- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2008

CAMPAIGN

McCain denies ‘milking’ heroism

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on Sunday rejected a comment by former President Jimmy Carter that he was “milking” his Vietnam war heroism for political gain.

Mr. Carter said in a USA Today interview at the Democratic convention in Denver last week that Mr. McCain had been “milking every possible drop of advantage” from his time as a prisoner of war.

But Mr. McCain said his 5 1/2 years as a prisoner after his Navy jet was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 had been crucial to forging his character.



“I have great respect for former President Carter, but it’s not the first time we have disagreed,” Mr. McCain said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I don’t think most Americans share that view. In fact, most of my supporters say, ‘Talk more about your experiences; they were formative experiences.’”

WHITE HOUSE

Bush points to rise in GDP

President Bush said Saturday that Labor Day weekend may have caused Americans to start worrying less about the nation’s - and their families’ - economic health.

“There have been some recent signs that our economy is beginning to improve,” Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Among the positive signs that Mr. Bush referenced was a report Thursday that the overall economy, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), rose by 3.3 percent in the April-June quarter. This surprised analysts and was a significant rebound from growth of just 0.9 percent in the first quarter of the year. Most credit was given to the $93 billion in economic stimulus payments the federal government has sent to households since May.

However, other economic news this week showed that right after that second quarter, in July, consumer spending slowed to a crawl and personal incomes plunged.

ENERGY

Wind, solar rise, fall on tax breaks

Congress is putting the short-term future of renewable energy companies in jeopardy even as the presidential candidates and most lawmakers hail windmills, solar panels and biofuels as long-term solutions to high gasoline prices and global warming.

Some $500 million in investment and production tax credits will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress renews them, the Associated Press reported. Without that help, solar and wind power companies say they will reverse planned expansions and, in many cases, cut payrolls and capital investment.

Schott Solar has visions of quadrupling its operation in Albuquerque, N.M., to reach 1,500 jobs and $500 million in investment. But the investment tax credit, company spokesman Brian Lynch said, is what makes solar power cost-competitive. Without it, expansion plans must be reconsidered.

The Solar Energy Industries Association said some 20 utility-scale solar power plants, many in California and together capable of producing power for a million homes, are at risk because of the uncertainty in Congress.

Proponents of wind power, a nascent industry that relies on skittish investors, are in a similar predicament. Greg Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association said his group is predicting a loss of 76,000 jobs and $11.4 billion in investment if Congress allows its production tax credit to expire.

Congress let the credit expire in 2000, 2002 and 2004. In those three years, wind-capacity installation dropped 93 percent, 73 percent and 77 percent, respectively, from the previous year.

TROOPS

Iraqi changes negotiating team

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reshuffled a negotiating team working on an agreement on withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq amid worries the move may sabotage the deal, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site late Saturday.

The newspaper said the reshuffle was disclosed to it by a senior Iraqi official close to Mr. al-Maliki, who also suggested that the two sides remained deadlocked on key issues.

According to the report, Mr. al-Maliki dismissed the delegation headed by the Foreign Ministry and picked his national security adviser Mowaffak Rubaie, chief of staff Tariq Najim and political adviser Sadiq Rikabi to conduct the negotiations in their final stage.

The three report directly to the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Haj Hamoud, who led the original negotiations, has been removed, the paper said.

Some Iraqis said the reshuffle could undermine the deal, according to the report.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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