Round two of the economic crime of the century has begun. On January 12, Lawrence Summers, President Obama's designee to become director of his National Economic Council, sent a letter to congressional majority and minority leaders seeking the second half of the $750 billion approved by Congress last October.
ITEM: Reuters reported on December 30: "The Bush administration on Monday expanded its bailout of the U.S. auto industry, saying it was buying $5 billion in equity in auto and mortgage finance company GMAC and increasing a loan to General Motors by $1 billion. The action was the latest in a lengthy series of emergency government moves aimed at easing the worst credit crisis since the 1930s and limiting the severity of a year-long recession."
In an unwonted episode of lucidity, the New York Times proclaimed in a recent headlilne that the "Rescue of Banks Hints at Nationalization." Of course, the Times got most of it wrong — nothing in the recent spate of bailouts bears the remotest resemblance to President Andrew Jackson's shutting down of the Second Bank of the United States, as banking analyst, Gerard Cassidy, quoted in the Times piece, claims.
Barack Obama appointed Nancy Killefer as his "chief performance officer." It will be her job to find government waste to cut. Obama hopes to cut much of an expected $1.2 trillion federal deficit. (Most of this deficit takes the form of new bailouts and stimulus packages and can be cut anytime — but that's not "waste" in the mindset of the incoming Obama administration, which is pushing for both more bailouts and stimulus.) Killifer's problem, as aptly described by David Greising in the Chicago Tribune: "Name a government function, and there is likely a critic who sees nothing but waste, countered by an advocate who will defend every penny spent."
The price tag for the incoming Obama administration's proposed stimulus bill continues to rise. This morning, a few hours in advance of a planned announcement, the Associated Press, which managed to obtain an advance copy of the latest version of the stimulus bill drawn up by House Democrats, gave the newest figure for the stimulus as $825 billion, up $50 billion from Obama's earlier proposal.