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Inside Politics: Obama undergoes fitness test; results pending

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2013

President Obama underwent a fitness test at a Pentagon health clinic over the weekend as part of a periodic medical exam coordinated by his doctor.

The White House said the results will be released by February.

The Fit to Win Clinic says on its website that its mission is "to enhance military readiness and civilian wellness through fitness, nutrition, health education and positive lifestyle behavior changes." Mr. Obama returned to the White House after spending just under two hours at the Pentagon.

Mr. Obama, 51, who takes the oath of office next week to begin his second term, had his most recent physical exam in October 2011. At the time, he was said to be in excellent health and tobacco-free after years of cigarette smoking. Mr. Obama's doctor reported that he was physically active, ate a healthy diet, maintained a healthy weight and on occasion drank alcohol in moderation.

That exam was Mr. Obama's second since he became president in 2009. His first medical checkup was conducted in February 2010.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2010, Mr. Obama received 12 stitches in his lower lip after taking an errant elbow during a pickup basketball game with visiting friends and family. The medical report from Mr. Obama's physical exam the following year found a "well-healed lower-lip laceration" — an apparent reference to that injury.

IMMIGRATION

Chamber, faith groups plan push for reform

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be joining a broad coalition of law enforcement officials, faith groups and immigrant-rights activists Thursday in a concerted push for the Obama administration and Congress to pass a broad overhaul of the nation's immigration laws this year.

The National Press Club event Thursday afternoon is scheduled to include Chamber President Thomas J. Donahue; former George W. Bush administration Commerce Department chief Carlos Gutierrez, now a vice chairman at Citigroup; Indiana Attorney General Gregory F. Zoeller; and members of the National Immigration Forum and faith-based organizations.

Chamber officials, in announcing the event, said that what they called a growing bipartisan "economic imperative to improve our immigration process" in the just-elected 113th Congress "marks the best opportunity for broad immigration reform in nearly a decade."

LOUISIANA

Lawmakers cautious after Jindal's new tax proposal

BATON ROUGE — Lawmakers responded with caution Friday to Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposal to eliminate Louisiana's income tax in exchange for higher sales taxes and other tax-code changes, saying they needed more specifics about the idea.

They questioned how it will impact low- to middle-income families and whether sales taxes are too unstable a revenue source on which to base the state's budget.

"I'm not for it or against it right now. I think that there are some promising concepts here, but we're still talking about concepts. I'm not going to be anywhere until I see the specific language," said Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing panel.

Mr. Jindal is floating the idea of a tax swap in advance of the legislative session that begins in April. The tax-code rewrite faces high hurdles for passage, with any increases requiring a two-thirds vote. That would mean the governor would have to rally nearly all GOP lawmakers and pick up a sizable number of Democrats.

NEW JERSEY

Newark mayor files papers for Senate race fundraising

NEWARK — Mayor Cory Booker has taken an initial step toward running for U.S. Senate in 2014, adding intrigue to his political future and that of fellow Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg, who currently holds the seat.

Mr. Booker filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday that allows him to raise money for a Senate campaign. The prolific social-media user has not tweeted about it or made any public announcements about the filing, and his staff did not return a call to The Associated Press on Friday, but it came as no surprise.

Mr. Booker, perhaps New Jersey's highest-profile Democratic politician, last month turned down the party leaders who wanted to see him challenge incumbent Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, in the 2013 gubernatorial election. Instead, Mr. Booker said, he was looking at a run for the Senate next year.

His interest puts pressure on Mr. Lautenberg, at 88 the oldest member of the Senate.

When Mr. Booker said he might run for the seat, he praised Mr. Lautenberg for his service, but said he had not spoken with him about his plans. Mr. Lautenberg's spokesman, Caley Gray, said in a statement Friday that Mr. Lautenberg has not decided whether to seek re-election next year.

NEW YORK

Cuomo's casino plan presents challenge

ALBANY — The success of new upstate New York casinos proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would depend heavily upon them drawing gamblers from other places in an already crowded Northeast market, analysts say.

Mr. Cuomo, in his State of the State address Wednesday, proposed that an expansion of gambling in New York begin with up to three casinos upstate, as opposed to the highly lucrative New York City market. Mr. Cuomo said there are 39 casinos in adjacent states and Canada, many that draw dollars from downstate gamblers.

"A major challenge for us -- and a major opportunity for us -- is to get that traffic from New York City to upstate New York," Cuomo said.

New York already has five Indian casinos and nine racinos, which offer video slots but no table games. The Legislature is expected to consider final passage this year of an amendment to the state constitution that would allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos beyond Indian land. If approved by lawmakers, voters could make a final decision in November.

From wire dispatches and staff reports