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GinaMaria's Journal of Weekly Presidential Action Items
Posted by GinaMaria in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Mar 24th 2009, 06:24 AM
Week 9. AIG dominated the news and the public’s outrage this week with their executive bonuses. Here is this week’s List.

March 17, 2009 Tuesday

1. Obama Administration Proposes Third-Party Billing for Combat-Related Injuries: The Obama administration has proposed to bill veterans' private insurance companies for combat-related injuries. But the plan has incited an uproar on Capitol Hill and charges from veterans groups that the plan is unethical and would further burden the war-wounded and their families. The proposal, which would save the Department of Veterans Affairs $530 million a year, threatens to complicate the new administration's relations with the 25 million Americans who have served in the military. ...

2. Americans are making clear distinctions between the Obama Administration’s proposals to assist various sectors of the economy, according to a new CBS News poll. Specifically, when it comes to the government providing financial assistance to homeowners, 71 percent of Americans approve while 25 percent disapprove. Fifty-seven percent say government help to homeowners is necessary and fifty-five percent say they are relieved that homeowners are getting assistance. ...

3. President Barack Obama wants governors to hurry up and begin building bridges and schools to revive the economy. His administration is learning that spending $787 billion as quickly and transparently as promised is no easy task. States wanting desperately to tap into the new money are having trouble keeping track of the application deadlines and requirements in the 400-page stimulus bill. Hanging over all of this are two threats. The first was written into the law, saying that if states miss a deadline or don't spend the money fast enough, they lose the cash. Vice President Joe Biden delivered the second threat last week, warning that if states misspend the money, "don't look for any help from the federal government for a long while." ...

4. Announcing his first federal appeals court pick, President Obama today reached for a moderate who already has the bipartisan support of both of his home state's senators. If confirmed, federal Chief District Judge David Hamilton of Indiana will get a seat on the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Hamilton, a former counsel to then-Governor Evan Bayh, has served for 14 years as a federal judge in Indiana and has been chief judge for the southern district in January 2008. "Judge Hamilton has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions. He will be a thoughtful and distinguished addition to the 7th circuit and I am extremely pleased to put him forward to serve the people of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin," Obama said in a statement. ... Read a description of the process in David Hamilton’s words here: ...

5. March 17 (Bloomberg) -- Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Federal Reserve policy makers may have to ramp up their purchases of mortgage securities and other assets after the economy and job market deteriorated further since they last met. The Federal Open Market Committee, gathering today and tomorrow in Washington, needs to redouble its efforts after the central bank’s balance sheet shrank 17 percent from a $2.3 trillion December peak, Fed watchers said. The retreat came even as Bernanke acknowledged the chance that the unemployment rate will exceed 10 percent for the first time in a quarter century. ...

6. It’s a happy St. Patrick’s Day for Dan Rooney: President Obama today announced that he is tapping the Pittsburgh Steelers owner to become the next U.S. ambassador to Ireland. ...

7. His words come days after the nomination of the Seattle police chief, Gil Kerlikowske, to the post of director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the nation's drug czar. Kerlikowske has built a reputation in Seattle for pursuing drug policies based on harm reduction. The state has an established needle exchange programme, has legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes and has made marijuana among the lowest priorities for law enforcement. "These statements really indicate a significant shift," he said. "It's not just a repudiation of the Bush administration, it's a repudiation of the Clinton administration. This signals a new direction in US drug policy. This is about all the leading scientists and all the public health people pushing in the same direction and Obama saying he's putting science above politics.". ...

March 18, 2009 Wednesday
8. President Barack Obama on Wednesday assailed AIG's hefty executive bonuses as an "inappropriate use of taxpayer funds,"

9. President Obama yesterday abandoned a proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for the treatment at VA hospitals.

10. Obama Administration to Stop Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensers: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday outlined a shift in the enforcement of federal drug laws, saying the administration would effectively end the Bush administration’s frequent raids on distributors of medical marijuana.

11. Obama considers expanding Afghan security force: Reuters – USA WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US President Barack Obama is considering a plan that would double the size of Afghanistan's security force to about 400000 troops

12. Obama hears Californians' state of anxiety; In Costa Mesa to boost public support for his budget, the president sees the human face of the state's economic crisis. At a town hall Wednesday during which people spoke of their lost jobs and their fears of economic problems to come, President Obama painted his ambitious policy agenda as the antidote.

13. Obama Plan Favors AIG Over Carmakers, UAW’s King Says (Update1): The Obama administration needs to narrow the “staggering” inequities between its treatment of U.S. carmakers and the $173 billion bailout of American International Group Inc., said Bob King, a top United Auto Workers union official.

14. President Obama topped a town hall appearance Wednesday by claiming responsibility for the bonuses paid out to executives at the bailed-out insurance giant American International Group"I know Washington's all in a tizzy and everybody's pointing fingers at each other and saying it's their fault, the Democrats' fault, the Republicans' fault. Listen, I will take responsibility. I'm the president," Obama said Wednesday at the town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, California. "We didn't draft these contracts," he said. "We've got a lot on our plate. But it is appropriate when you're in charge to make sure stuff doesn't happen like this. So for everybody in Washington who's busy scrambling to try to figure out how to blame somebody else, just go ahead and talk to me, because it's my job to fix these messes even if I don't make them."

March 19, 2009 Thursday
15. The Obama administration announced a $5-billion plan today to buffer the finances of struggling auto suppliers, the first of what officials said would be several steps to aid the U.S. auto industry.

16. Obama's 'Tonight Show' appearance caps off day of serious economic talk: The president talks sports, dogs and more with Jay Leno, after touring a Pomona electric vehicle plant in Pomona and holding a town hall meeting at an L.A. school.
17. President Barack Obama on Thursday welcomed a U.S. House of Representatives vote to tax bonuses to employees at companies getting federal bailout money, saying it "rightly reflects" outrage at hefty rewards paid by American International Group Inc.

18. President Obama's $3.55-trillion budget has stumbled into a series of economic and political pitfalls that threaten to undercut his grandest ambitions. The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday projected deficits far higher than the Obama administration had calculated, possibly as much as $1.6 trillion higher over the next 10 years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to issue a similar assessment today.

19. Fearing immigration reform was not on his agenda, dozens of immigrant rights activists Thursday participated in a rally outside the public school, as President Barack Obama held the second of two town hall meetings during his two-day trip to Southern California. While those who were lucky enough to secure tickets to the event waited patiently in line to enter the gymnasium at Miguel Contreras Learning Center, about 200 people, mostly Hispanics, lined up on Third Avenue at Lucas Street, chanting and waving signs and banners that read “Obama Count Us Too!” “Legalization, Now,” and “We Are Not Criminals.”

20. While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens. A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments, which stemmed in large part from its use of aggressive tax deals, some involving entities controlled by the company’s financial products unit in the Cayman Islands, Ireland, the Dutch Antilles and other offshore havens. ...

21. New Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines calling for a “presumption of openness” were issued today by Attorney General Eric Holder. The guidelines, fulfilling the directive of a presidential memorandum issued in January, overturn the “Ashcroft doctrine” of the Bush administration that allowed the government to withhold information requested through FOIA whenever legally possible. The attorney general’s announcement comes during “Sunshine Week” and follows the introduction of legislation aimed at strengthening FOIA in the Senate.

22. Gov. Sarah Palin just told reporters that she’s accepting only 55 percent of the federal economic stimulus money being offered to Alaska. The governor said that she will accept only about $514 million of the $930 million headed to the state. “We are not requesting funds intended to just grow government. We are not requesting more money for normal day-to-day operations of government as part of this economic stimulus package. In essence we say no to operating funds for more positions in government,” Palin said. ...

March 20, 2009 Friday
23. Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of the South Lawn on Friday to plant a vegetable garden, the first at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II. There will be no beets — the president does not like them — but arugula will make the cut.

24. Obama Calls for 'New Beginning' in Message to Iran: U.S. President Barack Obama is offering Iran's leaders the promise of a new beginning in relations. But Mr. Obama says they must now choose between threats and engagement. President Obama says relations between Iran and the United States have grown increasingly strained over the last three decades. He says it is time to begin anew.

25. Medvedev, Obama may set nuclear talks agenda: Russian and U.S. presidents should make progress on long-range nuclear weapons cuts when they meet next month, but Moscow will be linking this to U.S. anti-missile plans which it opposes, an official said on Friday.

26. Obama Announces Guidelines to Limit Lobbyists' Influence on Stimulus Effort: President Obama today announced "unprecedented restrictions" aimed at deterring lobbyists from influencing projects under a massive economic stimulus plan and vowed that recovery efforts will not become "an excuse for waste and abuse." Pledging to create "a new culture of accountability" with the $787 billion stimulus package, Obama told a gathering of state lawmakers that his administration "will do everything in our power" to prevent taxpayer dollars from slipping through the cracks and being diverted from projects that create jobs.

27. Obama sticks to goal of halving deficit by end of term: The White House said on Friday that the latest Congressional Budget Office figures do not alter President Barack Obama's goal of cutting the budget deficit in half by the end of his term.

28. South Carolina Governor Rejects Stimulus Money: Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina has just announced that he will reject about $700 million in federal stimulus money for his state, in his continuing battle with the White House over ways the money can be used.

29. Climate Change 'Big Priority' For Energy Commission Chief: Add a new name to the list of Obama appointees devoted to aggressive action on climate change. President Obama yesterday named Jon Wellinghoff -- a lawyer who once served as Nevada's consumer advocate and a believer that electric-car owners could someday get paid to provide backup battery power to the electricity grid -- as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

30. Obama urges states to use recovery money carefully: With states eager to spend, President Barack Obama announced guidelines Friday aimed at preventing waste and fraud and limiting the influence lobbyists will have in carrying out the $787 billion economic stimulus program.
"This plan cannot and will not be an excuse for waste and abuse," Obama declared. To make his point, the guidelines specify that stimulus funds can't be used on projects like aquariums, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, casinos or other gambling establishments.

March 21, 2009 Saturday
31. Iran is suspicious of Obama's overture: Iran reacted with cautious praise Friday to President Obama's Persian New Year overture for a new beginning in relations, coolly resorting to its default rhetoric whenever an American leader tries to make nice: Thanks, but change your policies, then we'll talk.

32. Big Deficit Projection Tests Obama Agenda: Congressional budget forecasters said President Barack Obama's spending blueprint would produce significantly deeper long-run deficits than the White House has projected, complicating the task of enacting his ambitious domestic agenda.

33. Obama to Push Programs in Budget: President Obama, signaling the start of what promises to be a bruising fight with Congress, said he expected lawmakers to pass a budget that would finance major programs in his economic recovery plan while substantially cutting the country’s national deficit. In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, Mr. Obama said he would spend the coming week pushing for the programs in his $3.6 trillion budget.

34. A grassroots network that was formed to help elect President Barack Obama is launching a national effort to campaign for his proposed budget plan.

35. Volunteers with Organizing for America on Saturday will go door-to-door in their communities promoting Obama's proposals. The organization, which is a project of the Democratic National Committee, also encourages Americans to call members of Congress and urge them to support the plan.,5143,7052...

36. President Barack Obama named a Boston doctor and Harvard professor on Friday to lead his $20 billion dollar effort to modernize the disparate and paper-dominated health-care system in the United States. Dr. David Blumenthal will become the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, charged with implementing health information technology provisions of Obama's recently passed economic stimulus package.

37. Granting a reprieve to Liberian immigrants facing imminent expulsion, President Obama signed an executive order yesterday allowing them to stay in the United States under "temporary protected status" for an additional 12 months. They were due to leave by March 31. The Philadelphia metropolitan area, with 35,000 Liberians, has one of the largest concentrations, according to the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas. Most arrived in the 1990s, fleeing civil wars that took thousands of lives.

38. Iran's Khamenei rebuffs Obama overture: Iran's most powerful figure today dismissed President Obama's extraordinary Persian New Year gesture, insisting that the U.S. administration's actions must match its rhetoric before Iran would alter its foreign policy stances.

39. The U.S. has taken over two credit unions, with combined assets of $57 billion, Friday in an effort to stabilize the corporate credit union system. U.S. Central Federal Credit Union, based in Lenexa, Kan., and Western Corporate (WesCorp) Federal Credit Union, based out of San Dimas, Calif., were placed under conservatorship "to stabilize the corporate credit union system and resolve balance sheet issues," according to a statement posted on the National Credit Union Administration's Web site. Read more: ...

40. Obama sidetracked by fiscal mess, but presses on (AP) AP - Knocked off balance by the bonuses brouhaha, President Barack Obama is relying on direct appeals to the public to refocus attention on his ambitious agenda and drive the debate.

41. Obama criticizes some Guantanamo release decisions: President Barack Obama says the U.S. hasn't done a good job sorting out who should be released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Obama says in a broadcast interview that some of the people released from the facility in Cuba have rejoined terrorist groups. He also says U.S. officials have not always been effective in determining which prisoners will be a danger once they are let go.

42. WaMu holding company sues FDIC over bank seizure: Washington Mutual's holding company is suing federal regulators for billions of dollars, saying the firesale of the bank's assets to JPMorgan Chase violated its rights. The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which seized the Seattle-based savings and loan in September. It was the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

43. President Obama, working to reframe his $3.6 trillion budget proposal that has come under attack for its large size and even larger ambitions, today said the plan addresses the concerns of ordinary Americans about the spiraling cost of college, the availability of health care and the sustainabiliy of the nation's economy. Speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama called the budget, "an economic blueprint for the future - a vision of America where growth is not based on real estate bubbles or over leveraged banks, but a firm foundation of investments in energy, education, and health care that will lead to a real and lasting prosperity."

44. President Barack Obama said he would not accept Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's resignation if it was offered, according to excerpts from a television interview to be broadcast on Sunday. Obama said he would tell Geithner: "Sorry buddy you've still got the job." The Treasury secretary has been under fire from some lawmakers for his handling of the AIG bonus scandal.

45. Obama says Cheney approach 'hasn't made us safer' President Barack Obama hit back at former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism of his policies on terrorism suspects

46. America has signalled a radical new initiative to bring the Taliban into the Afghan political process as part of growing efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to the war in Afghanistan. The US ambassador to Kabul told the Observer that America would be prepared to discuss the establishment of a political party, or even election candidates representing the Taliban, as part of a political strategy that would sit alongside reinforced military efforts to end the increasingly intractable conflict. ...

47. Dozens of protesters held signs Saturday criticizing Gov. Sarah Palin for turning away federal economic stimulus money they said is vital for education and other services for Alaskans.

March 22, 2009 Sunday
48. One of President Barack Obama's top economic advisers said on Sunday that she was "incredibly confident" the president's efforts will turn the U.S. economy around within one year. Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said because of the programs Obama was implementing, "We will be seeing signs the economy is turning around ... (it) is growing again." ...

49. An intense, six-month campaign of Predator strikes in Pakistan has taken such a toll on Al Qaeda that militants have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say. ...

50. The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said. The outlines of the plan are expected to be unveiled this week in preparation for President Obama’s first foreign summit meeting in early April. ...

51. The White House is set to reverse a key Bush administration policy by allowing some of the 240 remaining Guantánamo Bay inmates to be resettled on American soil. The US is pushing for Europe to take a share of released inmates, but the Obama administration is reconciled to taking some of them, even though there will be noisy resistance from individual states. -...

52. Thousands of demonstrators marked the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq with an impassioned protest of the nation's military policies yesterday, demanding that President Obama bring U.S. troops home. The demonstration was the first in Washington of the Obama presidency, replete with many of the same messages of protests during the Bush era. Placards read "War Is Not the Answer," "Troops Out Now" and "We Need Jobs and Schools, Not War."

53. President Obama is finalizing plans to move federal agents, equipment and other resources to the border with Mexico to support Mexican President Felipe Calderón's campaign against violent drug cartels, according to U.S. security officials. In Obama's first major domestic security initiative, administration officials are expected to announce as early as this week a crackdown on the supply of weapons and cash moving from the United States into Mexico that helps sustain that country's narco-traffickers, officials said.

54. The Obama administration will this week outline regulatory changes aimed at avoiding a repeat of the financial crisis that’s crippled the banking system and pushed the U.S. into the deepest recession since 1982. The proposals will address the risks that remain in financial regulation, an administration official said, including the need for an agency to have the power to resolve a breakdown at a major financial institution.

55. Toxic assets next hurdle for Obama: Solving the toxic assets problem would allow banks to pursue more normal lending policies. With credit unfrozen, consumers would be more able to get all types of loans, money that would flow back into the economy. The plan involves buying as much as $1 trillion in troubled assets and would be accomplished in three ways:
- A fund to back private investors' purchase of the bad assets.
- Expansion of a Federal Reserve program in which investors buy securities backed by consumer debt.
- Using the FDIC to buy toxic assets.

56. The Obama administration is defending its proposals to massively boost government spending in the wake of a congressional report that projects record federal deficits and a doubling of America's national debt in coming years. Republicans and even some Democrats say the administration's ambitious spending plans will have to be curtailed.

57. President Barack Obama said on Sunday the U.S. financial system could still implode if a large bank were to fail, and "big problems" could result if the government does not try to lessen the risk. "I think that systemic risks are still out there," Obama said in an interview on the CBS program "60 Minutes."

58. President Barack Obama wagered significant political capital Sunday, signaling opposition to a highly popular congressional drive to slap a punitive 90 percent tax on bonuses to big earners at financial institutions already deeply in hock to taxpayers.

March 23, 2009 Monday
59. Obama administration will announce details of a plan today to expand the $700 billion rescue of the financial system that will rely on enticing private investors to buy the troubled assets clogging banks’ balance sheets. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who will unveil the Public Private Investment Program today, has crafted an approach using up to $100 billion of bailout money to spur investment funds to purchase -- and banks to unload -- the illiquid securities and loans that have caused credit to dry up. The Treasury, Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will all play a role alongside private investors in aiming to buy between $500 billion and $1 trillion of troubled assets. ...

60. The Obama administration for the first time is weighing in on a Recording Industry Association of America file sharing lawsuit and is supporting hefty awards of as much as $150,000 per purloined music track. The government said the damages range of $750 to $150,000 per violation of the Copyright Act was warranted. ...

61. Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced late Monday afternoon that 9 of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group had given back their bonuses. He also said 15 of the top 20 bonus recipients in A.I.G.’s financial products division had given the money back, for a total that he estimated at about $30 million. “Those bonuses will be returned in full,” Mr. Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters. ... /

62. Investors should sell bank stocks after they rallied 12 percent today because the Treasury Department’s plan to buy toxic assets won’t stop profits from dropping, Bank of America Corp.’s Richard Bernstein said. Removing devalued loans and securities from banks’ balance sheets is a short-term solution that will delay the problem’s ultimate solution, which is bank takeovers, Bernstein said. The government won’t be able to inflate the prices banks receive for selling bad assets indefinitely, he added. ...

63. Declaring that greenhouse gases are a significant threat to human health, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act, a policy the Bush administration rejected. /

64. Goldman Sachs Group is considering selling part of its 4.9% stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., a move that could raise more than $1 billion, according to several people familiar with the matter. Talks between Goldman and ICBC about a sale began late last year and include potentially divesting 15% to 20% of the New York company's stake in the Chinese bank, two people with knowledge of the discussions said. Goldman's shares in ICBC are valued at about $7.5 billion. Any transaction would have to wait until late April, when a lockup on half the stake is set to expire.

65. The nation's insurance regulators are again telling policyholders of American International Group (AIG) that the insurance company is able to meet its obligations to them despite ongoing controversy surrounding the parent company. "In uncertain times, making correctly informed financial decisions is more important than ever," said Therese M. (Terri) Vaughan, chief executive of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). "This is especially true for AIG's policyholders, where unsubstantiated information and misstatements in the media have led to unnecessary consumer frustration and fear." Vaughan said that while AIG is typically described as the world's largest insurance company, it is in fact a global financial services conglomerate that does business in 130 countries. AIG owns 176 other companies, in addition to 71 U.S. state-regulated insurance subsidiaries. ...

66. Stocks are sharply higher, a sign of investors' relief over the government's plan to help banks remove as much as $1 trillion in bad assets from their books. The Treasury Department on Monday announced a plan to revive lending that would rely on the government's $700 billion financial rescue fund, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as well as private investors. ...

67. Obama administration officials worked Sunday to persuade reluctant private investors to buy as much as $1 trillion in troubled mortgages and related assets from banks, with government help.

68. Obama interview: Wall Street was 'out of balance' President Obama said Sunday it isn't "anti-Wall Street" to say that the "best and the brightest" made poor investment decisions that have plunged the nation into economic crisis. "Because of bad bets made on Wall Street, there have been enormous losses," Obama said during a 60 Minutes interview in which he defended his advocacy of increased federal regulation. "I want them (the people on Wall Street) to do well, but what I also know is that the financial sector was out of balance," he said.

69. Advisers To Obama Wary of Bonus Tax:

70. The United States must look for a way out of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama said, in a signal that the military build-up in Afghanistan will not be open-ended and will lead to the eventual withdrawal of American and NATO troops from the country.

71. Obama links budget to environment: President Barack Obama's aides say the administration will work with Congress on his budget proposal, but energy independence is not subject to wheeling and dealing.

72. Obama: Anger isn't governing strategy: President Barack Obama is no fan of bonuses paid at a financial institutions being kept afloat by taxpayer dollars but also says he would not "govern out of anger" despite Americans' frustration with such perks.

73. President Barack Obama on Monday named a longtime real estate industry executive to head the Federal Housing Administration, which during the U.S. housing market's bust has become the main provider of loans to borrowers with weak credit. The White House on Monday named David Stevens as assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

74. Poll: Mixed Reviews For Obama On AIG: CBS News Survey Finds Only 41 Percent Approve Of President’s Handling Of Bonus Scandal, Though Overall Approval Remains High.

75. President Barack Obama moved to fill three of the four most senior Treasury Department positions on Monday, including announcing his intent to nominate former department counsel Neal Wolin as deputy Treasury secretary. Obama also named Lael Brainard, a Brookings economist, as undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and said he had decided to keep Stuart Levey as undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. Wolin and Brainard must be confirmed by the Senate.

76. Barack Obama's troubleshooter Richard Holbrooke unveils strategy to halt Afghanistan 'drift':

See you next week...

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