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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Warren Ad Paints Her as a Fighter, and Throws a Punch


BOSTON - Elizabeth Warren is throwing the first punch in the ad wars in the increasingly bitter Massachusetts Senate race, with a new television commercial on Thursday that accuses Senator Scott P. Brown, her Republican opponent, of “siding with the big-money guys.”

The language is mild compared to what both Ms. Warren and Mr. Brown have been saying about each other on the campaign trail. But they have kept their television ads - for public consumption - positive, with self-promotional sketches and without mention of the other candidate.

Ms. Warren's new 30-second spot is the first to venture off that safe ground and is a sign of how much the race is intensifying ahead of the first debat e next week.

After supporters expressed concern to The Boston Globe that her previous ads failed to connect her on a personal level with voters or link her to Massachusetts, the new ad is about as Massachusetts as you can get.

It features Art Ramalho, Micky Ward's first trainer, speaking in his gym in Lowell in a Massachusetts.

“We can spot the real fighters here in this gym,” Mr. Ramalho says. “Elizabeth Warren is a real fighter. I don't know about Scott Brown. He's been siding with the big-money guys.”

Mr. Ward, the boxer who was featured in Mark Wahlberg's movie “The Fighter,” had been prepared to endorse Mr. Brown a few weeks ago but backed off at the last minute. The Lowell Sun said that Mr. Ward realized belatedly that Mr. Brown was against unions and against same-sex marriage.

It is not clear whether Warren aides tried to recruit Mr. Ward himself for a commercial, but they seem happy with his trai ner. Mr. Ramalho's image as a fighter dovetails perfectly with the image that the campaign wants to project of Ms. Warren. And he speaks directly to a segment of voters - blue-collar Reagan Democrats - who may have been put off by Ms. Warren's manner and by Mr. Brown's caricature of her as “Professor Warren.”

“She's got heart, she got guts and she's not gonna back down,” Mr. Ramalho says in the ad.

The ad is the second from the Warren camp in two days; as in the first one released Wednesday, Ms. Warren does not speak this time, except to say that she approves this message.

Mr. Brown said in a statement that the Warren advertisement was not true, though he did not specify what was untrue.

“Her misleading and untrue attacks against me are a sign of desperation from an increasingly desperate and flailing campaign,” Mr. Brown's statement said. “The people of Massachusetts deserve and expect better, especially from a first-time candidate who initially claimed not to like attack ads.”

A Convention \'Bounce\' for the Boss


Bruce Springsteen did not perform at the Democratic National Convention, but he is still enjoying a convention “bounce.”

His song “We Take Care of Our Own” was played at the convention immediately after President Obama's speech on Sept. 6. By the end of the week, the song's sales had surged 409 percent, according to Billboard, with 2,000 downloads. Mr. Springsteen's latest album, “Wrecking Ball,” also saw its sales jump, rising from No. 199 to No. 112 on the Billboard 200 chart with 3,000 copies sold.

The song, from Mr. Springsteen's latest album, “Wrecking Ball,” was released in January. Upon it's release, reviews immediately linked it to the coming election, pointing to its pat riotic lyrics, “We take care of our own, wherever this flag is flown…” and to Mr. Springsteen's history with Democratic campaigns. The performer stumped for John Kerry in 2004 and Mr. Obama in 2008. In February, the Obama team placed the song on its election playlist.

Yet after extensive support for Mr. Obama in 2008, Mr. Springsteen opted to sit 2012 out. In an interview with reporters in Paris in February, Mr. Springsteen reiterated his support for the president but also expressed some disappointment, saying that “there's not as many middle-class or working-class voices heard in the administration as I thought there would be.”

“I'm not a professional campaigner, and every four years I don't think that I'm going to go and pick a guy and go after him,” Mr. Springsteen said of his decision to remain “on the sidelines” this election.

He echoed his sentiment in July to The New Yorker, explaining, “While I'm no t saying never, and I still like to support the president, you know, it's something I didn't do for a long time, and I don't have plans to be out there every time.”

A Trip With Beyonce or on Hair Force One? You Decide.


First came the e-mail from Beyoncé Knowles: want to fly to New York to hang out with her and President Obama?

Then a message from Mitt Romney arrived: how about spending a day with him on the campaign plane his wife calls “Hair Force One”?

On Thursday, the presidential campaigns got creative with their pleas for cash, trying to grab supporters' attention after a summer filled with increasingly desperate fund-raising e-mails. Both campaigns sent out messages asking for small donations in exchange for face time with the candidates.

Supporters have received a barrage of e-mails from the campaigns in recent months with subject lines ranging from the overly familiar “Dinner?” and â €œRain Check?” (from President Obama) to the gloomy: “A laundry list of broken promises” (from Mr. Romney). But a personal message from Beyoncé? Now that might get your attention.

With the subject line “I don't usually e-mail you,” Ms. Knowles invited supporters to donate and enter their names to meet her, her husband, Jay-Z, and the president in New York, with airfare and hotel included. The e-mail was signed “Love, Beyoncé.”

Mr. Romney's e-mail, titled “Fly With Me,” attempted to use a little humor. The note said that his wife, Ann, liked to joke that the campaign plane should be called “Hair Force One,” a reference to Mr. Romney's well-groomed locks. Those who donated could win a trip aboard the plane for a day of campaigning.

“And, who knows,” Mr. Romney added, “maybe you and I will come up with a better name for the campaign plane.”

The Obama campaign has been playing catch-up in the f und-raising game. On Monday, the campaign announced that it had raised $114 million in August, noting that the amount was more than the Romney campaign for the first time since April.

The Romney campaign and the Republican National Convention said they raised more than $111 million in August. Both campaigns have touted the money they have earned from smaller donors to prove their grassroots appeal.

On the Trail in Colorado, Obama Tries Balancing Campaigning With Mideast Events


GOLDEN, Colo. â€" President Obama spent the second day of what was to be an upbeat swing through the politically vital Mountain West on Thursday balancing the somber tone that a foreign policy crisis demands and the hyper-partisan rhetoric that eight thousand Coloradoans came to hear.

At an outdoor rally under a clear blue sky here, where the crowd was so excited that it cheered a flock of squawking geese overhead before the president spoke, Mr. Obama began with a somber reminder that four Americans had been killed in Benghazi, Libya, more than 6,000 miles away.

“Obviously, our hearts are heavy this week,'' Mr. Obama said, as a hush fell over the crowd. But to a wider television audience he vowe d: “I want people around the world to hear me: to all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.” He added, “no act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.”

But he went from there into the new, convention-tested stump speech he would have given had anti-American protests not broken out in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, and in Yemen on Thursday.

The president drew cheers for mentioning Bill Clinton and his convention speech line about the Republicans' budget arithmetic and laughs when he riffed that Republicans are seeking to solve all the nation's problems with tax cuts: “You need to make a restaurant reservation, you don't need a new iPhone: there's a tax cut for that,” he said.

One word that went unspoken here on Thursday: Romney. Instead, Mr. Obama made reference to his “opponent,'' which aides said was prompted by the president's desire to remain mindful of the ton e of his political rhetoric amid the events in the Middle East.

Aides also said they wanted to stay out of the way as Mr. Romney continues to take questions about his initial tone on the crisis and the administration's response to it.

White House officials said they were planning to avoid getting drawn into a political argument over the killings in Libya, and telegraphed comfort with the campaign debate moving onto foreign policy turf, which they consider better for them than Mr. Romney, whose campaign has rested mostly on his economic arguments.

But it was not all smooth sailing. On the way to the event here Mr. Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, was forced to address questions about Mr. Obama's comments to the Spanish language network Telemundo that he does not consider the new government of Egypt either an ally or a foe.

Mr. Carney said: “The president, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly. We do not have an alliance treaty wi th Egypt. Ally is a legal term of art. As I said, we do not have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, like we do, for example, with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is a longstanding and close partner of the United States and we have built on that foundation in supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government.”

TimesCast Politics: The Response to the Libyan Attack


Paul Ryan Gets His Own Meet-and-Greet Room on Capitol Hill


Only a few months ago, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, was just another member of the House of Representatives, shuffling to the floor for votes with his iPod earphones stuck in his ears, or walking among colleagues in the Longworth House Office building.

But Thursday, in a sort of Beyoncé moment, Mr. Ryan, now the vice presidential nominee of his party, will receive members who wish to see him on a come-and-go-basis in a conference room on the Hill. The House Republican Conference sent out the invitation.

Mr. Ryan is returning to the Capitol to vote on a short-term budget measure, a much-anticipated moment by many of his colleagues who have not seen him since before t he five-week summer recess, which ended this week. Mr. Ryan's selection as the vice-presidential nominee was announced during the break.

Democrats are somewhat less excited, but they have welcomed Mr. Ryan back with a video released by the office of the Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California. The video focuses on his voting record and policy ideas.

Members will be permitted to visit with Mr. Ryan at 4:45 in a room reserved by the House Republican Conference until the vote is called. No staffers, unless chaperoned by a member, are allowed to join.

Romney Delivers Broad Criticism of Obama on Foreign Policy


FAIRFAX, Va. - Speaking to a modest-sized crowd in Northern Virginia Thursday, Mitt Romney sought to move beyond his criticism of President Obama‘s response to the turmoil in Libya and Egypt and instead broadly paint the president as weak on foreign policy.

“As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we're at the mercy of events, instead of shaping events, and a strong America is essential to shape events. And a strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military,” Mr. Romney said at an outdoor rally here. “We have to have a military second to none and that's so strong no one would ever think of testing it.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Romney came under fire by Democrats and Republi cans alike, for seeming to play politics as the crisis was unfolding in the Middle East. Before all of the facts on the ground were known - including the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the United States ambassador to Libya - Mr. Romney's campaign released a statement criticizing the Obama administration for not condemning the attacks and seeming to sympathize with the attackers. (In fact, a statement put out by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo came hours before the attacks, in an attempt to quell the tensions, though the embassy later stood by their statement in a Tweet. See a full timeline of events.)

But by Thursday, he seemed eager to move past the developing crisis in the Middle East, instead preferring to allude to the situation only briefly at the beginning of his speech.

“I also recognize that right now we're in mourning,” he said. “We've lost four of our diplomats across the world, we're thinking about their families and th ose that they've left behind.”

At the mere mention of Libya, however, a man in the crowd began shouting: “Why are you politicizing Libya?”

As the crowd shouted the protestor down, Mr. Romney tried to continue, before concluding, “I would offer a moment of silence but one gentleman doesn't want to be silent so we're going to keep on going.”

Mr. Romney implicitly contrasted himself to the president, telling the crowd that he would stand up for United States interests abroad.

“The world needs American leadership, the Middle East needs American leadership,” Mr. Romney said. “And I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”

Launching into a more typical attack on the president, Mr. Romney criticized him for cutting defense spending.

“This president has done something I find very hard to understand,” Mr. Romney said. “Ever since F.D.R., we've had the capacity to be engaged in two conflicts at once. And he's saying, ‘No we're going to cut that back to only one conflict.' And so he's put in place cuts of almost a trillion dollars, with his budget cuts and the sequestration cuts we'll have almost a trillion dollars of cuts to our military.”

He added: “If I'm president of the United States we will restore our military commitment and keep America the strongest military in the world.”

Many Struggling With Prescription Drug Costs


While health insurance premiums may be increasing more modestly than they were a year or two ago, consumers who take multiple drugs but lack prescription drug coverage are nearing a “crisis point” because they can't afford to pay for them, a new report finds.

Consumer Reports' annual prescription drug poll finds that more Americans who lack a drug benefit are failing to fill prescriptions because of cost. Almost half of Americans (45 percent) under 65 who lack drug coverage failed to fill a prescription because of cost, the report found - up from 27 percent last year.

Those without drug coverage also reported being more likely to cut back on other costs, including groceries, to pay for medicatio ns.

Nearly half (46 percent) of American adults take prescription drugs; the average is 4.1 prescriptions. A fourth of those ages 18 to 39 regularly take two prescription drugs, the report noted, suggesting that a reliance on multiple drugs is no longer confined to older Americans.

The poll was conducted in May and June by the Consumer Reports National Research Center using a telephone survey of a total of 1,158 interviews with adults 18 years of age and older. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Consumer Reports suggests saving on drug costs by using $4 generic versions available at many chain drug stores, switching to generics if you haven't already and even splitting pills “where appropriate.”

Have you skipped a prescription in the last year due to costs?

Right Begins to Rally Around Romney\'s Response to Attacks


Republicans were not exactly rushing to defend Mitt Romney's brisk critique of the Obama administration's response to a controversial Web video and the protests it seemed to help spawn. However, by Thursday, the right establishment was starting to circle the wagons around Mr. Romney, the Republican presidential candidate.

Though some have said Mr. Romney might have spoken too soon when he called the Obama administration “disgraceful” after the American Embassy in Cairo issued a statement, that came out before the protests began, condemning the anti-Islam video. Mr. Romney said, “It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” But, The Wall Street Journal dismissed the relevance of chronology.

“Whatever the timing of the Cairo Embassy's statements, Mr. Romney is right that a U.S. Embassy ought to ignore YouTube videos produced by obscure cranks,” wrote The Journal's editorial board, which is a key bellwether of conservative sentiment. The editorial concluded: “His political faux pax was to offend a pundit class that wants to cede the foreign policy debate to Mr. Obama without thinking seriously about the trouble for America that is building in the world.”

However, one of the pundits who might have been offended was a conservative Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan. The embassy attacks that left four Americans dead were a “water's edge moment,” she said in a video posted Wednesday afternoon. “And everybody should cool it, absorb, think and then say only serious and meaningful things, and never allow themselves to look lik e they are using it as a political opportunity. Romney looked weak today.”

Still, the Republican nominee had other high-profile defenders on the right. Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush's spokesman, tried to cast an earlier controversial remark by Mr. Romney as a prescient insight. Referring to Mr. Romney's July suggestion that cultural differences explain economic disparities between Israel and the Palestinian territories, Mr. Fleischer issued a series of Twitter messages on Thursday morning:

(3/3) And that assumes the movie actually had anything to do with the 9/11/12 attacks.

- Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) 13 Sep 12

The conservative blogger Erick Erickson's argument that the media has “beclowned themselves” is also bouncing around the right side of the blogosphere. Rather than reporting on the facts on the ground in North Africa and how the White House was responding, he writes, “the media wanted to focus on Mitt Romney.”

And when Mr. Erickson concludes by focusing on Mr. Romney himself, he writes that the candidate's statement was no gaffe, but a simple statement of his views: “He, I, and many others really do think Barack Obama is an apologist.”

Checking Social Security Benefits Online


Back in the spring, I wrote about how the federal government, to cut costs, has stopped mailing annual Social Security statements to most workers. Instead, the agency now invites workers to register and check their benefits online.

It's important to check your statement, to make sure your annual income - the basis for calculating your retirement benefits - is correctly recorded.

I was skeptical that I'd remember to check my statement each year if it didn't prompt me by arriving in my mailbox, but I was willing to give the system a try.  After a bit of a hassle about choosing a password and security questions, I was able to register online in May. I then promptly forgot about the whole thing.

Until last week, that is, when I got an e-mail from the Social Security Administration, reminding me to go online to check my statement. So far, so good!

As I had feared, though, I had forgotten my log-in credentials and couldn't seem to locate them in my records. So I went through the process of requesting my username and password, which required me to enter my Social Security number and birth date, and answer three security questions that I'd previously established when I registered. That allowed me to obtain my username, and to quickly reset my password and gain access to my statement.

The most recent income totals looked correct. Plus, the statements also provide information about what your payment will be at “full” retirement age, which varies by year of birth, as well as if you retire early, at age 62. The difference is striking. My total benefits at full retirement, age 67, are estimated to be about $600 more a month than i f I retire at age 62.

The statement also estimates your monthly benefit if you become disabled, and, if you're a parent, what your children's survivor benefits would be if you were to die.

The site allows you to print your statement, and there's also an option to deactivate your online account, should you change your mind about using the Internet to monitor your statements. (Workers who are 60 and older and not yet receiving benefits still get paper ones mailed.)

Have you checked your Social Security statements online? Did you receive an e-mail reminder?

Thursday Reading: Lang College Offers Credit for Gap Year


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.

Thursday Reading: Lang College Offers Credit for Gap Year


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.

Answers to Your Questions About Student Loans, Part Two


This week, two New York Times reporters and Geoffry Walsh, an expert on student debt and bankruptcy at the National Consumer Law Center, are answering questions about ways to avoid default, pay off student loans or try to expunge student loans through bankruptcy court. Along with questions, some readers proposed their own answers. The first set of answers is here, and the second set is below.

The reporters, Ron Lieber and Andrew Martin, recently wrote articles about the difficulties of paying back student loans as part of The New York Times's series Degrees of Debt, which examines the implications of soaring college costs and the indebtedness of students and their families.

I am supposed to start paying loans in November and signed up for the income contingent payback plan but haven't gotten any paperwork nor have I been asked to provide proof of my income. How do they decide what I'm paying per month? â€" Christy Maier Dorfler

You should have received the forms by now, so you may want to contact your loan servicer and ask them to resend the forms. If that doesn't work, try the Department of Education directly. According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of finaid.org, a Web site devoted to college financial aid, your payment will be based on your previous income. As a consequence, you will be asked to fill out a form called the alternative documentation of income form, and a form that permits the Department of Education to gain access to your tax returns through the Internal Revenue Service.

If you file for bankruptcy, can you add your student loans? â€" Mike Reynolds

If you file for bankruptcy, you have to list all of your debts including your studen t loans. But student loans won't be discharged unless you file a separate lawsuit as part of the bankruptcy case and win, which is not easy, according to Geoffry Walsh, a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center. Essentially, you will be required to prove to a judge that paying your student loans is an undue hardship. As my colleague Ron Lieber recently wrote, it's a difficult process that can be tough on your self-esteem.

The way to do college is, after high school (if you have no money) to get a full-time job. Then after work, go online and get a degree online from a university. Live meagerly, save 10 percent, pay for the online courses and use the rest for rent and food and expenses. It may take 10 years or more to complete, but at least by the time you are in your late 20s or early 30s you are set and debt free. You will have another 30 years to reap the rewards for your efforts and have a family, house, cars and vacations. Those without the money to do it in fou r years need to think in much longer terms. â€" NewsDogReports

This isn't a bad idea, but not all online classes are created equal. Some online classes are surprisingly expensive and carry little weight with employers, so there are few rewards to reap. Having said that, many of the nation's top universities, including Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are moving aggressively into free online classes, and it is only a matter of time before there will be many more rigorous online programs. It is hard to know, however, when, if ever, employers will consider online degrees the same as those from brick-and-mortar colleges.

How do I really get my student loans reduced? Do I call and tell them, “Hey, I want my repayment to go to a certain part of the loan?” For example, perhaps the interest on it, give more than they ask. â€" Jorge Aguilar Cruz

If you have federal loans, you should look at the different repayment plans that are available, including income-based repayment. The Web site studentaid.gov explains these programs in some detail. However, if you extend the term of your loan, you may reduce your monthly payments but pay more interest over the life of the loan. If you have private student loans, call your servicer and ask them to explain what types of repayment options are available.

Thank you to all fellow Americans who helped me with student loans. I have payed them off, and that has helped my credit history. â€" Thomas Doran

Thanks for posting this. Despite the sobering number of borrowers in default, nearly six million, it's important to remember that most students pay off their student loans and find the investment well worth it.

I've been deferring my loans for almost two years now. I can't afford to pay them. But the interest just keeps growing. Is filing bankruptcy possible yet? â€" Tim Weiskopf

As I stated previously, you can try to file a petition with the court to d ischarge your student loans. But initially, a better option may be to apply for income-based repayment, if you have federal loans. If you decided to follow through with trying to discharge your student debts in bankruptcy, it will help prove undue hardship if you have tried to exhaust your repayment options, Mr. Walsh says. He also suggests seeking out a bankruptcy lawyer with experience in student loans. The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Web site may be a good place to start.

Is it smart to double-pay all loans at once or to take that extra income and put it all toward one loan so I can knock them out one at a time? â€" Gaber Zua

The best approach is to apply the extra money to the loan with the higher interest rate, Mr. Kantrowitz says.

I have private loans. Even though I'm still a full-time student (Ph.D.), my deferment has expired and I was rejected for forbearance. My bank - Citibank - says it will not work with me. It's pay or default. What are my options? And how is this fair? Banks were bailed out, the auto industry, I need help, too! â€" Cari Varner

Your best option is to call Citibank and try to work out an affordable payment plan. If you can't do that, then unfortunately you don't have many choices. As for fairness, I suggest you read the comments that accompanied my story on Sunday about student loan defaults. While many readers believed that the student loan system was broken and in need of reform, at least an equal number had little sympathy for borrowers who were struggling to pay off their loans. Sure, the banks got a bailout, but the idea of bailing out citizens - whether for mortgages or student loans - is deeply unpopular and unlikely to happen in any major way.

Should I consolidate or continue to pay the four loans separately? There are a few federal (Stafford) and private. The highest rate is a fluctuating one at 6 percent currently. O.K., thanks! â€" Madelyn G

Lik e many borrowers, you have both federal and private student loans. Unfortunately for you, federal and private loans cannot be consolidated, Mr. Kantrowitz said. You can consolidate your federal loans, but it won't reduce your interest rate because the rate will be the weighted average of your existing loans. Under consolidation, however, you may be able to extend the length of your loan, which may reduce your monthly payment even if it increases the amount of interest you will pay over the term of the loan.

The Early Word: Fallout


In Today's Times:
The deadly attack on an American consulate in Libya on Tuesday pushed foreign policy to the front of the presidential campaign, with Mitt Romney quickly attacking President Obama for his response to the situation, Peter Baker and Ashley Parker write. But Mr. Romney's attempt to use the event to draw a contrast with Mr. Obama on foreign policy started a confrontation that landed him on the defensive and drew attention away from questions about Mr. Obama's handling of uprisings in the Arab world.

In contrast to the helpful and forceful response of Libyan officials to the attack on the American consulate, Egyptian officials' tepid response to attacks the same day on the American E mbassy in Cairo has illuminated concerns in the Obama administration that “bigger, longer-term problems” lie in Egypt, Helene Cooper and Mark Landler write.

Mr. Obama is increasingly leaning on his biggest donors and fund-raisers for his re-election campaign, and Mr. Romney has fielded a similarly powerful group, Nicholas Confessore writes. Watchdog groups say that the campaigns' willingness to reward those individuals with perks like access and entertainment confirm a give-more, get-more state of play in the game of presidential fund-raising.

The fight between Chicago and its teachers' union threatens to expose rifts within the Democratic coalition that could undermine Mr. Obama's re-election effort, Steven Greenhouse writes. To conservatives' delight, the strike pits Mayor Rahm Emanuel and wealthy liberals against the teachers' union and other labor groups, all allies of Mr. Obama, who has tried to stay on the sidelines.

Representative Paul D. Rya n, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, is playing up his native appeal in Wisconsin, as both campaign see the state as up for grabs in November, Jeff Zeleny and Trip Gabriel write. Republicans are hopeful after Democrats' unsuccessful efforts in 2010 to recall Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. But Democrats aren't giving up easily on a state Mr. Obama won in 2008, running ads in the state starting Wednesday and sending in Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. today.

Congressional negotiators appear unlikely to reach a deal on a five-year farm bill after the previous authorization expired last month, Jennifer Steinhauer writes. The House refuses to act on the Senate's legislation or its own version of the bill, and the political polarization on Capitol Hill makes coming up with new legislation impossible.

A federal judge in Washington has blocked the government from enforcing a provision of law that allows the authorities to hold certain terror suspects indefin itely without trial, a ruling handed down as the House voted to extend a law that expands the government's surveillance powers. Charlie Savage writes that the ruling against the Obama administration and the House action signal that “the debate over the balance between national security and civil liberties is still unfolding 11 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.”

Happening in Washington:
Economic data expected today include the August producer price index and weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m., followed by weekly mortgage rates at 10.

Mr. Romney is scheduled to make a campaign stop at 11 in Fairfax, Va.

At 2:15 p.m., Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, will hold a news conference as the central bank's policy committee concludes two days of meetings on interest rates. The panel will issue a statement at 12:30 p.m., followed by an updated economic forecast at 2.

At 7, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will deliver remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual awards ceremony.