State, nation and world news April 13, 2011

Spinnaker

Around the State Scott supports emergency funding for disabled
Gov. Rick Scott says he will rescind his order to cut payments to those who care for the disabled if the Legislature approves emergency spending to make up for a budget gap.

Scott ordered a 15 percent cut in payments to service providers April 5 to address a $174 million shortfall. After visiting the Agency for Persons with Disabilities April 12, he said he would take back the order if lawmakers fill in the budget hole.

Scott also said shortfalls at the agency have been an annual problem and that it needs a management team that can help take care of the disabled while not overspending.

Around the Nation Obama to outline plans to curb Medicare and Medicaid costs
President Barack Obama, jumping into a debt-reduction debate that will help define the rest of his term, will outline his ideas Wednesday for curbing the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and taking other steps to turn around the nation’s spending habits. Ahead of his effort, House Republicans warned they would not consider any plan that includes tax increases.

Obama will give congressional leaders of both parties a preview of his speech, scheduled for delivery at 1:30 p.m. EDT April 13, during a private meeting at the White House. The White House refused to discuss details of the speech but Obama is expected to call for a “balanced” approach of shared burdens that takes on entitlement programs, defense spending and taxes.

The president’s move is also intended to serve as a counter to a major Republican proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan’s plan would seek to cut more than $5 trillion in spending over the next decade, built around a drastic reshaping of Medicare and other federal safety-net entitlement programs, and would lower the tax rate for the nation’s top payers.

Around the World US, Pakistan negotiate CIA, special forces numbers
The Obama administration said April 14 it is negotiating a possible reduction in U.S. intelligence operatives and special operations officers in Pakistan, as the two countries try to mend relations badly strained by the arrest and detention of a CIA security contractor for killing two Pakistanis.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the 300-member contingent is helping train the Pakistani military. The U.S. wants to maintain the program and is having conversations with Pakistani authorities about requirements and force levels, he said.

The latest discussions are taking place amid decidedly sourer bilateral relations, reflecting the continued mistrust and anger over the Jan. 27 arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Allen Davis for killing two Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him. The incident stoked anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and led to one of severest rifts between the two governments, with high-level contacts suspended for weeks.

The U.S. government insisted that Davis, as an embassy employee, was immune from prosecution. He was released in March after the families of the victims agreed to $2.3 million in compensation.

Compiled by Spinnaker and Wire Services