Tales from the Trail
Please sir, can I have some more? CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler make their case for a $25 billion bailout to the House of Representatives, one day after enduring a skeptical reception in the Senate. A vote could come as early as today, but Senate backers say they might not have the support they need.
Testimony to the House Financial Services Committee gets underway at 10 a.m.
In Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama continues to assemble his administration. Eric Holder, a former Justice Department official under President Bill Clinton, emerged yesterday as a possible pick for attorney general, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Clinton himself offered to submit his future charitable and business activities for ethics review if wife Hillary is tapped for Secretary of State.
The Senate returns to debate a bailout for struggling automakers and consider additional stimulus money to prop up the struggling economy.
Democrats hope to pass both measures in their brief “lame duck” session, but they face opposition from Republicans in the chamber as well as President George W. Bush, who reiterated on Monday morning that any Detroit aid should come from the $700 billion already appropriated to prop up the economy.
In Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama will meet at noon EST with John McCain, his recent rival for the White House. “It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality,” Obama’s transition team said on Monday.
Obama and McCain will be joined by their two favorite wingmen — future White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, respectively.
McCain might put in a good word for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is reported to be on Obama’s short list for Secretary of State. McCain and Clinton downed vodka shots together on a trip to Estonia a few years back.
Back in the Senate, the Finance Committee will cross-examine the man who has been nominated to oversee the $700 billion bailout program. Neil Barofsky, the assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York who has been nominated to be Special Inspector General of the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program, testifies at 2 p.m.
The House is not in session, but new members elected two weeks ago are in town for an orientation session and a class photo. House Democratic leaders say they will quickly pass any bailout packages that clear the Senate.
U.S. stocks are expected to open lower as investors continue to fear a deep and lengthy global recession. According to one group of economists, we’re already there: real GDP is expected to fall 2.6 percent in the final quarter of this year and 1.3 percent in the first three months of 2009, according to a survey of 50 professional forecasters conducted by the National Association of Business Economists.
Republican presidential contender John McCain and rival Democratic hopeful Barack Obama appeared to show a little nervousness in the early minutes of their third and final debate, each committing minor gaffes.
WASHINGTON – Sometimes it’s hard to tell when John McCain is joking.
Take his interview Tuesday with journalists at The Des Moines Register.
The Republican presidential candidate acknowledged the financial bailout measure before Congress was not perfect, but he said it was unacceptable to do nothing and admonished lawmakers for failing to pass a rescue plan.
Then, without cracking a smile or missing a beat, he added this little nugget: “I’m not saying this is the perfect answer. If I were dictator, which I always aspire to be, I would write it … a little bit differently.”
With the Treasury secretary likely to have a huge amount of power under any bailout scheme, McCain was asked what sort of person he was looking for to fill that job. He said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had been doing admirably.
“I think a person along Paulson’s lines,” McCain said. Given the fragility of Wall Street, he added, any candidate “probably has to have a sound grounding in the financial markets and that aspect of America’s economy.”
The Arizona senator said if elected he would recruit the brightest and the best for his Cabinet, Democrat or Republican, in government or in business.
“I’ll go out and ask them to serve the country for a dollar a year,” he said.
He mused aloud about who might be enticed into government service: billionaire Iowa businessman Warren Buffett, eBay founder Meg Whitman, or Fed-Ex chief Fred Smith.
PHOENIX – U.S. lawmakers have yet to back a plan to try and stem the global financial crisis. But the vigorous round of finger-pointing over who is to blame for it continued on the campaign trail on Tuesday as John McCain’s camp singled out Democratic rival Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton in a new ad.