[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/08/art.steelelogo0208.gi.jpg caption="RNC chairman Michael Steele responded Sunday to a recent Washington Post report."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said Sunday that payments to his sister’s company by his 2006 Senate campaign were proper.
Steele’s former finance chairman alleged in documents provided to federal prosecutors that Steele arranged for his Senate campaign to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a company owned by his sister, according to a report by the Washington Post published Saturday.
Alan B. Fabian, the former Steele aide, alleged that the company never performed any services for the campaign in exchange for the money and the Post reported that the company was defunct at the time the payment was made.
“It was a legitimate reimbursement of expenses, Steele told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday. “If my sister had not been reimbursed, I and she would have been in violation of McCain-Feingold finance law,” Steele added.
“Those allegations were leveled by a convicted felon who was trying to get a reduced sentence on his conviction,” Steele said of Fabian.
Steele told Stephanopoulos that the payment was made to reimburse his sister’s company at a time when her lawyers were in the process of dissolving the company.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/08/congress.economy/art.sen.shelby.gi.jpg caption="The country will "pay dearly" if it executes the president's stimulus plans, Sen. Richard Shelby says."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leading Republicans warned Sunday that the Obama administration's $800 billion-plus economic stimulus effort will lead to what one called a "financial disaster."
"Everybody on the street in America understands that," said Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. "This is not the right road to go. We'll pay dearly."
Shelby, of Alabama, told CNN's "State of the Union" that the package and efforts to shore up the struggling banking system will put the United States on "a road to financial disaster."
But Lawrence Summers, the head of the administration's National Economic Council, said Republicans have lost their credibility on the issue.
"Those who presided over the last eight years - the eight years that brought us to the point where we inherit trillions of dollars of deficit, an economy that's collapsing more rapidly than at any time in the last 50 years - don't seem to me in a strong position to lecture about the lessons of history," Summers told ABC's "This Week."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/02/07/biden.germany/art.biden.gi.jpg caption="Vice President Biden is in Munich at a security conference."]
(CNN) - A top Russian official Sunday labeled as "very positive" remarks by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on the Obama administration's stance on major nuclear issues and relations with Russia.
Biden spoke Saturday at a security conference in Munich, Germany. In outlining the new American administration's foreign policy, he told delegates that while the United States will remain firm in defending against nuclear threats, Washington aims to work with Moscow.
Relations became tense between Russia and the United States over a proposed U.S. missile-defense shield with components in in eastern Europe.
In his speech, Biden said, "We will continue to develop missile defenses to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven to work and cost-effective."
But he added, "We will do so in consultation with our NATO allies and Russia."
It was Biden's first major speech as vice-president.
Deputy Russian Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who appeared with Biden for photographers before the two met privately Sunday in Munich, said he found Biden's remarks "very positive - restarting the button" on nuclear issues.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/04/art.terryvid0104.yt.jpg caption="McAuliffe is expected to outraise all of his opponents in the Virginia governor's race."](CNN) - Could Terry McAuliffe’s hefty bank account backfire against him in the Virginia’s governor’s race? That’s certainly what one of his Democratic rivals is hoping
At the Democratic Party of Virginia’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Saturday, McAuliffe got an earful from former House member Brian Moran, who implied that the onetime DNC chairman is trying to buy the governor’s mansion by tapping his rolodex of national donors.
“We must decide what our party stands for,” Moran told the audience of activists in Richmond. “Will our party be dominated by big money and those who raise it, or will we be the party of the people?”
Before his remarks, Moran’s campaign played a video outlining his 12 years of experience in state Democratic politics. As the short movie faded to black, the phrase “Money isn’t everything” appeared on the screen, a clear shot at McAuliffe and an indication of how Moran plans to define the primary race.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - This much we know - the Obama administration wants to set aside between $50 billion and $100 billion to address the foreclosure crisis.
But how exactly officials plan to address this bear of a problem remains to be seen.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As many state and local officials clamor for their share of the billions of dollars in federal aid in the stimulus bill under consideration in Washington, South Carolina’s Republican governor is sounding a note of dissent about federal efforts to help the economy.
“A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt,” Gov. Mark Sanford said Sunday, making a reference to the federal deficit spending that will likely finance the federal stimulus package.
“We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy,” Sanford also said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
The South Carolina Republican said such an economy is “what you see in Russia or Venezuela or Zimbabwe or places like that where it matters not how good your product is to the consumer but what your political connection is to those in power.”
“That is quite different than a market-based economy where some rise and some fall but there’s a consequence to making a stupid decision,” Sanford said after pointing to the powers granted to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to help deal with the current economic crisis.
“A lot of people who’ve made some very stupid decisions are being bailed out by the population at large,” he added.
Instead of bailing out failing companies, Sanford told CNN’s John King that the government should let the economy work through the current challenges without intervention.
“We’re going to go through a process of deleveraging,” Sanford said. “And it will be painful. The question is: Do we apply a bunch of different band aids that lengthen and prolong this pain or do we take the band aid off? I believe very strongly: let’s get this thing over with, let’s not drag it on.”
Watch Sen. Shelby debate the merits of the stimulus bill with New York Sen. Charles Schumer on John King's State of the Union.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama still isn’t happy with the stimulus bill even after hours of negotiating by centrist members of his own party in the Senate.
Asked by CNN’s Chief National Correspondent John King whether the version of the bill currently under consideration in the Senate is better than the House version, Shelby said his preference would be to start from scratch.
“It’s close to the House bill,” Shelby said Sunday on State of the Union. “They tweaked it a little bit but the substance is the same.”
“It’s not anything I could support,” Shelby added. “And I would hope – and I’m afraid we won’t – the Republicans would stay together. We could shelf this bill and start again. That’s what we really need to do.”
Shelby, the Ranking Member on the Senate Banking Committee, has also been critical of other efforts by the federal government to help the struggling economy including legislation that would have provided a bailout to the auto industry.
The Senate reached a tentative agreement Friday evening on a compromise version of the stimulus bill that was largely negotiated by a handful of centrist Republicans whose votes are needed to prevent a filibuster.
The Senate is expected to vote on the revised stimulus bill Tuesday.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/08/art.lahood0208.cnn.jpg caption="Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke with CNN's John King about using infrastructure projects to create new jobs."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Sunday that the Obama administration will provide funding for state transportation projects quickly once the stimulus bill is passed. But decisions about which projects to fund will be made “correctly, by the book, with no shortcuts.”
Asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King whether the White House would waive environmental regulations and other requirements that could slow new infrastructure projects, LaHood said the administration would not grant any waivers.
“It would be different if every one of these states didn’t have projects,” the Republican Cabinet member said.
“These states have had a pent-up demand for these projects to get funded . . . they haven’t had the money to do it . . .We don’t need to waive anything. This is going to be done by the book, according to the rules, no shortcuts, no earmarks.”
LaHood also emphasized that there will be no earmarks in the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus bill currently under consideration in the Senate.
“The president has said all through this and set a very high bar – no earmarks. The money has to go to projects that are ready to go in the states.”
“There aren’t going to be any boondoggles. This money will be spent correctly, by the book, with no shortcuts.”
Watch: LaHood on State of the Union
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/08/art.ensignmtp0208.gi.jpg caption="Sen. John Ensign said Sunday that a day and a half wasn't enough time to review the stimulus bill."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican Sen. John Ensign would like a little more time to consider the massive spending bill currently working its way through Congress. But Ensign also said he thought the bill would pass sometime this week.
“We only got the bill at 11 o’clock [Saturday] night,” the Nevada Republican said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
“This is almost a trillion dollars. You don’t get do-overs with a trillion dollars. If you get this thing wrong . . . it isn’t like, well, we did it wrong, we’ll try it again.”
“We want some time to go through it, we want some time for the American people to be able to look at it.”
The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a compromise version of the stimulus bill that resulted from a tentative agreement reached in the chamber on Friday evening.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/30/art.malikiblock1230.gi.jpg caption="Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki tried to block one of the shoes thrown at President Bush in December during Bush's visit to Baghdad."]
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush will be tried in two weeks, a spokesman for Iraq's Higher Judicial Council judge told CNN.
Muntadhar al-Zaidi faces charges of assaulting a foreign head of state on an official visit to Iraq. The trial is scheduled to begin on February 19, the spokesman for Judge Abdul Sattar al-Beeraqdar said.
Al-Zaidi has been detained for nearly two months and his appearance in court will mark the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest.
Al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at Bush in mid-December during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Neither shoe hit the president, and others in the room quickly knocked Al-Zaidi to the ground before security officials arrested him.
By tradition, throwing a shoe is the most insulting act in the Arab world.