FROM John Cassidy
Boston and the Modern Manhunt The toll from the Boston Marathon bombings is three dead and 48 still hospitalized with the total number of injured now 264. The surviving suspect's condition is said to be "fair." The motivation behind the atrocity may never be known but, in the meantime, there are many other unanswered questions. Cell phones, surveillance cameras and crowd sourcing all helped police to identify and locate the bombers by Thursday, but not before social media and professional news organizations had reported false information. Did shutting down all of Boston give amateur "terrorists" extra impact? Was it a preview of what's to come?
Ditching Big Bad Banks: Are There Alternatives? Big banks bailed out because they were "too big to fail" are now jacking up fees on small businesses and individual consumers. Bank of America plans to impose a $5 monthly fee on depositors who use debit cards. Citibank says it’ll raise fees on accounts with less than $15,000. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera says there are many "juicy angles" to be pursued. He's going with " gouging ." Is it time to transfer money to smaller institutions and credit unions? Is the entire banking system due for an overhaul? We hear from Nocera and others.
Big Banks: Are There Alternatives? Bank of America plans to impose a $5 monthly fee on depositors who use debit cards and Citibank says it'll raise fees on accounts with less than $15,000, igniting the latest firestorm over personal and small-business finance. Now that new rules require disclosure of what previously was hidden, more and more customers are looking for some place else to put their money. Quarterly reports are expected to show that big banks are feeling some pain in their profit margins. Are small depositors paying for their bad investments? Will the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be able to curb abuses?
Is What Wall Street Makes Worth What It Takes Wall Street is making money again and financial institutions could hit record profits, but the unemployment rate went up last month and businesses complain they can't get credit. Meanwhile, President Barak Obama yesterday cut a deal that will extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years. While it's hoped that the agreement will help stimulate the economy and job growth, there are plenty who say it misses the mark, that what is truly needed is a critical look at the workings of America's financial institutions. How can the financial sector be booming while the rest of the US economy remains sluggish? What roll does President Obama's extension of the Bush tax cuts play?
Wall Street's Disconnect with the American Economy Wall Street is making money again and financial institutions could hit record profits, but the unemployment rate went up last month and businesses complain they can't get credit. Meanwhile, President Barak Obama yesterday cut a deal that will extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years. While it's hoped that the agreement will help stimulate the economy and job growth, there are plenty who say it misses the mark, that what is truly needed is a critical look at the workings of America's financial institutions. How can the financial sector be booming while the rest of the US economy remains sluggish? What roll does President Obama's extension of the Bush tax cuts play?
The Financial Crisis and the Presidential Campaign With Washington Mutual the latest Wall Street domino to fall, Democrats blame John McCain for urging House Republicans to hold up the taxpayer bailout. President Bush says it just has to happen , but it's unclear if McCain wants to kill the highly unpopular measure or broker a compromise. Meantime, McCain has left Washington for Mississippi, where Barack Obama will meet him to debate foreign policy. We update the financial crisis and the political drama.
The Housing Crisis Is Eating America's Economy Home foreclosure may become an industry in itself. Today's New York Times features a California company called You Walk Away , which is looking for clients whose mortgages are now worth more than their houses, so they can't refinance to meet rising payments. For less than a thousand dollars, You Walk Away will show them how to deliver their problems back to the bank by foreclosure. Part of the problem is the idea that housing is not just a place to live, but a gold-plated investment whose value just keeps going up. What goes up must come down, leaving tens of thousands of people with increased payments on loans worth more than their houses. Are greedy banks and investors at fault? What about home buyers themselves? And what's the impact on an economy that depends on consumer spending?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey Vice President Mike Pence took the Administration's lead today in explaining why the President fired the Head of the FBI, saying, "The president made the right decision at the right time." Trump's action is being compared to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1973.
A New York Times op-ed on climate change sparks uproar The New York Times is embroiled in a public furor over a new columnist, who wrote that scientific uncertainty is reason for debate about climate change. Many conservatives are delighted. Is America's leading liberal newspaper fostering climate denial? This is the latest in our series, "The Emotional States of America."
Trump, the GOP and the rule of law Conservatives — and some Republicans — are criticizing the President for "the mess he made" in firing FBI Director James Comey. We hear about a potential successor, the possibility of "obstruction of justice" and the constitutional separation of powers.