It's a big number that only tells part of the story. The number of banks that have failed so far this year topped 100 on Friday — hitting 106 by the end of the day — the most in nearly two decades. But the trouble in the banking system from bad loans and the recession goes even deeper.
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other banks remain open even though they are as weak as many that have been shuttered. Regulators are seizing banks slowly and selectively — partly to avoid inciting panic and partly because buyers for bad banks are hard to find.
Many top Republicans are growing worried that the party’s chances for reversing its electoral routs of 2006 and 2008 are being wounded by the flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone of conservative activists and media personalities, according to interviews with GOP officials and operatives.
Congressional leaders talk in private of being boxed in by commentators such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh — figures who are wildly popular with the conservative base but wildly controversial among other parts of the electorate, and who have proven records of making life miserable for senators and House members critical of their views or influence.
The Treasury Department is expected in the next few days to order companies that received huge government bailouts last year to slash the base salaries of their top executives by an average of 90 percent and cut their total compensation in half, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Banks that sucked on the public tit of government bailout funds continue to ladle out lavish perks and benefits to the very executives who led them into financial chaos and, in too many cases, the federal government is sitting back and letting it happen.
While cash-strapped Americans find themselves slapped with 29 percent interest rates from the banks that they helped bail out as taxpayers, the financial institutions hand out huge bonuses and fly their top execs around on private jets and pay the tab for luxury hotels and fancy "corporate apartments."
If, and when, so-called "health care reform" becomes reality, the man responsible for changing the landscape for health insurance for millions of Americans will be someone you've never heard of.
His name is Phil Ellis, a numbers cruncher with the Congressional Budget Office and a man whose spreadsheets spell success or doom for proposed health care reform plans.
As a senior analyst for the CBO, Ellis issues forecasts on what proposed plans will costs. His estimates can kill some bills and put others into play.
The catch is, even Ellis says his numbers are probably wrong.
President Barack Obama's campaign promise of an open government disappeared shortly after he took office and the closed-door, secret negotiations on health care reform demonstrate all too clearly that politics in Washington remain "business as usual" in his administration.
The secrecy that surrounds White House actions rivals that of the often-criticized administration of former President George W. Bush and key decisions on health care reform now are not being made in the open but in behind the scenes negations involving three Democratic Senators: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Christopher Dodd and Max Baucus.
It wasn't supposed to work this way: Taxpayers bail out huge financial institutions and those bailouts help the institutions get richer while average Americans get poorer.
But that's what happened.
Wall Street titans are richer than ever and the banks on the verge of collapse just a year ago are now readying huge bonuses for the executives to run them.
And they have Washington to thank for their continued growth in wealth.
President Barack Obama's penchant for throwing money at any and all problems that face this nation will drive the federal deficit to gigantic proportions by 2013 and that debt could wipe out any gains in the nation's struggling economy.
The federal deficit rose another trillion dollars over the last year -- the largest relative debt since 1945.
Former President George H.W. Bush says MSNBC entertainers Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are "sick puppies" for the way they treat his son -- former President George W. Bush -- and other who don't agree with him.
The elder Bush, in an interview with CBS News, singled out the two liberal talk show hosts as examples of what he called an increasing lack of civility in politics.
"I don't like it," Bush said of the coarse tone of national debate. "The cables have a lot to do with it. It's not just the right. There are plenty of people on the left."
Maddow and Olbermann anchor MSNBC's nightly dishing of liberal opinion and often single out George W. Bush for harsh commentary and treatment. Although neither are trained journalists, the cable network bills their talkfests as "news" shows.
President Barack Obama promised to rid Washington of the cozy, back-scratching relationships between politicians and well-heeled corporate lobbyists.
Instead, he and the Democratic leadership in Congress hopped right into bed with them and set in motion a conspiracy with health care industry groups that generated a watered-down reform bill and a high-dollar propaganda campaign aimed at selling the plan to the American public.
It's just another example of how big money and special interests control Congress and the White House.
It's also why real health care won't happen.