[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/09/art.construction.jpg caption=" Join the conversation on Jack's blog."]
Illegal aliens in this country could wind up winning big from the recently passed economic stimulus package.
USA Today reports that studies by two conservative think tanks show illegal aliens could take 300,000 new construction jobs - or 15 percent of the two million jobs to be created by U.S. taxpayer dollars. The numbers of illegal workers getting jobs could be especially high in states like California.
These reports blame Congress for not forcing employers to certify the status of workers. The House of Representatives had included a provision in its version of the bill that would require employers to use a Homeland Security Program called e-Verify, but the Senate didn't include it, and the provision wasn't in the final bill that went to the president. So much for putting Americans first.
This recession/depression isn't that bad and unemployment is only at 8.1 percent and we've only lost 4.4 million jobs in the last 15 months. What's wrong with giving a few hundred thousand jobs away to people who shouldn't even be in the country in the first place? This is your government at work.
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/09/art.volt0309.gi.jpg caption="Representatives of the Obama administration visited Detroit Monday to test drive the Chevy Volt, pictured here in a file photo."]
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration's top auto advisors were in the Detroit area Monday to meet with officials from General Motors and Chrysler, test drive a new electric car and try to chart a course for the industry's rescue.
March 31 is the stated deadline for the government to decide whether General Motors and Chrysler LLC, which have already received $17.4 billion in loans between them and have asked for up to $21.6 billion more in the coming weeks to help them avoid running out of money, deserve another bailout.
Steven Rattner and Ron Bloom, two former investment bankers brought in to advise the Treasury Department on the best course for saving the automakers, and Diana Farrell and Brian Deese, two members of the National Economic Council, made the visit to Detroit Monday.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/09/art.getty.steele.rnc.logo.jpg caption="Steele's recent interviews have drawn concern from rank-and-file Republicans."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top adviser to Michael Steele said Monday the Republican National Committee chairman may have "made some missteps in a few media appearances" recently - but accused his GOP rivals of "lying in wait, hoping he would stumble, so they could pounce."
"Over the past week, new RNC Chairman Michael Steele has walked through the fire, or more accurately, through a shooting gallery inside the Beltway," said Curt Anderson in a Politico op-ed. "To be clear, some of this was self-inflicted. As the chairman has said, he made some missteps in a few media appearances. Live and learn. ..."
He said Steele's massive overhaul of RNC operations, which included a standard call for mass resignations, was necessary for a party that has "been out-gunned, out-worked and 'out-technologied.'
"The chairman promised to clean house at the RNC if he won. He did, and he did," said Anderson. "This has led to some serious griping inside the Beltway. Many were lying in wait, hoping he would stumble, so they could pounce. He did, and they did."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/02/scotus.school.prayer/art.scotus.exterior.gi.jpg caption="The Supreme Court issued a ruling in a voting rights case Monday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Jumping into the political thicket of voting district boundaries, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled such districts must have a majority of African-American or other minority voters to qualify for federal electoral protection.
The 5-4 decision gives states greater discretion when drawing up so called "crossover" boundaries, and could affect minorities' ability to elect their candidates of choice.
At issue was whether a minority group must constitute 50 percent or more of voters in an election district in order to receive protection from having their voting power reduced when boundaries are redrawn.
The case involves a North Carolina state district where African-American voters were 39 percent of the population. That was less than half, but still numerous enough to potentially elect an African-American candidate with some white support.
The justices rejected calls that states be compelled to consider those scenarios when creating such boundaries, under conflicted interpretations of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act and a provision known as Section 2.
"We decline now to expand the reaches of Section 2 to require, by force of law, the voluntary cooperation our society has achieved," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Only when a geographically compact group of minority voters could form a majority in a single-member district," do Constitutional protections apply, he wrote.
He was supported by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/09/obama.taliban/art.afghanistan.gi.jpg caption="U.S. forces have been engaged in fierce fighting to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan."]
(CNN) - President Obama says the United States is open to reaching out to some moderate voices in the Taliban, but critics say that's not the right approach.
In an interview published in the New York Times this weekend, Obama said some military leaders believe that part of the success in Iraq has come from reaching out to Sunni militants there.
The president said while the situation in Afghanistan is much more complex, there may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I don't want to prejudge the review that's currently taking place. If you talk to Gen. [David] Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of al Qaeda in Iraq," he told the Times.
The Obama administration is reviewing the U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, with hopes of finding a new strategy.
Asked if the United States is winning the war in Afghanistan, Obama said "no."
Given that remark, Gary Berntsen, a former CIA officer who led CIA forces in Afghanistan after 9/11, said Monday that it could be difficult to get members of the Taliban to work with the United States.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/09/art.mstewart0309.yt.jpg caption="Mitch Stewart issued his first organizing update to the president's supporters Monday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Amid criticism from prominent Republicans that the White House is taking on too much and not focusing enough on fixing the nation’s struggling economy, the Democratic National Committee asked the president’s backers Monday to pledge their support for the three broad policy initiatives highlighted in the White House’s 2010 budget outline.
“The budget is a bold blueprint for our country’s future,” Mitch Stewart, the Director of Organizing for America says in a video message to supporters emailed Monday. “It addresses three of the most pressing challenges facing our nation – health care, energy, and education.”
In the video, Stewart announces the “Organizing for America Pledge Project,” an initiative that seeks to identify support for the president’s economic blueprint by asking individuals to complete an online pledge to support “Obama's bold approach for renewing America's economy.”
“We will show in every state and in every Congressional district the hunger for leadership and long range thinking that’s in too short supply here in Washington,” Stewart says in the video.
The online form allows users to complete the pledge, and to state in their own words why they support Obama’s economic blueprint and to forward the form to their online contacts via e-mail.
“By pledging and building support, you will be taking the first steps towards establishing a nationwide grassroots network,” Stewart says in the video. “Neighborhood by neighborhood, standing side-by-side with President Obama as we bring about our agenda for change.”
The $410 billion spending bill before the Senate includes 9,000 earmarks - funding for specific projects inserted into the bill by lawmakers, a longtime Washington practice.
Over the past few weeks, as political controversy rages over earmarks, some members of Congress have stepped forward to defend the process. That group includes Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the appropriations committee, who tells CNN's Bob Costantini that "earmarks are not a dirty word."
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/09/art.nreagan0306.gi.jpg caption="The former first lady said Monday that many people stand to benefit from the answers stem cell research can provide."]
(CNN) - Former first lady Nancy Reagan issued a statement Monday praising the president's change to federal policy on funding embryonic stem cell research.
Read Reagan's statement after the jump.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/19/art.buffett.gi.jpg caption="Buffett said Republicans have an "obligation" to support Obama's economic recovery efforts."]
(CNN) – Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Monday government’s message on its plan to fix America’s faltering economy has so far been “muddled.”
Buffett, who endorsed President Obama’s White House bid, said government officials had not effectively communicated their plans, hampering recovery efforts.
“The message has to be very, very clear as to what government will be doing, and I think we've had, and it's the nature of the political process somewhat, but we've had muddled messages and the American public does not know,” he said. “They feel they don't know what's going on, and their reaction then is to absolutely pull back."
“...You can get fearful in five minutes, but you won't get confident for some time and government is going to play an enormous factor in how fast it comes back,” Buffett said. “And if you are confused and fearful, you don't get over being fearful until you aren't confused. The message has to be very, very clear as to what government will be doing.”
Buffett said America is in an “economic war,” and sharply criticized Congress for adding earmarks to the stimulus bill. He said Republicans have an obligation to stand by the Obama administration to fix the economy, but that Obama and Democrats shouldn’t use this as a chance to address other contentious issues and “to roll Republicans.”
“No finger-pointing, no vengeance, none of that stuff, just look forward,” said Buffett, who added that he supports Obama and thinks “he’s the right guy.”
“I think the minority has, they really do have an obligation to support things that in general are clearly designed to fight the war in a big way… I think that the Republicans have an obligation to regard this as an economic war and to realize you need one leader and in general support of that.”
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/09/obama.stem.cells/art.obama.stem.02.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama signs the executive order on stem cell policy Monday at the White House."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama signed an executive order Monday repealing a Bush-era policy that limited federal tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research.
Obama's move overturns an order signed by President Bush in 2001 that barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at that time.
Obama also signed a presidential memorandum establishing greater independence for federal science policies and programs.
Critics of the Bush administration argued the former president allowed political factors improperly to influence funding decisions for science initiatives as well as to skew official government findings on issues such as global warming.
Obama's action is part of a broader effort to separate science and politics and "restore scientific integrity in governmental decision-making," White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said Sunday.
In a conference call with reporters, Barnes said funding research is also part of the administration's plan to boost the plunging U.S. economy.
"Advances with regard to science and technology help advance our overall national goals around economic growth and job creation," she said, adding, "I think anytime you make an effort to try and separate these pieces of the puzzle, you're missing the entire picture."
Updated 12:11 p.m.