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Eye Opener: March 23, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Find more videos like this on ExchangesConnect Online Video Contest

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! Today's video selection is one of four winners from the “My Culture + Your Culture =?” online video contest, sponsored by the State Department's ExchangesConnect social networking community and the Adobe Youth Voices initiative of the Adobe Foundation. The video is called "World Of Wonder," by Bijoy Thangaraj of India. More information on the contest here.

Today's Big Story: Sen. Claire McCaskill -- already widely credited with embracing and effectively using Twitter on Capitol Hill -- has launched a Google Moderator group seeking ideas for her new contracting oversight subcommittee, part of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Already 153 people have submitted more than 100 ideas, not quite as many who have submitted questions for The Eye's "Ask Your Government" Google Moderator group, but a good start.

McCaskill's panel "will have the authority to conduct independent investigations and will hold frequent hearings that will examine both past mistakes in contracting and ways to improve the system," reports Gov Exec's Robert Brodsky. "A spokeswoman for the senator said an announcement on the date and topic of the first hearing will come within the next week or two."

Big Bank Plans: Make sure you read Treasury Secretary Timothy M. Geithner's Wall Street Journal op-ed that outlines his latest plans to buy up bad bank assets.

"The Public-Private Investment Program will purchase real-estate related loans from banks and securities from the broader markets. Banks will have the ability to sell pools of loans to dedicated funds, and investors will compete to have the ability to participate in those funds and take advantage of the financing provided by the government."

In other news...

Where the Cabinet Is Bare: The Department of Health and Human Services has not one Obama nominee in place, notes The Post's Al Kamen. He writes that there's also no Mexican ambassador (or embajador) ahead of several south of the border trips by Secs. Clinton, Napolitano and Holder and President Obama.

Federal Inspectors Often Difficult to Reach: Following up on Friday's post, The Eye reports that "Federal inspectors general too often ignore or discount the complaints of whistleblowers, and concerned citizens attempting to report government waste or mismanagement may face difficulty making even basic contact with the offices via telephone or the Internet."

D.C. Realty Executive to Direct FHA: David H. Stevens, president of Long & Foster, the Washington real estate firm, is expected to be selected today to run the Federal Housing Administration, reports The Post's Dina ElBoghdady. The Wall Street Journal notes that before joining L&F in October, Stevens was an "executive vice president and national wholesale manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, a unit of Wells Fargo & Co. He has also been a senior vice president for Freddie Mac, where he headed the company's single-family mortgage business."

Obama Releases Guidance on Acceptable Stimulus Spending: The guidelines came out late Friday afternoon and Gov Exec's Elizabeth Newell reports that the guidance is aimed at ensuring spending decisions are predicated on how programs will benefit the economy. "Decisions about how Recovery Act dollars are spent will be based on the merits," Obama told the National Conference of State Legislatures. Initiatives that maximize job creation, make health care affordable, rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, or provide other "enduring benefits" to taxpayers must take priority, he said.

Energy Secretary Serves Under a Microscope: Sec. Steven Chu gets the Old Grey Lady treatment today, with reporter John M. Broder writing that "Dr. Chu brings certain assets that none of his peers or predecessors have had: a Nobel Prize, a YouTube following (for his lectures on climate change) and an unofficial theme song (“Dr. Wu” by Steely Dan). He is a major celebrity in Taiwan, where scientific achievement is rewarded with rock star status. He is a member of Academica Sinica, Taiwan’s most distinguished scholarly society, as was his father."

HHS Names Health Technology Coordinator: "A former Harvard Medical School professor who has advised Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis will lead health information technology efforts for the Obama administration," the AP reports. "Dr. David Blumenthal was also a senior adviser to President Barack Obama's presidential campaign."

IRS Still Committed to Examining the Rich: "The Internal Revenue Service is not living up to its pledge to crack down on wealthy tax cheats, an IRS watchdog group says, citing a drop in audits of millionaires last year," the AP reports. "The tax agency disputes the conclusion, ascribing the 'slight' decline in audits to its focus on getting people their economic stimulus checks."

Today's Big Event: "The Wireless Future of Health IT." The Wireless Future and Health Policy Programs of the New America Foundation and CTIA-The Wireless Association co-host the event at the Dirksen Senate Office Building from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. RSVP for the event here and read through other events here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 23, 2009; 7:01 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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acceptable spending of stimulus:

did we not just find out this weekend that the projects that were "shovel ready" at the state level...
are not shovel ready at the state level.
Hello States. Whatcha been doin'?

"The Internal Revenue Service is not living up to its pledge to crack down on wealthy tax cheats"...-
this would be nice to do, however, how about the folks that are paying for fake SSNumbers and fake tax i.d. numbers to use them.
Or the Juan R. Gonzales who uses a tax id number for his return and then his W-2 belongs to Anthony Ortega?
Do you really think, at the frontline level, that these "tax returns of the common man" ..
go to the audit department of any state revenue dept. to get "checked out"?

they do not.
so how the heck will they catch the rich ones? they can't even catch the poor "undocumenteds".

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 23, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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