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Monday, Mar 02nd

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Obama to pass on meeting Netanyahu during Washington visit

Obama will not meet with NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned trip to Washington in March is kicking up a diplomatic dust storm in the nation's capital.

On Thursday, the White House said President Barack Obama would not meet the prime minister when he comes to the U.S. to address a joint session of Congress. The official White House explanation was that Netanyahu's visit fell too close to the Israeli election and the Obama administration wanted to avoid the appearance of taking sides.

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Obama in State of the Union: Tax wealthy, help middle class

SOTU speechRefusing to bend to the new Republican Congress, President Barack Obama unveiled Tuesday night an ambitious State of the Union agenda steeped in Democratic priorities, including tax increases on the wealthy, education and child care help for the middle class and a torrent of veto threats for the GOP’s own plans.

In a shift from tradition, Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress was less a laundry list of new proposals and more an attempt to sell a story of a national economy emerging from the “shadow of crisis.” He appealed for “better politics” in Washington and pledged to work with Republicans, but he showed few signs of curtailing or tweaking his own plans to meet GOP priorities.

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Shots fired at Delaware home of vice-president Joe Biden

Joe BeidenThe Secret Service said on Sunday that multiple gunshots were fired from a vehicle near the Delaware home of Vice-President Joe Biden on Saturday night. The vice-president and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, were not at home at the time of the shooting, authorities said.

The Wilmington home is several hundred yards from the main road from where the shots rang out, and authorities were searching outside the Biden residence and nearby houses to determine if any rounds hit anything. Police in New Castle County, Delaware, said there were no reports of any injuries related to the shooting.

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Cuba New York governor planning trip to Cuba to lead trade mission

Cuomo to go to CubaNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning to lead one of the first trade missions to Cuba since the Obama administration loosened travel and trade restrictions on the Communist-ruled Caribbean island, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Quoting a person familiar with his plans, the paper said the Democratic governor, who will be among the first high-profile US politicians to visit Cuba since last month’s policy shift, would announce his plan on Wednesday and take the trip in coming months. It gave no further details.

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Obama To Propose Tax Hikes On Wealthy, Breaks For Middle Class

Obama tax proposalsDuring his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will lay out a plan to extend tax credits to the middle class by hiking taxes on wealthier Americans and big banks, according to senior administration officials.

Under the plan, the capital gains tax would be raised from its current level of 15 percent up to 28 percent for couples with incomes over $500,000 a year. The plan would also strip a tax break, known as a "step-up," that allows heirs to avoid capital gains taxes on large inheritances.

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Obama will offer paid parental leave to federal workers

Parental leavePresident Barack Obama on Thursday will order federal agencies to provide at least six weeks of paid parental leave to employees and call on cities, states and Congress to provide similar leave to millions of other working Americans.

Obama also will call on the new Republican-led Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time.

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New clout for Warren mind-set: Treasury nominee with Wall Street ties bows out

Elizabeth WarrenA New York banker has withdrawn from being considered for a top US Treasury position, after coming under pressure in an era of heightened concern about the political influence of Wall Street.

As Antonio Weiss bows out of consideration, it’s a symbolic victory for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts and others seeking to limit banker clout. She vocally opposed his nomination by President Obama to be the Treasury’s undersecretary for domestic finance.

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