Diary

MI Morning Update 12-13-08

690 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY

December 13, 2008

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“But to be successful, our party must be more than a loyal opposition. Simply opposing the Democrats will guarantee another four years in the wilderness after Obama’s re-election in 2012. We can build our new majority one idea at a time, one neighborhood at a time, and one email at a time. By sticking to our core values and focusing on delivering results, we can start our comeback and show America that Republicans are once again a party that keeps its promises and solves problems.”

Saul Anuzis in an op-ed published in POLITICO

MORNING UPDATE:

CONSERVATIVE IDEAS CAN WIN…I published an op-ed piece in yesterday’s POLITICO journal about how we as conservative Republicans can and should win elections. Please take a look.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16425.html

TOWN HALL TWITTER…last night we had our first Town Hall Twitter #THT. Ken Blackwell and I started out together, but he fell off or our timing got screwed up, but it was fast, fun and informative. A great Q & A. Join me @sanuzis on Twitter.com.

 

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TWITTER…anyone can follow my daily activities and impressions throughout the day by joining and following along. Twitter.com is another social networking site most easily described as a type of instant messaging – but with tons of people. You can follow the ‘tweets’ of others – and they follow you and what you write. The catch is that your posts are limited to 140 characters. But for many, that’s enough to say the important things. To follow me go to:

http://twitter.com/sanuzis

FACEBOOK…is a great “social networking” tool that many Republicans are using. This is particularly popular with College Republicans, TeenAge Republicans and Young Republicans. If you would like to become a “friend” join me here.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home

TODAY’S TOP STORIES

The following stories and more are available at my
Articles of Interest online.


Detroit Gets Access to Bailout Funds

By JOHN D. MCKINNON, DEBORAH SOLOMON and GREG HITT

WASHINGTON — Throwing a lifeline to Detroit’s ailing automakers, the White House reversed course Friday and said it would consider using the $700 billion financial-rescue plan to avert a bankruptcy of the Big Three that could deepen the U.S. recession.

The announcement came hours after negotiations collapsed in Congress over a compromise bailout plan fiercely opposed by Senate Republicans. That package would have set up $14 billion in loans to the companies and a government-run restructuring process.

The loans to be offered could be more limited than the $14 billion that Congress was contemplating — perhaps closer to $8 billion, one person familiar with the situation said. General Motors Corp. would be a recipient, this person said. GM is hoping President George W. Bush will come through with about $10 billion to keep the company going. It warned Congress it needed at least $4 billion by the end of the month.

 

Comparison of automakers’ labor costs

 

Hourly wages and labor costs at factories owned by the Detroit Three came under scrutiny this week when senators questioned whether the struggling trio’s union contracts make them uncompetitive with foreign automakers that have U.S. factories.

This is a comparison of average hourly wages at the automakers as well as the “all-in” total hourly labor cost, including wages, benefits, pensions and retiree health care. Retiree health care is a large component of the costs at the Detroit Three.

U.S. automakers contend the transplants are understating their costs and those companies’ total labor costs run from $49 to $51 per hour. The Detroit Three say that once retiree health care costs are shifted to the United Auto Workers union and a $14 per hour wage rate for newly hired workers takes full effect, their costs will drop to around $54 to $62 per hour.


Conservative ideas can still win

By SAULIUS “SAUL” ANUZIS

The Republican Party must shift toward the center say some pundits. Others urge a tilt to the right. The right answer is that our party must move forward as a party of ideas, innovation, and – yes – conservatism.

The first step is admitting that we were “thumped” in two straight elections not because of ideology but because of hypocrisy. What had been a party dedicated to the power of the American dream and individual freedom lost its way, mired in pork barrel spending and Wall Street bailouts. Barack Obama seized on this opportunity and won many Americans to his side by promising to deliver on our broken promises.

Rebuilding the Republican Party means reclaiming that vision of hope and opportunity for all, one idea, one neighborhood and one email at a time. For too long, our party has simply focused on finding voters who already agreed with us and getting them to the polls, but somehow we forgot about delivering a compelling message that inspired new members to join our cause. To win, we must do both, and here’s how:


GOP 5.0: What next for Lincoln’s party?

By HUGH HEWITT

There have been four modern GOPs: Barry Goldwater’s, Richard Nixon’s, Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s.

In the next year, a new GOP will begin to take shape, one that could make significant gains in the congressional elections of 2010, but only if it takes key steps quickly and commits to core reforms completely.

I have spent a lot of radio time on the subject since the election, talking on-air with, among others, former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and former Bush adviser Karl Rove, The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer, would-be RNC chairmen Michael Steele and Saul Anuzis, and three of the GOP’s brightest tech gurus on the technology gap that currently yawns between Republicans and Democrats.


Fund Fraud Hits Big Names

By ROBERT FRANK, PETER LATTMAN, DIONNE SEARCEY and AARON LUCCHETTI

New potential victims emerged of Wall Street veteran Bernard Madoff’s alleged giant Ponzi scheme, with international banks, hedge funds and wealthy private investors among those sorting out what could amount to tens of billions of dollars in losses.

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, GMAC LLC Chairman J. Ezra Merkin and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman were among the dozens of seemingly sophisticated investors who placed money on what could prove to be history’s largest financial scam.

Giant French bank BNP Paribas, Tokyo-based Nomura Holdings Inc. and Neue Privat Bank in Zurich are also exposed, according to people familiar with the matter.


The Key Numbers Behind the Bailouts

By JON HILSENRATH

Another day, another bailout.

Keeping score on government bailouts has become a nettlesome task. Using the most expansive counting possible, the U.S. has pledged to spend, invest or loan as much as $10 trillion to backstop or bailout banks, money-market funds, depositors and many others. Yet the final tab is likely to be much, much smaller.

Consider the Federal Reserve’s pledge to backstop a $1.3 trillion piece of the commercial-paper market by buying this short-term corporate debt itself. So far it has invested $312 billion in the program; Fed officials expect to get all that back with interest. It is only taking the paper of high-rated companies and has different forms of security.

Do you count the $1.3 trillion market it has pledged to backstop, the $312 billion it has thus far invested, or nothing at all because it expects to get its money back? Defining the parameters of a count is also tricky. Do you count the $168 billion fiscal stimulus package that had come and gone before the September blowup in financial markets?

 

Jim Rogers calls most big U.S. banks “bankrupt”

 

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jim Rogers, one of the world’s most prominent international investors, on Thursday called most of the largest U.S. banks “totally bankrupt,” and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded.

Speaking by teleconference at the Reuters Investment Outlook 2009 Summit, the co-founder with George Soros of the Quantum Fund, said the government’s $700 billion rescue package for the sector doesn’t address how banks manage their balance sheets, and instead rewards weaker lenders with new capital.

Dozens of banks have won infusions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program created in early October, just after the Sept 15 bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEHMQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). Some of the funds are being used for acquisitions.


Senator flags $1.3 billion as gov’t waste

By Ken Dilanian, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — As the budget deficit soared, infrastructure crumbled and the economy tanked, the federal government this year spent $300,000 for a California skateboarding park, $188,000 to research Maine lobsters and $3.2 million on a spy blimp the military doesn’t want, according to a new report by the Senate’s self-styled spending scourge.

The report, to be released today by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., lists more than $1.3 billion of what it calls wasteful projects in 2008.

Coburn, who often seeks to force votes and debates on projects inserted by fellow senators, says he wants to work with President-elect Barack Obama, who promised last month to go over the federal budget line by line and “eliminate programs we don’t need.”


Sound and Unsound Economies

Like other leaders across the country, Gov. David Paterson of New York is facing a frighteningly large hole in his state budget: a $12.5 billion deficit for the $125 billion spending plan he is set to announce next week. Deep reductions are necessary. But the sort of across-the-board, everyone-shares-the-pain cuts that Mr. Paterson has been talking about could impose too much pain on vital state functions, including higher education, and take too little out of programs that can and should be cut.

Here are suggestions for a more targeted process:

CLOSE AND CONSOLIDATE The governor can start by canceling Empire Zones, a program created to help bring jobs to poorer areas that has turned into one of the biggest boondoggles in the state. Mr. Paterson and the Legislature must finally close upstate prisons that have few or no prisoners. And a hospital consolidation plan proposed during former Gov. George Pataki’s watch needs to be completed to save money and close wards with empty beds.

It is also time for the Legislature to adopt a workable plan to consolidate New York’s 10,500 overlapping governments. They can sell this to local areas as a way to cut property taxes.

 

Nowhere to Hide

 

Here are the fruits of Robert Mugabe’s rule of horrors: political chaos, economic collapse, desperate food shortages, violence and now a fierce cholera epidemic. Eight-hundred people have died. More than 16,000 are infected, and there is no end in sight.

The increasingly delusional Mr. Mugabe — Zimbabwe’s illegitimate president — announced on Thursday that the cholera crisis is over. Tell that to the Chigudu family which, as The Times’s Celia Dugger reported, lost five children, aged 20 months to 12 years, in a matter of hours. Or to the World Health Organization, which warns that the crisis now poses a regional threat.

Mr. Mugabe blames the West for the epidemic that is spread by water contaminated with human excrement. The blame is all his. Water taps in the capital’s dense suburbs went dry last week, so people could not wash their hands or food. Hospitals are closed. Garbage is everywhere. Sludge spews from burst sewer lines.