|Vice President Joe Biden met yesterday with survivors of the island’s recent earthquake and tsunami at a temporary shelter in Natori, one of the hardest-hit cities, in northeastern Japan. The visit is aimed at highlighting strengthened ties with Japan. Biden was on the final leg of an eight-day trip to Asia. (Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press)|
White House quest to cut red tape may be a help to travelers
WASHINGTON - The White House released final plans yesterday to streamline federal bureaucracy by eliminating 500 regulatory requirements across two dozen US agencies, an overhaul that could make it easier for travelers to obtain a visa and military contractors to get paid.
Officials said the reforms, which came in response to President Obama’s order in January for agencies to eliminate red tape, could save up to $10 billion over five years.
The cost savings are “a pretty big deal,’’ Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said on a morning conference call with reporters.
“But numbers do not tell the whole story. There are a number of initiatives that are finished or well underway or contemplated that will make a difference to people.’’
The White House report spans 800 pages and includes 100 reforms for the Transportation Department, including eliminating railroad industry regulations that could save $340 million, officials said.
The Defense Department has finalized plans to speed up payments to 60,000 contractors and the State Department is reforming visa rules to “promote economic growth and tourism,’’ Sunstein said.
“Every plan emphasizes that it is not a one-shot endeavor,’’ he said. “We have made an effort to create periodic reviews of rules and to change the culture and be open to public concerns.’’
Sunstein said the reforms probably will boost job growth, but critics said the Obama administration’s plans do not go far enough toward eliminating burdensome regulatory requirements.
The US Chamber of Commerce praised the White House for making “technical changes’’ to the regulatory process, but senior vice president Bill Kovacs said in a statement that the changes “will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today.’’
Eric Cantor, the House majority leader and a Republican of Virginia, called the new plans underwhelming and said Obama “seems reluctant to do everything in his power’’ to help business owners.
— Washington Post
Pataki contacts operatives who could help campaignFormer governor George Pataki of New York has been reaching out to potential supporters in New Hampshire, and some speculate he is preparing for a Saturday announcement about running for president.
Darrell Kearney, finance director and events chairman for the Polk County Republican Party, said Pataki will speak at a County Republican fund-raiser in Des Moines on Saturday. Pataki’s staff had already contacted Kearney. “They didn’t want me to list him as a candidate now but they said he would have some kind of a major announcement on Saturday,’’ Kearney said. “I took that as a strong implication that he may very well announce.’’
Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo previously told CBS News that Pataki is seriously considering a candidacy.
Former state senator Dave Currier of New Hampshire, a longtime friend and supporter of Pataki, said he has spoken recently to Pataki’s senior staff. Currier said he had breakfast with Pataki two weeks ago.
“He sounded more like a presidential candidate than most of the candidates on the trail right now,’’ Currier said.
Pataki, a moderate Republican, has been traveling the country as honorary chairman of “No American Debt,’’ a group aimed at educating people about the federal debt.
— Shira Schoenberg
Palin camp getting testy with speculation on run
WASHINGTON - Sarah Palin’s political team fought back yesterday against speculation that she will run for president, saying that anyone claiming to have special knowledge about her plans is maliciously misleading the American people.
Reports in recent days have indicated that the Republican former Alaska governor might announce her intentions Sept. 3 at a Tea Party rally in Iowa, where she is scheduled to speak, and Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, predicted Sunday that Palin will run.
According to a statement posted yesterday on the website of SarahPAC, Palin’s political action committee, they are wrong, and they are also out to get her.
“Any professional pundit claiming to have ‘inside information’ regarding Governor Palin’s personal decision is not only wrong but their comments are specifically intended to mislead the American public,’’ the political action committee’s statement says.
“These are the same tired establishment political games that fuel the 24 hour news cycle and that all Americans will hopefully reject in 2012, and this is more of the ‘politics-as-usual’ that Sarah Palin has fought against throughout her career.’’
No reputable news outlet has reported that Palin has made up her mind as of yet, or that a decision will be announced on Sept. 3.
But a series of teasers from SarahPAC - including a visit to Iowa just before the Ames Straw Poll this month and an Iowa-themed Web video previewing her Sept. 3 speech - have led to increased speculation about her plans.
— Washington Post