Morning Briefing: October 31, 2011

A bombshell report from Politico reveals that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment by two female employees of the National Restaurant Association, which he led in the 1990s. Cain’s campaign has denied the report, but spokesperson J.D. Gordon refused to categorically deny whether the women had been given payouts on Fox News last night, prompting host Geraldo Rivera to warn the response was a “recipe for disaster.”

NATO operations in Libya will end tonight at midnight Libyan time, just days after the U.N. Security council ordered an end to all military action. After carrying out 9,600 strikes in the past seven months, NATO’s head will hold talks with Libya’s interim government before ending the campaign.

Federal agencies have missed 77 percent of the rule-making deadlines set by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. Democratic officials blame GOP attempts to delay the rules, hoping to repeal the law if it wins control of the Senate and White House. Administration officials, meanwhile, say they won’t sacrifice quality of the rules for speed in drafting them.

Facing continued consumer pressure, Bank of America is pulling back from its debit-card fee by allowing customers to avoid the monthly $5 charge “by maintaining minimum balances, having paychecks direct-deposited or using Bank of America credit cards.” Two of its major competitors have canceled their plans for debit-card fees, citing “customer feedback.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) ties to Wall Street have turned him into a target for Occupy Wall Street protesters, but his ties have also netted him millions in donations from Wall Street supporters. So far this year, Cantor has helped raise $6.5 million from Wall Street for GOP colleagues.

Morris Davis, “the former chief prosecutor for the US government at Guantánamo Bay,” has accused the Bush “administration he served of operating a ‘law-free zone’ there, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the order to establish the detention camp on Cuba.” Morris resigned from his position in 2007 after being accused by the administration of having acted “dishonorably” when he objected to practices at the camp.

President Obama’s American Jobs Act now has more than 90 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, all Democrats. Adding “cosponsors marked a change in strategy for Democratic leaders, who initially had resisted endorsements to the legislation.”

Consumer spending is overriding fears about the economy as increasing spending over the last three months pushed growth to its highest level of the year. The boost in spending is centered in upper-income households, with the top 20 percent of earners may account for half of consumer spending.

And finally: You don’t often hear about the showering habits of congressmen, let alone ones that violate the law, but that exactly what Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a committee hearing and the world. “I don’t want a nanny state,” King said, referring to rules limiting shower head output. “I drilled my showerhead out with an 8-inch bit,” he continued. “I encourage any American that finds himself wasting too much time waiting for their feet to get wet to drill out their Al Gore water-saver showerhead and go ahead and commit an act of civil disobedience.”

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