Your daily briefing for all the top news in Energy, Technology, Finance, and Politics.


Let’s Find Out How Much ‘Clean Power’ the Feds Really Have
Brian H. Potts and David R. Zoppo
So why should the EPA ask the court to decide now? For one thing, waiting to go to court until the rule is final late next year won’t help lower emissions. Most states will ignore the EPA’s proposal until it is final, and even after it’s finalized, they won’t need to start complying until 2020. But if the EPA were to lose in court sooner rather than later, there might still be time for the agency to mitigate the loss before President Obama leaves office in 2017. For example, the EPA could decide that regulating carbon dioxide is more important than regulating mercury, and withdraw its toxics rule for power plants. The agency could also go after additional greenhouse-gas reductions from other sources, like cars, which it is allowed to do under other parts of the Clean Air Act. Or the EPA could ratchet down its regulation of other power-plant pollutants (like sulfur dioxide), which would drive up the cost of using coal to generate electricity as compared with other, less carbon-intensive options.


Brave new world meets same old rhetoric
Elana Schor
The U.S. energy supply has entered a strange new era that would have seemed unfathomable just a few years ago — one where gasoline prices keep falling even as a jittery world faces turmoil in the Middle East and beyond. But when it comes to political talking points, Democrats and Republicans keep singing the same old tunes.




Google ordered by German commissioner to stop data profiling
Nancy Scola
A local data commissioner in Germany said this week that Google’s extensive combining of the data it has on individual users is abusive and must be stopped. That administrative order is bringing to a head the question of whether U.S.-born, ad-driven Web services like Gmail, YouTube and Facebook can peacefully co-exist with a Europe that is enormously sensitive about possible incursions on personal privacy.


Verizon Drops Throttling Plan Amid Pressure From FCC
Ryan Knutson
Amid strong pushback from regulators, Verizon Communications Inc. said it was canceling plans to slow down data speeds for some users of its most advanced network during periods of peak congestion. The move reversed a decision made by the carrier this summer to throttle speeds on its 4G LTE network for the heaviest data users—but only those on unlimited plans that allowed them to use as much data as they pleased, plans the carrier no longer sells.




A battle’s brewing within the GOP over whether to pursue tax reform
Lori Montgomery
In the House, Republicans weary of jousting with President Obama over sweeping tax and budget issues say they have little hope of suddenly finding consensus in the waning days of his administration. Better, they argue, to focus on smaller targets, such as approving the Keystone XL Pipeline and rolling back broadly unpopular pieces of the Affordable Care Act, such as a tax on medical devices and cuts to Medicare Advantage. In the Senate, however, aides and advisers say a newly-elected Republican majority may be more inclined to aim for much bigger prizes. Among the prime options: A far-reaching tax code rewrite — if not for individuals, then at least for U.S. businesses, which currently labor under the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.


Loan Fraud Inquiry Said to Focus on Used-Car Dealers
Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery
Federal and state authorities, a group that includes prosecutors in New York, Alabama and Texas, are zeroing in on the most powerful, and arguably the least regulated, rung of the subprime auto loan chain, used-car dealerships, according to people briefed on the investigations. Already, they have found hundreds of fraudulent loans that together total millions of dollars.


Fannie, Freddie Shares Plunge After Investor Lawsuit Is Dismissed
Juliet Chung and Joe Light
Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plunged on Wednesday, following a federal-court decision that dealt a blow to big stockholders such as money managers Fairholme Capital Management LLC and Perry Capital LLC.


Student-Loan Debt: A Federal Toxic Asset
Joel Best and Eric Best
Unexpected write-offs of billions of unpaid student loans will confront Americans with a set of ugly choices: Will we raise taxes to cover the losses—which is impossible to imagine in today’s political climate? Do we cut other federal spending—which is nearly as unlikely since we’re talking about substantial sums? Or do we significantly increase the national debt. This will be a continuing crisis; each year’s increased borrowing will require confronting the same choices in future years.


Argentina’s central bank chief quits
Benedict Mander
Argentina’s central bank governor, Juan Carlos Fábrega, resigned on Wednesday, a day after being criticised in public by President Cristina Fernández as the peso currency comes under growing pressure. Mr Fábrega, who was considered a moderating influence in an increasingly radical administration, will be replaced by Alejandro Vanoli, head of the CNV regulatory authority, according to presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro.




Pierson failed to provide fresh start for Secret Service that administration wanted
Carol D. Leonnig
The resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson and the launch of a top-to-bottom review of the agency Wednesday are an acknowledgment by President Obama of what he has long denied: that the force charged with protecting him is in deep turmoil and struggling to fulfill its sacred mission.


Welcome accountability at the Secret Service
There is no question, as Mr. Johnson noted in his statement, that the Secret Service is comprised of men and women willing to put their lives on the line to protect others. The dedication of its staff is another reason why it is important to quickly identify and address the root problems that have come to bedevil the agency.


Why Women Are Democrats’ Last Best Hope to Salvage the Senate
Scott Bland
The “gender gap”—the difference between Republicans’ usual margin of victory among men and Democrats’ usual margin of victory among women—is nothing new. It has been evident for years in almost every election up and down the ballot. But a National Journal analysis of public polls, and interviews with strategists from both parties, suggests that the gap has ballooned to historic proportions across 2014’s battleground states. Democrats are running campaigns designed to press an advantage among women that is helping the party compete in a number of races despite an unfriendly political climate and steep GOP advantages among men. Meanwhile, Republicans are searching for issues to combat the trend with female voters.


Democrats pin hopes on governors in midterms
Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown
With the focus on how many Senate seats Democrats will lose and how much Republicans will widen their margin in the House in November, the White House and key allies are looking to governors’ races to deliver at least a few wins on what may be an otherwise brutal Election Day. Though Obama’s October travel schedule is still being finalized, he’s expected to campaign for more gubernatorial candidates than House or Senate candidates combined, with stops in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and possibly Massachusetts being discussed.


No backlash from Latino activists
Anna Palmer and Carrie Budoff Brown
Immigration reform activists promised protests and political retribution if President Barack Obama didn’t take executive action this fall. Instead, they’re turning out Latino voters for Democrats.


How Senate Republicans Can Close the Sale
Karl Rove
Thursday morning, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is delivering a speech at George Washington University titled “Principles for American Renewal.” The 11 Republican principles he will offer are timeless. They include “we should leave the next generation opportunity, not debt” and “our country should value the traditions of family, life, religious liberty and hard work.” The challenge for Republicans is to apply this thematic framework to current circumstances in a way that sways independent middle-class voters and mobilizes Republicans. To help this process, the RNC polled large numbers of independent and Republican voters in June and August, testing phrases drawn from speeches by officeholders and candidates on these issues. The goal was to help find the more effective ways to explain these principles.


Everything you need to know about the Senate ad-spending battle — in 3 maps
Aaron Blake
Democratic groups have reserved more airtime in several key states over the final weeks of the campaign, and the gap in North Carolina is especially big in Sen. Kay Hagan’s (D-N.C.) favor (here’s the breakdown, as of a few days ago). Unless GOP groups step up, there is indeed a possibility that Republicans will be outspent in some of the most important races down the stretch.


Heading to the shortlist to replace Attorney General Eric Holder
Sari Horwitz and Al Kamen
The Justice Department is said to be preparing a short­list, for the moment, of people it is recommending to the White House to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder.


Senate should act on embarrassing backlog of confirmation nominees
Instead of fighting about hypothetical attorney general nominees, senators should answer for their poor record on confirmations. Better yet, they could actually do something about the backlog.


The Next Nine Years
Linda Greenhouse
Anniversaries are a typical time for this kind of stock-taking, but what’s most interesting about this anniversary is not the past, but the future: the next nine years. What kind of Supreme Court will John Roberts find himself presiding over, and how will he respond to what is highly likely to be a change, in one direction or the other, from the knife edge on which his current majority rests?


ObamaCare’s Anti-Innovation Effect
Scott W. Atlas
Of the many unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the least noticed is its threat to innovation. Although most discussions center on the law’s more immediate effects on hiring, insurance rates and access to doctors and care, attention should also be paid to its impact on U.S. research and development and health-care technology.