Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Daily News – March, 26

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Vasile Blaga accuses Mircea Geoana of trying to get Voicu state secretary

Interior Minister Vasile Blaga said in an interview to daily ‘Gandul’ yesterday that Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana, former head of the Social Democrat Party, tried to have Senator Catalin Voicu named as secretary of state in the ministry in 2008. Blaga underlined however that the Romanian Intelligence Agency was able to prevent the plan after revealing information that made Voicu incompatible with the position. Voicu is probed by anticorruption prosecutors for influence peddling and taking bribes, in a case that involves several businesspeople, magistrates and police officers. On Wednesday, Senate approved prosecutors’ request to have Voicu remanded, but the senator is now in hospital, as he fell ill before the vote.

In the interview, Blaga confirmed that Geoana tried to obtain a secretary of state job for Voicu after the senator failed to secure the interior minister post. The minister explained that the appointment was refused by Prime Minister Emil Blaga. The minister also said the former PSD leader tried to have Voicu named prefect, but he failed, for the same reasons.

Geoana however denied the accusations and demanded Blaga apologise. He said the statements were “a lie” and asked PM Boc to make public all requests made by the PSD for various government jobs during negotiations for the creation of a ruling coalition in 2008.

Helping Greece?

According to media sources, the day before the summit, Paris and Bonn were in permanent contact in an attempt to end the crisis. This became even more urgent as neither the 27, nor the 16 members of the Euro zone, will be able to provide a clear answer during the summit, unless the German chancellor and the French president reach a preliminary agreement. While the latter always favoured a European solution, Angela Merkel was more cautious. Concerned with both the disputes within the ruling coalition and the nearing elections of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German chancellor seems unwilling to spend German taxpayers’ money for Greece. This is precisely why she supported, on several occasions, the idea of resorting to the International Monetary Fund.

Spanish Premier Zapatero, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, came to Brussels one day earlier and had several meetings with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and other leaders, “in view of finding a European solution to the Greek problem,” as ‘El Pais’ notes in its Thursday’s issue.

The chairman of the euro area finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, said after preparatory talks among conservative leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel he was more confident than before of reaching a deal on Greece by Thursday night. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told reporters his country would press ahead with painful austerity measures to slash a huge budget deficit regardless of what EU leaders decided at the two-day meeting. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet offered some good news to Athens, announcing that the central bank would extend looser collateral rules, which were due to expire at the end of this year, into 2011.

Yesterday at noon various diplomatic circles were putting forward the idea that Berlin finally accepted the creation of a European support mechanism for Athens. However nothing palpable was being said about how this mechanism will look like, and most importantly nothing was being said whether the IMF will be involved in this mechanism like the German Chancellor kept saying. As was pointed out in yesterday’s issue, apart from the issue of Greece the Heads of State and the Heads of Government of the 27 EU members will also discuss the ‘2020 Strategy’ for economic recovery and job creation.

Healthcare changes headed back to Congress

A package of final changes to a landmark healthcare reform law must be approved again by the House of Representatives after the Senate parliamentarian eliminated two minor provisions on Thursday. Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin upheld two Republican challenges under budget reconciliation rules, Senate Democratic aides said, requiring another vote by the House just days after it passed the package during a contentious debate on Sunday.The challenges involve the package’s revamp of the student loan program, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. Under reconciliation rules, each provision in the package must have a budgetary impact. The decision came as the U.S. Senate met in a middle-of-the-night session to try to finish the bill, which would put the finishing touches on the sweeping healthcare overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday. The decision set up another potentially difficult vote in the House, which narrowly passed the $940 billion overhaul on Sunday along with the companion bill of final changes after a sometimes bitter yearlong political struggle. Republicans had met with the parliamentarian through the night on Wednesday to find language that could be challenged under reconciliation rules. Those rules were being used because they allow Senate passage by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 needed to clear procedural hurdles. The ruling means 16 lines will be stricken from the bill, Manley said, but any change required House action once again.

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Written by Theophyle

March 26, 2010 at 11:03 am

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