Browsing all articles tagged with budget

Budget Cuts Mean Furlough Friday at Four Federal Agencies

Across the board budget cuts have shaped Furlough Friday in Washington and somewhere else because the one day closing of four federal agencies forced an unpaid day off for 115,000 workers.

Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Urban Development and Housing, the office of Management and the Internal Revenue Service and Budget stayed home on Friday.

According to Cory Bythrow, communications director at the National Federation of Federal Employees, a union representing government workers. The unemployment affects about 5 percent of the federal workforce. Bythrow tracks workplace fallout from the budget cuts that are known as sequestration.

Bythrow said eighty-five percent of the workers who were furloughed on Friday are based outside Washington. They include union and non-union employees, depending largely on where they are.

The layoff come as the United States heads into a holiday weekend, with Memorial Day celebrated on Monday, when government offices will be closed.

A Washington Post poll released on Friday found 37 percent of Americans feel confiscation has hurt them personally, up from 25 percent in March. Almost half of those affected say the harm to them has been major.


French President Urges Euro Zone Government

Francois Hollande, French President called on Thursday for an economic government for the euro zone with its own budget the right to borrow a harmonized tax system and a full time president.

At a 150 minute news discussion marking his first year in office a day following economic statistics showed France had fall into recession, the Socialist leader defended his record on economic reform and budget regulation and informed the French people they would have to work a bit longer for a complete pension in future.

Rebutting criticism that France has lost its leadership role in Europe as of its dwindling economic competitiveness, Hollande thought he wanted to create a fully-fledged political European Union within two years.

Hollande said it is my responsibility as the leader of a founder member of the European Union to pull Europe out of this torpor that has gripped it and to reduce people’s disappointment with it.

He accepted that he could face resistance from Germany, Europe’s dominant power, which opposes mutualising debt between member states. Berlin is also reluctant to give the euro zone its own secretariat for fear of deepening division in the EU, among the 17 members of the single currency and the 10 others.

Non-euro Britain’s government previously faces growing domestic pressure to hold a referendum on leaving the bloc.

Hollande stated he wanted Britain to stay in the EU but added, he can understand that others don’t want to join the single currency, however they cannot stop the euro zone from advancing.

Hollande said a future euro zone economic government would debate the main economic and political decisions to be taken by member states, harmonize welfare policies and national fiscal and launch a battle against tax fraud.

He proposed bringing forward planned EU spending to combat record youth unemployment, pushing for an EU-wide transition to renewable energy sources and envisaged a budget capacity that would be decided to the euro zone along with the gradual likelihood of raising debt.


President Barack Obama Chides Lawmakers Over Flight Delay Fix, Budget Conflict

President Barack Obama chided Republicans on Saturday for approving a plan to ease air-traffic delays caused by federal spending cuts while leaving budget cuts that affect children and the elderly untouched.

The House of Representatives and the Senate backed a plan this week to give the Department of Transportation flexibility to cover immediate income of air traffic controllers at the Federal Aviation Administration who had been furloughed as part of budget cuts known as sequester.

The furloughs which started Sunday led to take off and landing delays at airports nationwide.

This week, the sequester hurt travelers, who were stuck for hours in airports and on planes, and correctly frustrated by it. And, maybe as they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they really apply to them too, Obama stated in his weekly radio and Internet address.

So Congress passed a provisional fix. A Band Aid however these cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people.

In his address, broadcast on Saturday morning Obama renowned that the cuts were affecting social programs and should be restore with less arbitrary spending reductions.

There is only one way to really fix the sequester, by swapping it before it causes further damage, Obama said that he hoped members of Congress would feel the same sense of urgency they felt with the FAA cuts on other programs.

They may not feel the pain felt by kids kicked off Head Start or the 750,000 Americans projected to lose their jobs as of these cuts, or the long-term unemployed who will be further hurt by them. Although that pain is real.


Congress Passes Plan to Relieve Flight Delays

The US Congress on Friday permitted a plan to ease nationwide air traffic delays caused by federal spending cuts, seeking to calm irritated travelers however sparking a backlash from groups still being strike by budget cuts.

The Senate unanimously voted for the plan late Thursday and the House of Representatives permitted it Friday by a 361-41 vote. White House spokesperson Jay Carney stated President Barack Obama intends to sign the bill.

The legislation will give the Department of Transportation flexibility to use almost $250 million in unspent funds to cover immediate salaries of air traffic controllers and other essential employees at the Federal Aviation Administration who had been furloughed.

Officials hurried the bill through, eager to stem the rising wrath of the traveling public, which had dealt with important take off and landing delays since the furloughs started on Sunday.

They also had faced anger from airline CEOs whose companies had mounted a grassroots campaign through a website called, hopeful Americans to send messages to Congress and the White House.

Congressional support of the air travel bill, barely four pages long came as politicians prepared to fly out of Washington for a week long recess. It was not clear how rapidly the air delays would ease once the bill is enacted.

Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Representative of Maryland chided fellow politician for frantically pushing the bill through just before the break, making their future travels easier. Van Hollen, who wanted to address more than just FAA furloughs, said that they will pat themselves on the back and utter job well done.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association said that the union representing the controllers was relieved following just one week of furloughs, it is abundantly clear that a fully staffed air traffic control workforce is essential for our national airspace system to operate at full capacity.


IMF, ECB Square off in Europe Severity Debate

An intense debate about Europe’s austerity drive flared back into life on Thursday with leading IMF and European Central Bank officials harshly at odds and Angela Merkel declaring that Germany required superior interest rates.

With the threat of the currency bloc’s break-up retreating; some euro zone officials are saying currently is the time to throttle back on debt cutting drives as calmer financial markets will not react badly.

The International Monetary Fund is also pushing that prescription for both the Britain and euro zone however Germany and the ECB are opposed.

IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton told a conference in London that there is a risk that Europe could drop into stagnation, which would have very serious implications for households, banks, companies and other bedrock institutions.

He further said that to decisively avoid that dangerous downside, policymakers must act now to strengthen the prospects for growth.

However at the same conference, the Economist’s Bellwether Europe Summit, ECB Executive Board associate Joerg Asmussen urged governments to push on with budget consolidation and reforms.

Asmussen said delaying fiscal consolidation is not a simple way out. If it were, we would have taken it; holdup fiscal consolidation is no free lunch. It means superior debt levels and this has real costs in the euro area where public debts are already very high.

The ECB is expected to cut interest rates coming week, even though a quarter-point reduction is unlikely to lift the euro zone economy out of recession.

Lipton said it will perhaps require additional unconventional measures from the ECB, as Asmussen said monetary policy was not an all purpose weapon.

The ECB is in a difficult position, for Germany it would really have to lift rates slightly at the moment, however for other countries it would have to do even more for more liquidity to be made available, she said at a banking conference, in a strangely outspoken comment on central bank policy.


German Court to Hear Case Against ESM, ECB bond-buying in June

Germany’s Constitutional Court said on Friday that it would hold a public hearing on complaints against the euro zone’s bailout fund the European Stability Mechanism, and the European Central Bank’s bond buying program on June 11 and 12.

The seven complaints in total, reflect German unease regarding the mounting costs of dealing with the three year debt crisis and fears that the ECB bond buying program may violate the taboo against direct central bank financing of state budgets.

The court based in Karlsruhe southwestern Germany, ruled in a preliminary verdict previous September that the ESM did not violate German law and could go further on, while it insisted on veto rights for the German parliament.

The ECB has not yet trigger the program as struggling euro zone states, previously implementing tough austerity measures, are reluctant to recognize the onerous conditions of the program, however the pledge alone has been enough to bring down their borrowing costs over recent months.

Gunnar Beck, constitutional law expert said he did not expect Karlsruhe to support the complaints, given its precedent record on not blocking moves towards European integration, despite the legal worries over the bond buying program.

There is no doubt that the EU contract, rule out bond purchases whenever they might facilitate state financing through the printing press and permit indebted states to obtain enhanced rates than they would otherwise.

There is no significant precedent where the German constitutional court has directly challenged the German government over an issue of European policy.

He added, I have no doubt the court will present to the government’s wishes in one form or another when it comes to the ECB bond purchases.

Political analysts say a decision is unlikely earlier than Germany’s September election when Chancellor Angela Merkel, her popularity enhanced by what voters see as her competent handling of the euro zone crisis is expected to win a third four year term.


President Barack Obama’s nominee to Lead Budget Office Sails Toward Confirmation

President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Office of Budget and Management appeared Wednesday to be on a clear path toward Senate confirmation.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a former official in the administration of President Bill Clinton and until lately head of Wal Mart Stores philanthropic wing, float through committee votes without Republican opposition on Wednesday, almost assuring her confirmation as the next head of OMB.

Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, chairwoman of the budget committee released a declaration shortly following the committee vote on Wednesday applauding the tough bipartisan support for Burwell’s confirmation.

Murray said I am confident she is going to do a enormous job at OMB working to enhanced the economy and tackle our deficit and debt in a balanced way and I am looking forward to the complete Senate approving her nomination as soon as possible.

If Burwell proceeds through verification of the full Senate, she will take over the office that crafts the administration’s spending policies and acts as a key negotiator in budget argument with Republicans in the US Congress.

As Obama has faced a number of staining confirmation battles over his executive branch selections, Burwell cleared both the Senate Homeland Security and Senate Budget Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee the by a voice vote, winning praise from some Republicans along the way.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a longtime critic of OMB and the highest ranking Republican member of the budget committee and Obama’s budget policies, offered kind words for the president’s nominee.

She’s a very wonderful person, Sessions said, maybe at a time of fiscal crisis it’s the toughest job in Washington.

Burwell would swap acting director Jeffrey Zients, who stepped in following Obama tapped former OMB Director Jack Lew to be his White House chief of staff.


Cyprus Consider Early EU structural Funds, Officials Said

EU officials said that Cyprus is considering placed EU structural funds to earlier use to assist its stricken economy however is not asking for a superior bailout from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund than the agreed 10 billion euro’s.

Nicos Anastasiades, Cypriot President told reporters in Nicosia on Friday that he would send a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to give it extra assistance given the bad economic situation of the island.

That fueled assumption on financial markets that the island may be pushing Brussels for additional money under a bailout package which now illustrates Cyprus contributing roughly twice as much in budget cuts and asset sales than originally debatable.

However euro zone finance ministers gave political backing to 10 billion euro’s of loans for the Mediterranean island on Friday and stated there were no plans or requests to raise that amount.

The letter from President Anastasiades has nothing to do with asking for additional money than the sum decided in the MoU.

It is about a request for more financial assistance and support from our EU partners in the middle term as of the financial and economic situation Cyprus is facing.

The two international lenders have predicted Cyprus will contract about 9 percent this year and approximately 4 percent in 2014 prior to returning to growth in 2015.

Structural funds come from the long term EU budget and are used to co-finance projects in less EU developed countries to assist them enlarged economically.

The flow of such funds is increased over the seven years of the EU budget, however can be accelerated to boost the amount of money in the earlier years at the cost of the outer ones, this method has been employed to help Greece already.


President Barack Obama Tax Plan Opening Gambit in Potential Tax Rewrite

Obama on Wednesday revitalized a list of his favorite tax thoughts, hopeful to raise $580 billion in new revenues from the wealthy over a decade in a potential opening strategy to forge a deal with Congress to renovate the tax code.

Although certain not to move forward all together, his 2014 budget proposal has elements likely to spur discussion including a proposal to tax derivatives more strictly, as lawmakers weigh a tax code restore and face a limit on the government’s debt limit this summer.

Chris Krueger, an analyst at Guggenheim Partners stated that these are all opening bids in any possible grand negotiate, so from that perspective they are significant.

Congressional Republicans mostly blasted the Democratic president’s budget proposal, weighing the difficulty policymakers have had forging a long-term deficit cutting plan.

Obama’s budget does not seek to lift individual tax rates as he has proposed in prior budgets. For years, he sought to elevate rates on household income over $250,000.

Republicans and Obama agreed during previous year’s fiscal cliff battle to elevate rates for households earning more than $450,000 a year, to 39.6 percent from 35 percent.

Obama’s budget also recommended a new Buffett tax, a minimum tax rate for the rich named for investor Warren Buffett, that stage in a minimum 30 percent tax rate on household income over $1 million.

The bid renew Obama’s offer previous year to Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner during the discussion to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of looming tax hikes.

The budget also reprized a proposal to limit tax breaks between wealthier taxpayers, opening at household income of roughly $250,000, limiting the value of deductions and loopholes in determining taxable income. A phased-in limit on deductions is now part of the tax code for more wealthy taxpayers.

The new cap would apply to the same list of breaks proposed in previous years , including the charitable tax break and the exception for municipal bond interest.

One encounter Obama proposed to fight once more is over the estate tax, pitching to lift it to 45 percent for estates worth over $3.5 million, following a deal to cap it in January at 40 percent for estates over $5 million.


President Barack Obama Budget Targets Millionaires, Replaces Sequester Cuts

The White House on Wednesday proposed a budget that harshly trims the US deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in taxes and pass spending cuts that replace the sequester reductions that went into place previous month.

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget blueprint guarantee that those making $1 million a year or more would have to pay at least 30 percent of their income following gifts to charity, in taxes.

Senior administration officials told that boost, along with spending cuts and a 28 percent cap on tax deductions for lofty earners, would bring the US budget deficit down to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016. The unbiased Congressional Budget Office in February projected the US deficit to be 5.3 pct of GDP this year.

The president’s budget placed little chance of being pass into law. However senior administration officials said that in spite of Republican leaders’ confrontation to tax increases, they hoped it could lead to a deficit reduction.

They carry on to be people who are on the Republican side in the Senate at least, who are saying things that would give you some expectation that there is a course to a deal.

President is breaking from the tradition of using the mostly symbolic budget release to outline his ideal spending and tax proposals. Instead he is annoying to relaunch talks to resolve a long-running fiscal battle with his Capitol Hill adversaries.

To do so Obama is offering a acknowledgment that has enraged many of his supporters, adopting a less generous determine of inflation to calculate cost of living raise for the beneficiaries of many federal programs. One result would be reduce benefits for most recipients of the popular Social Security retirement program.

While Obama has vowed to shield some of the most vulnerable beneficiaries, the proposal has drawn strong opposition from Democrats and groups representing elderly and the labor.

At the same time his budget suggestion faces seemingly insuperable opposition from Republican leaders, who refuse any new tax revenues.

Obama’s expectation is to build a coalition of lawmakers willing to compromise, while most observers see that as unlikely. He has invited 12 Republicans to dinner at the White House on Wednesday in an effort to make softer resistance.