Friday, October 29, 2010

Five ways the election will change Washington

WASHINGTON — Voters say they want change.Again.

Two years after President Obama was swept into office on a message of hope, he faces what may be a historic rebuke from midterm voters, including millions of independents who supported him last time. Four years after California liberal Nancy Pelosi triumphantly claimed the House speaker's gavel for the Democrats, Ohio conservative John Boehner is poised to take it away for the Republicans.

Those reversals reflect continuing dissatisfaction with the country's course and its politics, especially as the nation struggles to recover from a deep recession. In this election, as in the past two, voters have moved toward whichever party promised to shake things up: Democrats in 2006 and 2008, Republicans in 2010.

This time, if Republicans win control of the House and shave the Democratic majority in the Senate, Obama will be forced to forge new working relationships with the GOP.

MIDTERMS: Jobs, economic security top issues

In Congress, a freshman class of Tea Party members is likely to clash not only with Democrats but also with the establishment Republicans who tried to defeat them in GOP primaries. And the capital's agenda increasingly will focus on what political scientist John Pitney calls "the politics of subtraction" — reducing federal spending.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicago is Clinton's latest stop to rally Dems

CHICAGO -- Former President Bill Clinton rallied voters Tuesday to keep Democrats in control of Illinois, especially in the races for governor and President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat as Republicans gain razor-thin leads.

To rally goers, his swing through a state where every statewide office is held by a Democrat - and Obama's planned visit later this week - were signs the party believes Illinois is still winnable. Chicago was Clinton's latest stop as he crisscrosses the country urging Democrats to turn out in force on Nov. 2.

"If they had said we'll go someplace else, skip Illinois ... that would have been a very bad sign," said Chicago Alderman Danny Solis, who was among the few hundred party faithful who turned out for Clinton's rally at a downtown Chicago hotel.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Calif. gov debate overshadowed by personal jabs

Coming into their final debate of the California governor's race, Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman had a chance to persuade a statewide audience they could turn around the economically troubled state.

Instead, their third face-to-face exchange resorted to many of the personal attacks that have dominated the last few weeks of the campaign.

Neither candidate presented any new ideas in a contest that is virtually tied just three weeks before Election Day and in which a fifth of voters remain undecided. A poll released two weeks ago found about half the respondents were dissatisfied with both candidates.

Before Brown and Whitman walked on stage, moderator and former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw told the audience at Dominican University that he planned to address not just the critical economic woes facing the nation's most populous state but the tone of the campaign.

The debate followed several weeks of personal attacks that had both candidates on the defensive — Whitman over revelations that her housekeeper was an illegal immigrant and Brown over an audio tape in which a female campaign aide called Whitman a "whore" for pandering to a Los Angeles police union.

While the first few minutes of the debate were civil, with Brown and Whitman touting California's potential and the tough decisions ahead, much of the hour-long face-off was dominated with rehashed verbal jousting on nearly every issue.

It left 66-year-old independent voter Tom Callinam of Mill Valley with little insight into the candidates' plans if elected governor.

"I have a hard choice. I haven't decided yet. I don't think that debate helped because of all the canned answers," said Callinam, who attended the debate. "I would have liked them to answer the questions."

Brown, 72, sought to describe Whitman as a billionaire corporate executive who wants to buy herself the state's top job to benefit herself and wealthy friends. Whitman, 54, repeatedly called her rival a career politician beholden to public employee unions who would continue the "same old, same old" failed policies in Sacramento.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Nasdaq drops, S&P dips on worries about tech demand

Tech shares slumped on Wednesday, hit by worries about demand for semiconductors and data storage.

The Nasdaq bore the brunt of the day's selling, led by data system services provider Citrix Systems (CTXS.O). The stock was down in sympathy with small-cap Equinix Inc (EQIX.O), which plunged 33.1 percent to $70.34 after it issued a revenue warning late Tuesday. Citrix slid 14.1 percent to $60.15.

"You are starting to see a natural rotation and some profit taking in the cloud computing sector that has been red hot in the last few months," said TD Ameritrade chief options strategist Joe Kinahan in Chicago.

"So those investors that currently own Citrix are reconsidering the valuation at these levels."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Obama promotes family-friendly hours at businesses

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama promoted flexible hours and other family-friendly workplace policies Tuesday, telling a conference of female business leaders that such arrangements are more than a women's issue.

While addressing Fortune magazine's 2010 "Most Powerful Women Summit," Obama said companies with flexible arrangements can have lower turnover and absenteeism and higher productivity.

Obama said he wants federal agencies to be models with policies like mobile workplaces and flexible schedules. He urged that employees be judged "by the results they get, not the facetime they log."

Obama also supports paid leave programs and child tax credits.

The Fortune event, in its 12th year, brought together hundreds of women who have succeeded in fields from business to education to philanthropy. Obama said their achievements show how much progress women have made in the workplace since his grandmother hit a "glass ceiling" after becoming a bank vice president in Hawaii.

But, the president said in a dinner speech the Carnegie Mellon Auditorium, "we still have a ways to go."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Obama holds 1st summit on community colleges at WH

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is turning the education spotlight on community colleges, enlisting career teacher Jill Biden to preside over the first White House summit on the system of schools he's counting on to help produce an additional 8 million graduates by 2020.

While providing millions of students with skills training and a less expensive path to a college degree, these schools are challenged by climbing enrollments, high dropout rates and large numbers of students who come from high school needing significant remedial education before they can tackle college level work, officials say.

What works — and does not work — at community colleges will be topics of discussion at Tuesday's summit.

Obama is scheduled to deliver opening remarks.

The daylong exercise will involve representatives from community colleges, business, philanthropy and government in discussions about how these schools can meet the increased demand for job training and also help fulfill Obama's wish for the U.S. to become the world's top producer of college graduates by 2020.