- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MILITARY SPENDING

$33 billion more sought for wars

The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, the Associated Press has learned.

The administration also plans to tell Congress next month that its central military objectives for the next four years will include winning the current wars while preventing new ones and that its core missions will include both counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

The administration’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the main articulation of U.S. military doctrine, is due to Congress on Feb. 1. Top military commanders were briefed on the document at the Pentagon on Monday and Tuesday. They also received a preview of the administration’s budget plans through 2015.

The extra $33 billion in 2010 would mostly go toward the expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops for that war as part of an overhaul of the war strategy late last year.

The request for that additional funding will be sent to Congress at the same time as the record spending request for next year, making war funding an especially difficult pill to swallow for some of Mr. Obama’s Democratic allies.

Military officials have suggested that the 2011 request would top $700 billion for the first time, but the precise figure has not been made public.

U.S. officials outlined the coming requests on the condition of anonymity because the budget request will not be sent to Congress until later this month.

SENATE

Ex-Rep. Ford mulls Senate run in N.Y.

Former U.S. Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. began crafting his argument Tuesday for a potential bid to unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, reinventing himself as an independent thinker battling “Washington insiders.”

Mr. Ford has not decided yet whether to get into this year’s Democratic primary in New York, but the former congressman from Tennessee wrote a piece in Tuesday’s New York Post saying he was “strongly considering running.”

He is doing so, he said, because the nation is at its best when “we trust competition to refine the steel of our convictions and the truth of our arguments.”

Mr. Ford, a member of the National Rifle Association who often quoted Scripture on the campaign trail and believes illegal immigrants caught without documentation should be deported, also is launching an effort to reinvent himself in a way that might be more appealing to “blue state” voters.

Mr. Ford, 39, moved to New York and took a job with Merrill Lynch & Co. after losing the 2006 Tennessee Senate race after 10 years in Congress.

A Democrat challenging Mrs. Gillibrand in New York would face a formidable and united party establishment: Mrs. Gillibrand is backed by the White House, along with the state’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, and Gov. David A. Paterson.

LABOR DEPARTMENT

Job openings drop; companies reluctant

The competition for jobs is intensifying as companies are reluctant to hire new workers, leaving millions of unemployed Americans chasing fewer job openings.

There were nearly 6.4 unemployed workers, on average, for each available job at the end of November, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday. That’s up from 6.1 in October and a record high.

There were 1.7 jobless people for each opening in December 2007, when the recession began.

Job openings fell sharply to 2.42 million in November from 2.57 million in October, according to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey.

FED

New York bank to be subpoenaed

A leading congressman says he will subpoena the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for documents related to the bailout of insurance conglomerate American International Group Inc.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, New York Democrat, says he will demand the documents in a probe of decisions made under Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s leadership.

The committee is investigating the New York Fed’s suppression of details about AIG deals that sent billions of dollars to other banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The subpoena comes after the Fed told a bailout watchdog not to cooperate with the committee. California Rep. Darrell Issa, the committee’s top Republican, asked Mr. Towns to issue the subpoena.

FLORIDA

Losing straw poll seen hurting Crist

ST. PETERSBURG | Gov. Charlie Crist has lost a straw poll in his home county and some observers say it reveals signs of weakness in his Senate campaign.

Pinellas County Republicans voted 106-54 Monday night to back former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

That’s the same Republican committee that unanimously endorsed Mr. Crist for governor during a 2005 meeting.

Political scientist Darryl Paulson says the turnaround is potentially devastating for Mr. Crist, who has a large money advantage over Mr. Rubio.

Mr. Crist is dismissing recent straw polls, saying they reflect a small number of voters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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