WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama has named a Washington, DC official the federal government’s Chief Information Officer, the White House announced Thursday.
Vivek Kundra joins the new administration after serving two of the president’s political supporters, working for Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty as the capital city’s CIO, and for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as the state’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology.
“Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position,” the president said in a statement. “I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible.”
As the federal government’s CIO, Kundra will direct “the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology spending,” according to the White House, and work closely with the federal government’s Chief Technology Officer to advance the new administration’s technology agenda.
President Obama has yet to name his Chief Technology Officer.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee plans to buy billboard space in West Palm Beach criticizing Rush Limbaugh for opposing President Obama's policies.
The DNC sent an email to supporters Thursday soliciting a "slogan in ten words or less " that will appear on the billboard in Limbaugh's Florida hometown.
"If Republican leaders aren't willing to tell Rush, then we will," DNC Executive Director Jen O'Malley Dillon wrote in the email. "Americans want President Obama to succeed. Our country's future depends on it. Rooting for the President's failure is rooting for our country to fail."
The DNC did not offer any further details, such as when it plans to erect the billboard.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration is hosting a summit Thursday designed to cure a frustrated patient battling a persistent ailment: the United States and its rising health care costs.
The administration's health care summit will focus on reducing and containing costs as well as expanding coverage, one senior administration official said.
Doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical representatives, lawmakers and hospital officials are among the 150 people expected to take part in the gathering, which President Obama sees as a starting point in tackling the overhaul of health care.
"This isn't a luxury; this is a necessity," Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told CNN's "American Morning" on Thursday, explaining that health care reform is a must for the U.S. to get its "economic ship steady."
"Health care costs are exploding. Many people are bringing in less income every month and seeing their premiums go up at the same time. It's affecting the bottom line and businesses. It's also affecting the fiscal well-being of our country," Barnes said.
"So this is something we have to do, because of the tough economic times, and we feel like we've learned lessons from the past that are going to help us get health care reform on the president's desk for his signature this year."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - General Motors Corp. said in a government filing Thursday that its accounting firm has found there is "substantial doubt" about the automaker's ability to survive.
The embattled automaker made the disclosure in a 480-page filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
GM has sustained large and continuing losses, while saying it needs additional federal loans to remain in business. Thursday's statement from the company's auditors presents another hurdle the automaker will have to clear as it makes the case that it deserve additional taxpayer support going forward.
The Obama administration, under the terms of the $13.4 billion in federal loans GM has already requested, must determine that the company's plans make it viable in the long run.
SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) - Officials are expecting a standing-room only audience Thursday for a same-sex marriage hearing at the California Supreme Court. Justices are expected to decide the fate of the state's same-sex marriage ban and the validity of about 18,000 gay and lesbian marriages.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in San Francisco's Castro District Wednesday night to push for the court to reinstate same-sex marriage in California.
On Thursday the court will take on the constitutionality of the controversial Proposition 8, a measure banning same-sex marriage that voters approved in November.
(CNN) - Former first lady Barbara Bush underwent heart surgery Wednesday at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, a hospital spokeswoman told CNN.
Jean Becker, chief of staff for former President George H.W. Bush, said that Barbara Bush, 83, was "fine" following the surgery.
"In fact, she is awake," Becker said.
"We, of course, naively wanted to keep it quiet - Mrs. Bush did," Becker said Wednesday night. "She thought there was too much fuss the last time."
Wednesday's surgery was not related to surgery she had in November for a perforated ulcer.
Her husband is with her in the hospital, where she is expected to remain for seven to 10 days.
"I am very impressed with and grateful to the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at The Methodist Hospital who have helped Barbara," the former president said. "We have every confidence she is in the best hands."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Melody Barnes could be one of the most powerful inside players you've never heard of.
As director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Barnes has a huge role in determining whether the domestic policy initiatives President Obama pledged to carry out will be enacted.
Barnes' job is to make sure the Cabinet and other agencies under the White House's control are putting Obama's policy agenda front and center, from health care and education reform to urban affairs and immigration.
Watch: Barnes on American Morning
From her West Wing office, she spends her days talking to Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress and advocacy groups.
What does a typical day look like?
(CNN) - Iran poses a threat to Europe and Russia, both from Tehran's direct efforts and its support of terrorist groups, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.
The Tehran government is intent on interfering in the Middle East, she told reporters aboard her flight to Brussels from the region.
"There is a great deal of concern about Iran from the entire region," she said. "I heard it over and over and over again in Sharm el Sheikh, in Israel, in Ramallah.
"It is clear Iran intends to interfere in the internal affairs of all these people and try to continue their efforts to fund terrorism - whether it is Hezbollah or Hamas or other proxies."
Clinton repeated President Barack Obama's desire to talk directly with the Iranians, but added that "we want to make sure it's constructive."
She also reiterated what Obama said he had told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a "lengthy letter" - that the proposed U.S. missile defense system in Europe targets Iran and not Russia.
"We've made the point to Russia and will again, and I think they may be beginning to really believe it," Clinton said. "This is not about Russia. We have real potential threats, and obviously Iran is the name we put to them as a kind of stand-in for the range of threats we foresee."
Clinton said the United States hopes Russia will join the missile defense efforts, adding, "we don't look at Russia and see a missile threat."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former White House political adviser Karl Rove and counsel Harriet Miers have agreed to face questions from Congress about allegations of improper political influence in the Justice Department, the House Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday.
Both will give depositions to investigators from the committee, and claims of privilege will be "significantly limited," according to a statement from the committee. Rove and Miers had been resisting congressional subpoenas about the matter, but a federal judge in Washington ruled that the former Bush administration officials had no grounds to invoke executive privilege in the case.
The committee, led by Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, has been investigating claims that Rove and his White House allies fired U.S. attorneys for political reasons and prosecuted officials whom they saw as opponents.
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Two Senate Democrats urged President Obama Wednesday to veto a $410 billion spending bill and said they are going to vote against it, criticizing it for its cost and for including too many personal pet projects.
Democratic strategist James Carville avoided saying Wednesday if he had been in contact with the White House over ongoing efforts to portray talk show host Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the Republican Party.
On the day that the Obama administration begins implementing a new program to fight home foreclosures, a new national poll suggests that most Americans think the plan is unfair to those who pay their mortgages on time.
Barack Obama won the presidency in large measure because he presented himself as a demarcation point. The old politics, he said, was based on "spin," misleading arguments, and an absence of candor. He'd "turn the page" on that style of politics.
President Barack Obama has expanded his National Security Council to seek a range of foreign policy viewpoints beyond the Defense and State departments. He’ll soon find out if bigger is better.