Archives for FUBAR

Unemployment climbs to 9.8 percent

The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September as employers cut far more jobs than expected, evidence that the longest recession since the 1930s is still inflicting widespread pain. The Labor Department said Friday that the economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month, up from a downwardly revised 201,000 in August. That's above Wall Street economists' expectations of 180,000 job losses, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in August, matching expectations. If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate rose to 17 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994.
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Ensign screws aide’s wife, then screws ethics laws

Like too many elected officials, Sen. John Ensign likes to screw around. He nailed Cynthia Hampton, a campaign worker. Hampton was also the wife of his top Washington aide: Douglas Hampton. So Ensign tried to smooth things over by helping Hampton get a job with some of his fatcat supporters. Hampton, with Ensign's help, landed a good gig with a political consulting firm and the Senator who screwed his wife helped out by lining up campaign donors as clients. Which put Hampton in violation of ethics laws that bar senior Senate aides from lobbying their old place of employment for at least a year after leaving the job. And it puts Ensign in a position far more compromising than his bedroom antics.
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Without federal funds, recovery sputters to a halt

As long as the federal government pumps money into stimulus programs like "cash for clunkers," the economy shows some signs of recovery. But when the federal dollars run out, so does the economic bubble the cash created. Without massive infusions of federal dollars, the American economy sputters to a halt and pessimism about the future returns. Unemployment remains high, consumers remain wary and employers keep laying off workers. In other words, more of the same.
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Palin’s lectures ain’t selling

Former Alaska Gov. and Vice Presidential wannabe Sarah Palin thinks what she has to say is so important that people should be willing to pay up to $100,000 to hear her speak. But no line is forming to book her. The New York Post reports that Palin's lecture schedule of empty because some places are afraid to book her and others consider her a "blithering idiot." And the publisher who paid her a $7 million advance for her book is wondering how much it will lose on the gamble.
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Health care ‘reform:’ Just another lost freedom

One thing President Barack Obama and some other politicians have figured out about Americans is that you can't trust them to manage their own affairs, and if you want to fix health care in this country you are going to have to take away some more freedoms even if the Constitution doesn't permit it. Specifically, you may very well have to mandate that everyone buy health insurance because, otherwise, you are not going to have the premium money necessary to make this whole new scheme of things work and you could leave the door open to something akin to cheating.
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More Americans ratting out tax cheats

Dangle some cash and a lot of people are happy to turn in their employers for cheating on their taxes. Since Congress beefed up whistleblower rewards in late 2006, tips about suspected tax cheats owing at least $2 million have jumped more than tenfold, the Internal Revenue Service said in a report Thursday. In 2008, the agency received tips on 1,246 suspected tax dodgers, each owing more than $2 million. That's up from 116 big-money tips in 2007. IRS officials, however, don't know yet whether many of the tips will pan out. The report says the IRS is still in the middle of the lengthy process of conducting audits and processing appeals. One key lawmaker praised the program but prodded the IRS to move faster on the cases.
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Consumer spending up: Are we on a rebound?

Consumer spending, the bulwark of economic growth, is showing signs of life as the economy transitions from recession to recovery. The key question is whether the spending rebound can be sustained while U.S. households face rising employment, tight credit conditions and other obstacles. Economists believe that consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of total economic activity, surged in August, reflecting the success of the government's Cash for Clunkers car rebate program.
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Public option? DOA or still on life support?

This week's headlines declared the so-called public option dead on arrival after the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected two versions of it offered by Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Dead? It is not dead, but it is dead. Let me explain. Last week I attended a breakfast hosted by the Democratic Women's Working Group in the House, and four female House Democrats insisted at that event that if any form of health care reform emerges from the Senate, the public option will be included in the House version. They added that Democrats have the votes to push it through when the House-Senate conference committee meets to iron out differences between the two chambers' bills.
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Ohmigod! An honest man in Washington?

Frankly, the investigative journalism gig has gotten pretty easy these days. In the corridors of power, evidence is as easy to pick up as cigar butts used to be, of the cynical way the game is played. Evidence abounds fingering the rule-breakers and wrongdoers, deceivers and distorters, buck-passers and buck-wasters, and of course, the standard-bearers who get caught baring their double standards. So today's news is about a rare find among the Washington elite: A straight-talking top official who answers tough questions without the usual duck-and-dodge, who has a top job he never sought and doesn't really want -- and who even volunteers to take the blame for recommending a controversial presidential policy that flopped. Yes, Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
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