New York (CNNMoney.com) - State and municipal worker layoffs are playing a bigger role in dragging down the economy, economists say, pointing to July national unemployment figures released Friday.
Public sector job losses, not counting government losses from temporary positions collecting federal census data, rose to 48,000 in July – the biggest loss in the sector in a year.
With so many states and cities facing budget crunches and running short on stimulus dollars to plug the holes, a new round of layoffs began to kick in July, when many governments begin their fiscal year.
(CNN) - Iowa Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad learned Friday that he won't face an independent challenge from his former GOP primary opponent Bob Vander Plaats.
But the leftover hard feelings from the contentious primary - Branstand won the nomination on June 8 by nine points - were barely concealed as Vander Plaats took to the steps of the Iowa Judicial Building in Des Moines and broke a lengthy silence about his political future.
Vander Plaats, whose bid was fueled by social conservatives, said he would not seek the governorship as an independent and announced an effort aimed at unseating Iowa Supreme Court justices who legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
But Vander Plaats refused to play loyal GOP solider and declined to endorse Branstad in his effort to unseat Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat.
Will Bush-bashing help Democrats win over weary voters? (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - While he's not on the ballot, George W. Bush is still vital to the midterm election as far as the nation's top Democrat is concerned.
President Obama has made a point recently to invoke Bush's name in what many say is a calculated effort to remind voters of the previous administration's economic policies, which Democrats argue led to the worst recession in modern history.
On Monday, the president told those attending a Democratic fundraiser in Atlanta, Georgia, that the GOP has not distinguished itself from Bush.
"They have not come up with a single solitary, new idea to address the challenges of the American people," Obama said. "They don't have a single idea that's different from George Bush's ideas ... not one."
(CNN) - There is plenty of power that comes with being president – being commander in chief, being able to veto laws passed by Congress, and the power to make important appointments –but doing something as simple as driving a car is a real rarity.
"I can't do it. The Secret Service doesn't allow it," President Obama said in an interview taped Thursday in Chicago with CNBC's Phil LeBeau.
"I miss nothing more than just driving right along Lake Shore Drive [along Lake Michigan in Chicago]. I would love to hop in a convertible right now on a nice day like today and drive all the way up along the lake," Obama said. "But I can't do it. So my driving is either at the Secret Service testing site, the training site there where you can do some J-turns and do some pretty spiffy moves, or the golf cart. Those are the two opportunities I get to drive, and I miss it tremendously."
Washington (CNN) - Congressional Republicans are using the release of July's jobs report to criticize the Obama administration's economic policies.
The Labor Department reports Friday that the unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.5 percent last month, with 71,000 private sector jobs created which was less than forecasts by many economists. Overall employment fell by 131,000 jobs in July, as the government continues to unload Census workers, a move that offset the gains in private business hiring.
Related: Jobs continue to sputter
With the economy the top issue with Americans and the midterm elections less than three months away, the monthly unemployment report is arguably the most important number in politics right now.
(Updated after the jump with reaction from the White House)
Kansas City, Missouri (CNN) - Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele will tout GOP gains over the last year and urge party activists to keep up the pressure on Democrats as November approaches, according to prepared remarks he will deliver Friday at the RNC's summer meeting.
"In less than two years, we have gone from a demoralized super-minority party to a legion of effective shock troops who are on the offense and making Democrats sweat," Steele plans to say.
Read the full remarks after the jump:
Editor's Note: The following story appeared on the CNN Political Ticker on August 6, 2009.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor was confirmed in 68-31 vote. Nine Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus in supporting her nomination.
The 55-year-old federal appeals court judge will be the 111th person to sit on the high court, and the third woman justice.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - For the second month in a row, the U.S. economy shed jobs as the government continued to unload Census workers, offsetting gains in private business hiring.
The Labor Department on Friday reported a net loss of 131,000 jobs in July, an improvement from the revised loss of 221,000 jobs in June.
The loss was due to the end of 143,000 temporary Census jobs in the month, but hiring by businesses also continued to be weak, as those employers added only 71,000 jobs in July.
Sen. Al Franken apologized to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday after being accused of mocking the senior senator. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
(CNN) - Sen. Al Franken apologized Thursday after Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell complained he mocked him while the latter was delivering a speech opposing Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, was presiding over the Senate at the time of the speech, a McConnell aide confirmed to CNN.
"This isn't 'Saturday Night Live,' Al," McConnell warned the former star of the comedy program moments later, according to the McConnell aide who asked not to be identified.
Franken was clearly moved by the confrontation, which occurred in the Senate chamber.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - As mom-and-pop businesses struggle to make ends meet, the latest attempt to help them has gotten mired in Washington politics.
The debate began in October, when President Obama started pushing ways to get cheap capital to small businesses. It continued after his State of the Union address, in which he touted the proposal.
But that didn't go anywhere because of stiff congressional opposition to using money from the TARP bank bailout fund.
Now nearly two months after the administration proposed a new multibillion dollar package of loans and tax credits - with its ties to TARP stripped out - the effort to help small businesses has hit a wall.