[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/16/cantor.stimulus/art.cantor.house.o.reps.jpg]Aram Roston and Paul Kiel
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, a rising star in the Republican party, has been a prominent voice demanding accountability in how the government doles out hundreds of billions for bank bailouts.
"I think most American taxpayers now are sort of scratching their head," Cantor told CNN in December, "wondering when all this bailout stuff is going to end. And probably thinking, 'You know, when is my bailout coming?'"
This Thursday, Cantor cast a high-profile vote opposing release of another $350 billion in bailout funds. Unpublicized until now was a recent development: The Treasury Department used $267 million of taxpayer funds to buy preferred stock in a private banking company that employs Cantor's wife.
Dr. Jack Lewin
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
In today's world there are too many prescriptions, too many procedures, and too many variables for doctors still to be relying on paper records that cannot be readily cross-referenced, shared or accessed. Systems that share medical records, warn of drug interactions and facilitate the process of healing are absolutely necessary.
It's a shame that many in the medical community have resisted progress, and it is unfortunate our government has not stepped in to promote implementation and adoption of health IT infrastructure and standards.
Both President Barack Obama and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle have committed to improving this country's health IT infrastructure. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Daschle said that health IT needs to be "a higher priority" and that the government needs to set standards. Hopefully that is more than just talk.
[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."]
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."
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.
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.
[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
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.
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.
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."]
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.
[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."]
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!
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.