Washington (CNN) – On the eve of a White House meeting where President Obama is expected to encourage the nation’s largest lenders to loosen up credit, personal finance expert Suze Orman says Obama should not get all of the blame for how some banks have behaved in the last year.
“It’s not all the president’s fault,” Orman said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“You can pass every law that you want. You can try to do anything in the world – give these institutions money - if they don’t help their customers, what are you going to do about it?” Orman told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
Related: Obama adviser slams Wall Street
“I think a big part of this problem falls right back to the banks especially those with credit cards,” Orman also told King.
Asked what she would say if she had a seat at Monday’s meeting with the heads of the nation’s largest banks, Orman let loose.
Pocketbook issues drove the Sunday conversation, with mixed assessment on the question of the economy is at a point where it should cause more holiday season cheer than despair.
There was, at first glance anyway, a bit of a mixed message from two of President Obama’s top economic advisers on the threshold question of whether the recession is over.
“Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over,” Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council said.
“Of course not,” Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer said when she was asked if she considered the recession to be over.
To be fair, Summers was speaking from a technical perspective; Romer more from the views of an American who still lacked a job despite some more encouraging recent economic data. Still, the different language will only add to the political debate about the administration’s economic policies.
The president’s Monday meeting with bankers was a hot topic, as was the question of whether a Democratic-controlled Washington would truly take steps next year toward real deficit reduction. And of course there was sharp debate over the evolving Senate health care bill, even with some Democrats saying they needed more proof it would bend the health care cost curve before they could pledge their support.
So let’s get to the Sound of Sunday:
Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Senate on Sunday approved $447 billion in spending for several Cabinet departments and other agencies for the 2010 budget year - money needed to fund the federal government after the coming week.
On a mostly partisan vote of 57-35, the Senate approved the compromise omnibus spending plan worked out with the House, which passed it last week. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law to succeed the previous funding resolution that expires December 18.
The vote occurred in an unusual Sunday session as the Senate worked for the second consecutive weekend in a push by the Democratic leadership to complete work on a sweeping health care bill and also get the appropriations bill passed.
The omnibus bill, which combines six separate appropriations measures, provides money for for non-defense government agencies including the departments of Transportation, State Department, Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Justice for the fiscal year that started October 1.
Washington (CNN) – On the same day that the Senate is expected to vote on a massive spending bill, a Republican senator says the best approach to getting the federal government’s finances in order is to begin reducing spending.
“You’ve got to start there,” Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Republicans share some of the blame,” Thune told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “When we were in charge [of Congress and the White House] we didn’t control spending well enough either.”
But Thune added that Republicans in the last eight years looked like cheapskates compared to the spending going on under Democrats now.
Democrats “have their foot on the pedal,” Thune said Sunday. “I mean this thing is – they’re driving this thing over a cliff and somebody’s got to put the brakes on.”
“We can’t continue to borrow and spend at this rate,” added Thune.
Washington (CNN) - Unemployment will go down in the coming year, but that doesn't mean U.S. economic woes are over, leading economic figures said Sunday.
Appearing on the NBC program "Meet the Press," former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Christina Romer, chairman of the White House Council on Economic Advisers, both made qualified predictions for economic growth and decreasing unemployment.
"I feel (it's) very likely it will be coming down," Romer said of the unemployment rate, but warned some "bumps" are likely in the coming year.
Greenspan noted upcoming boosts to employment, such as more than 700,000 people working in 2010 to conduct the federal census.
Unemployment "is going to be lower," Greenspan said, mostly due to people returning to the labor force.
Washington (CNN) – A freshman Democratic senator said Sunday that he supports a proposal that would create a bipartisan commission intended to help Congress control federal spending and borrowing.
Last week, the top Democrat and top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan task force charged with making recommendations to Congress for reining in runaway spending that threatens to overwhelm the federal budget. Specifically, the commission would suggest ways to curb spending growth, especially in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and to boost tax revenue.
The proposed commission would include members of Congress from both parties along with representatives of the administration. Once the commission submitted its recommendations to Congress, Congress would then have to vote yes or no to the commission's suggestions without filibustering or amending them.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, who also sits on the Senate Budget Committee, said Sunday that he supports the proposal.
Washington (CNN) - Senators crucial to Democrats' ambitions to pass a health care bill issued tough demands Sunday for a compromise they can support.
On the CBS program "Face the Nation," independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska cited necessary changes to the bill before they would vote for it.
Unanimous Republican opposition so far means Senate Democrats need all 60 votes in their caucus - which includes Lieberman - to pass the sweeping bill.
Lieberman outlined steps that he said would ensure the bill passes the Senate with support from Democrats and some Republicans.
Forget about the government-run public health insurance option, Lieberman said, as well as an expansion of Medicare to people as young as 55 that was proposed last week as part of a package of alternatives to the public option. Lieberman's other conditions were eliminating a government insurance program
focused on home health care for the disabled, and strengthening cost-containment provisions.
Washington (CNN) – A top economic adviser to the White House said Sunday that the economy is beginning to show signs of a turnaround but cautioned that it could be some time before the unemployment situation begins to improve.
“It will take time,” for the national unemployment rate to drop, Lawrence Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“A year ago, the question was: would we have a depression? Today, everyone agrees that the recession is over and the questions are around how fast we’ll recover.”
Summers explained that economic recoveries typically begin with growth in gross domestic product. “We’ve seen that start to happen,” Summers told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, adding that the economy then begins to create jobs on a net basis. “Most professional forecasters expect job growth by spring and I think that’s a reasonable judgment in an uncertain world,” Summers told King.
The former treasury secretary added that even once the economy begins to create jobs, it takes time to reduce the national unemployment rate “because when you start to create jobs, more and more people start looking for work because they’re encouraged.”
“But on the key measure” of job creation, Summers said, “we’re a lot closer than we were a year ago and the signs that are the first signs that things are turning . . . we’re now seeing progress.”
But, Summers quickly added that more needed to be done to improve the jobs outlook as the national unemployment rate sat at 10 percent.