President Obama has selected United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to replace retiring National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. The appointment—which does not require Senate confirmation--is a defiant gesture to Republicans who continue criticizing Rice for her public pronouncements on Sunday talk shows days after the deadly attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya last fall. Rice was on Obama’s short list to succeed retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but she withdrew her name as Republican criticism grew that she had misled the public about the cause of the attack.
The president is also expected to nominate Samantha Power--who called Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 presidential campaign–to replace Rice as U.N. ambassador. Power is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former White House aide.
Donilon will leave his post in early July. White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough told The New York Times that Donilon’s greatest policy legacy will be his work on the U.S. pivot to Asia. His latest big project was negotiating the rather unusual informal meeting planned between President Obama and President Xi Jinxing of China on Friday. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
HOUSING IS BACK AND BIGGER THAN EVER New data released by the Census Bureau shows that the size of single family homes built for sale has once again been growing. In 2012, the median size of single-family homes was 2,306 square feet. That’s the highest recorded since the government began keeping track in 1973. And the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in these homes has gone up, too. In 2012, 41 percent of the new homes built had at least four bedrooms—an all-time high. Thirty percent of new single-family homes had at least three bathrooms—also a record. - Read more at The New York Times.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: THE RECOVERY MIGHT NOT BE AS GREAT AS YOU THINK
FLEDGLING POT INDUSTRY SEEKING A TAX BREAK It didn’t take long for the emerging legalized marijuana industry to go calling on Capitol Hill looking for a tax break. Lobbyists will push this week for a bill introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, (D-CO) that would allow licensed marijuana companies to take business deductions from their federal taxes. Colorado last November became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Perlmutter’s bill would remove an impediment in the tax code that is preventing state-licensed marijuana businesses from deducting their business expenses from their federal tax liability, like everyone else. Industry lobbyists say that without those deductions, marijuana businesses would pay a tax rate two to three times higher than that of other small businesses. - Read more at The Hill
WHY OPTING OUT OF MEDICAID EXPANSION IS A BAD MOVE A new study by the Rand Corporation shows that states that opt out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act are making a bad move. The 14 states that currently plan to turn down the offer will each get $8.4 billion less in federal funding, have to spend an extra $1 billion to cover uncompensated care, and end up with about 3.6 million fewer insured residents. As The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein points out, this explains why some of the more “hardcore conservative governors,” like Arizona’s Jan Brewer and Florida’s Rick Scott are battling with their states’ legislators to opt into the Medicaid expansion. Klein writes, “The math works out like this: States rejecting the expansion will spend much more, get much, much less, and leave millions of their residents uninsured. That’s a lot of self-inflicted pain to make a political point.” - Read more at The Washington Post
FROM 4-STAR GENERAL TO 7-FIGURE EXECUTIVE Retired four-star Army General David Petraeus announced last week that he will join the New York-based investment firm KKR & Co. to run the firm’s new Global Institute, a group dedicated to studying how government policies impact investments. Just as Petraeus made the announcement, reports surfaced that KKR & Co. had purchased defense and intelligence consultant TASC from Northrup Grumman for $1.6 billion.
The Fiscal Times’ David Francis writes, “It’s still not clear what Petraeus’ role at KKR will be. But if he is there to help bring in defense dollars, he would be just one of many retired DOD officers to make big money by taking private sector jobs, board appointments and consulting gigs related to their former careers in the military.” Seventy percent of three-and-four star generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 took jobs with defense contractors or consultants. - Read more at The Fiscal Times