[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/10/art.schumer.gi.jpg caption=" Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Saturday that ‘It's clear that the Libyan government's love affair with terrorism hasn't ended yet.’"]NEW YORK (CNN) - New York Senator Chuck Schumer appealed to the United Nations Saturday to condemn Libya's joyful welcome home for the Lockerbie bomber.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the man responsible for the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland was granted a "compassionate release" by Scottish officials Thursday after doctors said he was dying from terminal prostate cancer.
Megrahi, 57, boarded a jet in route to his native Libya where he was greeted with a hero's welcome shocking the world.
"If Libya wants to be embraced by the international community, embracing convicted terrorists is not the way to do it," Schumer said. "It's clear that the Libyan government's love affair with terrorism hasn't ended yet."
At a news conference, Schumer said he is asking U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to introduce a resolution denouncing Libya's over zealous heroes welcome and wants an apology.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A former Bush administration official said she thinks former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's recent charges that politics were behind raising the terror level in 2004 were "personally motivated."
In a new book, Ridge says top Bush administration officials may have tried to raise the nation's terror alert for political reasons in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.
In response, Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush and now a CNN contributor, told CNN's "American Morning" that she believes Ridge is trying to profit by separating himself politically from Bush's record.
"You have to wonder if this is not just publicity meant to sell more books," Townsend said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/22/veterans.affairs.bonuses/art.vasign.gi.jpg caption=" Lawmakers want to know why some IT workers in the VA Department have received millions in bonuses."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - While hundreds of thousands of disability claims lay backlogged at the Department of Veterans Affairs, thousands of technology employees at the department received $24 million in bonuses, a new report says.
A report issued by the VA's Office of Inspector General said the department issued millions of dollars in awards over a two-year period in 2007 and 2008.
"The frequent and large dollar amount awards given to employees were unusual and often absurd," the report stated.
The reports also called the payments "not fiscally responsible."
Four high-level employees received about $60,000, $73,000, $58,000, and $59,000, respectively, according to the report, without sufficient justification. Another employee received a $4,500 performance award within the first 90 days of her employment from a manager who said that she did not even remember her.
The annual average award per employee was about $2,500 for both years, according to the report. About 4,700 awards and bonuses were issued in 2007, and about 5,000 in 2008.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/22/obama.health.care/art.obama.health.afp.gi.jpg caption=" President Obama talks about health care reform Thursday in Washington."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Facing a recent erosion of public support for health-care overhaul, President Obama lashed out at his opponents Saturday for spreading "outrageous myths" on the Internet, television, and at town hall forums.
Republican leaders, in turn, said it was Obama who is guilty of playing "fast and loose with the facts."
They repeated their assertion that the president's proposed government-funded public health insurance option would destroy the current private insurance-based system.
"I'm glad that so many are engaged," Obama said in his weekly radio address. But it should "be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are."
Obama emphasized that, contrary to the assertions of many, illegal immigrants will not get health insurance under a reform plan.
"That idea has never even been on the table," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration next week will release a new budget forecast projecting the deficit over the next ten years will reach approximately $9 trillion – a significant jump from the $7 trillion deficit that officials had projected at the beginning of the year.
Obama officials pin most of the blame for the projected deficit spike on the bleak financial picture: The government is not taking in as much tax revenue, while it continues to spend to try and stimulate the economy out of recession.
The new projection is likely to fan the flames of the already-heated health care debate, with Republicans charging the new projections show the President is spending too much money and can not afford a vast health reform bill.
But administration officials are already making the opposite case: that the forecast shows that exploding health care costs need to be reigned in for the budget to be brought into balance.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/21/obama.democrats/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Obama finds himself squeezed by party liberals and Blue Dog Democrats in the debate on health care."](CNN) - As President Obama struggles to regain control of the health care debate, he's finding himself caught in a game of tug of war with members of his own party.
The conservative Blue Dog Democrats don't want a bill with a government-sponsored, public health plan, and liberal Democrats have said they won't pass legislation without one.
Despite strong majorities in both chambers of Congress, Democrats have been unable to reach an agreement on the legislation. And the administration has acknowledged that it will be difficult to pass a bill with bipartisan support.
"The White House needs to take more of a role in trying to broker a deal between the Blue Dogs and party liberals - in bringing them together and trying to figure some compromise," said Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst and editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
"It's like a coach who took a ball, threw it in the middle of the court and said, 'OK, go get it.' And everybody runs there, and they have a huge scrum, and there's not a lot of progress," Rothenberg added.
"I think he needs to be more hands-on. ... Why not start with areas of consensus among all Democrats and then try to move out from there?"