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.