Emergency help for out-of-work Americans will be a huge windfall to Realtors, homebuilders, mortgage bankers and others, and that's no accident.
Those industries have spent months and millions of dollars making the case for $20 billion in tax cuts for homebuyers and businesses to help create jobs and revive a sluggish housing market. Their lobbying campaign paid off Thursday when Congress voted to pass the tax breaks as part of a broader extension of unemployment benefits.
The legislation, which provides up to 20 weeks in additional pay to more than 1 million people who have lost or are in danger of losing jobless aid, is headed for President Barack Obama's desk, after passage by overwhelming bipartisan margins.
Billed as a way for the government to put more fuel-efficient vehicles on highways, the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program mostly involved swaps of old Ford or Chevrolet pickups for new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis of new federal data by The Associated Press.
The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford F150s. They were 17 times more likely to buy a new F150 than, say, a Toyota Prius. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.
Despite spending more than twice as much as other developed countries, the United States still lags behind in terms of access and quality, an international survey said Wednesday.
Insurance restrictions and health care costs make US patients more likely than people in 10 other countries to struggle to receive treatment, according to the annual survey of over 10,000 primary care physicians.
"We spend far more than any of the other countries in the survey, yet a majority of US primary care doctors say their patients often can't afford care," said lead author Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund.
Maine voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed, dealing the gay rights movement a heartbreaking defeat in New England, the corner of the country most supportive of gay marriage.
Gay marriage has now lost in every single state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine — known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate — and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.
With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the votes.
"The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation," declared Frank Schubert, chief organizer for the winning side.
The rabid right-wing of the Republican Party senses a chance to seize even more power and may challenge more than a dozen current GOP candidates in key House and Senate races next year.
Conservatives see no room in the GOP for moderates or those who don't fall lockstep into line for hard-core right-wing issues, a stance that scares the hell out of Republican party officials who see expanding the base as the only hope for Republicans in 2010.
"What you’re going to see," former GOP House majoirty leader Dick Armey tells Politico, is moderates and conservatives across the country in primaries."
In other words, a party ripped apart from within.
Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald famously declared in the Valerie Plame affair that "there is a cloud over the vice president." Last week's release of an FBI interview summary of Dick Cheney's answers in the criminal investigation underscores why Fitzgerald felt that way.
On 72 occasions, according to the 28-page FBI summary, Cheney equivocated to the FBI during his lengthy May 2004 interview, saying he could not be certain in his answers to questions about matters large and small in the Plame controversy.
The Cheney interview reflects a team of prosecutors and FBI agents trying to find out whether the leaks of Plame's CIA identity were orchestrated at the highest level of the White House and carried out by, among others, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Monday he would have preferred to leave the White House in a coffin because he loved being commander in chief, but signaled his political life is over.
"It's good that we have a (term) limit. Otherwise I would have stayed until I was carried away in a coffin. Or defeated in an election," Clinton said at a conference in Istanbul. "I loved doing the job."
Clinton won two terms in office, the maximum under the constitution, and served from 1992 to 2000. His wife Hillary Clinton is now U.S. Secretary of State under President Barack Obama after losing the Democratic primary to him in 2008.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledges the federal budget deficit is too high, but that the priorities now are economic growth and job creation.
Asked repeatedly on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether this means taxes will rise, Geithner avoided giving specifics. He did say President Barack Obama is committed to dealing with deficit in a way that will not add to the tax burden of people making less than $250,000 a year.
The White House has not decided how to reduce the red ink, Geithner said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
"Right now we're focused on getting growth back on track," he said. "And we're not at the point yet where we have to decide exactly what it's going to take."
Pentagon auditors are warning the Army's primary support contractor in Iraq, responsible for everything from mail and laundry to housing and meals, to cut its work force there or face nearly $200 million in penalties for keeping thousands too many on the payroll.
According to an internal Defense Department audit, Houston-based KBR Inc. has increased employee levels while U.S. troops steadily leave the country after more than six years of war. As a result, the U.S. government is paying far more in labor costs in Iraq than it should as military resources are shifted to Afghanistan.
Attorney General Eric Holder says a lawsuit in San Francisco over warrantless wiretapping threatens to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.
In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently. A civil liberties group criticized the move Friday as a retreat from promises President Barack Obama made as a candidate.