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WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? Housing starts surged to a 1-1/2 year high in November and permits for future construction were the highest since March 2010 as demand for rental apartments rose, offering hope for the weak housing market.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday housing starts jumped 9.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units, the highest since April last year.
October’s starts were revised down to a 627,000-unit pace from a previously reported 628,000 unit rate.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a 635,000-unit rate. Compared to November last year, residential construction was up 24.3 percent.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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MANCHESTER, Iowa ? Seeking a late surge, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought Monday to tar GOP presidential rivals Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for supporting the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and said the billions loaned to banks and other financial institutions at the height of the 2008 financial crisis amounted to “the single biggest act of theft in American history.”
Most of the money has been paid back.
In the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, Perry stressed his credentials as a Washington outsider ? someone who he says understands Main Street and is not beholden to the wealthy Wall Street set.
Perry said the values he learned growing up in rural Texas shaped his views.
“No one was going to bail out a dry-land cotton farmer” and no one should have bailed out Wall Street, Perry said in northeastern Iowa.
“This Wall Street bailout is the single biggest act of theft in American history,” he told voters at a pizza buffet. “And, you know, Newt and Mitt, they both were for it. That’s one of the reasons I say that if you really want an individual who is an outsider, someone who has not been engaged in part of that process, I hope you’ll take a look at me.”
He later said younger voters would pay the most.
“It’s because in a great deal of decision making, there was no thought about you,” Perry said in Dyersville. “It was about people who were going to get rich either way.”
Romney and Gingrich supported the Wall Street rescue that was shepherded into law in fall 2008 by Republican President George W. Bush. They have since become critics of the program, which conservative voters tend to loathe.
Perry joined the presidential contest in August to great fanfare but lost his luster following what was widely viewed as erratic behavior and lackluster performances in debates. He is hoping to achieve a comeback by pitching himself as “an outsider who truly believes that we’ve got more taxes and more regulation and more government than most Americans want.”
“We need to make the decision that we’re not going to support bailouts and these wasteful earmarks,” he said.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has remained steady in polling and also has a sizable campaign fund. Gingrich, the former House speaker, has surged in recent weeks as voters started watching the race more closely.
Perry is hoping to leapfrog them both by casting former business executive Romney as a Wall Street insider ? although his venture capital firm was based in Massachusetts, not New York ? and Gingrich as a Washington elite.
“If you’ll have my back on Jan. 3 at the caucuses here in Iowa,” he told voters. “I’ll have your back for the next four years in Washington, D.C.”
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WASHINGTON (AP) ? Republican presidential hopefuls are assailing plans to cut the defense budget.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says the cuts are undermining troop capacity, delaying the building of aircraft carriers and cutting the capacity of the U.S. to defend itself.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry says that even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opposes the cuts. He says if Panetta is “an honorable man,” he should resign in protest.
The Pentagon is already facing $450 billion in cuts to projected spending over the next 10 years, an amount that could more than double beginning in 2013 under automatic cuts established by the failure of the deficit-reduction supercommittee.
Two others at Tuesday night’s GOP candidate debate, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, refused to say defense spending would be off limits to budget cuts.
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COMMENTARY | The Republican presidential candidates met in yet another debate in Rochester, Michigan on Sept 9. The debate will be famous for two moments. But it was also memorable for how Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich shown in their own ways.
The two memorable moments may have revived Herman Cain’s campaign in one case and sunk Rick Perry’s in another.
When the panel asked Cain about the sexual harassment allegations, diverting for a moment from the economics format, the crowd was visibly displeased. Cain gave one of his forthright and firm denials, deploring how the imbroglio had distracted the campaign from the real issues of a bad economy. The crowd went wild and, no doubt, the home audience was impressed as well. Wisely, the panel returned to the economic issues at hand very quickly.
Rick Perry, when asked which government agencies he would abolish, had a brain freeze on stage, on national TV. He was able to name the departments of Commerce and Education for the first two, but his memory became derailed over the third department slated for destruction. It was a painful moment to watch and likely even more painful to experience. Perry’s gaffe came on top of a number of bad debate performances and a questionable speech in New Hampshire. Later, Perry tweeted how he had “stepped in it” putting it mildly.
The third government agency was, of course, the Department of Energy.
As for the rest of the debate, Romney and Gingrich gave great performances.
Romney was smooth and confident, as always, giving substantive answers. He handled the health care question rather deftly, making one almost but not quite forget about Romneycare.
Gingrich was, as usual, the smartest guy in the room. If anyone can be the conservative alternative to Romney, it now appears to be Gingrich, whose command of the issues makes him a debater without peer. He even reverted to angry Gingrich for a moment when he snapped at one of the media questioners, which for a Republican audience was a good, helping of red meat.
Whatever one thinks of Gingrich as a person or of some of his positions, one could not help but anticipate his going up against Obama next year with relish. This is especially true if his demand for seven three hour Lincoln/Douglas debates is accepted.
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