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July 20, 2008

Next President Faces Major Burdens: Housing Recession, Bank Failures, Sinking Dollar, $4 Gas, Job Loss, 2 Wars…

 When George W. Bush became president in 2001, his main goals included restoring ‘honor and dignity to the White House’ after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, raising school-test scores and figuring out how to spend a record budget surplus – which he has decimated!

The next White House occupant will inherit the deepest housing recession in a generation, growing fears of bank failures, a sinking dollar, $4 gasoline and an economy bleeding jobs. He’ll confront wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting tensions with Iran and the U.S.’s flagging international reputation.

Historians say the economic and foreign policy crises in Bush’s wake will present either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain with the biggest challenges to a new president since Herbert Hoover left office during the Great Depression.

‘What a burden the next president is going to confront,’ says Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and biographer of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. ‘It’ll be like Franklin Roosevelt coming in, in 1933.’

The list of problems facing the nation means that campaign promises — Obama’s universal health care, middle-class tax cut and immigration overhaul, or McCain’s corporate and individual tax reductions and energy-independence plan — will likely be put on hold while the president focuses on more immediate concerns, especially the economy.

Waking Up Quickly

The next president is ‘going to wake up very quickly to the fact that the economy so overwhelms everything else,’ says Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

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June 20, 2008

What Does Immunity For The Telecoms Mean?

The U.S. House of Representatives gave George Bush what he wanted by approving legislation that would continue the controversial surveillance program at the National Security Agency (“NSA”) with limited court oversight at the same time the bill will immunize telecommunications carriers that participated in the program from lawsuits.

The House on Friday voted 293 to 129 to approve the bill. Democrats have the majority in the House so why would the Democrats pass this bill?  Is Congress being complacent or do they know something from their classified briefings that we don’t?

The bill would extend the NSA surveillance of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the U.S., while giving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) an opportunity to review Bush administration requests for wide-ranging surveillance powers. The bill, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act, allows the NSA to receive blanket surveillance orders covering multiple suspects of terrorism and other crimes.

The compromise also sends the dozens of outstanding lawsuits against telecom carriers for their alleged participation in the NSA program to a district court, which will review whether they should be dismissed. The lawsuits would be thrown out if telecom companies can show that the U.S. government issued them orders for the surveillance that were presented as lawful.

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