Steele: Reid should resign; White House watching bonuses
By John Amick and T. Rees Shapiro
Today on the Sunday talk shows:
CNN: STATE OF THE UNION - McCain, Lieberman see end to Iran regime
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Sunday that the Iranian leadership, embroiled in protests from anti-government citizens throughout Iran, is at the "beginning of the end" of its reign.
Lieberman suggested continuing to seek economic sanctions against Iran while simultaneously supporting the Iranians who are challenging the government.
"We have to do everything we can not just to put economic sanctions on Iran because of their development of nuclear weapons but to support the people of Iran, to cry out against the human rights abuses, the terrible repression of the demonstrators and just the freedom of average citizens in Iran," said Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security committee.
McCain added that the Iranian regime very well may "try to divert the attention of the people from their domestic situation to increasing confrontation with Israel [as] a real threat." He said he is optimistic of a return to peace talks among Israelis and Palestinians this year, in light of a "heightened understanding" of the stakes and threats of instability in the region.
Lieberman said any activity the U.S. takes in regard to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is going through the Yemeni government, and the U.S. should continue its vigilance in restricting al-Qaeda from developing a sanctuary there.
"Just have got to look at the three cases in which our homeland defenses were broken through this year, Arkansas, Fort Hood and the Detroit bomber," Lieberman said. "They all three of those have a connection to al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, which is headquartered in Yemen."
Both senators agreed that there must be accountability for those that missed intelligence connections that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board an airliner headed for Detroit on Christmas.
"If human errors were made, I think some of the humans who made those errors have to be disciplined so that they never happen again," Lieberman said, indicating he thought a review would make clear just who would be held responsible.
McCain again lamented the Obama administration's decision to try Abdulmutallab in U.S. civilian courts, although terrorist suspects have tried in civilian courts long before Obama came to office.
"I don't think the president's action matched his rhetoric when we send this individual to a civilian court," McCain said when asked about Obama's statement on Thursday that "We are at war." "That person should be tried as an enemy combatant, he's a terrorist. And if we are at war, then we certainly should not be trying that individual in a court other than a military trial."
Romer: December jobs report a 'disappointment'
Following a jobs report that showed a loss of 85,000 positions in December, White House economic adviser Christina Romer maintained that unemployment numbers will start to turn around by this spring.
"An important fact is GDP not only needs to grow, it needs to grow at about a normal rate, like at 2.5 percent to actually bring down the unemployment rate," Romer said. "So the thing we're going to be looking for is, do you see that kind of robust GDP growth?"
In the meantime, targeted actions like tax incentives and encouraging at least temporary hiring must be in place now, Romer says, to assuage the economic impact.
As bonus season emerges for financial institutions that received government assistance to stay afloat amid crisis, Romer said the administration knows the American public is keeping an eye on how firms compensate employees.
"We have had to take these extraordinary actions," Romer said. "And you would certainly think that the financial institutions that are now doing a little bit better would have some sense. And this big bonus season of course is going to offend the American people. It offends me."
FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Steele: Reid should resign
Republican National Commitee Chairman Michael S. Steele said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid should resign from his post after a book quoted him as making "racially insensitive" remarks about then Democratic candidate Barack Obama's chances in the 2008 election.
Reid has apologized to President Obama for saying that because he was "light-skinned" and did not have a "Negro dialect," that made him broadly appealing to the Democratic voting base. He was quoted in the book "Game Change" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
Steele compared Reid's remarks to those of then Minority Leader Trent Lott, who resigned from his post after saying that if former Sen. Strom Thurmond had been elected president on his pro-segregation ticket in 1948, the nation would not "have had all the problems" it faced in a nonsegregated America.
Virginia Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Reid's comments, taken in context, were said in a positive light and were not intended to be inflammatory.
Responding to recent talk that many Republican party members view him as an ineffective leader who is a distraction to the party's overall goals, Steele said he is passionate about the party's causes and has the track record to prove it. Steele said that in the past year he has raised millions of campaign dollars, won two gubernatorial races, and has his party bankrolled with a surplus of cash going into 2010.
Kaine said his party "has the edge" on voting in the upcoming mid-term elections. With the departure of high profile Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who recently announced he will not seek re-election, Kaine maintains that more Republicans will be giving up their seats than Democrats. In the House, Kaine said 14 Republicans are bowing out compared to 10 Democrats, and six Republicans to two Democrats in the Senate.
CBS: FACE THE NATION - Feinstein: More scrutiny on released detainees
Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) agreed that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay with ties to al-Qaeda, or any country that has an al-Qaeda presence for that matter, should not be released no matter what their status of guilt or incarceration.
"If you combine the suspected and the confirmed, the number I have is 74 detainees have gone back into the fight," Feinstein said, despite the murky definitions of who "goes back" to the fight, who joins after being motivated by their incarceration at Gitmo and just how valid statistics on released detainees are.
Feinstein sees the celebrity aspect of former Gitmo detainees as a prime reason they are coveted for propaganda purposes by extremist groups. And she said rehabilitation programs for these former detainees may not work.
"They come out of Gitmo and they are heroes in this world," said Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee. "This world is the only world that's going to really be accepting of them. Therefore, the tendency is to go back. And I think the Gitmo experience is not one that leads itself to rehabilitation, candidly."
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) reiterated his past claims that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should not be charged in civilian courts. He said Abdulmutallab's alleged contacts with American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, as well Aulaqi's ties to Fort Hood shooter Nidal M. Hasan, may prove to be the window to missed intelligence.
"After Fort Hood, what did we as an intelligence and a military community do to try to find this guy, either arrest him or potentially kill him?" Hoekstra asked. "Remember, he has the protections of an American citizen. I think that's going to be the big issue as we move forward. How are we going to deal with American citizens who go rogue?"
Of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid's racially-inflammatory comments about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, Feinstein hopes the matter has been dealt with after Reid's profusive apologies to Obama and African-American leaders.
"Clearly this was a mistake," Feinstein said of Reid's comments in the book "Game Change" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann . "He has not only apologized to the president, I think he has apologized to all of the black leadership that he could reach. So the president has accepted the apology. And it would seem to me that the matter should be closed."
Hoekstra said this is a matter for the Democratic Party, and Republicans should let them handle what they allow their leaders to do and say.
ABC: THIS WEEK - Job losses moderating, Romer says
White House economic adviser Christina Romer said despite lagging job numbers in December, a broader look at job losses shows an steady improvement in the American job market.
"I think it is important to put them (the losses outlined in a December jobs report) in context, because they are, I think, still part of this overall trend towards greatly moderating job losses," Romer said.
Romer sees an improving GDP as another sign of steady progress for the economy.
"GDP, which grew in the third quarter of last year, is going to grow even more strongly when we get the numbers for the fourth quarter," she said. "And I think ... if you look at basically every forecast, they are saying steady GDP growth over 2010."
The administration will be hard on firms that compensate excessively, she asserted. Regardless, financial reform is in the works.
"What we're going to do is redouble our efforts on financial regulatory reform ... sensible things like saying, for heaven's sakes, compensation should be focused on long term, so that you don't have rewards for short-term risk-taking," she said. "And we just simply have to put in place rules of the road so that this system doesn't bring the economy to the edge of collapse like it did a year or so ago."
NBC: MEET THE PRESS - To Steele, race remarks show a double standard
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele claimed a double standard exists between Democrats and Republicans in light of recent "racially insensitive" comments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) Steele said if Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) had called President Obama "light-skinned" with no discernible "Negro dialect," Democratic party leaders would be "screaming for his head" and resignation.
Virginia Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the "case is closed," and that while the comments were unfortunate and insensitive, any talk of Reid's resignation is partisan politics, and that Reid "absolutely should not" remove himself as Majority Leader.
January 10, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Sunday Talkies
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