Political Notebook

GOP says health debate has held up other issues

September 24, 2009

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House Republican leaders added their voices yesterday to those who say the focus on health care on Capitol Hill is crowding out other crucial issues, namely what to do in Afghanistan.

“With all the attention there is on health care, the attention that needs to be paid to what is happening in Afghanistan isn’t happening,’’ Representative John Boehner, the top House Republican, told reporters after a private GOP meeting.

Obama, who is weighing a revamped strategy for Afghanistan and whether to send more reinforcements than the 21,000 he has already dispatched, is likely to need Republican support for whatever he decides because the vast majority of Democrats are opposed to any escalation of the US mission.

Boehner and other key lawmakers have demanded that General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, explain his report to the White House that calls for additional troops.

Some lawmakers and advocates are also chafing because the sluggish pace on a health care overhaul has backed up other priorities including climate change, transportation, and financial regulation. -- GLOBE STAFF

Palin gives private speech to 1,000 in Hong Kong
HONG KONG - Months after abruptly resigning as Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin resurfaced in Hong Kong yesterday seemingly more moderate in tone and better versed in international affairs, possibly laying the first brick for a 2012 White House bid.

In her first overseas speech, last year’s Republican vice presidential candidate touched on a wide range of issues - including financial markets, Afghanistan, China-US relations, and health care - before a room packed with more than 1,000 investors and bankers at an annual investment conference.

“I’m going to call it like I see it, and I will share with you candidly a view right from Main Street, Main Street USA,’’ Palin said, according to a video.

While she displayed some of her trademark folksy charm, the fireworks from her debut speech at the Republican National Convention last year were apparently missing. So, too, was the sharp partisan edge of the politician who toured the country as Senator John McCain’s running mate. She appeared more moderate, did not attack President Obama directly, and avoided major gaffes, attendees said.

According to several accounts of her speech, which was closed to media, Palin spoke out for smaller government, calling for lower taxes and a private-sector solution to health care. She contends that many are uncomfortable with reforms that infringe on private enterprise.

It marked Palin’s first major public appearance since she abruptly resigned as governor in July. Palin aides refused to disclose her fee for the speech, which has been rumored to be in the low six figures. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama adviser gets help from Blair for Olympic bid
WASHINGTON - A senior adviser to the president is getting advice on Chicago’s 2016 Summer Olympics bid from a high-profile source.

An administration official says Valerie Jarrett met with former prime minister Tony Blair of Britain in New York Tuesday.

Blair helped secure the 2012 Olympics for London when he met with International Olympics Committee members in 2005. Jarrett will join Michelle Obama in Denmark next week to lobby the IOC on Chicago’s behalf. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS