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Number of posts: 16,334
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For the past few years, Congress has functioned as a millstone weighing down the country’s recovery: The combination of austerity, manufactured crises, and an actual government shutdown has delivered a series of blows to economic growth. That’s why the modest budget deal that may be shaping up in Congress ahead of Friday’s deadline is such good news, despite its small size and the criticism it’s drawing from professional budget scolds, who want something bigger. Simply avoiding another shutdown and default scare will leave Americans better off than they would be otherwise. The October shutdown reduced projected fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth by about a half percent, while Republican default threats pushed up U.S. bond yields across every maturity, raising U.S. borrowing costs and adding to the federal debt.
While a shutdown now seems unlikely, a further impending fiscal blow isn’t getting nearly the attention it should: On Dec. 28 emergency federal unemployment compensation (EUC) is set to expire for 1.3 million Americans who have been looking for work for at least six months. One reason the economic effects of this cutoff haven’t gotten more attention is that the issue tends to be viewed through a moral and political lens—that’s how Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) framed it on Fox News Sunday when he claimed that extending emergency benefits would be “a disservice” to the unemployed, and how former Governor Jon Huntsman framed it on Morning Joe today while criticizing Paul for those remarks.
Cutting off benefits for 1.3 million unemployed workers should also be viewed through a fiscal lens: The effect would be to further dampen economic growth in an already weak recovery.
How much does growth stand to suffer? Well, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the cost of extending federal benefits through 2014 would be about $25 billion. But the economic impact of cutting them off would be larger. That’s because the unemployed reliably spend the benefits they get, creating a “multiplier effect” in the economy. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics (MCO), estimates that every dollar of unemployment benefits generates about $1.55 in economic activity, meaning that the federal benefits set to end later this month will cost the economy about $39 billion in spending next year (which would, in turn, have supported 310,000 jobs, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute).
However, the effect on the economy will be worse than just the lost spending from those 1.3 million people. Throughout the year, state unemployment benefits will expire, with those who lose them having no emergency federal benefits to fall back on. Last week, a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department estimated that an additional 3.6 million people stand to lose access to benefits next year, so the drop in demand will be much larger than $39 billion.
Posted by Purveyor | Tue Dec 10, 2013, 06:13 PM (0 replies)
By Jeanna Smialek and Victoria Stilwell - Dec 10, 2013
Job openings in the U.S. climbed in October to the highest level in more than five years, showing employers were looking beyond the budget impasse in Washington amid growing confidence in the economic expansion.
The number of positions waiting to be filled rose by 42,000 to 3.93 million, the most since May 2008, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. Other figures showed wholesalers boosted stockpiles by the most in two years, another sign that companies were preparing for a pickup in sales.
A report last week showed companies in November followed through on the hiring intentions as payrolls climbed more than projected. The figures on openings, combined with data on hiring and job leavers, are among those tracked by Federal Reserve policy makers, including Janet Yellen, to gauge labor-market strength as they determine when to reduce bond purchases.
“Businesses are looking to fill openings, they recognize the economy is improving and to meet demand they’re going to have to hire more aggressively,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. For the Fed, “it’s going to be a close call in December, but they may just wait until 2014” to begin trimming stimulus, he said.
Posted by Purveyor | Tue Dec 10, 2013, 06:10 PM (3 replies)
President Barack Obama is enlisting John Podesta, a longtime Democratic strategist aligned with opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, to join his inner circle to help renew his second-term agenda.
Podesta, 64, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, enters the White House as Obama’s approval ratings have fallen to all-time lows since the fumbled rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He’ll focus on energy and climate change, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Podesta is the second addition in a week to a West Wing trying to regroup from the Obamacare setbacks. Phil Schiliro, Obama’s former congressional liaison and a onetime Democratic aide in the U.S. House, is returning to oversee implementation of the health-care law.
New to Obama’s White House, Podesta has been an outside adviser since before the president took office. He led Obama’s transition team after the 2008 election and has been chairman of the Center for American Progress, a policy research organization he founded that is closely tied to the White House.
He has warned of the dangers of failing to curb the use of fossil fuels. In January 2012, he co-wrote an editorial that appeared in the Wall Street Journal with billionaire investor Tom Steyer, who is campaigning against the Keystone pipeline.
Posted by Purveyor | Tue Dec 10, 2013, 06:08 PM (4 replies)
By Tim Higgins - Dec 10, 2013
General Motors Co. (GM) named Mary Barra to succeed Dan Akerson as chief executive officer, completing the GM insider’s rise from a factory-floor worker to the industry’s first female CEO after more than a century of global automaking.
Barra, 51, takes over a company that has emerged from near-collapse a half decade ago, after an infusion of government cash and outside managers. Her elevation was announced a day after the U.S. government said it had sold its final shares of GM.
An engineer who holds a Stanford MBA, Barra inherits a company that is at its leanest in decades and light on debt. It has one of the U.S.’s newest and most acclaimed lineups, and a newfound strength in small and midsize cars, from the Chevrolet Cruze to the Cadillac CTS. It also faces threats, ranging from Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), which is increasingly using no-interest loans to win business, to Tesla Motors Inc., which Akerson has identified as an industry disruptor.
With Barra’s appointment, GM returns to the hands of an in-house manager after two leaders plucked from outside Detroit since 2009. A Pontiac die maker’s daughter who started as an intern more than 30 years ago, Barra was most recently the chief of product development and quality for all GM cars and trucks, where she oversaw the introduction of the well-received Chevrolet Impala and cut costs by standardizing parts.
“After a long run of CEOs with financial backgrounds and orientations, the company is once again choosing an engineer for its top role,” Bill Visnic, an analyst at Edmunds.com, said in an e-mail. “It could be interpreted as a signal that GM believes it’s as much a car-making company as a money-making company.”
Posted by Purveyor | Tue Dec 10, 2013, 05:53 PM (0 replies)
Source: Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Prospects dimmed Monday for a quick extension of expiring unemployment benefits as Republican officials said they would not agree to include a renewal in any year-end budget deal.
Some congressional Democrats said they would continue to press to make additional benefits for jobless workers part of any deal, but it was unclear how strongly the White House would support them.
Officials provided only the most general details about the overall budget talks themselves, although they said the two negotiators, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., were hoping to meet Tuesday morning and seal an agreement.
If so, it is expected to have only a marginal impact on federal deficits, and instead is designed to ease the impact of across-the-board spending cuts over two years.
Read more: http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/235136471.html
Posted by Purveyor | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 11:27 PM (3 replies)
Bibi says it’s the expense, Peres says it’s a flu he can’t kick. More likely it’s two other reasons: Israel’s past and present.
By Larry Derfner |Published December 9, 2013
Nelson Mandela’s death brought up some inconvenient memories for Israel and the Diaspora Jewish establishment: Israel’s extremely fruitful alliance with apartheid South Africa until the very, very end; the anti-Mandela stance of right-wing Zionists because of his support for Arafat and the PLO (as well as for Gadhafi); and mainstream South African Jewry’s comfort with the apartheid regime (notwithstanding the brave opposition by a greatly disproportionate number of the country’s Jews). Then there’s the present-day, ongoing inconvenience of the similarity between apartheid and the occupation, and the awkwardness of having to praise a man who chose violence over submission while vilifying Palestinians who make the same choice.
It seemed, though, that this embarrassment over the Israel-South African apartheid alliance was going to blow over; official Israel and its supporters obviously were stonewalling the subject, it was just a few pain-in-the-ass leftists who kept harping on it; in another day or two they’d get tired.
But now this embarrassment has been shoved into the spotlight by none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. They’re doing what no national leader in his right mind would dare do: They’re snubbing Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg.
Since Mandela’s funeral in his rural birthplace next Sunday is going to be a more intimate affair with no foreign VIPs invited, Tuesday’s memorial service, because of Mandela’s uniquely exalted stature, is going to be the most prestigious event since I don’t remember when. Presumably every head of state in the world will be there – except Israel’s.
Posted by Purveyor | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 06:27 PM (0 replies)
Israeli forces reportedly shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy as he stood outside of a school in the al-Jalazoun refugee camp Saturday afternoon.
Residents of the camp, which is located in between Ramallah and the Israeli settlement of Beit El, told Maan news agency that Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi was standing outside of the camp’s school when he was shot in the back with live ammunition.
According to AFP, al-Ramahi was the 26th Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli army since the start of 2013.
An unnamed Israeli army source told Israeli news site Walla that “a unit from the Givati Brigade was operating in the camp in order to locate stone throwers. During the course of their operations, a violent incident developed while soldiers were attempting to arrest a suspect. They shot in the air and for an unknown reason the youth was shot.”
However, residents of al Jazaloun told Maan that there were no clashes or violence that “might have provoked the killing.”
Posted by Purveyor | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 06:20 PM (0 replies)
Until now, nobody knew the extent of the Prawer-Begin Plan. No government official or statement has detailed how many Bedouin citizens will be displaced, how many unrecognized villages razed and how much land will be expropriated by the state.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) on Monday published a copy of a map distributed to members of the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee. The map was prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office for Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party in an attempt to assuage his party’s fears that too much land would be given to the Bedouin.
According to a report published yesterday on +972, the new map details plans to displace some 40,000 Bedouin and for the state to expropriate 250,000 dunams (61,700 acres) of Bedouin land.
“The government hid this map from the Bedouin. The government hid this map from the Knesset,” MK Khenin wrote on his Facebook page.
Posted by Purveyor | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 06:18 PM (13 replies)
Politico turned to the American Enterprise's Institute's Danielle Pletka, a former aide to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) with a history of smearing Democratic appointees, as one of the "smart foreign policy thinkers in both parties" cited to judge Hillary Clinton's diplomatic legacy as Secretary of State.
Politico Magazine's December 8 profile, which is now making the rounds of the pundit class, claimed that Republicans can easily dismiss Clinton's foreign policy achievements -- and question her viability as a candidate for President -- by following Pletka's lead and attempting to smear her with the deaths of four Americans during the 2012 attacks in Benghazi:
What does that Republican take look like? For sure, there will be a focus on Benghazi, where the GOP has questioned whether Clinton and other administration officials were activist enough--and truthful enough--about responding to the attack in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, that led to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other American personnel; a case summed up by the American Enterprise's Institute's Danielle Pletka as "unwillingness to take risks, unwillingness to lead, willingness to stab a lot of people in the back. And dead people." Pletka's broader view of Clinton's record is a harsher version of what I hear from many Democrats: "the Washington consensus," Pletka says, "is that she was enormously ineffective ... no one was quite sure whether she was ineffective because she wanted to avoid controversy or because she wasn't trusted by the president to do anything."
Pletka has a long history as an ideological partisan dating back to her time as an aide to Helms' Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1992 to 2001. Despite his history of racism and extreme conservatism, Pletka defended his "conviction" and "old fashioned" values following his death in 2008.
As vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka is a top advocate for neoconservative policies. She has backed military strikes in Iran while dismissing the news that the U.S. reached a historic deal with Iran over their nuclear program in exchange for reducing the sanctions. Military experts have warned that such an action could have dire consequences. Pletka has also defended torture, saying that while she's "not a big fan," she still thinks it's necessary in wartime.
Posted by Purveyor | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 06:14 PM (1 replies)
Source: Associated Press
Heavily armed riot troops broke into the offices of a top Ukrainian opposition party office in Kiev and seized its servers Monday, the party said, as anti-government protests crippled the capital for yet another day.
Elsewhere police dismantled or blocked off several small protest tent camps that near key national government buildings in the city.
Tensions also rose as a double cordon of helmeted, shield-holding police deployed in the street near Kiev's city administration building, which demonstrators had occupied and turned into a makeshift command post and dormitory.
Protesters are angered not only by the thwarting of their desire to become closer to the West and spin out of Russia's orbit, but by police violence against the demonstrators. Club-swinging police have twice broken up protest rallies.
Read more: http://www.newser.com/article/daaj2ch00/riot-police-storm-opposition-office-in-kiev-amid-massive-protests-yanukovych-holding-talks.html
Posted by Purveyor | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 04:17 PM (13 replies)