Monday, February 9, 2009


Kansas governor an HHS contender

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is near the top of President Obama‘s list of candidates to head the Health and Human Services Department at least partially on the strength of her long and close working relationship with the president, a senior administration official said.

Other candidates, including former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, remain in the mix. A decision is not imminent, a senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private administration deliberations.

Mrs. Sebelius, 60, signed on early with the Obama campaign, backing his candidacy over that of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination and now secretary of state. Mrs. Sebelius worked tirelessly for Mr. Obama’s bid and was a top surrogate to women’s groups, especially after Republicans picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as their vice-presidential nominee.

Mrs. Sebelius would be Mr. Obama’s second choice for the slot. Former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his name amid an admission he had not paid all his taxes, including on a car and driver, since leaving Congress as a Democratic leader.


McCain decries Democrats’ tone

Republican Sen. John McCain said that Democratic lawmakers putting together an economic stimulus plan are no more open to input from the opposing party than the Republican party was during the Bush administration.

The Arizona Republican, in an appearance Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said he thought there was going to be a change in the tone of partisanship in Washington when the Obama administration took over, but that’s not what he’s seeing.

Mr. McCain said he favors an economic stimulus bill about half the size of the $820 billion package the Democrats favor.

Mr. McCain said Democrats are building up a national debt that is going to hamper the economy in the future and require the next generation to pay it down.


Steele denies illicit payment

Michael S. Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Sunday that claims he made inappropriate payments to his sister’s company for work never performed were not true and made by a felon trying to get a reduced sentence.

Mr. Steele paid more than $37,000 to a Maryland company run by his sister, Monica Turner, for work related to his unsuccessful 2006 Senate campaign. If she was not reimbursed, both he and his sister would be violating campaign finance laws, Mr. Steele said.

“It was a legitimate reimbursement of expenses,” Mr. Steele said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mr. Steele’s former finance chairman, Alan B. Fabian, claimed to federal prosecutors that Mr. Steele made the payment to the company, which was then out of business, as Fabian was seeking leniency on unrelated fraud charges, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Prosecutors gave Fabian no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October, the newspaper said.


USPS to unveil 4 Lincoln stamps

Four new postal stamps highlighting the personal history of Abraham Lincoln are set to be released Monday as the nation commemorates Lincoln’s 200th birthday this week.

The 42-cent stamps depict Lincoln as a rail-splitter, a lawyer, a politician and a president.

A ceremony marking the release of the stamps is scheduled Monday morning in Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln is buried.

Lincoln, the 16th president, was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Kentucky.


Obesity, education impedes Hispanics

A new study finds that Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in the U.S. military for two main reasons: They have lower rates of graduating from high school and higher rates of obesity.

The Rand Corp.’s study suggests the armed services concentrate more effort on inspiring potential Hispanic recruits to graduate high school by emphasizing the benefits that go along with military service.

It also suggests the services enroll candidates in weight-reduction programs or relax fitness standards.

Those Hispanics who do make the grade do well in the military, serving longer and being promoted faster than their white counterparts, the study found.


Military voters shortchanged again

More than 1 in 4 U.S. military voters overseas never received their official ballots for the 2008 election, which, while high, was less than the 36 percent who said they never got one in 2006.

A survey of 24,031 overseas and military voters by the Overseas Vote Foundation also found that 40 percent of military voters did not receive their ballots until mid-October or after - way too late to ensure the votes would reach stateside ballot boxes in time to be counted.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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