Boehner Appoints a Woman to Lead the Administration Committee

With House Republican leadership under fire for installing 19 white men as committee chairmen, Speaker John A. Boehner said on Friday that he had named Representative Candice S. Miller of Michigan to head the Committee on House Administration in the 113th Congress.

The current chairman of the committee, Representative Daniel E. Lungren of California, was defeated in his campaign for re-election this month.

Ms. Miller said in a statement that she was “both humbled and honored by the confidence Speaker Boehner has shown in me” to take on the chairmanship of the committee, which oversees federal elections as well as the day-to-day operations of the House, including its cafeterias, personnel services and technology. Ms. Miller currently does not even sit on the committee.

“Most importantly,” she said, “this committee has jurisdiction over the federal election process, and I am absolutely committed to making certain that we enact rules to ensure thi s nation continues to have open, free and fair elections.”

While most committee chairmen are chosen by the House Republican Steering Committee, Mr. Boehner has personal discretion over four committees: House Administration, Intelligence, Rules and ethics. Only the last of these is still unfilled, and it is possible the speaker will seek a woman for that slot, as well.

“In her new post,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement, “Candice will provide the leadership needed to keep operating costs down, save taxpayer dollars and help lawmakers use new technology to better engage with their constituents. And her experience as Michigan secretary of state will be invaluable given the committee’s oversight of campaign finance and election laws.”

In 2004, Ms. Miller received a rare admonishment from the House ethics committee, along with former Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, then the majority leader, relating to political favors in exchange for a m ember’s vote on a difficult Medicare prescription drug bill.

Obama Hits the Road to Rally Support for His Tax Plan

HATFIELD, Pa. – President Obama made a campaign-style foray on Friday to a toy factory in this Philadelphia suburb to rally the public behind his plan to increase taxes on the wealthy while casting Republicans in Congress as modern-day Scrooges.

“I’ve been keeping my own naughty and nice list for Washington,” he told workers and others gathered at a plant that makes K’NEX toys. If Republicans hold middle-class tax cuts hostage to preserve them for the rich, he said, then everyone could end up paying more next year. “That’s sort of like the lump of coal you get for Christmas. That’s a Scrooge Christmas.”

Mr. Obama’s trip here was his first return to the road during a high-stakes effort to outflank his opponents on Capitol Hill in the looming crisis over the nation’s finances. Rather than just sit down and negotiate with Congressional leaders, as he tried in the past to his disappointment, the president is pursuing a dual-track strategy that involves conc entrating as much public pressure on lawmakers as possible even as his aides make the rounds on Capitol Hill.

So far, Mr. Obama has largely stuck to his past positions, gambling that the 51 percent of the popular vote he won in this month’s election constitutes a mandate that will force Republicans to back down. While he repeated here on Friday that he was willing to compromise, the proposals his advisers laid out to Congressional leaders on Thursday reflected an opening bid in a four-week negotiation with little new compromise so far.

Among other things, the president’s advisers told Congressional leaders that he wanted $1.6 trillion more in tax revenues over the next 10 years, $50 billion in short-term stimulus spending to bolster the economy and an end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits. In exchange, he agreed to $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other entitlements over 10 years, to be worked out next year with no guarantees.

< p>Republicans have called that proposal an insult and a sign that Mr. Obama is not serious about reining in spending after a first term when annual federal budget deficits topped $1 trillion for several years in a row. White House officials counter that while Republicans since the election have agreed to more tax revenue as part of a solution, they have not offered specific new proposals either.

If Mr. Obama and Congress do not reach agreement, then taxes will rise and spending will fall automatically at the end of the year. Mr. Obama, however, has focused his message almost entirely on taxes, narrowing the debate to the question of whether the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended for household income over $250,000 a year.

He called again on Congress to go ahead and extend the cuts now for income under that level. “The reason I’m here is because I want the American people to urge Congress soon in the next week the next two weeks to begin the work we have by doi ng what we all agree on,” he said. “Both parties agree we should extend the middle-class tax cuts.”

Doing so would in effect end the debate over extending tax cuts for higher income since Congress presumably would not pass such a bill separately and even if it did Mr. Obama would veto it.

The president tried to enlist supporters to engage in the fight directly. “I want you to call, I want you to send e-mail, post on your Facebook wall,” he said.

He spoke after touring a Rodon Group factory here that makes K’NEX Brands construction toys like Tinkertoy, Ninetendo and Angry Bird building sets. About 150 people work at the factory and the White House said Rodon brought back 95 percent of their packaging and promotion from China to Pennsylvania in recent years.

The trip here culminated a week in which the White House released a report warning that consumer demand would fall if middle-class tax cuts are not renewed, gathered ostensibly typical tax payers to stand behind the president during a speech and organized meetings between Mr. Obama and small-business owners and corporate leaders.

Q&A: Avoiding the Unwanted Beach Ball Party

Q.

Why does my Mac’s cursor often turn into rotating color pinwheel that freezes up my screen until I restart the computer?

A.

The “rotating color pinwheel” goes by many names, both official and colloquial (Spinning Wait Cursor, Spinning Disc Pointer, Beach Ball of Doom, Rolling Rainbow of Death and so on). It usually appears temporarily when the Mac is busy with a task, like saving a large file. In most cases, the wait cursor should disappear after a few seconds. If it sticks around until you have to restart the Mac, it sounds like time to do some troubleshooting.

If you regularly get the wait cursor when working on the Mac, it could be because of a number of things, including lack of memory (the RAM kind) to efficiently complete the task on screen, not enough available hard-drive space or an overworked processor. If the cursor appears only when using a certain program, the issue may be with that piece of s oftware. If this turns out to be the case, check the program’s online forums to see if this is a known issue, hopefully one with a workaround or solution.

Instead of restarting the entire computer, you may want forcibly close the program you have open when the wait cursor appears, to see if the problem is just with that one particular application. To force-quit an unresponsive program, press the Mac’s Option, Command and Escape keys at the same time. In the box that appears, select the stalled program in the list and click the Force Quit button.

If more than one program keeps stalling out and the Mac is underpowered, adding more memory to the computer and deleting unneeded files from an overstuffed hard drive might help, as can downloading system and program updates. But before you dive into hardware upgrades, check out The X Lab’s frequently asked questions page for a collection of suggested solutions to various problems regarding the Spinning Beach Ball of Deat h.

Q&A: Avoiding the Unwanted Beach Ball Party

Q.

Why does my Mac’s cursor often turn into rotating color pinwheel that freezes up my screen until I restart the computer?

A.

The “rotating color pinwheel” goes by many names, both official and colloquial (Spinning Wait Cursor, Spinning Disc Pointer, Beach Ball of Doom, Rolling Rainbow of Death and so on). It usually appears temporarily when the Mac is busy with a task, like saving a large file. In most cases, the wait cursor should disappear after a few seconds. If it sticks around until you have to restart the Mac, it sounds like time to do some troubleshooting.

If you regularly get the wait cursor when working on the Mac, it could be because of a number of things, including lack of memory (the RAM kind) to efficiently complete the task on screen, not enough available hard-drive space or an overworked processor. If the cursor appears only when using a certain program, the issue may be with that piece of s oftware. If this turns out to be the case, check the program’s online forums to see if this is a known issue, hopefully one with a workaround or solution.

Instead of restarting the entire computer, you may want forcibly close the program you have open when the wait cursor appears, to see if the problem is just with that one particular application. To force-quit an unresponsive program, press the Mac’s Option, Command and Escape keys at the same time. In the box that appears, select the stalled program in the list and click the Force Quit button.

If more than one program keeps stalling out and the Mac is underpowered, adding more memory to the computer and deleting unneeded files from an overstuffed hard drive might help, as can downloading system and program updates. But before you dive into hardware upgrades, check out The X Lab’s frequently asked questions page for a collection of suggested solutions to various problems regarding the Spinning Beach Ball of Deat h.

The Early Word: Paying Less

In Today’s Times:

  • Many Americans are troubled by the conviction that they are paying more and more to finance the expansion of the federal government. But in 2010, most Americans actually paid less in taxes than they would have 30 years ago, Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff report.
  • Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner delivered a proposal to avert the potential fiscal crisis to the House speaker, John A. Boehner, on Thursday – but with the plan lacking detailed cuts and packed with Democratic priorities, Republicans offered strong resistance, Jonathan Weisman reports.
  • As Republicans take aim at Susan E. Rice, they seem to be amassing their support behind a familiar alternative: their colleague  Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Jennifer Steinhauer reports. But their support adds a measure of intrigue, as Mr. Kerry’s vacant seat could offer an opportunity for Senate Republicans to bolster their numbers.
    < li>Language slipped into a Coast Guard reauthorization bill to protect an old, ash-dumping ferry in Lake Michigan has raised questions about what exactly constitutes an earmark, Jonathan Weisman reports.

Washington Happenings:

  • President Obama will continue advocating for action to prevent the year-end fiscal crisis, on Friday at a toy factory in Hatfield, Pa.
  • Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. travels to Mexico, where he will attend a dinner given by President Felipe Calderón on Friday. Mr. Calderón will leave office on Saturday.

No “Plan B” for Pentagon in Case of Big Budget Cut

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said that plans are nothing, but planning is everything because no war plan survives first contact with the enemy. Therefore, the military should hone its ability for continuous planning.

In the decades since, the Pentagon has excelled at nothing as much as planning for every conceivable – and sometimes inconceivable – contingency.

So it is more than a little surprising that a range of Defense Department and military officials say there is no formal planning under way on how the Pentagon budget could or should be trimmed further.

Cuts of $500 billion over the next 10 years, representing roughly 5 to 8 percent of the Pentagon’s budget, would begin to take effect if the White House and Congress fail to reach an accord before the end of the year. The reductions would occur across the board. Even if there is a deal on taxes and spending to avoid the automatic cuts, it is a safe bet that the deal would impose additional budge t reductions on the Pentagon.

Pentagon officials and military officers do not say it out loud, but their public inaction reflects a fear that any planning on cuts would amount to an invitation to Congress to make them. The Pentagon could then face larger reductions than it otherwise might as part of any deficit deal.

What programs could be vulnerable? Experts offer varying proposals, of course, depending on what branch of the military they think is most important and what sort of world they predict America will face.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, noted in a recent talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that there are only three large baskets of spending from which savings can be found: personnel costs; equipment costs, both for repairs and new orders; and training costs, like how many bullets are available for firing on practice ranges and how many hours can be logged in jet fighter training flights.

A study released t his week by Todd Harrison and Mark Gunzinger of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington research group, recommended protecting a series of military capabilities, which it called “the crown jewels,” necessary in a future combat environment. They included: Special Operations forces, cyberspace capabilities, underwater warfare systems and long-range surveillance and strike aircraft, both manned and unmanned.

Gordon Adams, a former Pentagon official in the Reagan administration and an advocate of further military cuts, has said there is unusual agreement among analysts across the political spectrum on the way ahead in military spending.

In an essay for the Web site of Foreign Policy magazine, Mr. Adams said that long-term wars of attrition and nation-building, like in Afghanistan and Iraq, were “over,” allowing the ground forces to shrink. Analysts, he wrote, also agree that the United States can reduce its strategic nuclear arsenal, but that research and development should be protected.

Any future reductions for the Pentagon would come on top of $487 billion in spending cuts the Obama administration plans to make over the next decade.

After a decade of sharply rising military spending and revenues diminished by two tax cuts and two recessions, Pentagon officials say that they are aware that a new period has begun. Their goal is to limit the cuts they face to the ones that have already been planned, and to certainly avoid the across-the-board cuts that will start to take effect if Congress does not reach a deal by year’s end.

Senators Pay Tribute to Warren Rudman

WASHINGTON — There are few occasions these days that bring together Democrats and Republicans in bipartisan unity. But on Thursday evening, one of those rare displays occurred in a grand, gilded room near the Capitol.

Democratic and Republican senators gathered to celebrate the life of their former colleague, Warren B. Rudman, who died last month.

There was a healthy contingent from New Hampshire, Mr. Rudman’s home state. David H. Souter, a former Supreme Court justice and a Republican, joined Jeanne Shaheen, the state’s Democratic senator, in delivering introductory remarks. Kelly Ayotte, the state’s Republican senator, delivered a tribute of her own.

Other Republicans there included John McCain of Arizona, and a host of former senators including Howard Baker, Bill Brock and Fred Thompson, all of Tennessee. Phil Gramm of Texas and William S. Cohen of Maine were on hand as well.

The top Democrat in the room was Vice President Joseph R. Biden J r. And his fellow Democrats included Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.

Mr. Souter characterized what his old friend Mr. Rudman might have made of his responsibility as the evening’s emcee. “The old golden gloves boxer in him would say, ‘You’re the referee,’ ” Mr. Souter said. “But under any title, I’m very honored.”

Former President George H.W. Bush Is Hospitalized, but in Stable Condition

HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush is being treated at a hospital here for complications related to bronchitis, but a spokesman said Thursday that he is in stable condition and expected to be released within the next 72 hours.

Mr. Bush, 88, was admitted to The Methodist Hospital the day after Thanksgiving. It was his second hospitalization there this month, said the spokesman, Jim McGrath.

“At age 88, bronchitis can be very serious, but in this case it was never life-threatening,” Mr. McGrath said. “If you asked him how he’s doing, he would tell you he’s getting out this afternoon, because he feels that good. But he does have a lingering cough, so the doctors are going to wait until he’s better to their satisfaction before they discharge him.”

On Sunday, Mr. Bush’s son and daughter-in-law, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, visited him at the hospital. The elder Mr. Bush’s wife, former First Lady Barbara B ush, has been a constant presence by his side, Mr. McGrath said.

Mr. Bush has had numerous health problems in recent years, including being diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease. Last year, he described his condition to Time magazine this way: “My legs don’t move when my brain tells them to. It’s very frustrating. But I am in no pain, and I have discovered the amazing scooters, which Barbara accuses me of driving like I drive my boat. But they help me get around.”

Yet Mr. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, has remained active. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited him last year at his Houston home and again in March at his Houston office. In January, he sat in his wheelchair shaking hands with runners during the Houston Marathon. Earlier this month, on Nov. 1, he met an old friend for lunch at a local club: Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union. “It was a very warm , very personal reunion,” Mr. McGrath said.