U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, about two months into his new job representing Ohio's 1st District, is one of 18 Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee to send a letter to the CEO of Northern Trust in Chicago warning him to stop spending federal TARP bank bailout money on golf tournaments, parties and posh hotels. Committee Chairman Barney Frank initiated the letter to "insist" that the CEO "immediately return to the federal government the equivalent of what Northern Trust frittered away on these lavish events."
Hundreds of local people interested in rebuilding the economy instead of complaining about it gathered today for two sessions organized by Gov. Ted Strickland and State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Avondale) to explain Ohio’s portion of the federal stimulus package. Besides Strickland aides, representatives from the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Benefit Bank were on hand to educate local small businesses and nonprofits about utilizing stimulus dollars.
A national coalition of community groups, including two Cincinnati organizations, are urging President Obama to push big Wall Street banks into writing down all “underwater mortgages” to market value. The groups said the action would pump up to $1.6 billion into Ohio's economy and create more than 24,000 jobs statewide.
The U.S. stock exchanges have opened strongly this morning, following gains in Asia and Europe earlier today. The Bush Administration's ever-evolving bail-out plans are, as they say in the bidness world, fluid.
Barack Obama has opened a 10-point national lead on John McCain, according to The Washington Post. Some pundits think the race is even more lopsided in Obama's favor but that the mainstream media — either to gin up excitement over a "close" race or to not look like they're "liberal" and "in the tank" for Obama — are portraying the race as closer than it really is. We all know Obama is going to win, which will make these final few weeks of a long, negative campaign almost unbearable.
Speaking of unbearable, how about those Bengals?
I've been getting good feedback (as always) to our annual publication of the Project Censored report on stories the mainstream media missed in the past year. It's a good reminder that Americans aren't as informed as we should be, particularly on international issues, and another reason to be concerned as the the nation's major newspapers continue to struggle with economic pressure.
Enjoy your Monday and the beautiful fall weather.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library denied a request by a Democratic super PAC for documents related to Sen. Rob Portman’s work in the George W. Bush administration. The library says it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and that all are welcome to see the documents in 2014. The super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, has been researching GOP candidates as Mitt Romney moves closer to choosing a running mate.
“When you look at the roster of V.P. candidates, each of them is significantly flawed,” American Bridge senior adviser Ty Matsdorf said in a statement. “For Portman, it is his calamitous record on fiscal issues while working at the Bush White House. It shouldn’t be a shock that he is going to want to keep that under wraps for as long as possible, but unfortunately it’s pretty hard to hide a record as terrible as that.”
CNN is live blogging from the Supreme Court to see if there are any rulings on the health care law or immigration.
Gay pride celebrations took place in New York, Chicago and San Francisco over the weekend, and Obama organizers were there to recruit volunteers.
Spain formally asked for European aid for its banks.
The sea level is rising faster along the Atlantic Coast than other places in the world.
Facebook has created a new “find friends nearby” function that will allow users to see friends and people they don’t know who are at events or social gatherings. From some Facebook engineer’s comments on the story:
I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).
For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you’re out with a group of people whom you’ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.
In a turnabout from a campaign pledge, Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul is getting help raising campaign money by GOP senators who voted for the 2008 Wall Street bailout.
According to an Associated Press report, Paul is holding a fundraiser Thursday night in Washington, D.C. Although Paul earlier had said he wouldn't seek money from any politician who voted for the $700 billion bailout, nine of the 12 senators listed on the event's host committee were bailout supporters.
Demonstrators filling downtown's Piatt Park on Garfield Place as part of the anti-corporate, Occupy Wall Street protests should take heart: The park's namesakes likely would support your actions.
In an excellent post on The Daily Bellwether blog, writer Bill Sloat looks at the history of the Piatt brothers, Donn and Abram, and the causes they held dear. Abram Piatt was a wealthy farmer and poet who served as a general for the Union Army during the Civil War. Donn Piatt was a staff officer for the Union Army.
More than 20 Occupy Cincinnati protesters last night received citations for staying at Piatt Park after its official closing time, a process which included warnings by police and then some peaceful ticketing before police left the occupiers to their business. CityBeat has launched a page dedicated to our ongoing coverage of the protests, including a live feed of #occupycincinnati and #occupycincy hashtags.
Before it went down to a crushing defeat, top officials at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve were describing the $700 billion bailout plan that failed Monday in starkly different terms during private conversations with Wall Street investors.
As most people know, the proposed bailout failed yesterday in a surprising 205-228 vote, defying the wishes of President Bush as well as Democratic and Republican party leaders. Overall, there were 140 Democrats in favor of the plan and 95 opposed, with 65 Republicans in support and 133 opposed.
Progressive bloggers were tipped off that Treasury officials were holding a secret conference call with Wall Street executives Monday before the vote and managed to access the call and listen in. What they heard reveals a lot about who really wields power in the U.S. political system, and how Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — shade the truth for constitutients.
Treasury officials reportedly told the executives that provisions calling for the $700 billion to be given in phased payments were a formality and the entire amount could be accessed at once, if needed. Also, provisions limiting executive pay at failed firms were mostly symbolic and would have little actual effect, as they didn’t affect existing contracts.
Further, clawback provisions that would attempt to help taxpayers recoup some of the money once assets were sold by the government “would need more congressional and presidential action to implement” and was unlikely to occur.
It’s interesting how Treasury Department appointees — who are supposed to be acting in the public’s interest — give a different description of the bailout in private.
Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders promise to try again with a revised bailout plan when they reconvene Thursday. Already the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors are busy trying to pressure GOP lawmakers into approving a bailout plan, threatening to withhold campaign cash from those who don’t.
Although hometown boy and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) initially tried to blame the bill’s defeat on a fiery floor speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, today’s Washington Post undercuts that position. GOP leaders said later they had been pessimistic about the bill’s chances from the start because many conservative representatives were ideologically opposed to a large, taxpayer-funded intervention. In fact, Boehner and others seriously considered asking Pelosi to delay any vote Monday, The Post reports.
Adhering to simplistic GOP talking points, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou blasts Pelosi on his blog for the bill’s defeat. Ol’ Alex defends Boehner, adding his stance showed leadership. What, then, does the opposing position taken by Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt, Geoff Davis and the rest of Greater Cincinnati’s Republican congressional delegation show? The chairman is remaining mum on that one.
Some observers on both the right and the left describe what happened Monday as a modern day Boston Tea Party, with an angry public finally standing up to an out-of-control investor class. Let’s hope the party doesn’t peter out anytime soon.
— Kevin Osborne
An organization of retired labor union workers is praising the failure of Congress' so-called “super committee” to agree on a deficit reduction deal as a good development for elderly Americans.
The Ohio chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans said many politicians, especially Republicans, are unfairly blaming the deficit on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They are using the budget battle as an excuse to dismantle programs they dislike, the group added.