Eye Opener: Cabinet Marks 200 Days of Stimulus
Happy Thursday! Vice President Biden delivers his latest defense of the Obama administration's economic recovery efforts today at the Brookings Institution, while four Cabinet secretaries will make a series of coordinated appearances to mark the 200th day of the economic recovery program.
As Biden begins his speech in Washington at 10 a.m. ET, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will speak at a Chicago meeting of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association. A half hour later in Minneapolis, Federal Highway Administration Administrator Victor Mendez is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new TH 610 project, the largest stimulus-funded effort in Minnesota. Mendez will be joined by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D) and Al Franken (D).
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit Louisa, Va. in the late morning to highlight a rural water project. He will discuss USDA's progress in meeting its goal of starting 200 new waste and water projects during the second hundred days of the stimulus program. Later in Little Rock, Ark., Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Sen. Mark Pryor (D) will hold a press conference about stimulus projects in the state.
The day's stimulus events conclude with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who will hold a town hall meeting on education issues and the stimulus in Sacramento. It's one of six events on the secretary's Thursday schedule, which includes meetings with California lawmakers and a back-to-school rally.
Vilsack, Duncan and four other Cabinet secretaries helped mark the first 100 days of the stimulus in May in four key swing states: Colorado, Missouri, Montana and Nevada. Two of Thursday's events will occur in reliably blue California and Illinois, while the other three occur in the "purple states" of Arkansas, Minnesota and Virginia. The White House previously sent Cabinet secretaries to swing states to tout its assistance to rural communities and areas hit hard by the auto industry's collapse.
As of late August, the federal government had distributed $84.6 billion in economic assistance for jobs programs, education initiatives, housing, community and environmental development efforts and construction projects (including one in The Eye's hometown). Recipients of federal stimulus funding must start submitting spending reports to a government Web site on Oct. 1. The federal government waived certain paperwork rules to expedite the process of collecting spending reports.
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• Uncle Sam Needs You, Again: The federal government needs to hire more than 270,000 workers for "mission-critical" jobs to address several enormous challenges, including the repair of the financial sector, fighting two wars, and addressing climate change.The study -- by the Partnership for Public Service -- estimates the federal government will need to hire nearly 600,000 people for all positions over President Obama's four years -- increasing the current workforce by nearly one-third.
• Other Cabinet and Staff News: Meet Matt Flavin, director of the new White House Office of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy. SIGTARP Neil Barofsky declares victory, says he doesn't report to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expects a "big influx" of H1N1 cases.
• Watchdog: SEC Badly Bungled Madoff Probes: The agency's inspector general SEC found no smoking gun of corruption in the agency's conduct toward the disgraced financier. Instead it painted a grim picture of an agency hobbled by incompetence.
• Fed Optimistic Recovery Is Ahead: At an August meeting of the central bank's policymaking committee, top officials agreed that improving economic data had "strengthened their confidence that the downturn in economic activity was ending,"
• Fewer Post Offices Considered for Closure: Twelve postal facilities in the District and the Maryland suburbs still face the prospect of being closed, along with 401 others across the nation.
• Justice Dept.: Violent Crime Rate Unchanged in '08: The Bureau of Justice Statistics released its findings about the estimated 4.9 million violent crimes committed in the U.S. last year. The rate of violent crime for the past two years is the lowest since 1973, the first year such data were collected.
• FDA Bill a Bipartisan Victory for Dingell: The sweeping food-safety bill that passed the House this summer was a victory for the 83-year-old Michigan Democrat, a longtime critic of the agency who has pushed for changes for more than 20 years.
• FAA Plans Changes in Hudson River Flight Rules: The agency said on Wednesday it would issue new rules for governing how airplanes, helicopters and other touring and official aircraft operate in the congested air corridor above the Hudson River.
• FEC: Kansas City Chiefs' John McCain Video Not Illegal: At issue was a 30-second video of the Navy veteran and former prisoner of war, paying tribute to U.S. troops and veterans. The Chiefs aired the video on the two enormous JumboTron screens at their home field in the moments prior to the opening kickoff in their game two days before Election Day 2008.
• Budget Analysts Put Price Tag on TSA Pay Overhaul: Legislation overhauling the pay system for agency workers would raise costs by about $700 million over five years, mainly due to salary increases.
• Senior Agency Leaders Focus on Measuring Success of Their Programs: Well into the process of submitting high-priority performance goals to the Office of Management and Budget, senior officials say they are identifying their program objectives and designing ways to evaluate progress toward those outcomes.
| September 3, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Administration, Eye Opener, Tracking the Stimulus
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