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Dots Daily

Connecting the Dots that Affect Americans Daily


Mark Holbert

Mark Holbert is a regular columnist for MarketWatch.com. Follows are some of his more recent topics:



Michele Singletary
The Color of Money

Michele Singletary is a popular personal finance columnist who writes regularly for The Washington Post. Follows are several of her more recent topics:



3. BOOK CLUB ADVICE: Click Here>

* 10 Large Banks Allowed to Exit U.S. Bailout Plan | On June 9, 2009, the Feds allowed some of the largest banks, including American Express and JPMorgan Chase, to pay back TARP money, expected to amount to $63 billion with interest exceeding $4 billion to be paid to taxpayers. For the full story, Click Here>

* 10-Year Treasury Bill Hits 4% | Talk of inflation begins anew with the recent rise in interest rates paid to holders of the benchmark t-bills by the U.S. government. For details and what it means for savers and borrowers alike, Click Here>

OBAMA ROLLS: Pres. Obama's first address to joint session of Congress * Photo: whitehouse.gov 

Asheville Calls for Local Federal Recovery Project Proposals, Obama Calls for America to 'Rebuild' | On Feb. 24, 2009, President Barack Obama gave his first address to a joint session of Congress. He exhorted America to rebuild, re-energize and educate itself, Click Here> CITIES ACROSS AMERICA, INCLUDING THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE THEN REQUESTED PROPOSALS from local organizations and agencies so it can present a community portfolio of projects to be considered for funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. | The local project portfolio will be available for public review. It will also be made available to state or federal agencies. The purpose: to demonstrate the community’s capacity to effectively use recovery funds. For details about how to submit a proposal, Click Here>

For reactions to Pres. Obama's $75 billion mortgage bailout, Click Here>

Pamela Yip
Money Advice

Pamela Yip is a business columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Her articles focus on personal finances and how to best handle your money. Follows are several of her recent columns:




Earlier in 2009...

Congress Nears Passage of $789 Billion Stimulus Plan
On Feb. 12, Brian Faler and Ryan J. Donmoyer of Bloomberg.com posted their fourth update of America's largest spending proposal to date. Faler and Donmoyer write: "The agreement was a product of intense negotiations... . Democrats who control the House and Senate had stressed that they wanted to hammer out an agreement before a week-long congressional recess starts on Presidents Day, Feb. 16. Obama also spent much of this week urging lawmakers to quickly send him a bill." For the complete update, Click Here>

Stimulus Deal Reached: $789
On Feb. 11, 2009, David Espo of the HuffingtonPost.com wrote: "Moving with lightning speed, the Democratic-controlled Congress and White House agreed Wednesday on a compromise $790 billion economic stimulus bill designed to create millions of jobs in a nation reeling from recession. President Barack Obama could sign the measure within days." For Espo's complete story, Click Here>

The Stimulus Bills: House vs. Senate
On Feb. 10, 2009, Michael Grabell of ProPublica.org, wrote: "...Before the package can go to President Obama’s desk, the Senate will have to resolve differences with the House and its $819 billion version. Most predict a bruising battle that won’t wrap up until week’s end, in part because of fiery differences over tax cuts and spending on food stamps and education, a critical issue for Democrats who control the House." For the long laundry list of similarities and differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 1, Click Here>

Senate Passes $838 Billion Stimulus Bill
On Feb. 10, 2009, by a roll call vote of 61 to 36 in the U.S. Senate, the $838 billion federal stimulus bill advanced one step closer to being signed into law by President Obama. The Senate vote fell along partisan lines. All 36 who voted against the measure were Republicans. Only three Republicans Senators (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania) voted in favor of the bill, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. All Democrats voted for the bill, including Sen. Ted Kennedy. The final count was one vote more than needed to pass. The Senate version of H.R. 1 must now go back to the House to resolve differences. Writes Byron Belzak of MediaBear, "The involved taxpayer will find the Library of Congress' text of the Senate debate of H.R. 1 fascinating. Also, its summary details who will benefit from this massive spending and tax cut proposal, and who won't. For example, the bill prohibits the funding of casinos, aquariums, zoos, golf courses, and swimming pools. Fun is out -- at least for now." For the text as posted by The Library of Congress, Click Here>

Senators Work Towards Final Vote on Stimulus Bill
On Feb. 9, 2009, as President Obama took his message and sense of urgency for the passage of an $800 billion federal stimulus plan directly to the people of Elkhart, Indiana, one of America's hardest-hit cities, U.S. Senators were, reported Robert Schroeder of MarketWatch, "heading toward a 5:30 p.m. vote to cut off debate on the measure, a procedural step that would clear the way for a final vote. Democrats are confident they can take a vote as early as Tuesday on the revamped package of tax cuts and infrastructure spending." For the complete story, Click Here>

Where Will Stimulus Bring Jobs?
On Feb. 9, 2009, Andrea Coombes of the Wall Street Journal writes: "From upgrading the electricity grid to rebuilding bridges to computerizing medical records, there are plenty of ways the economic-stimulus bill aims to prop up the economy -- and create millions of jobs. But what kinds of jobs -- and who will qualify for them? For the timely article, Click Here>

Tough Math Ahead for Obama, Stimulus Plan
On Feb. 8, 2009, John Hendren of ABC News writes: "President Obama returned from his first getaway to Camp David on Sunday to face an urgent priority: pressuring Congress to avert a stimulus stalemate. The president prepares to cross country to speak in support of bill. The Senate is poised to pass a compromise $827 billion version as soon as Tuesday. The legislation would have to be reconciled with the very different $819 billion version already approved by the House. Some economists question whether either is enough." For the complete report, Click Here>

Gail MarksJarvis

Gail MarksJarvis of The Chicago Tribune writes a column, known as "Your Money," that focuses on personal finance issues.
Below is a sampling of her columns:






The Joy of Less
On June 7, 2009, NYTimes.com blogger Pico Iyer explains why his life, although one most would not choose, has allowed him the time to enjoy life's simple pleasures. He writes: "Perhaps happiness, like peace or passion, comes when it isn't pursued." For this opinion piece with reader comments, Click Here> 

Lawmakers Tentatively Agree to Stimulus Bill
On Feb. 7, 2009, Senators continued to debate the mega-billiion federal stimulus package today and appear to have reached a tentative agreement as they recessed at 3 p.m. They are set to return on Monday and hammer out final details. "Senators had trimmed the plan to $780 billion in tax cuts and spending on infrastructure, housing and other programs that would create or save jobs," reported CNNmoney.com. For this updated report, Click Here>

Governors Send Letter to Obama about Stimulus Proposal
On Feb. 6, 2009, David Vock of Stateline.org reported: "Four Republican governors joined 14 of their Democratic peers in a letter to President Barack Obama supporting the package. 'As stewards of the economies of our respective states and regions, we urge the Congress to reach prompt resolution of all outstanding differences and for you to sign the bill when it reaches your desk,' the governors told Obama." For the complete story, Click Here>

Big Rally on Wall Street
On Feb. 6, 2009, anticipation on Wall Street was running high. Hopes that Congress would approve the newly proposed $800+ billion federal stimulus package sent stocks higher. For this CNNmoney.com report, Click Here>

Obama Calls Delays on Stimulus Bill 'Inexcusable and Irresponsible'
On Feb. 6, 2009, President Barack Obama pushed back hard against critics and naysayers on Capitol Hill who would torpedo his stimulus package. “This is not some abstract debate," said Obama. "It is an urgent and growing crisis that can only be fully understood through the unseen stories that lie underneath each and every one of those lost jobs. Somewhere in America, a small business has shut its doors; a family has said goodbye to their home; a young parent has lost their livelihood, and doesn’t know what’s going to take its place.” For the nytimes.com article, Click Here>

NC's Shuler and Other 'Blue Dogs' Vote Against Simulus Package
On Feb. 5, 2009, Asheville's bloggers at ScrutinyHooligans.us took to task their U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, one of a handful of Democrats who spit on Obama's stimulus package. For the initial blog by Doug Gibson and reader comments, Click Here>

On the Front Lines of the Foreclosure Crisis
On Feb. 4, 2009, First Lady Michele Obama spoke to the staff of HUD. Said Ms. Obama: "It's of critical importance that we stem the tide of foreclosures and find a way to keep people in their homes." For her full remarks, Click Here>

We Can Do Better Than A 'Bad Bank'
On Feb. 4, 2009, George Soros provided his commentary in The Wall Street Journal about what the Obama Administration needs to do to shore up the financial system. "Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has poisoned the well by the arbitrary and ill-considered way he implemented the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)," writes Soros. "As a result, the Obama administration feels it cannot ask Congress for more money at this time." Nonetheless, Soros contends that we already have the resources to recapitalize the banks. For his opinion, Click Here>

Bad Bank, Bad Idea
On Feb. 3, 2009, truthout.com put forward a hard-hitting assessment of what's wrong with the current bank bailout policy. Writes Gerald Epstein: "The 'good bank, bad bank' idea ('bad bank' for short) is to use U.S. taxpayers' money to buy the toxic assets bankers created, put them in a nationalized 'bad bank' and leave the bankers with the good assets to deploy as they wish, meanwhile, having to endure only a mild reprimand and quite modest face-saving restrictions on their pay and dividend payments... . A much better approach is to turn the formula on its head. Let the taxpayers keep the good banks and leave the bad ones for the bankers." For the complete original commentary, Click Here>

In Response to the Collapse of the Stock Market
On Feb. 3, 2009, Byron Belzak responded to an email from a friend who was lamenting the volatility of the stock market brought on in part by unscrupulous corporate behavior. Belzak wrote: "As my dad would say, even when he played the market, 'The New York Stock Exchange is the world's largest gambling hall.' That was when he was in his forties. Now, in his ninties, he still says the same thing. Through the years he has been more right than wrong on this matter." For the whole story, Click Here>



*Obama Rolls | At first joint Congressional speech on Feb. 24, 2009, President Barack Obama exhorts America to 'rebuild' and re-energize. Click Here>





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Organizing for America: Obama makes his budget appeal directly to the public

Obama: A New Foundation for Growth ... and 'Knock on Some Doors this Saturday'
On Mar. 18, 2009, President Obama issued a YouTube video, entitled "A New Foundation for Growth" to encourage his supporters to go "block by block" and to "knock on some doors this Saturday" to promote his economic plan and promote the passage of his newly proposed federal budget. Obama needs Congress, but it's proof he needs Americans to apply pressure on Congress to pass his new budget. Obama said his budget is designed to put money back into the pockets of middle class Americans. "We must rebuild our economy on a foundation that lasts," he said, adding that his budget invests in "an affordable college education for anyone who wants to go." He also said that the budget invests in renewable energy and will provide "millions of jobs that can't be outsourced." For Obama's four-minute video, Click Here>

Fed Chairman Sees Recession End in Sight
On Mar. 15, 2009, Jeffry Bartash of Marketwatch.com wrote:
"The chairman of the Federal Reserve said in a rare interview televised Sunday that the U.S. recession will come to an end 'probably this year,' but he also warned that the nation's 8.1% unemployment rate will continue to rise. Appearing on the CBS network's '60 Minutes,' Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told correspondent Scott Pelley that concerted efforts by the government likely averted a depression similar to the 1930s. He also said the nation's largest banks are solvent and that he doesn't expect any of them to fail." | For the whole story, Click Here>

Beware of Stimulus Scams
On Mar. 12, 2009, Money Magazine's Walter Updegrave cautioned citizens about the many financial scams that are circulating, such as having to pay money to receive federal stimulus money. Writes this money expert: "You likely have money coming to you from the stimulus bill, but you won't need to pay someone to get it." For example, by the end of May 2009, Social Security's one-time economic recovery payment of $250 will be made to those seniors who qualify. For details from Social Security, Click Here> | For the whole story posted on CNNmoney.com, Click Here>

FDIC's Bair Talks about Bank Failures
On Mar. 8, 2009, Sheila Bair, chairman of the FDIC, spoke to CBS's "60 Minutes" about the past and present situation with America's banks. NoQuarterUSA.net posted the video of that interview with Bair along with commentary and quotes. | For the complete blog by SusanUnPC, Click Here>

Obama Plans Major Changes in Spending
On Feb. 26, 2009, Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear of The New York Times wrote: "President Obama’s new budget blueprint estimates a stunning deficit of $1.75 trillion for the current fiscal year, which began five months ago, then lays out a wrenching change of course as he seeks to finance his own priorities while stanching the flow of red ink. By redirecting enormous streams of deficit spending toward programs like health care, education and energy, and paying for some of it through taxes on the rich, pollution surcharges, and cuts in such inviolable programs as farm subsidies, the $3.55 trillion spending plan Mr. Obama is undertaking signals a radical change of course that Congress has yet to endorse." | For the complete story, visit nytimes.com or Click Here>

Mortgage Applications Dip as Rates Rise
On Feb. 25, 2009, CNNmoney.com reported that the Mortgage Bankers Association reported there has been "a sharp drop in demand for refinancing has fallen as mortgage rates ticked higher." | For the Reuters written story, Click Here>

OBAMA ROLLS LAST NIGHT: Pres. Obama's first address to joint session of Congress * Photo: whitehouse.gov 

Asheville Calls for Local Federal Recovery Project Proposals, Obama Calls for America to 'Rebuild'
On Feb. 24, 2009, President Barack Obama gave his first address to a joint session of Congress. He exhorted America to rebuild, re-energize and educate itself, Click Here> | EARLIER IN THE MONTH, THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE REQUESTED PROPOSALS from local organizations and agencies so it can present a community portfolio of projects to be considered for funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The local project portfolio will be available for public review. It will also be made available to state or federal agencies. The purpose: to demonstrate the community’s capacity to effectively use recovery funds. For details about how to submit a proposal, Click Here>

Some Homeowners Livid about Mortgage Bailout Plan
On Feb. 23, 2009, Jason Hidalgo of the Reno Gazette-Journal reported that some homeowners decried Pres. Obama's $75 billion plan to rescue those in danger of foreclosure. One homeowner said, "They're rewarding people who are living in homes they shouldn't be living in. ... All I want is the same rate that these people are going to get when they fall behind and their loans get modified." | For the complete report at RGJ.com, Click Here>

New Ideas for Helping Homeowners in Debt
On Feb. 22, 2009, Edmund Andrews and Louis Uchitelle of The New York Times.com wrote: "Washington is being forced to explore new ideas, among them the idea of a federal mortgage guarantee for troubled borrowers. And policy makers are listening to proposals from industry and community groups to use government funds to purchase and refinance billions of dollars in mortgages now in danger of default." | For the complete article posted on NYTimes.com, Click Here>

Housing Rescue Plan Called Unfair by Some
On Feb. 21, CapeCodTimes.com posted an AP report that explored why some struggling American homeowners are calling Pres. Obama's latest plan to help those who are falling behind on their mortgage payments unfair. While critics say "the Obama administration's latest housing rescue rewards people who bought homes they couldn't afford. Others counter that the taxpayer-financed plan will slow spiraling home prices and avert a deeper economic decline." | For the complete story, Click Here>

Analyzing the Homeowners' Rescue Plan
On Feb. 20, 2009, Eileen Appelbaum wrote in The American Prospect: "Of the 52 million U.S. homeowners with a mortgage, more than a quarter -- nearly 14 million -- are underwater. They owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, announced by President Barack Obama on Feb. 18 is intended to help some of these families stay in their home." She went on to explain that although it's a mixed bag, the move is in the right direction. | For the complete commentary, Click Here>

Seed Sales Increase, More Vegetable Gardens
On Feb. 20, 2009, Bruce Horovitz of USA Today wrote that as the recession grows, so has the interest in Americans growing vegetable gardens: "the number of homes growing vegetables will jump more than 40% this year compared with just two years ago, projects the National Gardening Association, a non-profit organization for gardening education." | For the complete story, Click Here>

Some Say the Mortgage Rescue Plan is $275 Billion
On Feb. 19, AFP, a newswire, reported that in addition to Pres. Obama's announced $75 billion plan to help homeowners in trouble of losing their homes, "the government will also put up an additional 200 billion dollars to bolster efforts by federal lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to offer affordable mortgages and bring stability to the housing market." | For the complete AFP report, Click Here>

Is Obama's Mortgage Rescue Plan Fair?
On Feb. 19, Stephanie Armour of USA Today posted a report that stated all homeowners are not pleased with the effort to limit the number of foreclosures, and "they worry that the plan amounts to a handout to homeowners who stretched to afford more than they could, and that it isn't fair to mortgage holders who make payments on time." | For the complete USAToday.com article, Click Here>

Obama Housing Rescue Plan Pushes Refinancing
On Feb. 18, 2009, Reuters reported that a key element of Pres. Obama's newly announced aid to homeowners in trouble includes the enabling of refinancing for four to five million mortgage for those who have been "responsible." | For the complete report, Click Here>

Obama Throws $75 Billion Lifeline to Homeowners
On Feb. 18, 2009, Mark Smith and Alan Zibel of AP reported that Pres. Obama threw a $75 billion lifeline to prevent up to nine million American homeowners from falling into foreclosure and to stabilize the housing market. | For the complete article posted on Yahoo.com, Click Here>

Obama Signs $787 Billion Stimulus into Law
On Feb. 17, 2008, President Obama signed the stimulus packae into law after he toured a solar panel installation project at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. His intent was to highlight the importance of America investing in 'green' technology. Robert Schroeder of MarketWatch.com wrote: "President Barack Obama signed the sprawling $787 billion economic stimulus package into law on Tuesday, saying it will help the struggling U.S. economy but warning that the recovery process will be challenging. 'Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles,' Obama said before signing the bill in Denver, Colo. 'Nor does it constitute all of what we must do to turn our economy around.' But, said Obama 'it does mark the beginning of the end' of what the U.S. needs to do to create jobs, provide relief to families and pave the way for long-term growth." | For the complete article, Click Here>

White House Launches Recovery.gov
On Feb. 17, 2009, follow the money in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on recovery.gov, an official website launched by the Obama adminstration that went live today. Later today in Denver, CO, President Obama will sign the $787 billion dollar stimulus plan into law, and all taxpayers can track online how their money is being spent. In a nutshell, the economic stimulus program is sliced and diced eight major ways: (1) tax relief, $288 billion (2) state and local fiscal relief, $144 billion (3) infrastructure and science, $111 billion (4) protecting the vulnerable, $81 billion (5) health care, $59 billion (6) education and training, $53 billion (7) energy, $43 billion (8) other, $8 billion. The website promises "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be carried out with full transparency and accountability -- and Recovery.gov is the centerpiece of that effort." Included is a one-minute video of President Obama explaining the act, which ends with his encouraging words to "come back often." | To witness where the billions are supposed to flow-- with federal agencies said to begin reporting by March 3, 2009, according to a detailed timeline -- visit recovery.gov or Click Here>





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