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Two of President Obama's top appointees withdrew yesterday because they failed to pay federal taxes. Is "changing the culture" of Washington easier said than done? Will the political distraction interfere with efforts at policy change? Also, tighter restrictions on executive compensation for companies getting federal bailouts, and from the new Secretary of Energy, a dire warning on the end of agriculture in California.

Banner image: President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announce new restrictions on executive compensation. White House photo: Pete Sauza

Andrea Brody
Sonya Geis
Christian Bordal

Making News New Rules on Executive Compensation 6 MIN, 12 SEC

The financial crisis was front and center today with the announcement of plans to tighten restrictions on compensation for executives of banks and other companies getting federal bail-out money. President Obama dismissed such rewards in the midst of the current economic crisis as “bad taste” and “bad strategy” that he would not tolerate. David Cho covers the Treasury Department and the financial crisis for the Washington Post.

David Cho, Staff Writer, Washington Post

Main Topic Obama and Public Accountability 33 MIN, 43 SEC

With top-level appointees admitting they didn't pay federal taxes, President Obama told TV interviewers last night, “I screwed up.” The promise of tough standards to “change the culture” of Washington has created expectations that are hard to meet. The New York Times called it his “rockiest day.”  The Los Angeles Times said he was “punching the restart button on his presidency.”  Did the vetting process go wrong?  Was there poor political judgment? Has the President's major asset, his popularity with the public, been put at risk? Will his personal efforts at damage control get his health reform and economic rescue programs back on track? 

Martha Joynt Kumar, Director, White House Transition Project
Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute / Atlantic (@NormOrnstein)
Ezra Klein, Vox (@ezraklein)

Reporter's Notebook New Energy Secretary Issues Dire Warning on Global Warming 9 MIN, 12 SEC

The Bush Administration took heat for downplaying the dangers of climate change. Although he's not a climatologist, President Obama's new Energy Secretary, Nobel laureate Steven Chu, directly acknowledged the severity of the problem in an interview with Jim Tankersley of the Chicago Tribune with one of the starkest predictions yet: no agriculture in California in less than 100 years.

Jim Tankersley, Washington Post (@jimtankersley)
Joseph Romm, former Energy Department official


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