WASHINGTON (CNN) – Even though he was almost a member of the new Obama administration, New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg Sunday slammed President Obama’s approach to handling the country’s fiscal outlook.
“The practical implications of this is bankruptcy for the United States,” Gregg said of the Obama’s administration’s recently released budget blueprint. “There’s no other way around it. If we maintain the proposals that are in this budget over the ten-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt, our dollar will become devalued. It is a very severe situation.”
Gregg, known as one of the keenest fiscal minds on Capitol Hill, also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that he thought it was “almost unconscionable” for the White House to continue with its planned course on fiscal matters with unprecedented actual and projected budget deficits in the coming years.
“It is as if you were flying an airplane and the gas light came on and it said ‘you 15 minutes of gas left’ and the pilot said ‘we’re not going to worry about that, we’re going to fly for another two hours.’ Well, the plane crashes and our country will crash and we’ll pass on to our kids a country that’s not affordable.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama’s aggressive response to recent criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney was a bit of a surprise, veteran journalist Steve Kroft said Sunday.
Watch: Kroft on interviewing Obama
Last Sunday, Cheney told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that he thought Obama’s plans to close Guantanamo Bay would make the country less safe.
Obama responded forcefully to Cheney’s comments when asked about them by Kroft in a 60 Minutes interview that will air tonight.
“I thought there were going to be two responses,” Kroft told CNN’s Howard Kurtz during the Reliable Sources segment of State of the Union Sunday. “Either, the first response was going to be ‘I don’t want to talk about Dick Cheney’ . . . Or, [Obama] was going to tee off on [Cheney] which he decided to do - very, very aggressively. So I was a little surprised.”
Kroft also said Obama displayed his trademark calmness even with all of the challenges his young administration is facing. “I found him probably more relaxed this week than at any other time that I have interviewed him,” Kroft told Kurtz.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm told President Barack Obama to ignore persistent Republican criticism that he is trying to do too much in a time of economic crisis and, instead, urged the new president to tackle the nation’s health care costs as part of a larger effort to get the economy back on track.
“I think he should do it,” Granholm said when asked whether Obama should forge ahead with health care reform even if doing so meant more taxes or more deficit spending in the current tough economic times.
“It is part of the economy. If you look at the manufacturing sector, one of the huge costs on that sector is health care,” the governor said, noting the impact that health care costs are having on her state’s automotive industry. “It is part of the economic malaise that this country is feeling. So they need to fix that.”
In the wake of Obama’s efforts late last week to tamp down growing controversy over $165 milllion in bonuses paid to AIG employees, Granholm also highlighted a growing sense of a double standard in Michigan.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's economic advisers on Sunday refused to endorse a House bill that would levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid out by companies that receive bailout money, with one administration official describing the plan as potentially "dangerous."
Fueled by anger over more than $165 million in bonuses paid out by insurance giant AIG, the House passed the punitive tax bill on Thursday in a 328 to 93 vote
Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's top economic adviser, told ABC's "This Week" that the bill "may go too far in terms of some legal issues, constitutional validity, using the tax code to surgically punish a small group. That may be a dangerous way to go."
Bernstein noted that that private investors the government needs to carry out its toxic assets plan might be scared away by such a tax.
Christina Romer, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNN's "State of the Union" that the president believes "it's completely appropriate to have different standards" for firms that have taken federal funds.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration on Monday will unveil a program to help banks clean up their books by purchasing their bad assets.
The effort marks the next big step in Washington's six-month-old bank rescue, which has so far mostly entailed making capital investments in exchange for stock shares and insuring bank obligations.
Investors have been waiting expectantly for details since last month when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the framework of a plan to address two of the biggest problems in the banking sector: the toxic assets keeping banks from lending and the shortage of capital at major institutions.
At the time, Geithner pledged to raise as much as $500 billion from public and private sources to relieve banks of toxic assets. But he didn't explain how the program would bring together buyers and sellers who have been locked in a stalemate for 18 months.
Under the plan being considered, taxpayer funds will be used to effectively seed partnerships with private firms to buy up assets backed by mortgages and other loans.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama’s lead economist predicted Sunday that the nation’s struggling, recessionary economy will be growing by the end of the year.
“I have every expectation, as do private forecasters, that we will bottom out this year,” Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on CNN’s State of the Union. “And, [we’ll] actually be growing again by the end of the year.”
Romer’s comments came in a wide-ranging interview with Chief National Correspondent John King where she defended the new administration’s economic policies in the face of growing criticism by Republicans – particularly over how Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner handled payment of $165 million in bonuses to AIG employees and how Geithner has been slow to roll out the specifics of his plan to stabilize some of the nation’s largest banks.
“I think it is important to realize this is just one piece of what we're doing,” Romer said of the detailed Geithner bank rescue plan expected any day now. Romer pointed out that in the roughly nine weeks since Obama’s inauguration, the White House has rolled out a housing plan, a small-business plan, and a consumer and business lending initiative. “This is just one more of those pieces, and I don't think Wall Street is expecting the silver bullet . . . there’ll be more to come.”
(CNN) - President Obama says Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s job is safe, according to excerpts of Mr. Obama’s interview this week with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
If the embattled Secretary were to submit his resignation, Obama said he’d tell him, “Sorry, Buddy, you’ve still got the job,” according to the excerpts.
Obama told CBS that neither he nor Geithner has discussed a possible resignation from the Treasury Department.
Geithner has faced increasing criticism since it was revealed that ailing insurance giant AIG doled out massive bonuses to executives after accepting more than $170 billion from the federal government.
In response to the criticism, Geithner told CNN’s Ali Velshi, Geithner defended his actions, but said he should have known about the scale of the problems sooner.
The president told CBS that criticism is natural, especially given the scope of the financial crisis his administration is facing.
Obama also shot back at former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of some of his administration’s policies.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - Democrats mounted a nationwide effort Saturday to try and harness the grassroots support, which helped propel Barack Obama's campaign, into support for his administration's initiatives.
Volunteers met in 1,200 to 1,300 locations across the country, organizers said. From a library in Arlington, Virginia, to a park in Brooklyn, New York, to homes and restaurants in California.
In some, participants discussed the president's agenda. In others, they set out to homes, subway stations and farmers' markets seeking signatures on forms in which they pledged support for "President Obama's bold approach for renewing America's economy" and committed to asking friends, family and neighbors to do the same.
The first priority for organizers is the president's proposed budget. This petition drive is part of an effort by the White House and Democrats to help push it. In a video e-mailed to supporters this week, Obama lobbied for it acknowledging that "passing this budget won't be easy" and saying "that is where you come in."
He urged supporters "to head out this Saturday" and "stay involved in the days ahead" by writing letters and making phone calls.
Saturday's project is the first concrete effort by the Democratic Party's new "Organizing for America" initiative to use the network of volunteers to help build push the administration's agenda, although last month the group did host house parties where the proposed stimulus bill was discussed.
Through the information gathered Saturday, organizers are able to continue growing the vast database of supporters' e-mails and text addresses. The Obama campaign's list of supporters was transferred to the "Organizing for America" effort.
But whether the success seen by the Obama campaign in signing up supporters can be replicated when rallying a policy agenda is an open question. Some organizers and volunteers admit it will be a hard sell since there is no excitement and timeliness of a presidential campaign.