- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2010

WHITE HOUSE

Obama: GOP has no new ideas

ATLANTA | President Obama says Republican leaders haven’t come up with “a single, solitary new idea” to help the American people recover from the economic recession.

Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, Mr. Obama said Republicans are simply hoping the public will forget that their policies are the same ones that led the country into the recession. Mr. Obama says voters have a choice in the November midterm elections between what he calls the failed policies of the past, or his administration’s agenda, which he says has pulled the country back from the brink of a depression.

Mr. Obama is stepping up his fundraising efforts as the calendar ticks closer to the midterms, just three months away. Monday’s 200-person event was expected to bring in about $500,000 for the Democratic National Committee.

HOUSE

Lawmakers urge OK of Comcast-NBC deal

The head of the House subcommittee that deals with communications issues is calling on federal regulators to approve Comcast’s plan to buy a controlling interest in NBC Universal with a handful of conditions attached to protect consumers and competition.

Rep. Rick Boucher, Virginia Democrat and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications, technology and the Internet, wrote to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department on Monday urging them to wrap up their review of the deal by Dec. 1.

Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable-TV company, is seeking federal approval to buy a 51 percent interest in NBC Universal from General Electric Co.

SENATE

McCain stalls vote on intel nominee

Sen. John McCain is stalling a Senate vote on the retired general nominated to be President Obama’s intelligence chief, a McCain spokeswoman said Monday.

The move by the Arizona Republican could delay the confirmation of James Clapper as director of national intelligence until September, after the congressional summer recess.

Before Mr. McCain’s move, a Senate vote on Mr. Clapper had been expected to happen this week.

Mr. McCain, a Republican, has placed a “hold” - a procedural move blocking a floor vote - on Mr. Clapper’s nomination until he gets a report from the nominee, the senator’s spokeswoman said. She did not name the subject of the requested report.

“Senator McCain requested a specific report from Mr. Clapper, and until that report is provided, Senator McCain will continue to hold his nomination,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr. Obama nominated Mr. Clapper in June after he ousted Adm. Dennis C. Blair from the intelligence chief’s job. The nomination already has been delayed several weeks while some lawmakers questioned whether Mr. Clapper, who has served as undersecretary of defense for intelligence, would be too beholden to the Pentagon.

TREASURY

Hires qualify for new tax break

Businesses have hired 5.6 million workers under a new program that provides tax breaks for hiring unemployed workers, the Treasury Department said Monday.

The report, however, does not estimate how many of those jobs would have been added without the tax break.

President Obama signed a law in March that exempts businesses hiring people who have been unemployed for at least 60 days from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December. Employers get an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.

Treasury released a report Monday estimating that from February through June, businesses hired 5.6 million workers who qualify for the tax breaks. That’s up from the 4.5 million workers who were hired under the program through May.

Those businesses are projected to save $10.4 billion in taxes, if they keep three-fourths of the new workers for at least a year, the Treasury report said.

TREASURY

Geithner vows quick action on regulations

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner says the Obama administration will move quickly to implement new financial regulations while eliminating those that are outdated.

Mr. Geithner says the administration has no desire to simply layer new rules on top of those in place that are not working.

Mr. Geithner’s comments came in excerpts Treasury released in advance of a speech he was scheduled to deliver Monday afternoon at New York University. The address was to launch an effort by Treasury officials to explain how the administration will be implementing the overhaul bill that President Obama signed into law on July 21.

HOUSE

Group seeks to end horse roundups

A bipartisan group of 54 lawmakers is calling for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to halt a series of wild-horse roundups on the Nevada range.

A letter sent Monday by Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, cites wild- horse deaths in recent horse and burro roundups to explain the request.

The letter brands the roundups “a deeply flawed policy” and points to reports that 21 of 636 horses died in a herd-collection effort near Tuscarora in northeast Nevada.

The letter recommends that the National Academy of Sciences be assigned to review the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to cull about 12,000 of 38,000 mustangs and burros from herds roaming 10 Western states.

JUSTICE

Report cites rise in child pornography

The spread of child pornography, fueled by technology and the Internet, is outpacing efforts to combat it, the Justice Department said Monday in a report to Congress that promises more arrests, prosecutions and better coordination among federal, state and local authorities.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the distribution of child pornography, the number of images being shared online and violence against child victims all have increased. “Tragically, the only place we’ve seen a decrease is in the age of victims,” Mr. Holder said in a speech at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.

The report, ordered by Congress in legislation approved two years ago, concedes that the market for child pornography continues to grow rapidly and determining its size is impossible. “The number of offenders accessing the images and videos and the quantity of images and videos being traded is unknown,” the report said.

Creating or possessing images that depict the sexual abuse of children is illegal. There is no First Amendment protection for child pornography.

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