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Obama singles out hedge fund managers, oil cos to take hit

Date: Monday, July 4, 2011
Author: Arab Times

‘Ending tax breaks required to cut deficit’

US President Barack Obama pressed his case on Saturday for achieving deficit reduction, in part by ending tax breaks and singling out hedge fund managers, oil companies and billionaires to take the hit.
Obama, a Democrat, is locked in a dispute with Republicans over how to bring down the US deficit as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent Washington from default.
Democrats insist that some tax increases be included in a deficit-cutting package.
Republicans say that would be bad for the economy.
“Now, it would be nice if we could keep every tax break, but we can’t afford them,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
“Because if we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or for hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners, or for oil and gas companies pulling in huge profits without our help - then we’ll have to make even deeper cuts somewhere else.”

Obama listed a range of areas, some of which are considered top Democratic political priorities, that would face the chopping block if such tax breaks were allowed to continue.
“We’ve got to say to a student, ‘You don’t get a college scholarship.’ We have to say to a medical researcher, ‘You can’t do that cancer research.’ We might have to tell seniors, ‘You have to pay more for Medicare,’” he said.
“That isn’t right, and it isn’t smart. We’ve got to cut the deficit, but we can do that while making investments in education, research and technology that actually create jobs.”
Senator Dan Coats, delivering the weekly Republican address, said reducing spending was the key.
“The president and Democrats in Congress must recognize that their game plan is not working,” he said. “It’s time to acknowledge that more government and higher taxes is not the answer to our problem. It’s time for bold action and a new plan to address our current crisis.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned of huge risks if Congress fails to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, potentially triggering a default that could send shivers through an already-fragile banking system.
Obama said both sides agreed spending cuts were necessary and said he and Vice President Joe Biden had made progress in getting lawmakers to agree on areas to cut.
“Over the last few weeks, the vice president and I have gotten both parties to identify more than $1 trillion in spending cuts,” Obama said.
“But after a decade in which Washington ran up the country’s credit card, we’ve got to find more savings to get out of the red. That means looking at every program and tax break in the budget - every single one - to find places to cut waste and save money.”
Fears of a default, which could disrupt everything from debt payments to retirement benefits, rose after Republicans walked out of budget negotiations led Biden last week.
Coats said Obama had to step up to get a deal done.
“Now is the time for decisive leadership from this president,” he said. “It’s time to cast aside the false safety of political denial and re-election hopes and put the future of our country above all else.”

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said Friday he will nominate Thomas Curry, a federal bank regulator, to be the US comptroller of the currency.
Curry must be confirmed by the Senate. He currently serves as a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and heads an appeals committee within the FDIC.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency regulates about 1,500 national banks, including the nation’s largest banks. The agency has been without a permanent leader since John Dugan completed a five-year term last August. John Walsh has served as acting director in the interim.
His nomination isn’t expected to face opposition in the Senate. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said Friday he planned to advance Curry’s nomination for a quick vote by the panel.
Curry “has been a strong, effective director at the FDIC for the past seven years, and his experience should serve him well as the next comptroller of the currency,” Johnson said in a statement. “In the aftermath of the financial crisis, it is important to have a Senate-confirmed comptroller in place.”
If confirmed, Curry would continue to sit on the FDIC board.

It is Obama’s first appointment of a comptroller. Dugan, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, presided over the office during the 2008 financial crisis. He was criticized by consumer advocates for opposing an effort by states to crack down on abusive lending practices. Dugan argued that it would be too costly and confusing to require banks to operate under a variety of state laws.
The comptroller’s office was one of three federal agencies that in April ordered 16 of the biggest US mortgage lenders and servicers to reimburse homeowners who were improperly foreclosed upon. Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., the nation’s four largest banks, were among the institutions cited.
The announcement on Curry was the latest move by the White House to fill key vacant positions at US financial regulatory agencies. In early June Obama nominated Martin Gruenberg as chairman of the FDIC.
Other key vacancies remain. The Federal Reserve’s board of governors has two openings and there’s a vacancy at the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled housing finance companies. Positions created by the financial overhaul law enacted last summer also remain unfilled, including the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.