Washington Extra – In the heart of Texas

August 9, 2010

President Barack Obama took his attack on the economic policies of George W. Bush to his predecessor’s home state of Texas today, at a pair of Democratic fundraisers.

OBAMA/But even as he hits the campaign trail in earnest,  we wonder how much use the president will be in boosting the electoral fortunes of his own party in November’s elections. For sure, the president will help enormously to bring in the bucks, but how many votes will he corral as well?

Many Democrats will want to keep their distance from a president whose approval ratings just keep falling. Bill White for one. The Democratic nominee for Texas governor declined an invitation to attend Obama’s  events, a decision the White House said it didn’t take as an insult.

Colorado holds two Senate primaries on Tuesday, and both are looking like close races with establishment favorites facing strong challenges from rising insurgents. The Democratic race pits Obama-backed candidate, Senator Michael Bennet, against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who interestingly has been endorsed by Bill Clinton. But even in this Democratic primary, veteran local pollster Floyd Cirulli says Obama’s support “is not hurting Bennet, but he doesn’t really seem to be helping him either.”

David Axelrod told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the White House was well aware Obama was more popular in some states and some districts than in others.  “Look, these candidates are going to make the decisions they think are best for them,” he said. “We wish them well.”

Here are our top stories from today…

Obama attacks Bush policies in Bush’s home state

President Barack Obama attacked the economic policies of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush in Bush’s home state as evidence of the way Republicans would operate if given power in Nov. 2 congressional elections. At the first of two Texas fund-raising events for Democrats, Obama defended his repeated references to Bush’s policies, saying they are necessary to remind Americans of the weak economy he inherited from Bush in January 2009.

For more by Ross Colvin, click here.

 In Colorado, primaries gauge depth of voter unrest 

Two hard-fought Senate primaries in Colorado pit establishment favorites against rising insurgents in showdowns that could provide the latest gauge of voter unrest before November’s elections. In races considered too close to call, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and former Republican Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton are waging tough battles for their party’s Senate nominations against upstart challengers who have tied them to the status quo. “The establishment is on the defensive in both parties,” veteran Colorado independent pollster Floyd Cirulli said.

To read the rest of this story by John Whitesides, click here.

Verizon, Google propose Web traffic rules

Verizon Communications Inc and Google Inc proposed principles for policing Web traffic, but stopped short of saying they should apply to wireless devices. The proposal came after the Federal Communications Commission failed to broker an agreement among Internet service providers and Web companies on “net neutrality.” Net neutrality is a term that means high-speed Internet providers should not block or slow information or charge Web sites to pay for a fast lane to reach users more quickly.

For the full story by John Poirier and Sinead Carew, click here.

Freddie Mac says needs $1.8 billion from taxpayers

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said it would need another $1.8 billion in aid from taxpayers, bringing its total request since it was taken over by the government two years ago to more than $64 billion.

For more of this story by Corbett B. Daly, click here.

Democrats seek allies in U.S. consumer agency debate

Key Democratic lawmakers hope to exploit the rare August return of the House of Representatives to intensify pressure on the White House to nominate Elizabeth Warren as head of the new consumer protection agency. Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank are trying to drum up more signatures for their draft letter requesting a meeting with President Barack Obama on the matter.

To read more of David Clarke’s story, click here.

U.S. assesses own plans after Pakistan floods

As flood waters rise in Pakistan, so does U.S. concern over the impact of the disaster on an already fragile economy and how Washington’s robust development plan may be slowed down to deal with the crisis. Another source of unease, say officials and experts, is fallout from the weak response of the civilian government and to what extent the Pakistani military’s attention is being diverted from its fight against militants in the border areas with Afghanistan where U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban.

For the full analysis by Sue Pleming, click here.

First lady’s Spain vacation gives heartburn to critics

First lady Michelle Obama caused a stir among the chattering class for a trip to Spain, but some Washington analysts called it a tempest in an August teapot, with no impact on her popularity or her husband’s political standing. Critics portrayed her trip last week with daughter Sasha to the Costa del Sol as a case study in being politically tone-deaf when Americans are struggling with a 9.5 percent unemployment rate and even her husband is encouraging sacrifice.

For more by Tabassum Zakaria, read here.

What we are blogging…

Should U.S. oil royalties pay for studies of BP spill’s environmental impact?

Oil caused the mess in the Gulf of Mexico. Should U.S. oil royalties pay for scientists to study what happened, and what’s still happening, to this complex environment? At least one scientist thinks so.

To read Deborah Zabarenko’s full blog, click here.

Top stories from Reuters Insider…

Divide Fannie, Freddie into three agencies, says analyst

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be separated into a liquidating trust, a private company in the mortgage business and a government agency, according to American Enterprise Institute’s Alex Pollock.

 To watch Pollock’s interview, click here.

 Fed to weigh options on more quantitative easing

Fed policymakers will be in Washington Tuesday for a one-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee that could lay the groundwork for further quantitative easing.

To watch Pedro da Costa’s report, click here.

And some career pointers from elsewhere in the country…

Advice to job seekers: drop the Merlot

Job applicants who drink alcohol are perceived as less intelligent and less hireable by American bosses, a bias dubbed the “imbibing idiot bias” in a study. In a series of six related experiments, researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania found that an association with alcohol caused observers to “expect cognitive impairment” in a job seeker.

To read more of this story, click here.

Attractive women overlooked for certain jobs?

Too hot to be an engineer or prison guard? Good looks can kill a woman’s chances of snaring jobs considered “masculine”, according to a study by the University of Colorado Denver Business School. Attractive women faced discrimination when they applied for jobs where appearance was not seen as important. These positions included job titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor.

For more of this story, click here.

British man becomes first to walk Amazon length

A former British army captain became the first known person to walk from the origin of the Amazon river to its mouth, after enduring “50,000” mosquito bites, attacks by hostile Indians and tropical disease in his nearly 2-1/2 year odyssey.

For the full story by Douglas Engle, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama delivers remarks at Democratic fundraiser in Austin, Texas)

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