[Photo by JEFF FUSCO]

HUFFPO: “We can’t send a message to the American people that we have two sets of rules — one for prominent people and one for ordinary people,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “Ultimately I have to take responsibility for a process ObamaFrown.jpgthat resulted in us not having an HHS Secretary at a time when people need relief on their healthcare costs.” Certainly, the Daschle drama had taken the White House by a surprise. Democrats on the Hill were convinced that revelations of failed tax payments would not be enough to derail the nomination. A source with direct knowledge of Monday night’s Finance Committee meeting said that both Republicans and Democrats seemed willing to give Daschle a pass — albeit with minor slaps on the wrist. But the storm didn’t clear. And on Tuesday morning the former Senate Majority Leader informed the president of his intention to withdraw. It was Daschle’s decision alone, Obama said. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: At last, the new administration is waking up to the need for top officials to live up to the high ethical standards set by the president. It should give Americans new hope that President Obama will live up to his campaign vows to reform government. Even before the Tom Daschle choice blew up, Mr. Obama had lost some reformist luster. He nominated a lobbyist for deputy secretary of defense after pledging to keep lobbyists out of government, and his pick for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, was found to have not paid back taxes he clearly realized were due. So it was a critical mass of trouble when two other nominees for high office were found to have failed to pay taxes until the floodlight of White House appointments shone on them. Withdrawing was the only thing to do. Former Senator Daschle, who the president had chosen for secretary of health and human services, failed to pay substantial past taxes and earned a sizable income from health-related companies that would be affected by the reforms he was supposed to lead. His withdrawal need not undermine the administration’s push for health care reform. Had he won Senate confirmation, his past financial ties would have provided a handy target for critics of any plans he might put forward. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: The Obama administration is expected to impose a cap of $500,000 on the compensation of executives at companies that receive large new infusions of federal bailout money.

GOPFDRcripple_1.jpgBOB HERBERT: What’s up with the Republicans? Have they no sense that their policies have sent the country hurtling down the road to ruin? Are they so divorced from reality that in their delusionary state they honestly believe we need more of their tax cuts for the rich and their other forms of plutocratic irresponsibility, the very things that got us to this deplorable state? The G.O.P.’s latest campaign is aimed at undermining President Obama’s effort to cope with the national economic emergency by attacking the spending in his stimulus package and repeating ad nauseam the Republican mantra for ever more tax cuts […] The question that I would like answered is why anyone listens to this crowd anymore. MORE

PAUL KRUGMAN: As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending. Some of these arguments are obvious cheap shots. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.” But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major anti-stimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack. MORE

POP ECON: The problem for the GOP, is much wider than BO’s personal popularity. The real problem is that they sold us a pig in a poke and the pig turned out to be not just dead but festering putrid. And everybody knows it. As far as discussing the stimulus plan is concerned at least, the people who caused the problem have no credibility because we now know they’re the ones who caused the problem. After 30 years, there are too many people who have finally caught on to the conservative dumbshow, which is why Obama was elected in the first place. MORE



PLAYBOY: My name is Duff McKagan. By way of introduction, I play rock & roll music as a profession and have been fortunate enough to have been a founding member of both Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. I’m not tooting my own horn here, just letting you people know who I am. The beer on The Simpsons was named after me and not the opposite. You see, I was also known to be a big drinker.

Playboy has asked me to pen a weekly column on finance. This first piece will serve as sort of “mission statement” to inform you of what to expect from now until they fire me. You may be asking yourself at this point, “What the hell does this dude know about money?” Well, here is a quick version of my story:

I got sober in 1994. I suddenly found that I had a ton of time on my hands—bars and drug runs are very time-consuming passions. I found a file cabinet in my basement that held all of my GN’R financial statements from the previous six years. I began to try to make sense of these. The problem was, they weren’t written for the common person to read, and perhaps they were even meant to mislead a typical over-busy rock guy. I was 30 years old and didn’t know what any of the technical terms meant. I didn’t know what a financial “vehicle” or a “bond” (tax-free or otherwise) was, never mind the inverse relationship of supply and demand! I enrolled in a class at Santa Monica College the very next week, and it was there that I found my calling and—don’t laugh—my love of academia. MORE

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