Obama to address Congress, nation on economy

WASHINGTON – Barreling ahead on a mammoth agenda, Barack Obama is ready to offer a detailed sketch of the first year of his presidency, casting the nation’s bleeding economy as a tangle of tough, neglected problems.

In a prime-time speech to Congress and millions watching at home, Obama will make his case Tuesday that much more has to be done to turn around the economy — a message he knows he must explain.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Obama will provide more details about his financial stability plan and measures to help the economy while delivering “a sober assessment about where we are and the challenges we face.”

“He’ll say we’re on the right path to meeting these challenges, and there are better days ahead,” Gibbs said.

Obama approaches this moment riding a strong, upbeat sentiment among the public. Overall, 68 percent of people approve of his job performance, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds. A New York Times/CBS News polls finds that more than three-quarters of those surveyed were optimistic about the next four years with Obama in charge, and similar majorities said they were confident in his ability to make the right decisions about the economy.

Still, the president faces steep challenges. The nation is nearly dizzy keeping up with what’s emerged from Washington during Obama’s first weeks as president, from a staggering $787 billion stimulus plan to a revamped bailout for the financial sector to a rescue plan for struggling homeowners.

And investors are dour. Wall Street took another pounding Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling to its lowest close since 1997.

Although Obama is too new in office to be delivering a State of the Union address, his speech will have all the same trappings. It comes two days before he delivers a budget blueprint to Congress. Unlike that detail-driven document, his address will be broad, spelling out what he wants and how he will do it.

The economy, in its worst tailspin in decades, will dominate. Obama will touch on foreign policy, but that will largely be left for other upcoming speeches. This will not be a rollout of one policy initiative after another.

Obama will make clear that the trillion-dollar-plus deficit is one he “inherited.” In other words, he wants to remind people that President George W. Bush and the previous Congress left him a big hole, forcing him to pursue the costly stimulus package.

The president will push for movement on ensuring health coverage for all Americans. He will seek to expand educational opportunities, and diversify the country’s energy sources, and contain sacred entitlements like Social Security, and halve the soaring budget deficit in four years.

His rhetorical mission is to show not only how all those pieces connect to the health of the economy, but why they must be pursued simultaneously.

Gunning for so much at once is complicated, both in terms of the issues themselves and the politics. Senior presidential adviser David Axelrod acknowledged Monday there is a risk in taking on too much.

“I think the bigger concern,” he said, “is to not be aggressive at a time when a tepid approach could really consign us to a long-term economic catastrophe. We believe the times demand vigor and aggressive action, and so we’re having to do a lot of things at once.”

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Obama’s speech amounts to a coming-out party.

“You never know what a salesman’s going to sell you until he shows up at your door,” Issa said of his expectations. “If he gives us a narrow set of priorities that can be executed, and they don’t just involve more spending, then I think it will be refreshing. If he gives us a long laundry list, which most presidents do, then although it will set the agenda … it won’t be as meaningful.”

In many ways, though, Obama will be speaking directly to the American people. Daily followers of Obama’s rhetoric are not likely to be surprised by Obama’s words, some of which will be repeats. He is trying to reach millions of people who don’t get to hear him every day.

So Obama will say that the crises facing the nation are so large they can only be solved in bipartisan ways. He will be blunt about the country’s woes but try to balance that talk with optimism. He will talk about his travels as president so he can focus on the stories of communities outside Washington.

Asked in an MSNBC interview how the president plans to make good on his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, Gibbs said, “The biggest thing we’re going to do is cut the amount of money we spend each year in Iraq.”

He said Obama also planned to talk about necessary investments and about taxes.

“I think the president believes very clearly that we have to be honest about where we are,” Gibbs said. “Tonight, he will tell the country that we’ve faced greater challenges than we face now and we’ve always met those challenges.”

There is sure to be ceremony as Obama arrives in the well of the House. His speech is tentatively at 45 minutes, accounting for applause time.

source : news.yahoo.com


Forecasters: Economy worse in ’09, better in ’10

WASHINGTON – Brace yourself: The recession is projected to worsen this year. The country stands to lose a sizable chunk of economic activity in 2009 as consumers at home and abroad retrench in the face of persistent economic troubles. And the U.S. unemployment rate — now at 7.6 percent, the highest in more than 16 years — is expected hit a peak of 9 percent this year.

That gloomy outlook came from leading forecasters in the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics to be released Monday. The new estimates are roughly in line with other recent projections, including those released last week by the Federal Reserve.

“The steady drumbeat of weak economic and financial market data have made business economists decidedly more pessimistic on the economic outlook for the next several quarters,” said NABE president Chris Varvares, head of Macroeconomic Advisers.

All told, Varvares and his fellow forecasters now expect the economy to shrink by 1.9 percent this year, a much deeper contraction than the 0.2 percent dip projected in the fall.

If the new forecast is correct, it would mark the first time since 1991 the economy actually contracted over a full year and would be the worst showing since 1982, when the country had suffered through a severe recession.

Vanishing jobs, shrinking nest eggs, rising foreclosures and tanking home values have forced American consumers to cut back, which in turn has caused businesses to lay off workers and slash costs in other ways, feeding a vicious downward cycle for the economy.

The current recession, which started in December 2007, is posing a major challenge to Washington policymakers, including President Barack Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. That’s because its root causes — a housing collapse, credit crunch and financial turmoil — are the worst since the 1930s and don’t lend themselves to easy or quick fixes.

“As the news on the economy has darkened, so too, have the forecasts,” said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. “We are suffering a period of maximum stress on the economy.”

The economy is expected to remain feeble this year — even with new efforts by the administration and Congress to provide relief.

Just over the past few weeks, a $787 billion recovery package of increased government spending and tax cuts was signed into law, the president unveiled a $75 billion plan to stem home foreclosures and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said as much as $2 trillion could be plowed into the financial system to jump-start lending.

In terms of lost economic activity in 2009, the biggest hit will come in the first six months, forecasters said.

NABE forecasters now expect the economy to slide backward at a staggering pace of 5 percent in the current January-March quarter. That’s a sharp downgrade from the 1.3 percent annualized drop projected in the old survey.

“Further pronounced weakness in housing and deteriorating labor markets underscore the risks for 2009,” Varvares said.

Many economists believe that the current quarter will be the worst of the recession in terms of the bite to gross domestic product, which is the value of all goods and services produced within the U.S. and is the broadest barometer of the country’s economic health.

The second quarter of this year also will be a lot weaker, with the forecasters now calling for the economy to contract at a 1.7 percent pace, compared with the prior projection of 0.5 percent growth.

In the second half of this year, the economy should expand, but still less than what economists thought just a few months ago. NABE forecasters believe home sales and housing construction should hit bottom by the middle of the year, which would help stabilize the economy. Home prices, however, are expected to keep falling, according to other experts.

NABE forecasters predicted that when all is said and done the recession will have caused GDP to decline 2.8 percent. That would be “slightly less than the 3.1 percent during the early ’70s,” according to the survey of 47 forecasters taken between Jan. 29 and Feb. 12.

Even in the best-case scenario, with the recession ending sometime in the second half of this year, employment conditions will be tough.

Some of the forecasters said the nation’s unemployment rate could rise as high as 9 percent for all of 2009 and hit 10 percent next year. In 2008, the jobless rate averaged 5.8 percent, the highest since 2003. The survey’s median forecast — or middle point — called for the unemployment rate to rise to 8.4 percent this year and 8.8 percent next year.

Companies touching every part of the economy have announced thousands of layoffs already this year and more cuts came last week. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., said it will cut nearly 5,000 jobs, or almost 7 percent of its work force, this year, following the elimination of about 4,000 jobs in the second half of last year. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler, which are asking the government for billions more in aid to remain viable, announced plans to cut 50,000 more jobs, 47,000 of which would be at GM.

The Fed said the unemployment rate could stay elevated into 2011. Some analysts think the jobless rate won’t drift down to a more normal range of around 5 percent until 2013 — at the earliest.

Companies won’t ramp up hiring until they feel confident that any recovery has staying power. That’s why employment is usually the last piece of the economy to reap the benefits of a recovery.

“A meaningful recovery is not expected to take hold until next year,” said Varvares.

NABE predicts GDP will rebound in 2010, averaging 2.4 percent over the course of the year. The Fed, too, is forecasting that the economy will grow again in 2010_ and will pick up momentum in 2011.

Even so, the Fed is still guarded about any turnaround.

Given all the negative forces weighing on consumers and businesses, the economic recovery “would be unusually gradual and prolonged,” the Fed said.

source : news.yahoo.com

Asian markets fall as Japan’s recession deepens

HONG KONG: Most Asian stock markets fell Monday, as new figures showed Japan’s economy contracted at its quickest pace in 35 years and Group of Seven finance ministers warned the global slump will drag on through most of the year.

The fourth quarter GDP numbers out of Japan, worse than many forecasts, were a sobering reminder of the toll on Asia’s export-driven economies as world demand collapses amid the worst slump in decades.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average edged down 29.23 points, or 0.4percent, to 7,750.17, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 118.07points, or 0.9 percent, to 13,436.60. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.4 percent to 1,176.23. India’s benchmark dropped more than 3 percent, Australia’s stock measure eased 1.2 percent and Singapore’s index was off 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Shanghai’s main index jumped 3 percent as mainland stocks extended their rally in the new year. In Japan, several exporters were hurt by the data showing the economy sank deeper into recession. Shares in Toyota Motor Corp. lost 0.7 percent, while electronics heavyweight Canon Inc. slid 1.2 percent. Sony Corp. lost 1.3 percent. Also weighing on markets were declines on Wall Street last week.

source : jang.com.pk

India’s NTPC, NPC plan 2,000 MW nuclear power unit

MUMBAI: Indian state-run firms NTPC Ltd and Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd have agreed to form a joint venture to build 2,000 megawatts nuclear power plant in India.

NTPC, India’s largest power utility, will hold 49 percent stake in the venture, it said in a statement over the weekend. Nuclear Power Corp will hold the majority 51 percent stake. It did not disclose financial details, but Indian newspapers estimated investment in the join venture would total 150 billion rupees ($3 billion) over eight years, with the two firms bringing in 50 billion rupees as equity.

India signed a nuclear pact with the United States last year, giving New Delhi access to civilian nuclear fuel and technology for the first time in three decades, and opening up a potential multi-billion dollar market to global trade.

The country hopes to generate 20,000 MW through nuclear power by 2020, boosting supply for its power-starved economy, which currently faces shortages of up to 16 percent at peak hours. Existing nuclear power capacity stands at about 4,000MW.

source : jang.com.pk

Gregg withdraws as commerce secretary nominee

WASHINGTON – Saying “I made a mistake,” Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew as commerce secretary nominee on Thursday and left the fledgling White House suddenly coping with Barack Obama’s third Cabinet withdrawal. Gregg cited “irresolvable conflicts” with Obama’s policies, specifically mentioning the $790 billion economic stimulus bill and 2010 census in a statement released without warning by his Senate office.

Later, at a news conference in the Capitol, he sounded more contrite.

“The president asked me to do it,” he said of the job offer. “I said, yes. That was my mistake.”

Obama offered a somewhat different account from Gregg.

“It comes as something of a surprise, because the truth, you know, Mr. Gregg approached us with interest and seemed enthusiastic,” Obama said in an interview with the Springfield (Ill.) Journal-Register.

Later, he told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that he was glad Gregg “searched his heart” and changed course now before the Senate confirmed him to the Cabinet post. He also said Gregg’s withdrawal won’t deter him from working with Republicans and trying to change the partisan ways of Washington.

“Clearly he was just having second thoughts about leaving the Senate, a place where he’s thrived,” Obama added.

The unexpected withdrawal came just three weeks into Obama’s presidency and on the heels of several other Cabinet troubles. The new president is in the midst of expending political capital in Washington — and around the country — for his economic package and is seeking to move forward with an ambitious agenda in the midst of an economic recession while the country continues to face threats abroad.

Now Obama also finds himself needing to fill two vacancies — at Commerce and at the Health and Human Services Department. Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for that post amid a tax controversy. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was confirmed despite revelations that he had not paid some of his taxes on time.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was Obama’s first choice as commerce secretary. He withdrew in early January following disclosure that a grand jury is investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the awarding of contracts in his state. Richardson has not been implicated personally.

Gregg was one of three Republicans Obama had put in his Cabinet to emphasize his campaign pledge that he would be an agent of bipartisan change.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Gregg told the White House early this week that he was having second thoughts and met with Obama about them during an Oval Office meeting on Wednesday. Emanuel said there were no hard feelings and “it’s better we figured this out now than later.”

“He went into this eyes open and he realized over time it wasn’t going to be a good fit,” Emanuel added.

Gregg said he’d always been a strong fiscal conservative and added: “It really wasn’t a good pick.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Gregg said, “For 30 years, I’ve been my own person in charge of my own views, and I guess I hadn’t really focused on the job of working for somebody else and carrying their views, and so this is basically where it came out.”

Gregg, 61, said he changed his mind after realizing he wasn’t ready to “trim my sails” to be a part of Obama’s team.

“I just sensed that I was not going to be good at being anything other than myself,” he said.

The New Hampshire senator also said he would probably not run for a new term in 2010.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Gregg a friend and said, “I respect his decision.” But Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he wished Gregg “had thought through the implications of his nomination more thoroughly before accepting this post.”

In his statement, Gregg said his withdrawal had nothing to do with the vetting into his past that Cabinet officials routinely undergo. He told the AP he foresaw conflicts over health care, global warming and taxes.

He also cited both the stimulus and the census as areas of disagreement with the administration.

When the Senate voted on the president’s massive stimulus plan earlier this week, Gregg did not vote. The bill passed with all Democratic votes and just three Republican votes. Asked by reporters whether the White House could have used his vote on the plan, Gregg said “I’m sure that’s true” and he said the administration had asked him to vote for it.

Conservatives in both houses have been relentless critics of the centerpiece of Obama’s economic recovery plan, arguing it is filled with wasteful spending and won’t create enough jobs.

The Commerce Department has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau, and the administration recently took steps to assert greater control. The outcome of the census has deep political implications, since congressional districts are drawn based on population.

Gregg’s announcement also undid a carefully constructed chain of events.

The New Hampshire senator had agreed to join the Cabinet only if his departure from the Senate did not allow Democrats to take his seat.

New Hampshire’s Democratic governor, John Lynch, in turn, pledged to appointed Bonnie Newman, a Republican and a former interim president of the University of New Hampshire.

She, in turn, had agreed not to run for a full term in 2010, creating an open seat for Democrats to try to claim.

In a statement, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Gregg “made a principled decision to return and we’re glad to have him.”

Lynch, who spoke to Gregg several hours before the announcement, said he respected Gregg’s decision to withdraw and remain in the Senate. He thanked Newman for her willingness to serve.

A day after Gregg’s nomination had been announced, the AP reported that a former staffer, Kevin Koonce, was under criminal investigation for allegedly taking baseball and hockey tickets from a lobbyist in exchange for legislative favors while working for Gregg.

The senator said at the time that he had been told he was neither a subject nor target of the investigation, and would cooperate fully.


Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven and Andrew Taylor in Washington, Ben Feller in Springfield, Ill., and Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

source : news.yahoo.com

Asian markets crude prices steady

SINGAPORE: Oil prices remained steady near $40 a barrel in early Asian trade Tuesday ahead of an US economic stimulus package expected to be approved this week.

Light sweet crude for March delivery slid 1 cent to $39.55 a barrel at 10.00 a.m Singapore time. On Monday the contract settled down 61 cents at $39.56 a barrel in New York. London Brent crude rose 2 cents to $46, maintaining a rare premium against US prices.

Investors and governments worldwide are keeping an anxious eye on US plans to stimulate its economy and rescue its banks on Monday, hoping the world’s largest economy can lead the way out of a global crisis.

source : jang.com.pk

Kuwait announces economic stimulus package

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait on Sunday unveiled a multi-billion dollar stimulus plan that includes wide-ranging state guarantees for bank loans and assisting troubled investment firms to repay their debts.

Draft legislation approved by the cabinet on Thursday stipulates that the state would guarantee 50 percent of an estimated four billion dinars (13.8 billion dollars) of new credit facilities to be granted by banks to local companies.

“This is a way to encourage local banks to provide fresh credit to productive local companies to overcome shortage of cash,” governor of Kuwait central bank Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz al-Sabah told a media conference.

Under the legislation, the state would guarantee half the credit facilities that would be provided by banks to local investment companies to help them repay part of their debt.

Sheikh Salem said that debt on the 99 Kuwaiti investment firms is five billion dinars (17.3 billion dollars), 7.6 billion dollars of which are owed to foreign banks and financial institutions.

The governor said that the package is estimated to cost public funds a maximum of 1.5 billion dinars (5.2 billion dollars).

The draft legislation, which is expected to go before parliament soon, also guarantees for 15 years any drop in the value of local banks’ investment and real estate portfolios.

The package aims to “safeguard the financial system and stabilise the domestic economy against the fallout of the global economic crisis,” the governor said.

Last year, Kuwait guaranteed deposits of all banks operating in the country.

A number of Kuwaiti investment companies have defaulted on loans as credit facilities have become difficult to obtain and the value of their assets has dropped sharply.

Some of them have laid off a number of employees and cut the salaries of others as the price of their shares on the stock market has dropped sharply.

Last week, lawmakers urged swift government intervention to rescue the local economy from what they called an imminent collapse.

A number of lawmakers are however demanding the money be used to help ordinary Kuwaitis rather than bailing out wealthy businessmen.

source : jang.com.pk

US seven major firms layoff over 72,000 employees

NEW YORK: US seven major business firms Monday on the first day of the week further relieved of over 72,000 of their employees in the wake of the global recession.

Among the companies, which resorted to massive downsizing, machinery manufacturing giant firm Caterpiller topped the list by relieving of their 20,000 employees, while the world’s largest pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and telecommunication organization Sprint Nextel have announced 8,000 job cuts. Besides, Home Depot, Dutch Financial Group sacked 7000 of their employees and Texas Instrument 3,400. American economy continued its downward spiral with business economists predicting many more U.S. job losses in 2009.

source : jang.com.pk

Arab leaders focus on economy, aid after Gaza divide

KUWAIT: Arab leaders looking to bridge sharp divisions over Israel’s Gaza offensive will agree at a summit on Tuesday to launch a $2 billion reconstruction fund and call for greater economic cooperation.

Differences over how to deal with the three-week Israeli offensive that killed more than 1,300 people highlighted the divide between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and their allies on one side, and Syria, Qatar and their allies on the other. In a bid to restore unity, Saudi King Abdullah on Monday hosted a lunch attended by the leaders of Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Kuwait at which they agreed to patch up their differences over Gaza. Leaders were expected to back a $2 billion fund to rebuild Gaza. Saudi Arabia has committed $1 billion to the fund. The final declaration would concentrate on increased economic cooperation, with the emphasis on energy.

source : jang.com.pk

Obama: Geithner will be confirmed despite mistake

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama called disclosures about Treasury choice Timothy Geithner’s tax problems an embarrassment Wednesday but said Geithner’s “innocent mistake” shouldn’t keep him from confirmation as the new administration’s top official in urgent efforts to revive the economy.

The revelations that Geithner had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes several years ago derailed Senate Democrats’ plans to speed him to confirmation by Inauguration Day, but senators in both parties said the information was unlikely to torpedo his chances in the end.

Obama had hoped for approval by Tuesday, but senators now have scheduled Geithner’s confirmation hearing for next Wednesday, with Senate debate and a vote sometime after that.

Two Republicans objected to scheduling a confirmation hearing this Friday at the Senate Finance Committee after the panel disclosed Geithner had failed to pay taxes he owed for several years. Democrats were working to clear away the obstacles, holding out hope that he could still be confirmed the day Obama is sworn in.

The president-elect, asked about the situation on Wednesday, said, “Look is this an embarrassment for him? Yes. He said so himself. But it was an innocent mistake. It is a mistake that is commonly made for people who are working internationally or for international institutions. It has been corrected. He paid the penalties.”

“My expectation is that Tim Geithner will be confirmed,” Obama said.

He spoke at his transition office after a meeting with Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., about their recent trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Democrats and Republicans on the Finance Committee voiced strong support for Geithner, who was phoning senators individually in an effort to persuade them his tax problems were the result of innocent errors, not deliberate attempts to avoid paying the Internal Revenue Service.

Senators’ comments suggested that Geithner’s tax troubles are being viewed on Capitol Hill more as embarrassing mistakes than as disqualifying misdeeds. That’s despite the fact that tax problems have sunk other government nominees, including Zoe Baird, Bill Clinton‘s choice for attorney general, who stepped aside when word leaked that she had hired illegal immigrants as household workers and failed to pay their Social Security taxes.

“It’s an honest mistake,” said Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the committee, adding that Geithner’s confirmation was “a given.”

Geithner is “very, very competent, and add to that the country needs to have an economic team in place immediately to address the dire economic problems,” he said.

Sen. Jon S. Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican, is blocking the hearing by insisting on rules that require a full week’s notice for scheduling such a session, according to an aide close to the confirmation process. Kyl’s objection was disclosed on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to announce it.

A second Finance Committee Republican, Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, was also balking at expediting the hearing.

Senator Bunning did not feel it was appropriate to rush forward with the hearing this week in light of the late-breaking information,” said his spokesman, Mike Reynard. “He wanted more time to carefully consider” the disclosures.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the senior Finance Republican, said he was not inclined to oppose a quick hearing. He planned to meet individually with other GOP members of the panel to see whether they could agree on the Friday session.

“I’m not saying at this point it’s disqualifying,” Grassley told reporters in a conference call. “But it’s a little more important about income tax for somebody that’s overseeing the IRS than there is, maybe, for the secretary of agriculture, as an example.”

Whenever he goes before the Finance panel, Geithner — whose responsibilities in his new post would include authority over the IRS — is likely to face a grilling about his tax errors.

He failed to pay self-employment taxes for money he earned from 2001 to 2004 while working for the International Monetary Fund, according to materials released by the committee Tuesday.

He paid some of the taxes in 2006, after an IRS audit discovered the discrepancy for taxes paid in 2003 and 2004. But it wasn’t until much later — days before Obama tapped him to head Treasury late last year — that Geithner paid back most of the taxes, incurred in 2001 and 2002. He did so after Obama’s transition team found that Geithner had made the same tax mistake his first two years at the IMF as the one the IRS found he made during his last two years there.

Despite the disclosures, several committee Republicans appeared to be leaning toward backing Geithner. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah called the tax problems “a mistake that a human being can make.”

“I’m confident in the man’s ability. I think he’s a very fine man. I’m not one that holds mistakes against people,” Hatch said.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who said he spoke with Geithner for about a half-hour Wednesday morning, said he didn’t foresee trouble for the nominee.

“I don’t think I see enough in there to cause a problem,” Ensign said. “It’s very, very easy to make honest mistakes.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he’d probably vote to confirm Geithner.

Obama’s team informed Baucus and Grassley of the problems in early December, and a subsequent investigation by their staffs unearthed another embarrassing detail about Geithner: that a housekeeper he employed in 2005 allowed her legal immigrant work status to lapse for three and a half months.

It was the unpaid taxes, though, that were proving more damaging. Obama’s team says his mistake was a common one for people hired by international organizations and foreign embassies that don’t pay the employer share of Social Security taxes. The IRS estimated in 2006 that as many as half those employees had made tax-filing mistakes, and offered a group settlement to let them correct the errors.

But the Finance Committee, in 30 pages of documents released on Tuesday, noted that the IMF issues several clear guidelines each year for its employees detailing their responsibility to pay all their self-employment taxes, and that Geithner had signed annual statements saying that he would do so. He also had experience dealing with such taxes, the panel noted.


Associated Press Writers Ann Sanner, Charles Babington, Jim Kuhnhenn and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

source : news.yahoo.com