August 5, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon got nearly everything it asked for during a decade of two wars shadowed by the Sept. 11 attacks and the rise of al-Qaeda. No more. It's a reality that new Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta acknowledged Thursday, saying he "recognizes the Department of Defense has to do its part" to meet the public clamor for spending cuts. The debt deal that President Obama and congressional leaders struck this week will slice $350 billion from projected military and related spending over the next 10 years, and allows the possibility of up to $500 billion in additional reductions.
August 5, 2011
I USUALLY don't choke on my breakfast. But one morning this week, enjoying a creme donut and a full-fat latte, I came close to needing the Heimlich maneuver. It happened when one of those overly perky TV ladies opined that the city's flash-mob problem was directly connected to cuts in social services for at-risk teens. I've actually been very good during the debt-ceiling debates. Despite a slight but ever-increasing rise in my blood pressure over the last few weeks, I've been able to tune out most of the "tea partiers are terrorists" rhetoric and keep my eye on the fiscal prize: no default, no new taxes, limited but crucial cuts in spending.
August 4, 2011 |
BOSTON - What relief rally? Hope that the stock market would surge on news of Washington's debt-ceiling deal has given way to pessimism. Increasingly defensive-minded investors are adapting to the reality that the economic recovery is stalling, if not ending. Stocks rose slightly Wednesday - the three major indexes each rose a fraction of a percentage point - to snap an eight-day string of declines that had sent prices down nearly 7 percent. The stumble over the last two weeks complicates matters for investors who recently pulled money from the market, fearing a government default was a strong possibility.
August 2, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - After weeks of high-stakes drama that put the nation's economy at risk while Americans and the rest of the world watched in dismay, the House on Monday passed a deal, 269-161, that would raise the nation's debt ceiling immediately and reduce federal budget deficits by trillions of dollars over the next decade. Adding more drama to the proceedings, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) returned to Congress on Monday for the first time since she was critically wounded in a January shooting spree in her district, and voted in favor of the debt-ceiling accord.
July 28, 2011 |
THE WRANGLING in Washington over raising the nation's debt ceiling was getting heated. The president supported the increase. Certain members of Congress were resisting the change. It was the 1980s. Then the 1990s. And here we are again. Every few years, it seems, the question of raising the federal borrowing level becomes an issue. But this time, the divide seems even more extreme. The possibility that the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling won't be increased - and the country won't be able to pay all its bills come next week - seems even more possible.
July 27, 2011
THE VOLUME of calls to the House of Representatives yesterday was so heavy they jammed the congressional switchboard - evidence that Americans responded to President Obama's plea Monday night. The president asked Americans to tell Congress to "compromise" and stop the suicidal "three- ring circus" that risks economic catastrophe over what in the past has been a routine vote by Congress to raise the debt ceiling. How routine? During the Bush administration, Republicans voted to raise it four times for a total of $4 trillion.
July 26, 2011 |
Congressional offices in the Philadelphia region were swamped with phone calls and emails Tuesday as voters lashed out in frustration at Washington's failure to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis. It was the same all over the country following the televised speech by President Obama Monday night in which he urged Americans to call their representatives to urge them to make a deal - any reasonable deal - to end the stalemate before an Aug. 2 deadline that could throw the nation into financial crisis.
July 25, 2011 |
The debt ceiling looms. Confusion reigns. Schemes abound. We are deep in a hole with, as of now, only three ways out: the McConnell plan, the G6 plan, and the half-trillion plan. The McConnell essentially punts the issue until after Election Day 2012 - a good last resort if nothing else works. The G6, proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Six senators, reduces 10-year debt by roughly $4 trillion. It has some advantages, even larger flaws. The half-trillion raises the debt ceiling by that amount in return for an equal amount of spending cuts.
July 19, 2011 |
DES MOINES, Iowa - They have one eye on Washington and the other on Wall Street. Investors are paying close attention because the contentious debate in Congress could have very serious implications for their 401(k) accounts. There's no doubt much is as stake for retirement savers. All told, they have more than $3 trillion invested in 401(k) plans. So far investors haven't made significant shifts within their accounts. The Vanguard Group, a leading 401(k) provider, says that there hasn't been a notable rise if the volume of client calls or visits to its website.
July 14, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - The once-vaunted unity of congressional Republicans has become a distant memory, crumbling under pressure of the deadline to raise the government's credit limit. As the internal fissures widened and another White House meeting ended inconclusively, the economic stakes rose. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned in congressional testimony that failure to raise the government's debt limit by Aug. 2 would be a "huge financial calamity. " And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued a political warning that the party risked losing the next election if Republicans persisted on their current path.