Budget Deal Passes
House approves bill to avoid shutdown. CNN News: “The House overwhelmingly backed a $1.1 trillion spending package on Friday that avoids a government shutdown and funds federal agencies through next fall. The 316-113 vote was as major victory for new House Speaker Paul Ryan, who secured the support of at least 150 Republicans. Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, rarely got that kind of backing from Republicans on a spending bill when ran the House. … But just like Boehner, Ryan needed some help from Democrats to pass the funding measure because of opposition from conservatives to spending levels and what some see as a surrender to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on key policy riders.
Why deficit hawks are missing in action on budget, tax bills. The Christian Science Monitor: “Congress is about to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national budget deficit, yet the “deficit hawks” on Capitol Hill are largely silent. … Many of the lawmakers who have spoken out in the past for fiscal restraint ‘are just being silent,’ says Maya MacGuineas, CRFB president and a longtime advocate for lower federal deficits. ‘There is no leadership on the issue.’ Insiders cite three reasons for the silence of the deficit hawks on this year’s big spending and tax deals.”
Republicans ‘rein in’ the IRS in new budget after years of grievances. Washington Post: “The budget now prohibits the agency from producing videos at conferences unless they are approved in advance by a special board, punishment for a Star Trek parody made for a lavish training conference in Anaheim, Calif., in 2010, with an official starring as Mr. Spock. The IRS cannot give a bonus or award to any employee — or one who’s been rehired — if they owe a cent in back federal taxes, punishment for watchdog reports showing that some employees owe back taxes and are not penalized. The IRS must train every employee in ‘dealing courteously with taxpayers,’ ‘cross-cultural relations,’ ethics and the ‘impartial application of tax law.'”
Calm Acceptance as Fed Enacts Its First Interest Increase in Seven Years. NY Times: “The Federal Reserve’s much-anticipated “liftoff,” its first interest rate increase since the financial crisis, unfolded as quietly and smoothly as Fed officials could possibly have wished. For the Fed, however, the hard work now lies ahead. The Fed persuaded participants in the financial markets that a quarter-point increase in its benchmark interest rate didn’t matter much. But the big questions about the American economy haven’t changed.”
Unemployment Rates Fall in 27 US States Amid Broad Hiring. ABC News: “Unemployment rates fell in more than half of U.S. states in November as employers stepped up hiring. The Labor Department says jobless rates fell in 27 states, rose in 11, and were unchanged in 12 states. Employers added jobs in 35 states, while employment fell in 14. Montana’s job total was flat last month. The widespread improvement suggests employers in most parts of the country are confident enough to hire more.”