- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

BCS

Congress to press for football playoff

The political football that is the Bowl Championship Series lands in Congress this week as lawmakers examine whether the system for awarding a national championship is fair.

BCS coordinator John Swofford is among the witnesses invited to Friday’s hearing.

Several lawmakers are pushing bills on the BCS. Rep. Joe L. Barton, Texas Republican, for example, has sponsored legislation that would prevent the NCAA from calling a college football game a “national championship” unless it results from a playoff system.

Mr. Barton is the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee; Friday’s hearing will be held in that committee’s commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee.

President Obama has said he would prefer an eight-team playoff system.

DEBT

Geithner pushes credit card reform

The Obama administration is pressing for passage of legislation to rein in credit card practices and eliminate sudden rate increases and late fees that have entangled millions of American consumers.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, chief sponsor of a House bill, met Wednesday with representatives of consumer and civil rights groups to discuss the credit card overhaul. The gathering followed President Obama’s meeting at the White House last week with executives of the credit card industry. Mr. Obama made clear he wants to sign a bill into law.

Measures before the House and Senate are designed to enhance protections for consumers. The House bill, scheduled for a vote Thursday, would prohibit double-cycle billing and retroactive rate increases and ban the issuance of credit cards to people under 18, but wouldn’t take effect until a year after enactment. Another requirement in the bill, that customers receive 45 days notice before their interest rates are increased, would go into effect in 90 days.

NOMINATIONS

Ex-general spurns job as NASA chief

Retired Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles said Wednesday that the White House indicated he was the top candidate to become the next NASA administrator, but that he has taken his name out of consideration.

Mr. Lyles, 62, said that he serves on various corporate boards and has an array of stock holdings and the opportunity to acquire more stock, and that giving those up in order to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would have been a financial hardship, Cox Newspapers reports.

Mr. Lyles, in Dayton, Ohio, for a shareholders’ meeting of DPL Inc., on whose board he serves, said the White House has asked him to reconsider, but his decision is final.

“I felt guilty. They need somebody,” Mr. Lyles said.

But, he added, “It would have been too big a financial penalty. I didn’t want to do that to my family.”

He said that the White House made an additional effort to try and get him to succeed former NASA boss Michael Griffin, who resigned along with other former Bush administration officials when President Obama took office Jan. 20.

OVERSIGHT

Panel hits policies on cyberwarfare

Shrouded in secrecy, the U.S. government’s policies on how and when to wage cyberwarfare are ill-formed, lack adequate oversight and require a broad public debate, a new report by the National Research Council says.

The report warns that the “undeveloped and uncertain nature” of the government’s cyberwarfare policies could lead to them being used hastily and ill-advisedly during a crisis. That danger is compounded by secrecy and lack of oversight, the report’s authors cautioned Wednesday.

“Unsound policy formulated and implemented during crisis may prove difficult to change or reverse when the crisis has passed,” concludes the report, the first to take a comprehensive look at American cyberwar capabilities. The research council is the working arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

The 322-page report, prepared by an independent panel of academics and cybersecurity experts, comes as the Obama administration is on the verge of releasing its own review of the nation’s cybersecurity.

TRANSPORTATION

LaHood hails stimulus projects

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says his agency has committed nearly $9 billion in stimulus money to states and territories.

Mr. LaHood says his department got $48 billion under the stimulus plan and that almost $9 billion has been set aside for specific projects.

He told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday that he thinks the money already has been an enormous success.

The committee says that as of the end of the March, work had begun on 263 highway and transit projects in 30 states, putting about 1,250 workers back on the job. That information comes from details provided to the committee by states and cities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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