- - Wednesday, February 8, 2012


GOP proposes changing federal worker pensions

House Republicans are proposing to make federal employees pay more toward their pensions while reducing benefits in order to pay for highway programs.

The proposal was posted online Wednesday by the House Rules Committee. The pension changes are being used to make up a shortfall between federal gasoline tax revenue and the $260 billion that Republicans want to spend on highway construction and transit programs.

Under the proposal, the pension contributions of federal employees would increase a total of 1.5 percent over three years. New employees’ retirement benefits would be calculated based on an average of an employee’s past five years of earnings, instead of the current three years. The savings to the government would be about $40 billion over 10 years.


Santorum files despite state ballot dispute

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum is filing to get his name on Indiana’s ballot even though he has not been certified by local election officials.

Brad King, co-director of the Indiana Election Division, said the Santorum campaign filed Wednesday morning to get on the ballot. The Santorum team is disputing a decision by Marion County officials last week that he fell 24 signatures short of the number needed to register as a candidate.

Mr. King said Mr. Santorum would make it on the state ballot unless a registered voter files a challenge before Feb. 17. The election division then would have until March 1 to rule on the challenge.

Indiana’s open primary is scheduled for May 8.


Gingrich stays upbeat despite caucus losses

CLEVELAND — Newt Gingrich is keeping a chipper tone despite his poor showing in this week’s GOP presidential caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota.

Mr. Gingrich made no mention of the results during his only scheduled public appearance for the next two days. He told workers at a metal manufacturing plant in Cleveland on Wednesday that he can lead the nation to an era of prosperity and security.

The former House speaker did not directly mention GOP rivals Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum in his unusually short 12-minute remarks. He made only a passing reference to President Obama. Mr. Gingrich restated his goal of giving workers the option of having private Social Security savings accounts.

Mr. Gingrich was scheduled to return to Washington later in the day, and has scheduled no public events for Thursday.


Wyden seeks reason used in al-Awlaki killing

A Democratic member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence says that he, like the public, is being kept in the dark about Justice Department legal advice on when the U.S. may kill American citizens abroad who are suspected terrorists.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon says he has been trying for more than a year to get the legal analysis from the intelligence community. He is renewing his request more than four months after American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a second American, Samir Khan, were killed by a CIA airstrike in Yemen.

Newsweek magazine reported two weeks ago that the Obama administration was planning to reveal publicly the legal reasoning behind its decision to kill al-Awlaki. The administration has not done so.


U.S. pledges to help find global tax evaders

The United States and five European nations are pledging to crack down on global tax evaders.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the U.S. government has signed a joint agreement with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom to intensify their efforts to fight international tax evasion.

Treasury also announced that the Internal Revenue Service is publishing proposed rules investors will have to follow in reporting on earnings from foreign bank accounts.

The regulations were required under a 2010 measure that Congress passed aimed at cracking down on taxpayer use of foreign accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

“When taxpayers overseas avoid paying what they owe, other Americans have to bear a disproportionate share of the tax burden,” said Emily S. McMahon, Treasury’s acting assistant secretary for tax policy.

The regulations establish tax reporting requirements for foreign banks that hold accounts for U.S. taxpayers.

The IRS will review the regulations and has the authority to modify them before they take effect.


Democrats recruiting former Giant to run

House Democrats are envisioning another Giants victory — not by the professional football team, but by Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson in a congressional run.

Officials with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are recruiting the 58-year-old retired New York Giant for a race against five-term Republican Rep. Scott Garrett in a northern New Jersey district.

Mr. Carson said Wednesday that he is interested.

“I may be able to speak more about it in the next week or two,” he said.

Mr. Carson said he had just arrived in Hawaii for a family vacation after a chaotic and difficult two months, marked by the deaths of his brother and stepfather-in-law. He also mentioned the excitement of his former team’s improbable playoff run from a 9-7 record to Super Bowl champions.

“This is an opportunity for me to clear my mind, think rationally about my future and whether I do something along that line,” he said of a political career.

Mr. Carson spent 13 years with the Giants, from 1976 to 1988, and was on the championship team in 1986. Mr. Carson said he was at Sunday night’s game in Indianapolis in which the Giants beat the New England Patriots, 21-17, to win their fourth Super Bowl title.

Since retiring, Mr. Carson has worked in broadcasting, written two books and started his own consulting and promotions company.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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