- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

AMBASSADOR

Obama to nominate gay lawyer as envoy

An administration official says President Obama plans to nominate an openly gay lawyer as the United States’ ambassador to New Zealand and American Samoa.

The administration official says Obama plans to nominate David Huebner to the post. The official would speak only on the condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Huebner would the administration’s first openly gay ambassador. Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush both had openly gay ambassadors during their terms.

The announcements come days before Mr. Obama speaks to a gay fundraising dinner on Saturday and gay activists march on Washington on Sunday.

STIMULUS

140,549 received erroneous rebate

While the Internal Revenue Service overall did a “successful” job doling out the one-time tax rebates that were part of last year’s economic stimulus package, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers received too much - or too little - rebate, thanks to computer and procedural errors, a government watchdog says.

The IRS gave 140,549 taxpayers $60.6 million more “recovery rebate credit” money they were entitled to, while 258,550 U.S. households got shortchanged a total of $84.6 million, according to an audit released Tuesday by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The recovery rebate credit goes to taxpayers who were eligible to receive a tax rebate checks last year as part of the $168 billion stimulus package passed Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, or who were entitled to an additional money, but for one of several reasons didn’t initially receive their money.

But despite the problems, the audit shows that 99.6 percent - or 101.7 million - tax returns were processed correctly in program.

The inspector general has recommended that the IRS issue recovery payments to everyone who didn’t receive the rebate credit to which they were entitled.

CAPITOL

Statue honors Helen Keller

Alabama installed the first statue honoring a disabled person in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, unveiling a bronze of a 7-year-old Helen Keller at her moment of epiphany when she solved “the mystery of language” without sight or hearing.

The statue - also the only one of a child in the Capitol collection - depicts Keller at her home in Tuscumbia, Ala., as her teacher Anne Sullivan spelled out the word “water” in her hand while pumping water over her other hand.

Keller said the moment “awakened [her] soul” to the potential for her life. She later became an internationally celebrated advocate for those with disabilities. She died in 1968.

In a ceremony unveiling the statue in the Capitol Rotunda, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, said the monument will remind people “that courage and strength can exist in the most unlikely places.”

Each state has two statues in the Capitol as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, which was permanent until 2000, when Congress allowed for changes.

The Keller statue replaces one of Jabez Curry, a former Confederate officer, educator, ambassador and preacher who was once well known for advocating for free public education.

GAO

Child dental care lags in Medicare

Two years after a 12-year-old Maryland boy died from an untreated tooth infection, more low-income children are getting dental care under Medicaid but many still don’t ever see a dentist, government investigators said Wednesday.

State officials told the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that a lack of available funding, low provider participation and administrative burdens are some of the barriers to providing dental care to more children through Medicaid.

Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, provides coverage, including dental care, for 30 million children. But many of those children often have difficulty finding dentists willing to treat them, according to the GAO report.

The GAO released its report as part of a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on the inadequacies of pediatric dental care among Medicaid enrollees.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama praises, rewards scientists

President Obama tied scientific discovery with helping the nation’s struggling economy, awarding the nation’s highest research honor Wednesday to those who invented batteries for pacemakers, mapped the human genetic code and made global positioning systems possible.

Awarding the National Medal of Science and the Medal of Technology and Innovation, Mr. Obama said the United States must continue to invest in “the next generation of discoveries and the next generation of discoverers.” Repeating his pledge to put thousands of more students in college classrooms, he committed to spending 3 percent of the gross domestic product to educate future scientists and researchers.

Among the award recipients was Dr. Francis Collins, Mr. Obama’s director of the National Institutes of Health, who mapped the human genome. He also honored IBM Corp. for its supercomputers and a pair of Adobe Systems Inc. officials for changing how Americans use their computers to find information.

NEW JERSEY

Biden stumps for Gov. Corzine

ATLANTIC CITY | Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. says New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has complete and unwavering support from the White House because “it’s critically important he be re-elected.”

Mr. Biden appeared with Mr. Corzine, a Democrat, on Wednesday at an AFL-CIO conference in Atlantic City.

The vice president said he and Mr. Corzine are pro-labor “from belt buckle to shoe sole.”

Mr. Corzine introduced Mr. Biden as “an American hero.”

Wednesday marked Mr. Biden’s second stump speech for Mr. Corzine.

Mr. Corzine trailed Republican Chris Christie in the early stages of the campaign. Recent polls show while the governor remains unpopular, he has closed the gap on Mr. Christie.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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