- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 13, 2009

PRESIDENCY

Clinton laughs off White House run

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an interview Monday on NBC’s “Today” show, said flatly she will never run for president again.

When asked by interviewer Ann Curry to answer yes or no on making another run for the White House, Mrs. Clinton laughed and said simply, “No.”

She added: “I mean, [secretary of state] is a great job. It is a 24/7 job. And I’m looking forward to retirement at some point.”

Denying she felt “marginalized” in the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton said “it never crosses my mind” that someone else — President Obama — makes the final decisions. “I am part of the team that makes the decisions,” Mrs. Clinton said.

ECONOMY

Obama adviser: It’s Bush’s fault

A top White House official issued a robust defense of the Obama administration’s recovery policies on Monday with a pointed critique of economic conditions and fiscal policies during the presidency of George W. Bush.

In a letter to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, White House chief economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers said President Obama “is committed to not repeating the fiscal mistakes of the last eight years.”

Mr. Summers’ letter was in response to correspondence Mr. Obama received last week from Mr. Boehner and other top House Republicans, who complained that the administration’s policies were having no impact on unemployment and recommended a series of tax breaks to invigorate the economy.

Mr. Summers replied that the $787 billion stimulus package that Congress passed at Mr. Obama’s urging contained a mix of spending and tax relief that helped avert an even worse economic downturn. He said that while unemployment now stands at 9.8 percent, the pace of job losses is decreasing from an average of 691,000 jobs per month in the first quarter of this year to a 256,000 monthly average in the third quarter.

“We have walked a substantial distance back from the economic abyss and are on the path toward economic recovery,” he wrote.

TRAVEL

Amtrak ridership falls by 1.5 million

Amtrak said Monday its ridership dropped by more than 1 million passengers during the past year, but was still the second-highest year in the railroad’s history.

Figures released by the nation’s intercity rail operator show Amtrak carried 27.2 million passengers during the 12 months ending Sept. 30. Amtrak’s record was 28.7 million passengers during the previous year, a period coinciding with record high gas prices.

Still, ridership was up over two years ago by 5.1 percent.

Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman blamed the decline on the weakened economy, although travel was up on some short-distance routes and on the railroad’s 15 long-distance trains.

“In a difficult year for the economy — particularly in the travel industry — Amtrak ridership has remained strong, albeit with some regional variation,” Mr. Boardman said. “In particular, reduced business travel along the Northeast corridor prevented us from reaching the ridership we achieved last year.”

WHITE HOUSE

Tribal leaders to visit Obama

President Obama is inviting American Indian leaders to a White House conference on Nov. 5.

The president said in a statement released by the White House that he wants to hear directly from them about how his administration can meet their needs and help make their lives better. Many Indians suffer higher rates of crime and poorer health than the rest of the population.

The White House said Monday each of the 564 federally recognized tribes in the United States will be invited to send one representative to the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

STIMULUS

Teachers score well in Obama program

President Obama’s stimulus plan spared tens of thousands of teachers from losing their jobs, state officials said Monday amid a nationwide effort to calculate the effect of Washington’s $787 billion recovery package.

State officials around the country worked to meet a Saturday reporting deadline to calculate the effect of the massive government spending program. From 11 jobs repaving a road in Caldwell, Texas, to one at a Utah food bank, states were required to say exactly what became of billions in government aid.

The national data won’t be available until later this month. But based on preliminary information obtained by the Associated Press from a handful of states, teachers appear to have benefited most from early spending.

Construction companies also are expected to report strong job numbers thanks to billions of dollars in highway money, but those figures will vary because some states have spent that money faster than others.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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