- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

SENATE

Obama gets involved in Georgia race

ATLANTA | President-elect Barack Obama has waded into Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff, recording a radio ad supporting Democrat Jim Martin, but there’s still no word on whether the next president will make a personal appearance.

In the spot, Mr. Obama thanks the Georgians who voted for him Nov. 4, then urges support for Mr. Martin.

“The elections aren’t over,” says Mr. Obama, who lost the state by five percentage points on Nov. 4. “I want to urge you to turn out one more time and help elect Jim Martin to the United States Senate.”

Mr. Martin is in a fiercely contested Dec. 2 runoff with first-term Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. If the Democrats win both that race and have a manual recount reverse the initial outcome in Minnesota, they will have the 60 Senate seats needed to beat back Republican filibusters.

About 100 Obama field operatives have been working with Mr. Martin’s campaign staff to ensure that voters turn out for the runoff in the reliably Republican state.

HOUSING

Fannie, Freddie suspend evictions

Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are suspending foreclosures for about 16,000 households during the holiday season.

The two companies said Thursday that they will halt foreclosure sales between Nov. 26 and Jan. 9 while they evaluate whether borrowers qualify for a new loan modification program announced last week.

Fannie Mae said about 10,000 households would be affected, while Freddie Mac said the changes would affect about 6,000 borrowers who are facing foreclosure. The change does not apply to vacant homes.

The announcement “provides a new measure of certainty to many of these families during the holidays,” Freddie Mac Chief Executive Officer David Moffett said in a news release.

TREASURY

Paulson: Crisis ‘once or twice’ in 100 years

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., called the financial crisis now plaguing the world economy a “once or twice” in a 100 years event, as he warned Thursday against imposing too-strict regulations to prevent a repeat calamity.

Mr. Paulson’s remarks follow pledges by world leaders attending last week’s emergency economic summit to begin an overhaul of the world’s financial regulatory system.

With the next summit slated for the spring, the work on fleshing out details for the Herculean task will fall to the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama and his new Treasury secretary.

Mr. Paulson, whose boss President Bush leaves office Jan. 20, acknowledged that the financial crisis was caused by many factors including “government inaction and mistaken actions, outdated U.S. and global financial regulatory systems, and by the excessive risk-taking of financial institutions.”

JUDICIARY

Parents can’t sue over education law

PHILADELPHIA | A federal appeals court says parents cannot sue school districts to force them to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act.

The ruling Thursday comes in a case filed against the low-performing Newark Public Schools in New Jersey. Parents say the district failed to notify them of the right to transfer out of failing schools and of other provisions required under the law.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says enforcement of the act is up to state educational agencies.

Scott Michelman, an attorney for American Civil Liberties Union, says the decision is not in the best interests of parents or children.

CABINET

Pritzker doesn’t want commerce post

President-elect Barack Obama’s friend and top fundraiser Penny Pritzker said Thursday that she is not interested in serving as commerce secretary in his administration, despite reports that she had been offered the job traditionally given to candidate donors.

Mrs. Pritzker was not vetted by the transition team because she said she did not want the post.

After the reports appeared on television late Wednesday and Thursday morning, Mrs. Pritzker told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet in an e-mail, “I think I can best serve our nation in my current capacity: building businesses, creating jobs and working to strengthen our economy.”

Transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement that Mrs. Pritzker is a “trusted adviser and valued friend” to Mr. Obama who played a “critical role.”

“She would be an enormous asset to an Obama Administration given her experience in business and economic growth, but has decided that given her family and business commitments she is not interested in serving at this time,” Ms. Cutter said, adding that Mrs. Pritzker would remain a close economic adviser.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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