- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2010

BENEFITS

Kyl: GOP will back jobless benefits

The Senate’s second-ranking Republican leader says he expects GOP lawmakers will vote to extend unemployment benefits this week - derailing a fellow Republican’s objections.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona says the extension will pass, but only because it’s temporary.

The benefits are part of a larger package of government programs that expired Sunday because senators couldn’t agree on how to pay to keep them going.



The House approved the measure Thursday, but the Senate hasn’t been able to overcome the objections of a single lawmaker. Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican, wants to know how the $10 billion measure will be paid for.

The bill would extend unemployment payments to laid-off workers and provide subsidies to help pay health premiums through the COBRA program. It would also extend funding for highway projects and spare doctors from a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments.

PATRIOT ACT

Obama signs extension of act

President Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation’s main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act.

Provisions in the measure would have expired on Sunday without Mr. Obama’s signature Saturday.

The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, expands the government’s ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.

Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:

• Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.

• Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.

• Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

Mr. Obama’s signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.

The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government’s authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.

WHITE HOUSE

White House lays out retirement safeguards

The Obama administration on Friday proposed new regulations aimed at protecting workers’ retirement savings from unethical financial advisers.

The safeguards would protect workers from conflicts of interest on the part of advisers who manage their 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts. The administration estimates that the protections would affect 15 million workers.

The proposed regulations would require retirement investment advisers and money managers to either base their investment advice on objective computer models certified by independent experts, or refrain from steering workers into funds they are affiliated with or from which they are receiving a commission.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris announced the proposal during a meeting of the White House Middle Class Task Force. Mr. Biden said the regulations meet the task force’s goal of helping middle-class families plan for a secure retirement.

HEALTH

Cheney recovering after heart attack

One of Dick Cheney’s daughters says the former vice president is recovering well from the mild heart attack that sent him to the hospital last week.

Liz Cheney says her father is following doctor’s orders. Mr. Cheney, 69, has had five heart attacks - the first when he was 37.

Ms. Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday” that the lesson of her father’s experience is that a person can live a full life with coronary disease. She said it’s important to be vigilant for signs of the disease.

Mr. Cheney was released from George Washington University Hospital on Wednesday.

PRESIDENT

Checkup finds Obama in excellent health

President Obama hasn’t kicked the smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee and should eat better to lower his cholesterol, his team of doctors concluded Sunday after the 48-year-old’s first medical checkup as commander in chief.

The hoops-happy chief executive, who has endured an exhausting White House run and yearlong battles with congressional Republicans, was otherwise declared in excellent health and fit for duty.

The White House physician, Navy Capt. Jeffrey Kuhlman, said Mr. Obama should stick with “smoking cessation efforts,” the use of nicotine gum, and come back in August 2011 after he turns 50.

Mr. Obama’s cholesterol levels have crept up to borderline high and he should alter his diet accordingly, according to a report the White House released after the 90-minute examination at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. While at the facility, the president visited with 12 military service members receiving treatment and rehabilitation for injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president is the picture of health, eats modest portions and exercises regularly. He is an avid basketball player and golfer. The slightly elevated cholesterol levels, tendinitis in his left knee and occasional smoking were the only negatives noted.

Mr. Obama said at a June news conference that he still had an occasional cigarette. It was his first public acknowledgment that he hadn’t kicked the habit. He chews nicotine gum to avoid regular smoking, and his doctor said that should continue.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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