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No More Solyndras Act would cost $1 million over four years, CBO says

A House Republican bill to tighten oversight of the Energy Department’s controversial loan guarantee program would impose “negligible” implementation costs of about $1 million over four years, the Congressional Budget Office has reported.

The No More Solyndras Act, (H.R. 6213), named for the solar panel manufacturing company that went bankrupt in August 2011 after eating up a $535 million loan under the guarantee program established at Energy in 2005, would reorganize the program to restrict eligibility for future guarantees to projects that submitted applications before Dec. 31, 2011.

The legislation would require the Treasury secretary to review those guarantees and oblige Energy to consult with the Treasury Department on any changes in the terms and conditions of a loan guarantee. The bill also would impose administrative sanctions and civil penalties of $10,000 to $50,000 on federal officials who violate the requirements of the program. It would direct the Government Accountability Office to prepare a comprehensive report on federal energy subsidies.

The bill was introduced July 26 by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and cleared his committee Aug. 1.

CBO on Tuesday estimated that implementing the bill would cost about $1 million from 2013-2017 ...

Obama camp disavows ‘government is the only thing that we all belong to’ video

A video that aired Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention proclaiming that “government is the only thing that we all belong to” is getting strong reaction from conservatives, and the Obama campaign is disavowing involvement in the production, BuzzFeed reports.

The video, entitled “Welcome to Charlotte,” includes other proclamations like: “We do believe you can use government in a good way.”

Conservatives took to Twitter on Tuesday to denounce the video. Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul retorted: “Try again, gov’t belongs to us.” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, had a one-word reaction to the video: “WOW.” Pundit David Gergen noted: “quote may set off the right.”

An Obama aide emailed BuzzFeed disavowing involvement in the video: “The video in question was produced and paid for by the host committee of the city of Charlotte. It’s neither an OFA nor a DNC video, despite what the Romney campaign is claiming. It's time for them to find a new target for their faux outrage."

The executive director of the host committee also said that the video was unaffiliated with both the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Protesters, security forces clash in Charlotte

Rowdy protesters and stepped-up security wreaked havoc in uptown Charlotte on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

For several hours in the afternoon, a standoff between police and protesters identifying themselves with the Occupy movement blocked roads that were originally not expected to be closed. This exacerbated traffic problems, stranding or delaying some delegates and even other demonstrators.

“I’ve been trying to get into this area for 45 minutes,” said Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, one of the delegates. He ran into trouble both driving and walking while trying to get to the convention for another rally for D.C. statehood.

“We could drive up to a certain point, and then we had to walk down a couple blocks, up a couple blocks, down three blocks and, of course, ironically enough, when we got here, it was over,” Gray said in a tired, exasperated tone.

The group of about 50 protesters wanted to march down Stonewall Street, which borders the convention center and is a few blocks from the Time Warner Cable Arena, but police say they stopped the demonstrators because they were blocking traffic. After a standoff that lasted at least two hours, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Chief Rodney ...

GSA investigator was too aggressive at Nashville conference, memo alleges

A General Services Administration investigator may have been excessively aggressive in questioning an employee about an August conference in Nashville, according to Federal News Radio.

A memo obtained by FNR detailed a GSA inspector general employee’s “violent knocking” after 11 p.m. on Aug.1 on the hotel door of David Shea, the official in charge of the conference.

The memo said a hotel security guard was accompanying the IG employee, Steven Heckler, leading Shea to believe he was “representing law enforcement.”

Brian Miller, GSA’s inspector general, had authorized the on-site investigation after Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., raised concerns about the conference.

A GSA IG spokeswoman told FNR her office disputed many of the details included in the memo, which was written by James Hudson, GSA's director of congressional and industry stakeholder affairs and the agency's congressional liaison.

Whereas the memo alleged Heckler read Shea his Miranda rights, raised his voice and lingered in the room after being asked to leave, the spokeswoman said the investigator did not read the Miranda rights “because there was no need to” and “the GSA official declined to be interviewed, so the OIG special agent left.”

The memo described Heckler ...

Obama grades his first term: Incomplete

Just in time for the first day of school, we're treated to the talk of grading Obama's first term as president with Obama himself giving himself a harsh-sounding "incomplete" and the Romney camp suggesting that running this country should totally be pass/fail--both of which are both way more lenient than our high school calculus class. "You know I would say incomplete," Obama told Colorado's 11 KKTV news (video below).  Wait. As grade school and that really tough college course taught us, "incompletes" aren't something you want on your report card--and usually mean you have to retake the course (insert a second term joke). And "incomplete" sounds a lot worse than the B+ he gave himself back in 2009 after his first 11 months in the White House.  Obama explained to KTTV that incomplete in this sense isn't that grade-killing word we've come to know: "I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over ...

Play of the Day -- Eastwood's Bizarre Speech

All the late-night hosts touched upon Mitt Romney accepting the Republican Party's nomination for the presidency, but there was really only one thing to talk about from the last night of the Republican Convention.

Clint Eastwood stole the show, stole a chair and spoke to an invisible President Barack Obama for 12 minutes in what many people have described as one of the most bizarre occurrences at a nomination convention.

Today's Must See Moment -- Fast forward to 1:33 to see Jon Stewart of the Daily Show's initial reaction to Eastwood's speech.

Analysis: It turns out Democrats could keep the Senate

For Senate Democrats, the 2012 cycle was supposed to be about exposure to the kind of losses that would imperil their majority. Their goal for the cycle was simple: Hang on to control of the chamber by a thread. Just months ago, such an objective seemed like a pipe dream, and for good reason.

In truth, Democrats started the cycle with the weakest hand either party has held in many years. They have to defend 23 of the 33 Senate seats being contested. They are faced with seven retirements, two of which are in solidly Republican states. And they face far more vulnerability. The Cook Political Report rates the Democratic open seat in Nebraska as Likely Republican, while six more races are in the Toss-Up column: Sen. Jon Tester’s in Montana, and those for the open seats in HawaiiNew MexicoNorth DakotaVirginia, and Wisconsin.

By comparison, Republicans just have open seats in ArizonaMaine, and Texas, plus another created when Sen. Richard Lugar lost the GOP primary in Indiana. Today, they only have three races in the Toss-Up category: the one for the open seat in Maine, Sen. Scott Brown’s in Massachusetts, and Sen. Dean Heller ...

Stolen Secret Service truck carrying Biden supplies recovered

Detroit police have recovered a stolen U.S. Secret Service truck carrying supplies for Vice President Joe Biden’s Monday campaign event in that city, several news outlets reported.

The U-Haul truck, which was stolen this weekend outside the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit, was found on Monday in an apartment parking lot near Henry Ford Hospital in an area north of downtown, Detroit Police and Secret Service officials told the Detroit News.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said that the truck held “Secret Service property” that was to be used as part of the vice president’s campaign event, but no weapons or “anything that could put the public at risk,” the newspaper reported. Donovan would not say whether any equipment had been stolen.

However, a law-enforcement official briefed on the situation told the newspaper that some of the gear was missing when officials recovered the truck.

Biden was in Detroit on Monday to mark Labor Day by addressing a union rally organized by the Michigan AFL-CIO.