- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

WHITE HOUSE

Obama urges ACORN probe

President Obama says there should be an investigation into the hidden-camera video involving employees at the activist group ACORN and a couple posing as a prostitute and her pimp.

The two ACORN workers are seen apparently advising the couple to lie about her profession and launder her earnings to get housing aid.

The video is only the latest problem for the group, which had nearly $1 million embezzled by its founder’s brother and has been accused of voter registration fraud. The House and Senate voted last week to deny federal funds to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

Mr. Obama told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview broadcast Sunday that what he saw on the video “was certainly inappropriate and deserves to be investigated.” But the president did not say who should investigate. And he said it is not a major national issue he pays much attention to.

“Frankly, it’s not really something I’ve followed closely,” Mr. Obama said. “I didn’t even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.”

Asked about the president calling for an investigation, ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis said Sunday, “Well, that’s his opinion.”

FED

FED expected to stay course

With the economy starting to rebound but still fragile, Federal Reserve policymakers this week are expected to keep emergency programs to encourage spending and borrowing intact. But to avoid unleashing inflation later on, they are likely to consider ways to rein in programs designed to keep mortgage rates down and get banks to lend more freely.

As the economy improves, the Fed will face more pressure to wind down some of its programs. For now, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his colleagues probably will stay the course while striking a more optimistic tone at a two-day meeting that ends Wednesday.

“I think they are feeling more confident about the recovery,” said Christopher Rupkey, economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

Fed policymakers are all but sure to keep interest rates at a record low near zero to nurture a tentative recovery. And they will probably stick with their goal of buying $1.45 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by year’s end. The program is intended to lower rates on home mortgages and support the housing market.

FLU

First family ‘in line’ for swine flu vaccine

The first family will follow the rules like every one else on the swine flu vaccine.

President Obama says he’s probably “fairly far down” the pecking order for being vaccinated.

He tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that even though he’s president, “We will stand in line like everybody else. And when folks say it’s our turn, that’s when we’ll get it.”

Federal guidelines call for the new vaccine to be given first to pregnant women; people who live with or care for kids 6 months or younger; health care workers; people ages 6 months through 24; and people with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems.

Only after shots are offered to those groups will the vaccine be available to healthy adults 64 and younger - that’s where the president and first lady come in. Eleven-year-old Malia and 8-year-old Sasha are in an earlier category.

Mr. Obama says he’ll call up his health secretary and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “whatever they tell me to do, I will do.”

OLYMPICS

White House sends team to meeting site

The White House is sending an advance team to Copenhagen to make preparations in case President Obama decides to attend the International Olympic Committee’s meeting there next month, an administration official says.

The committee will choose a host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics during the Oct. 2 meeting. Mr. Obama’s hometown of Chicago is a finalist, but the president has said he can’t commit to attending the meeting because of the health care reform debate in the U.S.

First lady Michelle Obama, a Chicago native, will attend and make a presentation to the committee.

The White House official spoke on the condition of anonymity because a final decision has not yet been made on the president’s plans.

HOUSE

GOP leader: Health care needs refocus

The top House Republican says President Obama’s proposed health care overhaul would create 51 new boards or commissions and isn’t needed.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, says Washington doesn’t have to throw away the existing system. He says Democrats want a bigger role for government in health care - “a giant takeover,” he calls it - and says that’s just not needed.

He says people are “scared to death” about what may happen to the system.

Mr. Boehner spoke to NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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