- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

SENATE

As Congress gears up to craft budget legislation, the head of the Senate Budget Committee said Sunday he favored increased spending in the short term to help the economy, but that fiscal discipline was vital in the long term.

“We have got to get back to a more sustainable fiscal circumstance,” Sen. Kent Conrad said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We cannot have debt piled on top of debt. We cannot run budget deficits in the out-years of over $1 trillion a year.”

“I will present a budget that I think begins to move in that direction,” the North Dakota Democrat said. “It acknowledges in the short term, yes, we have got to have added deficits and debt to give lift to this economy, but longer term, we have got to pivot.”

TREASURY

GOP senator doubts Geithner

Shaky ground. That’s what Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is on these days with Congress and many in the country, according to the Senate banking committee’s top Republican.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” doesn’t think Mr. Geithner will last long unless he starts doing a better job.

Mr. Shelby said he has less confidence in Mr. Geithner each day - over the American International Group Inc. bonus mess, solving the nation’s financial troubles and helping turn around the economy.

Mr. Shelby said Mr. Geithner will have to do a “180-degree turnaround” to be a successful Treasury secretary.

STIMULUS

Trio urges more public works

Three prominent elected officials, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said they want President Obama to channel the public anger over the AIG bonuses into action that supports public works projects.

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, have joined New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in a coalition that promotes rebuilding roads, bridges and other projects.

Mr. Rendell said the controversy over the bonuses paid to executives at the insurance giant American International Group Inc. has taken attention away from Mr. Obama’s efforts to get the country moving again.

Mr. Bloomberg, an independent, said Mr. Obama faces a challenge in focusing the nation on shoring up the banking system and other aspects of the financial system.

POLITICS

DNC reimburses Chicago for rally

CHICAGO | Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said the Democratic National Committee has reimbursed the city for the cost of President Obama’s $1.74 million election-night rally.

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the payment was made recently. He attributed the five-month delay to complex issues that needed to be worked out with the city.

More than 100,000 people celebrated on Nov. 4 in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park.

The Chicago Police Department racked up about $1 million of the cost. All the city’s police officers were required to work. They cleared the park of rally-goers less than an hour after it ended.

Another big bill came from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which spent more than $120,000 that night.

FLORIDA

Congresswoman tells of cancer fight

MIAMI | Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida disclosed she has battled breast cancer for the past year.

The 42-year-old Democrat told the Miami Herald she has decided to share her experience in hopes of telling younger woman that breast cancer is prevalent in her age group.

“Young women go skipping along through their life, thinking they’re invincible, not worrying about breast cancer because they think of it as an older woman’s disease,” Mrs. Wasserman Schultz said.

The newspaper said she will introduce legislation Monday that calls for a national breast cancer education campaign targeting girls and women between the ages of 15 and 39.

“I wanted to be able to not just stand up and say ‘I’m a breast cancer survivor.’ … I wanted to find a gap and try to fill it,” she said.

The newspaper reported that in the past year, the congresswoman has had seven major surgeries, including a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

MINNESOTA

Franken, Coleman to get bobbleheads

ST. PAUL | The two candidates locked in a lengthy fight over a Senate seat from Minnesota are getting their own bobblehead doll.

That’s just one bobblehead doll, but with two faces - one for Republican Norm Coleman and one for Democrat Al Franken.

It’s been more than four months since Election Day and a Minnesota court is still considering Mr. Coleman’s lawsuit to overturn the results of a recount that gave a narrow lead to Mr. Franken.

So now the marketing team for the St. Paul Saints independent league baseball team is giving fans a symbol of the political contest.

The dolls will go to the first 2,500 fans at the Saints’ May 23 home game against a team from South Dakota - the Sioux Falls Canaries.

While the doll’s faces are Mr. Coleman and Mr. Franken, each doll will be dressed like Count von Count from “Sesame Street.” It’s called the “Re-Count.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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