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Executive Branch

The Takeaway

The case of the shrinking infrastructure bill

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The amount allocated to transportation and infrastructure in President-elect Obama's proposed economic stimulus bill is being crowded out by tax cuts and other measures…much to the dismay of transportation advocates. Why are transportation and infrastructure disappearing? Since Encyclopedia Brown's not available, we turn to The Takeaway’s Andrea Bernstein who spent this week in Washington investigating at the annual conference of the Transportation Research Board.

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The Takeaway

The legacy of the Bush presidency

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In one of his final press conferences yesterday, President Bush patted reporters on the back with one hand while his other hand pounded the podium in defense of his presidential decisions. The mercurial nature of the conference left us wondering, is there any connection between how a president leaves office and their post-presidential legacy? To answer that question we turn to David Eisenhower the director of the Institute of Public Service at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and grandson of President Eisenhower.

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The Takeaway

Teacher-in-chief up for confirmation

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

President-elect Obama selected Chicago public schools CEO Arne Duncan to head the Department of Education and his confirmation hearings start today. Veronica Anderson, editor in chief of the education magazine Catalyst Chicago, and Jesch Reyes, a Chicago public school teacher, join The Takeaway for a look at Duncan’s reform efforts in Chicago and what it could mean for how he will do his new job.

For more on the President-elect's cabinet selections, check out our guide to his inner circle.

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The Takeaway

A busy week on Capitol Hill

Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama may not be President yet, but Congress isn’t waiting around for him to get to work. This is a big week on Capitol Hill, with confirmation hearings for several cabinet members, plus the likely resolution of the Roland Burris question, and even some new legislation. Todd Zwillich, a reporter for Capitol News Connection, joins The Takeaway with an update.

"Just because everyone is feeling great about Barack Obama doesn't mean the Senate is in his pocket."
— Todd Zwillich on the U.S. Senate and their relationship with President-elect Obama

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The Takeaway

Hilda Solis heads to the Hill for confirmation hearings

Friday, January 09, 2009

Confirmation hearings for Representative Hilda Solis, D-Calif., President-elect Barack Obama’s pick for Labor secretary are set to begin today. All eyes are on this confirmation as job creation is instrumental in executing Mr. Obama’s economic stimulus plan. Joseph McCartin, a labor historian and associate professor at Georgetown University, join us to share his impression of Rep. Solis and the job she will take on if she is confirmed.

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The Takeaway

Panetta appointment sparks grumbling

Thursday, January 08, 2009

When Barack Obama tapped Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, Leon Panetta, to be director of the CIA there was some grumbling in intelligence circles. And the grumbling hasn’t stopped. For an insider's take on the appointment we turn to Sam Faddis a retired CIA operations officer (we think that means spy) and author of the book, "Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War inside Iraq."

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The Takeaway

Hey big performer! A look at the new post of Chief Performance Officer

Thursday, January 08, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama has announced the appointment of a Chief Performance Officer to oversee… well, to oversee government performance. It’s unclear what is in store for former McKinsey & Co. consultant Nancy Killefer, who has accepted the new post. But one thing is sure: It’s going to be a really big job. For more on what the CPO gig may involve, we’re joined by Max Stier, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

Watch the press conference introducing Nancy Killefer.

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The Takeaway

Tom Daschle: Health care hero?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Confirmation hearings for the Obama Cabinet begin today with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who is up for secretary of Health and Human Services, first to face the congressional firing squad. Daschle is likely to be confirmed, but how will the new administration make health care reform a priority as the economic crisis persists? Len Nichols, director of the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, joins The Takeaway with some insight.

Join the discussion here and on change.gov.

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The Takeaway

Obama picks Panetta to head the CIA

Monday, January 05, 2009

President-elect Obama has named Leon Panetta, a former congressman and Chief of Staff to President Clinton, to run the CIA. It’s a controversial choice because Panetta is not an intelligence professional, but supporters say he will bring an outsider’s perspective and an understanding of how to run a massive federal agency to the job. New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti joins The Takeaway with a look at Panetta's history and confirmation prospects.

For more about Leon Panetta, read Mark Mazzetti's article, Panetta Chosen as C.I.A. Chief in Surprise Step, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Richardson withdraws his name from consideration for administration post

Monday, January 05, 2009

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico is no longer under consideration for the job of Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration. A grand jury is looking into charges of pay-to-play in the awarding of a state contract to a company that contributed to Richardson. The Governor says that he has acted properly, but that the investigation could drag out the confirmation process at a moment when quick action is needed to address the country’s dire economic situation. Santa Fe Public Radio's News Director Bill Dupuy joins The Takeaway with the story.

Find out more about President-elect Obama's Inner Circle, including the Cabinet appointees.

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The Takeaway

Congress is back and ready for a fight

Monday, January 05, 2009

Today marks the first session of the 111th Congress and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knows he's got a full plate of serious issues to handle, and handle quickly. On top of all the pressing matters there are still vacancies in the U.S. Senate and a whole lot of hullabaloo over who is going to be filling them. To mull over these issues with us is Todd Zwillich from Capitol News Connection and our man on the ground in Washington D.C.

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The Takeaway

NASA's future under the Obama administration

Friday, January 02, 2009

It's a good thing astronauts are rocket scientists, because President-elect Barack Obama has sent some some very puzzling messages about the future of NASA under his administration. First he was for cutting the space budget, then he was on record supporting NASA. Joining The Takeaway to discuss what NASA may be in for is Phil Plait an astronomer and writer of the blog, Bad Astronomy.

"Trying to cut NASA is ridiculous. It's like clipping your fingernails while you're having a heart attack. It's the wrong thing to go after."
— Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait on whether President-elect Obama should continue to fund NASA
Explore the pages of America's Briefing Book, a set of audio primers from experts on important issues President-elect Barack Obama will face when he takes office in January 2009.

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The Takeaway

A look ahead to the Senate confirmation hearings

Friday, January 02, 2009

Senate confirmation hearings begin next week with Ted Kennedy returning to the Senate to take the lead. We’re taking a look ahead to what we should be keeping our eyes on as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tom Daschle, Eric Holder and others face their friends (and sometimes enemies) the United States Senators. The Takeaway is joined by New York Times writer David Herszenhorn.

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The Takeaway

Pull out the cigars (or not): It's the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution when Fidel Castro established himself as the Cuban leader and began one of the longest and most controversial relationships in U.S. diplomatic history. Now almost an anachronism of the Cold War, how has the country changed over the last fifty years? How will it look fifty years from now? The BBC's Michael Voss joins John and Adaora from Havana.

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The Takeaway

In Gaza crisis, Obama may be forced to draw a line in the sand

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pay close attention to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine, because not only is it incredibly important, but also because you may be witnessing President-elect Barack Obama’s first order of business when he takes office next month. But how will his global political debut mesh with his first foray into middle eastern diplomacy? And what is at risk? Robert Malley, who is the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group and served as Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab Israeli Affairs, joins John and Adaora from Washington.

"Hamas is now viewed by many Arabs as standing up for Arab honor and dignity."
— Robert Malley on the current Middle East conflict

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The Takeaway

Healthcare reform faces hurdles

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

President-elect Obama campaigned on a platform of hope, change and sweeping healthcare reform. That was before the U.S. economy melted down. Now, unemployment is rising and healthcare is on nearly everyone's mind. Obama faces enormous challenges. For the long view on healthcare reform in 2009 and beyond, The Takeaway checks in with Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of the health policy journal, Health Affairs.

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The Takeaway

Pragmatism: The post-partisan Obama

Friday, December 26, 2008

Does a pragmatic Barack Obama mean that he won't challenge the status quo and make real change? For a look the next year, we turn to Christopher Hayes, the Washington editor for The Nation and fellow at The New America Foundation.
"The permanent governing class and the establishment are a huge reason that we're in the mess we're in now."
— Christopher Hayes on the perils of pragmatism

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The Takeaway

The Obama administration's plan to make economic promises a reality in 2009

Thursday, December 25, 2008

As the Obama administration takes hold of the White House in 2009, which economic levers might it pull? And when might we see signs those changes are working?
"Intellectually, Bernanke and Obama are probably going to get along quite well."
— David Leonhardt

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The Takeaway

Despite pledges of transparency, the bailout remains opaque

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Treasury and the Fed said they would be open about where the taxpayers' trillions of dollars are going. But two months into the bailout, we still don't know important details about the government's agreements with financial institutions. Newsweek's Daniel Gross tells The Takeaway what information is being kept under wraps, and why it matters.
"Who in Washington is going to stand up and get red in the face and scream about this?"
— Dan Gross on the secrecy of the bailout

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The Takeaway

Last minute Bush Administration rule permits health care workers to deny services

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In its final weeks the Bush Administration has issued a federal rule that allows health care workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable. Doctors and nurses have had the right to opt-out of providing abortions for decades, but this new rule is much broader. Slate's senior legal correspondent, Dahlia Lithwick, gives The Takeaway the rundown.
"A doctor who objects to abortion need not tell a patient that he's seen something on her scan that suggests there is a problem with a fetus."
— Dahlia Lithwick on new healthcare regulations

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