Talk Media News
Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
Quick News
  • Defense sec used private email…
  • Huge “taxibus” bill: House to vote
  • Bits in the bill: Winners/losers
  • Fed goes there: “Modest increase”
  • Mistrial: Freddie Gray case
  • Terror couple talked jihad in private messages – FBI
  • Clinton: I don’t “have horns”

 

Defense Sec Used Private Email (NYT, Hill, me)
• SecDef Ashton Carter relied on a personal email account to conduct a portion of his govt business during his first months at the Pentagon – NYT. He continued the practice – which violated DoD rules from 2012 – for at least two months after it was revealed in March that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a private email account as SecState, officials told NYT
 
• Carter was assigned a govt email account when he became SecDef but continued to use his private account for work matters. A former aide to Carter said he used the personal account “so frequently that members of his staff feared he would be hacked and worried about his not following the rules.” (Obama banned it last year – how could Carter be so stupid?)
 
• Officials said WH chief of staff Denis McDonough learned of the usage in May and directed the WH counsel’s office to contact the Pentagon to ask why Carter was using the account. Pentagon spox Peter Cook said in a statement that Carter believes doing so “was a mistake.” “He stopped such use of his personal email and further limited use of email altogether.”
 
• Not yet clear how many emails are involved. NYT filed a FOIA request for emails with Carter’s then chief of staff Eric Fanning during April. Pentagon provided 72. Cook said any email related to work on the personal account was “copied or forwarded to his official account to be preserved as a federal record as appropriate.” Cook said no classified material on email

 

• President Obama on Wednesday met with former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a meeting not on the president’s public schedule. The meeting comes as Obama is weighing new executive action on guns in response to a series of mass shootings, a proposal said to be in the final stages of being drafted – (bet it’s coming soon) (Hill, me)
 
 
Huge “Taxibus” Bill: House to Vote (WaPo, Politico, Politico, Hill, Hill, me)
• GOP leaders told rank-and-file members that the House will vote on the tax extenders package today and the omnibus spending bill Friday, the last business day for Congress before the holidays. In the Senate, “My hope is that we’ll be able to conclude this Friday,” said Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas). They’ll need consent from every senator to do it – wanna go home…
 
• The powerful House Rules Committee, which decides exactly how a bill will be structured on the floor, Wednesday night rejected a string of amendments from the hard-line GOP House Freedom Caucus on Syrian refugees, abortion, environmental regulations and cybersecurity legislation – all would have killed Democratic votes needed to pass the bill
 
• The deal includes $680 billion in tax breaks and $1.1 trillion in spending. All leaders say the measure will pass. President Obama will sign. Rank-and-file members aren’t freaking out. Wins all round: Republicans succeeded in lifting the four decade ban on exporting U.S. oil. Democrats beat back nearly every other GOP attempt to insert policies into the bill
 
• But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), considered a winner, opposes the provision to lift the oil ban and is upset it’s in the omnibus instead of the tax bill. Pelosi also sought more tax breaks for refineries that will be affected by lifting the export ban. She’s raising questions about when a renewable energy tax credit would be phased out (but too bad – done)
 
• Republicans ensured that the omnibus would include reforms to visa free travel in the U.S., but the bill has no language stemming the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as some GOP lawmakers had demanded. (the visa waiver piece was pushed by Senate Democrats originally, so wins all round)

 

Bits in the Bill (Politico, Hill, AP, me)
Wins: Syrian refugees – no new restrictions. 9/11 sick first responders: The Zadroga Act got a 75-year extension prob as a result of Jon Stewart shaming Congress. Head Start gets a funding bump of $570 million. The IRS gets a funding bump. Effectively continues a federal ban on horse slaughter in the U.S yaaay. – The bill is 2,009 pages, BTW
 
Wins: Renewable energy producers got extensions of tax credits for wind and solar – despite some GOP opposition. Corporate tax breaks in general, including the research and development credit. Makes permanent a $2,500 college tuition credit, Tax breaks for NASCAR, horse racing and film and TV productions (always mysteriously make it in)
 
Losses: Obamacare – delays for two years the implementation of a “Cadillac tax” on more generous health insurance plans. Banks and Republicans fell short in efforts to pare back Dodd Frank regulations and in replacing capital lost in the recent transportation bill. Sage grouse – it’s not getting an endangered species protection
 
Mixes: Prohibits State Dept and USAID from supporting non-governmental email accounts or servers – swipe at Hillary Clinton’s use. Blocks the IRS from issuing new rules to limit the political activities of groups seeking a nonprofit designation. Effectively overrides a policy against sledding on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol (kiddies win)

 

• Five years ago today, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old street vendor, set himself on fire outside a local municipal office in his hometown of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia to protest police corruption – a solitary act that set off a stunning chain of events in the Arab world. Despite massive changes in Tunisia, residents of Sidi Bouzid say things haven’t changed for them (al Jazeera)
 
 
Fed Goes There: “Modest Increase” (Reuters, WSJ, me)
• The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates for the first time in seven years on Wednesday, raising the range of its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to between 0.25% and 0.50% – stocks rose and bond yields fell on the news. The Dow closed up 1.28% or 224 points
 
• “With the economy performing well and expected to continue to do so, the committee judges that a modest increase in the federal funds rate is appropriate,” Fed chair Janet Yellen said at a presser after the decision was announced. “The economic recovery has clearly come a long way.”
 
• The Fed’s policy statement noted the “considerable improvement in the U.S. labor market, where unemployment has fallen to 5%, and said policymakers are “reasonably confident” inflation will rise over the medium term to the Fed’s 2% objective. (gleeful) banks announced increases to the prime lending rate within minutes of the Fed’s announcement (couldn’t wait)
 
• The Fed made clear the rate hike was a tentative beginning to a “gradual” tightening cycle, and that in deciding its next move it would put a premium on monitoring inflation, which remains mired below target. “The process is likely to proceed gradually,” Yellen said, a hint that further hikes will be slow in coming

 

• Likely losers: small business owners, car dealers, manufacturers, stock investors, consumers, home buyers. Likely winners: savers, pension fund managers (NPR)

 
Mistrial: First Freddie Gray Case (Reuters, AP, me)
• A mistrial was declared Wednesday in the case of a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man whose killing while in custody sparked riots in April, and the city’s mayor and Gray’s family urged calm. The judge said a new trial would be scheduled. Gray was arrested fleeing from police
 
• The judge dismissed the jury in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter – the first of six officers to be tried in Gray’s death – after 16 hours of deliberations during which the jurors were unable to reach a verdict on any of the charges against the policeman. The death and its aftermath followed police killings of black men in other cities in the U.S.
 
• Wednesday, scores of protesters marched through downtown Baltimore following the ruling, chanting “we have nothing to lose but our chains.” Uniformed police officers took up positions throughout the city. Porter, 26, was charged in Gray’s death from a broken neck suffered while the 25-year-old man was transported in the back of a police van
 
• Porter, also black, was charged for having put Gray in the back of the van without seat-belting him and with being too slow to pass on his request for medical assistance. The officer’s lawyers had argued that Porter may have been unaware of dept policy mandating that detainees be seat-belted, which was put into place shortly before Gray’s arrest
 
 
Terror Couple: Talked Jihad in Private Messages – FBI (NYT, Hill, WaPo, me)
• Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook, the married couple who shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino this month, used private online messages to express their commitment to Islamic extremists, but they didn’t make those communications on social media before the attack, FBI director James Comey said at a NYC presser Wednesday
 
• NYT reported Sunday that Malik had talked openly about jihad on social media before she applied for a visa to come to the U.S. While those remarks were made online, Comey said, they were “direct private messages” and not easily accessed. Nevertheless, the FBI was able to obtain them in the days since the attacks (so fairly easily accessed, then)
 
• President Obama will travel to San Bernardino on Friday to meet privately with families of the victims, the WH said. Today, Obama will receive a pre-holiday threat assessment at the National Counterterrorism Center in Northern Virginia, then he’ll make a statement. All part of a week of showing that the admin is out front in the fight against terrorism
 

• Comey also said for the first time that the fatal shootings at a Navy Reserve facility in Chattanooga in July were “inspired by terrorist organization propaganda.” Mohammod Abdulazeez shot and killed four Marines and a sailor. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has approved Purple Heart awards for all five victims, the DoD announced Wed. A sixth went to a Marine who was wounded

 
• Fox News’s Bret Baier conducts a thorough and devastating interview of 2016er Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on how Cruz’s position on immigration has moved in the last two years – Cruz repeatedly contradicts himself as he struggles to explain supporting the 2013 immigration reform bill – good research, good journalism (me, Fox News)

Clinton: I Don’t “Have Horns” (NYT, NYT, Politico, NYT, AP, me)

• Hillary Clinton on Wednesday picked up the endorsement of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Clinton’s campaign used the event in Omaha to signal to the national news media that she would eventually call for an additional tax increase on Americans who earn more than $250,000 a year. She said she supported the Buffett rule and claimed she doesn’t “have horns” (fact check that)
 
• There’s a Democratic 2016 debate this Saturday at 8 pm ET in Manchester, NH. Last shopping weekend before Christmas – (no conspiracy to shield Clinton by Democratic officials said to be in the tank for her, of course not). The event is hosted by ABC News, the NH Democratic Party and the Union Leader. David Muir and Martha Raddatz will moderate
 
• Donald Trump went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday night – having previously canceled. Kimmel said it seemed Trump had tried to be nicer to his fellow candidates in the debate. “I would like to see the Republican party come together, and I’ve been a little bit divisive in the sense of hitting people hard,” Trump said (in a massive understatement)
 
• Bernie Sanders joined Christians, Muslims and Jews around a table at a mosque in Washington on Wednesday. The meeting was scheduled in response to the San Bernardino shootings. “Do we come together? Or do we allow demagogues to divide us up?” Sanders said. “That is the issue of the moment.” (oh I think the demagogues are slicing and dicing)

• Cuteness alert: New giant panda cub Bei Bei makes his debut in front of the press hordes at the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC this week – before greeting throngs of eager visitors early next year. He acts like an old pro – nods off (me, AP)

 
___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

 
 

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Talk Media News provides breaking news coverage of domestic and world news to more than 400 radio stations across the United States.
 

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