Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dollar Mostly Gains As Investors Seek Safety


NEW YORK -- The dollar was mostly higher Wednesday as a report on the housing sector added to worries about the strength of the U.S. economy's rebound, boosting the buck's appeal as a haven.

Investors tend to buy the dollar, with its access to the huge, liquid U.S. Treasury supply, when economic reports, corporate earnings or other developments make them feel uneasy about the state of the economy.

"Currency markets are exhibiting classic risk-aversion characteristics this morning," wrote Credit Suisse analysts in a research note.

The 16-nation euro fell to $1.4719 in late trading in New York from $1.4809 late Tuesday. Meanwhile, the British pound rose to $1.6413 from $1.6386, while the dollar tumbled to 90.79 Japanese yen from 91.81 yen.

Read Full Story 

Lieberman: I'll block vote on Reid plan


Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now."

Asked about Lieberman’s threat to filibuster a final vote on the Reid plan, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said: "I haven't seen the report from Sen. Lieberman or why he's saying what he's saying. I think Democrats and Republicans alike will be held accountable by their constituents who want to see health care reform enacted this year.”

Lieberman said that he’d vote against a public option plan “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line."

His comments confirmed that Reid is short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill out of the Senate, even after Reid included the opt-out provision. Several other moderate Democrats expressed skepticism at the proposal as well, but most of the wavering Democratic senators did not go as far as Lieberman Tuesday, saying they were waiting to see the details.

Lieberman did say he's "strongly inclined" to vote to proceed to the debate, but that he’ll ultimately vote to block a floor vote on the bill if it isn’t changed first.

"I've told Sen. Reid that if the bill stays as it is now I will vote against cloture,” he said.

“I can’t see a way in which I could vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated-run insurance company,” Lieberman added. “It’s just asking for trouble – in the end, the taxpayers are going to pay and probably all people who have health insurance are going to see their premiums go up because there’s going to be cost shifting as there has been for Medicare and Medicaid.”

Reid’s response was restrained.

“I don't have anyone that I have worked harder with, have more respect for in the Senate than Joe Lieberman,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “ As you know, he's my friend. There are a lot of senators, Democrat and Republicans, who don't like part of what's in this bill that we sent over to CBO. We're going to see what the final product is. We're not there yet. Sen. Lieberman will let us get on [to begin debating] the bill, and he'll be involved in the amendment process.”

Lieberman said he “very much” wants to vote for health care reform but that he’s worried about stifling “the economic recovery we’re in” or adding to the federal debt.

“I feel this way about a national, government-created health insurance company – whether it’s a trigger or not,” he said. “My answer is – we’re – we have the opportunity to do some great reforms here. These exchanges that we’re talking about, I think, are going to drive competition and probably bring the cost of health insurance down or at least contain the cost increases for a lot of people. Let’s give that two or three years to see how it works to see how it works before we talk about creating another entitlement that will end up increasing the national debt and putting more of a burden on taxpayers.”

By: Manu Raju 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

House Health Care Bill Exceeds $1 Trillion


WASHINGTON – Healthcare legislation taking shape in the House carries a price tag of at least $1 trillion over a decade, significantly higher than the target President Barack Obama has set, congressional officials said Friday as they struggled to finish work on the measure for a vote early next month.

Democrats have touted an unreleased Congressional Budget Office estimate of $871 billion in recent days, a total that numerous officials acknowledge understates its true cost by $150 billion or more. That figure excludes several items designed to improve benefits for Medicare and Medicaid recipients and providers, as well as public health programs and more, they added.

The officials who disclosed the details did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Some moderate Democrats have expressed reluctance to support a bill as high as $1 trillion. Last month, Obama said in a nationally televised address before a joint session of Congress that he preferred a package with a price tag of around $900 billion.

Read the Full AP News Story

Investors.com - Our Drunken Uncle


According to two separate Government Accountability Office scenarios, America's long-term fiscal outlook is "unsustainable." No surprise, since Uncle Sam is spending like a drunken sailor.
The GAO, Congress' in-house think tank, warns that in "little over 10 years, debt held by the public as a percent of GDP" will hit a record high, exceeding the debt-to-GDP ratio seen after World War II. Then it will "grow at a steady rate thereafter," according to the government forecasters.
"Social Security cash surpluses, which have been used to help finance other government activities, are projected to turn to cash deficits by 2016," the GAO warns.
The agency's fall update of its "Long-Term Fiscal Outlook" adds that "the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2037, 4 years earlier than estimated last year." The Medicare trust fund's day of reckoning, meanwhile, "was also moved forward by 2 years to 2017."
Investors.com - Our Drunken Uncle

Friday, October 23, 2009

'Public' Plan With State Option to Opt Out Mulled - Political News - FOXNews.com


Pay Czar's Move to Cut Salaries Raises Questions About Limits of Authority - Political News - FOXNews.com


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Japan-U.S. missile defense faces budget limits


TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo may not have the money to complete its joint missile defense plans with the United States, aimed at protecting it from regional threats such as North Korea, Japan's defense minister said on Wednesday.

"The first half of the missile defense plan is complete, but we are considering what to do about the remaining half," a Japanese official quoted Toshimi Kitazawa as telling U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"I understand how important missile defense is, but the financial authorities are taking a harsh view. However, I want to overcome this somehow," the official quoted him as saying.

Japan's new Democratic Party government, which toppled a long-ruling conservative government in an August election, is trying to slash unnecessary spending and control massive national debt without damaging an already weak economy.

The official did not give details of which parts of the plan might be delayed or canceled.

Japan's joint ballistic missile defense program with the United States includes ship-based SM-3interceptors and land-based PAC-3 interceptors, as well as sensors and joint research to upgrade the system.

Some of Japan's PAC-3 missile interceptors were deployed in April, when North Korea conducted what it said was a satellite launch on a flight path over northern Japan.

The Japanese official quoted Gates as saying financial authorities were always strict and adding that the missile defense plan was a wonderful example of success in the U.S-Japan alliance.

Japan's defense budget has been falling for seven straight years, reaching about 4.7 trillion yen ($51.9 billion) in the year that ended in March and is set for further cutbacks, domestic media say.

The defense ministry has allocated between 100 billion yen and 180 billion yen ($1.10-1.99 billion) a year to the joint missile defense project annually since 2004.

($1=90.65 Yen)

By Isabel Reynolds

Obamacare doctor bribe fails in Senate, Reid whines


It looked like the fix was in. The “Doc Fix,” that is. As the Heritage Foundationhas been reporting, the White House and Dem leaders scurried today to try and pass a $247 billion payoff to doctors groups as an enticement to support Obamacare.
Surprise: The fix failed. The cloture voted on S. 1776 failed by 47-53. Here’s the roll call vote:

And now look who’s whining. Harry Reid blames the AMA:
Reid brought the $247 billion bill to the Senate floor this week as part of a deal to secure the support of doctors groups such as the AMA for passage of a separate, broader healthcare reform bill later this year. But the strategy has backfired.
Reid knew that he needed Republican votes because several centrist Democrats made it clear to him before this week that they would not vote for the measure if its cost was not offset. Reid though he could count on a few Republican crossover votes…
…Reid told reporters on Wednesday that he was led to believe that more than two dozen Republicans would vote for the bill, though he did not mention the AMA by name.
“I was told by various people that we would have 27 Republican votes, which was pretty reasonable to assume since one of the co-sponsors of this legislation was [Sen.] Jon Kyl [Ariz.], the assistant Republican leader.
“I was stunned when I was told by his cosponsor Sen. Stabenow after we introduced this legislation that [Kyl] couldn’t support it. Even though he is a cosponsor he couldn’t support the legislation,” Reid said, making reference to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the lead sponsor of the 10-year doctor payment fix.
Kyl did not cosponsor the 10-year fix. Last year and in 2005 he cosponsored a measure that would have implemented a two-year freeze on the cuts to Medicare payments to doctors.
An aide to Kyl said that those measures would have indexed future payments to inflation and rising healthcare costs. The aide said that Stabenow’s bill would freeze payment levels and make no provision for rising costs.
Another factor is that the nation’s fiscal picture is much different than it was last year. The Obama administration recently estimated the federal deficit at $1.4 trillion.
By Michelle Malkin  •  October 21, 2009 04:45 PM 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Traditional Americans are losing their nation


Top White House Official Says Obama Team 'Controlled' Media Coverage During Campaign - Political News - FOXNews.com


Monday, October 19, 2009

White House Escalates War on Fox News - Political News - FOXNews.com


Sunday, October 18, 2009

China’s Export of Its Culture Stumbles Amid State Control


FRANKFURT — As China extends its economic reach, it has also increased efforts to promote its culture, or “soft power,” to counter Western influence and improve its image in the wider world.

Yet if Chinese goods are accepted everywhere, its arts and literature, embattled at home after decades of censorship and state control, are proving harder for the government to export.

After years of delicate preparations, China was the “honored guest” this past week at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest and most influential book trade event, based on the number of publishers represented. But what Beijing hoped would be a celebration of its cultural achievements turned into a tug of war between control and free speech, as much a showcase for Chinese dissidents as the state’s approved writers.

Mao Zedong said that power flowed from the “wielders of the pen,” not only from the gun. But the chairman would not be amused to find books like “Mao: The Unknown Story,” an indictment of his rule that is banned in China, displayed alongside the official Chinese exhibit at this year’s fair, which ended Sunday.

When the German organizers and diplomats urged the Chinese to allow a prominent storyteller and musician, Liao Yiwu, to come to Frankfurt, the authorities refused to lift his overseas travel ban, and told him to stop talking about it.

A symposium preceding the book fair titled “China and the World — Perceptions and Realities,” became a major confrontation. Fair organizers withdrew invitations to two dissident writers the Chinese wanted to exclude, Dai Qing and Bei Ling, but welcomed them at the last minute after criticism by journalists and politicians. When the writers made statements, the Chinese delegation walked out, only to return after an abject apology by the fair’s director, Jürgen Boos.

“We did not come to be instructed about democracy,” declared Mei Zhaorong, China’s former ambassador to Germany.

Unlike the exquisitely choreographed ceremonies during the Beijing Olympics, the fair presented a messier and more ambiguous portrait of China on the rise — a country still deeply uncomfortable with its own discordant voices, yet eager to become more competitive with the West in the realm of ideas.

China controlled its own massive display of books, artwork and authors at the fair, including even books from Taiwan, to underline its assertion of “One China.” But it could not censor the 2,500 books about China displayed by others. And while Beijing had many consultations with the German government and arguments with the fair organizers, it ultimately did not push to prevent dissidents and critics — even representatives of the Dalai Lama — from attending the event.



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