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Politics Scene

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2010

REPUBLICANS

Cheney expected at home this week

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is out of intensive care but still in the hospital more than five weeks after being admitted for his latest heart problems, his daughter said Sunday.

Last month, doctors implanted a pump that improves heart function in the 69-year-old Mr. Cheney at a hospital in Fairfax.

"He is still in the hospital, but he's doing well," daughter Liz Cheney told "Fox News Sunday."

"He's out of the intensive-care unit and, hopefully, will be home later this week," she said. "He's looking at fly-fishing and hunting dates for later on this year, so we're very hopeful."

After the operation in early July to install a heart pump called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), Mr. Cheney issued a statement saying it had gone "very well."

WHITE HOUSE

Obama enjoys day of hoops

President Obama checked out the WNBA's Washington Mystics on Sunday after spending the morning shooting some hoops himself.

Mr. Obama, his daughter Sasha and a friend of Sasha's whom the White House did not identify had courtside seats for a women's basketball game between the Mystics and the Tulsa Shock at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington.

The crowd at the arena roared when the scoreboard showed the president's arrival. Mr. Obama chatted during the game with Mystics owner Ted Leonsis and team President Sheila Johnson. Mr. Obama and his party left the arena a few minutes before the end of the game, which the Mystics won, 87-62.

Earlier Sunday, Mr. Obama played basketball against an Army team at Fort McNair in the District of Columbia.

ECONOMY

Greenspan says recovery in pause

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Sunday he thinks the economy is having a modest recovery, but right now there's a "pause" in that recovery, so it feels like a "quasi-recession."

Mr. Greenspan told NBC's "Meet the Press" that long-term unemployment is pulling the economy apart, even though large banks are doing much better and large companies are in excellent shape. He predicted that unemployment will remain where it is, hovering around 9.5 percent, for the rest of the year.

Cheering the comeback of the stock market, Mr. Greenspan said continuing that increase will do more to stimulate the economy than any of the remedies now being discussed.

AVIATION SAFETY

Congress OKs bill to make airline safer

Congress on Friday approved far-reaching aviation-safety legislation that was developed in response to a deadly commuter-airline crash in western New York last year.

The Senate approved the bill without debate, following similar action by the House late Thursday night. That sends it to President Obama for his signature.

The safety measures are an attempt to force airlines to hire more experienced pilots, investigate pilots' previous employment more thoroughly and train them better. The legislation requires a major overhaul of rules governing pilot work schedules to prevent fatigue.

The impetus for the safety measures was the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on Feb. 12, 2009. All 49 people aboard and one man in a house were killed. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation faulted actions by the flight's pilots and deficiencies in pilot hiring and training by Colgan Air, the regional carrier that operated the flight for Continental Airlines.

All of the past six fatal airline accidents in the U.S. involved regional carriers. Pilot performance was a contributing factor in four of those cases.

WHITE HOUSE

Aide to first lady set to leave post

First lady Michelle Obama's communications director is leaving the White House for a job in the private sector.

Mrs. Obama says Camille Johnston helped develop effective strategies for the first lady's childhood anti-obesity programs, as well as for her work with military families.

Miss Johnston previously served as communications director to Tipper Gore and was senior vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The first lady's office didn't say what Miss Johnston's new role would be.

MEDICARE

Griffith's new role: Pitching health care

Actor Andy Griffith has a new role: pitching President Obama's health care law to seniors in a cable-television ad paid for by Medicare.

The TV star - whose role as sheriff of Mayberry made him an enduring symbol of small-town American values - tells seniors that "good things are coming" under the health care overhaul, including free preventive checkups and lower-cost prescriptions for Medicare recipients.

Polls show that seniors are more skeptical of the health care law than younger people because Medicare cuts provide much of the financing to expand coverage for the uninsured.

Medicare says the national ad is not political, but part of its outreach to educate seniors about new benefits available next year. Mr. Griffith is 84.

ALASKA

Palin: Author alters way of life

Sarah Palin says the best-selling author who moved into the house next door to her family while writing a book about her needs to get a life.

Mrs. Palin told "Fox News Sunday" that she and he family now avoid their front yard and other areas of their lakeside home in Wasilla, Alaska, because of their new neighbor - author Joe McGinniss.

Mr. McGinniss moved to Wasilla last spring while working on a book about Mrs. Palin, the former governor and vice presidential candidate who is a leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Mr. McGinniss has said that he rented the house next door to the Palin family because the price was right, not to spy on them.

SENATE

GOP: Obamacare to be job-killer

A Nebraska senator says a requirement tucked into the nation's massive new health care law will be a job-killing drag on small businesses.

Under the rule, nearly 40 million businesses must file tax forms for every vendor that sells them more than $600 in goods.

The goal is to prevent vendors from underreporting their income to the Internal Revenue Service.

In the Republican weekly radio and Internet address, Sen. Mike Johanns says it's just one example of how President Obama's promise to support small businesses "really rings hollow." He says businesses will spend more money on paperwork, which could have gone to job creation.

Mr. Johanns says Mr. Obama's actions "don't encourage small businesses to hire employees." He calls on Mr. Obama to "stop pushing anti-growth policies and start supporting a real job-growth agenda."

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