First Draft: bad, add, mad
Mortgages gone bad, auto industry seeking an add, and a chimpanzee gone mad starting off the day.
President Barack Obama out in Arizona to outline a housing bailout plan to offer help on distressed mortgages at 12:15 p.m. Washington time. The plan commits up to $275 billion to support housing, including through government subsidies to mortgage lenders to encourage lower payments for borrowers.
More negative economic data. New U.S. housing starts and permits dropped to record lows in January. Housing starts fell 16.8 percent to an annual rate of 466,000 units and new building permits fell 4.8 percent to 521,000 units.
The White House had been trying to tamp down expectations after last week’s rollout of a proposal to help the banking industry by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was greeted with a stock market drop on criticism it lacked detail.
The sagging automobile industry saga continues with an administration task force to review Chrysler and GM restructuring plans in order to get another $22 billion in bailout money. GM offered to scrap the Saturn brand while Chrysler said it would cut the P.T. Cruiser, Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen.
NBC’s “Today” show interviewed the owner of the 200-pound chimpanzee killed by police after it nearly killed a visiting friend. Sandra Herold had given her pet Travis, whom she treated like a son, tea and anti-anxiety drugs before his rampage.
She said the chimpanzee could drive and took off with the car a couple of times. “I’ll miss him for the rest of my life.”
Photo credit: Reuters/staff photographer (billboard for foreclosure assistance in California in January)