Hot Docs: Geithner's Letter to Congress on AIG Bonuses

Today's selection of timely reports.

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Treasury Secretary Explains AIG Mess to Congressional Leaders: In letters to congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledges the outrage in Congress and across the country over the millions in bonuses given to AIG employees and says he just learned of the bonuses last week. The letters, released by the Treasury Department, note that department lawyers and outside counsel have reviewed the contracts and concluded that "it would be legally difficult to prevent these contractually-mandated payments." However, Geithner demands that AIG CEO Edward Liddy "scrap or cut hundreds of millions of dollars in additional payments due this year and beyond" and says that Liddy has "committed to do this." Geithner also comes to the defense of Liddy, reminding congressional leaders that Liddy took over AIG just last year at the request of the government and inherited not only the AIG debacle but also the bonus contracts.

Afghanistan Needs More Than Additional Troops: Additional troops, while necessary, are not enough to win the war in Afghanistan, and the United States must renew its commitment to fund Afghan programs to provide essential services. That's the view of a policy brief on Afghanistan by the Center for a New American Security. The brief, "A Pathway to Success in Afghanistan: The National Solidarity Program," finds that the NSP deserves much more American support. "NSP is exemplary not simply in terms of the tangible services it has delivered to Afghanistan's population; 'owned' by the Afghans and run with an emphasis on transparency, the NSP is one of the few initiatives from Kabul to have generated significant goodwill among rural communities," the report says. The NSP is a rural development program and part of a handful of post-Taliban government programs created to build trust in government. Others focus on transportation, cellphone networks, and financial management.

U.S. Birthrate Sets New Record: The number of births in the United States in 2007 rose 1 percent to 4,317,119, the highest ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, that total surpasses numbers put up in 1957, the peak year of the baby boom that followed the end of World War II. "Births: Preliminary Data for 2007" reports that children born to unmarried women ages 15 to 44 also increased to historic levels and now account for 39.7 percent of all births. About 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried women, an increase of 4 percent from 2006 and up 26 percent since 2002. Women ages 25 to 39 accounted for the largest increase of nonmarital births, recording a 6 percent jump from the previous year. Teenage nonmarital births continued to decline; they now comprise 23 percent of nonmarital births. In 1975, teenagers accounted for 52 percent of such births.