September 23rd, 2010
04:41 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Thursday, September 23, 2010

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: GOP's 'Pledge to America' lays out a governing agenda
House Republican leaders will unveil a 21-page "Pledge to America" on Thursday that presents a "governing agenda" for what Republicans would do if they win control of Congress in November. CNN obtained a copy of the document Wednesday. The plan focuses primarily on jobs and the economy, with a short reference in the "preamble" to the party's position on social issues.

Politico: White House quickly attacks GOP 'Pledge'
The White House immediately attacked the House Republicans’ election agenda rollout Wednesday evening, claiming the 21-page "Pledge to America" plan will “take America back to the same failed economic policies that caused this recession.” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, writing on the White House blog, said Republicans “doubled down on the same ideas that hurt America’s middle class,” listing tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, tax hikes for the middle class, “cutting rules and oversight” for financial services, health care and oil, all while adding to the deficit.

The Hill: Pelosi and Hoyer split on tax vote before November elections
A split has opened between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) over whether to hold a vote before the midterm elections on extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class. In closed-door leadership meetings this week, Pelosi has pushed for the House to act on the middle-income tax cuts before lawmakers bolt Washington for the campaign trail, while Hoyer wants the House to wait for the Senate to act first, according to Democratic aides.

CNN: Senate vote on tax cuts likely to be delayed, Democratic sources say
With Democrats divided on tax cuts, a Senate vote before the election on extending Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class is looking less likely, multiple Senate Democratic sources tell CNN. These sources all stress that no final decision has been made, and that Senate Democrats could come to a different conclusion after discussing the issue at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

CNN: As Obama looks abroad, risks grow at home
Foreign policy may be the focus of President Barack Obama's address to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, but domestic concerns will continue to remain in the forefront for many White House aides. When Obama steps to the podium in New York, he will seize a unique opportunity to update the American public - and the broader international community - on the administration's overseas priorities, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Wall Street Journal: House Candidates Get Biden's Help
Vice President Joe Biden intends to raise money or rally voters for nearly all of the 60 or so Democrats running in competitive House races, hitting several events each week as part of an aggressive travel schedule heading into the November midterm elections. Many campaigns have kept their distance from the White House, given President Barack Obama's declining popularity. But Mr. Biden draws heavily on his working-class childhood to talk about the impact of the weak economy, making the vice president a good fit in districts where struggling residents are unhappy with the administration.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Chambliss' office says it was source of homosexual slur
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss' office has determined it was indeed the source of a highly publicized homosexual-bashing slur on an Internet site. But in a statement, Chambliss' office said it has not discovered exactly who was behind the slur, and has turned the matter over to the Senate sergeant at arms. The office employs 42 people.

CNN: Liz Cheney: President 'unwilling' to keep nation safe
Liz Cheney blasted President Barack Obama in a statement Wednesday, saying he seems "unwilling to do what it takes" to protect the country from a terrorist attack. Cheney released the statement following a report in the Washington Post that quotes journalist Bob Woodward's new book detailing the Obama administration's deliberations over U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Anchorage Daily News: Tea party returning to Alaska to help Miller
The tea party subset credited with helping to upset the status quo in several races this election year is coming back to Alaska to fulfill a vow to do whatever it takes to beat U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell said Wednesday that the group plans to be in Alaska in about a week and will unveil a new ad campaign in support of Republican Joe Miller.

CNN: Sheheen and Haley attack in new ads
It's an eye for an eye in South Carolina, where the gubernatorial race is heating up. Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen released his second television ad Wednesday, a 31-second spot entitled "Think," which claims his opponent, Nikki Haley, was "handpicked by (former Gov.) Mark Sanford," and accuses her of wanting to "put a tax on our groceries" while being fined for "failing to pay her own taxes." The ad also states that Haley "hid a $40,000 contract that she got because of her connections." The claims in the ad come from people who appear to be voters, rather than Sheheen himself.

Boston Globe: GOP governors take aim at Patrick
The Republican Governors Association will launch an advertising blitz today aimed directly at Governor Deval Patrick, training its fire on the Democratic incumbent after spending much of the spring and summer wounding state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill’s independent bid for the corner office. The estimated $1.8 million ad campaign appears to be modeled on a strategy the association used successfully last year in New Jersey.

CQ Politics: State Waves Add to Democrats’ National Woes
Everyone agrees a political wave will hit on Nov. 2, though Democrats and Republicans disagree on the size of it. Some see a “normal” political wave, while others expect a political tsunami. …Waves seem to work themselves down the ballot, and a national Republican Congressional wave surely is going to be mirrored by strong GOP gains in state legislatures and gubernatorial contests.

New York Times: Recalls Become a Hazard for Mayors
The throw-the-rascals-out mood is so strong these days that some voters are not even waiting until Election Day — they are mounting recall campaigns to oust mayors in the middle of their terms, often as punishment for taking unpopular steps like raising taxes or laying off workers to keep their cities solvent. Daniel Varela Sr., the rookie mayor of Livingston, Calif., learned this the hard way when he was booted from office last month in a landslide recall election. His crime? He had the temerity to push through the small city’s first water-rate increase in more than a decade to try to fix its aging water system, which he said spewed brownish, smelly water from rusty pipes.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news:  www.CNN.com

CNN: Terror threat against America diversifying, security officials say
The terrorism threat against the United States has evolved, with homegrown terrorists and a greater diversity in the scope and methods of attack making it more difficult to prevent them, top security officials told a Senate committee Wednesday." It is diversifying in terms of sources; it is diversifying in terms of tactics," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. "The results of these changing tactics are fewer opportunities to detect and disrupt plots."

New York Times: Insurers Scramble to Comply With Health Rules
The first big wave of new rules under the federal health care law goes into effect on Thursday, leaving many insurers scrambling to get ahead of the changes. Insurers are cutting administrative staff to lower overhead costs, investing in big technology upgrades and training employees to field the expected influx of customer inquiries.

Idaho Statesman: Several Idaho doctors criticize health lawsuit
Some Idaho doctors have criticized Lawrence Wasden, Idaho's attorney general, for pursuing a lawsuit against federal health care reform. "Your attempt to block the requirement to purchase insurance and the expansion of Medicaid threatens to harm our most vulnerable patients in Idaho that cannot afford health insurance or are being denied coverage," wrote nine doctors in the Idaho chapter of Doctors for America. That is a national organization that urges access to quality health care. The group has about 15,000 members nationwide.

CNN: Florida appeals court strikes down gay adoption ban
A Florida appeals court Wednesday struck down a state law barring gay men and lesbians from adoption on the basis of equal protection under law. The Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court ruling that Florida's explicit ban was unconstitutional, noting that the state's adoption law required officials to assess potential adoptive parents in "the best interests of the child."

CNN: Congress to consider military readiness for the internet battlefield
Imagine a battle for U.S. security that never stops. Its skirmishes are fought in milliseconds and its attackers often remain invisible and unknown. That's the national security battlefield lawmakers want to explore Thursday, in a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Army Gen. Keith Alexander will be the star witness as the person in charge of U.S. Cyber Command.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news:  http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: Ahmadinejad blasts Israeli leader in Larry King interview
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with CNN's Larry King Wednesday, calling the Israeli prime minister a "skilled killer" who "should be put on trial for killing women and children." …Ahmadinejad also deflected questions about Iran's nuclear program, saying Iran has "no interest" in a nuclear bomb and that no one is concerned about Iran's intentions other than "the Zionist regime and some American authorities."

CNN: UN panel: Israel broke international laws in deadly flotilla raid
The United Nations' Human Rights Council concluded Wednesday that Israeli forces committed serious violations of international law when they conducted a mid-sea interception of a humanitarian aid flotilla in an incident that left nine people dead. "The fact-finding mission concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces," said the 56-page report.

CNN: DoD: Civilian contractors in Kuwait didn't have proper clearances
A new Defense Department report says many civilian contractors working in Kuwait didn't have proper clearances and could have jeopardized the safety of U.S. military personnel and undermined national security. The Defense Department Inspector General said dozens of contractors worked in sensitive positions without security clearances or the official passes they needed. And some of those people, according to the report, were allowed to remain on the job even after inspectors uncovered the security problems.

CNN: Global insecurity around food security
While nations debate what to do about long-term problems such as climate change and dwindling water supplies, two words send immediate shivers down the spines of government officials across the world: Food security. A series of environmental disasters fueling a wave of food price volatility has given governments, "a much needed wakeup call," said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist for the United Nation's Security of Intergovernmental Group on Grains.

CNN: Typhoon deaths climb to 33 in China, with dozens still missing
The toll from from typhoon Fanapi has climbed to 33 dead and 42 people missing in southern China, state media said Thursday. The typhoon has affected more than 1 million people and forced the evacuations of 78,400 more, China Daily reported.

BUSINESS
For the latest business news:  www.CNNMoney.com

Washington Post: Under piles of paperwork, a foreclosure system in chaos
The nation's overburdened foreclosure system is riddled with faked documents, forged signatures and lenders who take shortcuts reviewing borrower's files, according to court documents and interviews with attorneys, housing advocates and company officials. The problems, which are so widespread that some judges approving the foreclosures ignore them, are coming to light after Ally Financial, the country's fourth-biggest mortgage lender, halted home evictions in 23 states this week.

Wall Street Journal: SEC Blasted on Goldman
The Securities and Exchange Commission's internal watchdog said the timing of a fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. filed by the SEC was "suspicious," suggesting agency officials tried to distract attention from a report criticizing the SEC for failing to detect an alleged Ponzi scheme.

USA Today: Blockbuster plans to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Hundreds of communities may soon lose their local video stores. Blockbuster — the company that helped to turn movie renting into a national pastime — is set to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today, Bloomberg News reports, citing an unnamed person who knows about the plan.

In Case You Missed It

CNN's John King asks whether the president should be concerned about several key resignations within his cabinet.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/09/22/jk.white.house.turnover.cnn

CNN's Anderson Cooper examines allegations that Illinios Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. violated the House gift ban.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/09/23/ac.jesse.jackson.jr.gift.ban.cnn

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