POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, February 14, 2011
February 14th, 2011
04:28 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, February 14, 2011

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

CNNMoney: Obama budget to cut $1.1 trillion in deficits
President Obama on Monday will propose a 2012 federal budget that the White House says will cut deficits by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. The president's request calls for a mix of strategic spending to boost U.S. competitiveness and selective belt-tightening intended as a "down payment" on serious deficit reduction, according to his budget director Jacob Lew, who spoke on CNN's "State of the Union." Full details on the budget will be released on Monday morning. So it's not clear yet where all of the estimated $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction will come from, or exactly how significant a swipe it makes at long-term deficit reduction.

CNNMoney: Obama's budget to target education Pell grants
President Obama's budget Monday will propose cutting $100 billion dollars from the Pell grant program and other higher education programs, but use those savings to ensure that eligible students would be able to receive the current maximum award of $5,500 per school year. Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Sunday on State of the Union with Candy Crowley that the changes would affect two areas of the Pell grant program. The proposal calls for the end to the policy where students could qualify for two grants in one year - one for the regular academic year and a second for summer school. Only one Pell grant per year would be awarded.

CNN: Republicans rail against Obama budget
The chairman of the House Budget Committee said Sunday that if early reports are accurate, President Obama is "abdicating leadership" on the debt crisis by proposing a budget that will continue to raise the national debt. "The president is elected to lead and to face the country's biggest challenges," GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on "Fox News Sunday." "The country's biggest challenge domestically speaking, no doubt about it, is a debt crisis, and I'm really hoping that he is going to give us a budget that tackles this debt crisis."

CNN: Graham: Republicans can beat Obama
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said President Obama is "beatable" in 2012, but that he doesn't see a viable Republican candidate in the field. "I'm looking for the most conservative person who's electable and that person is yet to emerge," Graham said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." When asked about the results of the Saturday's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll, Graham didn't throw his support behind any of the top vote-getters. Republican Texas Rep. Ron Paul won with 30 percent of the vote and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the runner-up with 23 percent.

Los Angeles Times: Boehner credits Obama for handling of Egypt crisis
House Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday he thought the Obama administration handled "a very difficult situation" in Egypt about as well as possible, undercutting potential Republican presidential candidates who have charged that President Obama botched the U.S. response to a popular revolt against a key ally. Boehner, the nation's top Republican elected official, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he thought there was a need for an assessment to determine why the U.S. intelligence community "didn't have a better feel for" the grass-roots movements that felled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks. But he treaded lightly, declining to accuse the spy services of failing. The situation "surprised everyone," he said.

CNN: Pawlenty: Obama has 'incoherent' Egypt message
Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty kept up his criticism of the Obama administration Sunday, calling their response to the crisis in Egypt "nearly incoherent." "Before his administration spoke like a tower of Babel with multiple voices saying multiple things, they should have had one message," Pawlenty said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "Instead you had the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, the national intelligence director going off in different directions saying nearly incoherent, at least inconsistent things." When asked what he would have done in the same situation, the potential 2012 presidential candidate said, "First of all, get your team on the same page, that's lesson number one in a crisis."

CNN: Barbour defends lobbying past
Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said his lobbying background would be an asset for the president of the United States. "I'm a lobbyist and had a career lobbying. The guy who gets elected or the lady who gets elected president of the United States will immediately be lobbying," Barbour on "Fox News Sunday." "That's what presidents do for a living." The former lobbyist for the Washington-based BGR Group, said the winner of the 2012 election will have to influence Congress, allies and adversaries of the United States, the business community and labor unions.

New York Times: States Aim Ax at Health Cost of Retirement
Governors and mayors facing large deficits have set their sights on a relatively new target — the soaring expense of health benefits for millions of retired state and local workers. As they contend with growing budget deficits and higher pension costs, some mayors are complaining that their outlays for retiree health benefits are rising by 20 percent a year — a result of the wave of retirements of baby boomers and longer life expectancies on top of the double-digit rate of health care inflation. The nation’s governors face a daunting $555 billion in unfunded liabilities to finance retiree health coverage. The Pew Center on the States calculated those long-term obligations last year, saying New Jersey had the largest amount, $68.9 billion, with California second, at $62.5 billion.

Newark Star-Ledger: U.S. Sen. Menendez calls for ending $20B loopholes, tax breaks for oil producers
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has a Valentine’s Day message for big oil: The honeymoon is over. Menendez (D-N.J.) announced legislation Sunday he says could end $20 billion in loopholes and tax breaks handed out to the country’s top oil producers. The legislation comes on the heels of a similar proposal in the House and a signal from President Obama that oil companies like Exxon Mobil and BP have targets on their backs. "This just doesn’t make sense for taxpayers in this country and it doesn’t make sense for the environment," Menendez said during an outdoor press conference along Routes 1&9 in Jersey City, not far from the Holland Tunnel. "Valentine’s Day is a segue for saying we’ve had enough of the sweetheart deals."

Roll Call: Flake to Announce Senate Bid Monday
Rep. Jeff Flake (R) is expected to announce Monday morning that he will run for the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a Republican strategist based in Arizona told Roll Call on Sunday. The Senate Minority Whip revealed Thursday that he will not seek re-election to a fourth term in 2012. When Flake was asked about his intentions Thursday, the six-term House Member told Roll Call, “This is Kyl’s day, but we’ll have an announcement soon enough.” He has been expected to jump into the race.

NATIONAL
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CNN: Grammy Awards show teams legends with new stars
Millions of television screens reverted to black and white for a few minutes Sunday night as the 53rd annual Grammy Awards turned off the color for Bruno Mars. It was a section of the show that emphasized the connections current popular music has to the past, on a night with several music legends are teamed with new stars, including Barbra Streisand, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan. Mars sang his hit "Grenade," a performance that echoed back to the 1950s and Sam Cooke, or the 1960s and Otis Redding. Janelle Monae followed with a futuristic soul performance of her song "Cold War," which brought the Staples Center crowd to their feet for a long standing ovation. Rihanna made a triumphant return to the Grammys, two years after she canceled her performance hours after she was beaten by then-boyfriend Chris Brown.

INTERNATIONAL
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CNN: Egypt's military dissolves Parliament, suspends constitution
Egypt's military dissolved the country's Parliament and suspended its constitution Sunday following the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, telling Egyptians it would be in charge for six months or until elections can be held. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said it would appoint a committee to propose changes to the Constitution, which would then be submitted to voters. The council will have the power to issue new laws during the transition period, according to a communique read on state television. Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's ambassador to the United States, said Sunday that the generals have made restoring security and reviving the economy its top priorities.

New York Times: U.S. Postpones Meeting With Pakistan and Afghanistan
The United States this weekend postponed high-level talks to be held in Washington with Pakistan and Afghanistan, a sign of the displeasure with Pakistan over the arrest of an American official accused of murder. The talks scheduled for Feb. 23 and Feb. 24, held annually to discuss the war in Afghanistan, involve foreign ministers and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. United States officials have said that a variety of visits and assistance to Pakistan were in jeopardy if the Pakistani government did not quickly resolve the case of the American, Raymond A. Davis, an official who killed two motorcyclists in Lahore on Jan. 27 while driving his car.

CNN: Palestinian Authority to dismiss Cabinet
The Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is expected to ask for the resignations of his cabinet ministers Monday, said government spokesman Dr. Ghassan Khatib. Khatib said the issue of a cabinet reshuffle was slated for discussion in a specially called meeting Monday morning. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been discussing the possibility of a government shakeup for several months following various allegations of corruption and incompetence in some ministries, according to Palestinian officials.

CNN: Japan: Economy slips to third in world
Japan has slipped to the world's third largest economy, falling behind the blistering speed of China's manufacturing growth, according to Japanese figures released Monday. Japan's cabinet office released its nominal gross domestic product figures for 2010. Japan's economy was valued at US $5.4742 trillion dollars while China was at US $5.8786 trillion. Japan's economy did grow in 2010, but only 3.9%, according to the government. China's is expected to grow more than 10%. At the speed China is growing, Japan's government predicts China will overtake the United States as the world's largest economy in less than 20 years.

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

Bloomberg: Oil Near 10-Week Low as Mubarak Resignation Eases Supply Concern
Oil traded near the lowest in more than 10 weeks after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, reducing concern that civil unrest will disrupt crude shipments from the Middle East. Futures dropped as much as 0.4 percent after Egypt’s ruling army council said it aims to hand power to a democratically elected government within six months following Mubarak’s resignation Feb. 11. The market is well supplied, United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Mohamed Al-Hamli said today. Brent prices gained as North Sea oil-field glitches reduced output. “The market will now focus its thinking away from Egypt,” said Jonathan Barratt, managing director of Commodity Broking Services Pty in Sydney. “It’s back to inventories and the economic numbers this week.”

In Case You Missed It

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