February 11th, 2009
09:43 PM ET

Evening Buzz: To the Re$cue?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/09/obama.news.conference/art.obama.news.gi.jpg caption="President Obama urged Congress "to act without delay" on his economic stimulus plan."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Cue the theme song to "Let's Make a Deal". They may be humming it on Capitol Hill. The House and Senate have agreed on a compromise $789 billion economic stimulus bill.  That's a lower cash amount than the earlier versions by each chamber.

So, what's in it for you and your family? Here are some details released from GOP Sen. Susan Collins:

- A homeowner tax credit significantly reduced from the Senate version of $15,000, double that of the House bill.
- A tax credit, also reduced from the Senate version, for people who buy a car in 2009.
- Funding to patch the alternative minimum tax, originally intended to target the wealthy but now hitting many middle-class families.
- $90 billion of increased Medicaid match to states.
- $150 billion for infrastructure, including $49.6 for transportation infrastructure.

Are you liking what you're reading? Do you think the plan will help boost the economy? Sound off below.

Tonight there's also new outrage aimed at Wall Street. Get this: Merill Lynch is accused of giving big cash bonuses to top people, even when it was broke and getting billions in taxpayer money for its merger with Bank of America.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says that as far back as October 29th he started asking Merrill Lynch what plans it had for executive bonuses. He says Merrill just dished out its bonus policy, but didn't say who would get them. Weeks later, Cuomo says Merill Lynch secretly moved up the bonus pay date. And, a whole lot of cash was given to top executives. Cuomo says $121 million of it went to just four people. Four others got a combined $62 million. Then six others split $66 million. The grand total: $3.6 billion. Yep, billion. I bet that gets your blood boiling.

Join us for these stories and more tonight at 10pm ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Cheryl

    Can you please post the entire package? Specifically I want to know the exact tax rules for buying a car, the AMT fix and first time home buyers. Are they tax credits, do you have to itemize, will the itemized amounts be reduced by AGI? What is the AGI limit? I'd like to trade my 1997 Honda in and buy my first home; will the IRS tell me I'm not qualified in Jan 2010?

    February 13, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  2. Cheryl

    Time recently reported that Americans are living on 130% of their income? How do you spend more than you make?

    February 13, 2009 at 12:06 am |
  3. Jen in maryland

    Sharon, I vote for the enema!!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  4. Jen in maryland

    The banks are waiting to see what the Gov. is going to do to help the homeowners, so that the banks do not have to pay for THEIR mistakes. My lender has not helped even though my husband was hurt at work and could not work for two years. How can you plan for something like this? They are going to foreclose. I am not paying them anymore. Rent, it is cheaper. If we do not get loans from the banks they will fail, it is the only way that they can make money. The Gov. is broke so they will not be able to help bail them out forever. I vote for the National bank of the USA.

    February 12, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  5. Jen in maryland

    Must we look at this womans belly!. UGH Her problem is she craves attention. She has all of these kids to get attention. She is a collector like the people that want to have 100s of cats but they can not take care of them. She wants 14 children. She will get lots of attention for having 8 at one time. She has probally hoped for multiples each time. She needs a mental health evaluation and her tubes tied. HURRY!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  6. Steve from South Florida

    Why are we pouring our money back into the hands of the CEO's who put this country in this position. Make these white collar crooks give back their bonuses to the corporations they were employed at. Congress and the Senate need to pour that money into the hands of the people in this country who haved saved money for the past 30 years only to see their entire retirement accounts drop 50 to 60 percent in value. Many of you on this blog have some great ideas on how to get our country back but we have all put our faith and hope in our Government and politicians and they have failed us all.

    February 12, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  7. sherry, northern Calif.

    I agree with Holly. Maxine Waters did a great job. They could or would not answer most of her questions. Michael Cowpona (sp) gave them a good tongue lashing yesterday too. Our watchdogs (the SEC) are still howling from Ackerman's whipping last week. Our Government is finally starting to get it! We have had the biggest robbery in history on our own land by CEO's and Wall St. It makes Jessie James looks like an ametuer compared to these scoundrels. You know what? They still have their jobs. Fire all of them.Give the people below them the positions. They will work their way up the ladder someday, so let's train them now. It is our money not theirs!!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  8. Holly

    Every time I hear someone ask whether the big bank and Wall Street execs "get it," my blood boils. I think the real question is how on earth do we get them to give a damn, which it appears might require an extraordinary amount of energy from the news media, Congress, their boards and shareholders, and the public.

    It appears that few of them have any concern about what's happening to real people. If so, they might do something intelligent like a foreclosure moratorium for 30 – 60 days while they lend their best minds (assuming they have some) to help the feds and Congress craft legislation that would enable people to keep their homes, which, as you've said on CNN, is cheaper than foreclosure for the lenders as well as the borrowers.

    And bravo to Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) for getting them to admit on national TV that most of their companies have raised rates on credit cards since bailouts began rather than making even the simplest moves to keep ordinary Americas afloat. She's Keeping 'Em Honest.

    February 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  9. Sharon S

    There will be no more deals in my country as far as I am concerned I am no longer willing to let these people use my money!

    I want satisfaction and I demand it! I want all these women OFF welfare and all these kids off Medicaid, they have mothers who chose to have them now let these women take care of them!

    This country needs stop all these handouts and start making everyone be responsible for their own actions YES everyone!

    Including our President, our congress and yes Wall Street!

    Everyone needs to be held accountable I'm tired of hearing about this stimulus crap it is bogus and stupid and we don't need it!

    what we need is to get all these Banks straight, all the illegal people out of our country that are sucking OUR resources dry, send them all back to where they came from and send stupid women on welfare with them! Yes including Octo (Stupid) Mom! God give that woman a brain somebody!

    February 12, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  10. Sharon S

    Ok well I think at this point the best thing for us as tax paying, working American is to GIve our So called Government an Enema!

    First thing we need to do is kick all of their selfish, greedy butts out of office, second we will cut off and stop this bogus Welfare scam that has been sucking our country dry for years!
    If women choose to act like dogs and keep having puppies then they will be taken to the pound, spayed and the puppies taken away!

    Secondly we will do extensive research into who exactly is getting our Social Security money that we as harding Americans have put there for OUR retirement!
    All illegal Immigrants will immediately be taken off our Social Security system and sent back to where ever they came from!
    and all their illegal kids will be taken out of our schools that they are sucking dry of free food and free knowledge that we have paid into for OUR children!

    Now with all this said, I think All banks should be shut down immeidately and all CEOs and Heads are to give back ALL the money they took from us! YES ALL! And NO I don't care how you get it just not from us!
    We will make ONE Bank that will be run by the People and For the People! No more fat cat, greedy CEOs!
    And if you want credit you can get it provided you have worked hard and have good credit, No there be no more lending to people who have bad credit until they work hard and fix their problems!

    Now this is just the beginning of my plan but by far it seems to be better equiped and will take care of most of the problems I see in America!

    And No more Medicaid, because once we take care of the over population of children there will be no need for it! And their so called Mothers will be off Welfare so they will either need to get a job and take care and feed their own children or die!
    Because this will no longer be a country of FREE for the Low lifes!

    February 12, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  11. Sharon

    I would like more details about the homeowner tax credit. My husband and I are responsible, employed non-homeowners with excellent credti who avoided buying a house the last several years because the house prices in Orange County California were riduculous. In addition to that the loans we were being offered to us did not make sense. A lot of people were greedy including banks and those who bought with interest only loans as well as those who took out equity to go on vacation or buy a boat or car. Why should they be assisted? We are ready to buy now that the prices are coming down and have lived frugally while we saved money. Can we have a chance please?

    February 12, 2009 at 8:23 am |


    February 12, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  13. barby

    Please !! Won't somebody ask these guys in Congress, who say the stimulus package costs too much, why they didn't volunteer to cut their pay raise this year. They look as bad as the Wall Street bankers sitting before them at the hearings. Give up their pay raise NEXT year...explain that to the people who are jobless today!

    February 12, 2009 at 5:36 am |
  14. l thomas

    why are people actin if this president made the economy like this I feel he is doing great being that money bush gave disappeared

    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 am |
  15. levi

    whats is the home owner tax credit reduced to.... homeowners need that kind of credit too keep their houses right.... stimulus hmmm i dont think so seems like empty spending to me.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:12 am |
  16. loretta

    I have a crazy idea.... Pull all of your money out of the banking system and see how much money they have then for bonus or "retention pay" if everyone pulled all their money out of the banking system then the banks would have no choice but to change business as usual I know everyone will say that will crash the sysrem that we are trying to save but mayybe to statrt over from scratch put new people in power instead of the current bankers would be a better idea instead of letting them do business as usual We put an inexperienced man in the White house and he is doing good.... may non Harvard economistist in the banking world may be refreshing and helpful

    February 12, 2009 at 2:15 am |
  17. Brian

    My ray of hope is gone. The home purchase credit should be for ANY home buyer. There always seems to be a lot of projects that need to be done after buying a house. Wouldn't making the credit available to everyone put more money into the economy faster? Isn't that the purpose of the stimulus bill?

    February 12, 2009 at 1:38 am |
  18. Krystal, NM

    Perhaps the IRS should concentrate their efforts on these CEO's and those that received the millions in bonuses/awards/commissions/whatever you want to call it today or tomorrow. If audited correctly, I'm sure they could recoup the millions that were handed over with no oversight. I know of several people who after hearing of these outrageous bonuses, just quit paying their credit card bills. It's not going to take much more of this "entitled" behavior by the executives to turn the american people against their banks.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  19. Edith M ryan

    As a Broker/Realtor, the $15000 bonus will not work. Buyers will not stay in, as a rule, 15 yrs, in a house. Neither will they have the money to pay for the years they did not live in the house since the aveerage home owner lives in a house 3–not more than 5 years in a home, given that they don't lose their job &/or house–will NOT be able to pay the remaining balance of the $15,000 owed. This is ludicricus!!!. The real problem is that the credit scores are the basis problem, plus the fact that the mortgage companies have NO CLUE as to what it takes to get the loan into their hands. The mortgage personnell has NO CLUE as to the process in obtaining the loan that reaches their desks AND

    February 12, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  20. Eleanor Harris

    I hope this package will actually help. My husband and I are living the nightmare that many in this country are living...the possibility of loosing your home.

    My mortgage company AHMS up until this afternoon, was not willing to help us. They have a department called ' Home Retention' but they have no intention of letting or helping you retain your home. I believe that the announcement of this package and the publicity around the talks that took place in Washington with the CEO of 8 banks, caused my mortgage company to finally help us. It is unfortunate though it took 3 months to get to this point. They were already working on foreclosing on my property and even told me that I was suppose to plan better. I was suppose to foresee that my husband was going to loose his job a year and half ago and I was suppose to foresee that the market was going to tank last year and I was suppose to foresee that my husband was going to make less money working than sitting on unemployment. It is sickening.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:16 am |
  21. BG

    Some details released thats the first red flag! The people need to be informed in the integrity in the text of economic stimulus bill. There should be a full copy available to every American. Im the voter im the employer you work for me and lets make sure they don't forget it.
    "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth" G.Washington

    February 12, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  22. David L. Carlisle

    $789. billion, shall we consider how much money that really is? If you had a time machine and went back to January 1st , year 1, and spent $1. million dollars a day, with no interest. When would you run out of money? Guess?? Answer: Feb. 28, 2160. If our children pay back $1. million a day, the debt, with no interest, would be paid back when?? Answer: If they started paying it back on Jan.1, 2009, it would be finished on Feb. 28, 4169. OUR POOR CHILDREN!!!!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 12:12 am |
  23. Mike hutt

    Let the BANKS go under! Start a new bank thats called ( yes we can HELP). Loan at 5% if paid on time make it 2%. that may help get things going dont you think????

    February 11, 2009 at 11:34 pm |
  24. Pat

    What a deal! An obscenely expensive bill to provide jobs and kick-start the economy–the backbone of the stimulus is infrastructure construction. It'll be a thrill to see all of those out-of-work realtors, furniture salespeople, and home decorators out there building highways and bridges. Any one job does not equal any other job. Unplanned injections of cash are not a solution, and Schumer should know that Americans DO care about TINY amounts of pork and a rush to approve spending on stimulus, bank bailout, TARP or whatever when we don't have a plan yet is absurd.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:34 pm |
  25. Susan

    Since the stimulus onslaught began, to date, NO ONE has yet to mention just what kind of salaries would be paid to those 4 million unemployed that President Obama wants to put back to work on special "stimulus" projects. And, where would these civilian stimulus troops be housed while working on many of those projects? And, would there be the needed skilled workers to do many of those jobs? As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  26. Kathy Ellis

    I'm tired of hearing about all the poor homeowners who are losing their homes. If they made their payments...they wouldn't be in that predicament. The only reason it even matters is because the banks might lose out on some money. Families who rent lose their homes and are evicted from their apartments by the thousands on a daily basis and nobody cares.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  27. Phill

    I live in California and it does not matter what tax breaks the President's Stimulus Package has or gives, California Taxpayers will not benefit from it. The California Governor and all of its Democratic Congressional Leaders and most Republican Leaders have already constructed a Tax Increase Plan.

    California Taxpayers will pay more taxes to cover a 14 Billion Dollar Spending Gap and in return we will not have to pay for the 8 Billion in projected spending costs. Wow, what a deal.

    I was looking forward to the possibility of a Tax Break, but I should have known better living here.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  28. Lindsay, Mobile AL

    I'm all for money for education, and figuring out healthcare, I just don't understand why it is being all done (and not very well), in this stimulus bill. tax cuts and resource growth should be in this stimulus bill. fixing education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc etc are all very important, and should be handled with separate bills, that thoroughly address each unique issue with a clear policy backing them. The president might not be calling these billions of out of place add ons earmarks but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

    February 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  29. Steve from South Florida

    Congress talks a big game during these hearings, but they haven't enforced enough legal punishment, or financial penalties on these C.E.O's considering how many peoples lives they destroyed financially. Congress needs to garnish 80 to 90 percent of their earnings and place that money back into the companys they worked for. What all these C.E.O.'s did was equivalent to the same scheme as what "Madoff" did. The Financial institutions, S. E. C. and Wall Street did the American working class people in and Congress is going to let all them get on with their lifes while "The People" suffer and struggle to survive day to day.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  30. Rose from NY

    I sincerely doubt that any one person in Washington has read and understands every item in the stimulus package, so how on earth is the average American suppose to deconstruct it?

    How's this for an idea? Everyone in favor of the "stimulus" package can pledge THEIR tax dollars. Everyone opposed, can waive the "benefits" from the package and withdraw their tax money. There is no benefit in this package for me, my family or anyone I know. I do not want it. I do not want to pay for it. I do not agree with it as I understand it. In a true democracy, I would have a say in the matter.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  31. Erin

    BONUSES!!!! Is that what they call it? In the old days it was called "highway robbery." Then the vigilantes went after the robber and hanged them! Where are the vigilantes when we need them???

    February 11, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  32. Chris

    It is important to separate the stimulus and the bailout. Fifteen years ago I was involved in the strategic restructuring of a bank which had fallen prey to toxic assets in Zimbabwe. Yes I know Zimbabwe is not exactly your typical example of good governance but indeed we managed to clean out that bank in the same manner that saved the whole financial sector. We implemented the same strategies as originally proposed by Secretary Paulsen .i.e the sale of bad debt. It worked very well and I am sure I could share ideas with relevant authorities. It reall does work. The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate

    February 11, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  33. Jan

    I think congress and the senate should have layoffs too. Get rid of half the congress, half the senate and half of their administrative office personnel. Just think how much money that would save. That sure would trim the pork!

    February 11, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  34. Chuck

    To think that Maxine Watters is sitting within the house finance committee to oversee the banking system is enough to give anyone nightmares. How about we just take any unemployed street person to become a congressman(woman). Are qualifications ever considered in politics? Scary stuff!

    February 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  35. Tony

    Why would they reduce the home tax credit and leave in pork items? Money for people to convert to digital? Give me a break. Where are the details on the home tax credit? I didn't see what it will be reduced down to?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  36. Sandra Crawford

    Having just watched Larry King and the stunning stories of all involved in the "Miracle on the Hudson," a parallel between America's financial crisis occurs. Congress, corporations, citizens and the White House must act together with the common sense and resolve shown by all the survivors and participants in that "Miracle on the Hudson" to save our country... No one thinking of anything but saving our nation. No one knows how, but "just do it'" says it all.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  37. james

    Suze,thanks for your help.
    Should I pay off my car with a balance of $4,500 or should I save the money and continue with my monthly payments?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  38. catherine kinworthy

    Does the government have to approve that too?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  39. catherine kinworthy

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  40. catherine kinworthy

    Our country is lost, our government, banks, etc. GREED is the word. What ever happened to being honest? What about the Ten Commandments?

    February 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  41. james

    We really need a crackdown on these Ceo's.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  42. Sharon L Hill, Deltona, FL

    It' fraud since they took bailout money and they shoud go to prison and not one of those country club ones.

    February 11, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  43. Annie Kate

    Is the homeowner credit for those just buying houses or for people with houses already? And what are the requirements to qualify for it? Other than that I don't see a thing for taxpayers who are just run of the mill like me.

    February 11, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  44. Leslie

    Perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black...who is Congress to chastise anyone (including banks) about excessive spending. Give me a break! We are not fooled.

    February 11, 2009 at 9:49 pm |