FROM Kevin Drum
Banks Still Pose a Significant Headache for Obama President Obama reportedly told senior bankers in a private meeting that he is the only thing standing between them and the "pitchforks," but he himself is faced with alternatives that may increase public anger. He has postponed the day of reckoning by subjecting the 19 biggest banks to "stress tests, supposedly to determine whether they have the capital to stay in business if the recession gets worse.
Banks Still Pose a Significant Headache for Obama The Obama Administration does not want to nationalize banks that appear to be failing, and Congress is not likely to come up with more bailout money. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner brushed aside concerns , saying that there's enough bank bailout money left so he won't have to ask Congress for more. But what about those "stress tests" now being conducted on the nineteen biggest banks? If the economic crisis gets worse, will they have enough money to lend? If the stress tests are set up so that nobody fails, will they have credibility? If they reveal basic problems, will result be panic rather than reassurance?
The Administration's Broad New Wiretapping Powers After months of quiet negotiations, Democrats and the Bush White house reportedly were close to a deal on the controversy between electronic surveillance of terrorists and the privacy rights of innocent Americans. Then—just as Congress was about to adjourn—the White House made new demands. Despite Democratic majorities, both houses passed legislation Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls “unacceptable.”
Bush Administration's Broad New Wiretapping Powers President Bush may be a struggling lame duck, but Democrats can still be out-maneuvered if they think they'll be called soft on terrorism. As Congress was leaving town, both houses gave Mr. Bush the wire-tapping authority he wanted, despite opposition from the Democratic leadership. The Bush White House denies it's a "broad expansion" of the President's powers, while House Speaker Pelosi calls it " unacceptable ." Civil libertarians and other Senate Democrats, including Barack Obama, say the new majority buckled under intimidation and pressure, that they "might be branded as soft on terrorism." We look at the new law and the politics that got it passed.
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