January 30th, 2009
01:58 PM ET

The “No-Smoking” Stimulus Act

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/29/stimulus.bill.smoking/art.smoking.image.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Tom Harkin's office says smoking causes $110 billion in health costs each year."]

Drew Griffin
CNN Special Investigations Unit

Just about every line of the huge stimulus bill contains millions intended for what democrats are calling job creation and what republicans are calling waste: arguments based on differing political philosophies? Perhaps.

But who could argue that millions spent to stop smoking is going to create jobs.

Well, apparently Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. He is asking for 75-million dollars for just that to be added to the stimulus bill.

Why? That’s exactly what I asked him.

Here’s the conversation:

Sen. Tom Harkin/D-Iowa:

“This is the American recovery and re-investment act so its not, it is stimulus, we do want to put people to work right away, but we also want to lay a solid foundation for strong economic growth in the future."


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Drew Griffin • Health Care
January 30th, 2009
12:49 PM ET

Is President Obama winning or losing?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.bobiden0130.gi.jpg]

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

He courts Republicans, gives them their tax cuts, but they don't vote for his bill, and then they say his plan won't work. And Dems stuff gobs of non-job-creating pork into the bill, give him lip about what they think should be done - standing tall upon their roughly 22% approval rating in the face of the President's 68% approval rating last week.

W. didn't put up with this. It was my way or the highway. He didn't compromise on his bills, and his team told GOPers to get in line, or pay for it later.

So even as his stimulus bill winds its way thru the legislative digestive system, some are saying President Obama looks weak as he plays nice and gets back a bunch of 'tude.


January 30th, 2009
12:44 PM ET

Obama Used the Word Muslims Want to Hear – Respect

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Deepak Chopra
On Faith
The Washington Post

When President Obama offered to reach out to the Muslim world for the mutual interest of both parties, he was saying nothing new. The West and the Arab oil-producing nations have teetered on an uneasy alliance for decades, the one depending on the other. As much as we grumble about being dependent on Arab oil, it serves our mutual interest to keep a steady flow of fuel coming our way and a glut of dollars in return. But when he added "mutual respect," Obama supplied a key missing piece, one that Muslims have longed for.

No doubt it's because of his diverse background - and in no small part because he had to forge an identity in the black community - that Obama knows what respect means to outcasts and the down-trodden. In a way, it's everything. The Muslim world, despite its windfall oil profits, feels like one of the great losers in the march of history. Muslims dwell on the glory days of Sunni culture, which kept science, mathematics, and philosophy alive while that knowledge was lost in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Ottoman Empire once embraced almost the entire Mediterranean basin and marched to the gates of Vienna. When World War I left Islamic power in ashes, a decline in confidence set in that has been deeply corrosive to Muslim identity and deeply humiliating, too.


Filed under: Faith • Islam • President Barack Obama
January 30th, 2009
12:01 PM ET

Gettin' diggy with it

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/28/infrastructure.report.card/art.levee.file.gi.jpg caption="The nation's levees got a grade of D- in the report by the The American Society of Civil Engineers, with the "reliability" of many not known."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Every couple of years something big somewhere breaks and someone (or lots of someones) gets hurt. In New Orleans, it was the levees when Katrina came, crumbling like cookies left too long in milk. In Minneapolis, it was that bridge that buckled unexpectedly beneath the weight of rush hour. And just a few weeks ago outside of DC, it was the water main that burst, turning a major roadway into a whitewater kayaking course. No one was hurt in that one, but once again, engineers are screaming that America had better get serious about fixing its infrastructure, and fast.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Tom Foreman
January 30th, 2009
11:59 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Incredible shrinking economy

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Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

The recession gathered speed in the last three months of 2008. The government this morning reported Gross Domestic Product – the sum total of goods and services produced within U.S. borders – declined at a 3.8% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the worst performance in 26 years. It may come as small comfort, but most economists were expecting worse.

Things probably couldn’t be worse for the New York City economy, and Mayor Bloomberg is expected to outline a dire budget plan which seeks to save $1 billion next year, and 23-thousand city jobs could be at risk. Among those reportedly facing job loss, 15-thousand teachers, and some new taxes and fees—including one in grocery stores on plastic shopping bags. The NYC budget shortfall got much worse after the financial crisis and a big drop in tax receipts from Wall Street. The Mayor will lay this out in a City Hall speech at Noon today.


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Gene Bloch • Oil • Wall St.
January 30th, 2009
11:49 AM ET

They're registered Democrats, but they didn't support Obama

Program Note: Tune in for Gary Tuchman's report on 360°'s visit to King County tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/anti.obama.land2.jpg caption="Most people in King County, Texas are registered Democrats, but 93.2 percent voted for Sen. John McCain."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/anti.obama.land.jpg caption="A small church in King County, Texas."]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

King County, Texas is a place for quail hunting, ranching, and beautiful countryside. It’s the kind of place where the residents know everyone in town–a place where people here feel so safe that they leave their homes and car doors unlocked.

It’s also where John McCain received the highest voter support in the country. 93.2 percent of King County voted for the Arizona senator and only 8 voters cast a ballot for Barack Obama. What’s most interesting is most people here are registered democrats.

Now that President Obama has taken over the reigns, we wanted to come to King County to find out how these voters feel about our new President.


January 30th, 2009
11:24 AM ET

Morning Buzz: President Obama roots for the Steelers

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/art.steelers.gi.jpg caption="The Steelers are this year’s presidential Super Bowl pick."]

Penny Manis
AC360° Senior Producer

Are you gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday? President Obama told us yesterday he is rooting for the Steelers. How about you: Steelers or Cardinals?

It is expected to be partly cloudy and 69 degrees on Sunday in Tampa, Florida. We hear President Obama will watch the game at the White House with friends and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Maybe he’ll invite you too, and you can bring the nachos. Lol

Military around the world will watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, an event so important for morale that commanders in Iraq are allowing troops to get the broadcast. War, what war? Those insurgents just better pipe down till the game is over!


Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
January 30th, 2009
11:13 AM ET

Hardball politics stays in the Oval

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.bobiden0130.gi.jpg]

Ben Smith

Despite his past denunciations of the “perpetual campaign” — and “political hacks like Karl Rove” — President Barack Obama’s version of change doesn’t include banishing hardball politics from the environs of the Oval Office.

Like presidents before him, Obama has imported pieces of his campaign into the White House, ranging from his own Rove, David Axelrod, to two dozen campaign staffers who will serve as liaisons with agencies. A top Iowa aide, for instance, is moving to the Environmental Protection Agency.


January 30th, 2009
10:48 AM ET

Republicans lack a party line on economy

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Mark Z. Barabak and Janet Hook
Los Angeles Times

Donald Manzullo, a House Republican from Illinois, has proposed a $5,000 voucher for anyone buying a new car. Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, favors a temporary suspension of the payroll tax. Jim DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina, wants to permanently cut the federal income tax.

As Republicans fight President Obama's gargantuan economic plan, they have plenty of ideas. What they don't have is a party-wide consensus: They can't agree among themselves on the best alternative, or on whether government action is even needed to pull the economy from its nose dive.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Republicans
January 30th, 2009
10:43 AM ET

Military investigates West Point suicides

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/29/army.suicides/art.army.gi.jpg caption="The Army is expected to announce a new effort to study soldier suicides and links to post-combat stress."]

Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post

Two West Point cadets have committed suicide since December and two others attempted suicide in the past two weeks, prompting the military academy's leaders to summon an Army surgeon general's suicide team to the campus today to investigate the causes.

The suicides are the first since at least 2005. The academy is passing out prevention cards, putting up posters and reviewing its procedures, and it has ordered fresh suicide-prevention training to be completed by today, said Col. Bryan Hilferty, spokesman for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Military • Pentagon
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