Diary

MI Morning Update 2-5-09

642 Days
until Election Day

February 5,
2009

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"This is America. We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. But what gets people upset – and rightfully so – are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers."

President Barack Obama

MORNING UPDATE:

OBAMA’S SOCIALIST REPUBLIC…it’s not enough to pick winners and losers in the free market, now the Harvard elite will decide how much pay is enough for whom. Government bureaucrats will define “failure”, you know the deficit spending guys? Next, we’ll be getting notices of what jobs we “qualify” for under government support and central planning. This is VERY dangerous.

GRANHOLM ORDERS SEARCH FOR ‘FEASIBLE AND PRUDENT ALTERNATIVES’ TO COAL..Gongwers reports before the Department of Environmental Quality issues a license for a new coal-fired power plant in the state, it has to show that the plant is the best way to meet the state’s energy needs. The directive requires the DEQ to determine whether there is actually need for the plant. Then it must find that it would not be “feasible and prudent” to cover that demand using demand reduction programs, alternative energy sources or emission sequestration technology, or purchase from existing power plants. More central planning, which over 1,000 years of safe, cleaner and cleaner coal power plants???

MRP TRANSITION…we have started meeting with Ambassador Weiser and his team to go over various operations, review programs and complete a variety of tasks that will provide for a smooth transition to our new state leadership. We are working on making changes to our upcoming state convention to accomondate Ron’s plans for kicking off this election cycle and have ordered an outside audit, just like we did before to insure a clean start. It’s great to see the new energy and commitment Ron is bringing to the task…our future is bright!

RNC TRANSITION TEAM…I will be heading to Washington DC today for our first set of meetings with our Chairman Michael Steele. He has assembled a team of party leaders from across the country to help him analyze what the party is currently doing well, what needs to be changed and how we can do what we do better. I look forward to working with Chairman Steele as we help rebuild our party and move forward toward 2010. Just as an fyi, not state party funds are being used for any of these activities.

MRP STATE CONVENTION…Just a quick note to let you know that the Michigan Republican’s website has been updated with State Convention information.   For your reference in directing potential delegates to the site, the address is: http://www.migop.org/event.asp.

CPAC 2009 Timeless Principles, New Challenges…Register today for the largest gathering of conservative grassroots activists in the country! The American Conservative Union Foundation is pleased to invite you to participate in the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives. The 36th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held on February 26-28, 2009. http://www.cpac.org/.

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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

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Obama announces CEO pay caps

Carol E. Lee

Trying to regain the initiative after losing two top nominees to tax issues in 24 hours, President Barack Obama struck a populist stance on Wednesday in targeting Wall Street pay packages and luxury perks for CEOs.

Standing alongside Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the president announced a $500,000 salary cap and limits on bonuses for top executives at companies that receive substantial amounts of federal bailout money.

"We’re going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid," Obama said.

The president took care to preempt criticism that the regulations, which are much stricter than under the Bush administration, smack of Big Government.


Obama’s Salary Cap Could Seriously Hurt New York

Marcia Kramer

President Obama’s Wall Street salary cap may be well intentioned and it certainly taps into public sentiment, but it’s a killer for New York.

"Without the talent of Wall Street to bring us back into a position of leadership in the global economy, we’re going to be in bad shape as a world economic power," said Kathryn Wilde of the Partnership for New York.

Wylde says the Obama salary cap will lead to a critical brain drain – China and the United Arab Emirates have already come to poach Wall Street talent. She also says lower salaries in the financial industry will mean dramatically lower tax revenues for the city and state.



Democratic Leaders Said to Prepare ‘Buy American’ Compromise

By Mark Drajem

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) — Congressional leaders, trying to quell a dispute over “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus package, are crafting a version that would apply only when they don’t violate trade rules, according to industry officials and a congressional aide.

The lawmakers are reacting to a demand by the White House that the provisions satisfy U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization. President Barack Obama “wants to ensure that any legislation that passes is consistent with trade agreements and doesn’t signal a change in our overall stance on trade,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at a news briefing today.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s Democratic staff and aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, are working out the language, said a lobbyist who was briefed on the measure. The people familiar with the talks declined to be identified because the talks are confidential. Ways and Means spokesman Matthew Beck didn’t have an immediate comment, and Reid spokesman Jim Manley didn’t return a telephone message.



Steele to take ‘a fresh look’ at RNC

By Ralph Z. Hallow

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has summoned members of his transition team to a dinner Thursday and to a meeting at the Republican National Committee’s Washington headquarters Friday, transition team members told The Washington Times.

Mr. Steele was elected to his position last week after Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a rival for the post, withdrew from the race and threw his support to Mr. Steele. Mr. Blackwell is not part of the transition team, though it does include another Steele rival for the chairman’s job, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis.

Mr. Steele has promised to clean house at the RNC.

"My transition team will take a fresh look at everything, with an eye toward preparing to win the campaigns of the future," he said in a statement that was unusual because transition teams usually are not launched with formal public notice.



A task for Lt. Gov. Cherry or a problem?

BY RON DZWONKOWSKI • FREE PRESS ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has directed her No. 2, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, to “lead a comprehensive effort to dramatically change the shape and size of state government.” This presents an opportunity for Cherry to advance his candidacy for governor in 2010 — and also potential problems.

For now, even Republicans are lauding the idea, in their own way.

“It is encouraging that the Granholm/Cherry administration has finally seen the wisdom in what Republicans have been telling them from the beginning,” Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis said. “With the administration opting to reform our state instead of passing another mammoth tax increase, I hope that our state’s government can finally work in a bipartisan fashion to root out the structural inefficiencies that have plagued us for too long.”



Coalition for Progress received most of its $4.2M from Kalamazoo’s Stryker

Charlie Cain and Gary Heinlein / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

LANSING — Kalamazoo billionaire Jon Stryker bankrolled the state’s biggest political action committee for the second consecutive election cycle, a watchdog group reported Wednesday.

The Coalition for Progress raised more than $4.2 million during the 2007-08 election cycle, and $3.83 million of it — 91 percent — came from Stryker.

The coalition spent money on behalf of Democrats in 12 competitive state House races and helped them pick up nine seats in November — swelling their majority over Republicans to 67-43.

Ben Miller, executive director of the Coalition for Progress, said he doesn’t mind having the richest PAC — but the report may not tell the whole story.

"The fundamental difference is that we are transparent; it’s a matter of public record," Miller said. "Conservatives and Republicans can’t say the same thing. Historically, Republicans have flooded their campaign coffers with money from nonprofits, foundations and other (nonreporting) organizations."



The Stimulus Score Card

Joshua Zumbrun

The most recent version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus package, is 736 pages long. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost $884 billion if passed.

It’s a huge, risky bet. The interest alone on the spending could cost future taxpayers an additional $500 billion. So what’s in there? And, more important, will it help the economy? Those are the two biggest questions in Washington ahead of a likely vote by the Senate next week. Senators are just now looking at the entirety of the legislation.

We estimate some $350 billion is likely to flow into the economy quickly, $255 billion won’t do much, at least not in a useful time frame, and the impact of $144 billion in promised payroll tax cuts are a toss up. The remainder, about $135 billion, is comprised of dozens of smaller programs that would have little individual effect.



Lawmakers clash with SEC over Madoff probe

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON – House lawmakers on Wednesday accused the Securities and Exchange Commission of impeding their probe into how the agency failed to uncover the alleged $50 billion fraud perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.

The clash between lawmakers and high-ranking SEC officials came at a hearing after the whistleblower in the case, Harry Markopolos, said he had feared for his physical safety and would turn over new evidence to the agency showing the alleged Ponzi scheme mastermind had not acted alone.

Markopolos said he had discovered a dozen additional funds that funneled money to Madoff, "hiding in the weeds" in Europe. Managers of investment "feeder" funds that relayed money to Madoff willfully turned a blind eye to his improprieties because they were paid generous fees, Markopolos said.



We don’t have a moment to spare, but evidently we have $1 trillion

By Jacob Sullum

Last October, while campaigning in Toledo, Barack Obama called for "a new ethic of responsibility." The nation’s economic troubles, he said, occurred partly because "everyone was living beyond their means," including politicians who "spent money they didn’t have." In his inaugural address last month, Obama regretted "our collective failure to make hard choices" and heralded "a new era of responsibility."

Now President Obama, as one of his first priorities, is pushing a gargantuan "stimulus" plan that will add around $1 trillion to the national debt and cannot possibly work as advertised. Welcome to the new era of responsibility.

Remember when the problem with Americans was that we saved too little, preferring instant gratification even when we couldn’t afford it? As Obama put it in October, "we were allowed and even encouraged to spend without limits, to borrow instead of save."


Auto suppliers group in talks with Treasury for federal aid

By JEWEL GOPWANI • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

In an attempt to head off a cash shortage among the nation’s automotive parts suppliers, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association is in talks with the U.S. Treasury about federal aid that could stave off a cascade of supplier bankruptcies.

Failures in the supplier community could derail the federally aided restructuring plans at General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

“The most immediate need for the suppliers over the next four to six weeks is additional cash to cover the pending drop off in accounts receivables from their customers,” said David Andrea, vice president of industry analysis and economics at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which is a member of MEMA.