(CNN) – A top aide to a California Republican gubernatorial candidate called into question a rival candidate's "mental condition" Monday, in what has become an increasingly bitter battle for the GOP nomination.
Mike Murphy, a political adviser to former EBay CEO Meg Whitman, was responding to an accusation by California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who accused Murphy of "intimidation tactics" in an effort to convince him to drop out of the race.
"[A]ll I can say is that I'm starting to worry about Commissioner's mental condition," Murphy said in a statement.
Specifically, the Poizner campaign said that Murphy contacted a senior member of Poizner's political staff to try and convince the commissioner to leave the race and focus on challenging Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2012. The Poizner campaign added that Murphy sent an e-mail after the telephone call suggesting Whitman was willing to spend tens of millions of dollars "'tearing up'" Poizner.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is asking for more than $230 million in the 2011 budget to buy and prepare an idle Illinois prison to house terrorism suspects now detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Justice Department budget for 2011 unveiled Monday calls for about $172 million for the federal government to acquire and renovate the state-owned prison in Thomson, Illinois, and another $66 million to eventually staff and equip it.
The budget requires congressional approval, and several lawmakers in both the House and Senate have vowed to block the funds, potentially preventing the transfer of many of the 192 remaining Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil.
"Even though Americans are facing tremendous economic challenges, the administration has chosen to spend $237 million dollars in taxpayer money to provide free travel, room and board in Thomson, Illinois for some of the most dangerous Guantanamo detainees," said a statement Monday by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is time for the President to focus on the security and economic needs of the American people, rather than on the needs of those dangerous extremists who seek to do us harm."
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama appeared live on the computer screens of Americans across the country Monday, answering questions they had posed.
In an interview distributed on YouTube, the popular Internet video site, Obama lobbied for his job creation and clean energy plans while disputing one questioner's premise that he broke a campaign promise to conduct business in the open.
"People know more about the inner workings of this White House, the meetings we have," than they did under previous administrations, Obama said in response to a question from a man named Warren. "We have followed through on a lot of what we said, so Warren's mistaken in how he characterized it."
At the same time, Obama acknowledged that some later negotiations on health care reform occurred out of the public eye. He said that would change as he works with Congress in "the last five yards before we get to the goal-line."
"No secrets, no surprises," Obama said of the final health care proposals.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama will travel to Indonesia and Australia in the second half of March, the White House announced Monday.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, would visit the two nations to advance U.S. interests in the region.
No specific dates were provided.
Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, which Gibbs noted has the world's largest Muslim population. The trip to Australia will commemorate the 70th anniversary of U.S. relations with the country, Gibbs said.
New York (CNNMoney.com) –They're not calling it Stimulus 2, but the Obama administration wants to extend the life of several Recovery Act provisions by building them into the federal budget.
The president's $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011, unveiled Monday, calls for giving states more money for Medicaid and infrastructure projects, as well as renewing tax breaks for workers, small businesses and municipalities issuing bonds. It also requests additional funding for Obama's educational reform initiative, Race to the Top.
All these were key provisions in the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a massive two-year stimulus program enacted last February. Many of its measures are set to run out this year.
But none of Obama's budget measures will take effect unless Congress incorporates them into legislation. And, at the moment, "stimulus" is not the most popular word on Capitol Hill.
Washington (CNN) – In the president's budget proposal released Monday, the Department of Education would get a 7.5 percent increase in discretionary spending for 2011 under a plan the secretary of education describes as a "cradle to career agenda."
States will have to compete for the vast majority of the new dollars
This is a shift in the way federal education dollars have been allocated in the past.
"We are absolutely philosophically and strategically moving more money – a lot of money – into a competitive basis. And what we want to do is continue to build upon what we've learned through Race to the Top," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Duncan said that "when there are real carrots out there, when you're rewarding excellence, we've seen just tremendous progress around the country."
(CNN) – President Obama's budget plan released Monday lays out legislative priorities destined to become political battles as he navigates his second year in office.
The budget process is difficult by nature since Republicans and Democrats have different spending policies. Democrats generally believe that government should help solve the nation's problems, while Republicans see more government involvement as a problem.
It's also difficult for Obama, who is trying to rein in the deficit and spur job growth at the same time.
Although there will be lots of back-and-forth about the big picture, there will also be intense arguments will on smaller items that affect specific states and districts.
"I'm willing to reduce waste in programs I care about, and I'm asking members of Congress to do the same. I'm asking Republicans and Democrats alike to take a fresh look at programs they've supported in the past to see what's working and what's not, and trim back accordingly," the president said Monday.
Washington (CNN) – After sparring with House Republicans Friday on policy matters, President Obama will appear before a far more friendly audience later this week.
The president on Saturday will headline the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting – an annual gathering of political insiders and grassroots activists who make up the core of the national party, CNN has learned.
"I am honored to announce that President Barack Obama will join us for our Winter Meeting on Saturday morning," DNC Chairman Tim Kaine writes in an email that will be sent to members Monday afternoon. "I know you are as excited as I am to hear from the President about his Administration's plans for the country on jobs, the economy, health reform, energy and the environment and other important issues for 2010 and beyond. I also look forward to hearing President Obama discuss his vision for our party, the importance of the 2010 elections, and the important role we can all play."
The DNC meeting will be held in Washington.
On Saturday, the administration reported that stimulus money funded nearly 600,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009. The figure is based on responses from about 160,000 recipients of stimulus funds. Previously, the White House reported 640,329 jobs were created or saved through September 30. This number was criticized because some recipients might have reported "saving" people who would not have been laid off. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, called the number "misleading and unreliable."
Fact Check: Are White House-reported figures on the number of jobs created under the stimulus plan unreliable?
The CNN Fact Check Desk found that: