Washington Extra – Foot in mouth

August 25, 2010

alan_simpsonSuggestion of the day. Encourage top officials to undertake some basic training in what to say and write in public. Specifically, try and avoid insulting and tactless remarks in print, on camera, in public or in front of journalists.

Alan Simpson, the Republican co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission, has a reputation for blunt speaking, but obviously was not paying much attention when Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job earlier this year. Simpson has already apologized for his email, to the executive director of the Older Women’s League, in which he compared the handing out of government retirement benefits to “milking a cow with 310 million tits.”

“When I make a mistake,” Simpson said, “it’s a doozy.” Which at least got me consulting the online dictionary. Nevertheless, there have already been calls for him to fall on his sword.

So much for the Washington scuttlebutt today. More significant perhaps, yet another sign today that the economy might just be heading for a “double-dip” slide back into recession. New single-family home sales fell to their slowest pace on record in July, and durable goods orders were also soft. Lest he seem out of touch on his vacation in the charming resort of Vineyard Haven, President Barack Obama brought his top economic advisers onto a conference call to discuss the latest grim economic data.  “The president is doing everything that we think is appropriate to continue moving the economy in the right direction,” spokesman Bill Burton told reporters.

Finally today, another in our series of Reuters/Ipsos polls, this time from Colorado. Republican Ken Buck, who has harnessed some of the energy and anger of the Tea Party movement, is leading Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet by an eight-point margin. But it’s a different story in the race for the governor’s mansion, where a conservative former Republican has split the right-wing vote and could hand the race to Democratic Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Once again the emergence of the Tea Party is proving something of a double-edged sword for Republicans.

Here are our top stories from today…

US July new home sales sag, durables orders soft

New home sales slumped to the slowest pace on record in July and orders for costly durable goods were weak, heightening fears the economy was at risk of a new downturn. The two reports from the Commerce Department suggested growth could slow materially without government support and some economists saw the risk of a contraction in output in the third quarter.

For the full story by Lucia Mutikani, click here.

POLL-Republican Buck leads in Colo. Senate race

Colorado Republican Ken Buck, who harnessed the insurgent Tea Party movement to win his party’s Senate nomination, leads incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet by an eight-point margin, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. But anti-establishment fervor may hurt Republicans in the mountain state’s race for governor as a third-party candidate is splitting the Republican vote, the poll found.

For the full story by Andy Sullivan, click here.

U.S. spill panel skewers offshore drilling policy

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a massive “failure” in oversight for the oil industry and the U.S. government, the co-chairman of the White House oil spill commission said. Bob Graham, a former Senator from Florida, said regulators and offshore drillers were aware of the possibility of a major well blowout, such as the one that caused the BP spill, but ignored the risks.

For the full story by Ayesha Rascoe, click here.

Shareholders win more rights to influence boards

Shareholders won more power to shake up corporate boards in the United States after the financial crisis exposed weaknesses in how companies were managed. The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a rule that gives shareholders an easier way to nominate company directors.

For the full story by Rachelle Younglai, click here.

Global outlook casts shadow over Fed retreat

Central bankers from around the world will assess a darkening economic outlook at their annual mountain retreat this week with discussion of printing yet more money to spur growth on the agenda. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is likely to signal his views about the uncertain prospects for the world’s biggest economy but probably won’t offer many clues on whether the central bank will pump more cash to keep the recovery going.

For the full story by Mark Felsenthal, click here.

U.S. Army halts new ground vehicle bidding

The U.S. Army canceled a multibillion-dollar combat vehicle competition and said it would issue revised rules for a more affordable program within 60 days, delaying a contract award by up to six months. A separate decision on the Air Force’s biggest acquisition program, for new refueling tankers, has also been delayed, fueling speculation among some industry executives that the Obama administration is trying to postpone potentially controversial contract decisions, and possible job losses, until after the mid-term elections in November.

For the full story by Andrea Shalal-Esa, click here.

WikiLeaks releases CIA memo on U.S. terror recruits

The WikiLeaks website released a secret CIA memo warning of fallout if the United States came to be seen as an “exporter of terrorism,” given al Qaeda’s interest in American recruits. The document by the CIA’s so-called “Red Cell” was the latest classified memo to be published by the whistle-blowing website, which last month released more than 70,000 secret U.S. military documents on the war in Afghanistan.

To read more of this story, click here.

What we are blogging…

On rainy Martha’s Vineyard, Obama hunkers down – and reads

So much for perfecting that golf game. President Barack Obama has spent a lot of time indoors during his vacation. The posh island of Martha’s Vineyard has had a spot of bad weather — as in rain, rain, and more rain.

To read Jeff Mason’s full blog, click here.

And from elsewhere…

ANALYSIS: Is Obama an asset in California Senate race?

President Barack Obama’s diminished star power has complicated the re-election bids for many Democrats this year, but he remains popular in California and that could prove pivotal in Senator Barbara Boxer’s close race with Republican Carly Fiorina.  Boxer, an outspoken Senate liberal and close Obama ally, is not shying away from the president before Nov. 2 congressional elections in a state that went overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008 — and where most voters still approve of the job he is doing.

To read more of this story, click here.

U.S. to give more flood aid to Pakistan

The United States will divert $50 million from a development package for Pakistan towards relief funds, the top U.S. aid official said — after touring a camp for flood victims supplied by a charity with suspected links to a militant group.  Officials in Pakistan and its ally Washington are worried that militants could exploit the disorder caused by the floods, and the government’s slow response, to gain recruits.

To read more of this story, click here.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing) National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform co-Chairmen Alan Simpson (L) and Erskine Bowles (R)  at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce event in Washington, July 14, 2010.)

One comment

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The majority of Americans don’t realize that when Social Security was started is was to help the “aged” worker during the last years of their life. Life expectancy in 1935 (presuming you survived childhood) was 58/men, 61/women. It was never calculated that people would live well into their 80’s & 90’s and collect SS. Those who think SS is a right at age 65 need more information. We have “evolved” into thinking this through government & media. You do not have the “right” to retire. You earn it through prudent financial responsibility and if you are lucky, some added SS benefits. Yes retirement age needs to be increased. I think to age 70-75. I am 55 and I am saying that. Additional taxes should be placed on income over 106k, but I think at a lower rate. Anyone who thinks SS is not in trouble is living in lala land. Entitlements are not a right. Handouts cultivate beggars and people without personal power.

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