December 16th, 2009
04:46 AM ET
7 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: December 16, 2009


The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

For the latest political news:

CNN: Obama weighs creating commission to propose tax hikes, spending cuts
President Obama is seriously considering an executive order to create a bipartisan commission that could weigh sweeping tax increases and spending cuts to try to slash the soaring federal deficit, CNN has learned.

CNNMoney: Raising the debt limit by a 'little'
Last week, there was talk on Capitol Hill of raising the legal limit on how much debt the U.S. Treasury could have on the books by as much as $1.9 trillion. This week, the tune has changed considerably.

Washington Post: U.S. gave up billions in tax money in deal for Citigroup's bailout repayment
The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis.

Bloomberg: Obama Faces ‘Constipagen’ on Global Warming Accord in Denmark
World leaders will arrive in the Danish capital of Copenhagen over the next three days to agree on a pact to fight global warming. There may be nothing to sign.

CNN: Obama: Congress on verge of passing health care reform legislation
President Obama met Tuesday with Senate Democrats and emerged to say Congress was "on the precipice" of passing a sweeping health care reform bill.

CNN: Dean: Time to 'kill the Senate bill'
As 'Code Red Rally' conservatives hit Capitol Hill today in a bid to kill the Democrats' health care reform bill, the same message came from a voice from the other end of the political spectrum: former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

CNN: Lieberman won't rule out run as Republican in 2012
Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat who sits with Democratic caucus, said Tuesday that he would not rule out running for re-election in 2012 as a Republican.

Washington Post: Obama wrote a personal letter to North Korea's Kim Jong Il
President Obama has written a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that was delivered by the administration's special envoy for North Korea during a visit to Pyongyang last week. The existence of the letter has been closely held, with the administration insisting to its partners in disarmament talks with North Korea that it not be publicly discussed.

Los Angeles Times: Immigration overhaul bill unveiled in House
Raising the curtain on a new round of debate over immigration reform, a group of Democratic congressional lawmakers introduced a comprehensive bill Tuesday that, among other provisions, would offer a path to legalization for the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

Wall Street Journal: Congress Travels More, Public Pays
Lawmakers take scores of overseas trips each year to visit military bases, meet foreign officials, attend conferences and see how U.S. funds are spent. Ever since a corruption scandal in 2005 led to restrictions on privately funded travel, legislators have been taking more trips paid for by the government. The cost they reported for such travel abroad was $13 million in 2008, a 70% jump from 2005, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records.

San Francisco Chronicle: Torture suit too hot to be heard, U.S. says
A lawsuit accusing a Bay Area flight-planning company of aiding an alleged CIA program of kidnapping and torturing terror suspects threatens national security and is too sensitive to discuss fully in a public courtroom, an Obama administration attorney argued Tuesday.

Chicago Tribune: Gitmo and Thomson prison become issue for Quinn and Illinois governor race
As Gov. Pat Quinn pushed a deal in Washington to bring terror suspects to a little-used Illinois prison, a bipartisan lineup of contenders for his job accused him Tuesday of bungling the effort and ignoring strong public opposition back home.

CNN: D.C. council votes to legalize same-sex marriage
The Washington City Council voted Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation's capital. The bill was approved overwhelmingly by a vote of 11-2. The bill will be given to Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has expressed his support and vowed to sign the bill.

Salt Lake Tribune: Chaffetz vows to fight D.C. gay marriage
A Utah Republican renewed his pledge Tuesday to prevent the nation's capital from allowing gay couples to marry after the Washington, D.C., Council signed off on such a measure. … Chaffetz sits on a House subcommittee that oversees the district. Congress can revoke D.C. laws within 30 days after they are signed by the mayor.

Politico: More Uninvited Guests
A Georgia couple seeking a White House tour managed to show up at an invitation-only Veterans breakfast last month and shake hands with President Barack Obama.

For the latest national news:

USA Today: Kids' swine flu vaccines recalled due to fading potency
Warning letters went out to thousands of doctors today alerting them that Sanofi Aventis is recalling 800,000 doses of pediatric swine flu vaccine in prefilled syringes because routine tests disclosed that its potency has diminished, officials say. Despite the recall, the vaccine is safe and effective… says Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "

Los Angeles Times: Asian Americans drive Army recruiting boom in L.A.
Asians have traditionally joined the military at the lowest rate among all races, but - lured by job security, college aid and, for some, citizenship - they are signing up in larger numbers. Their enlistments rose 80% in L.A. County.

CNN: Boeing claims 'historic day' with Dreamliner test flight
After more than two years of delays, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner made its maiden flight Tuesday in a three-hour trip that the maker described as a success.

For the latest international news:

BBC News: Burma's Suu Kyi allowed to meet her NLD party leaders
Detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been allowed to meet top officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD). The meeting – the first of its kind this year – gives her the opportunity to pay respects to three ailing party colleagues, the youngest of whom is 85.

CNN: Al Qaeda in Iraq 'shifting its tactics'
The former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, blames al Qaeda for Tuesday's coordinated bomb attacks in Iraq, saying al Qaeda is now targeting the Iraqi government. The bombings - the latest in a series of attacks in Iraq - killed eight people.

The Guardian: US and Russia close in on nuclear treaty
The United States and Russia are close to a breakthrough on a new treaty to cut their arsenals of nuclear weapons and the missiles, submarines and bombers that would be used to launch them, according to officials and analysts. Barack Obama and the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, could sign the agreement to replace the existing strategic arms reduction treaty (Start) – the cornerstone in US-Russian relations for almost two decades – as early as the end of the week.

New York Times: Nuclear Memo in Persian Puzzles Spy Agencies
For many months now, American and European intelligence agencies have been trading theories about a spare, two-page document written in Persian that, if genuine, would strongly suggest that scientists in Iran were planning some of the final experiments needed to perfect an atom bomb. But like so many pieces of evidence in the West’s confrontation with Tehran, the neatly written memorandum, laying out the next steps of a complex scientific process, raises as many questions as it answers.

Jerusalem Post: Israeli officials at risk for civil lawsuits
Four American Jewish groups are urging the US Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision that could lead to Israeli officials being slammed with civil lawsuits in the United States. Coinciding with a British judge's decision to sign an arrest warrant for Kadima leader Tzipi Livni for alleged "war crimes" during Operation Cast Lead, the brief seeks to overturn a Fourth Circuit decision to strip foreign government officials from immunity in American civil lawsuits.

CNN: British Airways defiant as strike threatens Christmas chaos
British Airways is offering to let customers rebook flights at no charge if they are affected by a cabin crew strike announced this week, but the airline is not offering refunds unless flights are actually scrapped, it said Tuesday. The airline also announced Tuesday it is going to court to try to prevent the strike over the busy holiday period by Unite, the union representing flight crews.

New York Times: In 2025, India to Pass China in Population, U.S. Estimates
India will become the world’s most populous country in 2025, surpassing China, where the population will peak one year later because of declining fertility, according to United States Census Bureau projections released Tuesday.

For the latest business news:

CNNMoney: Fed will hike rates – in 2011
Some experts want the Fed to raise rates sooner rather than later, but most think near-zero levels are here for another year.

Investors Business Daily: Santa Arrives Early For Health Insurers
HMO stocks have ticked up over the last several days in the wake of the Senate's latest proposed compromise on health insurance legislation. The big reason, observers say, is that the full-blown public option now appears to be off the table.

Wall Street Journal: Credit Suisse To Pay U.S. $536 Million In Iran Probe
Credit Suisse Group, one of Switzerland's biggest banks, said Tuesday that it expects to pay a $536 million penalty as part of a continuing U.S. investigation into how major Western banks illegally handled funds for Iran.

Wall Street Journal: Tobacco Firms Fear Big Tax Hike In Japan Will Shrink Sales Further
Japan, one of the last bastions of rock-bottom cigarette prices and smoking-friendly policies, is set to announce its biggest-ever tax increase on cigarettes in a move that could have long-lasting ramifications for Japan Tobacco Inc., Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC.

Wall Street Journal: Has Natural Gas's Moment Arrived?
After a decade-long wild ride, North American natural-gas prices seem to be entering a period of stability, which is likely to change the way Americans heat their homes, generate their electricity and maybe even fuel their cars.

In Case You Missed It

From the historic inauguration of President Obama to the anger of health care town hall meetings, a look back at 2009.

CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the supply lines that run from the Pakistan border into Kabul.

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