The First Draft, Friday, Dec. 26
President George W. Bush heads to his Texas ranch for a holiday break Friday.
President-elect Barack Obama is already on vacation in Hawaii, where he paid a visit to Marines on Christmas Day.
Congress is in recess until after Jan. 1.
With the politicians away from Washington, the morning TV shows focused on other news, including the ailing economy’s performance during the holiday shopping season.
Retail sales, minus gasoline, were down 2 percent from the previous year in November and 4 percent in the Dec. 1-Dec. 24 period, MasterCard Advisor’s SpendingPulse reported.
Some retailers generate up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the holiday period, which typically runs from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.
Retailer hopes are now pinned on the post-Christmas sales, which began Friday.
Retailers on the only ones hurting from the bad economy. A drop in revenues is forcing forcing states to cut back on Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for the poor, the Washington Post said.
States are cutting payments to hospitals and nursing homes, eliminating discretionary programs like physical therapy, eyeglasses and hearing aids or forcing the poor to pick up a larger share of the tab, the Post said.
The Washington Times reported Friday that a power struggle over the future leadership of the Republican party has broken out into the open.
Several members of the Republican National Committee’s governing body are working to call an extra meeting to hear from the six candidates for national chairman, the Times said.
The move is seen as a backlash against control of the RNC by Bush, his allies and their Washington-based consulting firms, it said.
The extra meeting is seen as giving the six candidates for chairman an equal shot at the job, rather than favoring the current chairman, Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, the Times said.
Stock futures were up on Friday, pointing to a higher open on Wall Street amid moves to turn General Moter’s financing arm into a bank holding company.
For more Reuters political news, click here.
Photo credit/Hugh Gentry (Obama shares a laugh with U.S. Marine Col. Robert Rice during a visit with Marines on Christmas Day); Reuters/Fred Prouser (Sales signs at a shoe store in Losangeles Dec. 24)