POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
April 19th, 2011
04:12 AM ET
12 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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

For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: President Obama hits the road to spread his economic message
President Barack Obama takes his deficit reduction proposal on the road this week with town hall-style events in three states that are important to his re-election bid in 2012. Obama heads to northern Virginia on Tuesday; Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday; and Reno, Nevada, on Thursday to take questions on the economy and his plan, unveiled last week, that would end Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthy and cut spending.

CNNMoney: The Obamas: A two-thirds pay cut in 2010
President Obama and the first family earned about two-thirds less in 2010 than the year before, and donated about 14% of their income to charity. The Obama family, in tax returns released Monday by the White House, reported an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096, down from about $5.5 million in 2009. The Obamas reported paying $453,770 in federal taxes. They donated $245,075, or 14% of their income, to 36 different charities. Fisher House Foundation, a charity that works with veterans, took home the biggest single donation. The president earns a salary of $400,000 for his day job. His paycheck was much higher because his books - "Dreams From My Father," "The Audacity of Hope" and "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters" - continued to register strong sales. But those sales were not nearly as strong as they were the year before.

USA Today: Boehner's House is on a roll-call roll
Under Speaker John Boehner, the House of Representatives has taken 277 roll-call votes this year — the fastest pace of any House since Newt Gingrich was first elected speaker in 1995. The Senate has had fewer votes, 68, than any time since 1997. So with Congress divided between a Republican House and Democratic Senate, the volume of votes hasn’t translated into a litany of laws. In the first three months, the Republican-dominated House passed 24 bills, and the Senate 11. Each is the fewest in more than a decade.

Roll Call: Boehner Leads House in Fundraising With $2.4M
Retaking control of the House paid off for Republicans during the first quarter as most Members’ campaign fundraising soared over their Democratic counterparts. House Republican Members outraised Democrats by nearly $18 million during the first three months of 2011, according to a CQ MoneyLine study of campaign finance reports. Part of this disparity was to be expected because GOP Members outnumber Democrats by more than 40 seats, including delegates. But even setting those seats aside, Republicans collected an average of $52,000 more per House Member than Democrats. Leading the way was Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) with more than $2.4 million in receipts during the first three months of 2011, the most of any Member.

CNN: Boehner hires top lawyer for fight over marriage law, sources say
House Republicans have hired a prominent conservative attorney to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a pending lawsuit, legal sources say, and will make an effort to divert money from the Justice Department to fund its high-profile fight. House Speaker John Boehner disclosed the legal and political strategy in a letter Monday to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Obama administration, which normally would defend federal laws in judicial disputes, announced last month it believed the Defense of Marriage Act, often referred to as DOMA, to be unconstitutional. The law defines marriage for federal purposes as unions only between a man and woman. Boehner said that with the Justice Department not participating, he had "no choice" but to act unilaterally.

CNN: 'Birther bill' vetoed by Arizona governor
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Monday that would have required President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they were American citizens, born in the United States, before their names could have been placed on the state ballot. The so-called "birther bill" got final approval in the state House last week. Now that Brewer, a Republican, has vetoed it, the bill will not become law unless legislators vote to override her veto. "As a former Secretary of State, I do not support designating one person as a gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically-motivated decisions," the governor wrote in a letter addressed to the Arizona House speaker.

CNN: Bachmann meets with Haley at South Carolina Tea Party rally
Minutes before appearing at a Tea Party rally on the steps of the South Carolina state house, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann had a closed-door introductory meeting with Gov. Nikki Haley, who plans to offer one of the most sought-after endorsements of the presidential primary season. Both women spoke to reporters after the rally, which drew roughly 300 sign-waving Tea Party activists to the state capitol complex in Columbia. Bachmann, who has spent the last three days in the critical early primary state meeting with pastors, elected officials and grassroots leaders, heaped praise on Haley, calling her "engaging and very intelligent and a proven leader for the state of South Carolina."

CNN: Barbour received back surgery
Republican Mississippi Gov. and potential 2012 candidate Haley Barbour had surgery on his lower back Monday morning. The minimally invasive, out-patient surgery at the River Oaks Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi addressed an issue "commonly encountered in active individuals and former athletes," according to a press release from Barbour's office. Dr. Jack Moriarity who performed the surgery said the procedure relieved pressure on his back nerves that caused discomfort.

For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

CNN: Watching movie on duty gets two air traffic officials suspended
The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday announced the suspension of a Cleveland air traffic controller and a front line manager after the controller was discovered watching a movie on a portable DVD player while on the job. The announcement coincides with the Monday launch in Atlanta of a nationwide tour by top FAA officials and union representatives, to discuss professionalism and safety at air traffic control centers. It also comes after the agency suspended a Miami controller on Saturday for falling asleep while directing air traffic.

CNN: He lost his job, but probe finds McChrystal, aides did nothing wrong
Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job when Rolling Stone magazine ran an article in which some of his aides made disparaging remarks about the vice president and others. But a newly released investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general finds neither McChrystal nor any of his aides did anything wrong. In the article called "The Runaway General" reporter Michael Hastings wrote that one of McChrystal's aides referred to Vice President Joseph Biden as "Bite Me" and another referred to then-national security adviser Gen. James Jones as a "clown." After interviewing 15 people, the inspector general's office completed its report on April 8. It was made public Monday after a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times. Neither McChrystal, who cooperated with an earlier Army investigation, nor Hastings were interviewed for the inspector general's report.

For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: U.S. defends role in Libya
U.S officials defended America's role in the NATO-led mission in Libya Monday, amid criticism that Washington is not doing enough as the coalition struggles. White House spokesman Jay Carney downplayed reports that NATO is running out of munitions to fight the war. Carney told reporters that "a dramatic increase" in NATO sorties Sunday and Monday "demonstrates the capacity of NATO to fulfill its mission" in securing a no-fly zone over Libya. "We have no plans to change our posture," he said.

CNN: U.S. denies support for Syrian opposition tantamount to regime change
The State Department denies it is seeking to undermine the regime of Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad, despite the revelation in diplomatic cables unveiled by WikiLeaks that it is financing groups seeking to overthrow him. The cables, first reported by the Washington Post, reveal the State Department disbursed at least $6 million for anti-government programs inside Syria, with the money going to a group of Syrian exiles, living in London, called the Movement for Justice and Development. It has also supported the reformist satellite channel Barada TV.

For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Hurries to Sell GM Stake
The U.S. government plans to sell a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer despite the disappointing performance of the auto maker's stock, people familiar with the matter said. A sale within the next several months would almost certainly mean U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $50 billion rescue of the Detroit auto maker in 2009. To break even, the U.S. Treasury would need to sell its remaining stake—about 500 million shares—at $53 apiece. GM closed off 27 cents a share at $29.97 in 4 p.m. trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, hitting a new low since its $33-a-share November initial public offering. "Planning for the sale of our remaining GM stock is still at an early stage, and the IPO lock-up does not expire until late May," a Treasury spokesperson said. "At that point, we will consider all of our options, based on our twin goals of protecting taxpayers' interests and exiting as soon as practicable."

Wall Street Journal: Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad
U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, have been hiring abroad while cutting back at home, sharpening the debate over globalization's effect on the U.S. economy. The companies cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show. That's a big switch from the 1990s, when they added jobs everywhere: 4.4 million in the U.S. and 2.7 million abroad. In all, U.S. multinationals employed 21.1 million people at home in 2009 and 10.3 million elsewhere, including increasing numbers of higher-skilled foreign workers.

Financial Times: Negative outlook may be blessing
A long-term negative outlook for US sovereign debt may actually be a blessing for Treasury bonds and the dollar if it compels budget discipline. Many on Wall Street saw the move by Standard & Poor’s as a “shot across the bow” of wrangling politicians in Washington, pressing them to reach accommodation over long-term fiscal issues. Resolving the US fiscal outlook would alleviate growing concerns about the value of US Treasuries and the dollar in the wake of the financial crisis. Leading bond investors such as William Gross at Pimco have turned negative on US Treasuries this year, worried by red ink and no sign of consensus in Washington.

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