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Entries in 2012 Election (10)

Wednesday
Nov072012

Who Was the Biggest Financial Loser on Election Day? 

Creatas/Hemera/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson gambled more than $54 million on Tuesday's elections. And he lost.

The quixotic chairman of the Las Vegas Sands gaming company rose to the top of campaign giving in 2012, gaining notoriety for almost single-handedly staking the campaign of Republican primary contender Newt Gingrich and then continuing to make audacious contributions once Gingrich dropped out – with millions more going to GOP nominee Mitt Romney and two super PACs supporting his bid.

Tuesday, he emerged as arguably the single biggest loser of the campaign, financially speaking. In addition to investing in Gingrich and Romney, Adelson and his relatives donated to the U.S. House campaigns of Rep. Allan West of Florida and New Jersey Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and the Senate runs of Virginia's George Allen, Florida's Connie Mack, and Texas's David Dewhurst -- all lost. (Dewhurst never made it past the primary.) His sole consolation was helping fund the defeat of hometown nemesis Shelley Berkley, who lost her bid for a U.S. Senate seat.

Not that Adelson's likely to feel much of a sting. Adelson, 79, owns 49 percent of the Las Vegas Sands casino company, of which he is chairman. The company's operations in Macau and elsewhere in Asia have made it the world's leading gambling operation. His estimated net worth is north of $20.5 billion.

Throughout the campaign, there was widespread speculation about his motives for donating so much this cycle. Adelson is a major supporter of Israel and Israel-related causes. He has also been embroiled in a controversy surrounding his company's sizable operation in Macau, a Chinese island that has outpaced Las Vegas as a source of gambling revenue.

ABC News previously reported that Adelson's company has been the subject of a criminal investigation for the last year by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission for alleged bribery of foreign officials, according to corporate documents. A separate civil lawsuit filed by a former Sands executive has further alleged that Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about the casinos' purported "involvement with Chinese organized crime groups." Adelson has publicly dismissed the allegations as frivolous.

In its filings with the SEC, Adelson's company says it became aware of the investigation in February 2011. The company said it "intends to cooperate with the investigation." At a gaming forum in 2011, Adelson said the lawsuit "is not a serious case" and that the federal investigations would find no wrongdoing. "When the smoke clears, I am 1,000 percent positive that there won't be any fire below it."

Sands corporate spokesman Ron Reese did not return messages left at his office Wednesday.

If Adelson's goal in donating so much to the 2012 campaigns was to open a channel of access to high-level federal officials (he has denied he is seeking access), experts said he is now safe in assuming that effort has failed.

"I don't think he has bridges to the Obama administration," said Bill Allison, who follows campaign giving for the Sunlight Foundation.

"One reason we always think people give, especially that much money, is they want access," Allison said. "They want an appointment or an ambassadorship. They want the ability to pick up the phone and call the White House. He definitely won't have that. He has cut himself off by coming out so strongly on one side."

But will he be subject to reprisals, having put so much money behind an effort to defeat President Obama?

A White House spokesman responded to that question succinctly: "No."

Allison said he does not believe Adelson's lost wager will dissuade future wealthy political enthusiasts from throwing large amounts of money behind a political candidate.

"I have no doubt," Allison said, "that some other billionaire will feel like he can make a huge impact on the political system with a small fraction of his fortune."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov062012

Election Day 2012 Discounts and Freebies

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From free yoga classes to patriotic wristbands, companies are offering additional incentives to cast your ballot. 

Take advantage of these deals in your area:

Boston Market: Participants can vote for their favorite Market Bowl (chicken or turkey) on this site.  On Wednesday, the winner of the vote will be announced.  The restaurant chain will also offer a free Market Bowl to customers who purchase a bowl and drink.

California Tortilla: Wear your “I Voted” sticker or say “Vote” at any location for a free taco.  No purchase is required.

Chili’s: Adults over 21 who vote for their favorite drink on Chili’s Facebook page enter for a chance to win a restaurant gift card.

Jet Blue: The airline is offering “Election Protection” to those in the country who vote for the losing candidate.  Participants cast their vote online for a chance to win a free flight.

lululemon: Yoga studios in the Washington, D.C., area are offering free classes all day Tuesday.  Check out the lululemon blog for more information.

On the Border: Claim and print the offer on the restaurant’s Facebook page for a free sopapilla when you buy one or more entrees at regular price.

Pinkberry: Fans are asked to Tweet photos of their favorite flavor with the hashtag #pinkthevote.  Ten random winners with receive a small frozen yogurt with toppings.

Purina: “Like” the Purina page and cast your vote: Team Cat or Team Dog.  For each vote cast, Purina will donate up to $25,000 to Pet Partners’ veteran programs.

Starbucks: The coffee chain will offer free red, white and blue wristbands to customers visiting the stores on Tuesday.

Taco Bueno: “Guac the Vote” at this taco chain.  Customers get a free guacamole and chips when they redeem and print out the offer from their Facebook page.   Restaurants are located in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop: With the purchase of any beverage, show your “I Voted” sticker and you’ll get a free donut.

White Castle: “Like” the company’s Facebook page and vote for you favorite fry.  You’ll get a free coupon for a small fry with any purchase redeemable for Tuesday.

Zipcar: The company is offering half off hourly rates between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. in their “Zip to the Polls” promotion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov052012

How Did the US Economy Look on Election Day 2008?

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The last presidential election may seem as if it was just yesterday to many Americans, but it is a world away economically from the 2012 presidential election.

In 2008, the economy was in a tailspin.  Today, most economists say it is making a slow recovery -- too slow, the Obama and Romney campaigns agree.

The unemployment rate in October 2008 was 6.8 percent, with about 10 million unemployed people.  Today, the U.S. unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.  While the labor market has improved better than expectations recently, 12.3 million people remain unemployed.

"At the time of that election, if you were knowledgeable about the economy, you didn't know what the bottom was going to look like," said Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution.

On the day of the last presidential election -- Nov. 4, 2008 -- Americans did not know that the worst downturn since the Great Depression had actually started as early as December 2007.  It was only later confirmed that real GDP had declined in the first, third and fourth quarters of 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009.

A couple months before, on Sept. 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers had declared bankruptcy.  It was the largest in U.S. history.

A couple of months later, in December 2008, the National Bureau of Economics Research's (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee announced that the recession began one year earlier.  The committee announced in September 2010 that the recession had ended, more than a year after the fact.

The housing market is where many Americans feel the ongoing pain most acutely.  Housing prices are still down about 7.8 percent since October 2008.  And while the foreclosure crisis has somewhat subsided, the market is still far from healthy.

In September 2008, one in every 475 housing units had foreclosure filings, RealtyTrac reported.  In September of this year, it was one in every 730 housing units.

"People whose primary asset was their house have lost wealth, especially if they live in areas where there was the biggest housing bubble prior to the recession," said Stephen Bronars, chief economist of Welch Consulting.  Hardest-hit markets include Las Vegas, South Florida, and California.

The U.S. car manufacturing industry has survived while the federal minimum wage has increased to $7.25 from the $5.85 it was in 2008.

The price of gas has fluctuated with crises in the Middle East.  The national average is now about $3.57 a gallon for regular compared to $2.66 at the end of October 2008, according to the Energy Department.

While some economic indicators seem to have improved, the fear of a "fiscal cliff" has sharpened as Election Day approaches as well.

"Inflation is still not a top concern in 2012, but because we have added $6 trillion in debt over the past four years, we are vulnerable if inflation and interest rates increase," Bronars said.

"Today we are in the midst of a slow recovery," he said.  "The static numbers look worse, in many dimensions, than they did four years ago.  The biggest difference between 2012 and 2008 is the direction of the economy.  The debate about today's economy is: Why aren't we recovering faster?"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Google Makes Voter Registration Easy with TurboVote Partnership

Google(NEW YORK) -- The 2012 election and convention tech tools keep on coming.

On Tuesday Google announced the launch of its Online Voter Guide, a portal that allows Google users to register to vote easily. In addition to its YouTube Elections Hub and its Google Politics & Elections site, this page will provide easy access to TurboVote, which lets you register to vote, vote by mail, and sign up for emails and texts about the upcoming election. TurboVote breaks voter registration down into a few clickable steps.

“To make it easy to navigate the rules and deadlines about registering to vote and how to vote by mail, we put together an online voter guide. We’ve also added a special section to make it easier for military and overseas voters to find information about their different rules and deadlines,” Google’s Eric Hysen wrote on the company’s blog.  Google and YouTube will be streaming the conventions and debates at its Election Hub Channel.

The 2012 conventions are expected to be the most connected political events in U.S. history. A number of apps have been released around the events and both campaigns have been extremely active on social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

U.S. Economic Confidence Is Waning for the Third Week in a Row

Christopher Robbins/Thinkstock(PRINCETON, N.J.) –  The “Economic Confidence Index" fell to -24 for the week ending June 17, the third straight week of decline, according to the Gallup Polls.

"With the U.S. economy fragile and concerns over European debt continuing to mount, economic confidence will be an important number to watch in the coming weeks and months leading up to the presidential election," Gallup suggests.

"The continued negative confidence among independents is particularly relevant to President Obama's re-election hopes. Given that independents are the swing U.S. political group, confidence among them may need to move closer to positive territory to boost their willingness to back Obama in the election."

Recently, “there were 3.4 million job openings on the last business day of April, down from 3.7 million in March,” reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Little Talk of Housing Crisis on the Campaign Trail

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When the mortgage crisis erupted in 2007, the housing industry dominated the political agenda.

Four years later, the economy remains on the forefront of Americans’ minds, but contenders for the 2012 elections have little to say about the housing industry, the future of which remains bleak.

Mitt Romney incited the ire of liberals and President Obama when he suggested Tuesday that banks shouldn’t stop the foreclosure process and instead let them “hit the bottom.”

“The idea of the federal government running around and saying, hey, we’re going to give you some money for trading in your old car, or we’re going to give you a few thousand bucks for buying a new house, or we’re going to keep banks from foreclosing if you can’t make your payments, these kind of actions on the part of government haven’t worked,” the leading Republican 2012 contender said at Tuesday night’s debate in Nevada, which has the highest foreclosure rate in the country.

But other GOP candidates have been relatively mum on the issue, even as the housing industry remains weak.

“No one has very good ideas of what to do about this situation that we’re in right now,” said Peter J. Wallison, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who served as counsel to President Ronald Reagan. “It’s a much more complex issue than talking about the debt or defense policy or foreign policy. This is a very complicated financial problem and to try and explain it in a soundbite is very hard to do.”

The housing market is predicted to remain weak as the 2012 election cycle begins. In its Economic and Housing Forecasts for October 2011 report, Fannie Mae forecasts that home sales will continue to weaken and that mortgage applications haven’t increased despite low interest rates and government programs to jolt the market.

“In this type of environment, the housing market remains very sluggish and consumers’ willingness to dig into their savings to purchase big ticket items is very low,” Fannie Mae’s chief economist, Doug Duncan, said in a statement. “Leading indicators point to housing sales bouncing near the bottom at least through the end of 2012.”

The Obama administration has launched several programs to jolt the sluggish market, but only a handful have been met with mixed success.

The $75 billion Home Affordable Mortgage Insurance Program, launched in March 2009, didn’t attract as many distressed homebuyers as the administration had hoped. Some people who took advantage of the program ended up defaulting again on their mortgage. The Federal Housing Administration’s refinancing program has also taken heavy criticism for the same reason.

“I think the program wasn’t aggressive,” said leading economist and Yale professor Robert Shiller. “We are still in this situation that homeowners are exposed to real estate risk and there’s not much being done for them.”

Consumer confidence plays a significant role in how people perceive their elected leaders. A weak housing market, coupled with the economic crisis, could spell trouble for President Obama. Battleground states like Florida, Nevada and Ohio boast some of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. And the sluggish market is weighing generally on consumer confidence.

“It’s a drag on the economy and it’s a drag on confidence,” Shiller said. “Consumer confidence is at record lows...and it’s related to the fact that so many people are wiped out or underwater or they’re worried about being under water soon. It’s affected the mortgage portfolios of banks.”

A turnaround in the housing market would boost the economy and help Obama’s re-election chances, not dissimilar to President Roosevelt, who won a second term in 1936 despite the Great Depression. But critics say the administration has taken too long to turn back the dial.

“All of these programs have caused people to rethink what is happening in the mortgage markets and the housing markets and to be wary of the government’s involvement in those markets and the danger that the government may do something again that will cause housing prices to fall further,” Wallison said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Oct142011

Top CEOs Among Obama’s 351 Campaign Bundlers

SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Obama campaign Friday voluntarily released the names of its 351 top volunteer fundraisers, or “bundlers,” who collect checks from their networks of deep-pocket friends and deliver them to the Obama Victory Fund for the coming campaign.

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf, and former CNET executive and Obama national finance committee chairman Matthew Barzun are among the newest financiers to enlist in the last quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Each brought in more than $500,000 for the 2012 campaign, records show.

They joined Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, DreamWorks CEO Jeffry Katzenberg, former New Jersey Gov. and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, and 241 other high-profile financiers who enlisted in April.

Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and a Good Morning America finance contributor, also became a bundler, wrapping up between $200,000-$500,000 for Obama and Democrats.

Obama bundlers have raised $55.5 million combined for the Victory Fund, which funnels cash to both the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee. Looked at another way, their contributions are 35 percent of the total $156 million raised by Obama and the DNC so far this year.

Forty-one bundlers have raised more than $500,000 each; 95 collected between $200,000 and $500,000; 105 gathered between $100,000 and $200,000; and 110 netted between $50,000 and $100,000. The campaign had set a goal of signing up 400 bundlers for the cycle, asking each to rake in $350,000.

None of the Republican presidential candidates has disclosed a full list of the names and contributions of top fundraisers, breaking from a precedent set by George W. Bush and continued by Sen. John McCain during the 2008 campaign.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Warren Buffett to Host Fundraiser for Obama

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.(CHICAGO) -- Warren Buffett, the billionaire businessman and high-profile supporter of President Obama’s effort to increase taxes on the wealthy, will host a campaign fundraiser for the president in Chicago next month.

The event, scheduled for Oct. 27 at a private waterfront home on the city’s north side, will primarily court financial supporters of the president’s 2008 campaign, an Obama aide said.

Obama is not expected to attend.  It’s unclear whether any other senior members of the administration will appear on his behalf.

The ticket price for the Buffett event will be $35,800, the legal maximum an individual can contribute to both Obama for America ($5,000) and the Democratic National Committee ($30,800), a campaign official said.

Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is the third richest man in the world, according to Forbes. He’s also the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — which Obama awarded him in 2010.

Buffett’s public call for a new minimum tax rate for millionaires and billionaires has become a key feature of Obama’s recently unveiled deficit-reduction plan. The president named the provision the “Buffett Rule.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug162011

Business Leaders Respond to Starbucks CEO's Pledge to Boycott Campaign Contributions

Starbucks Corporation(NEW YORK) -- It's far from a stampede of support yet, but a few business leaders are getting behind Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's pledge to stop all campaign contributions to incumbents until they create a long-term debt deal.

"Right now our economy is frozen in a cycle of fear and uncertainty. Companies are afraid to hire. Consumers are afraid to spend. Banks are afraid to lend," Schultz wrote in a letter dated Aug. 15 to officially launch his campaign, as first reported by The New York Times.

"The only way to break this cycle of fear is to break it. The only way to get the country's economic circulatory system flowing again is to start pumping lifeblood through it," he wrote. "That is why we today issue a second pledge. Our companies are going to hire. We are going to accelerate growth, employment, and investment in jobs."

Nasdaq OMX Group CEO Bob Greifeld forwarded Schultz's letter to all the companies listed in that exchange.

"I think that Howard's idea is a great one, and I have told him that he can count on me," Greifeld wrote in his email to those companies. "At NASDAQ OMX, we will also continue to invest in the future by hiring and focusing our efforts on job creation."

Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the NYSE Euronext, also sent Schultz's email to the 3,000 CEOs in that exchange.

"I am bullish on the state of corporate America, and the millions of jobs which support this powerful network," Niederauer wrote in his email forward to those companies. "Now is the time for corporate leadership, and for the collective voice of our CEOs to be heard. It is my hope that our leaders can put politics aside and focus on generating long-term sustainable growth driven by the private sector."

Greifeld and Niederauer were not available for comment.

Schultz has donated $27,900 to political candidates from 2007 to 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' website, OpenSecrets.org. The most recent donation was to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who was not immediately available to comment.

Schultz's pledge kicked off as Michele Bachmann clinched the Republican Iowa straw poll for the presidential nomination and the candidates try to woo donors across the country.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said the response has been "positive," though she said she could not provide additional names of CEOs who back the plan.

Requests for comment from AT&T, FedEx, United Parcel Service and Lockheed Martin, some of the largest corporate campaign contributors from 1989 to 2010 according to the Center for Responsive Politics, were not immediately returned.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Robert Reich, former Labor Department secretary under Bill Clinton and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said Schultz's pledge may not be enough to be politically influential.

"He should have gone further and asked all other CEOs to end all campaign contributions, period," Reich told ABC News. "They're corrupting our politics and are not even in the interest of shareholders."

Michael Beckel, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, told ABC News that it may be too early to tell whether Schultz's pledge may change behavior in Washington. The majority of large campaign contributors between 1989 and 2010 were in fact associations and unions, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Rick Perry: ‘Almost Treasonous’ for Feds to Print More Money Pre-Election

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry capped off his first full day of campaigning in Iowa Monday by suggesting that if the Federal Reserve prints more money between now and November 2012 it would be akin to an act of treason.

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election,” Perry said, “I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous in my opinion.”

He added, “We’ve already tried this. All it’s going to be doing is devaluing the dollar in your pocket and we cannot afford that. We have to learn the lessons of the past three years that they’ve been devastating. The President of the United States has conducted an experiment on the American economy for almost the last three years, and it has gone tragically wrong and we need to send him a clear message in November of 2012 that new leadership is coming.”

Perry, who officially entered the presidential race on Saturday, was responding to a question from a member of the audience at a backyard county Republican Party fundraiser who asked him what he would do with the Federal Reserve.

Perry initially said, “I’ll take a pass on the Federal Reserve right at the moment to be real honest with you,” before launching into his more pointed answer.

When asked in a follow-up interview whether Perry thought that the Federal Reserve was playing politics to try to help President Obama, he replied, “If they print more money between now and this election, I would suggest that’s exactly what’s going on.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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