- - Monday, January 23, 2012

WHITE HOUSE

Officials delay release of FY 2013 budget

The White House said Monday that it is delaying for one week the release of President Barack Obama’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

The budget traditionally is released on the first Monday in February but the administration has pushed the release to Feb. 13. An administration official said the later date was “determined based on the need to finalize decisions and technical details of the document.”

After last year’s failed attempts at budget deals, election-year expectations are low that Mr. Obama and Congress will be able to make progress this year on deficits that required the government to borrow 36 cents of every dollar it spent last year.

But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, told reporters that he’s hopeful Congress and Mr. Obama at least will be able to agree upon enough budget savings to forestall across-the-board budget cuts. The cuts are required in the wake of last year’s failure by the deficit supercommittee to come up with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts mandated by the debt limit agreement.

“Maybe we can find one year’s worth of pay-for that can at least stave off a sequester from being implemented on Jan. 1, 2013, so that maybe we can have this election take place and be able to avoid it,” Mr. Cantor said.

Mr. Obama is sure to preview new policy proposals in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, and the subsequent budget release typically fleshes in the details.

Capitol Hill Republicans were quick to criticize the White House delay, saying it shows the White House isn’t serious about tackling the deficit.

“If I were advising President Obama, I’d recommend less time campaigning and more time spent addressing the impending fiscal crisis,” said Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican. “We need a budget with a responsible spending restraint and pro-growth reforms and we need it now.”

FLORIDA

Santorum: Obama pushes doctors from Medicare

LADY LAKE — Republican Rick Santorum is telling Florida seniors that President Obama’s health overhaul is rationing care, adding long wait times and blocking Medicare patients from seeing their doctors.

Mr. Santorum told an audience at an American Legion Hall near Orlando that the health law includes a panel that reduces payments to doctors and hospitals. The presidential hopeful says that those cuts are forcing doctors to drop Medicare patients and to take more patients with private insurance or who can pay for care themselves.

Mr. Santorum says he’s the only candidate with the credibility to force a repeal of the health care law and protect seniors.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama, Italian prime minister to discuss money crisis

President Obama will meet with Italy’s prime minister next month to discuss the European financial crisis.

Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Mario Monti will meet at the White House on Feb. 9.

The White House says the two leaders will discuss structural reforms the Italian government is taking to restore market confidence, as well as the prospect of expanding Europe’s financial firewall.

Since taking office late last year, Mr. Monti has announced several emergency measures to reduce Italy’s dangerously high sovereign debt, a problem also plaguing other European nations.

The White House is concerned that financial woes in Europe could hurt the chances of an economic recovery in the United States.

ARIZONA

Giffords’ resignation sets up free-for-all in district

PHOENIX — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ decision to resign from Congress has set up a political free-for-all in her competitive southeastern Arizona district, with voters set to pick a temporary replacement and then a full-term representative in rapid succession.

As Ms. Giffords, critically injured in a mass shooting last year, steps out of the public eye to focus on rehabilitation efforts, her departure thrusts Tucson into the national spotlight.

Ms. Giffords, a three-term Democrat, was heavily favored to win re-election, so her decision to step down creates an opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat in the House.

But holding onto Giffords’ seat has sentimental as well as symbolic value for Democrats as the elections will come as the presidential race intensifies — in a Red state that the Obama campaign is targeting.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama honors Stanley Cup champion Bruins

President Obama honored the NHL’s Boston Bruins for their 2011 Stanley Cup championship and their charitable work off the ice.

Mr. Obama hosted the six-time champions at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

The Bruins won their first Stanley Cup title in 39 years last June after a bruising seven-game final series against the Vancouver Canucks.

It was the latest in a string of Boston professional sports championships in recent years, including the Celtics in 2008, the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 and the New England Patriots in 2005. The Patriots play in next month’s Super Bowl.

Noted the president: “The Bruins, the Sox, the Celtics, now the Patriots. Enough already, Boston.”

The White House said the Boston Bruins Foundation has donated more than $7 million to charities in New England.

UNITED NATIONS

Human rights chief says U.S. must close Guantanamo

GENEVA — The U.N. human rights chief says the U.S. government must close the Guantanamo Bay prison as President Obama promised a year ago.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, says “the facility continues to exist and individuals remain arbitrarily detained — indefinitely — in clear breach of international law.”

Mr. Obama pledged to shutter the U.S. Naval Base prison in Cuba in his State of the Union address to Congress last year.

Ms. Pillay said Monday that she is deeply disappointed the U.S. government “has instead entrenched a system of arbitrary detention.”

Ms. Pillay said she also is “disturbed at the failure to ensure accountability for serious human rights violations, including torture, that took place.”

• From wire dispatches and staff reports