Washington Extra – cautionary tale
President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill to strengthen border security, and just to make sure the message got through, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took the podium at today’s White House media briefing. Immigration has always been a tough political issue, and in an election year no great strides are expected on major reform before the November vote. “It cannot only be done by Democrats. The Republicans need to come to the table,” Napolitano said.
The American consumer is still a cautionary tale. But consumer sentiment appears to have stabilized in August after dropping sharply in July. “Consumers are still cautious, but it is not double-dip material,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. In a separate report, U.S. retail sales rose in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness.
And finally, I tried to find something positive to say about Friday the 13th and realized there’s no need, because it’s still Friday!
Here are our top stories from today…
Obama signs $600 million border security bill
President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill to beef up security on the border with Mexico, and his aides pressed lawmakers to set aside election-year politics and work toward broader immigration reform. With illegal immigration seen as a key issue in the November congressional elections, the administration touted the border enforcement plan as laying the groundwork for a revived effort to overhaul the immigration system.
For more by Matt Spetalnick, click here.
Retail sales tepid but sentiment finds a footing
Retail sales rebounded in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness, as did inflation data showing underlying price pressures stuck at their lowest level since the 1960s. The reports offer the latest evidence that the U.S. economy has slowed considerably in recent months, but were sufficiently firm to dispel, for now, fears of a renewed downturn.
For the full story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, click here.
Analysis: Senate ready for round 2 on drilling regulation
Lingering concern among voters about BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico means that efforts to tighten regulations on offshore drilling will continue in the U.S. Congress even with the well plugged and the oil dissipated. But getting major legislation passed will be an uphill struggle. With Republicans eyeing gains in the Nov. 2 congressional elections, Democrats will face fierce campaign-year opposition on all major initiatives.
For the full story by Richard Cowan, click here.
GM IPO seen as victory for Obama on auto bailout
General Motors Co standing on its own again in the capital markets would be a victory for President Barack Obama as he begins to trumpet auto bailouts as a policy success ahead of the November elections. The Treasury is heavily involved in the mechanics of selling its 60 percent federal stake in GM and shedding the “Government Motors” label. But the White House says it has no role in the share offering expected to be unveiled next week and floated on Wall Street this fall.
For the full story by John Crawley and Caren Bohan, click here.
Clinton prods Netanyahu on Mideast peace talks
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about issues blocking direct peace talks with the Palestinians as the Obama administration boosted pressure for talks to begin, the State Department said. Clinton telephoned Netanyahu on Thursday evening, and also discussed the issue with the foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
For the full story by Andrew Quinn, click here.
What we are blogging…
You can take it to the bank: Unbowed Maxine says she won’t cut a deal
She broke no rules, she has no regrets, and she won’t cut a deal with the House of Representatives ethics committee. That was the message a defiant Democratic lawmaker Maxine Waters had for the media. The 10-term California representative brought her trademark feistiness to a lengthy news conference in the bowels of the Capitol.
To read Susan Cornwell’s full blog, click here.
To read more from Front Row Washington, click here.
And from elsewhere…
New York flight attendant’s angry exit wins him fans
JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who stormed off his job this week with some profanities and a dramatic exit down an inflated emergency chute, has struck a chord with nearly everyone who has dreamed of quitting a job in anger. “Free Steven Slater” t-shirts are on sale, an animated reenactment of Monday’s exchange between Slater and a passenger at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport has become an online hit, and musicians are writing ballads in homage to the fed-up flight attendant.
To read more of this story, click here.
Burger and a statin to go? Or hold that, please?
Fast food outlets should hand out free cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to their customers to “neutralize” the heart risks of eating fatty foods like burgers and fries, British scientists suggested. But a few experts say you might want to ask your server to hold the statin at this point.
To read more of this story, click here.
Photo credit: Reuters/