Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Obama to push country of origin food labeling


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama to push country of origin food labeling

The Obama administration is throwing out food labeling rules proposed by the Agriculture Department just before George W. Bush left office, saying it wants labels for fresh meat and other foods that would show more clearly where an animal or food came from, according to consumer groups who’ve been briefed on the issue.

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Obama warns mayors not to waste stimulus money


WASHINGTON – Invoking his own name-and-shame policy, President Barack Obama warned the nation’s mayors on Friday that he will “call them out” if they waste the money from his massive economic stimulus plan.

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We’re doomed – Obama said the name of the Scottish play


Thursday, February 12, 2009

makeprofilelink(“Chris in Paris”);
Chris in Paris · 2/12/2009 10:19:00 PM ET 

We’re doomed, I say. Doomed.

Macbeth.

On a trip to Ford’s Theater, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, Obama paid tribute to the 16th president’s ability to recall passages of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth. And with that reference, he unwittingly ventured into what many theater hands believe to be dangerous territory: any mention of the name of the doomed Scottish king in a theater outside of a performance is considered verboten by many actors, who believe it will result in a cursed production — including a greater possibility of injury, bankruptcy, even death.

So does Obama have anything to fear from uttering the unluckiest word in what may be the unluckiest theater in American history? Theater-goers can relax: Many stage afficianados believe that the prohibition only applies to performers or theater hands, and non-actors have nothing to worry about.

Obama needs fast action but fortunately there are ways to move past this terrible event.

What they’re saying is “Hot potato, orchestra stalls, but Puck will make amends.”

NOTE FROM JOHN: This is clear evidence of Obama’s lack of bipartisan spirit.

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Obama signs bill extending kids’ health insurance


Wednesday, February 4, 2009(02-04) 17:14 PST WASHINGTON (AP) —

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a bill extending health coverage to 4 million uninsured children, a move he called a first step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge to provide insurance for all Americans. It was a victory for Obama a day after his nominee to shepherd his broad health care agenda stepped aside amid tax problems.Obama used an ebullient East Room signing ceremony to continue his push for his plan that would provide universal health insurance, even as he spent much of the previous day admitting he “screwed up” in naming former Sen. Tom Daschle to spearhead the health care overhaul. He wrapped the signing event in another pitch for his separate $819 billion economic plan that now is under consideration in the Senate and faces Republican opposition. “As I think everybody here will agree, this is only the first step,” Obama said of the bill that reauthorizes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. “Because the way I see it, providing coverage to 11 million children through CHIP is a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American,” he said to applause before turning to the economic recovery bill. “It won’t be easy; it won’t happen all at once,” Obama said. “But this bill that I’m about to sign, that wasn’t easy either.” Obama and his advisers see the economic crisis as his window to push through many of his campaign pledges. Renewable energy, financial regulation and even rural Internet access all have been tied to repairing the nation’s fractured economy. In the process, Obama has exposed his plan to criticism and questions that threaten to jettison the first major legislation his team has assembled. “I refuse to accept that millions of our children fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs. In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to trade-offs or negotiations, and health care for our children is one of those obligations,” Obama said, signaling he was readying for a fight. Obama has faced a difficult week, his second full one in office. Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, withdrew his nomination as secretary of health and human services after acknowledging he failed to pay taxes on a car and driver provided by a Democratic fundraiser. His departure also left in the president’s team a large gap for someone to usher through sweeping reform Obama has promised. The children’s health bill calls for spending an additional $32.8 billion on SCHIPI, which now enrolls an estimated 7 million children. Lawmakers generated that revenue by raising the federal tobacco tax. Health officials project that there are about 8 million to 9 million uninsured children in the United States. The bill went to the White House fresh from passage in the Democratic-controlled House, on a vote of 290-135. Forty Republicans joined in approval. Most Republicans, though, criticized the cost of the legislation. They also said it will mean an estimated 2.4 million children who otherwise would have access to private insurance will join the State Children’s Health Insurance Program instead. “The Democrats continue to push their government-run health care agenda — universal coverage, as they call it,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. The bill’s passages has long been a top priority of Democratic lawmakers. In late 2007, President George W. Bush twice vetoed similar bills. The Senate passed the same bill last week. Obama made it a top priority in his first 100 days and one step in his push for universal coverage by the end of his first term. “President Obama and Congress are demonstrating that change has come to Washington, and we are moving forward to improve the quality of life for American families struggling during these hard times,” said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. SCHIP was created more than a decade ago to help children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private coverage. Federal money for the program was set to expire March 31, barring action by Congress. To cover the increase in spending, the bill would boost the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 62 cents, to $1.01 a pack. Opponents of the bill complained that the tobacco tax increase hits the poor the hardest, because they are more likely to smoke than wealthier people. Many also took exception to expanding the program and Medicaid to children of newly arrived legal immigrants. Republicans said that they supported SCHIP and providing additional money for the program. However, they argued that Democrats were taking the program beyond its original intent and encouraging states to cover middle-class families who otherwise could get private insurance. “This debate is about, do we want a children’s health insurance program that covers every child in America with state and federal dollars regardless of their ability to pay?” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. “Do we want to freeze out the private sector for health insurance?” But supporters said that ensuring children had access to adequate health care was a matter of priorities. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said an estimated 4 million people have lost employer-sponsored insurance in the past year. “Do they keep their families’ health insurance or do they put food on the table at night? During this economic recession, these kinds of decisions are unfortunately becoming more common,” Pallone said.

Obama to set executive pay limits


obama2WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama kicks off a campaign on Wednesday to rein in corporate compensation with rules limiting executive pay to $500,000 a year for companies getting taxpayer bailout funds in the future.

Obama, who sharply criticized Wall Street chiefs for accepting billions of dollars in bonuses last year while the economy staggered toward collapse, had promised compensation reform as part of a package of stricter regulations on the financial industry.

The restrictions are a first step in a broad effort to overhaul pay practices and are likely to be popular with average Americans, potentially diverting attention from Tuesday’s shock withdrawal of former Senator Tom Daschle’s nomination to lead Obama’s bid to expand healthcare insurance.

Obama and senior congressional Democrats are also seeking to push through an economic stimulus package of almost $900 billion despite Republican criticism that it focuses too much on government spending and not enough on tax cuts.

An Obama administration official said the new rules would require companies that get exceptional government funds in future to abide by the cap.

Additional compensation must be limited to restricted stock that does not vest until government money is paid back with interest, according to the new rules.

Companies that have previously received bailout money — such as financial giant Citigroup and insurer AIG — would have to agree to stricter oversight and prove they have followed already established limits on executive compensation, which are widely seen as being too lax.

The White House aims to hold banking executives accountable for the government money they receive, presenting the new rules as being in the interest of shareholders and taxpayers alike.

“It’s not a government takeover,” Obama said when describing the restrictions in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

“Private enterprise will still be taking place, but people will be accountable and responsible and that’s what we have to restore in the financial system in general.”

Obama’s move comes amid public outcry over $18.4 billion in bonuses paid out in 2008 at a time when taxpayer money was shoring up the financial system.

Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner were scheduled to discuss details during an announcement at the White House at 11:00 a.m. EST.

LONG-TERM RESTRICTIONS ON BANKS

The rules will require banks to give shareholders greater say over the money paid to company chiefs, according to information provided by the administration official.

They will also put restrictions on golden parachutes — the lavish severance packages common for senior executives — and require more transparency for costs such as aviation services, big parties, office renovations and conferences.

Healthier financial institutions that receive more generally available government funds will also be subject to the requirements unless shareholders vote to waive them.

Obama, who views excessive compensation as symptomatic of the missteps that led to the financial and economic crises, will also set in motion a long-term process to rein in high salaries on Wall Street.

This includes steps to require all public financial institutions — whether they receive government funds or not — to disclose compensation arrangements and prove that they are compatible with sound risk management.

Measures to make corporate executives adopt a long-term approach to their business, such as requiring them to hold stock for several years before it can be cashed in, would also be considered.

To consolidate opinion, Treasury Secretary Geithner will hold a conference with shareholder advocates, investors, executives and other interested parties to discuss executive pay reform at banks and help set guidelines for the future, the official said.

Geithner said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that U.S. fiscal policy was about to turn “very aggressive” to battle the recession.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Obama Slams Wall Street Bonuses


Page last updated at 21:57 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009
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Obama slams Wall Street bonuses

Wall Street’s reputation is at a low ebb.
President Barack Obama says that multi-billion dollar bonuses taken by Wall Street bankers are “shameful” while taxpayers bail out their industry.
The president said their actions “were the height of irresponsibility”.
He said his administration would tell bankers they needed to show some discipline and restraint.
Mr Obama was responding to reports that employees at financial companies in New York collected an estimated $18.4bn (£12.9bn) in bonuses last year.
“It is shameful, and part of what we are going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility,” he added.
“The American people understand that we have got a big hole we have got to dig ourselves out of but they don’t like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole.”
Earlier this week, US bank Citigroup cancelled an order for a new corporate jet after President Obama questioned the wisdom of the purchase.
The White House asked whether buying the jet was the “best use of money at this point” for a bank that took $45bn (£31.6bn) of public money last autumn.

Stocks fall as Obama blasts bonuses


By Greg Morcroft, MarketWatch
Last update: 4:24 p.m. EST Jan. 29, 2009
Comments: 51
Street scrapes together $18.4 billion for bonuses
Despite the collapse of the financial system, the shuttering of several major firms and the elimination of thousands of jobs, the securities industry managed to scratch together about $18 billion of shareholder and investor cash to pay bonuses in 2008, according to DiNapoli.
“The decline is the largest on record in absolute dollars and the largest percentage decline in more than 30 years, but the size of the bonus pool is still the sixth largest on record,” DiNapoli said in a press release. See full story.
His office said late Wednesday that total Wall Street bonuses paid fell 44% in 2008, to $18.4 billion, while the average bonus fell 36.7%, to $112,020.
Greg Morcroft is MarketWatch’s financial editor in New York.