[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/12/art.bohoops0212.gi.jpg caption="The President predicted that Duke's archrival, North Carolina, will win the NCAA tournament."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski isn't thrilled his team got snubbed by the leader of the free world.
"Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets," Krzyzewski told a reporter from the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Related: Obama's Final Four picks revealed
The president filled out his NCAA bracket for ESPN on Tuesday, and the Blue Devils weren't among his Final 4 picks. Instead, he has Coach K's squad falling to Pittsburgh in the Elite 8.
Obama's pick to win the Big Dance? Duke's archrival, the University of North Carolina.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.boecon0318.gi.jpg caption="The president, joined by his lead economic advisers, spoke with the press about AIG's bonuses from the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told CNN Wednesday that he was responsible for language added to the federal stimulus bill to make sure that already-existing contracts for bonuses at companies receiving federal bailout money were honored.
Dodd acknowledged his role in the change after a Treasury Department official told CNN the administration pushed for the language.
Both Dodd and the official, who asked not to be named, said it was because administration officials were afraid the government would face numerous lawsuits without the new language.
Dodd, a Democrat, told CNN's Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer that Obama administration officials pushed for the language to an amendment designed to limit bonuses and "golden parachutes" at those companies.
"The administration had expressed reservations," Dodd said. "They asked for modifications. The alternative was losing the amendment entirely."
On Tuesday, Dodd denied to CNN that he had anything to do with adding the language, which has been used by officials at bailed-out insurance giant AIG to justify paying millions of dollars in bonuses to executives after receiving federal money.
Updated 6:54 p.m.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/18/aig.bonuses.congress/art.dodd.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Dodd told CNN Wednesday that officials in the Treasury Department asked him to add the bonus loophole to the stimulus bill before it was passed."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told CNN’s Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer Wednesday that he was responsible for adding the bonus loophole into the stimulus package that permitted AIG and other companies that received bailout funds to pay bonuses.
On Tuesday, Dodd denied to CNN that he had anything to do with the adding of that provision.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.getty.obama.3.3.jpg caption="The president first held a prime time press conference in early February."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will hold his second prime time news conference next Tuesday evening at 8 pm ET, the White House announced Wednesday.
The president is expected to use the forum to promote his ambitious budget plan, which has come under fire from Republicans and conservative Democrats for its hefty price tag.
He’s also likely to face questions about the ongoing controversy surrounding bonuses paid out by insurance giant AIG.
CNN and CNN.com will have extensive live coverage of the news conference.
Obama held his first prime time news conference in February amid his push to get his economic recovery package passed.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.cheney.gi.jpg caption=" Bush and Cheney have struck different tones since exiting the White House."](CNN) - Their public positions seemed largely in harmony for eight years, but George Bush and Dick Cheney are striking markedly different tones in their initial months away from the White House.
While the former vice president has been highly critical of the new administration - most recently in an interview with CNN's John King - the president has refrained from disparaging his successor, and is mostly ducking the national spotlight altogether.
Tuesday night, in his first appearance of any kind in more than eight weeks, Bush told a friendly audience in Calgary, Alberta it would not be productive to criticize President Obama right now, saying the new commander-in-chief "deserves my silence."
"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," the former president told the audience, according to the Associated Press.
The president also told the invitation-only crowd a policy of isolationism and anti-free trade is not the path out of the current economic turmoil.
"It's the risk-takers, not the government, that is going to pull us out of this recession," the former president said, according to the Calgary Herald. "My message to policy-makrs is don't substitute government for the marketplace. Don't become protectionist. I'm a free-trader to the core."
But overall, the president's demeanor in front of a friendly crowd was described as jovial.
"This is my maiden voyage," he said in his debut address on the speaking circuit. "I can't think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada."
(CNN) - Former President George W. Bush will make his first domestic post-presidency speech on May 28 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, his spokesman, Rob Saliterman, said Wednesday.
Bush will be speaking to members of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The event will be closed to the media.
Separately, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also will address the economic club on April 30.
Bush delivered remarks in Calgary, Canada, on Tuesday. His spokesman declined to comment on how much Bush was paid, but said the speech was not a fundraiser for the former president's foundation.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.bayh0318.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Bayh is one of the leaders of a new working group of moderate Democrats in the Senate."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A group of 15 Senate Democrats have organized their own working group, the office of Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh announced Wednesday.
"Our group seeks to work collaboratively with the Obama administration and Senate leadership to make sure legislation is crafted in a practical way that will solve people's problems," Bayh said in a statement. "It's going to take all of us working together in the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary to deliver the change the American people deserve."
It's a group with a more conservative bent than the Democratic caucus as a whole. Recently, Bayh and Missouri Sen. McCaskill were critical of earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill, ultimately voting against it. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, has famously broken with the party on foreign policy and on the presidential campaign.
But Sen. Ben Nelson was able to play a key role in bringing on board just enough Republican support to ensure passage of the $787 billion stimulus bill championed by the White House and Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill.
Bayh will lead the group, along with Delaware Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln. The remaining dozen members of the new group are: Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Lieberman, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
Majority Leader Harry Reid - who sounded a frustrated note earlier this month over Bayh's position on the spending bill - said the new group had his support. "[N]ew ventures like this group offer us a new opportunity to get things done, and I support every effort that puts real solutions above political posturing," Reid said in the statement announcing the group.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.getty.steele.rnc.jpg caption=" The Republican National Committee will report raising $5.1 million in the month of February."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican National Committee will report raising $5.1 million in the month of February, nearly matching what the committee raised from donors the previous month, an RNC advisor tells CNN.
The RNC, which will officially report the numbers later this week, has $24 million in the bank and no debt, said Jim Dyke, a senior political advisor to newly minted RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
“Chairman Steele continues to be focused, as he has on day one, in restructuring the RNC so that we have the programs, the staff and the resources to win elections,” Dyke said.
This is the first fundraising period for Steele, who has been sharply criticized by some Republicans during his brief stewardship of the national party. Steele has come under fire for not being focused on staffing up the RNC, and he angered social conservatives on the issue of abortion. Steele also made comments critical of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, leading to a public apology by the chairman.
Over the past week, Steele has named a chief of staff and communications director, and Dyke described the fundraising numbers as “solid” given the current political climate for Republicans.
“It is important to remember that we don’t have the White House and control of Congress, and that certainly puts us in a different situation,” Dyke said. “But again the chairman is going to focus on putting the programs in place to win elections.”
In addition to the more than $5.7 million raised by the RNC in January, Sen. John McCain transferred $7 million to the RNC that month from his failed presidential campaign.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.getty.obama.bball.jpg caption=" March Madness has hit Washington."](CNN) - Most politicians are painfully aware that predictions can be a tricky business - but for one month a year, they throw caution to the wind.
March Madness has hit Washington.
President Obama, an avid basketball enthusiast, unveiled his Final Four picks Tuesday, choosing Louisville, the University of North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Memphis. His picks, which are relatively conservative, include three No. 1 seeds, and No. 2 seed Memphis.
In an interview that aired Wednesday on ESPN, the president filled out his basketball bracket, revealing what team he thinks will be cutting down the net at Ford Field: the Tar Heels, formerly coached by Obama supporter Dean Smith. The team was also his choice last year.
"I'm going with experience, and I think that [Ty] Lawson is going to be healthy. I think having an experienced point guard who can control the game and make free throws at the end, that's going to be the difference," Obama said. The North Carolina player is injured, with a broken toe.
"Now, for the Tar Heels who are watching, I picked you all last year - you let me down. This year, don't embarrass me in front of the nation, all right? I'm counting on you. I still got those sneakers you guys gave me," Obama pep-talked the team.
Andy Katz weighed in on the president's national champ pick on ESPN.com.
"President Obama made his picks as a sports fan, not as a politician," Katz said. "He was knowledgeable about the teams and was even up to date on the latest injuries involving the contenders. He was confident with his picks and delivered an on-camera pep talk for the team he picked to win it all. It was clear that he enjoyed filling out his bracket like the rest of America."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.getty.tim.geithner.jpg caption="As the furor over AIG bonuses rages on Capitol Hill, a Republican congressman is calling for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to 'resign or be fired.' "]WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the furor over AIG bonuses rages on Capitol Hill, a Republican congressman is calling for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to "resign or be fired."
"Well before Timothy Geithner became Secretary of the Treasury, he was working hand-in-hand with AIG and other financial institutions to provide them hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money as one of the key architects of the financial sector bailout," Florida Rep. Connie Mack said in a statement released Wednesday. "I was outspoken against the bailouts then, and I'm even more outraged now."
"I've had serious concerns about Secretary Geithner from the moment he was nominated. In the months since, he has shown us time and again why he was the wrong choice for this critical post. This week's news on the AIG bonus scandal is but the latest fiasco under his watch and he has lost the confidence of the American people."
"Quite simply, the Timothy Geithner experience has been a disaster."
Update: Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also called on Geithner to step down.
"As one of the chief architects of the AIG bailout, Secretary Geithner was in a position to do what any lender of the last resort would do – negotiate concessions from AIG," he said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
"Secretary Geithner either didn't know about the bonuses, and was grossly negligent, or he did know and failed to bring this to the President's attention. Either way, the end result has been a significant waste of taxpayer dollars and he should take immediate responsibility and resign."
Earlier Wednesday, the conservative California congressman called on the White House to send him information before next week revealing "who within the Administration knew what, when" about the AIG bonuses.