“About two-thirds of Americans support President Obama’s decision to send approximately 17,000 additional U.S. military forces to Afghanistan,” a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds. At the same time, however, “[n]early four in 10 who said the war has not justified its costs back the new troops.”
“In addition to his morning national-security briefing, President Barack Obama has, starting today, begun to receive a daily economic-intelligence document, put together by several U.S. intel agencies.” The briefing follows recent comments by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who said that America’s “primary near-term security concern” is the global financial crisis and the turmoil it could ignite.
President Obama will propose tax increases on the rich to help pay for a $634 billion downpayment on health care reform. “Overall, the fund is a good start, but it’s certainly not enough to reach universal coverage.”
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told PBS yesterday that bank nationalization is “the wrong strategy for the country, and I don’t think it’s a necessary strategy. What we need to do is to make sure that these institutions have the resources necessary to perform their critical function on an ongoing basis in our economy as a whole.”
Returning from a visit to Guantanamo, Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday confirmed plans to close the detention facility. Closing Guantanamo, he said, “will not be an easy process.” DNI Dennis Blair told Congress that Gitmo must be closed because “[c]ountries won’t deal with us. Our popularity’s down. We don’t have blue chips to trade.”
Members of Congress are “already shooting down President Obama’s plan to cut farm subsidies.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said that “it is premature to make any sweeping changes to the makeup of the farm safety net,” while Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “[W]e just finished the farm bill last year, and I don’t think we’ll open it up.”
A new study from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy due to be released later this week will urge “the Obama administration to work within Muslim communities in the United States to counter extremism and prevent Islamic militant groups from gathering new recruits.” One of the coauthors of the study, J. Scott Carpenter, said that “[w]e need to get beyond killing our way out of the problem.”
In what some see as “signaling a potential thaw in relations between Damascus and Washington,” the State Department has invited the Syrian Ambassador to the U.S. to meet with a top diplomat at the Department today. The United States has not had its own ambassador in Syria since 2005.
“In his second reversal of a Bush administration decision,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday that he is “scrapping leases for oil-shale development on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.” The leases would have led to “oil-shale exploration on 1.9 million acres in the three states.”
And finally: Politico has a new interview with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), asking him, “What is your favorite body part (on yourself) and why?” Kerry says that it’s definitely not his “face,” because it has been compared to “New Hampshire’s ‘Old Man in the Mountain‘ (before it fell).” Instead he chooses his “better-than-Rod-Blagojevich hair.” When asked “what types of products do you never go cheap, for the sake of quality,” the husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry replied, “Ketchup.”
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