- - Thursday, October 6, 2011

TEXAS

Bachmann: Perry used fund to reward backers

AUSTIN — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is raising questions about a job-creation fund Texas Gov. Rick Perry says has boosted employment and attracted billions in investment capital to his state.

Mrs. Bachmann says the Texas Enterprise Fund gave $35 million to a company that was supposed to hire scores of new employees but actually cut its work force.

The company, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc., says it has renegotiated its contract with Texas and now has until at least 2016 to meet its job-creation goals.

Mr. Perry defends the fund as an example of how the government can and should spur the economy. But Mrs. Bachmann has called the Lexicon deal Mr. Perry’s Solyndra, referring to the now-defunct California energy company that received a $528 million loan from the federal stimulus program.

CENSUS

Housing bust worst since Depression

New census figures show homeownership over the past decade suffered the biggest drop since the Great Depression.

The analysis, released Thursday by the Census Bureau, found the homeownership rate fell to 65.1 percent in 2010, from 66.2 percent in 2000. That drop-off of 1.1 percentage points after the housing bust is the largest since 1940, when the rate plummeted more than 4 percentage points over a 10-year period, to 43.6 percent.

Analysts say the notion of homeownership as the “American dream” may be changing. Many economists think the U.S. will never return to its middecade peak, in which roughly 70 percent of occupied homes were owned by their residents.

SENATE

GOP lawmaker defends use of military custody

The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is defending a move to require military custody for many terror suspects and argues that the Obama administration’s opposition is misguided.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Thursday that the provision in a sweeping defense bill has the backing of Republicans and Democrats. It would require military custody of a suspect determined to be a member of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates or anyone involved in the planning of an attack on the United States. The administration argues that such a step would hamper efforts by the FBI or other law enforcement.

Mr. McCain said the administration is wrong when it claims that all terror suspects would have to be placed in military custody.

The dispute is holding up the defense bill.

NEVADA

GOP sets January date for candidate caucuses

LAS VEGAS — Nevada Republicans on Wednesday moved their caucuses to Jan. 14 in an attempt to preserve the state’s relevancy in the national presidential nomination calendar.

State GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said party officials decided to change their date to maintain Nevada’s first-in-the-West presidential contest.

National Republicans initially decided Nevada would host its caucuses on Feb. 18, making it the third contest in the nation. But then Florida this month moved its primary date up to Jan. 31.

Ms. Tarkanian said the new date will maintain Nevada’s importance in the nomination calendar.

“This is absolutely in the best interest of our state,” she said in a statement. “We are in the process of creating a caucus that will energize Republicans throughout Nevada and the West and allow us to play a major role in deciding who will carry the fight to unseat Barack Obama and his destructive policies.”

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden: GOP is strong enough to win in 2012

Vice President Joseph R. Biden says the Republican Party is strong enough to beat President Obama in the 2012 election.

During an appearance Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum, Mr. Biden said a significant majority of the American people don’t believe the country is moving in the right direction. And he said that is never a good place to be going into re-election, regardless of whether it is the current administration’s fault or not.

However, the vice president said he’s counting on voters recognizing how deep the recession was and how much the economy has improved under the Obama administration.

Still, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the shaky economy has left many Americans in “real trouble.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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