- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Obama mulls levy on banks

President Obama is weighing a levy on Washington-rescued banks to help recover shortfalls in a $700 billion bailout fund and to help balance a budget that is looking increasingly grim amid an ongoing economic crisis.

A senior administration official told the Associated Press Monday that Mr. Obama would seek modifications to the law that sent billions in bailout money in 2008 and 2009 to a flailing Wall Street that was approaching collapse. The government official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s thinking.

The law that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program gives the president until 2014 to seek a way to recoup unrecovered money from financial institutions. An industry official said consideration of a levy now would be premature.

“Current law doesn’t trigger this tax proposal for another four years,” said Scott Talbott, chief lobbyist for the Financial Services Roundtable, an industry group for some of the largest financial firms.

Government officials have conceded that they don’t expect to recoup billions in TARP money used to rescue insurance conglomerate American International Group Inc. and the auto industry. Banks have been repaying their infusions, in part to get out from under compensation limits imposed on the bailout recipients.


Hoeven begins run for Senate

BISMARCK, N.D. | North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven began his run for the U.S. Senate Monday with appeals for lower taxes, less debt and federal tax incentives to prod business growth and energy production.

Speaking to a boisterous crowd at a meeting of local district Republican organizations, Mr. Hoeven declared he will seek the Republican endorsement to run for a seat now held by Democrat Byron L. Dorgan, who is not running for his fourth term. Recent polls showed Mr. Hoeven leading Mr. Dorgan in a hypothetical U.S. Senate race.

Paul Sorum, a Fargo architect and political newcomer, had been the only declared candidate in the race. Both Republicans and Democrats had expected Mr. Dorgan to run for re-election, but the incumbent announced last week he wanted to teach, write books and pursue other opportunities.


Political espionage highlighted in papers

Newly released documents from Richard Nixon’s years in the White House are shedding more light on the president’s appetite for political espionage.

Along with tracking Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s amorous activities, Nixon’s aides secretly hired a journalist traveling with Democratic presidential candidates to give them inside reports on Democratic infighting. The existence of “Chapman’s Friend,” as the source was code-named, has long been known. The materials released Monday include a selection of the source’s reports.

In all, the Nixon Presidential Library opened about 280,000 pages of records from the Nixon White House, 12 hours of sound recordings and 7,000 images by White House photographer Oliver F. Atkins.


Fiorina loans her campaign $2.5 million

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has lent $2.5 million of her own money to her campaign for the U.S. Senate, indication she’s willing to invest significant personal resources into the effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Mrs. Fiorina also raised nearly $1.1 million in donations during her first two months in the race. After expenses, that gives her about $2.7 million going into 2010, according to her campaign.

Mrs. Fiorina hopes to give California’s junior senator her most formidable re-election test, but she will have to survive what could be a challenging Republican primary against state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Mrs. Fiorina has been vague about how much of her family’s money she would put into the race, saying she had no plans to fund it herself.


Purported crasher claims invitation

A man who may have been a third uninvited guest at White House state dinner for India’s prime minister asserted Monday that he did receive an invitation.

But when pressed in a nationally broadcast interview, Washington businessman Carlos Allen said only that he had gotten a White House invitation for the day. But he couldn’t display anything with his name on it. Mr. Allen said he didn’t know precisely the nature of Secret Service procedures, but insisted repeatedly he had not crashed the Nov. 24 State Dinner for visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mr. Allen was among three people who purportedly went without invitations to the official party that President Obama gave for Mr. Singh.

Two others, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, got in without displaying invitations to security personnel on site, and so far have resisted congressional subpoenas seeking their testimony. The Secret Service acknowledged that mistakes were made, leading to a security breach.


Blagojevich: Esquire comments ‘stupid’

CHICAGO | Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is apologizing for what he calls a poor choice of words during a magazine interview in which he claims he’s “blacker than Barack Obama.”

Mr. Blagojevich says he’s sorry if he offended anyone. He told WLS Radio in Chicago on Monday that it was a “stupid thing to say.”

In the interview with Esquire, Mr. Blagojevich said he grew up in a small apartment, shined shoes as a boy and that his father ran a laundry in a black neighborhood.

The interview is in the February issue of Esquire, which hits newsstands Jan. 19.

The White House refused to comment on Mr. Blagojevich’s statements in the interview.


Crackdown ordered against tribal crime

The Justice Department is ordering prosecutors in 33 states to step up efforts to combat crime on Indian reservations, particularly offenses against women and children.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was announcing the effort after his deputy, David Ogden, sent a memo instructing those federal prosecutors to do more to fight tribal crime.

The memo says 47 new prosecutors and FBI personnel will be assigned to this work.

On tribal lands, federal officials are usually responsible for prosecuting serious crimes. While the nationwide crime rate is falling, statistics show American Indians are victims of violent crime at more than twice the national rate — and some tribes have murder rates against women 10 times greater than the national average.


Obama to attend Biden mom funeral

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Delaware Tuesday to attend funeral services for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s mother.

Jean Finnegan Biden died Friday after falling ill in recent days. She had suffered a broken hip in a fall in March 2009. In a statement, the vice president said his 92-year-old mother died surrounded by family and loved ones.

A wake is being held Monday. The Obamas will leave Washington Tuesday morning to attend the funeral at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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