the president's budget.
The site has a look and feel reminiscent of the Obama online platform, offering supporters tools to organize on their own by starting groups, raising money, blogging and planning events.
The Moran campaign isn't hiding from the obvious comparison.
"Our online organizing tool connects the grassroots and the netroots, just like the Obama campaign," said Moran spokesman Jesse Moran. "We can be the first to do this effectively because, from local leaders to big city mayors, we have the grassroots necessary to support it."
The site, which went live for supporters on Friday, was created by Jerome Armstrong, the pioneering blogger and strategist who once worked for former Virginia governor Mark Warner when the now-Senator was considering a presidential bid in 2007.
Moran is running for his party's nomination against two other Democrats: former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe and state Sen. Creigh Deeds. The winner of the June 9 primary will face off against Republican Bob McDonnell, the commonwealth's former Attorney General.
(CNN) - The Republican National Committee tapped a former Microsoft executive to spearhead the party's efforts to vastly improve its use of technology, RNC chairman Michael Steele announced Monday.
Todd Herman, a former general manager of media strategy for MSN and an Internet radio pioneer, will serve as the RNC's New Media Director beginning next month.
"I am excited to be adding Todd, a recognized thought-leader in digital media, to my team at the RNC," Steele said in a statement. "Todd brings the kind of outside of the beltway, real-world experience to Washington D.C. and to our party that we need as we reclaim the lead in the use of digital media to communicate with America."
The need to improve the party's tech savvy was a major issue in the RNC chairmanship's race last January, following an election cycle in which Republicans were grossly outmatched in implementing online strategies.
Mindy Finn, co-founder Rebuild the Party - a group of conservative activists who have called on the RNC to overhaul its use of technology - said the pick is a step in the right direction.
"I'm pleased to see that the new RNC administration has prioritized new media to a point where the new media director is one of their first handful of hires," Finn told CNN's Abbi Tatton. "That signals an understanding of how times have changed."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday the Treasury Department's plan to rid banks of toxic assets carries "the potential for both risk and reward."
But he said the risk of using public money to buy troubled assets is outweighed by the need to act quickly to get credit flowing again.
"The Treasury Department plan is based on the sound principle that if we are to revive our economy, we must unfreeze the credit markets so people can get the loans they need to keep their small businesses open, buy a car or send their children to college," Reid said in a statement.
"Like any investment, this plan carries the potential for both risk and reward. But above all, we must act – one risk we will not take is standing on the sidelines and doing nothing while a bad situation gets worse."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – It has been well documented about how then-Sen. Barack Obama used the Internet to organize supporters and help raise an historic amount of contributions for his White House run. But few people know that the Illinois Democrat also tapped his vast e-mail list to help gather video footage that was used by the campaign.
Former Obama political aide Chris Royalty said the campaign drilled down into the data collected from supporters to identify people who listed their occupation as "photographer." Once identified, the campaign asked them to shoot footage of fellow supporters holding up signs that read "hope" and "change," and send it to headquarters.
"We knew that if we just posted something on our Web site [asking for footage], there'd be so many thousands to go through that they're be no way to process it," Royalty said last week during a forum at the Center for American Progress.
And it was a success. Some of the footage was included in a video that aired the night Obama was nominated in Denver and again on election night at Chicago's Grant Park.
Related video: Signs of Hope and Change
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have announced plans for their first White House Easter egg roll.
The event will be held Monday, April 13 on the South Lawn. The theme will be "Let's go play," the White House said Monday, and this year's egg roll will encourage young people "to lead healthy and active lives." The ticketed event is open to children aged 10 and younger along with their families, and will also include sports, cooking classes, live musical performances, and storytelling.
For the first time, tickets will be made available online, and will no longer be distributed at the Ellipse near the White House during the weekend prior to April 13. More information is available at www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll.