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Biden administration tells Americans: Don’t call it a bailout

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Janet Yellen during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hil
Janet Yellen during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on March 10.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Monday ... President Biden addresses federal response to recent banking collapses, as U.S. moves to protect all deposits at Silicon Valley Bank. ... Biden then heads to San Diego to meet with the prime ministers of Australia and the United Kingdom on defense pact to counter China. ... U.K. Prime Minister Sunak tells NBC’s Lester Holt that China poses “systemic challenge” to global order. ... Donald Trump makes his first 2024 campaign trip to Iowa — just days after Ron DeSantis visited the state. ... And Mike Pence takes on Trump.

But first: Don’t call it a bailout — at least in the 2008 sense.

That’s the message the Biden administration sent Sunday after it moved to guarantee all deposits at Silicon Valley Bank, as well as New York-based Signature Bank -- even those with accounts above the federally protected amount of $250,000.

NBC’s Rob Wile breaks down why this is different from 2008.

For starters, only depositors are being protected — not shareholders or bondholders.

In addition, taxpayers aren’t financing this move, at least not directly. “Instead, the cost of covering the deposits, including uninsured amounts in excess of the FDIC’s $250,000 limit, will be paid for in part out of the agency’s Deposit Insurance Fund — a reserve that is paid for by a quarterly fee on banks,” Wile writes.

And on “Today” this morning, CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin added that, unlike in 2008, these banks aren’t staying in business and executives aren’t keeping their jobs.

The government instead is selling off Silicon Valley Bank’s assets — to also help fund these emergency measures, NBC’s Wile reports.

Still, this is an extraordinary move by the Biden administration, which will create ripples across the economy and our politics.

But CNBC’s Sorkin explains it was made to prevent Americans from withdrawing their deposits from other smaller banks across the country.

“We want to make sure that the troubles that exist at one bank don’t create contagion to others that are sound,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS on Sunday.

Quote of the day: “Resilient” and “solid”

The U.S. banking system remains resilient and on a solid foundation, in large part due to reforms that were made after the financial crisis that ensured better safeguards for the banking industry. Those reforms combined with today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to take the necessary steps to ensure that depositors’ savings remain safe.

— Statement from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg.

Data Download: The number of the day is … $128.2 billion

That’s how much was in the Deposit Insurance Fund at the end of 2022, the fund that’s going to be relied upon to cover the government’s guarantee of all deposits at Silicon Valley Bank. 

It’s a pool of money set up in part for this situation, funded by fees on banks and bond interest. The fund is aimed at shielding taxpayers from the direct cost of the deposit guarantee (and shielding politicians from charges of a “bailout” as scars from the Great Recession still remain to this day). 

Of course, any massive payout of the scale required to guarantee SVB’s deposit will have ripple effects. And experts expect the public to shoulder indirect costs related to the move, depending on how the saga resolves. 

Other numbers to know:

83.1%: Labor force participation for 25- to 54-year-olds in February, hitting pre-pandemic levels. 

More than 600 million: How many barrels of crude oil the Willow Alaska oil drilling project, which the Biden administration is expected to green-light, could produce in 30 years, per the New York Times

18: How many years former Indiana Republican Rep. Stephen Buyer, who was convicted Friday on insider trading, served in Congress (from 1993 to 2011). 

$15,000: The amount of money some hospitals are requiring nurses to pay back if they quit or are fired before their contract ends, per a new investigation by NBC News’ Shannon Pettypiece.

2: The number of Idaho Republican lawmakers who an ex-intern says retaliated against her after she accused one of them of rape.  

18%: The increase in reports of sexual assault at U.S. military academies from 2021 to 2022, per a Pentagon report that now shows more than 1 in 5 female students report being a victim of unwanted sexual conduct. 

7: The number of Oscars won by Everything Everywhere All at Once, including best picture.

Eyes on 2024: Pence takes on Trump

Over the weekend, former Vice President Mike Pence issued the most pointed criticism of Trump yet from potential GOP presidential candidates, focused on Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021.

“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said on Saturday during remarks at the annual Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and journalists. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

Pence has so far tried to walk a fine line between praising the Trump administration’s policies — which he refers to as the “Trump-Pence administration” — and making veiled references to Trump by saying Americans want a return to “civility.” Back in November, Pence declined to say on “Meet the Press” whether Trump committed a crime by pressuring Pence to overturn the 2020 election results, saying, “I don’t know if it is criminal to listen to bad advice from lawyers.”

Now, though, Pence is nearing a decision on whether he will take on Trump for the GOP nomination next year. He recently told NBC News’ Ali Vitali that he plans to make a decision “by the spring.” 

In other campaign news: 

A rising star: Hundreds of Iowans turned out to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speak over the weekend as he traveled across the state to promote his book, NBC News’ Jon Allen and Natasha Korecki report. And now, DeSantis is heading to New Hampshire, while former Trump allies like former Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta publicly throw their support behind him.

Trump talk: Trump’s legal woes continued to cast a shadow over his re-election run. He was expected to huddle with his legal team over the weekend to discuss the investigation into hush money payments to an adult film star who claimed she slept with Trump.

Veepstakes: Democratic leaders are urging Democrats to stop criticizing Vice President Kamala Harris, per CNN. In one instance, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has tried to apologize for dodging a question in a local news interview about whether Harris should continue to serve as Biden’s running mate. 

Biden’s moves: The Washington Post details how Biden’s latest moves on crime and immigration foreshadow a re-election run to come, but have also angered some liberal members of his party. 

Primary moves: Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow tells Politico about her role in clearing the field for Rep. Elissa Slotkin to run for her Senate seat in 2024. 

Targeted: The National Republican Congressional Committee released its initial 37 targets for 2024, including 35 incumbents and two open seats held by Democratic lawmakers running for Senate, per Politico. The announcement comes as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced its Frontline Program members, which includes Democratic lawmakers facing tough re-election battles.  

Mapmaker, mapmaker draw me a map: The redistricting process isn’t over yet, with lawsuits filed in 14 states challenging the congressional lines, per the New York Times. Amid the looming legal battles, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee is shaking up its leadership. 

Another one: The Colorado Republican Party chose Dave Williams, an election-denying former state lawmaker as its next chairman. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Washington Post examines Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ relationship and their desire for bipartisan success in the lower chamber. 

House Republicans are split over how to tackle the debt ceiling after the House Freedom Caucus unveiled a conservative plan to address the issue on Friday. 

After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was hospitalized with a concussion last week, an adviser told NBC News he’s “eager” to leave the hospital.