[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/16/art.romney0716,gi.jpg caption="Romney lays out his plan to fix the economy in an op-ed Thursday.'"]
Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney says that like other presidents, Barack Obama inherited a recession. But the former Massachusetts governor feels unlike his predecessors, Obama has made the recession he inherited worse, not better.
In an op-ed in Wednesday's USA Today, Romney says what he calls the president's inability to "stem" the rise in unemployment should not be a surpise.
"With no experience whatsoever in the world of employment and business formation, he had no compass to guide his path. Instead, he turned over much of his economic recovery agenda to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, themselves nearly as inexperienced in the private sector as he," says Romney.
The op-ed's release comes hours before the president holds a jobs forum at the White House. The nation's unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent, the highest level in 26 years. November's job report will be released Friday.
In the article, Romney, a Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 election and a possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, lays out advice he terms a ten point plan to help reenergize the economy.
See Romney's "10-point plan" after the jump.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/18/art.mhuckabee.0918.gi.jpg caption="Mike Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence when he was governor of Arkansas in 2000."]
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Wednesday he was aware of Maurice Clemmons' long and violent criminal history when he commuted the then-teenager's 108-year prison sentence - but he couldn't have foreseen the deadly consequence of his act.
"You're looking at this nine years later and trying to make something as if I can look in to the future," Huckabee said, before a speech at Jacksonville University.
Related video: Huckabee on clemency decision
"I wish I could have. Good Lord, I wish I had that power. I wish I could have done that. But I don't know how anyone can do it," he said.
Clemmons, 37, was fatally shot Tuesday by police in Seattle, Washington, after a two-day manhunt that began after he allegedly killed four officers at a coffee shop
Huckabee has come under fire because, as governor of Arkansas in 2000, he signed a clemency order for Clemmons. That made Clemmons eligible for parole, which was granted.
The prospective 2012 GOP presidential candidate said he was aware of the long string of crimes that had put Clemmons behind bars, but based his decision on the teenager's age: 16 at the time.
"I read a stack this thick," he said, holding his hands several inches apart. "I looked at the file. Every bit of it. And here was a case where a guy had been given 108 years. Now, if you think a 108-year sentence is an appropriate sentence for a 16-year-old for the crimes he committed, then you should run for governor of Arkansas."
Clemmons served 11 years of his sentence before he was released.
Clemmons moved from Washington to Arkansas as a youngster. There, he had several run-ins with the law, and was eventually handed the hefty prison sentence for a host of charges - including robberies, burglaries, thefts and bringing a gun to school.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The number of first-time filers for unemployment insurance fell last week to a nearly 15-month low, according to a government report released Wednesday.
There were 457,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Nov. 28, down 5,000 from a revised 462,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.
That's the lowest level since the week ended Sept. 6, 2008. The week being reported included the Thanksgiving holiday.
A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected 480,000 new claims for the week.
The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 481,250, down 14,250 from the previous week.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/25/art.getty.obama.2.26.jpg caption="Obama has taken on the role as consoler in chief."]
(CNN) - James Gordon Meek was standing over the gravestone of a friend killed in Iraq when he noticed a familiar figure walking near him.
President Obama was walking through what's called "the saddest acre in America," Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The section is the burial ground for U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama hugged graveside visitors, shook hands and listened to mourners while a "bone-chilling drizzle" fell, Meek says. As he watched Obama, Meek says he saw his commander in chief take on a new role: the consoler in chief.
"He absolutely seemed sincere," Meek says about Obama and his Veterans Day visit to Arlington. "What I sensed is that this was a man who is carrying the full weight of command. He gets it."
Obama must now convince the rest of America that he gets this sacrifice. As Obama announces 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan, he also is preparing to fight another battle on the home front, some say.
Washington (CNN)–The nation's 50,000 airport baggage screeners - upgraded to "federal transportation officers" under the Bush administration - could get another title under the Obama administration: Union members.
But not without a fight.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, is blocking the confirmation of Erroll Southers to head the Transportation Security Administration, saying Southers would permit screeners to seek full union representation, a move DeMint says would weaken the effectiveness of the agency.
Unionizing baggage screeners would make the agency "much less flexible" in making quick changes, such as those made overnight in August of 2006 when the British uncovered a plot to destroy planes using liquid bombs, DeMint said.
Union leaders counter that unionization could improve national security by improving screener morale and working conditions.
DeMint's decision to block Southers' nomination is the most visible sign of a debate that has simmered since the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. When the agency was formed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress specifically prevented its workers from seeking full union representation, saying the agency needed to be nimble to respond to threats.
Later, the government opted to allow screeners to join unions, but without "collective bargaining," limiting its ability to influence changes.
'Reflect, Rejoice, Renew,' is the theme of this year's holiday decorations at the White House. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - Unveiling the White House Christmas tree and holiday decorations Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama explained why she chose this year's theme, "Reflect, Rejoice and Renew."
Related video: Mrs. Obama on holiday giving
"For the Obama family, Christmas and the new year has always been a time to reflect on our many blessings, to rejoice in the pleasure of spending time with our family and our friends, and to renew our commitment to one another and to the causes that we believe in," she said in the Grand Foyer of the White House.
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CNN: Lawmakers question 2011 Afghan exit plan
Conservative and liberal lawmakers Wednesday sharply criticized President Obama's plan to start a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011.
The Hill: Afghanistan war votes lie far ahead for the Speaker of the House
President Barack Obama’s decision to ramp up the war in Afghanistan will put Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) between a rock and a hard place. Someday. Maybe. Confusion reigned Wednesday about when or if Congress will be called upon to vote on the plan to send an additional 30,000 troops.
Cincinnati Enquirer: Gingrich praises, pans Obama
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in Cincinnati for a “town hall” forum on job creation, praised the decision by President Obama to commit an additional 30,000 troops to the war in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Enquirer in his suite at the Netherland Hilton Hotel, Gingrich – whom many Republicans believe may try for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination – said Obama delivered a “pretty courageous speech” Tuesday night.
Anchorage Daily News: Murkowski: "I want to be able to rely on the good judgment of a provider I trust."
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced an amendment today to the health care bill that effectively bans the government from using guidelines from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force to deny coverage.
Chicago Tribune: Illinois lawmakers still at odds over possible federal purchase of prison in Thomson
After a long briefing Wednesday by officials from the Pentagon and federal Bureau of Prisons, members of Congress from Illinois remained divided on a bid to transfer between 50 and 100 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to a mostly unused state prison in Thomson, Ill.
The Hill: Thompson threatens subpoena for crashers after invite declined
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee threatened subpoenas late Wednesday for the couple accused of crashing a White House state dinner. After Michaele and Tareq Salahi declined this evening an invitation to appear before the committee, its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) threatened to compel their testimony.
Albany Times-Union: Same-sex marriage defeated in state Senate
The state Senate rejected a bill to legalize gay marriage in New York, voting 38-24 to defeat the measure. The legislation, which had been halted from coming to the floor of the Senate several times in recent years, received no votes from the 30 members of the Republican conference as well as eight Democrats