Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Democratic News Chatter 3-31-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, President Barack Obama and the First Lady head to London on the first day of an eight day overseas trip - He will meet with American workers today at the American School in London. Thursday is the G-20 Summit on the world economy. The G-20 is made up of leading industrial and emerging market nations. Together, they represent 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the world population. Time.com has more here.

--------------------

Obama's ouster of GM CEO Richard Wagoner has many talking - the removal of the CEO of GM by the President has many questioning as to if this was a proper move to be made by the government. The Dow Jones dropped 250 points yesterday after the announcement by the president. It also has many wondering why this was done for the auto industry, but not the financial industry. Bank executives are now taking notice. The Washington Post has more here.

However, there is no question the auto industry needed to change course. I was in those long gas lines in the early seventies when I was attending undergraduate school and often wondered how long the auto industry would push low mileage Vans and then SUVs to the American consumer. A free market system is great, as long as it does not act in a irresponsible manner that endangers future generations.

--------------------

Home prices continue to drop - it has now been 30 straight months of declines and the rate over the last year was 19%. CNN.com has more here. A little over three years ago when local home prices almost doubled overnight, I remember saying this was phony money. Unfortunately, I was right. Sustained low and adjustable interest rates had led sellers to raise the sales prices as they realized the buyer could afford twice as much with such low rates.

--------------------

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) signs legislation to allow sale of "Choose Life" specialty license plates - since Michael Steele has become RNC chair he has continuously made gaffes. Now it is Kaine's turn as DNC chair to take heat from some party members. Supporters of a woman's right to choose are upset the Governor approved this legislation. Politico.com has more here.

--------------------

Eyes are on Congressional special election in NY today - voters will elect their congressman in the 20th district today as Democrat Scott Murphy faces Republican Jim Tedisco. This special election was necessary after Kirsten Gillibrand (D) who held the seat was named to fill the vacant Hillary Clinton U.S. Senate seat. Polls are showing it is too close to call. You can count on whoever the winner is, their party touting this victory nationwide. TheHill.com has more here.

--------------------

Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to testify before Senate today - the last of the Obama administration cabinet members will face questions from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Senator Ted Kennedy who is chair of the committee is expected to preside over the meeting. Sebelius is expected to stress the importance of health reform now. MSNBC.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Democratic News Chatter 3-30-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, President Barack Obama will announce the latest bailout plan for automakers - he is expected to make his remarks from the White House around 11:00 AM ET today. Evidently the restructuring plans recently submitted by GM and Chrysler were not acceptable and conditions will be placed on any additional funds. ThePage.Time.com has more here.

--------------------

GM CEO Rick Wagoner forced to resign after company failed to submit viable plans to save automaker - the president's automakers task force recommended the change after they reviewed the recent restructuring plans submitted by the company. Bloomberg.com has more here. Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm was not happy to hear the news Wagoner had been forced out by the Obama administration - saying on NBC "Today" "clearly he is a sacrificial lamb". You can watch the clip here.

--------------------

Dow Jones down 200 in early trading as investors worry about fate of automakers - after three straight weeks of gains on the Dow Jones, the early drop shows how shaky the market is. Watch to see the reaction of the markets to the President's auto bailout speech this morning. CNN.com has more here.

--------------------

Meanwhile, President Obama continues to push his budget, meeting with the House Democratic Caucus today - the House version of his 3.55 trillion budget is similar to what he submitted so there are not expected to be any battles here. The president is scheduled to meet with them at the capitol around 5:30 PM ET today. The House is expected to pass a budget resolution this week. Politico.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Ask Democratic Candidate Jennifer Dougherty a Question

George Wenschhof Bio

Jennifer Dougherty and Jason Judd are the two Democratic candidates who have announced they are running for Mayor of the City of Frederick, Maryland. I published last week we would be asking our local viewers for questions to ask the Democratic candidates for Mayor. This week it is Jennifer Dougherty who will answer your submitted questions live online Thursday night from 7:00 - 8:00 PM ET.

We plan to do a series of online "Meet the Candidate" forums so the City of Frederick voters will have an opportunity to interact with the Democratic candidates. The deadline for candidates to file is July 7, so we will add any additional candidate(s) as they file for office. I also plan to interview online the candidates live at a future date and will keep you informed.

To ask Jennifer Dougherty a question, just click on "comment" at the end of this post and follow the instructions. If you encounter any problems, click on "Need help posting a comment?" at the top of our Home Page.

You are encouraged to leave your name and indicate if you are a City of Frederick resident. The deadline to post your question is 8:00 PM ET Wednesday of this week. We will rank them and on Thursday night ask Ms. Dougherty live online your questions in the order we have ranked them as time permits.

Thank you and if we receive a positive response from our local viewers, we will include the Democratic Aldermen candidates in future "Meet the Candidate" online forums.

4-1-2009 Update - 8:02 PM ET - questions are now closed. Ms. Dougherty will answer for one hour as many of your submitted questions in the order provided by us tomorrow beginning at 7:00 PM ET. Thank you for submitting questions and check back tomorrow to read her answers!

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Democratic News Chatter 3-29-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama is preparing for his first overseas trip which will begin tomorrow - A financial summit in London with G-20 nations starts off his trip which will include stops in Prague, Istanbul and Strasbourg, France where a NATO meeting will take place. Resistance is present among many European countries to the U.S. dictating how they should approach the current economic crisis. The NY Times has more here.

The president also appeared on CBS "Face The Nation" this morning - if you missed it, ThePage.Time.com has a clip you can watch here.

--------------------

Treasury Department says 134.5 billion left in TARP funds - The first bailout bill passed at the end of the Bush administration had a total of 700 billion. With the recent disclosure of the latest plan to rid banks of their toxic assets, the question becomes is there enough money left in the Troubled Assets Relief Plan to fund Timothy Geithner's latest proposal. Politico.com has more here.

--------------------

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman not sold on Obama's plan to improve the economy - a left-leaning economist, he was never a supporter of former president George W. Bush. However, he questions the reliance of the Obama administration on banks to get it right. Newsweek.com has a good piece on this you can read here.

--------------------

Obama announces international energy and climate forum to be held next month - on April 27-28, the summit will be held in Washington D.C. with invites going to leaders of 16 countries. In addition, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also invited to attend. CNN.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Democratic News Chatter 3-28-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today in his weekly address to the nation, President Barack Obama talks about the dangerous flooding possibilities facing Americans in N. Dakota, S. Dakota, and Minnesota. The Red River is expected to crest on Sunday. He also speaks of opportunities for Americans to volunteer to serve and help their communities.




download .mp3 or HD .mp4 (57.1 Mb) also available here read transcript

--------------------

Obama 3.55 Trillion Budget vote in House and Senate expected next week - It passed through the Senate Budget Committee late Thursday evening. Chair of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad (D-ND) will appear tomorrow morning on CNN's "State of The Union". Both the House and the Senate trimmed the total funds slightly, but not significantly. CNN.com has more here. In spite of the massive projected deficit of 1.75 trillion in the first year, the budget is expected to pass.
--------------------
President Obama nominates former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus for Secretary of Navy - He is another Clintonista who served as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994-1996. MSNBC.com has more here.
--------------------
Auto Task Force to announce Monday additional aid to auto industry - GM and Chrysler have already received 17.4 billion in funds and have asked for an additional 22 billion. Auto suppliers also received 5 billion. Reuters.com has more here. The Obama administration does not want the automakers to face bankruptcy so expect the funds to be provided with additional conditions of restructuring on the part of the companies.
--------------------
To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Guests for 3-29-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

The economy will continue to be the focus of discussion by pundits this coming Sunday morning. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will appear on "Meet The Press" and "This Week". Perhaps Mr. Geithner feels buoyed by the third straight week of gains on the Dow Jones. This is the first time that has happened in almost a year.

Geithner is not exactly a good front man so we will all get to see how he does explaining his latest public-private partnership plan to rid banks of their toxic assets. In addition, he will be asked about his request from Congress of new regulations on financial institutions.

On Monday, the president's auto industry task force will be announcing their recommendations to the automakers on how to restructure their companies. These changes will be monitored and tied to the receipt of the additional 22 billion that has been requested by GM and Chrysler. Let's see if anyone brings this up for discussion.

The president appears on "Face The Nation" so expect him to receive the same financial questions as Mr. Geithner. Another subject that will receive attention Sunday morning is the war in Afghanistan. President Obama announced an additional 4000 troops to be deployed and 1.5 billion in yearly aid to Pakistan for the next five years. It will be interesting to see if the president receives tough questions regarding sending this amount of aid to the unstable government in Pakistan. Getting the U.S. out of Iraq and into a quagmire in Afghanistan also deserves tough questions.

Perhaps, that is why Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be appearing on "Fox News Sunday" and General Petraeus and U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke will appear on "State of The Union".

As always, remember to check your local listings for time and channel. Below is a list of the guests appearing on the Sunday Morning "Talking Heads". Tune in and enjoy.

NBC "Meet The Press" - David Gregory will interview Senator John McCain (R-Az.) and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

ABC "This Week" - George Stephanopoulos also interviews Timothy Geithner. The roundtable will include Matthew Dowd, Paul Krugman, George Will, and Cokie Roberts.

CBS "Face The Nation" - Bob Schieffer will lead the ratings this Sunday morning as his guest is President Barack Obama.

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace will interview Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

CNN "State of The Union" - John King lands General David Petraeus and Richard Holbrooke who is the U.S. special envoy for Afganistan and Pakistan. Also appearing will be Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Representative John Spratt (D-SC) is also on the show.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-27-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, President Barack Obama will meet with Bank Executives - about a dozen executives of the largest U.S. banks will gather at the White House. They will discuss regulatory reform, executive bonuses and other ways to stabilize the financial system. reuters.com has more here.

Tonight, the president and his family will head to Camp David for the weekend. The presidential retreat located near Thurmont, Maryland is fast becoming a favorite spot for the new president.

On Sunday, the president will appear on CBS "Face The Nation" in an interview with Bob Schieffer.

--------------------

Obama announces more troops to go to Afghanistan - an additional 4,000 troops will be sent in addition to the 17,000 he already ordered to the country since taking office. He also announced he wants to triple aid to Pakistan to 1.5 billion a year for the next five years. The NY Times has more here.

The pundits are all quickly saying this is now Obama's war and they are right. The "surge" strategy that appears to have helped in Iraq may not be as successful in Afghanistan. Also, increasing financial aid to Pakistan when the government is presently labeled as "fragile' at best, may not be a good idea. The billions sent by the former Bush administration to prop up President Musharraf did little to help in the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

--------------------

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Chile and Costa Rica over the weekend - accompanied by his wife Jill, he will attend a Progressive Governance Conference in Chile. he is scheduled to meet with many of the South American Leaders over the next several days. The Washington post has more here.

--------------------

Keep an eye on NY special election to fill vacant Congressional seat - On Tuesday, the voters in the 20th district of New york will vote on a replacement for Kirsten Hillabrand (D) who was picked to replace the Hillary Clinton vacant U.S. senate seat. Some polls are showing the race between Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco as a toss up. MSNBC.com has more here. If Tedisco wins, what is a heavily registered Republican district, expect the Republican party to widely publicize this as an attempt to show dissatisfaction with the Obama administration.

--------------------

Kathleen Sebelius Confirmation Hearings to be held next week - she is the last Cabinet member to be confirmed of the Obama administration. The former nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle withdrew after revelations pertaining to unpaid taxes. On Tuesday she will appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee and on Thursday, the Senate Financial committee. Politico.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

City of Frederick, MD Democratic Buzz 3-27-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

The City of Frederick election campaign is in the early stages with the deadline for candidates to file not until July 7. We plan to hold online forums for the Democratic candidates after the filing date. However, there is already plenty of buzz flying around pertaining to the two Democrats who have filed for Mayor.

Jason Judd is the newcomer and Jennifer Dougherty is attempting to reclaim the position she held from 2001 to 2005.

I felt and the candidates agreed, it is never too early to interact with the voters so we will be holding "Ask the Candidates" forums with online questions beginning next week.

We plan to start with Jennifer Dougherty next week. From Monday through Wednesday you will be able to ask your question to her on the post we publish. We will then rank them and on Thursday evening at 7:00 PM ET she will answer live as we post the questions. This will continue for one hour. In our post on Monday we will provide you with the details on how to ask your question.

The following week we plan to do the same with Jason Judd. We are still waiting to hear from Mr. Judd as to what week suits his schedule best. Ms. Dougherty is ok with either week. So, get your questions ready on the issues that matter to you and enter them next week!

If we receive positive responses from you, we will do more of these "Ask the Candidates" questions as the campaign continues and we will also include the Democratic candidates for the five member Board of Aldermen.

--------------------

I sent a late email to both Jason Judd and Jennifer Dougherty yesterday and asked them if they had any initial comments on the Budget submitted earlier this week by Republican Mayor Jeff Holtzinger.

Ms. Dougherty replied with: Yeah, a few thoughts on the budget...
Proving it is hard to condemn and pay for parkland, he cut playground and pool programs. Cut police but increased engineering. Raised water and sewer - that fund is 77 percent higher in his 4 years.
Getting into the nitty gritty and more to follow.


We had not heard from Jason Judd by the time we published this post. If we receive a comment(s) from him on the proposed budget we will publish an update on this post. Mr. Judd emailed me his initial response Friday evening. In part, he said the following: The Mayor's budget shows pretty plainly the damage done to the City's fiscal health in recent years. We've seen our per cap. City tax levy climb 25% over the last seven years--that’s an inflation-adjusted 25% and that's a lot of money. City spending in the years of the real estate bubble took a big bite out of our families’ budgets, but we're now $10.5 million in the hole and we've doubled our long-term debt.

--------------------

Speaking of Democratic alderman candidates, Kelly Russell, who was the first Democrat to file for Alderman, recently sent me the following email:

Hello Frederick friends!

The City of Frederick's Shared Use Path Plan is a plan to provide viable routes to facilitate travel throughout city without an automobile. There are six corridors in the plan: Carroll Creek, East Street, Fredericktown Village, Monocacy Boulevard, Monocacy River, and Rock Creek. You can read more here: Shared Use Path Information

The corridors have about 25.7 miles of proposed pathways. Of the 25.7 miles, approximately 8 miles have been constructed. In the future, developers will help build additional miles of pathway as part of their development plans. Here is a map:
Shared Use Path Map

As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus package), there is money being made available to states for Transportation Enhancements funds, a pool of money that funds many bike and pedestrian projects. States have only 120 days to obligate their funding, and it is critical that Frederick gets its fair share to assist in completing the Shared Use Path.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) has a web page where you can use a form letter or an online form to write to Governor O'Malley to urge allocation of funds for Frederick's project. I encourage you to take a few minutes to send a letter. This is a concrete step we each can take to help move Frederick toward a more sustainable future! Let's get started now!

Here is the link:
Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Thanks!


--------------------

The other Democrat to file for alderman is Andrew Kotkin and you can read his website by clicking here.

His first post on his site is entitled "Five Points" and discusses why he is running for office. So, go to his site and check it out!

--------------------

To receive "Daily updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-26-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, President Barack Obama will answer questions from you - in a online town hall meeting, the president will answer questions on the economy that were previously submitted online beginning at 11:30 AM ET. WhiteHouse.gov will have his answers here.

--------------------

5.5 million receiving unemployment - the figures were up slightly from the previous report from the Labor Department. The Commerce Department also released the year end report for 2008 which showed what everyone already knew - the economy had shrank 6.3%. You can read more here. Pay attention to the unemployment claims as we are heading into a traditional seasonal employment gain period. A bad sign would be continued rising unemployment claims.

Meanwhile, unless the Dow Jones tanks big time today and tomorrow, this will mark the third straight week in gains. Too early to get excited and it is still at 50% of it's high mark. However, this is a good sign.

--------------------

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will appear before Congress today - he will be proposing new regulatory measures needed to prevent future financial collapses. The president alluded to this in his address to the nation Tuesday night. CNN.com has some of the details here. Expect financial institutions, such as A.I.G., to fall under regulatory control similar to banks. They are presently outside of the system. Also expect some talk about the size of Banks. Remember the breakup of monopolies after the "Great Depression"? The U.S. financial system should not be put in a situation where a Bank is too big to fail.

--------------------

Obama's Budget voted out of House committee - it will go to the full House for consideration next week. Minor changes were made, but the budget still equals 3.45 trillion. The vote was 24-15 with all the Democrats voting in favor and all the Republicans on the committee voting against the budget. TheHill.com has more here.

--------------------

Chrysler and GM ask for additional Billions - the auto Industry Task force established by President Obama is set to provide an additional 22 Billion to the auto makers. Also expected are some guidelines and a timeline for those changes to be made. The Obama administration does not want to see them enter into bankruptcy. MSNBC.com has more here.

--------------------

Senate votes not there to pass Emplyee Free Choice Act - it is becoming increasingly likely the bill will not be presented for a vote until after the 2010 midterm elections. The bill which would make it easier for workers to form unions does not have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to prevent a filibuster. Senator Arlen Specter(R-Pa.) who is facing a tough reelection campaign has already signaled his opposition to the bill. Politico.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-25-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Last night, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on the economy and answered questions from the press - his speech was short and confirmed his commitment to resolving the economic problems facing the country today. In the question and answer period, the president defended his budget and tied reform and funding for education, health care, and energy to his economic recovery plan. Politico.com has more here.

The president also supported the request by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to have more authority over non-bank financial institutions. A measure that is expected to receive Congressional support. TheHill.com has more here.

Today, the president will have lunch on the hill with Democratic Senators and also meet with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop to discuss plans for the 60th anniversary of NATO. A summit is planned in Germany and France April 3-4.

--------------------

Dow Jones up 150 as durable goods demand increases - after six straight months of loses in demand for orders of durable goods, February had a 3.4% gain based on reports from the Commerce Department. MarketWatch.com has more here.

--------------------

President Obama to meet with executives of largest U.S. Banks Friday - it will be a who's who among the elite Bankers as the president encourages them to get on board with his economic recovery plan. Twelve of the largest U.S. banks will be represented, including Goldman Sachs group Inc., Citigroup Inc, and JP Morgan Chase Co. Bloomberg.com has more here.

--------------------

Obama plans Online Town Hall - he is taking your questions online here. You not only get to ask your questions, but you can also vote on which ones he should answer. if you have the software, you can provide a link to a video of you asking the question. The questions will be chosen by you and the president will answer them on Thursday. So far, 10,135 people have asked 11,488 questions. Great idea! - one, I intend to use with the local City of Frederick Democratic candidates in the election this year.

--------------------

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is off to Mexico today - she is showing support for the crack down on drug cartels by President Calderon. She will visit Mexico City and Monterrey over the next two days. Yesterday, the Obama administration announced they were sending more agents and supplies to help secure the border. You can read more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-24-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

This morning, President Barack Obama meets with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - Time.com has more here. Tonight, the president will address the nation from the White House at 8:00 PM ET. He will be discussing his proposed budget, his economic recovery plans, and most likely the A.I.G. bonuses.

The president also wrote an Op-Ed which was published in 31 newspapers around the world today on the need for global cooperation in the economic crisis. The Chicago Tribune has it here.

--------------------

Dow Jones jumps by 500 yesterday after news of Geithner plan to rid Banks of toxic assets - it was the highest one day increase since October. The last two weeks also showed gains and were the the first time this happened this year. In early trading today, the Dow is down 60. MSNBC.com has more here.

Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testify before Congress today. Their testimony and the reaction to it will most likely impact the markets today.

--------------------

Help is on the way for Geithner as Obama names appointments to Treasury - the top slots have been difficult to fill. White House economic adviser Neal Wolin has been named deputy Treasurer, Lael Brainard undersecretary of international affairs, and Stuart Levey undersecretary of terrorism and financial intelligence. CNN.com has more here.

--------------------

DNC Chair Governor Tim Kaine (Va.) appoints 37 member commission to study Democratic primary system - He charged the group to make recommendations in three areas - 1. changing the window for primaries and caucuses, 2. reducing the number of superdelegates, and 3. improving the caucus system. The NY Times Caucus Blog has more here.

Let's see if anything substantive comes out of this committee. In August 2008 another committee was charged with similar tasks. All as a result of the 2008 Democratic primary which exposed the many flaws in the nominating process. I wrote a column about this process during the campaign last year. You can read it here. Reform is definitely needed in the Democratic party presidential nominating process.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-23-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama returns to the White House from Camp David this morning - later the president will discuss the energy independence part of his proposed budget. Increased funds will be provided for clean energy technologies. Tomorrow night at 8:00 PM ET, the president will address the nation during prime time. He is expected to address the A.I.G. bonuses and efforts being made to correct the dismal economy. Time.com has more here.

--------------------

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announces the latest bailout plan for Banks - this has been talked about for some time but the details were lacking on this proposed public-private partnership to purchase up to 1 trillion of troubled mortgages and related assets of banks. CNN.com has more here. Initially the Treasury would buy between 75-100 billion of bad debt and then auction the debt securities to the private sector. There is already hesitancy from the private sector due to the government attempting to limit executive pay so don't expect the private sector to be lining up to buy these bad debt securities.

Geithner has an Op-Ed which appeared in the Wall Street Journal today describing this program and the efforts to date of the Obama administration to stem the financial crisis. You can read his Op-Ed column here.

Perhaps the Obama administration has finally realized Geithner is not a good public relations man - Dr. Christina Romer, chair of the White House council of economic advisers is the one appearing on TV early today to push the program.

--------------------

Wall Street reacts favorably to Geithner's plan - at least for this morning. The Dow Jones is up 150 points after stocks in Asia and Europe gained on news of the latest U.S. government plan to aid troubled banks. Bloomberg.com has more here.

--------------------

For those of you who are MSNBC junkies - Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman have signed contracts through the 2012 campaign - this will ensure loyal viewers these political pundits will be discussing the first term of the Obama administration and the 2012 election. Politico.com has more here.

--------------------

On the foreign policy front, Obama spoke yesterday on "Sixty Minutes" of the need for a comprehensive strategy and exit plan for Afghanistan - he spoke of the need to improve the economy, further diplomacy with Pakistan and increase regional assistance in the effort. The exit strategy is important as this was absent in the planning when George W. Bush administration sent U.S. troops into Iraq. MSNBC.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

A.I.G.--Sheesh!

Ken Kerr Bio

Public Enemy

During the Prohibition Era of the 1920s and 1930s—our last great economic crisis, .Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone, AKA "Scarface," led a crime syndicate dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging of liquor and other illegal activities. By the end of the 1920s, he got the attention of the FBI after being placed on the Chicago Crime Commission's "Public Enemies" list. Capone thought we couldn't touch him. And while Capone was never successfully prosecuted for his racketeering, bootlegging, prostitution, murder-for-hire charges, his criminal career ended in 1931. He was convicted by the federal government for income-tax evasion.

Today's economic crisis has a new "Public Enemies" list. Although it is not yet populated with names, we know who the public enemies are: the benefactors of $165,000,000 in American International Group (A.I.G.) "retention bonus" money. We are told that these payments were not bonuses, but incentives necessary to "retain" these bright, capable, highly skilled professionals who are the only ones who can resuscitate this dying corporate behemoths from is death gasps.

By now, it has occurred to all who care to think about it that these are the same incompetent fools who engineered this disaster. It was their skills, their capabilities, and their decisions that caused a situation that lead to a $170,000,000,000 bailout of the very company that is now rewarding them for that incompetence.

The Treasury Department and Senator Chris Dodd insisted that the US Government, as 80% owner of A.I.G., was contractually obligated to make these payments. Too bad for UAW workers whose contracts were unilaterally dissolved or altered when that auto industry was in less of a financial crisis and required less government financial assistance. Too bad for them that the US Government is not in a position to decide who is contractually obligated to live up to the terms of their contracts.

On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Cuomo reported that a total of 73 A.I.G. employees were paid more than $1 million in bonuses. The highest bonus was $6.4 million, and six other employees received more than $4 million, according to Mr. Cuomo. Another 15 people received bonuses of more than $2 million, and another 51 people received bonuses of $1 million to $2 million.

I compared that to my college professor salary.

The average A.I.G. "retention bonus" payment was $395,000. At my current salary, it would take me 6 years to "earn" what the average A.I.G. incompetent was give as a "bonus."

Fifty-one A.I.G. employees got more than $1 million. That would take me 14 years to earn what showed up in one bonus check. I checked my most recent Social Security statement. I have not made that much money in my entire working life.

For me to earn what the recipient of the biggest bonus, $6.4 million, received. I would have to work at my current salary for 91 years.

Cuomo pointed out that that 11 of those who received retention bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at A.I.G.; this includes the big winner who received $4.6 million.

Apparently, the current thinking is that, like Capone, we can't touch these guys.

I propose we use out tax system to get some fairness here. Admittedly, what these A.I.G. bonus-getters did was not criminal—but it was not moral, fair, honest, or proper. The genie is out of the bottle, the ship has sailed, the train has left the station, the horse is out of the barn (and I am out of clich├ęs). Let them keep it. But make them pay for it.

Attorney General Cuomo is soon to have the 71 names. So, too, can the IRS.

I looked it up. Generally, as your income increases, so does your chance of an IRS audit. For example, the odds of an IRS audit for someone in the $25,000 to $100,000 income bracket were less than 1%. For someone making more than $100,000, the odds increase to almost 1.5%

Some relevant IRS audit triggers are:

You have large amounts of itemized deductions on your tax return that exceed IRS targets.

You claim tax shelter investment losses on your tax return.

You have complex investment or business expenses on your tax return.

Your business expenses are large in relation to your income on your tax return.

You have complex tax transactions without explanations on your tax return.

You are a shareholder or partner in an audited partnership or corporation.

You claim large cash contributions to charities in relation to your income on your tax return.

The current Congress idea of taxing these bonuses after-the-fact is probably unconstitutional. It is definitely a bad idea. I don't like the thought of the government decided I broke a non-existent law only to enact one to use it pro prosecute me for something I did that was not illegal when I did it. That's a slippery slope. If the bonuses were legal—let them keep them, but make them pay.

On November 24, 1931, Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in Federal prison, fined $50,000, charged $7692 for court costs, and an additional $215,000 in back taxes. Public Enemy Capone was released in 1939, after serving seven years and paying his back taxes.

The US Government couldn't convict that public enemy of his primary crimes, but he did eventually pay for his crimes.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-22-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama will appear tonight, on CBS "Sixty Minutes" - it will be broadcast at 7:00 PM ET. The president continues to defend Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the interview. ThePage.Time.com has some excerpts from the show here. If Geithner's roll out this week of his plan to deal with toxic assets of banks flops, he is gone and the president is saying he accepts his resignation with regret...

The President and his family are spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat near Thurmont, Maryland. They will return to D.C. Monday morning.

--------------------

RNC raises more funds than DNC in February - The Republican National Committee, chaired by Michael Steele raised 5.1 million in February. While, the Democratic National Committee, chaired by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine raised 3.3 million. The DNC also has the 13 million email list from the Obama campaign. Grumbling is already happening among Democrats over the unusual part-time arrangement of Governor Kaine as DNC chair. Politico.com has more here.

It remains a mystery why the Obama administration was in such a hurry to replace Howard Dean as DNC chair. It was Dean's 50 state strategy which aided the success the Democrats experienced as they won the White House and gained majorities in the House and Senate. Dean was also passed over for any position in the Obama administration.

--------------------

Employee Free Choice Act receiving scrutiny - expect discussion on this bill also known as the "card check" bill to heat up over the next few months. Costco, Whole foods and Starbucks have offered a compromise proposal which would move from 50% to 70%, the number of employees required to have signed a authorization card to form a union. Stay tuned as this bill will be hotly debated. TheHill.com has more here.

--------------------

Decision due this week on Minnesota Senate race - nearly five months after the election, Judges are set to rule on the Senate race trial between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. After a mandated state recount Franken was certified as the winner by 225 votes out of 2.9 million cast. The loser of this trial could still appeal to the state Supreme Court and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Minnesota is short one Senator. The Washington Post has more here.

Look to see efforts made to streamline legal remedies in regard to election disputes as voters are denied of representation as the legal due process works it's way through the system.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-21-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama in his weekly address to the nation discusses how his proposed budget is equal to the task before us.




download .mp3 or .mp4 also available here read transcript

--------------------
Meanwhile, the Congressional budget Office (CBO) reports the deficits under the Obama budget would equal 9.3 trillion - this is one-third larger than the projections coming from the Obama administration. Expect the 2010 budget battle to heat up soon. TheHill.com has more here.
--------------------
Then, Senator John McCain (R-Az.) followed with a statement saying the budget proposed by President Obama is a "threat to the nation" - he went on to say how the budget threatens the future of our children and grandchildren. With that statement, the budget battle is now engaged. CNN.com has more here.
--------------------
Also Yesterday, federal regulators took over two credit unions with combined assets of 57 billion - The U.S. Central Credit Union and the Western Corporate Federal Credit Union are considered the two largest credit unions in the country. McClatchydc.com has more here.
--------------------
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to announce next week his toxic asset plan -Geithner and the White House had better hope he does a better job than he has to date in explaining his plan to the public or else Geithner is sure to be gone. The plan has been hinted at previously and involves the private sector investing with the government to buy troubled mortgages. Let's see how the roll out goes next week and let's hope it works to help stabilize the financial system. Politico.com has more here.
--------------------
To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Guests 3-22-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Each week further into his first term as president, Barack Obama moves closer to owning the economic crisis facing Americans. The phrase, "this is the economic mess I inherited from the previous Republican George W. Bush administration", is not one that can be used with effectiveness much longer.

While yet to unfold international and domestic issues will help to define President Obama's first term in office, the economy and the Obama administration's efforts to stabilize and improve it will ultimately be how Obama will be remembered by the voters and history.

So, it is not a surprise the guests on Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" will again focus on the economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will not appear which is probably a good thing for the Obama administration. He stumbled badly getting out of the gate when he mangled an attempt to describe changes he was instituting in the second half of the 700 billion bailout bill. Now, it has been disclosed it was him who informed Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to included the provision in the 787 billion Stimulus bill allowing A.I.G. to pay bonuses. All indications are he is not a good public relations person so do not look for many televised appearances in the near future. Geithner remains the Cabinet member with the highest probability to be removed.

This Sunday morning, Dr. Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers will again be the face of the administration when discussing the economy. She had her maiden appearance on NBC "Meet The Press" last week and did ok. Although she did not come across as a rocket scientist, she remained cheerful and did not allow tough questions to rattle her. As a Democratic acquaintance of mine said, she reminded her of a grade school teacher. This is a huge improvement over Geithner so it is no wonder she is back this Sunday. She will appear on "Fox News Sunday" and CNN "State of the Union".

The incredible debt that is being added to the already astronomical national debt will surely receive discussion. The current debt is 11 Trillion and deficit spending the remainder of this year and the proposed 1.75 trillion deficit in the president's first budget will bring the debt to over 14 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2010. We have not added the 1 to 1.2 Trillion the Federal Reserve plans to spend on Treasury and Mortgage Bonds. While interest rates are low, inflation is likely to enter into the picture which will further exacerbate the economic problem.

Below is the list of the Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" with their scheduled guests. Remember to check your local listings for time and channel.

NBC "Meet The Press" - Dick Gregory will interview Governors Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calf.) along with NY City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Ind.). The three of them met with President Obama on Friday to discuss the Stimulus Bill. Specifically, infrastructure and job creation. The three elected officials have coined a phrase "Building America's Future". Also appearing in a roundtable discussion will be Tom Brokaw and Carol Burnett.

ABC "This Week" - George Stephanopoulos will have Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden. I often have wondered why Biden needs his own economist - maybe we will find out. The roundtable discussion will include George Will, Donna Brazile, Betsy Stark and Robert Reich.

CBS "Face The Nation" - Bob Schieffer will interview Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Austan Goolsbee-White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace has Dr. Christina Romer, chair of the WH Council of Economic Advisers, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY).

CNN "State of the Union" - John King also interviews Dr. Romer - let's see is she can maintain that cheerful disposition after two appearances this morning. Also appearing will be Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH). Steve Croft also discusses his interview with President Obama that will appear on CBS "Sixty Minutes" Sunday evening.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Democratic Chatter 3-20-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, President Barack Obama will meet with Schwarzenegger, Rendell and Bloomberg to discuss infrastructure and jobs - the Governors from California and Pennsylvania along with the NY City Mayor have formed a coalition called "Building America's Future". They will talk about the need for additional funds for infrastructure projects which will create jobs. MSNBC.com has more here.

The president will have a luncheon meeting at the White House with Leaders of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

--------------------

The President also taped a message reaching out to Iran and others celebrating Nowruz which marks the beginning of a new year. Entitled "A New Year, A New Beginning", President Obama spoke of the common humanity that binds us together.



Download .mp3, .mp4, or .mp4 with Persian subtitles Read the transcript in English or Persian

--------------------

A.I.G. bonuses last straw for Geithner? - the Treasury Secretary admitted he asked Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) chair of the Senate Banking Committee to include the loophole in the Stimulus bill to allow bonuses to be paid by A.I.G. - seems he forgot to tell the president. CNN.com has more here. Meanwhile, the "breaking bad" exercise by the House yesterday to pass legislation taxing 90% of the bonuses is most likely unconstitutional and unenforceable. President Obama did defend Geithner during his appearance on Jay Leno last night. It is not good for the Obama administration to be defending their Treasury Secretary every day when the number one problem facing the country today is the economy. Stay Tuned.

--------------------

Wall Street will be listening to Bernanke speech today - the Federal Reserve chair will speak at noon today at the Independent Community Bankers of America National Convention. The recent announcement of the 1.2 trillion in additional spending by the Federal Reserve to buy securities has some concerned in regard to inflation. Watch to see how the Dow Jones reacts to the speech this afternoon. You can read more here.

--------------------

Blue Dog House Democrats are not push overs for President Barack Obama's 3.6 Trillion budget - the Blue Dog Democrats number 51 of the 257 Democrats in the 435 member House of Representatives. They are moderate and fiscally responsible leaning who believe in deficit reduction and pay as you go government. While they supported the recently passed 787 billion Stimulus bill, do not expect them to roll over as the 3.6 trillion FY 2010 budget is reviewed in Congress. If they voted with the 178 Republicans in the House, it would be a majority vote of 229. Bloomberg.com has more here.

--------------------

To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.