- - Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Obama goes bipartisan in Fed board picks

HONOLULU — A vacationing President Obama has nominated a Democratic Harvard University professor and a former Treasury official under Republican President George H.W. Bush to the Federal Reserve Board.

In a statement from Hawaii, Mr. Obama praised Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell for agreeing to serve his administration at a critical moment for the U.S. economy.

“Their distinguished backgrounds and experience coupled with their impressive knowledge of economic and monetary policy make them tremendously qualified to serve in these important roles,” he said.

Mr. Stein is an economics professor at Harvard, where he teaches finance.

Mr. Powell, a visiting scholar at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center, was undersecretary of finance at the Treasury Department under Mr. Bush.

In nominating both a Democrat and a Republican to the seven-member Fed board, Mr. Obama could be trying to head off a confirmation fight in the Senate.


Gov. Walker taking recall effort ‘very seriously’

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker complained Tuesday of fraud and inconsistencies in the recall effort to evict him from the governor’s mansion next year, but said he is still taking the fight “very seriously.”

Appearing on the Fox News Channel, the first-term Republican acknowledged he could have done a better job selling his budget proposals to Wisconsin voters.

“What I probably should have done was spend more time laying the groundwork, making the case over and over again about how school districts prior to our reforms would have to pay tens of millions of dollars more for things like their health insurance,” he said.

“You have examples of people abusing overtime, like the bus driver in Madison who’s making $150,000 or more per year. Those sorts of excesses and abuses are things that we tried to fix, but we didn’t lay the groundwork for it. So when we did it, the national big-government union bosses came out and spent literally millions of dollars attacking us.”


Perry sharpens opposition to abortion

OSCEOLA — Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on Tuesday said he had strengthened his opposition to abortion and now opposes the procedure even in the case of rape, incest or when the woman’s life would be at risk.

“You’re seeing a transformation,” Mr. Perry said while describing his views.

Mr. Perry said the change followed a meeting with a woman whose mother was raped and whose story was part of an abortion documentary screened by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Mr. Perry’s shift comes just a week ahead of Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses that launch the Republican nominating contest. Social conservatives hold great sway here and gave Mr. Huckabee an upset win four years ago.

Mr. Perry, whose polling has slid in recent months, is working to win over holdout caucus-goers and cultural conservatives. Time is running short, however, and he is trying to recapture the enthusiasm that greeted his entrance to the race in August only to see his luster fade after campaign fumbles and weak debate performances.


Kentucky Democrat: GOP losing payroll-tax debate

Rep. John A. Yarmuth, Kentucky Democrat, predicted Tuesday that the fight between Democrats and Republicans over the payroll-tax cut extension will continue throughout the year.

“I’m very confident we will be exactly in that place 60 days from now. This is a fundamental debate that’s been going on for all of 2011, and it will continue through the next election, for sure,” Mr. Yarmuth said on MSNBC. “This [debate] is basically about what you do to support people during a serious economic decline and how you pay for the assistance you provide. That is the debate we are having, and we will have it again.”

The Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate hammered out a two-month extension of the tax cut last week.


RNC chief not worried about muddled primary race

The head of the Republican National Committee says nothing bad should be inferred from the party’s inability, so far, to coalesce around a candidate to challenge President Obama.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that it’s very early in what he called a “horse race,” but “we’ll get there and we’ll have a nominee pretty quickly.”

Asked whether the muddled contest might be problematic, Mr. Priebus replied, “I don’t know if I would get too uptight over that.”

Mr. Priebus said he isn’t worried about a third-party candidate, saying that would likely pose a greater threat to Mr. Obama than to the Republicans.

“I just think America is ready to put a person in the White House who can make a promise and keep a promise,” he said.


Rep. Wilson plans to offer anti-hazing bill

TALLAHASSEE — Rep. Frederica S. Wilson says she plans to introduce a federal anti-hazing bill as soon as Congress returns from its holiday break next month.

The Florida Democrat says her proposal is designed to ensure no one endures a beating like one that lead to the death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion last month. She announced her plans Tuesday.

Police say Mr. Champion was punched and paddled in a hazing ritual during the school’s Marching 100 band trip to the annual Florida Classic in Orlando.

The congresswoman says hazing is demeaning, dangerous and deadly, and needs to be stopped.

The Marching 100 has been suspended from future activities and its director placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into Mr. Champion’s death.


Pentagon: No parade plans for troops home from Iraq

Americans probably won’t be seeing a huge ticker-tape parade anytime soon for troops returning from Iraq, and it’s not clear if veterans of the nine-year campaign will ever enjoy the grand, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue homecoming that the nation’s fighting men and women received after World War II and the Gulf War.

Officials in New York and Washington say they would be happy to help stage a big celebration, but Pentagon officials say they haven’t been asked to plan one.

Two New York City council members, Republicans Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo, have called for a ticker-tape parade down the stretch of Broadway known as the Canyon of Heroes. A similar celebration after the Gulf War was paid for with more than $5.2 million in private donations, a model the two men would like to follow.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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