Judges urge Congress to avoid more sequestration cuts
August 15, 2013 By Mark Sherman, washingtonpost
Top federal judges in 49 states are urging lawmakers to avoid another round of automatic spending cuts that they say would have a “devastating and long-lasting impact” on the federal courts.
The unusual letter from the chief judges of trial courts in every state but Nevada says that the $350 million reduction in the judiciary’s lower budget for this year has dramatically slowed court proceedings and jeopardized public safety. The judges say there are fewer probation and other law enforcement officers to deal with record numbers of convicts who have been released from prison or given alternative sentences.
The letter was sent this week to congressional leaders in both parties in the House and the Senate. Congress is not in session in August.
“We had to let people know that we’ve cut so far past the fat and so far past the muscle that we’re into the bone,” Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan said Thursday.
For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/judges-urge-congress-to-avoid-more-sequestration-cuts/2013/08/15/64c4c30c-05f4-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html
80 in House: Shutdown is better than ‘Obamacare’
8/22/13 CHARLES BABINGTON – AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than one-third of House Republicans are urging their leader to trigger a government shutdown rather than fund “Obamacare.”
Eighty Republicans on Thursday asked Speaker John Boehner (BAY’-nur) to resist any spending bills that would help implement the new health care law.
It’s virtually certain that President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats would reject such demands. A partial government shutdown probably would result.
With 80 of the House’s 233 Republicans signing the letter, a solid majority has refrained from trying to limit Boehner’s options. That presumably would allow him to push a bipartisan bill that funds the health law and is supported by a “majority of the majority” of his fellow Republicans. That’s a Boehner priority.
But Boehner would need more than 60 Democratic votes to pass such a bill.
Farm Bill passes in House, without food stamp funding
July 11 at 3:40 pm By Ed O’Keefe – washingtonpost
House Republicans successfully passed a Farm Bill Thursday by splitting apart funding for food stamps from federal agricultural policy, a move that infuriated the White House and congressional Democrats who spent most of the day trying to delay a final vote.
Lawmakers voted 216 to 208 make changes to federal agricultural policy and conservation programs and end direct subsidy payments to farmers. But the measure says nothing about funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, which historically constitutes about 80 percent of the funding in a Farm Bill.
No House Democrat voted for the measure. Twelve Republicans also opposed it. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voted in favor of it, even though speakers traditionally don’t vote.
The vote made clear that Republicans intend to make significant reductions in food stamp money and handed Republican leaders a much-needed victory three weeks after conservative lawmakers and rural state Democrats revolted and blocked the original version of the bill that included food stamp money.
For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/07/11/house-republicans-drop-food-stamps-from-new-farm-bill/
=> 9/16/13 UPDATE: House GOP moves forward with $40 billion cut to food stamps <=
Obama threatens veto on farm bill
7/11/13 6:48 AM EDT By TAL KOPAN – POLITICO44
The White House late Wednesday night responded to a new farm bill posted by House Republicans, threatening to veto it in part over it not including food stamps.
The House Rules Committee held a hearing on the new version of the so-called farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, beginning at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night and posted the more-than 600 page bill not long thereafter, with a vote expected Thursday.
The White House statement decried the last-minute move in its veto threat late Wednesday, saying “because the 608 page bill was made available only this evening, the administration has had inadequate time to fully review the text of the bill. It is apparent, though, that the bill does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms and does not invest in renewable energy, an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country.”
The veto threat was widely expected because of the bill’s lack of renewal of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, an amendment on which was a major sticking point in the failure of the House’s last attempt to pass the bill.
W.H. aides: Obama prepared for shutdown if necessary
9/12/13 6:17 PM EDT By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE – POLITICO44
White House aides went to the Hill Thursday morning to reassure House Democratic leaders that President Obama won’t give in on negotiations the debt ceiling and certainly not defunding Obamacare—even if that means a shutdown he really doesn’t want.
The meeting between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders with White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors and director of legislative affairs Miguel Rodriguez was meant to get the minority conference on the same page as the White House ahead of what’s expected to be a brutal couple of weeks. But the meeting ended with one of the leaders’ biggest questions unanswered: Whether the president was prepared to actively use the bully pulpit to shield House Democrats from political blowback if everybody’s bluffs get called and a shutdown actually happens.
Nabors said he was aware that they’d need the president’s active rhetorical support to keep the advantage over the Republicans. But he didn’t promise them they’d get it.
Asked about the meeting, a White House official said the focus of the meeting wasn’t about a shutdown or not. The president’s fine with signing a continuing resolution, free of extraneous conditions, that would buy Congress some more time to work out a deal, the official said, but Nabors and Rodriguez “made clear that there is absolutely no negotiating over the debt limit, and any delay or defunding of ACA is unacceptable.”
Republican leaders have largely backed away from shutdown threats, though White House press secretary Jay Carney was still goading them from the podium Thursday.
“The leaders in Congress of the Republican Party have made clear that they understand that allowing a shutdown would inflict harm on the economy and I think cause political problems for them,” Carney said. “And I assume that the combination of those two incentives would compel them to come up with a solution, so that we can fund the government responsibly, and not engage in these games that inflict unnecessary wounds on our economy.”
The Five Year Anniversary of the Financial Crisis: A Look Back at the Progress We’ve Made
Amy Brundage September 15, 2013 09:41 PM EDT
Five years ago this week, a financial crisis unlike any in generations rocked Wall Street, turning a recession that was already hammering Main Street into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In the months before President Obama took office, the economy was shrinking at a rate of over 8%, businesses were shedding 800,000 jobs a month, lending to families and small businesses dried up, and the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse.
Upon taking office, Obama acted with unprecedented speed to respond to the crisis and its impact on American families – taking actions to stabilize the financial system, rescue the auto industry, and boost the economy by providing tax relief to working families and keeping teachers and first responders on the job. Within six months, he had signed the Recovery Act into law, announced a framework for a new financial stability plan and implemented its key elements, and taken action to support GM and Chrysler while requiring the companies to retool. Now, on the five-year anniversary of the crisis, the Administration has prepared a report that describes 15 key elements of the response to the financial crisis and where we find ourselves today.
For example, it shows that:
· Contrary to Initial Expectations, the Response to the Financial Crisis Is Expected to Yield A Return to the Taxpayer
· Treasury Has More Than Recovered Its Investments in Banks and AIG
· The Stress Tests – A Signature Element of the Response – Has Built Confidence in the Banking System Without Putting New Taxpayer Funds at Risk
· The Auto Industry Is Recovering
· The Housing Market Is Coming Back
READ MORE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/09/15/five-year-anniversary-financial-crisis
The Employment Situation in August
Posted by Jason Furman on September 06, 2013 at 09:50 AM EDT
Over the last four years, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. With continued solid job gains, today’s employment report is another sign of progress, but we must continue to pursue policies that move our economy forward and restore middle class security.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
1. Private sector employment has risen for 42 consecutive months, with businesses adding a total of 7.5 million jobs over that period. Today we learned that total non-farm payroll employment rose by 169,000 in August, with the private sector accounting for 152,000 of that gain. Private sector job growth was revised down for June (to 194,000) and July (to 127,000), so that over the past three months, private sector employment has risen by an average of 158,000 per month. The monthly change is shown below.
2. The overall unemployment rate ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 7.3 percent, the lowest since December 2008, with long-term unemployment remaining elevated. Although the unemployment rate remains too high, it has been trending down steadily since late 2009. The lingering elevation in the unemployment rate primarily reflects a large number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for more than 27 weeks), while the share of the labor force that has been unemployed for less than 27 weeks has mostly returned to its average during the 2001-07 expansion period. That’s why the administration continues to push for measures to spur job creation now and put the long term unemployed back to work.
3. The economy has been consistently adding jobs at a pace of more than 2 million per year. Over the twelve months ending August 2013, total non-farm payroll employment rose by 2.2 million, similar to the gain in the year-earlier period. While the month-to-month figures can be volatile, the year-over-year changes indicate that the recovery has been durable in the face of several headwinds that have emerged in recent years. The separate household survey is more volatile month-to-month, but over a longer period, it tells the same story. When adjusted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be comparable to the concept of employment used in the payroll measure, household employment has risen by 2.4 million over the twelve months ending August 2013.
4. CEA estimates that if state and local government employment had held steady during the recovery, the unemployment rate would currently be below 7 percent. Unlike previous recoveries in which state and local government employment- like teachers, fire fighters and first responders– expanded, public payrolls have declined in the current recovery (see chart). During the current 42-month consecutive streak of increasing private sector employment, state and local government employment has fallen by 507,000, including the loss of 267,000 education positions.
5. The number of persons working part-time for involuntary “economic reasons” has fallen by 152,000 over the past twelve months. Budget cuts due to sequestration led to an increase of 77,000 in the number of federal government employees at work part-time for economic reasons, so the number of persons part-time for economic reasons in private sector and non-federal government positions is down by an even larger 229,000 (see chart, based on not seasonally adjusted data). Measures of part-time employment can be volatile month-to-month, but the seasonally-adjusted 334,000 drop in persons working part-time for economic reasons in August almost entirely reversed the increase over the preceding two months.
” Incoming economic data broadly suggest that the recovery continues to make progress. It is therefore essential that policymakers avoid “self-inflicted wounds” that could derail the recovery and stay focused on policies that will help sustain and boost the pace of job creation.”
For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/09/06/employment-situation-august
Learn About President Obama’s plan for Growing Our Economy, US Job Creation, Reform & Fiscal Responsibility, Supporting The Middle Class and Supporting US Businesses: http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy
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