NYT: Justice Dept. Sets Record In Penalties For Fraud
The Justice Department collected a record $24.7 billion in penalties from fraud and other cases in the 2014 fiscal year, the agency said on Wednesday, as fines against banks for financial misconduct soared. Collections from civil and criminal actions, including money collected on behalf of other agencies, was $8 billion in 2013, and $13 billion in 2012. Collections in 2014 were bolstered by multibillion-dollar payouts from JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup to resolve claims they misled investors about the quality of mortgage bonds in the run-up to the financial crisis, and include $11 billion in payments made to federal agencies or states. Payouts in the 2014 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, also include hundreds of millions of dollars in fines levied on UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Washington Post (March 2006): Off the Record, Bush Makes Media Inroads …. As he defends his Iraq policy with a public campaign of speeches and a recent news conference, President Bush also has been waging a private campaign that has included off-the-record sessions with White House reporters….
One gathering, which took place Thursday in the White House residence, was an unusual gesture by Bush, who has agreed to comparatively few lengthy exchanges with reporters during his five years in office….
Last week’s session involved reporters from several prominent broadcast and print outlets, including ABC News and The Washington Post. Under the off-the-record ground rules, the journalists were barred from reporting what was discussed. White House officials said they also hoped the meetings’ mere existence would remain under wraps….
Joe Conason (National Memo): …. The notion that Barack Obama is “Nixonian” – or that his administration’s recent troubles bear any resemblance to “Watergate” – is the biggest media lie since the phony “Whitewater scandal” crested during the Clinton presidency.
…. Only in a country afflicted with chronic historical amnesia could they issue such accusations without shame or embarrassment. Only under those circumstances could the Republicans continue their fitful fabrication of a “Democratic Watergate” without fear of being laughed off the stage….
…. But certain liberals in the media have fretted loudly over Obama’s “scandals,” too ….. is it all just trumped-up hysteria? To answer those questions, it helps to remember what Nixon and his gang actually did to America – and why they were driven out of Washington and, in many cases, sent to prison….
Steve Benen: Student loans reclaim center stage ….. President Obama will deliver remarks, flanked by college students, on a subject that too often goes overlooked: student loans. With a looming interest rate hike, the president will reportedly “call on Congress to help keep college affordable for middle-class families and students by preventing student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.”
…. House Republicans say they’ve already passed a bill on this, which is true. They also say their bill is worthwhile and consistent with White House demands, which is not true…..
Bloomberg: Euro-area unemployment increased to a record in April after the currency bloc’s recession deepened in the first quarter, increasing pressure on its leaders and the European Central Bank to spur economic growth.
The euro-area jobless rate rose to 12.2 percent from 12.1 percent in March…. to 19.38 million in April, up 95,000 from the previous month. Youth unemployment was at 24.4 percent …. Spain had the highest rate at 26.8 percent. No April data were available for Greece, which had a 27 percent rate in February.
It cracked me up today to see how Byron Tau and his buddies at GOPolitico pulled any negative extracts they could find from this article. Funny how they left out this bit:
“Obama didn’t remake Washington. But his first two years stand as one of the most successful legislative periods in modern history. Among other achievements, he has saved the economy from depression, passed universal health care, and reformed Wall Street.”
Tuesday: The President will deliver his State of the Union Address at 9:00 PM EST.
Following the President’s State of the Union address, he will begin a five-state, three-day swing across the country.
Wednesday: PBO will begin his trip with an event in the Cedar Rapids area, followed by an event in the Phoenix area. He will then travel to Las Vegas where he will spend the night.
Thursday: PBO will hold events in the Las Vegas area and the Denver area before traveling to Detroit that evening where he will spend the night.
Friday: PBO will hold an event in the Detroit area before returning to Washington.
Time: President Obama dismissed Republican rival Mitt Romney’s critiques of his foreign policy credentials in an exclusive TIME interview, saying the GOP frontrunner’s attacks are little more than primary posturing that will wither under the glare of “a serious debate.”
“I think Mr. Romney and the rest of the Republican field are going to be playing to their base until the primary season is over,” Obama told TIME’s Fareed Zakaria during a White House interview that will appear in the next issue of TIME magazine. “Overall, I think it’s going to be pretty hard to argue that we have not executed a strategy over the last three years that has put America in a stronger position than it was than when I came into office.”
ABC: Although it is not apparent on his financial disclosure form, Mitt Romney has millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven.
…… As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, Mitt Romney is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a shroud of secrecy around the details about his vast personal wealth, including, as ABC News has discovered, his investment in funds located offshore and his ability to pay a lower tax rate.
Greg Sargent: …. Take special note of the quote that one expert gave to ABC: “His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system.” …. this is very dicey for Romney. Dems want to paint Romney as the walking embodiment of everything that’s unfair about our tax system and of all the ways the system is rigged on behalf of the rich and against the middle class. This won’t hurt that case.
One wonders if these revelations – combined with the layoffs at Bain; Romney’s tax rate; the fact that his tax plan would give the very wealthy enormous tax cuts while raising taxes marginally on lower income people; and his penchant for saying things that perfectly feed the “one percent” storyline – will generate any concerns among Romney’s top backers about his electability.
Media Matters: The Washington Examiner blog Beltway Confidential put up a post yesterday reporting that President Obama’s acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, worked at Bain & Company in the late 1980s. The Examiner suggested that this could “undercut attacks on Republican Mitt Romney’s career as a venture capitalist, because Zients and Romney are both alumni of Bain & Company.”
……. The criticism of Romney has focused on his work at Bain Capital, not his time at Bain & Company.
To be clear: Bain & Company is an entirely separate entity from Bain Capital …. The Drudge Report linked to the Beltway Confidential post with the headline “OBAMA PICKS BAIN MAN FOR OMB…”:
ThinkProgress: Samantha Garvey, a New York high school senior who has been living in a homeless shelter and recently named a semi-finalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition, will be Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-NY) guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.
…. Israel told Newsday he was moved by Garvey’s story. “The State of the Union attracts the most powerful people on Earth, but I really think Samantha can teach them all a lesson in perseverance,” he said.
More: …. Michelle Obama is one of those people you sense before you see, her confidence somehow arriving on the scene a few seconds before she does. Even a roomful of antsy teenagers can feel it, leading them to fall silent moments before the first lady strides into the State Dining Room and greets them with a friendly “Hey! What’s happening?”
…. “They call me FLOTUS, for first lady of the United States,” she explains, noting that the president’s internal White House acronym is POTUS. “And there are many times when FLOTUS and POTUS feel like characters.” There have even been times, she says, when she’s craned her own neck to see which celebrity might be causing all the excitement. “And it’s me. Oh, man, it’s FLOTUS. FLOTUS is here. No one told me FLOTUS was coming.”
….. “But sometimes,” Obama tells her class of mentees, “I just want to be Michelle. So you guys have to start slowly seeing me as Michelle, all right?”
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Vice President Joe Biden, salutes as he departs the White House en route to Arlington National Cemetery, Dec. 12, 2011. The President and Prime Minister participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. An interpreter, center, walks with the group. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Don’t miss our good friend Tien’s brilliant post at The People’s View – here
Eugene Robinson: I guess I was wrong. I thought Republicans surely would have come to their senses by now. Instead, they seem to be rushing deeper into madness.
With less than a month to go before the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney, the candidate shown by polls to have the best chance of defeating President Obama, evidently remains unacceptable to most of his party. He has spent the summer and fall playing second fiddle to a series of unconvincing “front-runners” who fade into the shadows once their shortcomings become obvious.
The latest is Newt Gingrich, a man with more baggage than Louis Vuitton – and the taste for fine jewelry of Louis XIV, judging by his Tiffany’s bill. Be honest: Is there anybody out there who believes Gingrich would make it through a general-election campaign against Obama without self-destructing? I didn’t think so.
The first lady announced in an email Monday that her October bid to break the record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period succeeded. Mrs. Obama says 300,265 people participated, shattering the old record.
In order to achieve her goal, Mrs. Obama led about 400 elementary and middle-school students from Washington in jumping jacks on the South Lawn of the White House. Other jumping jacks events were held around the world on Oct. 11.
The effort was organized by National Geographic Kids magazine in support of the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to promote physical fitness and healthy eating for children.
CBS: Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich – who has acknowledged marital infidelity in the past – pledged in a written statement to an Iowa social conservative group to “uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.”
First lady Michelle Obama hosts local children on the South Lawn of the White House as they attempt to break the Guinness World Records title for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period
BBC: US exports hit a record high in July, pushing the country’s trade deficit down to its lowest level in three months, official figures have shown. Led by strong overseas sales of manufactured goods, US exports rose 3.8% to $178bn (£111bn), said the Commerce Department.
At the same time, imports fell 0.2% to $222.8bn, helped by a fall in the price of oil reducing the cost of the US’s crude imports. The trade gap fell 13.1% to $44.8bn.
The figures will be welcome news for President Barack Obama, who is set to give a speech on job creation later today.
Washington Post: Nearly 250 bundlers have raised $50,000 or more for President Obama just three months into the 2012 campaign, including more than two dozen who have each raised $500,000 or more.
The bundler list and other data released Friday provide further evidence of an astonishingly successful fundraising effort by Obama…
Obama’s official campaign raised $46.3 million and spent $11 million from April to June of this year, according to new documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. That left it with a whopping $37 million in case, including money left over from the first quarter. Obama also brought in $39.3 million in a joint fundraising effort with the Democratic National Committee, filings show.
The numbers put Obama far ahead of his GOP rivals, who are led by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with about $18 million raised. The rest of the Republican field lags well behind with $5 million or less raised by each of them in the second quarter.
Obama’s biggest fundraisers include longtime supporters such as Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine and fashion editor Anna Wintour, all of whom have raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election effort …. but there are new names on the list as well, such as Marc Benioff, a tech CEO who runs salesforce.com.
Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel, the brother of former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, helped raise between $50,000 and $100,000, the campaign said.
The sheer number of bundlers – and the volume of donations they represent – signals another potential juggernaut campaign for Obama, who shattered all records in 2008 by raising $745 million. Obama had 47 bundlers during the entire 2008 campaign who raised $500,000 or more – a number he is already more than halfway to matching.
…. Campaign officials said previously that more than 550,000 individual donors had contributed to Obama’s re-election effort in the second quarter – including 260,000 new donors – with an average contribution amount less than $70…..
Steve Benen: ….I can appreciate all of the reasons to take Jon Huntsman seriously as a candidate ….. but Huntsman is a moderate in an era when Republicans don’t like moderates.
Huntsman believes “health care is a right” …. He believes climate change is real and endorsed a cap-and-trade plan to address is …. He supported an individual mandate as part of health care reform … Republicans are on the opposite side of all of these issues. .. Oh, and he’s also a former member of the Obama administration who called President Obama a “remarkable leader.”
The Republican base has gone to great lengths to target so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) … We’re to believe this same base will tolerate a moderate as their presidential nominee? Sure, Huntsman will start engaging in Romney-like flip-flops and try to reinvent himself. And sure, the media’s sycophantic adulation will give the guy a boost his rivals probably won’t enjoy.
But when push comes to shove, what are the chances Republican voters will nominate a former member of Obama’s team who doesn’t even want to describe himself as conservative? Strange things happen, but I’m hard pressed to imagine how anything this strange happens.
According to GOPolitico, Fox News was the first to cut away from Huntsman’s ‘big’ announcement today – half way through his speech. So, they’ll treat him with as much as respect during his campaign as they do the President.
Newsonline: ….Mitt Romney is promoting his private-sector business experience to show he could do better than U.S. President Obama in creating jobs. But opponents will find fault in his record as a corporate raider in the 1980s and as Massachusetts governor when his performance on employment was mixed at best.
Romney stressed his experience as head of private equity firm Bain Capital … He made a fortune wheeling and dealing in companies, some of which endured big job cuts as part of restructuring. Some ultimately went bankrupt.
“He was a corporate raider who often made companies profitable, not by helping them perform better – but by simply laying off employees and killing jobs,” said Ray Buckley, Democratic Party chairman of New Hampshire.
Bain Capital, which Romney headed for more than a decade, specialized in leveraged buyouts: buying companies with money borrowed against their assets, grooming them to be sold off, and in the interim collecting huge fees.
Later, as Massachusetts governor from Jan. 2003 to Jan. 2007, Romney presided over one of the puniest rates of employment growth among the 50 U.S. states, at a time the nation’s economy was booming. Labor Department figures showed Massachusetts ranked 47th in the rate of jobs growth in those four years.
NYT: Mitt Romney – “I like President Obama, but he doesn’t have a clue how jobs are created …. I know how jobs are created and how jobs are lost.”
Steve Benen (Washington Monthly): Nice timing, Mitt. These remarks come one day after we learned the economy created 222,000 private-sector jobs last month – the second-highest total in five years – and the unemployment rate finally dipped below 9%, reaching its lowest level in two years. All told, the private sector has added 1.5 million workers in the past year, while the unemployment rate has dropped from 9.8% to 8.9% in just three months – the sharpest improvement in nearly two decades.
…Romney was governor for four years, and during that time, his state’s record on job creation was “one of the worst in the country.” Adding insult to injury, “By the end of his four years in office, Massachusetts had squeezed out a net gain in payroll jobs of just 1 percent, compared with job growth of 5.3 percent for the nation as a whole.”
How bad is Romney’s record? During his tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in jobs growth. There’s a reason he didn’t seek re-election – Romney was wildly unpopular in his home state.
Boston Globe (2007): Real world experience has shown that a governor is limited in his power to influence the course of economic development in a state. A full-time governor who is deeply committed to the economic well-being of a state’s workers can, however, make some difference. The state unfortunately did not receive such leadership over most of the past four years. Jokes about Massachusetts may receive some half-hearted laughter on the national campaign trail, but few working men and women in Massachusetts should see anything funny about the state’s lackluster economic performance during the Romney years. (More here)
NY Post: Romney’s past is more a working class zero – Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been out on the pre-campaign trail saying he is the man to get Americans back to work, despite a spotty jobs record while on Wall Street.
…the former private equity firm chief’s fortune – which has funded his political ambitions from the Massachusetts statehouse to his unsuccessful run for the White House in 2008 – was made on the backs of companies that ultimately collapsed, putting thousands of ordinary Americans out on the street. More here