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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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Obama's crackdown on the auto industry sends economic worries worldwide even as he prepares for a global summit. Plus: The president visits Congress to press for a budget resolution.

March 30, 2009

Auto Bailout: Wagoner Forced Out At GM

• "The Obama administration used the threat of withholding more bailout money to force out General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and administer harsh medicine to Chrysler LLC, marking one of the most dramatic government interventions in private industry since the economic crisis began last year," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The administration's auto team announced the departure of Mr. Wagoner on Sunday."

President Obama's auto task force says GM "can bounce back and become a competitive auto maker -- but only if the company shakes up its management and dramatically accelerates its restructuring efforts," the Wall Street Journal reports. "After weeks of reviewing company's operations, the panel concluded GM's current restructuring plan 'is not viable' and is not scheduled to reach many of its goals until 2014, according to a memo summarizing its findings that was released late Sunday night."

• "It turns out that Chrysler might be just small enough to fail," Politico reports. The administration will "effectively wash its hands of... Chrysler after only 30 days. Barring a last-minute rescue by Italian automaker Fiat, U.S. taxpayers won't put up another penny to back the company."

 

• "The moves came just hours after the board of the French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën said it had fired its chief executive," the New York Times reports. "Stocks fell sharply in Europe and Asia on Monday, amid signs of chaos in the auto industry and fears that the Group of 20 meeting this week will fail to come up with a plan to revive global growth."

Congress: Budget Resolution Looms As Obama Visits Capitol

• "The House and Senate will take up their budget resolutions this week as Democrats seek to lay the groundwork for healthcare reform and other elements of President Obama's agenda, as Republicans continue to make the case that the programs will hurt the struggling economy," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Obama will make yet another visit to Capitol Hill on Monday as part of his sales pitch for an ambitious $3.6 trillion budget," Politico reports. "This time, Obama is visiting the House Democratic Caucus, which has long awaited a visit from the president after seeing Obama spend quality time with House Republicans and Senate Democrats over the past two months."

• "Roughly a year after Fidel Castro stepped aside and handed much of the responsibility for leading Cuba to his brother Raul, there is new momentum in Washington for eliminating the ban on most U.S. travel to the island nation and for reexamining the severe limitations on U.S.-Cuban economic exchanges," the Washington Post reports. "At a Capitol Hill news conference scheduled for" Tuesday, "a wide array of senators and interest groups... will rally around a potentially historic bill to lift the travel ban."

White House: Another Bill To Be Signed Without Five-Day Public Review

• "Obama on Monday will sign the omnibus land conservation bill -- yet again breaking his vow to allow five days for public comment before he affixes his signature to legislation," the Washington Times reports. "The bill passed the House on Wednesday, but the White House didn't post the measure for comments until Friday, leaving just two weekend days and parts of Friday and Monday for the public to register comments."

• "As the Obama administration struggled to conjure up outrage at corporate America this month, it was a senior economic aide, Austan Goolsbee, who was first to channel the populist tone," Politico reports. "In an administration that brags about ignoring 'cable chatter,' he's a world-class jaw-boner, named National Extemporaneous Speaking Champion (yes, there is such a thing) in high school and college, before going on to a chair at the University of Chicago."

Economy: Obama Prepares To Persuade World On Economic Plans

• "When President Obama takes his first step into world summitry this week" at the Group of 20 summit in London, "he will face unprecedented challenges to U.S. financial dominance from leaders critical of the economic course he has plotted and shaken by the deep recession many of them blame on Washington," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The weeklong, four-country, two-summit trip he starts Tuesday is the first critical test of his ability to lead the Western alliance and demonstrate a grasp of foreign policy that was questioned in last year's campaign."

• "The Obama administration has made fortifying the" International Monetary Fund "one of its primary goals for the meeting of the Group of 20, which includes leading industrial and developing countries and the European Union," the New York Times reports.

• "The federal government has spent all but $135 billion of the Wall Street bailout fund established by Congress last year, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said Sunday," the Washington Times reports. "And while downplaying speculation that he and the Obama administration would ask Congress for more money to help failed banks, Mr. Geithner didn't dismiss the possibility either."

Politics: AIG Urged Employees To Support Dodd

• "As Democrats prepared to take control of Congress after the 2006 elections, a top boss at the insurance giant American International Group Inc. told colleagues that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd was seeking re-election donations and he implored company executives and their spouses to give," the Washington Times reports.

• "An advertisement featuring President Obama's image and touting his endorsement of Scott Murphy in" Tuesday's "special election for a House seat in Upstate New York ... attracted some attention as the first time" Obama "has weighed in with a televised endorsement of a candidate," the Washington Post reports. "What the ad won't draw much of, however, is viewers. The DNC spent a meager $10,000 on the ad, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission."

• "Gov. Sarah Palin has appointed legislative aide Tim Grussendorf to the state Senate seat that opened when Juneau Democrat Kim Elton resigned," the Anchorage Daily News reports. "It's a controversial pick because Grussendorf was a registered Republican until just weeks ago, when he switched to being a Democrat to qualify for the appointment."

National Security: Violence Raises Tensions Between Allies In Iraq

• "A new and potentially worrisome fight for power and control has broken out in Baghdad as the United States prepares to pull combat troops out of Iraq next year," the Washington Post reports. "The struggle, which played out in fierce weekend clashes, pits two vital American allies against each other.... The Iraqi security forces and the Sunni fighters, known as the Awakening, are cornerstones in the American strategy to bring stability."

• "The United States deployed two missile-interceptor ships from South Korea on Monday, a military spokesman said, days ahead of a North Korean rocket launch widely seen as a long-range missile test that violates U.N. sanctions," Reuters reports. "The United States, however, has no intention to shoot down the rocket," according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

• "The template" for fighting Mexico's drug war "was made in the United States, a counternarcotics strategy originally designed for Colombia," the New York Times reports. "Mexico is using American intelligence to track the traffickers and is awaiting a fleet of American helicopters and aircraft to pursue them, part of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid initiated by President George W. Bush and expanded in recent days by President Obama."

World: Pakistani Police Retake Training Academy

• "Pakistani security forces took control of a police academy in Lahore on Monday after gunmen rampaged through the centre's parade ground, killing up to 20 people before holing up inside for hours," Reuters reports. "Interior Ministry Secretary Kamal Shah... said 89 policemen were wounded but the number killed was still being determined."

• "The Afghan Supreme Court said Sunday that President Hamid Karzai may lawfully remain in power until presidential elections in August, saying that it was in the national interest to maintain stability and continuity of government," the New York Times reports. "The opinion, which is not binding, was the latest step in a constitutional wrangle between Mr. Karzai and his political rivals over a three-month gap between the end of his presidential term on May 21 and the elections that have been delayed for security and logistical reasons until Aug. 20."

• "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, an avowed friend of the United States and the leader of the European Union's biggest economy, is diplomatic about the coming visit by President Obama," the New York Times reports. "But she is clear that she is not about to give ground on new stimulus spending, stressing the need to maintain fiscal discipline even as she professes to want to work closely with the new American president."

Technology: Library Of Congress Videos Going Online

• "Century-old films and modern book talks will soon be available on YouTube and iTunes, thanks to the Library of Congress' latest effort to spread its collection in the digital age," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Library officials plan to launch about 100 videos Wednesday, including the earliest copyrighted film: a man named Fred Ott sneezing, circa 1894."

• "A Chinese spying operation has obtained sensitive data from hundreds of government computers in more than 100 countries, according to a new report," Financial Times reports. "University of Toronto experts found 1,295 infected computers around the world and observed the operation stealing documents and watching and listening to users through webcams and microphones."

Lobbying: K Street Thriving Amid Downturn

• "Main Street's gloom has been K Street's boon," the Washington Post reports. "The $787 billion stimulus package -- along with an ambitious new federal budget, bank bailouts and the beginning of a regulatory overhaul -- has succeeded in stimulating the economy along Washington's avenue of influence."

• "The National Republican Congressional Committee -- the entity charged with pushing the House GOP back into the majority -- is reaching out to former Capitol Hill staffers and veteran campaign consultants to craft its 2010 political strategy and rally the Republican troops on K Street," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "For most of the last three decades, the lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti might have been mistaken for an owner of the Alpine, a wood-paneled Italian restaurant across the Potomac River from Washington where he routinely presided over boisterous tables of lawmakers and their staff members," the New York Times reports. "Now, however, Mr. Magliocchetti's generosity is coming to an abrupt halt: his firm, the PMA Group, is closing its doors next week, after reports that federal prosecutors had recently raided his office and his home."

Energy & Environment: Climate Change Envoy Vows U.S. Engagement

• Obama's "chief climate-change negotiator," Todd Stern, "said Sunday that the United States would be 'powerfully, fervently engaged' in global talks to reduce carbon emissions but warned that a difficult path lay ahead," the Washington Post reports.

• "In what could be an encouraging sign of change in the long-standing shortage of Americans preparing for 'clean energy' careers, the subject is suddenly hot on college campuses across the nation -- a surge of interest largely stimulated by the specter of global warming," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Health Care: Congress Buys Time For Reform

• Questions remain on how to pay for Obama's health care reform package, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The five-year budget plan passed by a Senate committee this week contains a little-noticed provision that would give the government 10 years to cover the cost of the health-system overhaul. That, in effect, would allow the government to spread out the costs and help meet rules that new initiatives don't add to the deficit."

• "The Senate's lead Democrat on the budget signaled Sunday he's open to imposing new energy taxes to pay for healthcare reform, a priority for President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)," The Hill reports. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota said energy taxes are "an 'option' for funding healthcare reform. He also suggested the money could be found from other sources in an interview on CNN."

• "After years as a top state and federal healthcare official, Nancy-Ann DeParle turned her attention to the business of medicine, serving as a board member for more than a dozen companies and managing a private equity portfolio over the last eight years," the Los Angeles Times reports. "In 2006 and 2007 alone, DeParle collected at least $3.5 million in fees and the sale or awards of stock from healthcare firms, according to regulatory filings."

Commentary: Like A Good Neighbor

• Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., makes the case for more U.S. aid to help Mexico in its fight against the drug cartels, in Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section.

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