March 31st, 2009
08:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Sebelius reveals she owed back taxes

(CNN) — Kathleen Sebelius revealed Tuesday that she recently paid nearly $8,000 in back taxes and interest, becoming the sixth Obama nominee to have tax issues.

In the letter, released Tuesday by the committee and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Kansas governor said she had errors in her 2005, 2006 and 2007 tax returns.

Sebelius said she did not have letters supporting three charitable contributions she and her husband made and deducted, and had "insufficient documentation required to claim some deductions for business expenses."

Also, she and her husband sold their home for an amount less than their outstanding mortgage balance, and mistakenly continued to deduct the interest. The couple also treated a home equity loan the same way.

As a result, they have now paid $7,040 in taxes and $878 in interest.


Filed under: Kathleen Sebelius
March 31st, 2009
07:11 PM ET
14 years ago

Podcast: Americans looking on the bright side

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN=Politics Daily is The Best Political Podcast from The Best Political Team."]
(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily: President Obama makes his European debut as chief executive. How is his performance being perceived abroad and at home? CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider looks at the numbers.

Also: Americans are looking on the bright side. CNN Democratic Strategist Paul Begala and Republican Strategist Ron Christie weigh in on a new poll that shows Americans don't blame the president for their economic woes.

Plus: A new administration, and a new shot at opening doors to Cuba. Could the forbidden island once again be an option for U.S. tourists? CNN's Jim Acosta takes a look at a new effort to end the current travel ban.

Finally: Kathleen Sebelius in the hot seat. The president's second choice pick for the Health Secretary position squared off with senators at her confirmation hearing Tuesday. CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash has the story.

Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.

Filed under: CNN=Politics Daily
March 31st, 2009
07:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Senate Dems move closer to controversial budget procedure

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a sign that Senate Democrats may be close to adopting a special budget procedure to speed passage of President Obama's health care and global warming legislation, a key Democratic senator said Tuesday that he is not ruling out using the controversial method of "reconciliation."

"It could happen," said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, despite his repeated concerns that doing so would damage bipartisan cooperation in the Senate.

The fast-track procedure would prevent Republicans from filibustering the health care and global warming bills which the Finance Committee helps to write.

"Reconciliation is not my first choice. It's not my second choice," Baucus said, but then added, "I'm not flat opposed to it either."


Filed under: Senate
March 31st, 2009
05:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Minnesota court gives Franken good news

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Franken holds a 225 vote lead over Coleman."](CNN) - A Minnesota court Tuesday ordered the review of 400 absentee ballots in that state's still-disputed Senate race, a number that falls far short of the 1,300 absentee ballots Republican Norm Coleman says need to be counted.

The three-judge panel's ruling is a break for Democrat Al Franken, who currently holds a 225 vote lead over Coleman. Given the former SNL comedian's current lead, Coleman needs to capture nearly 80 percent of the 400 absentee ballots to erase his vote deficit.

The panel and officials from the Secretary of State's office will convene Tuesday, April 7 and open the ballots in open court.

Franken lawyer Marc Elias said he was "very pleased" with the order and felt fairly confident they would still remain on top.

Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg said he was "disappointed" with the order and said the court was "wrong." He added they are more than likely to lose at the trial level and will appeal.

"It is pretty much of a long shot with that few ballots being put in play," Ginsberg said of their chances given the pool of only 400 votes that will be considered.

"The math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his legal team at this point."

Filed under: Al Franken • Norm Coleman
March 31st, 2009
05:44 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain: Afghanistan challenge 'not as tough' as Iraq

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Sen. John McCain says he supports President Obama's efforts in Afghanistan."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - While President Obama has insisted that securing Afghanistan against a rise in terrorist groups is a top priority in the war on terrorism, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that the problems in that country are not as thorny as those in Iraq.

"It's [Afghanistan's] not as tough as Iraq, and don't let anyone tell you that it is, because when we started the [2007] surge, Iraq was virtually in a state of collapse," McCain said during a speech at The Foreign Policy Initiative.

President Obama announced a troop increase Friday of 4,000 in Afghanistan, in addition to the 17,000 previously announced. Obama said those troops will help train the Afghan army and police.

While McCain said he supports the president's efforts in Afghanistan, he would increase the Afghan army beyond the planned levels.

Full story

Filed under: John McCain
March 31st, 2009
04:24 PM ET
13 years ago

SEIU puts pressure on Obama, Bank of America CEO

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Bank of American CEO Ken Lewis should be fired, the SEIU says."](CNN) - One of the country's largest labor unions criticized President Obama Tuesday for pushing GM CEO Rick Wagoner to resign, but not handing a pink slip to Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis.

SEIU President Andy Stern, whose union conglomerate endorsed Obama in the Democratic primary, said it "defies logic, common-sense, and responsible governance to punish the auto industry while letting financial institutions off the hook."

"Both Rick Wagoner and Ken Lewis sunk large public companies - putting thousands out of work and toppling the American economy - while accepting billions in taxpayer bailouts. Yet only Wagoner got a pink slip," Stern said in a statement. "Firing GM's CEO is a positive step towards restructuring a broken industry. But the Obama Administration needs to apply the same lesson to the financial sector: replace failed leadership and shepherd the industry into a new era."

The SEIU is also circulating a petition to its two million members calling on the president to ask for Lewis's resignation.

Stern also specifically criticized Lewis for "actively fighting" the Employee Free Choice Act, the pending legislation that would make it easier for employees to unionize.

SEIU spokeswoman Christy Setzer said the organization is specifically targeting Lewis because "more Americans are affected by them than any other financial institution."

Filed under: Uncategorized
March 31st, 2009
04:23 PM ET
12 years ago

Kaine blocks funding for embryonic stem cell research

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Virginia governor Tim Kaine was Obama's choice to lead the DNC."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has signed a bill into law banning the use of some state funds for embryonic stem cell research.

The move puts the DNC chairman at odds with President Obama, who signed an executive order earlier this month reversing the Bush administration's ban on federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells.

Kaine approved the Virginia bill on Monday, according to the governor's office, the same day he enacted legislation that would permit "Choose Life" license plates in the commonwealth - an act that angered state and national abortion rights advocates.

The governor signed another piece of legislation Monday aimed at promoting "science and technology-based" research and development in Virginia. It contains language inserted by the General Assembly that would prevent a state fund from providing dollars to organizations or businesses that undertake "research in Virginia on human cells or tissue derived from induced abortions or from stem cells obtained from human embryos."

Kaine's support for the legislation is not surprising: He is a staunch Catholic who has long opposed using taxpayer money for embryonic stem cell research. But the platform of the Democratic Party, now headed by Kaine at Obama's behest, describes embryonic stem cell research as "research that could save lives."

Both the stem cell bill and the license plate uproar highlight the balancing act Kaine faces in his dual roles of the moment: one as policy-minded governor of a moderate state, and another as a the national face for a partisan organization seeking to promote President Obama agenda. Kaine will assume the DNC position full time when his term expires in January.

Asked for comment about Kaine's departure from the national party line, the DNC referred questions to the governor's office in Richmond.


Filed under: DNC • President Obama • Tim Kaine
March 31st, 2009
03:46 PM ET
14 years ago

Meghan McCain: Is Schock the GOP's Mr. Right?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="In a new blog post, Meghan McCain discusses Rep. Aaron Schock."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - At 27 years old, Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock is the youngest member of Congress. He's also possessed of washboard abs and has, as of late, become a favorite target of celebrity gossip outlet TMZ. And the daughter of the last Republican presidential candidate thinks he might just be the answer to the GOP's troubles.

Related: TMZ focuses on Illinois Republican

"The first time I ever heard of Congressman Aaron Schock, I was hanging out with some friends during a girls' night in, and one of my friends yelled to me from the other room: 'Meghan, there's a congressman on TMZ,'" Meghan McCain writes Tuesday in her latest blog post for the Daily Beast. "To which I answered: 'Twenty bucks he's a Democrat.' Well, I was wrong."

"...At the end of the day, Congressman Schock is only three years older than me. Which means he can relay a message in ways my father never could," she says.


Filed under: Aaron Schock • Meghan McCain • Popular Posts
March 31st, 2009
03:45 PM ET
14 years ago

TX Republican calls for social media-led revolution

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. John Culberson spoke with conservative bloggers about social media Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - One of the pioneers in the use of social media by Congress said Tuesday that the micro-blogging service Twitter might sometimes allow for a little too much transparency.

"Oh, sure, that's always possible," Texas Republican Rep. John Culberson said when asked by CNN whether members of Congress might come to regret thoughts tweeted in the heat of the moment.

"I remember Benjamin Franklin's admonition that... if you're really, really mad, to write it all down and then look at it and think about it and wad it up and throw it in the fireplace and let it burn. And, there's a few twitters that I get - I get really frustrated and angry because I am really concerned. For the first time, I'm really spooked about the financial solvency of America," he said.

While the Texas Republican is aware of the potential pitfalls of social media, he also believes social networking technologies can catalyze political organizing and advocacy.

"This is a horizontal revolution," Culberson said also Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation's weekly gathering of conservative bloggers. "Think of a flock of birds or a school of fish and how they move: absolute synchronization. That's possible using this technology."

Related: Congress wades through tweets

Filed under: Social Networking
March 31st, 2009
03:45 PM ET
12 years ago

Connecticut Republican announces Senate bid

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Dodd may face a tough fight to keep his Senate seat in 2010."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Another Republican has officially jumped into the race to challenge Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd in 2010.

State Sen. Sam Caligiuri is the second Republican to officially announce a bid to run against the embattled Dodd, who has come under fire over his admission that he added a loophole into the stimulus package that allowed AIG and other companies that received bailout money to pay millions of dollars in bonuses to their employees.

"I am running to take us into the future and away from what Washington has come to represent: career politicians in power for so long, and with so little accountability, that they feel they can do – or fail to do – anything they want and still get elected," Caliguiri said in a statement released Tuesday. "Regardless of who my opponent may be, I am committed to changing Washington in ways that career politicians are simply unable to do."

Former Rep. Rob Simmons, a Republican, announced his decision to run for the Senate earlier this month. As of now, Dodd does not have any official Democratic challengers.

Recent polling shows that the incumbent may be in for a tough fight. The latest Quinnipiac University poll released March 10 shows Simmons getting 43 percent of the vote, with Dodd at 42 percent. According to the same poll, Dodd would beat Caliguiri 47 percent to 34 percent.

Filed under: 2010 • Chris Dodd • Senate
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