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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
October 30, 2013

Retirees Replaced by Lower Paid Weigh on Growth: Economy

By Steve Matthews - Oct 30, 2013

Retired Ford Motor Co. worker Tony Fransetta scrimps on every expense after earning about a third of his previous pay since leaving the auto company in 1990.

“There is no magic bullet,” said Fransetta, 77, who lives in Wellington, Florida, near West Palm Beach. “I have cut vacations and travel. You have to manage your food very closely. You don’t go out and buy expensive cuts of beef. You have to catch things on sale.”

As millions of baby boomers join Fransetta in retirement, income growth will provide less oomph for the economy in the next 20 years. The labor force that remains will include a growing share of workers with less earning power. Together, the trends will act as a brake on consumer spending, limiting the economy’s long-term growth potential.

“If we don’t change, we are grinding to a halt,” said James Paulsen, the Minneapolis-based chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, which oversees about $340 billion of assets. “The capability of the economy, its potential to grow, is far less.”

Decades of accelerating earnings ended in the last recession, and the outlook for a return to the growth rates of the past is less than promising as more Americans reach retirement age.



October 30, 2013

Food Stamps Loom Over Negotiations to Pass Farm Bill

By Alan Bjerga and Derek Wallbank - Oct 30, 2013

U.S. lawmakers meeting today to reconcile House and Senate versions of agricultural policy legislation will find the table crowded with members who have deeply held and widely divergent views on food stamps.

The tension is underscored by conferees the House leadership has added to the House-Senate negotiating committee: Tea Party Republican Representative Steve Southerland of Florida and Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, chairwoman of the all-Democrat Congressional Black Caucus.

With a new law needed before outmoded programs potentially double milk prices early next year, both President Barack Obama and House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor have called for passage of a bill. The appointment of conferees from outside traditional rural constituencies -- and who are polar opposites on food stamps -- shows the law may not be the place where a new era of deal-making will dawn.

“It wouldn’t come as any surprise if the nutrition title is the toughest thing to negotiate,” said Representative Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican and conferee.

Spending on food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the biggest conflict surrounding the bill, which benefits processors including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) and insurance companies such as Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) along with grocers including SuperValu Inc. (SVU) By subsidizing food purchases, the farm bill encourages production, while its conservation and economic development programs promote rural business growth and a cleaner environment.



October 30, 2013

Judicial Confirmation Clash Looms Over Obama’s Nominees

By James Rowley and Greg Stohr - Oct 30, 2013

U.S. lawmakers are headed for a new showdown over President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations, as Senate Democratic leaders began a push to fill vacancies on a court that referees some of the nation’s biggest business cases.

Obama wants to reshape the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often regarded as the country’s second-highest court. Republicans say he’s trying to “pack” the panel with nominees sympathetic to his regulatory agenda. Democrats argue that Republicans are trying to deny Obama the confirmation votes they routinely gave to President George W. Bush. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is ready for a fight.

“The nation is watching for a sign that the Senate can function efficiently,” Reid said on Oct. 28 as the Senate returned to Washington after voting to end a 16-day government shutdown. “It is time to show the American people how well and how quickly the Senate can work.”

At stake is the future of a tribunal that can serve as a steppingstone to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts served on the D.C. Circuit as did Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Two other chief justices, Warren Burger and Fred Vinson served there as well.

Among the cases being reviewed by the court is one on the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” rules requiring Internet-service providers to treat all traffic equally. The court -- which has three vacancies and where Republicans now have an edge -- also would probably rule on the administration’s proposal to limit carbon-dioxide pollution from power plants.



October 30, 2013

No Apologies Offered for Spying as Obama Weighs Limits

U.S. intelligence officials offered no apologies for spying on foreign leaders without specifying who they targeted, defending the practice as the same thing other nations do to the American government.

The national intelligence director and head of the National Security Agency drew a line only at collecting communications records of millions of European citizens. The NSA’s director, Army General Keith Alexander, called European news reports of those activities “completely false.”

“It’s invaluable for us to know where countries are coming from, what their policies are and how that would impact us across a whole range of issues,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the House intelligence committee during a hearing yesterday in Washington.

The hearing and White House statements shed little light on whether the NSA spied on leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, how much Congress and Obama knew, and whether the president or congressional oversight committees would do anything to end it.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said a review of surveillance programs is being conducted and some decisions about intelligence gathering have been made, without elaborating.



October 30, 2013

Sebelius Says ‘Hold Me Accountable’ for Obamacare Flaws

U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to give in to calls by lawmakers to fire the government administrators who worked on the Obamacare exchange rollout, saying “hold me accountable for the debacle.”

In a contentious exchange, Republicans at a House committee hearing today quizzed Sebelius on the malfunctioning website that is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. They also raised privacy concerns, pressed her on insurance cancellations and demanded resignations, including of the federal official who oversaw the opening of the website.

“Will you please ask for the resignation of Gary Cohen, because he has repeatedly come to this committee and misled us?” asked Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Sebelius replied: “I will not, sir.”

Sebelius also defended Michelle Snyder, the chief operations officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who was in charge of building the healthcare.gov website. Sebelius said she, not Snyder, was to blame and apologized for the site flaws as her agency works to achieve “an optimally functioning” exchange by the end of November.

“Although you did apologize and you have said it’s a debacle, you also seem to think that the Affordable Care Act is great,” said Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican. “Myself and others have a different view. Ultimately the American people will decide.”



October 30, 2013

Putin Accused Of Spying On World Leaders At G20 Summit With "Poisoned" Computer Memory Sticks

Russian leader Vladimir Putin spied on world leaders at last month’s G20 summit by giving them “poisoned” computer memory sticks, it was alleged today.

Delegates at the St Petersburg gathering were reportedly handed USB pen drives which used a “Trojan horse” programme to download sensitive information.

They also got mobile phone chargers which were allegedly capable of monitoring emails, telephone calls and text messages.

The secret bugging was discovered by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy who ordered the memory sticks and chargers to be tested by intelligence experts in Brussels.

A warning memo was then sent out to G20 members who attended the summit, the Italian paper Corriere della Sera claims.

“The USB pen drives and the recharging cables were able to covertly capture computer and mobile phone data,” the secret memo said.



October 30, 2013

Vladimir Putin Tops Obama as ‘World’s Most Powerful Person’

Oct 30, 2013 11:31am

Vladimir Putin has usurped President Obama as the Forbes’ Most Powerful Person in the World this year for the first time in Obama’s presidency.

The magazine published its annual list today and noted that the Russian president had overtaken the American one in part because of Russia’s role in the Syria conflict this summer.

“Putin has solidified his control over Russia and anyone watching the chess match over Syria has a clear idea of the shift in the power towards Putin on the global stage,” Forbes wrote. “The ex-KGB strongman–who controls a nuclear-tipped army, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves – is allowed to serve another six-year term, which could keep him in office until 2024.”

Putin has flaunted his power over the past year, including during heightened tensions with the U.S. over Syria when he penned an Op-Ed critical of Obama and published it in The New York Times.

As Russia and the U.S. came to agreement over disarming Syria, Putin was also touting the fact that he provided refuge for Edward Snowden, the intelligence leaker sought by the U.S. for publishing National Security Agency’s secrets.



October 30, 2013

Senate Rejects Republican Plan Tied to Borrowing Limits

By Kathleen Hunter - Oct 30, 2013

The U.S. Congress is taking up legislation on federal borrowing authority this week that won’t prevail because of the political split between the chambers, leaving in place the debt-ceiling suspension passed Oct. 16.

The Senate voted 54-45 along party lines against advancing the measure, offered by the chamber’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The Republican-controlled House began debate today on similar legislation and is set to vote on it tomorrow. The House probably will adopt the resolution, though it won’t become law because the Senate turned it down.

“I look forward to quickly dispensing with this Republican resolution,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today on the Senate floor.

The mechanism letting Congress vote to disapprove of the increase in U.S. borrowing authority was in the law that ended a 16-day government shutdown and suspended the debt cap until Feb. 7. The approach, pioneered by McConnell in 2011 legislation raising the debt ceiling, is designed to give Republicans a chance to go on the record opposing an increase in federal borrowing authority.

Twenty-seven Senate Republicans joined 54 Democrats on Oct. 16 to raise the federal debt limit, opening the door to the disapproval votes. Four Republicans facing Tea Party-backed primary challenges -- McConnell, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thad Cochran of Mississippi -- voted for the legislation.



October 30, 2013

Social Security Benefits To Go Up By 1.5 Percent In 2014; Increase Among Lowest In Years

Source: Associated Press

By Associated Press,

WASHINGTON — Social Security benefits for nearly 58 million people will increase by 1.5 percent next year, the government announced Wednesday.

The increase is among the smallest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. It is small because consumer prices haven’t gone up much in the past year.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation that was released Wednesday morning.

The COLA affects benefits for more than one-fifth of the country. In addition to Social Security payments, it affects benefits for millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees and people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/social-security-set-to-announce-annual-cola-benefit-increase-to-be-among-lowest-in-years/2013/10/30/90360a82-4127-11e3-b028-de922d7a3f47_story.html

October 30, 2013

Private Job Growth Down This Month In Wake Of U.S. Shutdown, ADP Says

Source: Los Angeles Times

By Jim Puzzanghera
October 30, 2013, 6:49 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Business hiring slowed this month with the private sector adding just 130,000 net new jobs as the partial government shutdown hit an already weakening labor market, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday.

The figure was below the 150,000 average monthly job growth in the sector over the previous year as the hiring in the service sector fell off in October, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which assists ADP in the monthly report.

"The government shutdown and debt limit brinkmanship hurt the already softening job market in October," Zandi said. Firms that do government contracting were affected by the 16-day government shutdown and the fiscal impasse probably caused small companies to hold off on hiring, he said.

The 130,000 private-sector jobs added in October marked the smallest gain since April, ADP said. Economists had projected ADP's numbers would show the private sector added 138,000 jobs last month.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-adp-jobs-unemployment-shutdown-economy-20131030,0,2453362.story#axzz2jDlfMAiI

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