- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2010

EXECUTIVE PAY

Bailed-out firms impose pay cuts

The Obama administration’s pay czar said Tuesday that the top 25 earners at five companies still receiving extraordinary aid from the federal government’s bailout fund will be paid an average 15 percent less in 2010 than in 2009 under his restrictions.

The companies include troubled automakers General Motors and Chrysler and insurance giant American International Group.

Pay czar Kenneth Feinberg also said he is asking 419 companies that received bailout money to provide details of compensation they received at the height of the financial crisis at the end of 2008 and early 2009.

Mr. Feinberg’s announcement was the administration’s latest effort to deal with public outrage over bonus payments provided to executives at companies receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer support.

MEDIA

Ruling lifts limits on press ownership

A federal court has at least temporarily lifted government rules that prohibit media companies from owning a newspaper and a broadcast TV station in the same market.

The decision Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit lifts the Federal Communications Commission’s so-called “cross-ownership” ban.

That ban had remained in effect under a stay issued by the court in 2003 as it has tried to sort out legal challenges to attempts by two previous FCC chairmen, Republicans Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, to relax the rules.

The decision comes as the current FCC, now under Democratic control, gears up for its next congressionally mandated review of its media-ownership rules.

MILITARY

Pentagon nears changes on gay ban

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that the Defense Department is close to changing how it enforces its policy on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which bans gays from serving openly in the military.

In February, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates directed his legal counsel to suggest ways to relax enforcement of the policy, which is based on a 1993 law. Of particular interest is minimizing cases of “third-party outings,” where a service member is kicked out after being reported by others to be gay.

Mr. Morrell said Mr. Gates is likely to announce a “way ahead” on the matter by the end of the week.

CHINA TRADE

Senators urge action on currency

Two senators -one Democrat and one Republican - said Tuesday they would push for quick action on a bill aimed at making China raise the value of its currency and spur U.S. exports.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he would push for a vote on the bill by the end of May whether or not President Obama’s administration has formally labeled China a currency “manipulator” in an upcoming report.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he agreed quick congressional action was needed because the pace of China’s currency reforms has been so slow.

Some trade analysts warn that the move could spark a trade war with Beijing, the largest holder of U.S. debt.

KANSAS

Amendment rejected to block health law

TOPEKA, Kan. | A proposed “Health Care Freedom Amendment” to the Kansas Constitution has failed in the Kansas House.

The House’s 75-47 vote Tuesday came the same day President Obama signed sweeping federal health care legislation into law.

Lawmakers wanted to send a message that they disapprove of the new federal law. But opponents of the overhaul law fell nine votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary to change the state constitution.

The measure would have prohibited Kansas from requiring any individual or business to buy health insurance or from imposing fines on those who didn’t.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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