The First Draft, Wednesday, Dec. 10
There’s nothing like a sexy political sleaze story, especially one ridden with “f—ing” expletives, to distract from the plight of the United States’ ailing auto industry.
A $15 billion rescue package for the industry may be voted on in the House of Representatives today after the White House and congressional Democrats reached an agreement in principle late on Tuesday night.
But morning TV shows paid the bailout scant attention as they replayed U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s news conference announcing that he was charging Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with corruption over, among other things, an alleged plan to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Not surprisingly Blagojevich’s use of expletives in conversations taped by the FBI featured prominently, “Bleep ‘em,” Fitzgerald quoted the governor as saying in one conversation. “And the word ‘bleep’ was not the word he used,” he added helpfully, just in case there was any doubt.
Back in Washington, the House of Representatives Financial Service Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. EST on how the Treasury Department has handled the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a congressionally appointed panel that oversees TARP is expected to release a report highly critical of how it has been handled.
Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office and Neel Kashkari, the Treasury Department point man on the financial rescue package, will testify.
Wall Street is seen opening higher, with shares of automakers expected to remain in focus. But there was more grim econmic news. A new survey said the economy was likely to shrink 1.1 percent next year as job losses mount.