- - Thursday, August 11, 2011

CAMPAIGN

Warren makes first steps on potential Senate bid

Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren is taking steps toward a possible challenge of Republican Scott P. Brown, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and a top Democratic target in 2012.

The 62-year-old Harvard law professor began contacting top Massachusetts Democrats on Thursday about a potential candidacy. A Democrat close to the national leadership told the Associated Press she plans to make a decision after Labor Day and will spend the next few weeks talking with voters and party activists. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about Warren’s plans and requested anonymity.

National Democrats desperate to find a strong challenger to take back the Massachusetts seat long held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy have been urging Mrs. Warren to run. At President Obama’s request last year, Mrs. Warren set up a new consumer finance protection office.

POSTAL SERVICE

120,000 jobs on line in cost-cutting move

The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is considering cutting as many as 120,000 jobs.

Facing a second year of losses totaling $8 billion or more, the agency also wants to pull its workers out of the retirement and health benefits plans covering federal workers and set up its own benefit systems.

Congressional approval would be needed for either step, and both could be expected to face severe opposition from postal unions which have contracts that ban layoffs.

The post office has cut 110,000 jobs in the past four years and is currently engaged in eliminating 7,500 administrative staff.

But the loss of mail to the Internet and the decline in advertising caused by the recession have rocked the agency.

Postal officials have said they will be unable to make a $5.5 billion payment to cover future employee health care costs due Sept. 30. It is the only federal agency required to make such a payment but, because of the complex way government finances are counted, eliminating it would make the federal budget deficit appear $5.5 billion larger.

If Congress doesn’t act and current losses continue, the post office will be unable to make that payment at the end of September because it will have reached its borrowing limit and simply won’t have the cash to do so, the agency said.

In that event, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said, “Our intent is to continue to deliver the mail, pay our employees and pay our suppliers.”

IOWA

GOP’s Bachmann, Perry to cross paths Sunday

WATERLOO — Republican Michele Bachmann isn’t ceding ground in her Iowa birthplace to possible presidential rival Rick Perry.

Mrs. Bachmann announced Thursday that she will appear at a GOP fundraiser in Waterloo on Sunday, the same event that will serve as the Texas governor’s Iowa debut. Both will speak at the Black Hawk County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.

Mr. Perry is making quick visits to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in coming days as he gets ready to announce his 2012 intentions. All three states hold early votes in next year’s nominating process.

Mrs. Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, is a frontrunner in Iowa thanks in part to her strength among evangelical and tea party voters. Perry is held in high regard among those voters, too.

NEW YORK

Politicians pay tribute to late Gov. Carey

NEW YORK — Politicians past and present — and of every political stripe — paid tribute Thursday to former Gov. Hugh Carey, who led New York out of an economic crisis in the 1970s.

The seven-term congressman, who was governor from 1975 to 1982, died Sunday at the age of 92. His funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and his flag-draped coffin was later carried out.

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo called Mr. Carey “the most effective governor in our modern history.”

“He, in fact, saved New York City in the ‘70s,” said Mr. Cuomo. “When he saved New York City, he saved New York state. He protected the honor of the whole country. Imagine what Moscow would have said if New York City went bankrupt.”

Mr. Carey, a Democrat, received bipartisan praise for his leadership.

Andrew Cuomo, the current Democratic governor and Mario Cuomo’s son, sat near Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who’s now an independent. Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch, a Democrat, arrived at the funeral with a Republican, former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.

“I liked working with him,” said Mr. Koch, praising Mr. Carey’s people skills. “He had a terrific sense of humor. And he had a marvelous Irish tenor.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports