(CNN) – The Treasury Department launched an interactive new Web site Tuesday in an effort to bring about accountability and transparency to the Obama administration's Financial Stability Plan.
FinancialStability.gov, announced last month by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is designed to track how tax dollars are spent in relation to the administration's financial stability, housing, and economic recovery programs. The "impact" page displays hard facts, hosting a map indicating locations where the department has funded transactions through the Capital Purchase Program. Clicking on a state provides a breakdown of when the transactions took place and the price paid for the assets.
According to the map, banks in Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico have received $0, while the remaining 48 states received investments "ranging from as small as about $301,000 to as large as $25 billion." Not surprisingly, New York received the most funding with over 80 billion.
Economic data charts, published lists of bank lending surveys designed to better track bank lending, and a search option which will display all physical contracts and agreements related to the financial stability plan are also featured.
And in an effort to enhance its user-friendly appeal, FinancialStability.gov includes a "decoder" section which defines common financial terms used throughout the site.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The officials charged with overseeing the $700 billion financial bailout told lawmakers Tuesday that the Treasury Department must do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are properly spent and that the public is kept in the loop.
The officials were particularly angered about a lack of accounting for the sprawling program, complaining that Treasury didn't make any effort to monitor money that went to the 364 banks its has invested in, despite requests for information by oversight panels.
"Either you get Treasury to get some religion on this point and get some standards ... or Congress [will be] forced to step in," said Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
The office of Inspector General for the TARP program, one of the oversight groups, did its own survey of banks that received money, and every bank that got money responded.
Neil Barofsky, special inspector general, said that some banks "co-mingled" their bailout money and couldn't break out exactly what it was used for. But other banks kept their TARP money separate and could point to new loans that had been issued due to government help.
"Some banks described some lending programs that couldn't be done without TARP funding," Barofsky said.
(CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney - still among the most visible faces in the Republican Party - isn't ruling out another White House run in 2012.
"I love what Yogi Berra said - I can't get it exactly right, but it's something like this: 'I don't like forecasting, particularly if the future is involved,'" said Romney on CNN's American Morning.
Romney's continued fundraising prowess, active political action committee, and presence on the cable news circuit have led many political observers to speculate he is laying the groundwork for another presidential run.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As the special election got underway in New York's traditionally-Republican 20th congressional district, House Minority Leader John Boehner seemed to downplay his party's chances of reclaiming what he called a "Democrat seat."
GOP state assemblyman Jim Tedisco once held a comfortable lead over Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, but the race has tightened in recent weeks, and both national parties have poured resources into the contest. In the race's closing days, Tedisco's campaign was sharply critical of Murphy's support President Obama's stimulus plan, but Boehner told reporters Tuesday the district's vote should not be seen as a referendum on Republican policies in Washington.
"It is going to be a very close election, but it's between those two candidates up in New York. I hope Jim Tedisco wins," he said - but, he added, "it is a Democrat seat. President Obama won this seat during the presidential election last fall."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two new national polls suggest that Americans are becoming more confident about the economy.
Forty-two percent of people questioned in a new ABC/Washington Post poll say they think the country is on the right track. It's still a minority of respondents, but it's a jump of 23 points since President Obama was inaugurated in January. And 27 percent say they think the nation's economy is getting better - also a minority, but a jump of 21 points since Obama entered the White House.
A new Gallup poll also finds a dramatic rise of consumer optimism over the past month.
"The numbers from both polls still indicate widespread dissatisfaction with economic conditions and concern about the future," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "We're not out of the woods and there is no indication that we will be any time soon. But any sign of improvement in the public's mood is good news."
The ABC/Washington Post poll also indicates that two out of three Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his duties as president. The 66 percent approval rating in the survey is in line with many recent national polls.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius opened her Senate confirmation hearing for health and human services secretary Tuesday by pledging swift action on the burgeoning U.S. health-care crisis.
"We face a health system that burdens families, businesses, and government budgets with sky-rocketing costs. Action is not a choice. It is a necessity," she told members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Sebelius' hearing was chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, who has made few public appearances since being diagnosed last year with malignant glioma, an often-lethal type of brain tumor.
"Over the past 10 months, I've seen our health-care system up close. I've benefited from the best of medicine," Kennedy said. "But we have too many uninsured Americans. We have sickness care and not health care. We have too much bureaucracy. ... Costs are out of control. But today, we have an opportunity like never before to reform our health care."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama sent supporters a last-minute pitch Monday night to boost turnout in today's special congressional election in New York's 20th congressional district.
In an e-mail sent out via the Democratic National Committee's Organizing For America grassroots effort, the president urged the party's voters to head to the polls to vote for venture capitalist Scott Murphy. "I need you to go vote...It's going to be a very close race, and your vote could make all the difference," he wrote. Historically, turnout in such special contests is very low.
This is not the first time the president has weighed in on the campaign. Last week, his endorsement of Murphy was touted in a DNC-funded television ad in the district. Murphy is running against Republican Jim Tedisco in the election to fill the seat left vacant when Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton.
In his Monday e-mail message, the president linked a Murphy victory to passage of the administration's agenda. "With Scott in Congress, we'll work together to bring about solutions to our economic challenges and create new jobs in Upstate New York and across the country."
Tedisco has looked to make Murphy's support for the president's stimulus plan a major issue in the closing days of the campaign - and Republicans, sensing a chance to gain back a seat that has traditionally been in GOP hands and take some momentum from the president, have poured resources into the New York assemblyman's candidacy.
(CNN) – The Democratic National Committee's anti-Rush Limbaugh billboard makes its debut in West Palm Beach, FL Tuesday morning, the town adjacent to the conservative talk show host's neighborhood of Palm Beach.
"Americans Didn't Vote for a Rush to Failure" was the winning slogan in a DNC contest last month that followed Limbaugh's statement that he hoped President Obama would fail.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tobacco giant Philip Morris lost another round Tuesday in a nearly $80 million punitive damages case that morphed into a increasingly complex, decade-long dispute between U.S. Supreme Court justices and their state counterparts in Oregon.
In a one-sentence opinion, the justices Tuesday threw out the latest appeal, essentially ending the tobacco company's appeals over the amount of the jury award, without ruling on the larger legal issues. Those issues deal with how the Oregon Supreme Court dealt with direction from the U.S. Supreme Court on how to handle the case.
The original question before the high court was the power of juries to impose large punitive awards against well-heeled corporations in certain product-liability lawsuits. Several business groups expressed early disappointment those larger legal questions were not addressed.
The case was brought by the widow of a longtime smoker who sued the nation's largest cigarette maker, owned by Altria Group International.
(CNN) - Former President George W. Bush will throw out the ceremonial first pitch next week at the Texas Rangers' home opener against the Cleveland Indians.
The event marks the fourth time a president has thrown the first pitch of the Rangers' season, and marks Bush's second time on a Major League pitching mound. Former President Gerald Ford threw out the first pitch in 1976, George H. W. Bush did the honors in 1991, and George W. Bush followed his father's lead in 2000.
The Rangers hold a special place in the former president's heart: he was managing general partner of the Texas baseball team from 1989-1994, prior to his election as state governor.