Politics

February 25, 2009

No One Home At Treasury
12:00 AM

Question: Who's the deputy secretary of the Treasury? Answer: Trick question--no one!  As ABC News reports today, Treasury Secretary Geithner has less than 20 percent of the politically appointed spots at Treasury filled, including his Number 2 spot. The article makes such vacancy rates seem outlandish, but historically they're not unusual at such an early stage in a new administration. Nor is it a real problem at the moment, as the policy-proposal and passage stages are handled more by the White House than the Treasury rank-and-file.

No Cookies For You, Citigroup!
12:00 AM

We already knew there was a crisis of confidence about Citigroup. It appears there's also a major crisis of confidence within Citigroup. As the Journal reports in its terrific page one story this morning: The [federal government] scrutiny has Citigroup executives second-guessing everything, right down to the fresh-baked cookies offered at a recent corporate retreat in Armonk, N.Y.

Chas Freeman Is Bigoted And Out Of Touch
12:00 AM

Here is the most stunning prospective appointment of the Obama administration as yet. Not stunning as in "spectacular" or "distinguished" but stunning as in bigoted and completely out of synch with the deepest convictions of the American people.

Obama Soars, But Can He Fix The Economy?
12:00 AM

Walter Shapiro, who has covered the last eight presidential campaigns, continues his analysis of President Obama's major speeches for The New Republic:After his well-crafted but less-than-enduring Inaugural Address and the logorrhea of his prime-time press conference, Barack Obama finally hit his long-awaited rhetorical moment with his maiden address to the Congress. This was a speech that was not defined by partisan applause lines (though there were more than 50 outbreaks of hand-clapping) nor did it have much to do with the Congress itself (despite an artful tribute to Ted Kennedy).

Congress To The Banks: Feh!
12:00 AM

Why'd Obama spend so much time selling the bank bailout last night? Partly it's that, as Jonathan Cohn says, it inspires deep skepticism, if not outright hostility, among voters. But perhaps more to the point, that skepticism has Congress absolutely frantic. Yesterday afternoon I spoke to a senior Democratic aide in the Senate who repeatedly emphasized that, the way things stand now, it would be almost impossible to get another cent for the banks. Congress has "bailout fatigue," the aide said.

February 24, 2009

Newsflash: McCain Lost the Election!
12:00 AM

The Republican Party has been using a grab-bag of strategies to counter Obama's policies over the past month. They rail against the stimulus package for its (supposed) pork. They hammer home their points with gimmicky videos and props. They speak in warrior rhetoric and revel in heroic, fighting-man stunts. But if there is one strand running through all these strategies, it is that they evoke a discomfiting feeling of deja vu. We’ve seen this stuff before: The GOP is currently reliving John McCain’s presidential campaign.

The Real News In Obama's Speech
12:00 AM

...was this line about the bank bailout: "Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside." Among people who follow this stuff inside and outside the administration, there's been a presumption that we're going to need more than what's left of the $700 billion bailout Congress approved last fall. But, so far as I now, this is the first time the administration has acknowledged it publicly. I'd guess Wall Street will react pretty favorably tomorrow. --Noam Scheiber  

The Real News In Obama's Speech
12:00 AM

...was this line about the bank bailout: "Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside." Among people who follow this stuff inside and outside the administration, there's been a presumption that we're going to need more than what's left of the $700 billion  bailout Congress approved last fall. But, so far as I now, this is the first time the administration has acknowledged it publicly. I'd guess Wall Street will react pretty favorably tomorrow. --Noam Scheiber

When Free Enterprise Needs Government
12:00 AM

Here's your synopsis of the Obama domestic agenda: I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity. For history tells a different story.  History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas.  In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry.  From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepar

Game On
12:00 AM

Obama on health care, moments ago: ...there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I'm bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week. I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough.

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