November 15th, 2010
04:32 AM ET
3 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, November 15, 2010

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

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

CNN: Newly elected House members try to manage expectations
One by one, incoming House freshmen rolled into a downtown hotel here with luggage in tow and spouses by their sides. The bright-eyed incoming House members arriving for orientation all said they're looking forward to pushing the ideas they promised on the campaign trail – from reducing spending to repealing health care – but several also tried to manage expectations about how fast they can achieve their goals. "You can't come in a month or two and solve all the world's problems, but we have to be vigilant and we have to begin that process," said Adam Kinzinger, Republican from Illinois.

CNN: House ethics hearing of New York Rep. Rangel to begin
Longtime Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York will be the subject of the House ethics committee's first trial-like corruption hearing in almost a decade on Monday. Rangel, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since the 1970s, temporarily stepped down as Ways and Means Committee chairman after a slew of ethics allegations. Rangel faces 13 allegations, include failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes and improper use of government mail service and letterhead.

CNN: Priorities for Congress surface
When Congress returns for its lame duck session this week, its members will have to decide which issues to tackle first, and according to one Republican, that will not include a discussion of the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said the priorities should be passing a continuing resolution so the government will continue to run through January and addressing the tax cut extensions. "I don't think there's a lot of appetite to try to jam stuff through," Cornyn said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

Washington Post: Junior Democrats in Senate seek to change the way chamber does business
Senate Democrats are expected to elect the same party veterans as their leaders when they return to work this week, but a new class of junior lawmakers is exerting its influence by challenging the chamber's sacred traditions and the partisan, top-down governing style that has marked the past two years.The young Democrats, many of whom will be on the ballot in 2012, reject the view that the Senate must move at a glacial pace, that only its most senior members get to determine the policy agenda, and that bipartisanship has become the purview of the naive and nostalgic.

Wall Street Journal: Fresh Attack on Fed Move
The Federal Reserve's latest attempt to boost the U.S. economy is coming under fire from Republican economists and politicians, threatening to yank the central bank deeper into partisan politics. A group of prominent Republican-leaning economists, coordinating with Republican lawmakers and political strategists, is launching a campaign this week calling on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to drop his plan to buy $600 billion in additional U.S. Treasury bonds.

Los Angeles Times: Financial reform law offers look at lobbyists' efforts to shape it
Having failed to block financial reform, Wall Street is now focused on the next best thing: ensuring that the law is loosely interpreted and weakly enforced. Lobbyists for banks, hedge funds and other firms have logged hundreds of meetings with federal regulators since the reform bill was signed into law July 21. The lobbyists are often pushing for exemptions to the bill's key provisions, including measures that would limit risky Wall Street trading and shield consumers from excessive bank fees, records and interviews show.

CNN: GOPer calls for big change
A leading Tea Party-backed conservative called on Sunday for a major shakeup to the Republican leadership. Now that the midterm election season is over, South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint suggested it's time to replace Michael Steele as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. "I'm looking for some alternatives right now," DeMint said on "Fox News Sunday." "We need a strong national Republican organization to help organize the energy of the tea parties and the other citizen activism that we are seeing out here right now."

CNN: House GOP freshman leadership race remarkably friendly
When House Republicans created a new leadership position so that the enormous freshman class could be represented, top GOP sources said they expected South Dakota's Krisi Noem would get the slot. But Noem, one of eight newly elected Republican women, now has competition for the elected post from Tim Scott, one of two GOP freshman African-Americans. Still, anyone who may think this is going to be a bitter fight between two fresh faces for a seat at the leadership table should think again.

CNN: Dem has a request for Pelosi
One Democratic representative says he will challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for minority leader in the next Congress if she does not step aside. North Carolina Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler said the Democratic Party needs to be a "big tent," which will not be possible with Pelosi as head of the party. "To be able to put Speaker Pelosi as minority leader is unacceptable for our party, to move our party forward in a moderate direction," Shuler said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "I'm hoping Nancy Pelosi will step aside."

CNN: Pelosi: "cherish the moment"
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi toasted incoming congressional freshmen at a welcome reception Sunday and told them to "cherish the moment" of their arrival on Capitol Hill, an attendee told CNN. Pelosi also invited members to tour her well-appointed offices, said Rep.-elect Karen Bass, D-California. "She welcomed everybody here, gave us a toast, and invited us all to visit her office," Bass said. "She said she actually hadn't visited the speaker's office until she became speaker, so she was welcoming us in from day one."

CNN: Axelrod refuses to discuss tax cut compromise
Given another chance to clarify remarks about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a White House adviser refused to discuss a possible compromise during Congress' lame duck session. But Senior Adviser David Axelrod left the door open for discussion with Republicans on a temporary extension deal. Axelrod said the administration's priority was to renew tax cuts for the middle class, now set to expire at the end of this year. He also said the country could not afford to permanently extend tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 a year.

CNN: Bush says NATO allies let U.S. down in Afghanistan
Former President George W. Bush defended his administration's handling of the war in Afghanistan on Sunday, telling CNN that some NATO allies who contributed troops to the conflict "turned out not to be willing to fight." In an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, Bush strongly refuted criticism that his administration took their "eye off the ball" in Afghanistan when he ordered troops to invade Iraq. He said he ordered American forces to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the assumption that allied forces would help make up the difference in Afghanistan.

Los Angeles Times: George W. Bush's return to spotlight won't last
With appearances on prime-time television and Kanye West's Twitter feed, former President George W. Bush emerged from self-imposed exile last week for a book tour that was both serious and surreal. His defenders relished a chance at redemption for a man who left office with dismal approval ratings. His critics recoiled at reminders of scars. Bush, never a man to mince words, had a message for them all: Don't get used to it. "After selling this book, I'm heading back underground," the 43rd president told NBC's Matt Lauer while promoting his memoir, "Decision Points."

McClatchy DC: Push to opt out of Medicaid alarms Texas health providers
A push from conservative legislators for Texas to opt out of Medicaid is stirring alarm among healthcare providers and nursing homes, which say the potential loss of billions of federal dollars could drastically undercut efforts to provide healthcare for the poor. The opt-out plan has quickly emerged as another high-profile topic for the 2011 Legislature, pushed by Gov. Rick Perry and a number of conservative lawmakers who believe that Texas can provide health coverage to the indigent more efficiently with a state-run plan free of federal mandates.

CNN: Arizona voters approve medical marijuana measure
By a narrow margin of about 4,300 votes, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure that would legalize medical marijuana, state election officials said Sunday. With all precincts reporting, the "yes" votes on Proposition 203 have 50.1 percent of the vote to 49.8 percent of "no" votes, according to unofficial results posted on the Arizona Secretary of State's website. More than 1.6 million votes were cast.

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

Washington Times: Gulf cleanup contractors riled at delay for BP pay
The BP oil-spill cleanup effort in the Gulf of Mexico came with a heavily advertised pledge to do what was necessary to alleviate the disaster, but contractors, subcontractors and local officials in the Louisiana parishes most affected say the company owes hundreds of millions of dollars for work already completed and has not paid some invoices in more than three months. Contractors and subcontractors with BP's "Vessels of Opportunity" program have maxed out their credit lines and, in some cases, have not been able to pay their own employees over the past two weeks, parish presidents say.

New York Times: Private-College Chiefs See Rise in Pay
Thirty presidents of private colleges each earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2008, up from 23 the previous year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual salary report. Over all, though, 78 percent of presidents of private colleges had total compensation packages of less than $600,000 in 2008, and half earned less than $400,000. A year earlier, 82 percent earned less than $600,000, and 58 percent less than $400,000.

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

CNN: Haiti cholera death toll passes 900
The death toll from Haiti's month-old cholera outbreak continues to grow. According to statistics released by the Haitian Ministry of Health Sunday morning, 917 people have died from the bacterial infection, while there have been some 14,642 hospitalizations. More ominous is the spread of cholera through the squalid camps that still house hundreds of thousands of people in the Haitian capital 10 months after a killer earthquake shattered the city.

New York Times: U.S. Plan Offers Path for Ending Combat in Afghanistan
The Obama administration has developed a plan to begin transferring security duties in select areas of Afghanistan to that country’s forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with an eye toward ending the American combat mission there by 2014, officials said Sunday. The phased four-year plan to wind down American and allied fighting in Afghanistan will be presented at a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon later this week, the officials said. It will reflect the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan assembled by civilian and military officials since President Obama took office last year.

Washington Post: Petraeus warns Afghans about Karzai's criticism of U.S. war strategy
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, warned Afghan officials Sunday that President Hamid Karzai's latest public criticism of U.S. strategy threatens to seriously undermine progress in the war and risks making Petraeus's own position "untenable," according to Afghan and U.S. officials. Officials said Petraeus expressed "astonishment and disappointment" with Karzai's call, in a Saturday interview with The Washington Post, to "reduce military operations" and end U.S. Special Operations raids in southern Afghanistan that coalition officials said have killed or captured hundreds of Taliban commanders in recent months.

CNN: 7 NATO troops die after attacks in Afghanistan
Seven NATO troops died after attacks in Afghanistan on Sunday, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said. Five troops died following an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, ISAF said, though it did not provide details about the attack. Another ISAF service member died following an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan, ISAF said Sunday, after earlier announcing the death of another servicemember in an IED attack in the southern part of the country.

CNN: Victory over al Qaeda 'unnecessary,' top British general says
Allied forces in Afghanistan don't have to beat al Qaeda, just contain the terrorist organization, the new chief of Britain's armed forces said in a newspaper interview published Sunday. Gen. David Richards told the Daily Telegraph that a victory over radical Islamist movements like al Qaeda is "unnecessary and would never be achieved." But they could be contained "to the point that our lives and our children's lives are led securely," Richards said. And in an interview with the BBC on Sunday, Richards added, "I don't think you can probably defeat an idea."

CNN: Report: N. Korean defectors reach 20,000 and counting
The number of North Koreans who have defected to South Korea has passed 20,000, the Yonhap news agency said Monday. A 41-year-old woman identified only by the last name Kim arrived in South Korea on Thursday, becoming the 20,000th defector, Yonhap said, citing South Korea's Unification Ministry. The woman fled with her sons, ages 12 and 17, because of economic hardships in the North, Yonhap said.

CNN: 6 dead in Mexico resort explosion
Six people, including one minor, were killed Sunday in a natural gas explosion at a resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, authorities and state media reported. Another 15 or so were injured, according to the local attorney general's office, with the injured including employees of the hotel and tourists from Canada and the United States. The U.S. State Department said two of those injured were Americans.

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

Bloomberg: Dollar Rises to 5-Week High Versus Yen on U.S. Recovery Signs
The dollar rose to a five-week high versus the yen as rising Treasury yields and signs U.S. economic growth is picking up boosted demand for the greenback. The U.S. currency advanced against 15 of its 16 major counterparts before data forecast to show U.S. retail sales and consumer prices rose. The yen weakened as data showing the Asian economic recovery is gaining traction curbed demand for Japan’s currency as a refuge. The euro held onto its biggest weekly loss since August as European finance chiefs prepare to meet tomorrow amid concern Ireland needs a bailout.

In Case You Missed It

George W. Bush talks about the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq with CNN's Candy Crowley.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/11/15/sotu.bush.wmds.long.cnn

CNN's Joe Johns asks Sens. John Cornyn and Mark Warner what items they'd look at to cut the nation's deficit.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/11/14/sotu.debt.panel.cnn

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