Friday, June 02, 2006

 

The 'Deputy President'

Look, we usually leave the blogging on national economic issues to others, but we think there has not been - and maybe we have just missed it - enough discussion of the significance of the former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson to be secretary of the Treasury.

Here's our take, and let it be our closing thought for the weekend: The financial community has finally said enough is enough. As much as they like the GOP philosophy, they realize the economy has gotten extremely distorted with record deficits, war costs that are growing uncontrollably, trading partners that are increasingly at odds with American policies, etc. In short, Paulson ascendency to the Treasury post is no less than the bankers deciding its time to take the keys to the American financial machinery away from the deliquents in the White House.

Although it's steeped in his own perverted world view, we find the Lawrence Kudlow column (subscription required) in Thursday's Wall Street Journal to be a remarkable acknowledgement that Paulson is no ordinary "appointment:"
In the Rose Garden this week, President Bush said Mr. Paulson "has an intimate knowledge of financial markets and an ability to explain economic issues in clear terms." Wall Street would agree. But more importantly, the president said that "As Treasury secretary, Hank will be my principal adviser on the broad range of domestic and international economic issues that affect the well-being of all Americans."

There's a change going on here, probably a big one. Under the new Josh Bolten-run White House, Mr. Paulson is essentially being appointed deputy president for economic policy -- a mandate not given to his two predecessors. This is a bigger shakeup than meets the eye.

Up to this point of the Bush presidency, economic policy has emanated from the West Wing. The spokesmen at Treasury and OMB have been designated as communicators to sell that policy. My hunch is that the Henry Paulson appointment marks a power shift in policy making.

 

Ohio in line with the nation

Given all the new Noe and Gasper stuff, the Ohio Poll new numbers would probably be even lower if survey was done this week. But, it appears that the OP numbers are pretty much in line with the nation as a whole, and perhaps even a little bit better (or worse, if you are Bob Bennett) than a typical red state. From Quinnipiac:
American voters disapprove 58 - 35 percent of the job Bush is doing, compared to 58 - 36 percent in a March 2 survey. Even voters in red states, where Bush's margin was more than 5 percent in 2004, disapprove 52 - 39 percent.

 

Free fall: Bush, Taft hit record lows in Ohio

Yieeeeeee!!!!! Via the Univ. of Cincinnati's new Ohio Poll. Particularly note the last line of this press release.
The latest Ohio Poll finds President George W. Bush’s approval rating at 35 percent, the lowest presidential approval rating recorded by the Ohio Poll since it began in 1981. Governor Bob Taft’s approval rating of 26 percent is also the lowest gubernatorial approval rating recorded by the Ohio Poll.

These findings are based on the latest Ohio Poll, conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. The Ohio Poll is sponsored by the University of Cincinnati. The Poll was conducted between May 9 and May 21, 2006.

BUSH OVERALL APPROVAL RATING HITS RECORD LOW AT 35 PERCENT

President George W. Bush’s approval rating in Ohio is now at the lowest point in his presidency. Thirty-five percent of Ohioans approve of President Bush’s overall performance, 63 percent disapprove and two percent neither approve nor disapprove.

Bush’s approval rating (35%) is the lowest rating of a president’s performance recorded by the Ohio Poll since it began in 1981. Prior to this Ohio Poll, the lowest presidential approval rating given by Ohioans was a 45 percent approval rating of former President Bill Clinton’s performance in September 1994.

As has been the case for much of his presidency, Ohio Democrats and Republicans offer vastly different ratings of Bush’s performance. While just 13 percent of Ohio Democrats approve of the president’s performance, 63 percent of Republicans approve. However, Bush’s overall approval rating among Ohio Republicans has dipped from 84 percent in April 2005.

 

Terry RICO is cooperating

As Drew Crew reports, there is an easy way to lop 3/4ths of your sentence off:
The RICO violation carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence, but Mr. Gasper under federal sentencing guidelines likely would face from 4 years and 9 months to 7 years and 3 months in prison, Mr. White said.

Terrence Grady, Mr. Gasper’s attorney, said his client has a plea agreement with prosecutors, but he declined to offer details or comment further.
And there are plenty more corrupt brokers, unindicted co-conspirators, and significant loose threads leading into state GOP circles - enough to keep this on the front page for months to come:
Tom Hayes, executive director of the Ohio Lottery Commission, who was appointed by Mr. Taft to lead a management review committee that guided the bureau in the aftermath of the investment scandal, said he anticipates others will follow Mr. Gasper into court.

“This is a story that will continue to evolve,” Mr. Hayes said. “My sense is the matter is not closed.”

The bureau confirmed last year that Mr. Conrad, who resigned in the wake of the controversy over Noe’s rare-coin investment, had given Mr. Gasper “power of attorney,” enabling him to sign investment contracts.

“The question I always had was [about] the decision Jim Conrad made to sign the power of attorney which triggered this stuff,” Mr. Hayes said.
UPDATE: More on how Gasper's plea is a beginning rather than an end, from the Dispatch:
The prosecution of Terrence W. Gasper marks a new direction for the sweeping investigation of the investment and ethics scandals that have rocked state government for the past year.

"This is the first big (case) that deals with what we have identified as the investment side of the investigation," Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

 

Hi - we're back . . .

. . . finally cancer free (yippee!) and feelin' good.

Looks like someone needs to freshen up things around here.

But what special day it is. Actually, the good times started yesterday when we heard a collective 'squish' as nervous sphincters around the state suddenly tighted with realization that Tom Noe was really going behind bars.

Those same sphincters did an extra-special squish-a-rooni this morning when two words hit the wires this morning: Terry Gasper. See Tommy boy gave the ex-BWC investment chief a $25,000 bribe in Terry's girlfriend's name. Damn, you can't make this stuff up!

Terry's also guilty of not reporting other "income, gifts, travel, meals, entertainment and gratuities." Seems to us that the IRS might be interested in putting Terry in their sights, too.

But it looks like Terry didn't even make a pro forma attempt to plead innocent. Smells like he is cooperating, but we have to wait in see. Teasingly, the Drew Crew reminds us:
Mr. Gasper had helped steer bond business to a Cleveland bank on behalf of the late Paul Mifsud, a former chief of staff of then-Gov. George Voinovich.

Investigators noted numerous calls between Mr. Gasper and Mr. Mifsud, who was seeking consulting work from the bank. The bureau then gave the bank nearly a million in business.
And then Mark Niquette reminds us that:
"Somebody was getting greased," one witness at the grand jury told The Dispatch. "Somebody's gonna fry. Actually, a few somebodies are gonna fry."
"Squeeeeeshy squish," is the sound we like to hear.

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