Obama Renews Call to Close GITMO

Obama Renews Call to Close GITMO

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President Obama today will renew his long-delayed effort to close the prison for terrorism suspects at  Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,  during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

The president will reassert his case that the prison is detrimental to national security and a drain on the U.S. economy. Guantanamo Bay costs $150 million in annual operating costs. And each detainee costs taxpayers roughly $904,000 every year, The Fiscal Times reported earlier this month.  By contrast, the government spends  $25,000 a year  per prisoner at   federal prisons within the United States.

There are currently 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, many of whom are on a hunger strike. Eighty-six of those prisoners  have been cleared for release.

“By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it,” Obama said in prepared remarks.  -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

FED  STILL GIVING  MIXED SIGNALS  ON EASY MONEY POLICY Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday that while the the Fed would continue its easy money policy,   it is likely to take the first steps toward reducing the $85 billion monthly bond-buying program at one of its “next few meetings.” The Fed chair said t he was reluctant to move too aggressively or end  the program too soon. But minutes   released  on the  April 30-May 1 Fed policy meeting disclosed that some officials were prepared to begin scaling  back the program as early as the Fed's next meeting in June. But Fed officials have yet to reach a consensus on when to begin winding down the program. -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

WERFEL TO REVIEW IRS   Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday instructed Daniel Werfel, the new Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner,  to act swiftly to review operations of the IRS to get to the bottom of the controversy over the agency’s targeting of conservative political groups  that sought tax-exempt status.  Politico’s Ben White reports that Werfel is expected to report back to the president within the next 30 days about progress made in three areas: 1) ensuring staff that acted inappropriately are held accountable 2) examine and correct any failures in the system that allowed this behavior to happen and 3) take a forward-looking systemic view at the agency's organization." -  Read more at Politico

FOOD STAMP CRITIC GOT PLENTY IN FARM SUBSIDIES     Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn.,  one of the most vocal supporters of the House farm bill’s $20 billion cut to the food stamp program, is one of the largest beneficiaries of federal farm subsidies in the country, new data by the Environmental Working Group shows.

Fincher, a farmer, has received nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012.  In 2012 alone, he received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners  even if they do not grow crops.

Regardless, Fincher fought hard to slash the food stamp program during debate on the measure in the House Agriculture Committee last week.

“We have to remember there is not a big printing press in Washington that continually prints money over and over,” Fincher said. “This is other people’s money that Washington is appropriating and spending.”         -  Read more at The New York Times

OBAMA SO FAR UNSCATHED BY SCANDALS  IN POLLS   Contrary to the narrative used by many pundits, journalists and Republicans, the slew of scandals causing a firestorm in Washington have done little, if anything, to tarnish President Obama’s public image. The Fiscal Times’ David Francis writes. “Outside the Beltway, President Obama remains removed from any alleged wrongdoing in his administration,” according to Francis. “In the vast majority of polls, the president’s approval ratings are still hovering around 50 percent, not a glowing review by any measure but hardly a refutation of his presidency either. And he is still trusted to handle the issues facing the country: An ABC News/Washington Post poll determined that 46 percent of Americans trust Obama, compared to 37 percent who think the Republicans would do a better job.”  -Read more at The Fiscal Times

Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.