(CNN) – As a leading conservative voice is calling on Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign his post, the RNC is defending the chairman's recent statements that appeared to criticize of the United States' war effort in Afghanistan and suggest the conflict there may be unwinnable.
"The Chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people," RNC Communications Director Dough Heye said.
In a speech at a Republican fundraiser in Connecticut Thursday, a YouTube video shows the RNC chairman declaring of the war in Afghanistan, "This was a war of Obama's choosing."
"This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," he added.
Updated 2:30 p.m. ET with a statement from Michael Steele. Read the statement after the jump.
Washington (CNN) – Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch will oppose the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, he said Friday.
Hatch, the Republican former chairman and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, characterizes Kagan as a "good person" and "brilliant scholar," before saying "I cannot support her appointment to the Supreme Court."
"Qualifications for judicial service include both legal experience and, more importantly, the appropriate judicial philosophy," Hatch says in a statement. "The law must control the judge; the judge must not control the law. I have concluded that, based on evidence rather than blind faith, General Kagan regrettably does not meet this standard and that, therefore, I cannot support her appointment."
(CNN) – As Americans get ready to spend a long weekend marking this country's independence 234 years ago, a new poll suggests more than 1 in 4 Americans don't know which country America declared its independence from.
According to a new survey from Marist College, 26 percent failed to correctly identify Great Britain as the country the United States fought an eight-year war with to gain its independence.
That percentage of Americans includes the 20 percent who were "unsure" and the six percent who thought the U.S. fought a revolution against another country. Among the countries mentioned were France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain, according to the poll.
The poll's internals show younger Americans know least about this country's founding: only 60 percent of 18-29 year-olds could correctly name Great Britain. Men also had a considerable 81-67 percent advantage over women in naming the correct country.
The poll surveyed 1,004 Americans between June 17 and 24. It carries a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The job market and economy need a serious jumpstart, but the stimulus program likely won't be able to do it.
This summer will be the peak of the $787 billion stimulus program in terms of creating jobs and pumping money into the economy. In fact, the Obama administration is calling it the Summer of Recovery because more than 30,000 miles of highways are being improved, more than 2,800 water projects have been started and 120,000 homes will be weatherized.
After that, it will be a downhill slide for stimulus even as the economy is expected to continue sputtering.
(CNN) – Working at the White House includes long days, 7-day work weeks, and a demanding boss who just happens to have his finger on the button.
So what's the going rate to put up with these working conditions?
According to the salary list released by the administration Thursday, 23 White House staffers make $172,000, while two "detailees" – Michael Harsh and Timothy Love – top the list at nearly $180,000. "Detailees" are employees from other government offices who have been assigned to work at the White House for a period of time.
The White House is required to submit an annual salary list to both the U.S. Senate and House.
Most of President Obama's senior aides – including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and adviser David Axelrod make $172,000 a year – the same salary they made last year due to a salary freeze the president implemented shortly after taking office.
However, rank-and-file White House staffers make considerably less, with the average salary is $82,700 a year, while the median employee salary is $66,000. The lowest full time salary is just under $38,000 a year.
Obama himself earns $400,000, double the $200,000 President Clinton earned annually during his eight years in office. The president's pay hike went into effect during the presidency of George W. Bush.
In all, the White House employs 469 staff members for a total payroll of nearly $40 million.
– CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama reacted Friday morning to the June jobs report:
"This morning we received the June employment report. It reflected the planned phase-out of 225-thousand temporary census jobs. But it also showed the sixth straight month of job growth in the private sector. All told, our economy has created nearly 600-thousand private sector jobs this year," he said.
"That's a stark turn around from the first 6 months of last year, when we lost 3.7 million jobs at the height of the recession. Make no mistake, we are headed in the right direction, but as I was reminded on a trip to Racine, Wisconsin earlier this week, we're not headed there fast enough for a lot of Americans. We're not headed there fast enough for me either. The recession dug us a hole of about 8 million jobs deep and we continue to fight headwinds from volatile global markets. So we still have a great deal of work to do to repair the economy and get the American people back to work," Obama added.
Washington (CNN) - The top two Republicans in the House were quick to respond Friday to the June jobs report.
The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time this year, as modest hiring by businesses only partly offset the end of temporary government Census jobs. According to the report, there was a net loss of 125,000 jobs last month, higher than the loss of 100,00 expected by many economists. Businesses hired 83,000 people, a bit weaker than was expected. But the hires were offset by a loss of 225,000 Census positions.
The unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent from 9.7 percent in May. Economists had forecast it would climb to 9.8 percent, but the improvement was due mostly to many discouraged job seekers not bothering to look for work during the month and no longer being counted as in the labor force, not because of any gain in jobs.
Fifteen minutes after the release of the report, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Minority Leader, released a statement criticizing President Barack Obama.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time this year in June, as modest hiring by businesses only partly offset the end of temporary Census jobs.
The Labor Department on Friday reported a net loss of 125,000 jobs overall in the month. That was due primarily to the loss of 225,000 census jobs that had swelled payrolls by 433,000 net jobs in May. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 100,000 jobs in June.
Business hiring rebounded to 83,000 in the latest reading, which was a bit weaker than hoped, from a revised total of 33,000 jobs in May, Besides the loss of census jobs, state and local governments cut 10,000 jobs in the month. That, and the gain of 27,000 non-census jobs by the federal government, lead to the overall loss in jobs.
Washington (CNN) – The House narrowly passed a spending bill late Thursday that includes $37 billion to fund the war in Afghanistan.
Just before the vote, the White House issued a veto threat, warning members of President Barack Obama's party that he would reject the bill if they placed money conditions that would "undermine his ability as commander in chief to conduct military operations in Afghanistan."
The White House also objected to cuts to one of Obama's key education priorities.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Friday will announce new government investments in 66 projects to expand broadband connections in rural and poor areas across the country.
The $795 million in grants and loans funded by the 2009 economic stimulus act will create 5,000 jobs and generate $200 million in associated private investment, according to information provided by the White House.
"In total, tens of millions of Americans and over 685,000 businesses, 900 health care facilities and 2,400 schools in all fifty states stand to benefit from the awards," the White House said.