Total Pageviews

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For Romney, a Lucrative Weekend Raising Money


With President Obama campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday and Representative Paul D. Ryan courting voters in Florida, which battleground state did Mitt Romney have on his weekend itinerary?


Mr. Romney spent the day in his home state of Massachusetts, hopping from Martha's Vineyard to Cape Cod to Nantucket in a dizzying daylong series of fund-raisers. The events, combined with a Friday night visit to the Hamptons, added about $7 million to his war chest.

He suggested that Mr. Obama was to blame for the heavy fund-raising, pointing to his decision in 2008 to become the first presidential candidate to opt out of the public financing system in the general election that allowed him to disregard campaign spending limits.

As he flew from Martha's Vineyard to Hyannis, Mr. Romney told reporters on Saturday that he regretted devoting more time to raise money than to meet with voters. But he said it was his ri val who was responsible for the aggressive fund-raising schedule.

“That's the challenge with a president who blew through the federal spending limits,” Mr. Romney said. “It means that campaigns now have to spend a disproportionate amount of time fund-raising.”

Four years ago, Mr. Obama outpaced his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, who abided by the spending limits and took public financing.

The 2012 presidential campaign has become the first since public financing was instituted in the post-Watergate era of national politics during which neither candidate is operating within the limits of the public financing system.

Fund-raising has become a central strength of Mr. Romney, who is poised to raise more money than Mr. Obama by the end of the campaign. His schedule on Saturday helps explain why: In 24 hours, he held five events from the Hamptons to the islands and the coast of Massachusetts.

It is one of his final major fund-raisi ng swings before the Republican National Convention opens in Florida on Aug. 27.

“You appreciate all the help you get,” Mr. Romney told reporters on Saturday, “but you wish you could spend more time on the campaign trail.”

Sunday Breakfast Menu, Aug. 19


With Representative Paul D. Ryan joining the campaign trail this week, both campaigns have emissaries on the Sunday shows to weigh in on how the race is going - and where it will go from here.

On CNN's “State of the Union,” President Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, and Eric Fehrnstrom, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, will share their perspectives on the back-and-forth over taxes and Medicare. Then, Rick Santorum returns to the conversation; the former Republican presidential candidate will talk about the combative tone of the race.

Ms. Cutter will also appear on ABC's “This Week,” where she will be joined by Kevin Madden, senior adviser to the Romney campaign.

In conjunction with the University of Virginia's Miller Center, ABC will also feature a debate on whether the country is headed toward bankruptcy. Among the panelists will be Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvan ia and a member of the Senate Budget Committee; Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee; and Grover Norquist, founder and president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform.

Mr. Norquist is also a guest this week on Bloomberg's “Political Capital.”

CBS's “Face the Nation” has supporters of Mitt Romney and Mr. Obama: Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Republican mayor of New York City, and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, and Robert Gibbs, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, will share their thoughts on Mr. Ryan's effect on the race and the Medicare debate.

Discussing the economy and the tone of the campaign, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, will be on NBC's “Meet th e Press.”Ted Cruz, the Tea Party-backed candidate who won the Republican runoff election in Texas to make a run for Kay Bailey Hutchison's vacated Senate seat, also will be on the panel.

With the Republican National Convention starting Aug. 27, Representative Marsha Blackburn  of Tennessee, co-chairwoman of the convention's platform committee, will be on C-Span's “Newsmakers.”

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, is slated to discuss the presidential race on Univision's “Al Punto.”

And Gabriela Domenzain, director of Hispanic press for the Obama campaign, and Carlos Guitierrez, Hispanic representative for the Romney campaign, will be on Telemundo's “Enfoque.”

To Obama, Republican Budget Plans Are \'Snake Oil\'


WINDHAM, N.H. - President Obama took on the budget proposals of Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan on Saturday, accusing the Republican ticket of seeking to cut trillions of dollars in taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes for the middle class and making deep cuts to programs that would benefit working Americans.

Venturing deep into Mr. Romney's back yard, Mr. Obama spent Saturday campaigning in New Hampshire, where Mr. Romney has a vacation home, as the focused effort on the remaining swing states intensified. Mr. Obama won New Hampshire in 2008. But Mr. Romney's ties here put the state in play, and in what is increasingly expected to be a close election, the president may need every one of this state's four electoral votes to get to 270 and clinch re-election.

Jogging up to the stage in a hot and packed high school gymnasium, Mr. Obama zeroed in quickly on the twofer of Mr. Ryan's controversial budget pr oposals and Mr. Romney's income taxes. Two days after Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, disclosed that he has he paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes each year during the past decade, Mr. Obama said that Mr. Ryan would make that relatively low percentage even lower.

“He put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than one percent in taxes a year,” Mr. Obama said, to outraged jeers from the crowd. “And here's the kicker, he expects you to pick up the tab!”

Taxes have become a centerpiece of Mr. Obama's offense, and he did not let up on it. “Governor Romney's tax plan would raise taxes on middle class families by more that $2,000,” he said. “Ask Mr. Romney and his running mate, when they're in New Hampshire - they'll be coming here on Monday - ask him if that's fair.”

He called the Romney-Ryan budget proposals “snake oil.” Earlier this week, in Iowa, he called them “fairy dust.”

“They've been trying to sell this trickle-down snake oil before,” Mr. Obama said.

Tailoring his message for the audience in New Hampshire, whose motto is “Live Free of Die,” Mr. Obama spoke of American character and determination. Despite the country's economic troubles, he said, “the American character has not changed. We saw during this crisis how people got knocked down and got right back up.”

Mr. Obama, who has ramped up his campaign hugely as he gets closer to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, which begins on Sept. 4, and then the last sprint to November, appeared fired up on Saturday in front of a friendly audience of about 2,300 people. In fact, he even said so: “I'm getting all fired up!” he yelled at the crowd.

He also tried to adopt a chatty tone, though, making a point of mentioning that his daughters Malia and Sasha went to camp in New Hampshire this summer.

“Thank you for returning Malia and Sasha safe and sound,” he said, grinning.

Obama Attacks Republicans Over Teacher Layoffs


WASHINGTON - President Obama on Saturday bashed Congressional Republicans - and by association, the Romney campaign - for failing to prevent teacher layoffs made by cash-strapped state and local governments.

In his weekly address, Mr. Obama noted that education employment has fallen by 300,000 jobs since 2009. He pushed for Congress to help stem the job losses and called the Republican approach to education financing “backwards” and “wrong.”

“The economic plan that almost every Republican in Congress voted for would make the situation even worse,” Mr. Obama said, referring to a budget put forward by Representative. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney's running mate.

“It would actually cut funding for education - which means fewer kids in Head Start, fewer teachers in our classrooms and fewer college students with access to financial aid - all to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and b illionaires.”

Mr. Ryan this year put forward a budget with significant cuts to nondefense discretionary spending, a category that includes federal money for education. The Republican-controlled House passed the budget proposal, but it failed to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

If Mr. Ryan's cuts were evenly distributed among budget programs, in the White House's analysis, it would eliminate funding for 38,000 jobs for teachers and aides, and a further 27,000 jobs for educators working with children with disabilities and special needs.

In his American Jobs Act, Mr. Obama included a $30 billion proposal to prevent an estimated 280,000 teachers and other education workers from getting laid off. The legislation failed to make it through Congress. He included $25 billion to prevent education layoffs in his 2013 budget proposal.

“The jobs bill that I sent to Congress last September included support for states to prevent further layoffs and to rehir e teachers who'd lost their jobs,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. “But here we are - a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off - and Congress still hasn't done anything about it.”

Mitt Romney's campaign has made school choice the centerpiece of its education proposal. The candidate proposes transforming federal education programs into a kind of voucher system, giving parents and students funds to attend the school of their choosing.

In the Republican response to the weekly address, Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri bashed Mr. Obama as a poor steward for the recovery.

“The House has passed more than 30 jobs bills that eliminate excessive red tape, empower small businesses, and approve the Keystone XL pipeline - a critical project the president and his party continue to block,” Ms. Hartzler said.

Mr. Obama's address coincided with the release of a White House report quantifying education job losses and detailin g the knock-on effects, like bigger classrooms and shorter school years.

The loss of state and local jobs has proved a persistent drag on the economy, even as private employers have added millions of workers to their payrolls since the recession officially ended in June of 2009.

Romney Starts a Weekly Audiocast


With a drawn-out “Hellooo,” Mitt Romney begins his first weekly audio message â€" attacking President Obama's Medicare plan and defending his own.

“The Romney-Ryan plan will make no changes to Medicare for those that are retired or near retirement,” Mr. Romney says.

A Romney campaign press release on Saturday trumpeted the new audio download, which will surely compete with Mr. Obama's regular Saturday video addresses.

But Mr. Romney's audio address, at least so far, is not quite as advanced as his recent mobile phone app, which was used to announce the vice-presidential pick. The sound quality is quite crackly, and Mr. Romney is clearly reading, in somewhat stilted fashion, from a text.

For now, the audio will be embedded on MittRomney.com every week, rather than available for subscription and download on a mobile device, which could stifle its potential to go viral.

As the argument over Medic are intensifies, and the fight for the senior vote grows increasingly fierce, both campaigns are looking for ways to connect with a population that is not as digitally savvy.

At the end of a YouTube video released on Friday to rebut Mr. Romney's assertions about Medicare, Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manager, encourages the (presumably younger) audience to “show your grandparents how to post it on Tumblr.”

The Weekend Word: Empty Benches


Today's Times

  • When President Obama ends this term, he will have made dozens fewer appointments to lower courts than the two previous presidents, in large part because of a deliberate political strategy, Charlie Savage reports. Mr. Obama has moved slowly to nominate appeals court judges and sought relatively moderate jurists who he hoped would not provoke culture wars that distracted attention from his ambitious legislative agenda.
  • Much has been written about Representative Paul D. Ryan's intellectual influences, but since coming to Washington, he has become a particular favorite of â€" and powerful influence on â€" the intellectuals, economists, writers and policy makers who are at the heart of the conservative establishment, Annie Lowrey writes.
  • The announcement of this year's moderators for the presidential debates exposed a gulf between a new media environment and the secretive Commi ssion on Presidential Debates, Brian Stelter and Trip Gabriel report. Despite the selection of CNN's Candy Crowley as the first female moderator in 20 years, strategists are complaining that the four moderators are “pretty mainstream” and lack diversity.
  • One way Mr. Ryan is the lid to Mitt Romney's pot is the approachability and comfort level he inspires in everyday people, Trip Gabriel writes. He has completed his first week as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, easily passing the “deer in the headlights” test that undermined the rollout of earlier Republican vice-presidential picks.
  • Mr. Ryan and his wife, Janna, paid 20 percent of their adjusted gross income in federal taxes in 2010, David Kocieniewski reports.

Weekly Addresses

  • President Obama used this week's address to focus on the teachers who “work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies.” As o ther countries race to “out-educate” America, Mr. Obama expressed concern that several thousand fewer educators will be going back to school this year. “Since 2009, we've lost more than 300,000 education jobs, in part, because of budget cuts at the state and local level,” Mr. Obama said. “Think about what that means for our country. These cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergartners, and shorten the school week and school year. That's the opposite of what we should be doing as a country.” He blamed Congress for not providing support to states that would prevent further layoffs and called out Republicans for voting in favor of an economic plan that “would make the situation even worse.”
  • Representative Vicky Hartzler, Republican of Missouri, delivered her party's weekly address, citing an independent report from Ernst & Young that says a tax increase would “destroy” more than 700,000 jobs. She says that President Obama and Congressional Democrats' proposed tax increases would have a disproportionate impact on small businesses and weaken an already struggling economy. “Perhaps they haven't been listening to the manufacturers and small-business owners who are already canceling plans to hire and expand,” Ms. Hartzler said. “Or the group of 88 economists who warn this tax hike must be stopped.” Pointing to the House's passage of 30 jobs bills and its approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, she said that her party has been consistent in offering solutions to the nation's most pressing challenges.

Around the Web

  • Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was once a V.I.P. at the Republican National Convention, but will be attending the Democratic National Convention this year, WPRI reports.
  • Politico names this year's presidential and vice-presidential candidates “the most workout-obsessed Republican and Democratic tic kets in U.S. history,” saying they collectively look nothing like America.


New Ad From Democrats Attacks Michigan Lawmaker on Medicare


Medicare is the ammunition, and a Michigan congressman is the target of the latest ad released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The television ad, assailing Representative Dan Benishek of Michigan, is the first released by the committee during the general election.

“Benishek's voted to essentially end Medicare, forcing seniors to pay over $6,000 more a year,” the ad's narrator says, referring indirectly to an estimate, released by the Congressional Budget Office, of the effects of Representative Paul D. Ryan's budget proposal.

Mr. Benishek is expected to face a tight race against State Representative Gary McDowell, whom Mr. Benishek defeated by 11 points for the same seat in 2010.

The attack ad represents part of a larger strategy by Democrats to make a prominent issue of Medicare, which they perceive as a major political weakness of Mr. Ryan's budget plan . That tack has already extended to some Congressional races, including ones in Montana and Florida.

Republicans, for their part, have so far responded publicly with defiance. In Ohio on Wednesday, just days after Mitt Romney announced Mr. Ryan as his running mate, Mr. Ryan told a crowd of supporters: “We want this debate. We need this debate. And we will win this debate.”

In private, however, some Republican strategists have expressed concern that the attack could prove effective.

Mr. Ryan's budget plan would cut the same amount of money from Medicare, more than $700 billion, as does President Obama's health care reform law.

And Playing the Role of Paul Ryan ...


Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, has emerged as the choice to play Representative Paul D. Ryan in mock debates with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

People familiar with the planning said that Mr. Van Hollen, who has spent many hours with both Mr. Ryan and his budget plan, was being lined up for the role-playing in advance of the Oct. 11 debate in Danville, Ky.

The selection of Mr. Ryan, the voice of conservative House Republicans on fiscal issues, as the Republican vice-presidential candidate has raised interest in the coming rhetorical showdown given Mr. Biden's affinity for saying what he is thinking and Mr. Ryan's own confidence in his positions and his eagerness to articulate them.

Mr. Van Hollen's budget expertise and familiarity with Mr. Ryan made him a natural pick as someone who could give Mr. Biden a taste of what he could expect from his debating rival.

Mr. Van Hollen has quickly emerged as a leading surrogate for the Obama campaign on budget issues. On Wednesday, he traveled to New Hampshire for a speech lacing into the fiscal proposals of Mr. Ryan and his running mate, Mitt Romney.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was earlier identified as the person who will stand in for Mr. Romney for President Obama's debate practices, setting up a faux Kerry-Van Hollen ticket.

Republican National Committee Takes In $37.7 Million in July


Bolstered by strong fund-raising over the last year and a major influx of cash brought Mitt Romney in recent months, the Republican National Committee has spent close to $21 million on attack advertisements against President Obama since the second week in July, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures.

The spending has come out of the committee's “independent expenditure” operation - activities that are paid for by the party but not coordinated with any candidates - making it effectively the third-biggest “super PAC” on the airwaves. Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Mr. Obama, has spent about $31 million during the entire election cycle, while the leading super PAC aligned with Mr. Romney, Restore Our Future, has spent about $84 million.

The R.N.C.'s burst of spending was enabled by a strong July, according to party officials: The committee took in $37.7 million last month, its bes t haul ever, and ended with $88.7 million in cash on hand. Its total take for 2012 already exceeds its total 2008 and 2004 fund-raising by more than $20 million, officials said.

“Once again, the R.N.C. has set a monthly fund-raising record, illustrating the tremendous enthusiasm for a new direction in this country,” said Reince Priebus, the chairman of the committee, in a statement. “This money allows us to get our message out to voters across this country on the ground and on the air.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 08/17/2012, on page A14 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Fund-Raising Report: Strong July for G.O.P..

Ryan Says Requesting Stimulus Funds Was a Mistake


Representative Paul D. Ryan said on Thursday it was a mistake to have requested funds in 2009 from the federal stimulus bill after voting against it.

Mr. Ryan earlier denied asking for money from the $787 billion stimulus on behalf of companies in his Wisconsin district, contradicting a report by The Boston Globe on Tuesday that he wrote to the federal Energy Department requesting funds for two companies to develop so-called green jobs.

“No, I never asked for stimulus,'' Mr. Ryan said in an interview with WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, which was broadcast Thursday. Mr. Ryan, along with Mitt Romney, who picked him as his running mate last week, have vociferously denounced the stimulus as an example of President Obama's failure to restore the economy. The Congressional Budget Office said the stimulus increased employment by 1.3 million to 3.3 million people.

Mr. Ryan said in the televisi on interview that he did not recall writing the letters. Later, his office issued a statement that he had since checked into the letters. “They were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled,'' he said in the statement. “This is why I didn't recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it's clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again.''

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 17, 2012

An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the television station that interviewed Paul D. Ryan. It is WCPO, not WCOP.

Democrats Vying for Barney Frank\'s Seat Go Easy on Biden Gaffe


BOSTON - Joseph Kennedy III, who is hoping to succeed Representative Barney Frank in his suburban Boston district, avoided saying Thursday whether Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had gone too far when he said that Republicans would “put y'all back in chains.”

Mr. Kennedy, 31, a grandson of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy, was asked at a televised debate on NECN whether Mr. Biden, who was speaking in Virginia, had exacerbated a bad situation and should apologize.

Hesitant in his response, Mr. Kennedy said that Mr. Biden had “walked his comments back a bit and clarified what he meant by that.” He then said, “It's really up to the pres idential campaigns.”

Mr. Biden had said after his initial remark that he was referring to the Republicans' plans to repeal the Obama administration's Wall Street reforms. But since many in the audience were African-American, critics said Mr. Biden was clearly referring to slavery.

The same question was posed to the two other Democrats running for the seat held for three decades by Mr. Frank, who is retiring.

Rachel Brown, a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, did not criticize Mr. Biden either. “African-Americans definitely have a lower living standard now, compared with other parts of the country,” she said. “We need a program to put people to work, and that's the issue.”

The third candidate, Herb Robinson, a software engineer, was more sympathetic to Mr. Biden.

“I occasionally misspeak myself, so I can understand him,” Mr. Robinson said. “I'm sure he didn't mean what that implied. What he was trying to sa y was that if Romney gets elected, all of us will be having a tougher time except for the millionaires in the top one percent.”

The candidates will face one another in a primary on Sept. 6, a Thursday. Three Republicans will also face one another that day.

Mr. Kennedy, who has already raised $1.3 million for the race, is widely perceived as the favorite, though he hesitated on some other questions, in addition to the one on Mr. Biden.

Asked if he supported medical marijuana, he said he was still looking into it. “We have to be very careful about it to make sure we don't turn into California,” he said. Pressed, he said he would probably vote against it.

Asked if he supported physician-assisted suicide, he said he “would have to really think about that one too.”

Ms. Brown said she opposed medical marijuana because it was intended to “destroy the minds of our population.” On physician-assisted suicide, she responded that “human life is sacred.”

Mr. Robinson said he had publicly supported the legalization of all marijuana, medical or otherwise, as had Mr. Frank. On physician-assisted suicide, he noted that he was a libertarian and so would support it.

The candidates were also asked if it was appropriate for Congress to spend $38 million in taxpayer money for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. Mr. Kennedy, who is the great-nephew of Edward, pointed out that the institute was a partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston and said it would be “a great asset for Boston and our country.”

Mr. Robinson shrugged and said he would probably support the taxpayer funding. Ms. Brown lost track of the question.

In their closing comments, Ms. Brown went first. She said the nation needed a “complete change” in its economic policy, said she wanted a revitalized space program and said President Obama should not be the party's nominee.

Mr. Kenn edy said he had held 160 events in the district and it was clear to him that jobs and the economy were the most pressing issues. He said people wanted a fair chance to make the most of themselves, adding that he had spent his career fighting for justice. He then asked for voters' support.

Mr. Robinson said he had 30 years of experience “doing creative problem-solving for private industry,” like capital gains tax reform. He then directed viewers to his Web site.

The debate was over in a half-hour.

The Early Word: Return of the Returns


In Today's Times:

  • Mitt Romney returned to the issue of his unreleased tax returns Thursday, saying he paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes over the past 10 years but adding that the interest in his returns is “small-minded,” Michael D. Shear reports.
  • While some speculated that the selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as Mr. Romney's running mate would elevate the level of discourse in the presidential race, the past few days have shown that that's not the case, with strategists now contemplating who has the most to gain from running attack ads, Jim Rutenberg writes.
  • Preparing for the possibility that Mr. Romney could be elected president in less than three months, his transition team met in Washington on Tuesday, trying to put together an agenda without looking presumptuous, Ashley Parker reports.

Washington Happenings:

  • The Amer ican Petroleum Institute will release its monthly data for July on Friday.

Calls Escalate for Presidential Debate Aimed at Hispanics and People of Color


The calls for an additional presidential debate moderated by (and aimed at) minorities escalated on Friday.

Ralph B. Everett, the chief executive of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research and analysis center that focuses on the socioeconomic status of blacks and other minorities, sent a letter to Janet H. Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates. He urged her to reconsider the commission's rejection of a plea by Univision to stage a presidential debate moderated by its own Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena, or another host of Hispanic origin.

“It has long been the practice of the television industry to avoid placing people of color in front of the camera ,” Mr. Everett wrote. He said he hoped the commission would embrace Univision's proposal “by adding more debates to the calendar.”

On Wednesday evening Mr. Ramos used the nightly Univision newscast to invite President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney to participate in a “forum” on the Spanish-language network.

“We ask it to reconsider its decision to deny Univision's request for a forum to be hosted by two of the nation's most respected journalists,” Mr. Everett said in his letter.

Ms. Brown was not immediately available to comment on the letter.

A large portion of Hispanic viewers gets its news exclusively from Spanish language television and radio. Mr. Everett ticked off data points in his letter as evidence that minorities need the candidates to address issues of pressing importance to them. While the nation's overall employment rate was 8.3 percent in July, the rates for African Americans and Hispanics was 14.1 percent and 10.3 percent, re spectively.

Rage Against the Machine Isn\'t Returning Ryan\'s Love


Representative Paul D. Ryan may love Rage Against the Machine, but the feeling isn't mutual.

Tom Morello, guitarist for the politically outspoken rap-metal band, attacked Mr. Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate in a searing editorial for Rolling Stone.

“Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,” Mr. Morello said.

Mr. Ryan has said Rage Against the Machine is one of his favorite bands. But like many other politicians, he has discovered that his music isn't in sync with his politics. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is a vocal and loyal fan of Bruce Springsteen, but it's a one -way relationship. Mr. Springsteen, who supports Democratic policies and politicians, will not meet Mr. Christie, a popular Republican governor.

The Grammy-winning Rage Against the Machine, which formed in 1991, has expressed vehement opposition to corporate greed and the American two-party political system, as well as support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, among other issues.

Mr. Morello said Mr. Ryan is “clueless” about the group's message.

Perhaps Mr. Ryan will add Lynyrd Skynyrd to his playlist. The band supports the Republican ticket, and is scheduled to play at the Republican National Convention along with Kid Rock.

Share the Tale of Your Data Trail


This week I wrote about how improvements in technology and the capacity to store huge amounts of data cheaply now allow both the government and the private sector to collect and retain vast amounts of personal information. The laws and regulations that govern such collection, in the view of many experts, are outdated and inconsistent.

@import url(http://graphics8.nytimes.com/projects/assets/agenda/agenda-inline.css);

Have you ever thought about the data trail you leave as you go about the ordinary business of living in an age of information â€" carrying a smart phone that records your location, using a computer that stores e-mail and Web pages you have visited, using credit cards that detail your purchases?

Do you worry at all about the intimate portrait of you that the government, or some other snoop, might be able to piece together with access to all this data? Do you notice the surveillance cameras and license-plate re aders now proliferating in cities, at airports and on the roads?

I'm looking for stories from readers to get a sense of how aware they are of these possible intrusions on their privacy and how they feel about it. Have you ever been surprised to find out that you were transmitting personal data without knowing it? Have you ever taken steps to deny access to such information?

Or do you shun such concerns, figuring that you have nothing to hide and don't particularly care which companies or agencies might learn about you? Do you think that the benefits derived from the collection of such information outweigh the risks?

Send in your stories to agenda@nytimes.com or post a comment below. I may follow up with some readers for an interview.

In New Ads, Republicans Attack Over Medicare


Get ready for the debate over the 2010 health care law â€" its Medicare component especially â€" to be reignited on the airwaves.

The National Republican Congressional Committee started its first wave of advertisements in support of their candidates Friday, and one, aimed at Representative Mark Critz, Democrat of Pennsylvania, hits him for not voting to repeal the health care law along with House Republicans. Mr. Critz was not in Congress when the law was passed in 2010 but has said that he would have voted against it. He won his seat later that year in a special election after the death of Representative John Murtha, a Democrat.

“Critz joined Nancy Pelosi and the liberals in the government takeover of health care,” the ad announcer says, in the ominous voice that Americans have come to expect their televisions to emit this time of year. The ad also laments that the bill cuts $700 billion from Medicare, rough ly the same amount that House Republicans seek to cut in their budget.

The Republican campaign group has reserved $1.8 million for Mr. Critz's race in the state's 12th District, and the ad against him will run for a week at the cost of $111,000. Three other advertisements also begin Friday, in districts where Republicans are seeking to play offense against Democratic incumbents.

In Georgia, the group uses President Obama's support of Representative John Barrow to suggest that Mr. Barrow has hurt his home state and also slyly refers to the health care bill, which Mr. Barrow voted against.

In Kentucky's race for the Sixth District, the Republican campaign group unleashed an ad against Representative Bed Chandler, criticizing him for voting to increase the debt limit, while in North Carolina, the group attacks Representative Mike McIntyre over the stimulus bill and suggests that his votes led to jobs being shipped overseas, a sen sitive issue in his state.

Obama Releases $470 Million for Highway Work


The Obama administration will make nearly half a billion dollars available to states to create thousands of construction jobs and fix the nation's aging infrastructure.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at a news conference Friday that more than $470 million would be made available to repair crumbling roads and bridges. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are also eligible for the funds.

The money comes from Congressional earmarks from 2003 to 2006 that were provided in the Transportation Department's budget. Earmarks are provisions in spending bills that direct taxpayer dollars to pet projects in lawmakers' districts or states.

“These idle earmarks have sat on the shelf as our infrastructure continues to age and construction workers sit on the sidelines. That ends today,” Mr. LaHood said.

Mr. LaHood said the money was never spent because states completed the projects without the money or the projects were abandoned before any work began.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the nation faces a $2.2 trillion infrastructure backlog. One of every eight bridges is “structurally deficient,” and 85 percent of public transit systems are struggling to carry a growing number of riders, the group said.

Under the Transportation Department plan, Mr. LaHood said states must identify how the funds would be used by Oct. 1.

The transportation funding announcement is part of President Obama's election-year effort to bypass a Congress that has failed to pass several crucial pieces of legislation, including a transportation spending bill. Last week the Obama administration announced plans to buy $170 million worth of meat to help farmers struck by drought. The move came after Congress failed to pass a farm bill or a separate disaster bill that would have helped farmers and states hard-hit by the worst drought in 56 years.

Mr. LaHood pl ayed down the political implications of releasing the funds in the middle of an election campaign.

“During the first two years in office, we were focused on getting the $48 billion in stimulus money for construction and transportation projects spent,” he said. “We have been trying to find other money when we discovered that there was a large amount of money that had been earmarked.”

Earmarks were banned by Congress in 2010 after Republicans captured the House. The Senate followed with its own ban on earmarks.

Mr. Obama has also opposed earmarks, saying he would veto any bill that includes Congressional spending requests.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 17, 2012

A previous version of this article carried an incorrect byline. It was written by Ron Nixon, not Len Apcar.

Congressional Leaders Issue Medicare Talking Points for August


With members of Congress back home for a five-week recess, leaders in both parties are working overtime to make sure that their respective messages on Medicare are being pounded in their Congressional districts. The case is particularly urgent now that Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin has been chosen as the number two on the Republican ticket.

In a memo sent Friday, Representative Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told House Democratic candidates: “Your job for the next 80 days is simple: Take the national debate about Medicare that Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket has given us, and win this battle in your district.”

Mr. Israel asserts in the memo that Mr. Ryan's budget, which passed in the Republican-controlled House, is “is toxic with voters,” and that its proposed changes to the Medicare program are also a problem. “Even Republican strategists ad mit the Ryan budget spells trouble for Republicans,” he writes.

Both Republicans and Democrats insist a robust debate about the future of Medicare is one that they welcome, and one in which they have the upper hand.

Earlier this week, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio told his Republican conference that they were actually on “offense” in the debate over Mr. Ryan's vision.

“The pundits are buzzing that with Paul on the ticket, the Democrats are going to attack us on Medicare,” he told them. “Well, here's a news flash: they were gonna do that anyway. The best defense on Medicare is a good offense. And Paul Ryan gives us the ability to play offense,” Mr. Boehner told his colleagues, according to aides.

On Wednesday, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Democrats' message man, sent a memo to his Democratic colleagues urging them to use the August recess to tell voters that Mr. Ryan is disingenuou s in his positions on deficit reduction.

“In Ryan's budget, the savings achieved by his plan to privatize Medicare and gut investments in the middle class do not go toward reducing the deficit, but rather to pay for further tax cuts for the wealthy,” said Mr. Schumer in his own note to his fellow members. “Ryan is a nice man, but a deficit hawk he is not.”

Pushing the fiscal argument at home will, Mr. Schumer added, “increase the likelihood that Romney's choice of Ryan will backfire.”

Mr. Israel lists a host of talking points for candidates to use in their districts, including, “The Ryan budget, which my opponent supports, ends Medicare, increasing health care costs for seniors by $6,400 a year while giving $265,000 in additional tax breaks to people making more than $1 million and “Even Republicans say it's bad for seniors and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich called this plan “right-wing social engineering.”

Televisio n advertisements released by both Republican and Democratic organizations this week support each side's argument.

Romney Attends Two Fund-Raisers in the Hamptons


11:32 p.m. | Updated

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. - Mitt Romney refilled his campaign's coffers in the Hamptons, attending two fund-raisers on Friday evening.

After attending a finance reception at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, Mr. Romney appeared at the home of John A. Griffin, and his wife, Amy, in East Hampton.

Mr. Griffin, the founder of Blue Ridge Capital, a hedge fund, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mr. Romney and his allies this election cycle.

But four years ago, Mr. Griffin was one of President Obama's earliest supporters. In March 2007, just a month after Mr. Obama, then a senator from Illinois, announced his presidential candidacy, Mr. Griffin donated $2,300 to his campaign.

In June 2007, he also gave $2,300 to Mr. Romney, who was running for the Republican nomination.

After Mr. Romney dropped out of the contest, Mr. Griffin ga ve the maximum $30,800 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Now, like many Wall Street donors who gave to Mr. Obama four years ago, Mr. Griffin is back in the Romney fold.

Since June 2011, he has given $125,000 to Restore Our Future, the “super PAC” backing Mr. Romney, and a couple thousand dollars to the candidate himself.

Through a publicist, Mr. Griffin declined to comment. His co-host at Friday's dinner, Emil W. Henry, an assistant Treasury secretary under George W. Bush, is more vocal about his political views on Twitter.

Both men have close ties to Julian Robertson, the hedge fund pioneer who has given $1.25 million to Restore Our Future. Before starting Blue Ridge Capital, Mr. Griffin worked at Mr. Robertson's Tiger Management, and Mr. Henry co-founded Tiger Infrastructure Partners with Mr. Robertson.

This is Mr. Romney's second fund-raising tour of the Hamptons in just over a mont h; he held three events in the area on July 8, including a party at the home of David H. Koch that drew protesters.

The Obama campaign has sought to use the high-dollar Romney events to cast the Republicans as out of touch. But Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to raise money in Bridgehampton in late August, with James Taylor crooning gently in the background.

Mr. Romney's first event, apparently by chance, had a bit of a sports theme. It was held at the Sebonack Golf Club, whose owner gave introductory remarks, according to the pool report, and the owners of two professional football teams were on hand: Steve Ross of the Miami Dolphins and Woody Johnson of the New York Jets. (Mr. Johnson is a fixture at Mr. Romney's fund-raising receptions.)

Former Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato of New York was also among the 80 people there, according to the pool report, by Holly Bailey of Yahoo News.

Although both events were $25,000 a head, the menus were quite different. The pool report of the golf club event described upscale finger foods like duck samosas, pot stickers and deep-fried shrimp. On the other hand, dinner at the Griffins' consisted of barbecue, according to a contractor leaving the party.

In addition to his financial haul, Mr. Romney scored one of those most coveted Hamptons commodities: a friend's vacant house. The candidate will be spending the night at the Southampton home of Martin Gruss, a financier and campaign donor who is out of town, a campaign spokesman told the press pool.

Additional reporting contributed by Nicholas Confessore and Derek Willis.

Warren\'s New Ad Looks a Lot Like Her Rival\'s


BOSTON - Has Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat running for Senate in Massachusetts, taken a page from Senator Scott P. Brown's playbook?

A new Warren television commercial out on Friday focuses less on the issues and more on her personal attributes - just like Mr. Brown's commercials.

Mr. Brown's ads have been notable for highlighting his personal qualities and showing him in local settings. In a series running now, various Democrats offer testimonials to his independence and to his being a “regular guy” who can be trusted.

Ms. Warren's most recent ads have been somewhat generic, with Ms. Warren sitting in a room and talking about government investment in infrastructure and education.

But her newest ad focuses on her character, with news anchors saying she is “not a Washington insider” and regular people describing her as fighting for them. One calls her “totally g utsy”; another says he has seen her “stand up to the corporate interests.”

And in a final touch that seems reminiscent of the Brown ads, the last person to speak in the new Warren ad - a woman who says “She'll be there for us, protecting the middle class” - speaks with a distinct Boston accent.

Follow Katharine Q. Seelye on Twitter at @kseelye.

Obama Ad Attacks the Romney Campaign on Women\'s Issues


9:58 p.m. | Updated

The Obama campaign, trying to shore up the president's support among female voters in crucial swing states, is hitting Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan in a new ad that targets their positions on a number of issues important to voters who support abortion rights.

Being broadcast in Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Ohio and Nevada, the ad, called “The Same,” tries to draw a contrast between Mr. Obama and the Republican ticket on social issues - women's health in particular - which Democrats believe will be critical in November.

The ad accuses Mr. Romney of promising to get rid of Planned Parenthood, a family-planning group, and of backing proposals that would take away a woman's right to choose. It touts Mr. Obama for fighting Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

“No misleading ad can c hange the fact that President Obama's economic policies have devastated women and their families,” said Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign. “Under President Obama, hundreds of thousands of women have lost their jobs, poverty among women is the highest in nearly two decades and half of recent graduates can't find a good job. Women and their families have struggled in the Obama economy, and Mitt Romney has a plan for a stronger middle class that will jumpstart the economy, bring back jobs and help women across the country.”

Friday Reading: West Nile Cases on the Rise


A variety of consumer-focused articles appears daily in The New York Times and on our blogs. Each weekday morning, we gather them together here so you can quickly scan the news that could hit you in your wallet.

A Lesson for Homeowners


Paul Sullivan writes this week in his Wealth Matters column about force-placed insurance - insurance that a lender buys when it concludes that a homeowner does not have adequate hazard, flood or wind coverage. But the problem is that this insurance is almost always more expensive than the homeowner could buy in the open market. In addition, the coverage may be redundant or not needed at all. But homeowners have been reporting that they have a difficult time getting their lenders to remove the insurance.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed stricter rules on when and how lenders notify borrowers that this insurance is going to be bought for them. The agency has asked for comments on its proposed rules and plans to issue the final rules early next year.

But the lesson to be learned with force-placed insurance is a basic one in consumer finance: the burden is on borrowers to understand what they are being charged for and to complain if they think the charges are unfair.

Have you had to deal with force-placed insurance? Tell us about your experience. And can you offer advice to others?

About Your Underinsured Motorist Policy


In my Your Money column this weekend, I sought out more detail about the auto insurance case that lit up the Internet this week. It's a complicated tale, involving Progressive Insurance and family members of Katie Fisher, who was killed in a car accident. They were trying to make a claim on her underinsured motorist policy, since there was an underinsured motorist at the wheel of the car that hit her.

The tricky thing about this type of insurance is that you can make a claim on your policy only if somebody else is at fault, which makes it different from automobile insurance coverage for liability. Given the tough time that the Fisher family had in getting their claim settled, I'd be curious to hear from others who have tried to use their underinsured motorist policy. Did your insurance company try to point the finger at you, too? And how did the claim work itself out?

I realize that many of you may want to use this forum to criticize Progressive some more, but that's all we've read related to this case for several days now. I'd rather keep the discussion here focused on how underinsured motorist coverage works and how best to make your insurer pay up.