- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2009

WHITE HOUSE

Jarrett to attend economic forum

Senior White House aide Valerie Jarrett will represent President Obama at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, a U.S. official said Sunday.

The gathering at the Swiss resort will bring together world leaders, policymakers and corporate leaders to discuss how to fix the global economic crisis.

Absent from the forum will be top White House economic advisers Lawrence H. Summers, Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner and National Security Adviser James L. Jones.

Mr. Geithner is still awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Mr. Summers and Mr. Jones will remain in Washington to advise Mr. Obama on near-term issues, said the U.S. official.

NEW YORK

New senator seeks gun rights balance

Kirsten Gillibrand, nominated to be the U.S. senator from New York, said she wants to balance hunters’ rights with the need to curb gun violence and that she supports economic development projects such as high-speed rail.

Mrs. Gillibrand, 42, who will be sworn in Tuesday in Washington, said she will seek “common ground” in making the transition from an upstate congresswoman who grew up in a family of hunters to a senator who will advocate for the needs of downstate areas, including New York City, the nation’s most populous city.

The Hudson Valley Democrat also said she wants to boost the federal share of the state’s Medicaid spending to 55 percent from 50 percent, and push for new and expanded rail lines to act as an “economic development engine for decades.”

Mrs. Gillibrand spoke to reporters Sunday after a lunch meeting at Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with Gov. David Paterson, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

Mr. Paterson last week appointed the two-term representative to the seat vacated by Mrs. Clinton, a day after Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, pulled her name from consideration for personal reasons.

DIPLOMACY

Mitchell to leave for Middle East

President Obama is sending George J. Mitchell, his Middle East envoy, to the region this week as the new administration seeks to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a White House aide said.

Mr. Mitchell is charged with the immediate task of facilitating a lasting cease-fire between Israel and the militant Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. The former Senate Democratic leader will probably leave Washington Monday, said the aide, who asked not to be identified.

Mr. Obama has pledged to renew the United States‘ commitment to the peace process, including a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Mr. Mitchell, who has negotiating authority in his role as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top diplomat for Mideast peace, is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said an Obama adviser familiar with the trip who requested anonymity.

ECONOMY

N.Y. mayor urges Obama to act soon

President Obama must act on the economy and other difficult issues such as education, crime, immigration, health care and terrorism early in his tenure while he has the greatest support, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

“You’ve got to do this now,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Now is the time to push. Now is the time when you have this honeymoon. A year from now, there’s no honeymoon.”

The first $350 billion Congress allocated to stabilize the economy wasn’t misspent, Mr. Bloomberg said, even if the government could have done “a better job of promising.” Evaluating the success of the financial-rescue package has to be done in the context of last fall when brokerage firms and banks were “going belly-up every day,” he said.

“I know the public does think, incidentally” that the money “just went to a bunch of rich banks,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “But until you get the banking system stabilized, you can’t do anything else.”

The success of any effort to stimulate the economy through infrastructure spending depends on fixing the municipal bond markets, the mayor said.

CLEAN AIR

States may gain power over emissions

President Obama is poised to let California and other states set their own auto-emission standards in their drive to slash greenhouse gases, an official familiar with the decision said Sunday.

The move is significant on two fronts: It could empower states to set tougher standards in targeting emissions, which are blamed for contributing to global climate change, and it would be another swift reversal by Mr. Obama of Bush administration policy, this time on energy.

Plunging into his first full week as president, Mr. Obama is expected to reveal the auto-emissions policy Monday morning in the East Room of the White House. The official familiar with the details spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been announced.

California and at least 13 other states have sought permission to enact tough standards by getting waivers under the Clean Air Act.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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