Tales from the Trail

New Obama ads highlight auto bailout, claim moderate recovery

May 11, 2012

President Obama’s re-election campaign on Thursday released three television ads — two focusing on the auto bailout and a third noting moderate economic improvements since Obama took office — all part of the campaign’s $25 million May marketing blitz.

The First Draft: Executive pay crackdown

October 22, 2009

For a quiet day, there was surprising consensus among editors about the top news — big-time bankers who got government bailout money are going to get their paychecks slashed.

The First Draft, Friday, Dec. 19

December 19, 2008

President George W. Bush threw a lifeline to the U.S. auto industry Friday.
USA-BUSH/The president announced a $17.4 billion government loan program for two ailing U.S. carmakers and gave them until March 31 to prove they can become viable.
“There’s too great a risk that bankruptcy now would lead to a disorderly liquidation of American auto companies,” Bush said in an address from the White House.
“My economic advisers believe that such a collapse would deal an unacceptably painful blow to hardworking Americans far beyond the auto industry.”
The U.S. stock markets opened higher on the news. Some of Bush’s fellow Republicans in Congress, who helped kill a recent bailout effort there, expressed frustration.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said it was “deeply disappointing that the administration has chosen to use taxpayer dollars to delay the inevitable need to fundamentally restructure these companies.”
The Bush announcement came as President-elect Barack Obama was getting ready for his fifth news conference in as many days.
The Democratic president-elect is expected to announce his picks for labor secretary, transportion secretary and U.S. trade representative at the 2:15 p.m. EST conference.
Retiring Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood, a Republican, is being tapped as the transportation secretary. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a partner at a Houston law firm, is the trade representative, and California Rep. Hilda Solis is the labor secretary choice.
Morning television focused on the severe weather across parts of the country and the death of Mark Felt, the former FBI official who was the mysterious “Deep Throat” source for Washington Post reporters during the Watergate investigation.
Felt, the No. 2 official at the FBI at the time, provided guidance to reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they pieced together the scandal that ultimatedly prompted the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Felt, who was 95, kept his role in the story a secret for 30 years, finally making his part known in a 2005 Vanity Fair article written by his family lawyer. The New York Times called him “the most famous anonymous source in American history.”

The First Draft: Wednesday, Dec 17

December 17, 2008


President-elect Barack Obama is almost done with his first chore.

Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, holds a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday to announce he has picked former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to head the agriculture department and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as interior secretary.USA-POLITICS/

The First Draft: Tuesday, Dec 16

December 16, 2008


The futures of Detroit’s reeling Big Three automakers and Illinois’ disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich hovered in a sort of suspended animation on Tuesday, with both awaiting final word of their fates. 

The First Draft: Friday, Dec 12

December 12, 2008

Senate brinksmanship kills a proposed $14 billion bailout for Detroit’s struggling “Big Three” automakers, so eyes turn back to the White House. 
The Senate is due back in session at 10 a.m. Eastern for what could be a quick round of final recriminations.
Analysts say the most immediate hope for help for GMC, Chrysler and Ford is now the Bush administration, which could possibly decide to use financial bailout funding to help the massive car manufacturers — if there’s any money left.
Bush, who had resisted this idea in the past, is headed to Texas A&M University where he is due to deliver a commencement address. The White House said this morning it was willing to consider steps to avoid an auto apocalypse.
There’s finger pointing in every direction — the UAW union, recalcitrant Republicans, overreaching Democrats, and the lame-duck White House — but nobody seems sure what happens next for companies which say they are responsible for one out of 10 U.S. jobs.
Stock futures were down, indicating that benchmark U.S. indexes could open down about 3 percent or more amid a worldwide sell-off. 
Meanwhile, whatever attention is left is fixed firmly on Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is still in office three days after being charged with corruption in connection with allegations that he sought to “sell” the vacant U.S. Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama.
Lots of people seem to want the man out — Obama described himself as “appalled” — but there’s no word on whether Blagojevich  intends to resign. Obama, who has sought to distance himself from the Democratic governor, has no public events scheduled today.

The First Draft, Thursday, Dec. 11

December 11, 2008


It’s a tale of two cities, Washington D.C. versus Chicago.
With President-elect Barack Obama holding frequent news conferences in Chicago to appoint members of his cabinet and lay out his plans for the future and President George W. Bush keeping a low profile in Washington, Americans could be forgiven for thinking they have a new executive capital.

The First Draft, Wednesday, Dec. 10

December 10, 2008

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.

The First Draft, Tuesday, Dec. 9

December 9, 2008



Tis the season to be, er, generous with taxpayers’ money.

The White House and Democrats in Congress are busy putting the finishing touches to a whopping $15 billion Christmas present for the U.S. auto industry. The two sides have been haggling for several days over the terms of the bailout to rescue the “Big Three” Detroit car manufacturers but are now reported to be close to agreement.

The First Draft, Dec. 8

December 8, 2008

Washington is focused on one issue this morning — how to stop the U.S. auto industry from driving off a cliff.
The Senate reconvenes on Monday, and congressional aides say it may consider as early as Tuesday legislation on a $15 billion deal to rescue America’s “Big Three” automakers from oblivion.
Democratic negotiators in Congress modified their draft proposal on Sunday, a congressional aide said, and planned to get it to the White House for consideration.
The New York Times and Washington Post reported that Democrats were considering creating an oversight board made up of five cabinet secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and led by an independent chairman or “car czar”.
The board would oversee the restructuring that the car giants have agreed to in exchange for the short-term loans. The Post said the board would develop broad restructuring goals for the companies but could not compel them to act.
Investors appeared confident on Monday that the automakers will be thrown a financial lifeline. Shares of General Motors shot up 22.5 percent to $5 before the bell, and Ford shares climbed 19.5 percent to $3.25.
U.S. stock index futures also rose on hopes that President-elect Barack Obama’s plan for major infrastructure investment will help get the economy back on its feet.