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Federal authorities examining the early, chaotic days of the $125 billion American-led effort to rebuild Iraq have significantly broadened their inquiry to include senior American military officers who oversaw the program, according to interviews with senior government officials and court documents.
Court records show that last month investigators subpoenaed the personal bank records of Col. Anthony B. Bell, who is now retired from the Army but who was in charge of reconstruction contracting in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 when the small operation grew into a frenzied attempt to remake the country’s broken infrastructure. In addition, investigators are examining the activities of Lt. Col. Ronald W. Hirtle of the Air Force, who was a senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004, according to two federal officials involved in the inquiry.
It is not clear what specific evidence exists against the two men, and both said they had nothing to hide from investigators. Yet officials say that several criminal cases over the past few years point to widespread corruption in the operation the men helped to run. As part of the inquiry, the authorities are taking a fresh look at information given to them by Dale C. Stoffel, an American arms dealer and contractor who was killed in Iraq in late 2004.
Typical republican greed, Cheney must be envious
The look and tone of the Treasury Secretary reminds me of the third grade. The smartest kid in the class, the one teachers loved, was the boy who always raised his hand and waved it impatiently while some other student fumbled for an answer. If the teacher stepped out of the room for a moment, bedlam usually followed and this kid would try to restore order. “Be quiet or I will tell.” Kids threw things and tormented him until the teacher returned.
Timothy Geithner reminded me of that type as he lectured the country on how the Obama administration intends to save the financial system. The country is apparently responding in kind — hurling blistering comments at him and the “best and brightest” who are now in high office. How could these smart people be so dumb about things everyone else already understands? Americans do not need to be told, as Geithner did, that they have “lost faith.” The remark is condescending and infuriates further.
What people wanted to hear, in plain English, were hard answers and an honest acknowledgment of the extreme irregularity of events — government is rushing to rescue the very private interests that led us to sorrow. Instead, Geithner told us he has a “plan.” He will share the details at some later date. Be calm. Stay tuned.
Funny how so few of them are Democrats……….
CNN) — Luis Caplan served the poor of the South Bronx for decades out of a small medical office. His leg was amputated after a bout with cancer in 1990, yet he continued to work for another five years.
Now, his savings has nearly been wiped out because of the economic crisis. At the age of 71, he faces losing his apartment if things don’t change soon. The government bailed out the big institutions, but “what happens to the little people,” he asks.
“What happens to the real middle class? What happens to me?” he says, choking back tears. “It’s awful. It’s really awful.”
With Congress working to pass the $800 billion stimulus bill, millions of Americans — especially those with homes they’re trying to sell or about to be foreclosed on — are asking the same thing: What’s in it for me?
Typical GOP disregard for for the rest of us…..
Wall Street bankers, with their $18 billion in bonuses, private jets and gaudy conferences, are causing headaches for the GOP.
President Obama has proposed capping compensation for executives at banks that take taxpayer bailout money at $500,000. Republicans hate the idea — a position puts them uncomfortably on the side of people currently about as popular as child-porn producers and subprime mortgage brokers.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) blamed the “tone deaf” bankers for creating the political environment that allows Obama…
Explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion.
It’s not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core.
Over the past few years, a series of riots spread across what is patronizingly known as the Third World. Furious mobs have raged against skyrocketing food and energy prices, stagnating wages and unemployment in India, Senegal, Yemen, Indonesia, Morocco, Cameroon, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere.
For the most part, those living in wealthier countries took little notice. But now, with the global economy crashing down around us, people in even the wealthiest nations are mad as hell and reacting violently to what they view as an inadequate response to their tumbling economies.
The Telegraph (UK) warned last month that protests over governments’ handling of the crisis “are widespread and gathering pace,” and “may spark a new revolution”:
Ronald Reagan’s 98th birthday is being celebrated today at a time that should be a cause for soul searching among his admirers. The conservative revolution that Reagan unleashed upon the nation and much of the world lay in ashes, and Washington is embarking on a new epoch of government intervention to eradicate the excesses of free-market purism. One would expect liberals to be out in the streets looking for statues of the Gipper to topple from their pedestals.
But nothing of the kind is happening. While George W. Bush is now the bane even of many conservatives, a Marine Corps contingent will lay a wreath at Reagan’s gravesite safe in the knowledge that much of the nation holds his memory in a warm embrace.
Historians may one day view this as an odd historical conundrum, since Reagan’s legacy is so clearly imprinted on the myriad of forces that have vitiated the American dream for millions of working people and brought wreckage to the world economy.
The continuing fallout from Reagan’s policies – the meltdown of the financial sector, widening income inequality, the emergence of lockdown America, the obscene inflation of CEO compensation, the end of locally owned media, market crashes, blackouts, drug-company scandals, rampant greed and materialism — is all around us. As D.H. Lawrence once wrote in another context, “The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins.”
AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT PLAN: THE IMPACT FOR VIRGINIA
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy for the 21st century. Across the country, this plan will help businesses create jobs and families afford their bills while laying a foundation for future economic growth in key areas like health care, clean energy, education and a 21st century infrastructure. In Virginia, this plan will deliver immediate, tangible impacts, including:
• Creating or saving 99,000 jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector. [Source: White House Estimate based on Romer and Bernstein, “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” January 9, 2009.]
• Providing a making work pay tax cut of up to $1,000 for 3,000,000 workers and their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President’s Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers’ paychecks. [Source: White House Estimate based on IRS Statistics of Income]
• Making 71,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide – and 71,000 families in Virginia – new assistance to put college within their reach. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Census data]
• Offering an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to 247,000 workers in Virginia who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing extended unemployment benefits to an additional 46,000 laid-off workers. [Source: National Employment Law Project]
• Providing funding sufficient to modernize at least 165 schools in Virginia so our children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy. [Source: White House Estimate]
In addition to this immediate assistance for Virginia, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will help transform our economy by:
• Doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years, creating enough renewable energy to power 6 million American homes.
• Computerizing every American’s health record in five years, reducing medical errors and saving billions of dollars in health care costs.
• Launching the most ambitious school modernization program on record, sufficient to upgrade 10,000 schools.
• Enacting the largest investment increase in our nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s.
GOP leaders — led by John Boehner and Eric Cantor — have spent days bashing the economic stimulus package being touted by President Obama and Democrats because it doesn’t sufficiently cut taxes. But is it probable that the alternative plan House Republicans unveiled as a more responsible approach earlier this week would have actually raised taxes for untold numbers of Americans? That’s the surprising claim that House Democratic staffers who have taken a look at the GOP plan are now making. They insist to me that the Republicans did some almost comic number shuffling in drawing up their proposal, the upshot of which would be that the actual tax bill would go up for many. And they’re now preparing to make an issue of this in the districts of Republican House members by painting Republicans as the would-be tax hikers. According to Dems on the House Ways and Means Committee who have crunched the numbers, the GOP plan, which would reduce income taxes, would as a result shove millions over on to the Alternative Income Tax rate, which would be higher for them.
So much for less taxes!