- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SENATE

Dodd: Goldman suit will pass regulations

The chairman of the Senate’s banking committee said Monday that the government’s fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs should dissuade Republicans from attempting to block financial regulations pending before the Senate.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said Monday that his legislation would provide more transparency to the type of mortgage-backed instrument that Goldman assembled and that cost investors $1 billion.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges Friday against the venerable Wall Street firm, claiming the bank misled investors about the risks surrounding the securities.

“The markets would have known what was going first of all, so the market could have reacted to these things,” Mr. Dodd said.

Democrats are facing unified Republican opposition to the bill and have pressed Mr. Dodd to negotiate more changes. On Friday, all 41 Republican senators signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, voicing opposition to the legislation.

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, interviewed on NBC, declined to use the SEC’s suit against Goldman to urge action on financial regulations.

But Mr. Dodd left no doubt that case presented Democrats with a strong political argument that they would use to cast Republicans as friendly to Wall Street.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama taps professor to head Medicare

President Obama has nominated Harvard medical professor Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid.

Mr. Obama had signaled his plans in March and made them official Monday.

Mr. Berwick leads a nonprofit group that tries to improve the efficiency of the health care industry.

His nomination to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is subject to Senate confirmation.

NORTH CAROLINA

Teamsters split in Senate primary

RALEIGH, N.C. | The Charlotte branch of the Teamsters union broke with its leadership Monday on a U.S. Senate endorsement, saying a candidate went back on his commitment to a pro-labor proposal.

Teamsters Local 71 said it is endorsing Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in the Democratic primary May 4. The local president, Ted Russell, said his members were concerned after candidate Cal Cunningham’s comments in an interview with the Associated Press that he would not pursue a so-called “card check” plan to make it easier for unions to organize.

Mr. Russell said Mr. Cunningham, who won the endorsement of Teamsters leadership, recanted on a commitment to the idea.

Unions have long pushed to allow card check, arguing that businesses can abuse secret-ballot elections and tilt the scales against workers. Card check would allow workers to form a union by signing cards as an alternative to an election. Critics say it leaves workers susceptible to union pressure and that a secret ballot is a mainstay of democracy.

STATE DEPARTMENT

U.S. complains of Syrian arms sales

The State Department on Monday summoned the senior Syrian diplomat in Washington to accuse his government of “provocative behavior” in supplying arms to the Iranian-aligned militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

A department statement announcing the complaint was imprecise about the purported arms deals by the Syrians. It alluded to the transfer to Hezbollah of Scud ballistic missiles, but did not say explicitly that Syria was behind such a deal.

Israeli President Shimon Peres last week directly accused Damascus of providing the missiles, which can carry a warhead of up to one ton, making them far larger than the biggest rockets previously in Hezbollah’s arsenal. They are also more accurate.

The State Department said deputy chief of mission Zouheir Jabbour was called in to “review Syria’s provocative behavior concerning the potential transfer of arms to Hezbollah.” It went on to say that providing Hezbollah with Scud missiles risked escalating tensions in the volatile region.

CLINTON

Ex-president: Too much infighting

Former President Bill Clinton says he worries that the world perceives an America too immersed in its own internal political squabbles.

Mr. Clinton tells NBC that’s one reason he likes the image of working with former President George W. Bush to lead fundraising efforts for earthquake-stricken Haiti.

In an interview with Mr. Bush’s daughter, Jenna, broadcast on Monday’s “Today” show, Mr. Clinton said high-decibel political fights at home are a turnoff for many in the world. He says, “People are just sick of all of us fighting all the time. It’s a reminder that there are some things that are just beyond politics.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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