TPM News

Geithner Unveiling New Bank Plan Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is rolling out the new bank rescue plan today, with a new op-ed piece in the Wall St. Journal explaining the workings of the Public-Private Investment Program, which involves the government partnering with private investors to purchase between $500 billion and $1 trillion in assets that are now clogging up the financial system. "Our approach shares risk with the private sector," Geithner writes, "efficiently leverages taxpayer dollars, and deploys private-sector competition to determine market prices for currently illiquid assets."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will be receiving their economic daily briefing at 11:15 a.m. ET, accompanied by a media pool spray, with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Obama will also be speaking at 12:30 p.m. ET from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, delivering remarks on clean energy and proposed investments in new technology included in his budget plan.

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Obama Defends Geithner -- Says He Would Not Accept A Resignation In an interview with CBS, President Obama stood by Tim Geithner's performance as Treasury Secretary, joking that he would not accept a resignation even if it were ever offered: "Sorry, Buddy, you've still got the job."

Biden Economic Adviser: Bonus Tax May Have "Gone Too Far" Jared Bernstein, the top economic adviser to Vice President Biden, told ABC's This Week that the bonus tax bill from the House may have "gone too far," and that there are serious concerns about its constitutionality. "That said, let's see what comes out of the Senate," said Bernstein. "He [President Obama] has not said he won't sign this bill. Let's see what comes out of the Senate. Let's see what gets to his desk."

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Obama Promotes Budget In New Web Address In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama lays out the priorities of his budget on issues such as energy, health care, education, and fixing the deficit:



"I realize there are those who say these plans are too ambitious to enact," said Obama. "To that I say that the challenges we face are too large to ignore. I didn't come here to pass on our problems to the next President or the next generation - I came here to solve them."

Barbour: Obama Budget "Massive Government Spending Spree" This weekend's RNC YouTube address is delivered by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, blasting the proposed Obama budget for taxing and spending:



"While families are cutting back, President Obama has proposed a massive government spending spree," said Barbour. "It reminds me of how one of our old senators used to joke about the federal budget. He said it was like a newborn baby: insatiable appetite at one end and total irresponsibility at the other."

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Did the campaign of Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, cite itself for praise of the candidate?

A few weeks ago, Tedisco came out with this ad, containing a quote that Tedisco has "a proven record of public service":



The quote is then sourced to r8ny.com. But it turns out that a Google search of r8ny.com shows only two pages saying Tedisco has a "proven record of public service" -- and they are both Tedisco campaign press releases.

A Tedisco spokesman did not have any more details on this particular aspect of the ad as of this writing, though the spot itself was taken out of circulation a while ago.

This could be good.

Not content with letting New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo hog the spotlight, his Connecticut counterpart, Richard Blumenthal, has subpoenaed several AIG employees, incluing CEO Ed Liddy, to testify about those bonuses, totaling $165 million, at a legislative hearing March 26th.

Said Blumenthal in a statement:

Now living off supersized taxpayer-paid bonuses, these AIG employees have a moral and legal obligation to appear at this legislative hearing and disclose details about corporate compensation to employees," said Blumenthal in a written statement.


AIG Financial Products, the unit that caused the company's collapse and got those bonuses, is absed in Wilton, Connecticut.

These hearings should be more good theater, but it's worth asking: given that Liddy has already testified, and Cuomo will likely soon release the names of the bonus recipients, what more pertinent information will AIG employees be able to provide? Guess we'll find out...

As D.C. legend has it, George Washington told Thomas Jefferson that the Senate was designed as a saucer to "cool" the heat of House-passed legislation. Put another way, the Senate has a talent for helping bills grind to a screeching halt after arriving from the House, where the majority party has more power.

And this week's outrage-fueled AIG bonus tax is no exception. One day after the House passed a 90% retroactive levy intended to claw back bonuses at the infamous company, the future of the bill in the Senate remains less than clear.

The Senate version of the bonus tax is more measured than the House version, imposing a 35% tax on bonuses. But it also applies the tax to any company receiving more than $100 million from the bailout, while the House measure only applied to firms getting more than $5 billion. Several senior GOP senators, from Judd Gregg (NH) to Jon Kyl (AZ), have blasted the tax bill in recent hours, suggesting that Republican leaders may split on the proposal, just as they did in the House.

Could Republicans mount a filibuster of the bonus tax bill next week? Anything is possible in the current volatile political climate -- especially after today's revelation that the House bill would exempt $2.5 billion in hasty bonuses awarded last year at Merrill Lynch.

Ultimately, however, the political risk of appearing tolerant of AIG's bonuses is sure to push at least a few GOP senators over to the "yes" camp. Then the X factor becomes whether any Democrats will take the unpredictable route and raise questions about the bonus tax's constitutionality.

For an accurate reading of the tea leaves, check out this headline from Dow Jones (emphasis mine): "Sen. Reid: Senate Should Take Up AIG Bill Before April 6."

There really is no dismissing Rush Limbaugh, is there? Earlier today, in the special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, Republican candidate Jim Tedisco declared that "Rush Limbaugh is meaningless to me."

Now, Tedisco's campaign has released a statement clarifying what he meant:

"Jim's comments were in response to a question about what voters are asking him about on the campaign trail. So far, the concerns he has been hearing from voters on the campaign trail have been local in nature, such as his support for lower property taxes, fiscal responsibility, and his opponent's appalling support for the AIG bonus loophole. That was his point and any effort to characterize it otherwise is a distortion of the facts."


Late Update: The DCCC's statement ridiculing Tedisco is available after the jump.

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It looks like Andrew Cuomo holds all the cards. He now has in hand the names of the recipients of both of the corporate payouts that have provoked all that populist rage lately. A judge earlier this week ruled that Bank of America had to turn over the list of names of the 200 highest-paid Merrill Lynch bonus recipients, that the New York Attorney General has been seeking. According to reports, B of A, which now owns Merrill, did so yesterday.

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TPMDC has reported on how indignant Republicans are that Democrats are considering filibuster-proofing the coming climate change bill by making it part of the budget -- remember, 25 GOPers signed a letter nixing that option last week -- but the GOPers on the Senate environment committee are taking it to a new level.

In a letter to their fellow senators today, the environment panel's Republicans throw every rhetorical weapon in their arsenal at the Obama administration for putting revenues from carbon regulation in its budget. What they're afraid of is what the energy industry has called the "nuclear option," a budget item for climate change that would fast-track the bill to passage.

And to help strangle that option, the Republicans have renamed cap-and-trade emissions limits. They're now being christened an "energy tax," which creates a nice opening to slam Democrats as tax-hikers. Read the full letter after the jump, and fear the ominous "energy tax" ...

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