Jobs Deficit: Austerity Politics Threatens Economy

Jobs Deficit: Austerity Politics Threatens Economy

Posted: 01/30/2013 1:25 pm EST  |  Updated: 01/30/2013 1:46 pm EST

Obama AusterityWASHINGTON — Lawmakers were stunned Wednesday to learn that the U.S. economy officially dove toward a double-dip recession at the end of 2012, contracting for the first time in three and a half years amid steep declines in government spending and sluggish exports.

Policymakers were similarly stunned in Europe when reductions in government spending led to continued economic malaise, leading top economists there to question the logic behind austerity recommendations. European austerity programs are a major driver of the slowdown in U.S. exports, and several economists have argued that reductions in government spending, here and abroad, are almost solely responsible for the suddenly tanking economy. Continue reading “Jobs Deficit: Austerity Politics Threatens Economy”

Congress OKs cliff deal, signaling future fights

Congress OKs cliff deal, signaling future fights

 ALAN FRAM | January 2, 2013 07:54 AM EST |

WASHINGTON — Congress’ excruciating, extraordinary New Year‘s Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.

Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.

Capping a holiday season political spectacle that featured enough high and low notes for a Broadway musical, the GOP-run House voted final approval for the measure by 257-167 late Tuesday. That came after the Democratic-led Senate used a wee-hours 89-8 roll call to assent to the bill, belying the partisan brinkmanship that colored much of the path to the final deal.

“A central promise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working middle-class Americans,” Obama said at the White House before flying to Hawaii to resume his holiday break. “Tonight we’ve done that.” Continue reading “Congress OKs cliff deal, signaling future fights”

Cliff avoided: Congress staves off tax hikes

politics

Cliff avoided: Congress staves off tax hikes

DAVID ESPO and ALAN FRAM | January 1, 2013 11:11 PM EST |

WASHINGTON — Past its own New Year‘s deadline, a weary Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to avoid a national “fiscal cliff” of middle class tax increases and spending cuts late Tuesday night in the culmination of a struggle that strained America‘s divided government to the limit.

The bill’s passage on a 257-167 vote in the House sealed a hard-won political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.

In addition to neutralizing middle class tax increases and spending cuts taking effect with the new year, the legislation will raise tax rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples. That was higher than the thresholds of $200,000 and $250,000 that Obama campaigned for. But remarkably, in a party that swore off tax increases two decades ago, dozens of Republicans supported the bill at both ends of the Capitol.

The Senate approved the measure on a vote of 89-8 less than 24 hours earlier, and in the interim, rebellious House conservatives demanded a vote to add significant spending cuts to the measure. But in the end they retreated. Continue reading “Cliff avoided: Congress staves off tax hikes”

Unemployment Insurance To Be Extended, $30 Billion Cost Won’t Be Offset

Unemployment Insurance To Be Extended, $30 Billion Cost Won’t Be Offset

Posted: 12/31/2012 3:32 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/31/2012 3:44 pm EST

 Unemployment Insurance Extended

WASHINGTON — One of the remaining sticking points holding up a fiscal cliff deal appears to have been resolved, as negotiators have decided to extend unemployment benefits without offsetting the cost.

A source familiar with negotiations told The Huffington Post that lawmakers would treat the provision as “an emergency measure that shouldn’t be paid for.” A Senate Democratic and Republican source each confirmed the plan. Continue reading “Unemployment Insurance To Be Extended, $30 Billion Cost Won’t Be Offset”

Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Health Care Option For Uninsured

Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Health Care Option For Uninsured

Posted: 09/23/2012 10:12 pm EDT Updated: 09/23/2012 10:47 pm EDT

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney (Mandel Ngan/AFP/GettyImages)

WASHINGTON — Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.

And while Romney refused to agree on Sunday that the government’s role is to ensure that every American has health care, he has endorsed such an idea in the past. Continue reading “Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Health Care Option For Uninsured”