There were three big stories competing for our attention in Washington today. The first was the tragic death of former Senator Ted Stevens in a small plane crash in his home state of Alaska. Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator ever, was on a fishing trip with Sean O’Keefe, the North American chief of European aerospace giant and Airbus maker EADS, who was among the survivors.
Dominating eyeballs in the financial markets was the Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to move back in the direction of what it calls “quantitative easing.” The Fed will use cash from maturing mortgage bonds it holds to buy more government debt. So for now, there is no more talk of an “exit strategy” from the extraordinary monetary stimulus the central bank delivered during the financial crisis. It is a significant policy shift for the Fed, and a sign it does not view the recent slowing in the economy as simply a soft patch.
The third is our exclusive Reuters/IPSOS poll from Ohio, which showed Republican Rob Portman holding a narrow lead over Democrat Lee Fisher in a race marked by, guess what, concerns over the economy and unemployment. Interesting nuggets in the survey too about who voters blame for the economic mess. Bankers and Wall Street were identified by 93 percent of voters as mostly or partially to blame for the economic downturn, while Bush’s administration was blamed by 86 percent. Obama, though, did not get off scot-free, with 69 percent of voters also holding his administration at fault.
Here are our top stories from today…
Fed takes fresh steps to support fragile recovery
The Federal Reserve took fresh steps to lower borrowing costs amid a softening economic recovery, announcing it would use proceeds from its maturing mortgage bonds to buy more government debt. The decision to reinvest proceeds from the more than $1.3 trillion in mortgage-related debt the Fed holds, an effort to keep market-set borrowing costs down, represents a significant policy shift.
For the full story by Pedro da Costa and Mark Felsenthal, click here.
Republican Rob Portman leads Senate race in Ohio
Ohio Republican Rob Portman holds a narrow lead over Democrat Lee Fisher in a Senate race marked by voter worries about a stumbling economy and high unemployment, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Portman, director of the Office of Budget and Management and the Trade Representative under former President George W. Bush, leads Fisher 43 percent to 36 percent among likely voters less than three months before the Nov. 2 election for the open Senate seat.