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Retail sales not as bleak as expected

March was not as bad as expected for U.S. retailers, at least as far as initial sales reports show, suggesting that shoppers largely ignored higher gasoline prices and other concerns to treat themselves. U.S. retailers overall are likely to show a drop in March same-store sales, hurt by Easter falling three weeks later than last year, which delays some spring clothing purchases. Chilly weather and rising inflation were also expected to hurt discretionary purchases. However, early reports from a variety of retailers such as Costco Wholesale Corp and Limited Brands Inc showed much stronger-than-expected results. Others, including drugstore operator Walgreen
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End of the road for Glenn Beck’s show

Glenn Beck later this year will end his Fox News Channel talk show, which has sunk in the ratings and has suffered from an advertiser boycott. Fox and Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts, said Wednesday they will stay in business creating other projects for Fox television and digital, starting with some documentaries Beck is preparing. Beck was a quick burn on Fox News Channel. Almost immediately after joining the network in January 2009, he doubled the ratings at his afternoon time slot. Fans found his conservative populism entertaining, while Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert described Beck’s “crank up the crazy and
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Obama says shutdown will delay pay to troops

The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season. The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government’s spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise. Billions of dollars apart, congressional negotiators were working to strike a deal by Friday to avert a shutdown by setting spending limits through the end of September. The last such shutdown took place 15 years
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Are there any adults in Washington?

Suddenly everyone in Washington wants to be an adult. President Barack Obama says he wants to have an adult dialogue on the budget. Republican lawmakers contend they’re the ones trying to have a grown-up talk. Both sides are pointing fingers yet both have agreed to repeated delays in completing a budget to keep the government open for the last six months of the fiscal year. The bickering might seem, well, childish, but the stakes are high as each side tries to win public opinion and display the leadership qualities to attract voters at the ballot box through 2012 and beyond.
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GOP looking at one-week budget extension

Republicans battling with President Barack Obama over budget cuts are moving one-week legislation Thursday to avoid a government shutdown, despite opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats pressing for a longer-term solution. The move by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to advance the interim budget measure angered his Democratic negotiating counterparts and came after slower-than-hoped White House talks Wednesday night. The president said Republicans need to display more urgency, while Boehner said honest differences remain. Thursday’s GOP measure would combine a full-year Pentagon budget with a big slice of cuts to domestic programs as the price to keep the
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Wisonsin court challenger declares victory, recount certain

The union-backed challenger in the race for a seat on Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court declared victory on Wednesday in a contest that became a referendum on a new restrictions on public sector unions. But Wisconsin’s first statewide recount in 20 years was virtually certain because just 204 votes separated the two candidates out of nearly 1.5 million cast. A recount could be a complicated, drawn-out affair, experts said. “It may become ballot-by-ballot warfare in some places,” said Richard Esenberg, a former partner at Foley & Lardner who now teaches at Marquette University Law School and an expert on Wisconsin law.
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Government shutdown: A big risk for both parties

Democrats and Republicans say the last thing they want to do is to shut down the government. But with budget talks showing little signs of a breakthrough, there are growing worries that a stalemate could hurt the economy’s fragile recovery. Many economists and budget analysts suggest that a government shutdown, if it’s lengthy, or even a deal that calls for deep short-term spending cuts could stifle economic growth and lead the country back into recession. Private forecasters already have lowered their growth projections for this year based on surging fuel, food and raw material costs, and tensions in the Middle
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GOP budget will raise health care costs for seniors

Congressional budget experts say future retirees would pay more for health care under a new House Republican budget proposal. The fiscal blueprint would put people now 54 and younger in a different kind of health care program when they retire. Unlike parents and grandparents in traditional Medicare, they’d get a federal payment to buy private insurance from a choice of government-regulated plans. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, in an analysis released late Tuesday, said a typical beneficiary would spend more for health care under the proposal. GOP leaders want the House to act quickly on the ambitious plan from House
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No budget deal yet: Next stop, shutdown?

Talks appear to be intensifying on Capitol Hill on reaching a deal on long-overdue legislation to finance the government through the end of September — and avoid a government shutdown. Whether a shutdown can be avoided in three days’ time is another matter. A White House meeting Tuesday that included President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., failed to produce the hoped-for breakthrough, however, with a stopgap government funding bill set to expire Friday at midnight. Obama ratcheted up the pressure afterward, sounding exasperated with Republicans for not warming to a White
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Romney leads in New Hampshire but Trump a wild card

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney leads potential Republican primary opponents in the early voting state of New Hampshire, but celebrity candidate Donald Trump has substantial support, according to a new poll. Public Policy Polling’s survey, released on Tuesday, showed 31 percent support for Romney, who many see as the front-runner for the Republican nomination to go up against Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. That was similar to the 32 percent that Romney received in the state’s 2008 primary, when he finished second to John McCain, but down from 40 percent when the group last polled in November. Romney
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