- - Thursday, August 2, 2012

House Republicans questioned the head of the Internal Revenue Service on the agency’s decision to apply the health care law’s tax credits in states that decide not to carry out a key provision of the statute.

Commissioner Douglas Shulman on Thursday defended the IRS rule that applies the tax credits to federal insurance exchanges, which are the bodies that will be developed to allow those without health insurance to buy it. He testified at a House hearing.

The issue is a new controversy over President Obama’s health care law. Several states already have decided not to establish their own insurance exchanges. In those states, federal exchanges would be created.

The credits would help consumers pay for private insurance beginning in 2014.


Green Party nominee out of jail after arrest

PHILADELPHIA — Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate have been released from jail after their arrest at a Philadelphia protest.

Ms. Stein and vice-presidential candidate Cheri Honkala are charged with defiant trespass and conspiracy for a sit-in at a bank.

They were among five people arrested Wednesday at the demonstration against housing foreclosures.

Attorney Lawrence Krasner said Ms. Stein and Ms. Honkala spent the night in jail before being released without bail Thursday afternoon. Ms. Honkala is a longtime Philadelphia activist.

The demonstrators included several city residents struggling to keep their homes. Two met with Fannie Mae officials.

Ms. Stein is a Harvard-educated physician. Her “Green New Deal” platform seeks to create sustainable local economies and reduce corporate power in politics.

Their first court appearance is scheduled Sept. 4.


Jets near Reagan Airport not on collision course

None of the commuter jets that flew close together near Washington was ever on course to collide head-on with the others, federal officials said Thursday.

During a press conference, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood strongly disputed media reports characterizing the incident as a near-miss.

“At no point were the three aircraft on a head-to-head course. They were not on a collision course,” said Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The incident occurred Tuesday because of a miscommunication between a manager at Potomac Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control and two traffic management coordinators at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Mr. Huerta said. Officials are investigating. The exact nature of the miscommunication was not immediately clear, but there was apparently a failure on both ends to follow standard procedure.

The mishap happened at a time when traffic controllers were changing the landing and take-off directions of planes at the airport because of bad weather including several thunderstorms, the closest being about 6 miles to the south.

Both Mr. LaHood and Mr. Huerta praised the work of air traffic controllers to quickly set the US Airways planes on another path once they learned they were too close together. Mr. Huerta said the planes were on different headings at different altitudes, thus never would have collided.


Experts say governor’s claims overestimated

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s claim that a single energy company could recover $1 trillion worth of oil and gas from the state’s shale is an exorbitant overestimate, according to experts interviewed by the Associated Press.

At current oil prices, that figure represents more than four times U.S. oil production last year. Viewed another way, every drop of oil produced in America for the next four years will be worth roughly $800 billion, based on current prices and production rates.

“I think he’s way off base,” said Arthur Berman, a Texas-based petroleum geologist and independent energy consultant. “My best estimate is he’s probably wrong by a couple of zeroes.”

U.S. crude oil production in 2011 was 2.078 billion barrels. At roughly $100 a barrel, that’s $200 billion worth of oil.

The revenue potential of newly accessible deposits of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids under the state is important because Mr. Kasich is pursuing an increase in a state tax that large-volume oil and gas producers pay on what they extract. Proceeds from the tax would provide modest statewide income tax relief.

During his 2010 campaign, Mr. Kasich pledged to reduce and eventually phase out the income tax. He faces opposition to his manner of funding the reduction from the well-funded energy industry and some fellow Republicans in the state legislature.


Sen. Corker tops rivals, wins GOP nomination

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has fended off four challengers in a Republican primary to win his party’s nomination for a second term.

The former Chattanooga mayor faced a much easier time in his re-election bid than he did when he ran in 2006.

Then he had a tough primary against two former congressmen and narrowly defeated former Democratic U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. in an even-more bruising general election campaign.

Seven little-known Democrats were vying for the nomination to face Mr. Corker in the general election.

In the most recent financial disclosures, Mr. Corker had more than $6 million remaining, while no other challenger had more than $19,000.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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