Daily Briefing: 'Tighten Our Belt'
• Bush contemplates expansion of federal role in natural disaster response. [WP]
• Over 80% of FEMA contracts for Katrina cleanup were no-bid or decided among limited competition. DHS inspector general: "When you do something like this, you do increase the vulnerability for fraud, plain waste, abuse and mismanagement. We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing." [NYT]
• Bush asks White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten to "tighten our belt." Bolten: "The disaster response is a relatively short-term hit to the budget. If we're sensible in our spending, both on the disaster response and on belt-tightening elsewhere, and we keep strong economic growth policies in place, I believe we can still meet the president's target of reducing the deficit in half by 2009 and remain on track with a steadily declining deficit path, either reaching or heading very close to balance." [WSJ]
• Roberts expected to pass Senate with 64 votes. [USAT]
• Speculators have no idea who Bush will next nominate to the Supreme Court. [LAT]
• Cheney returns home after knee surgery. [NYT]
• Romney's jokes about liberal Massachusetts may turn-off moderate voters. [WP]