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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
CNN Political Ticker AM
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker. All politics, all the time.

Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...


  • "President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy," the New York Times reports.

  • Scooter Libby's defense team learned yesterday "what any reporter could have told them: The longer you question [Ari] Fleischer, the less knowledge you take away from the experience," the Washington Post reports.

  • Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, "has ended weeks of resistance and today will testify before Congress on the war, avoiding a split with his fellow co-chairman, former Rep. Lee Hamilton," The Hill reports. Baker "did not want to appear to be lobbying against President Bush at the height of his push for 21,500 additional troops in Iraq."

  • Talking about Katrina recovery in New Orleans yesterday, Barack Obama said "There is not a sense of urgency in this administration to get this done... You get a sense that will has been lacking in the last several months." (Chicago Tribune)

  • Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling "downplayed talk of a future run for John F. Kerry's Senate seat, but he also said he has considered politics as a possible next step," the Boston Herald reports. Schilling is "inclined to back Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008."

  • How are some candidates protecting themselves from being "George Allen-ed?" Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President travels this morning to East Peoria, IL, where at 12:10 pm ET, he participates in a tour of Caterpillar, Inc. At 12:35 pm ET, Bush will deliver remarks on the economy to Caterpillar employees.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Vice President.

  • Judith Miller is scheduled to testify today in the Scooter Libby trial.

  • Sam Brownback headlines a fundraiser for an Iowa Republican county auditor candidate, meets with Republican leaders, and holds a media availability today in Cedar Rapids, IA.

  • Mike Huckabee also travels to Iowa, where he keynotes a luncheon sponsored by the Dallas County Republicans in Waukee, IA, and is the guest of honor tonight at a meet and greet at the Iowa Welcome Center in Des Moines.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a 9:30 am ET hearing on the nomination of John Negroponte to be Deputy Secretary of State.

    Foreign Relations also holds a 1 pm ET hearing on alternative plans for Iraq, featuring Iraq Study Group Co-Chairs Lee Hamilton and James Baker.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a 10 am ET hearing, "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War."

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the members of her CODEL to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan hold a 3 pm ET news conference.

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    =================================================================
    Political Hot Topics

    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    WHITE HOUSE WILL "HAVE A GATEKEEPER" AT EACH AGENCY: President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy. In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president's priorities. This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats. New York Times: Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation

    TOUGH TALK ON IRAN IN BUSH'S NPR INTERVIEW: President Bush said Monday that he does not intend to invade Iran, but he's willing to do "whatever it takes" to defend U.S. troops in Iraq whom he says have been attacked by Iranians. "If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly," the president said in a half-hour interview with NPR Senior Correspondent Juan Williams, the first broadcast interview the president has given since his State of the Union address. Asked whether he would seek the approval of Congress for a move against Iran, the president said he had "no intent upon going into Iran," adding, "Of course, we'll protect our troops. NPR: An NPR Interview with President Bush

    FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW (via NPR.org)

    BAKER TO TESTIFY AFTER "WEEKS OF RESISTANCE": James A. Baker III, the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, has ended weeks of resistance and today will testify before Congress on the war, avoiding a split with his fellow co-chairman, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.). Sources familiar with the efforts to persuade Baker to testify said he did not want to appear to be lobbying against President Bush at the height of his push for 21,500 additional troops in Iraq. Baker will answer senators' questions today during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which includes three Democratic presidential hopefuls and Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), the chamber's most forceful Republican critic of the war, who also is mulling a White House bid. The Hill: Baker agrees reluctantly to testify on Iraq

    WHAT HAPPENED TO "IC?" President Bush says the missing "-ic" in the State of the Union address was nothing more than an oversight. Near the beginning of the speech last week, Bush congratulated "the Democrat majority" for its electoral victory, using a long-standing Republican formulation seen by many Democrats as a calculated insult. Some liberal bloggers and party strategists saw the president's omission of the last two letters of the party's proper name, Democratic, as a sign of insincerity in preaching bipartisanship. Nothing of the sort, Bush said in an interview yesterday with National Public Radio's Juan Williams. "That was an oversight," said Bush, who frequently uses the formulation. Washington Post: Bush Says Missing '-ic' Was an Oversight

    MILLER TO TAKE THE STAND IN LEAK CASE: Journalists will take center stage at the CIA leak trial as Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald begins calling reporters as witnesses. Fitzgerald said Judith Miller was to take the stand Tuesday, the first time the former New York Times reporter has testified publicly against the man she went to jail to protect as a source. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the one-time chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is accused of perjury and obstruction for lying about conversations he had with journalists about outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with Fitzgerald's investigating and reveal her conversations with Libby. She retired from the Times in November 2005, declaring that she had to leave because she had "become the news." AP via Yahoo! News: Reporter to take stand in CIA leak case

    "THE LONGER YOU QUESTION FLEISCHER, THE LESS KNOWLEDGE YOU TAKE AWAY": It's been almost four years since Ari Fleischer stepped down from the podium, but he has lost nothing off the old curveball. Questioning the former White House press secretary in the Scooter Libby trial yesterday, defense lawyer William Jeffress Jr. asked if Fleischer had read a document Jeffress placed in front of him. "In a generic sense," Fleischer said. Did he work for White House communications director Dan Bartlett? "Nominally," Fleischer replied. "On paper, Mr. Bartlett had a box above me... I wouldn't put it that way." Thus did Libby's defense team learn what any reporter could have told them: The longer you question Fleischer, the less knowledge you take away from the experience. And Fleischer, protecting his own role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, was determined not to give even a kernel of fact to Libby's defense. Washington Post: Fleischer Handles Questioning in the Usual Fashion

    RESERVE CORPS JUST A "PRESIDENTIAL THROWAWAY LINE?" President Bush's call last week for a Civilian Reserve Corps to help troubled countries is either a solid idea whose time has come or yet another throwaway applause line in a State of the Union speech and it's up to Mr. Bush to decide how it turns out. For a proposal during the annual address to Congress arguably the biggest presidential stage this one is mostly bare-bones. There is no plan or legislation, just a pledge to work with Congress to try to create something. "The big question right now is whether the White House is really going to seriously act on it," said Carlos Pascual, who worked on the idea when he was director of the State Department's Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization. "I think it's the right thing to do. I'm glad the president raised it. It's not going to happen unless the president, the national security advisor, the secretary of state pick up the phone" to Congress. Washington Times: Civilian Reserve just words in a speech

    HOUSE GOP SLAMS DEMS FOR RUSHING $463.5 BILLION SPENDING BILL: Democrats have unveiled a massive spending bill combining the budgets of 13 Cabinet agencies with increases in aid for lower-income college students, while cutting President Bush's funding requests for foreign aid and closing military bases. House Republicans such as party whip Roy Blunt of Missouri slammed Democrats plans to advance the huge $463.5 billion measure through the House Wednesday without giving Republicans or rank and file Democrats a chance to offer changes in an Appropriations Committee session or on the floor. Most lawmakers - and the public - were to get their first chances to read the budget tome Tuesday, barely a day before the House was supposed to vote it up or down. AP via Yahoo! News: Democrats unveil massive spending bill

    WITH DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF BILLS, MINIMUM WAGE HIKE MAY TAKE A WHILE: The Senate is expected to clear the way on Tuesday for an increase in the minimum wage that Democrats and some Republicans agree is overdue. But the Senate's approval may not mean that workers will actually start receiving bigger paychecks in the immediate future. The Senate bill differs from the one that cleared the House, and includes $8.3 billion in tax breaks for small businesses that Republicans and some Democrats say are necessary to offset the cost of the wage increase. The House bill, which passed by a vote of 315 to 116, with 82 Republicans joining the Democrats, included none of those tax breaks. New York Times: Senate to Consider Minimum Wage Bill With Tax Breaks

    IT'S NOT ALL LOBSTERS AND GOLF FOR REPS. BEHIND BARS: Experts in the federal prison system, and ex-cons who have been there themselves, say that it would be misleading to think that Congressional felons are living the high life at a "Club Fed"-like facility, eating steak and lobster for dinner and spending their days on golf courses. These experts say that life in a federal prison camp, especially for someone who used to be in a position of authority, is hard. While there is little supervision, and you can walk away at any time, the same rules and regulations that govern an inmate's every move apply to low-risk inmates as to their more violent counterparts. "Clearly, if you're going to have to go to an institution, the minimum security places are the places to go," said Alan Chaset, a retired Virginia attorney who specialized in reducing sentences for convicted felons. Roll Call: Lawmakers Must Adjust Behind Bars

    DENVER, TWIN CITIES PARTIES CAN BE ON LOBBYISTS' DIME: Ethics rules recently approved by Congress to curb lobbyists' influence did little to change a key way they curry favor with lawmakers: underwriting the national conventions where presidential nominees are picked. A bill to be unveiled in the House of Representatives today would limit lawmakers' ability to raise money from special interests for conventions but would not affect the 2008 events. A Senate bill passed this month would bar members from attending lobbyist-sponsored parties thrown in their honor but would leave intact the ability of special interests to pay for the quadrennial events. USA Today: Lobbyists' dollars can fund political conventions

    MESSAGE CONTROL... "DON'T BE THE NEXT GEORGE ALLEN": The fear gnaws at senators, embodied in a catchphrase that conveys their dread: Don't be the next George Allen. In Republican campaign strategy sessions and conference calls, candidates and consultants are invoking Allen's name as a verb -- to be "George Allen-ed" -- and devising tactics to avoid a fate similar to that of the former Virginia senator, taken down by a shaky, 51-second video that volleyed around the country via YouTube. "You have to assume there is a recording device of some kind on you at all times -- that is what I am telling all of my people," said Sen. John Ensign, Nev., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which will work with 21 incumbents up for re-election next year. The Politico: New Fear: Being 'George Allen-ed'

    NEW SPEAKER REACHES OUT TO BLOGGERS: Shortly after her swearing-in as the first female House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi took time to field questions from a few dozen Internet bloggers on a conference call that was off limits to mainstream media. Last week, Pelosi's aides arranged for bloggers to question two Democratic House leaders on another conference call shortly before President Bush's State of the Union speech. Pelosi also hired a full-time staff member this month dedicated to blogger outreach, and is making plans to launch a blog of her own. The day she was sworn in, bloggers were given special accommodations at the Capitol to cover the event, and fed lunch. AP via Yahoo! News: Pelosi reaches out to blogging community

    SNOW SLAMS HILLARY FOR IRAQ ATTACK: The White House blasted Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday, accusing her of launching "partisan attacks" that hurt the morale of U.S. troops in Iraq. White House press secretary Tony Snow jumped on Clinton's statements in Iowa over the weekend that it would be the "height of irresponsibility" for Bush to pass on the Iraq war to his successor. "Like it or not, the terrorists are simply not going to lay down their hatred on Jan. 20, 2009 - just as they did not lay down their hatreds when George W. Bush took the oath of office, and they had already been in the stages of planning for Sept. 11," Snow said. Snow warned people to "expect a lot of 'can you top this' rhetoric" early in the campaign season, as Clinton wrapped up her first foray to Iowa since announcing her presidential candidacy. New York Post: Hillary Under Attack

    OBAMA SAYS NO "SENSE OF URGENCY" FROM WH ON KATRINA RECOVERY: Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama blasted the Bush administration Monday for the slow pace of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, saying reconstruction no longer seems to be a White House priority. "There is not a sense of urgency in this administration to get this done," said the senator from Illinois. "You get a sense that will has been lacking in the last several months." Obama, the Senate's only African-American member, was in New Orleans for a field hearing on Gulf Coast rebuilding conducted by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Chicago Tribune: Obama blasts Bush adminstration on Katrina recovery

    SCHILLING GETS ON THE McCAIN BANDWAGON: For a pitching ace, Curt Schilling sounded an awful lot like a politician yesterday, even as he declared his intentions to stay with Red Sox beyond the 2007 season. "We have really gotten to... a point in time in this country where I really do feel like people are pulling the lever for the candidate they dislike the least," Schilling said during an interview on WRKO radio. "And that's sad, it really is." Schilling downplayed talk of a future run for John F. Kerry's Senate seat, but he also said he has considered politics as a possible next step to a baseball career that has brought him name recognition and enormous public admiration... Schilling made clear yesterday that he is not wedded to a party affiliation, saying he supports ideas from both Republicans and Democrats. The Sox hurler supported President Bush in 2004 and said he's inclined to back Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) in 2008. Boston Herald: Curt: I will 'seriously consider' political life

    SCHWARZENEGGER ON "COLLISION COURSE" WITH FEDS OVER HEALTH PLAN: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants $3.7 billion a year in new federal funding to cover a big chunk of his healthcare plan for Californians, putting him on a collision course with budget hawks in the nation's capital and leaders in other states seeking assistance. The sheer size of the federal allocation Schwarzenegger's plan would require is raising eyebrows. "That's a big number on an annual basis," said Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. "California hasn't yet passed a law [implementing the governor's plan], but when they do, I would think people are going to take a deep breath." The cost of helping states fund their health plans has already attracted the attention of budget cutters because it is complicating President Bush's stated goal of balancing the federal budget in five years. Los Angeles Times: Schwarzenegger's healthcare reform proposal could conflict with Bush's aim to balance federal budget

    O.C. CANDIDATE FAKES PHOTO WITH ARNOLD: The campaign of an Orange County supervisorial candidate, whose slogan is "Honesty, Integrity and Leadership," has been caught doctoring a photo so that it places the politician close to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The photo into which Trung Nguyen was inserted appeared over the weekend in two Vietnamese-language daily newspapers, Vien Dong and Viet Bao Kinh Te. The papers are heavily circulated in Little Saigon, home to the largest Vietnamese community outside Southeast Asia. Nguyen's campaign variously blamed the alteration on an advertising company and a volunteer. Saulo G. Londono, Nguyen's campaign manager, called it "a very stupid mistake made by a third-party vendor. We don't want to go in great detail into what the vendor did, but we definitely made sure it won't happen again." Los Angeles Times: O.C. candidate has serious image problem

    "FALSE FRAME" (via LATimes.com)
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