If her check were bigger, 76-year-old Agnes Conti might be able to spring for a better cut of meat for her pot roast. She could afford to send her nine grandchildren more than $20 for their birthdays and Christmas. She'd be able to spring for some nice new clothes, like she sees on QVC, not what she settles for at Walmart.
If only. The government has said the Social Security checks Conti and tens of millions of other seniors rely on as their primary source of income will not increase next year as consumer prices have fallen overall. And while the retired hospital clerk will get by, she'll be watching her spending even closer, knowing she can't expect the annual raise she's been accustomed to.
Businesses reported creating or saving more than 30,000 jobs in the first months of President Barack Obama's stimulus program, according to initial data released Thursday by a government oversight board. Military construction led the way, and states in the South and Southwest saw the biggest boost.
The new job numbers — in line with expectations for such an early accounting — offer the first hard data on effects of the $787 billion stimulus program.
The figures are based on jobs linked to less than $16 billion in federal contracts and represent just a sliver of the total stimulus package. But they also represent a milestone of sorts for an administration that promised unprecedented real-time data on whether the program was working.
As the White House and Congressional leaders turned in earnest on Wednesday to working out big differences in the five health care bills, perhaps no issue loomed as a greater obstacle than whether to establish a government-run competitor to the insurance industry.
One day after the Senate Finance Committee approved a measure without a “public option,” the question on Capitol Hill was how President Obama could reconcile the deep divisions within his party on the issue. All eyes were on Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the Maine Republican whose call for a “trigger” that would establish a government plan as a fallback is one of the leading compromise ideas.
In its assaults on a Democratic health care overhaul bill, the insurance industry uses facts selectively and mixes accurate assertions with misleading spin and an embrace of worst-case scenarios.
Take the 30-second TV spot that America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, was running this week in six states as the Senate Finance Committee approved overhaul legislation.
With a series of beleaguered-looking elderly people on camera, a soothing female voice says accurately that Congress has proposed cutting more than $100 billion from Medicare Advantage. The program, administered by private companies that provide extra services like eye and dental care, serves about a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries, more than 10 million people.
Growing by leaps and bounds, the Pentagon’s secretive Information Operations budget keeps tripping over some basic information — like how much it costs.
Just months ago, the Defense Department said it needed $988 million to help win hearts and minds in the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. When the House cut this by half in July, top-level officials landed on Capitol Hill, pleading their case but also making a startling admission: Their budget needs for 2010 are actually $626.2 million — more than one-third less than first estimated.
Consumers may be slowly regaining their appetite to shop, as the prices they encounter in stores remain low.
One benefit of the recession is that inflation is nowhere to be seen, as consumer prices have barely grown in months. Rising unemployment, stagnant wages and tight credit have restrained consumer demand, making it difficult for retailers to raise prices.
Most economists expect that pattern to continue when the Labor Department on Thursday reports the September Consumer Price Index. Economists forecast that consumer prices rose just 0.2 percent in September, after a 0.4 percent gain in August and a flat reading in July.
The number of households caught up in the foreclosure crisis rose more than 5 percent from summer to fall as a federal effort to assist struggling borrowers was overwhelmed by a flood of defaults among people who lost their jobs.
The foreclosure crisis affected nearly 938,000 properties in the July-September quarter, compared with about 890,000 in the prior three months, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac Inc. That puts foreclosure-related filings on a pace to hit about 3.5 million this year, up from more than 2.3 million last year.
The Social Security Administration makes it official Thursday: There will be no cost of living increase for Social Security recipients next year, the first year without one since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.
The announcement comes as President Barack Obama and key members of Congress call for a second round of $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors, veterans, retired railroad workers and people with disabilities.
The payments would be equal to about a 2 percent increase for the average Social Security recipient. The cost: $13 billion.
Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve the payments, and several key members of Congress said they would.
As health care "reform" lumbers it way towards an uncertain fate in the halls of Congress, one reality remains certain for Americans who still have health insurance: They will pay more for coverage in 2010.
Employers, faced with rising costs for health plans, are increasing the share employees must pay and those with pay the full cost of insurance will find sticker shock as insurers send out their new rates.
President Barack Obama openly courted the health insurance industry as he attempted to craft a coalition to craft a health care reform bill.
But that industry turned out to be the wolf in the hen house, keeping its powder dry and waiting for the right time to try and torpedo any serious attempt at reforming the system that provides them with huge profits while saddling Americans with crippling costs.