Archive for January, 2009

GOP governors press Congress to pass stimulus bill

January 31, 2009

Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama‘s economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama’s spending priorities.

Related:
Obama Week 3: Senate Poised to Defeat Stimulus?

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state’s share of the package.

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones last week with members of his state’s congressional delegation, including House Republicans. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan.

“As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Gov. Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans,” said Douglas’ deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey.

Not a single Republican voted with the majority last week when the House approved Obama’s $819 billion combination of tax cuts and new spending. The president’s goal is to create or preserve 3 million to 4 million jobs.

Republicans led by House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio complained that the plan is laden with pet projects and will not yield the jobs or stimulate the economy in the way Obama has promised.

The measure faces GOP opposition in the Senate, where it will be up for a vote in the week ahead.

But states are coping with severe budget shortfalls and mounting costs for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor. So governors, including most Republicans, are counting on the spending to help keep their states afloat.

This past week the bipartisan National Governors Association called on Congress to quickly pass the plan.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200901
31/ap_on_go_co/stimulus_gop_governors

Related:
http://nobamablog.wordpress.com/200
9/01/31/is-the-stimulus-obama%E2%8
0%99s-iraq/

As Economy Sinks, Russians Protest

January 31, 2009

Protesters held demonstrations throughout Russia on Saturday, offering largely subdued, but pointed criticism of the government’s economic policies as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass.

By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ and CLIFFORD J. LEVY
The New York Times

Antigovernment protests are rare in Russia, and the latest come amid growing public anger with a government not used to widespread criticism after years of economic growth. Officials had initially hesitated to publicly acknowledge Russia’s economic troubles brought on by a steep drop in oil prices and the worldwide financial downturn.

The government has allocated billions of dollars to bail out troubled banks and companies but has yet to put forward a clear long-term strategy for dealing with mounting unemployment and a rapidly devaluing ruble.

Other demonstrations against the government, as well as some in support, were held in several cities throughout the country, Russian news agencies reported.

About 1,000 people attended a rally organized by the Russian Communist Party in Moscow, calling for a return of the centralized economic policies of the Soviet Union, according to news agencies. The authorities approved the rally, and cordons of riot police officers watched over the march but did not interfere.

In another part of the city, about 200 protesters from opposition groups marched down several city blocks, having eluded the police in a circuitous jaunt through the city subway system. The authorities had vowed to prevent the march when organizers announced it last week.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/01/w
orld/europe/01russia.html?_r=1&hp

Global Job Losses Could Hit 51 Million

January 31, 2009

As many as 51 million jobs worldwide could be lost this year because of the global economic crisis, says the International Labour Organization(ILO).

The UN agency says that would push up the world’s unemployment rate to 7.1% by the end of 2009, compared with 6.0% in 2008 and 5.7% in 2007.

The ILO’s most optimistic forecast is for 18 million more unemployed, giving a global jobless rate of 6.1%.

It says developing countries will suffer most from additional job losses.

“If the recession deepens in 2009, as many forecasters expect, the global jobs crisis will worsen sharply,” the ILO said.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7855661.stm

Obama Orders U.S. Defense Cut 10%

January 31, 2009

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official told several newspeople.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Department of Defense built its budget based upon a national strategy that the National Command Authority authorized.  Simply stated, the President and his top advisors told DoD what they would need, say a two simultaneous war strategy in two different threaters, and the Pentagon costed that stategy in terms of manpower, aircraft, ships, etc.

In its starkest terms, building the DoD budget was like asking yourself where you wanted to go, asking the cab driver how much that would cost and then setting aside the money to get you where you needed to be.

When we want to go, say, to church, we give the cab driver the money needed for that trip.

Apparently, in the new era of the Obama Administration, we’ll just give the cab drive $3.00 and ask “How far can we go?”

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official told FOX News.

Last year’s defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend “burning the midnight oil” looking at ways to cut the budget — looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.

Some overall budget figures are expected to be announced Monday.

Obama met Friday at the White House with a small group of military advisers, including Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman, and Gen. Jim Jones, National Security Council chairman.

Many will applaud the president for cutting what is widely seen as an over-inflated budget.  But many others will see the way this cut was made as questionable without the strategic thought underpinning the budget number.  And many wives, friends, husbands and family members of service members will want to know if their service people are now more at risk….

*****************

By Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg

U.S. defense budget cuts may target spending on weapons as the Obama administration juggles paying for personnel and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“The most expensive part of our budget is our people,” Admiral Michael Mullen said in an interview yesterday. “There’s not a lot of flexibility with respect to people, unless you start” reducing forces.

That is unlikely, meaning the weapons procurement budget, which averaged about 20 percent of fiscal 2008 and 2009 defense spending, will come under increased scrutiny, Mullen said.

“We’ve got to fund the wars we are in,” and that “puts an awful lot of pressure” on decreasing spending on weapon modernization and the repair of war-worn equipment, he said.

The largest part of the weapons accounts is tactical aircraft, shipbuilding and ground equipment produced by Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and BAE Systems Plc.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned two congressional defense committees that “one thing we have known for many months is that the spigot of defense spending that opened on 9/11 is closing.”

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20
601087&sid=ar9QVxBv0YIs

Related:
How To Pay For 21st Century Military

Obama Team Wants Pentagon Budget Focused More on Current War, Less on Future Programs

 Obama Told His Actions On Gitmo Could “jeopardize those who are fighting the war on terror”

Team Obama preoccupied with Bush

January 31, 2009

You’d hardly know George W. Bush is spending his days relaxing down in Texas. It feels like he’s still right here in Washington, given the current president’s almost daily repudiation of his predecessor’s policies.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent

It’s not that you hear Barack Obama uttering Bush’s name, and aides are loathe to bring up Bush directly, except in private.

But there are plenty of signs that Team Obama is more than a little preoccupied with Bush — with avoiding his mistakes, reversing his policies in a daily drumbeat of events, and with getting as much political mileage as possible from coded but clear shots at the unpopular ex-president.

In Week One, Obama overturned Bush policies on funding for international family planning groups and detaining and questioning suspected terrorists; set up strict ethics rules for his administration; declared diplomacy the new emphasis for U.S. foreign policy; and signaled he was serious about ending the war in Iraq that Bush began.

In Week Two, Obama reversed Bush by moving to allow states to establish tougher standards than the federal ones on car exhaust; pledged greater urgency for the U.S. role in Mideast peacemaking; reached out to the billion-strong Muslim community that has been wary of the U.S.; cheered Congress for nearing completion of a children’s health insurance expansion that Bush vetoed twice; signed an equal pay bill previously blocked by Bush and congressional Republicans; and undid Bush administration policies he said have favored employers over workers.

Each action was accompanied by rhetoric: “a clean break,” “not going to continue with a false choice between our security and our ideals,” “a new era of American leadership,” “days of Washington dragging its heels are over,” “when I say progress, not just photo-ops but progress that is concrete,” “reverse many of the policies toward organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years.”

What better way for Obama to demonstrate to the public that he’s turning into reality that “change” theme from his campaign than to make his first couple of weeks in office nearly entirely about a sharp U-turn from all things Bush?

“Yes, Bush is unpopular. But he’s unpopular because the policies weren’t right,” said White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. “What people want a change from is not theoretical.”

The page-turning started right away, with Obama’s inaugural address.

He talked repeatedly of restoring this and returning to that and proclaimed “the time has come to set aside childish things” — all notably sharp words, especially considering that Bush was sitting right there in the front row. (Bush, ever the politician who appreciates skilled politics in others, whispered to Emanuel afterward that he thought the speech was great.)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090131
/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_bush_analysis

President, CNN Take the Rush Limbaugh Bait (Pork Chop)

January 31, 2009

Congratulations to Campbell Brown for her criticism of Rush Lumbaugh for his “histrionics and name calling.”

On the other hand, it should come has no surprise, histrionics and name calling is what Rush Limbaugh does.

So a big-time TV talking head taking issue with a radio entertainer’s manners reminds me of my sixth grade teacher.

Rush Limbaugh has a right, a paycheck and an audience to do exactly what he is doing.

Limbaugh even said, “I hope the president fails.”  Democrats responded with an on line petition against Limbaugh and the president himself urged Republican lawmakers not to listen to Limbaugh.

Many of us would never have noticed but then the president called our attention to Rush Limbaugh.

I listen to the president but not usually to Rush.
.
When the President of the United States stoops to the level of engaging a radio personality, he demeans his own office and raises the radio guy into a loftier position.  And he draws attention to the very guy he apparently doesn’t want to hear.

And the POTUS, in this case, was really showing us what?  He fears Limbaugh?  Limbaugh’s message?  His listeners? The president  does’t like criticism?  He is against free speech? 

So now, from the Oval Office, we can expect the president to attack mega-church preachers he doesn’t like?  What then?

Chalk this up as a lesson learned in the early going of a new administration.  President Obama made a mistake by even speaking about Rush Limbaugh who is best left ignored.

And Dear Campbell; you fell into the same trap.  Or sty.

Isn’t there a saying about, “If you get into the mud with pigs, only the pigs end up happy?”

“Rush Limbaugh does what he does and sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t,”  said David Drucker, of Roll Call.

CNN On Rush:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/30/campbel
l.brown.limbaugh/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Rush on the economy:
 More Ideas on Stimulus, Bipartisanship from Rush Limbaugh in the Wall Street Journal

Related:
 White House, Limbaugh Show Blurring Media and Government

Obama Forced to Rethink “Buy American” in Stimulus After Hits from China, Germany, Others

January 31, 2009

President Barack Obama’s administration will examine a “buy American” requirement in economic stimulus legislation that has raised concern among U.S. trading partners, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

The administration “will review that particular provision,” Gibbs said today at his regular briefing. The president’s advisers understand “all of the concerns that have been heard, not only in this room, but in newspapers produced both up north and down south.”

He refused to say whether the administration supported or opposed keeping that part of the legislation intact. Nor did he say what the president would do if the provision remains once the bill clears the House and the Senate.

The issue may cloud Obama’s trip to Canada on Feb. 19, his first journey outside U.S. borders as president. Officials in Canada, the top U.S. trade partner, are criticizing a part of legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 28 that requires the use of U.S.-made iron and steel in infrastructure projects.

“U.S. protectionism is about to make Canada’s recession a lot worse,” Ralph Goodale, house leader for the opposition Liberal Party, said today in Parliament.

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=2
0601087&sid=a37pHeTuz_HA&refer=worldwide

Geithner, Daschle Remind Us, Taxes Too Hard for Democrats; How Can They Create a Workable Stimulus?

January 31, 2009

Democrats not paying their own taxes makes me question the biggest government give away ever: the stimulus.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wasn’t sharp enough to use Turbotax and to ethically pay his own taxes; until that is he was nominated for the top financial job in the nation.

Related:
Daschle Knew of Tax Issues Last June, Raising Questions on Obama Vetting Process, Ethics

Now former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, it turn out, accepted hundreds of thousands in gifts and compensation without ever noticing or considering these goodies income.  he didn’t confes until after he was vetted by team Obama for the HHS job.

Psst: you guys like me with little money searching for dimes in your pocket at the 7-11, if a company gave you a Cadillac and a chauffeur, it would never occur to you that was a valueable asset?

Geithner and Daschle raise serious concerns about mental ability or ethics or both.  And they add nothing to America’s trust of the government and should be expelled from further government service.

Related from Michelle Malkin:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/01/31/what-w
ill-the-bend-over-republicans-do-with-tax-chea
t-tom-daschle/

Global Economy Sparks Protests; Governments Fear Greater “Social Unrest”

January 31, 2009

Americans just started a new presidency but in China, Russia, France, Iceland and Britain, some leaders already fear that the worsening global economy will result in calls for new governments with new leaders and ideas.

Protesters in Rusia’s eastern most industrial hub and seaport, Vladivostok, called this week for new government leaders because of the economic down turn.

Opposition groups led by Communists protested the economic policies of the Russian government in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Saturday.
James Hill for The New York Times

The protest was peaceful; but more protests are planned.  And previous protests like this one in Russia ended in violence and the police making dozens of arrests. 

The crowd called for the replacement of Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s top leaders, for mismanaging the economy.

On Saturday protesters held demonstrations throughout Russia, offering largely subdued, but pointed criticism of the government’s economic policies as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass, the New York Times said.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under fire.  He is currently taking heat for a jobs and rights protest that stems from his pledge that “British jobs need to be British.”
.
Thousands of workers across Britain have walked off their jobs following protests over the use of foreigners at a Lincolnshire oil refinery.

On Saturday, the number of strikers multiplied, with hundreds of energy workers across the UK protesting — and with lines of police around them.

And millions of Chinese have gone home for the Spring Festival or New Year and told not to return to their jobs.  China is so worried about domestic unrest that it has started its largest anti-democracy crackdown ever: specifically targeting the media and Internet.

“People have this psychology of crisis,” said Victor Yuan, chairman of Beijing-based consultant Horizon Research Consultancy Group, which does polling for the private sector and the government.

Horizon’s latest survey showed consumer confidence at its lowest since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003.

“The real, real winter for the Chinese economy hasn’t come yet,” said Chen Jian, chairman of Hangzhou Hengwei Investment Co., which has business in restaurants, real estate and trading.

In France, President Sarkozy can’t get away from the jeers and shouts of protestors when he makes public appearances.  He has taken to firing public officials that  don’t keep protesters far away from the President’s ears.

A crowd of 300,000 protested in Paris this week in the largest protest in 10 years, some said.

null 
Paris this week

Countries such as France and Greece have been hit by riots and strikes as militant unions demand protectionist measures to keep out foreign rivals.

And both Germany and China expressed fears of American protectionism this week.  Angela Merkel of German told audiences at the economic conference in Davos that the U.S. auto bailout hurts the global economy and spells a new era of protectionism from the U.S.  China’s Hu Juntao told President Barack Obama that the “buy American” provision in the stimulus was rank protectionism and needed to be scuttled.

The economy has made the entire world more tense.

The French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said, “We’re facing two major risks: one is social unrest and the second is protectionism.”

“We need to restore confidence in the systems and confidence at large,” she added.

Christine Lagarde
Lagarde

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the world body needs to be reorganized in view of the economic crisis.

“The current architecture of managing global affairs is broken and needs to be fixed,” Annan said.

The worldwide economic recession has exposed a “crisis of global governance” that can only be addressed by the radical reform of the United Nations, said Mr. Annan.

And Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on world leaders to set about reforming international financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that led to the current financial crisis.

“We’ve got to be far bolder and far more imaginative,” Brown said. “We want to create a global society. But we need to have global institutions that work and the problem is the institutions we built 60 years ago are out of date.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

The BBC on Russian Protests:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7862370.stm

Related:
Britain:
 Oil refinery strikes: Protests over foreign workers

France’s Sarkozy Getting Testy Amid Public Disapporval, Fires Public Servants

China, Germany Both Pressure Obama on Protectionism

Kofi Annan: Global Economy Tells Us, New forms of government needed

From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/0
1/31/davos.wef.brown/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/0
1/30/britain.refinery.strikes/index.html

Paris:
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/
world-news/300000-protest-in-paris-14
162666.html?r=RSS

You’ll Be Happy To Know, Nancy Pelosi is Not Partisan

January 31, 2009

When asked about the president’s stimulus package this week, and why every Republican and 11 Democrats voted against it, Nancy Pelosi said:

“I didn’t come here to be partisan. I didn’t come here to be bipartisan. I came here, as did my colleagues, to be nonpartisan, to work for the American people, to do what is in their interest.”

“The president’s agenda is reflected in this legislation. It’s — I mentioned, some of the priorities that were there about creating jobs, cutting taxes, helping states through this difficult economic time, and to do so in a fiscally sound way.”

“People vote for what they believe in. Clearly, the Republicans did not believe in the agenda that I just described for you, and that’s probably one of the reasons they voted that way. I think they probably voted their conscience and they couldn’t support that. … We reached out to the Republicans all along the way, and they know it. And they know it. They were part of the original bill, with the — some of the tax provisions were their suggestions. They had what they asked for in terms of committee mark-up. They had the rule on the floor that gave them plenty of opportunity to make changes. They just didn’t have the ideas that had the support of the majority of the people in the Congress. ”

Well, few in the Republican camp buy Nancy’s assesment of herself so either she is wrong or the other 188 people who voted against her bill are all wrong….

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-calif., speaks during a ...
Nancy Pelosi tries to hold off critics and self assessment….