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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.


Job Market Resilience Eases Growth Concerns

Employment rose at a quicker pace than expected in April and hiring was much stronger than formerly thought in the prior two months, a sign of flexibility that should help the economy absorb the blow from belt tightening in Washington.

Labor Department said on Friday,non-farm payrolls increased by 165,000 jobs previous month and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent, the lowest level since December 2008. The job counts for February and March were revised up by a net 114,000.

Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco said that this boosts the case that the US economy will be able to survive the joint headwinds of sequestration and a deepening recession in Europe.

Investors on Wall Street cheered the statistics, which beat economists’ expectations for a 145,000 jobs advance and a steady 7.6 percent reading on the unemployment rate.

US stocks rallied, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closing at record highs. The US dollar vaulted to a one week high against the yen, however Treasury debt prices tumbled.

Payrolls climbed by 138,000 jobs in March, 50,000 more than formerly reported, and job growth for February was revised up by 64,000 to 332,000, the largest growth since May 2010.

However the gains previous month were far below the 206,000 jobs per month average of the first quarter, the newest evidence the economy is cooling even if not as rapidly as earlier feared.

Construction employment dropped for the first time since May and manufacturing payrolls were flat. The length of the average workweek pulled off a nine  month high and a gauge of the overall work effort knock down.

Economists pin the slowdown mainly on higher taxes that took hold at the start of the year and $85 billion in federal government spending cuts known as the sequester, that went into effect at the start of March. Economies overseas have also weakened cutting into US export growth.

However the US economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual pace in the first quarter, statistics on construction spending, retail sales and trade suggested it ended the period with less speed.


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.


President Barack Obama Income Knock Down in election year, paid 18.4 percent tax rate

According to his tax returns released by the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama paid a successful federal tax rate of 18.4 percent in 2012 and saw income from his bestselling books fall as he ran for re-election.

Obama and his wife Michelle had adjusted gross income of $608,611 previous year, losing from $789,674 in 2011 and paid $112,214 in total taxes, compared to $162,074 in 2011.

Their total income came in at $662,076 down about 22 percent from $844,585 the last year.

According to a White House official, as president, Obama is permitted to a $400,000 annual salary, he reported salary income in 2011 and 2012 of $394,800 and however following deducting pre-tax amounts he paid for his health insurance premium

The Obamas outside business income knock down sharply as the president’s book sales turn down. In 2012, the couple had business income of $258,772 drop from $441,369 in 2011.

Book sales have dropped dramatically since the early days of his presidency. In 2009 his business income from book sales came in about $5.2 million.

The Obamas reported giving $150,034 to aid, representing approximately 25 percent of their adjusted gross income. The biggest gift was $103,871 to the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that provides housing for military families near military hospitals.

Jill and Vice President Joe Biden reported adjusted gross income of $385,072 and paid $87,851 in total federal taxes previous year. Their helpful contributions amounted to $7,190, including some $2,000 in donated clothing and other items.


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.


A fiscal Cautions from two former budget chiefs

Two ex- budget chiefs who worked for presidents from opposing political parties stated on Monday that the government should decrease military spending, end decade-old income tax cuts and scale back Social Security payments to reduce the federal deficit.

David Stockman, who was a key architect of tax cutting policies and Republican Ronald Reagan’s budget director from 1981 to 1985, and Peter Orszag, budget director for Democratic President Barack Obama from January 2009 until July 2010, agreed that the US spends more on defense than is needed.

Both also stated that the country would be well served if wealthier citizens paid more taxes and took less significant benefits from the government in their old age.

Orszag said that the governments are right to use spending to stretch out the economic regulation to keep huge segments of population from losing their jobs, which itself can sourced long lasting problems.

The Great Deformation is the men spoke on the eve of the official publication of Stockman’s new book, the Corruption of Capitalism in America.

Stockman criticizes politicians of both parties, opening with Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s and including his former boss Reagan as well as previous Republican President George W. Bush.

Stockman advises investors to sell their securities and hold cash as an alternative. He confess he does not believe Washington will adopt his advice.

Orszag stated Stockman was not correct to place so much blame for the budget deficit and weak economy on government policies. Changes from new technology and global trade have hurt employment and incomes.

Some $85 billion of comprehensive government spending cuts automatically took effect on March 1 following Congress and the White House failed to agree on federal budget decisions. The drain of money has placed pressure on the US Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low to prop up the economy.

Washington is having returning fiscal showdowns over how to slash the budget deficit and $16 trillion of national debt, which was build from years of spending on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and stimulation for the US economy.