Friday’s Headlines: Bipartisan Jobs Plan in Doubt; Kennedy to Leave Congress

BY Jason M. Breslow  February 12, 2010 at 8:49 AM EDT

One day after Senate lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan plan for creating jobs, the future of the legislation may already be in doubt.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to bring a scaled-down version of the $85 billion plan to a vote. Reid’s plan would strip out certain tax breaks favored by Republicans, but would include tax cuts for businesses that hire unemployed workers and increased spending for public works projects.

His plan could backfire, however, says the New York Times. Reid’s “decision to embrace only portions of the bipartisan plan developed by Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, caught some lawmakers by surprise and threatened to undermine Republican support for the proposal even as members of Congress and the White House sought ways of working together across party lines after months of deep partisan division.”

The bill introduced by Sens. Baucus and Grassley was “certainly something that we could support,” Christina Romer, chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, told Judy Woodruff on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour. “It has built into it some kind of jobs initiatives,” Romer said, “but perhaps not the specifics of things like a jobs credit that we think could be particularly effective.”

‪In a hopeful sign for the economy, retail sales rose for the third time in four months in January, according to a report Friday from the Commerce Department. Sales ticked up 0.5 percent, slightly more than the 0.3 percent bump economists had been expecting. ‬

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President Obama is planning to enter the debate over where to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The administration had been planning to try Mohammed in federal court, steps from Ground Zero, until a political firestorm erupted over security and cost concerns. The administration is now considering switching the trial to a military commission, according to a report in the Washington Post.

“Administration officials said the president’s involvement has to do with securing congressional funding for the costly trial before bipartisan efforts to strip financing for the case against Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators gain greater momentum,” according to the Post. “They said it was a matter of national security, not just politics.”

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Former President Bill Clinton is recovering in a New York hospital after undergoing an emergency procedure Thursday to repair blood flow to his heart. Clinton was in “good spirits” after the surgery, an aide told the Associated Press, and he is expected to be released from New York Presbyterian Hospital today.

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For the first time in nearly half-a-century, the U.S. Congress will soon be without a Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy, the final member of the political dynasty remaining in federal office, has announced he will not seek a ninth term in the House. Just months after the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Rhode Island Democrat says his life is “taking a new direction”:

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Let the games begin. The 21st Olympic Winter Games kick off Friday evening in Vancouver. The parade of nations, followed by the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, begins at 7:30 p.m. EST.