Lamenting the money chase while chasing money - Philadelphia Daily News Lamenting the money chase while chasing money - Philadelphia Daily News

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lamenting the money chase while chasing money - Philadelphia Daily News

Lamenting the money chase while chasing money - Philadelphia Daily News

 President Obama's voice echoed in the majestic rotunda of the Franklin Institute as he lit into the Republicans with fierce urgency.

"We want to move forward and make sure that elections aren't just about $10 million checks being written by folks who have vested interests in maintaining the status quo," Obama said, to applause. "The other side, they don't have any new ideas. . . . What they do have is, they'll have $500 million worth of negative ads."

In a note of irony common to modern politics, Obama was in the process of raising campaign cash while decrying its corrosive effects. Three events in the Center City science museum raised nearly $2 million Tuesday night for the president's reelection effort and Democratic committees supporting it.

And that was just after three similar events in Baltimore; by Thursday, Obama was at a star-studded gathering of donors in actress Sarah Jessica Parker's Manhattan home. The insurgent candidate of 2008 who promised to change our politics is now outpacing his modern predecessors in the amount of time raising money.

The people standing in front of the president beneath a marble statue of Benjamin Franklin had paid $250 to $2,500 to hear a fired-up stump speech. Meanwhile, in the Fels Planetarium, some 90 people waited for Obama to address them at a $10,000-a-ticket dinner. And earlier, about 15 people who had each pledged to raise or donate $40,000 got to sit at a table and talk privately with the president for 45 minutes.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the level of enthusiasm and the seriousness with which our donor base took this," said lawyer Kenneth M. Jarin, a cochairman of Obama's 2012 finance committee in Pennsylvania, who helped sell tickets. "They know what's at stake. People understand how much money is being spent by the other side, and that our side has to step up."

But all the hard work of Obama supporters in the months leading up to the Philadelphia events, overseen by Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, seemed puny the next day - when casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a "super PAC" helping Republican Mitt Romney.

Court and regulatory decisions in the last few years have led to unprecedented levels of money as corporations and wealthy individuals pledge to spend hundreds of millions, mostly in support of Republican candidates.

The amount of time presidents spend asking for cash has risen sharply in recent decades, according to Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the Naval Academy and author of The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign, to be published in July.

Obama has attended more fund-raising events in the second half of his first term than any of the last six presidents - 166 such events through Friday. In two years before Ronald Reagan's 1984 reelection, Reagan attended just three fund-raisers for the Republican National Committee, zero for his own campaign. Bill Clinton, once lionized and derided for his fund-raising prowess, attended 70 campaign-finance events in 1995 and 1996, when he was reelected.

Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, the sums flying around are enormous. Adelson and his wife have given $35 million this year, mostly to a super PAC that backed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential run.

"It's the Wild West, an entirely different dimension," said Larry Makinson, former head of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "The bottom line is, it magnifies the power of the 1 percent who've got all the money."

In a sense, Obama kicked off the latest installment of the political arms race in 2008 when he chose to spurn public financing for his campaign, Makinson said. Obama raised about $750 million and swamped the GOP.

This time, Obama got ahead of Romney, out-raising him $197 million to $87 million by March 31. But Romney's donations have outpaced the Democrats since he sewed up the GOP nomination. And that doesn't count super PACs' funds, where Republicans dominate.  

People raising cash for Obama here say it is a little harder than four years ago, when the campaign to elect the first black president felt like a movement; one dinner at Cohen's home that year, for instance, raised $6 million. The weak economy has also hurt.

Still, enough donors are eager and able to write big checks. Among those at the $40,000 event, according to several attendees: Jarin; former State Sen. Connie Williams of Montgomery County; Cohen and his wife, lawyer Rhonda Cohen; developer Ron Rubin; Mark Alderman, a lawyer and cochair of Obama's state fund-raising committee; Joseph and Marie Field, who founded the radio broadcasting giant Entercom; and Richard Horowitz, president of RAF Industries, a Jenkintown private-equity firm.

Businesswoman Marsha Perelman attended the $10,000 dinner. She thinks Obama's approach to government, promising investment in education and other public goods, will be better "in the long run" for business than Romney's promises to slash regulations, government, and taxes.

As is customary, a few reporters were ushered in to record Obama's opening remarks. Then the press was shooed away as the president said he'd take questions.

Perelman, who chairs the Franklin Institute board, said Obama didn't drop any bombshells in the planetarium dinner, but it was still revealing.

"One of the questions asked referred to how difficult it is to get the president's message across," Perelman said. "He made a terrific reference to how hard it is to cut through a news cycle that is a nanosecond long: During the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy did not announce the invasion until 13 days later. He had time to figure out what happened, and 70 percent of the nation tuned in when he went on television.

"President Obama said that if that happened today, within two minutes somebody would have tweeted about it. And the highest audience he ever gets for a speech, the State of the Union, is 10 percent of the population."


Contact Thomas Fitzgerald

at 215-854-2718, or @tomfitzgerald on Twitter. Read his blog, "The Big Tent," at


Developing nations should prepare for 'Lehmans moment', says World Bank chief Robert Zoellick - Daily Telegraph

"Uncertainty in markets is now starting to increase costs for developing countries," Zoellick said. "The ripple effects are making everybody's life harder."

In a reference to tensions in the eurozone over Greece's future, Zoellick said: "Europe may be able to muddle through but the risk is rising. There could be a Lehmans moment if things are not properly handled."

The bankruptcy of US bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008 triggered a global financial slump that indebted Western nations are still struggling to recover from.

Personal Finance: Financial advisers measure the value a father brings to the family - Sacramento Bee

What's a dad worth? The correct answer, of course: Priceless.

But just in time for Father's Day, a new survey puts an actual price tag on a father's worth around the house: About $20,000, based on his contributions at household jobs, ranging from plumber to lawn mower to homework helper.

That's aside from bringing in a paycheck. Obviously, even if they're not the primary breadwinner, fathers have a huge financial impact on their families.

To gather some Father's Day wisdom from local financial professionals – who also happen to be fathers – we talked with Kelly Brothers, financial adviser with Genovese Burford & Brothers in Sacramento; Bruce Kajiwara, a CPA and certified financial planner with Financial Network in Sacramento; and Kevin Young, a CFP with Young Wealth Management in Davis.

Here's what they shared:

What dads often overlook

Too often, dads don't take stock of everyone who might become financially dependent on them, including aging parents or in-laws.

"The recession has made some financial plans go sideways. Not everyone's situation may be what they desired or intended," said Kajiwara. "If we review our financial goals and responsibilities, we may look at our current spending in a different light … It's why we should all plan not just for the future, but for the unexpected as well."

To be prepared, "read the paper, do (your) Internet research, then cull what you think is the best advice and run it by a trusted adviser, friend or colleague, someone knowledgeable whose advice is trustworthy," he said.

Get insured

"Get enough term life insurance to fund expenses until your youngest child is self-sufficient," said Young. For example, for a dad with two kids, ages 3 and 8, he recommends a 20-year term policy with enough death benefits "to pay for four years of college, plus your lost income for a period of time."

Brothers concurs. Term life insurance "is cheap and truly provides some peace of mind that your child's financial prospects won't be decimated if something happens to you."

He also recommends "layering" term insurance, buying an additional policy when a second child comes along.

Spouses, too, should be covered by life insurance.

"You have to force yourself to go there … to actually imagine what would happen if a husband or wife was lost," said Brothers. "It is much more than just a single income. Most parents will want to spend more time with their kids to make up for the loss of the other parent. Plan for that and insure both partners adequately."

Save for college – now

"It is powerful for a child to learn that Mom and Dad are saving for his or her college education," said Brothers. "And don't just open a 529 (college savings) plan; tell people you opened a plan. Grandparents, aunts and uncles should know there is an easy gift alternative for birthdays, etc. Most would rather put $100 into a college fund than spend money on clothes or toys."

Young advises parents to make paying for college a shared expense.

"Early on, children need to understand that paying for college should be a joint effort: i.e., tax-free savings, scholarships, student loans, pay-as-you-go, student work programs," he noted. "It's amazing how students who have 'skin in the game' graduate in four years with good grades."

Leave your wishes

Another essential: A will that designates guardians for your minor children, should something happen to you. Typically, that responsibility is entrusted to a close relative, said Young.

As an alternative, he said, a revocable living trust that names a trustee – who can manage your kids' assets until they reach a certain age – "is a better option than giving an 18-year-old access to their inheritance outright."

A trustee who oversees any inherited assets (a home, bank accounts, stocks, bonds) until your kids are, say, 25 years old "provides income for a (young adult) to fund an education, but also gives them time to mature and become a responsible individual."

Lessons to instill in kids

"It's not how much you make but how much you save," said Young, who has two sons, ages 8 and 12.

Kajiwara said he tries getting his three kids – 26, 24 and 21 – to embrace the concept of "creating wealth" – specifically, the savings that will carry them through from college to retirement.

When his daughters graduated from college, Kajiwara's advice: "With your first job, you need to save 15 percent of your salary in your employer's 401(k)."

By setting up automatic payroll deductions over the last four years, Kajiwara said, his oldest daughter's savings are already adding up without her ever having to give them a thought. And she and her husband clearly "get it" when it comes to savings, having opened a separate account for buying their first house.

Kajiwara gives his kids the same advice he'd give a younger client: "Rely on yourself for your current and future financial well-being. Don't rely on your employer, the government (Social Security will be different by the time you reach retirement age) or your parents (an inheritance may not be there).

"The more your retirement is based on what you save and invest, the better position you'll be in," Kajiwara said.

Value of a dollar

Brothers, whose four children are 7 to 14, said he wants them to appreciate a dollar's value. Money doesn't automatically pop out of the ATM; it's earned by Mom or Dad. Every time lights are left on in a room, there's a corresponding cost on the SMUD or PG&E bill.

On family vacations, he gives each child a set amount of spending money at the trip's outset.

"Anything extra, whether it's a snow cone at the beach or a shark's tooth in a gift shop, they get to make the decision on how it's spent," said Brothers. "They also get to live with the consequences." When the spending money runs out, there's no wheedling any extra $5 or $10 out of Dad.

Respect work

Despite lighthearted surveys that sketch out a dad's household duties along traditional lines, there is far more blending today of parents' roles. Many dads cook, clean or stay at home; many moms are full time in the outside workforce.

That's why all work should be valued, beyond just a paycheck, and not continually expressed to our kids as something we dread, noted Brothers.

Bottom line

"It's important that kids understand the basic concepts of money," said Young, including "the dangers of consumer debt, the importance of savings, the understanding that materialism and money do not provide happiness, and the importance of giving."

Aside from the financial basics this Father's Day, whether you have a dad or are one yourself, be sure to give – and get – a hug today.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Have a personal finance question? Call The Bee's Claudia Buck, (916) 321-1968.

Read more articles by Claudia Buck

Money laundering cases tough, critical - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

[ unable to retrieve full-text content]

McALLEN — When it comes to arresting drug traffickers and dismantling organized crime, the investigation into a U.S. horse racing operation allegedly laundering money for one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels is rare — and difficult to ...

Business groups warn Welsh government on 'living wage' - BBC News

The Welsh government is looking at how devolved public sector bodies could be encouraged to become 'living wage' employers.

Business leaders have warned the Welsh government not to push for private sector pay rises as ministers investigate public sector wage levels.

Labour has a manifesto commitment to find ways of making sure all Welsh workers are paid a "living wage".

Business groups say it may stop firms taking on staff or even mean layoffs.

The Welsh government says it is beginning to examine how devolved public sector employers can be encouraged to pay a living wage.

A policy group of interested parties is expected to meet over the summer.

Start Quote

I'm afraid it just isn't realistic in the environment we live in”

End Quote Robert Lloyd Griffiths Institute of Directors

Academics at Loughborough University have estimated a living wage is at least £7.20 an hour. The current statutory minimum wage is £6.08 an hour for workers aged 21 and over.

Welsh NHS workers and Welsh government civil servants are already paid at least the living wage.

A number of big private sector employers, including Barclays Bank and accountants KPMG, are also signed up to paying it.

But business organisations warned Welsh ministers not to try to force them to raise wages, for example by inserting living wage clauses in government contracts.

Robert Lloyd Griffiths of the Institute of Directors said he was concerned the living wage would effectively become the new minimum wage.

"Businesses would like to take on more staff and lots of companies that I talk to would love to be in a position to be able to take on more employees," he said.

'Very difficult'

"It's very difficult out there and anything that now will hinder them from doing that, which they'd like to do, is going to cause problems.

"I'm afraid it just isn't realistic in the environment we live in."

Anna Milewski, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We have to look at it from the employers' perspective, we've surveyed them.

"They say that an increase can, at best, deter them from taking on staff at worst actually result in them laying off staff, which would not be a positive outcome, of course."

Start Quote

If we're the trailblazers we hope the private sector won't be so frightened of it”

End Quote Julie James Labour AM

The Welsh government said: "Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage is not statutory.

"However, any employer in the UK is free to sign up to the Living Wage Foundation's campaign. The Welsh government is starting to look at how devolved public sector organisations have been engaging with the idea and what it would take to encourage those organisations to become living wage employers.

"This is a key reason the Minister for Local Government and Communities [Carl Sargeant] has decided to set up a policy group, so that consideration of the benefits, in much the same way as they were in London, can be given collaboratively. That group has yet to be brought together, but it is anticipated that this will happen over the summer."

Labour AM Julie James said: "If we're the trailblazers we hope the private sector won't be so frightened of it and will actually see the benefit of a workforce which when they're happy and healthy work harder, stay longer, are more and actually do better work. So it's a win win, really."

Young campaigners, working with Save the Children, recently petitioned the assembly for a living wage above the minimum wage.

Iram Shahzad, a 13-year-old pupil at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, told BBC Wales Sunday Politics that people in her community were working long hours but not earning enough money to cover their everyday essentials.

"It's not fair that they don't get to live a happy life," she said.

James Pritchard, head of Save the Children in Wales, said a living wage would be a "direct way of starting to tackle child poverty".

Sunday Politics is on BBC One Wales at 12:00 BST.

No comments: