NEW YORK- Five years ago, the United States was in the midst of its worst recession in 70-years, and the stock market was reflecting it.
On this day in 2009, the S&P 500 hit its nadir, closing at 676.53. That low marked a climax of a 16 month selloff under President Bush that took more than half of the S&P's 500 value.
Since that day, under President Obama's watch, the Standard and Poor's 500 index has gained more than 177 percent, the best rolling five-year performance since June 1996 to June 2000.
MADISON (AP)- Embattled Wisconsin state Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer's office said Saturday that Kramer has checked himself into a treatment center while Wisconsin lawmakers pushed ahead with plans to strip him of his leadership position amid charges that he sexually harassed multiple women.
Kramer's office released a two-sentence statement saying that the Waukesha Republican was entering treatment and would have no further comment.
Meanwhile, as Mid-term elections draws closer, the GOP struggles to come up with a plan that pretends to overhaul the health care system. looking to avoid being painted as mere obstructionist, House Republican leaders are working to draw their cacus together behind a bill that would replace Obamacare with a workable alternative.
But the most sincere plans so far--- one offered by Sens. R. Burr, R-NC., Tom Corburn, R-Okla. and Orin Hatch, R-UT. -- would probably offer policies too skimpy to do any good once a policy-holder gets ill.
Besides, even that replacement idea seems unlikely to draw a broad support among the far-right tea partiers, who believe that allowing the uninsured poor to die is the appropriate government response to the health care crisis.
AUSTIN TX (API)- During a Republican primary debate in the last presidential election cycle, there was a dispiriting moment in which tea party audience members cheered at the idea that a comatose uninsured American--unable to afford health insurance-- would be left to die. That infamous outburst, among others, has prompted the GOP to try and cut back on primary season debates, hoping to limit appearances that might expose the party's baser impulses and further control the damage being committed by the tea party.
But that mean-spirited and contemptuous attitude towards the sick is alive and well in the GOP, as its maniacal (and futile) resistance to Obamacare has made clear. Now one Republican politician is pushing that callousness to new lows: He wants to bar the uninsured from hospital emergency rooms.
Last week, Georgia Go. Nathan Deal criticized a decades-old federal law that requires all hospitals that receive Medicare funds and have emergency facilities to treat any patient who walks in needing care, regardless of his ability to pay. "It came as a result of bad facts," Deal said, according to the Alanta Journal-Constitution. "And we have a saying that bad facts make bad law."
It's no wonder that GOP strategists shuddered when audience members responded so cruelly during the CNN/Tea Party Express debate in September 2011. It portrays the party as pitiless and has driven many within the Republican Party to not align themselves with the Tea Party which has driven a huge wedge between the Republicans and the Tea party itself. The Republican party pitiless stance is creating a reputation unlikely to attract the vast majority of voters.
Quiet as it's kept, most Americans support keeping and fine tuning Obamacare, despite the relentless pounding it has taken from Republicans, and despite a website rollout that was infuriatingly incompetent. A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 58 percent of Americans favor keeping in place.
WASHINGTON (AP)- American military and veteran groups are "disgusted" with the U.S. Senate Republicans for turning their backs on America's veterans today, after they refused to support a bill to expand health care and education programs for the nations military veterans.
60 votes were needed to more the bill through which President Obama promised to sign if it passed the senate, but 41of the 45 Republicans needed to pass it voted against it. effectively killing the bill.
Calling it more "Republican Shenanigans," the non-profit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America lamented senate leaders who were engaged in political games at the cost of the U.S. veterans.
"It has been a winter of discontent, starting with the Republicans in Congress to cut military retirement benefits before being pressured by the American people into reversing their course," IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff said in a publicized statement. "Then earlier this week, the Republicans in Congress forced the Pentagon to make budget cuts that increased living costs for our military families, for whom many are already receiving food stamps while husbands and wives are deployed. And now the Republicans in the senate can't pass a critical and transformative bill that includes priorities that have garnered bipartisan support for years."
Daniel Dillinger, American Legion national commander had this to say. "I don't know how any Republican in the U.S. Senate who voted 'no' today can possibly look a veteran in the eye and justify their vote. Our veterans deserve more than what the Republicans gave them today."
WASHINGTON (AP) - A half-dozen Senate races are heightening the severe struggle between establishment Republicans and tea party operations, threatening to exacerbate conservative divisions this fall and into the 2016 election.
Republican strategists say several Republican senators are not merely trying to clobber the tea party individuals challenging them from the extreme right in the GOP primaries. They also want to undermine, if not totally cripple, the tea party-affiliated companies helping to fund and shape the tea party challengers.
"If we beat enough of these tea party insurgent challengers to Republican incumbents, and get a big winning streak, we just might rid the Republican Party of those that are out to destroy it," said Charlie Black, an adviser to top Republicans for years.
"Once people find out a little bit about these tea party candidates, it does a lot to publicly expose them to pervert the definition of conservatism to attack Republicans" and help elect Democrats by dividing the Republican Party, said Josh Holmes, an adviser to Republican Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republicans.
Republican incumbents not only want to beat tea party challengers, they actually want to beat tea party-backed challengers "to a bloody pulp" said Holmes.
WASHINGTON- If there was any doubt after the government shutdown and last protracted battle over the debt ceiling, this cave from the Republicans should make it clear Obama and the Democrats have made it crystal clear the debt-ceiling is no longer a legitimate weapon the Republicans can aim at Americans again.
After sending their own approval ratings down to the lowest of double digits House Speaker John Boehner will bring a "clean" debt-ceiling increase to the floor on Tuesday night. For republicans it's a wave of the white flag to the American voters, and it completes an epic swing from their positions in 2012, when they first made the debt-ceiling increase a major vehicle to try to force cuts from President Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrats.
Consider the huge swing: In 2011, Boehner established the rule in his namesake--"the Boehner Rule," which required a dollar in cuts for every dollar raised in the debt ceiling. In 2013, Boehner's rule was dead. And in the end, even before Republican leaders conceded and said they would allow a "clean" hike to come to the floor, most Republicans were already talking about huge spending increases that they would attach to the bill to benefit their districts.
The dismantling of the debt ceiling as a weapon goes back to the fiscal cliff fight of late 2012, when President Obama said that he "wouldn't negotiate again with the full faith and credit of the U.S. on the table". He would not normalize that negotiation. That became the Democratic line and they stuck to it. They have been remarkably unified in their stance, and it has largely worked in diffusing that threat because the American voters are behind them.
(USA TODAY)- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (R- WA) the fourth-ranking House Republican, is facing an Ethics Committee probe, her lawyer said Thursday. The investigation apparently involves improperly mixing campaign and official funds.
USA TODAY reported Wednesday that McMorris Rodgers had spent nearly $700,000 on legal services at the end of last year from firms specializing in congressional investigations, suggesting that investigators may have been exploring the case for months.
PHOENIX- If there were any doubt that Republicans are in the throes of ideological fratricide that could threaten their prospects for success this fall, they were dispelled over the weekend in Arizona. In a move both bizarre and ill-timed, Arizona Republican Party members voted to censure Senator John McCain a maverick conservative and 2008 Republican presidential nominee--- for being "too liberal" for their taste.
DETROIT (UPI)- Detroit automakers are preparing to reward their U.S. hourly workers with another huge pile of profit-sharing checks, as North American manufacturing operations approach peak efficiency.
Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., and Chrysler Group LLC will announce specific, per-worker profit sharing totals along with their 2013 financial results. Based on auto-workers' anticipated earnings for the year, industry analysts believe more than $800 million in profit-sharing checks will go out to around 130,000 UAW represented autoworkers.
The combined per-worker total is on track to exceed the record bonuses of $17,875, set in 1999
White-collar salary employees are not part of the United Auto Worker's profit-sharing agreement with automakers.
"It's a sign of the success of the auto industry and where it's going," said Dave Murray, deputy press secretary for Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder. "The industry recognized the quality of the UAW workforce here in Michigan. The profit sharing checks are a tremendous indication of that."
NEW ORLEANS (AP)- In a much-hyped ratings showdown Duck Dynasty took a huge drop in ratings during last night's season premiere.
Over much hype many had expected the ratings to soar by all the controversy surrounding the show, following Phil Robertson's comments about gays and African Americans to GQ last month. But all the hubbub didn't translate into record-setting numbers for A&E, which had taken a lot of heat for suspending Robertson.
Last night's season premiere attracted only 8.5 million viewers, a huge drop from the 11.8 million that tuned in last August.
It's also worth noting that ratings for Duck Dynasty had been declining all of last season, with just 8.9 million tuning in for their Christmas special, so maybe the Robertson's down-home charm was wearing thin even before his comments to GQ
WASHINGTON (Reuters)- President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he would not wait for a Republican controlled Congress to pass legislation to advance his policy priorities this year.
The president speaking directly to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House appeared to be speaking to the Republicans in Congress emphasizing his ability to take executive actions without approval from the Republicans.
"We are not just going to be waiting for the Republicans in Congress in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need," the president said.
"I've got a pen, and I've got a phone. And make no mistake, I am not afraid to use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions... and I've got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life," he said.
TRENTON (AP) Less than a week after NJ Gov. Chris Christie became embroiled in the bridge scandal, the Republican finds himself facing another controversy.
It's now being reported that the U.S. Justice Department officials are investigating whether Gov. Christie used Sandy relief funds to produce "Stronger Than the Storm" ads that starred Christie and his family and friends.
According to the report, federal investigators are looking at Christie's use of at least $25 million in relief funds. The news of the probe follows on the heels of the bridge scandal, but the issue was raised last summer when a letter by NJ Rep. Frank Pallone was sent asking the Dept. of HUD to look into the bidding process Christie was using, specifically the governor's decision to award contracts that was $2.2 million more expensive than one from a competing firms.
(BUSINESS INSIDER) - As Tundra-like temperatures and wind chills as cold as 70 below zero fan out across the country every climate scientist is blaming the "Polar Vortex."
Polar Vortexes, though, are nothing new. They occur seasonally at the North Pole, and their information resembles that of hurricanes in more tropical regions: fast-moving winds build up around a calm center. Unlike a hurricane, these frigid polar winds, circling the Artic at more than 100 miles-per-hour.
The spinning winds typically trap this cold air in the Artic. But the problem comes when the polar Vortex weakens or splits apart, essentially fling these cold wind patterns out of the Artic and into our backyards. NOAA scientists and climate researchers are saying that it is the warming temperatures in the Artic that are responsible for the weakening of the polar vortex. When the vortex weakens, it's more likely to break apart and become a major factor in the nations winter weather.
TORONTO (AP)-- U.s. Senator Ted Cruz promised the Tea Party and Americans months ago to renounce his Canadian citizenship by the end of 2013, but the Calgary-born Republican is still a dual citizen.
Cruz 43, recently said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that lawyers had prepared the paperwork but that it's taking longer than expected in by officials in Canada, said Cruz.
"Not true," said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration attorney with the largest law firm in Vancouver. Kurland said that Cruz hasn't filed his legal documents to renounce his citizenship, or that there's a security or mental health issue that hasn't been disclosed to Canadian officials, renouncing citizenship is an extremely simple and quick process.
"If he's attempting to bring our system into disrepute by suggesting it's lengthy and complex, it's just a fabrication and not true. Revocation is one of the fastest processes in our system," said Kurland.
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, when his parents were working in the Canadian oil business. His mother, Eleanor, was born in America, while his father Rafael, is a Cuban still with ties to Cuba.
Cruz's office declined to respond for repeated requests explaining his statements on his renouncement process.
NEW YORK- Dec. 31 (Wall Street Journal) - U.S. stocks advanced modestly on Tuesday, boosted by a solid consumer confidence reading, keeping the S&P 500 on track for its best year since 1997 and the Dow on pace to record its best performance since 1995.
The S&P 500 is up 29.5 percent for the year and all 10 sector indexes will end the year in appositive terrority. The Dow is up over 26.7 percent in 2013, as smart investors rode the Federal Reserve's extraordinary stimulus and the expectations for improved growth in a year that had only the slightest of hiccups
The Nasdaq is also up a whooping 38.1 percent for the year, setting the technology-heavy index up for the best yearly performance since 2009.
Avoid gold the last correction took 20-years! After gaining more than 700% in the decade following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, gold has since fallen about 44% from the all time high it hit 15 months ago, with the most happening in 2013 as the stock market soars to record highs. In fact the second worst period for the metal in over 100 years, the worst being the 32 percent drop of 1981.
NEW YORK (AP)- Establishment Republicans and their corporate allies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have a new game plan for 2014 and beyond---"don't elect the Tea Party Fools."
According to the Wall Street journal, the Chamber of Commerce plans to launch a $50 million effort to support more centrist, business-friendly GOP candidates. The ultimate aim of the campaign is to win elections and keep the Tea Party out of their way.
"Our number one focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no more loser candidates," the Chambers top political strategist, Scott Reed told the Journal. "That we be our mantra: "No Tea Party fools on our ticket."
The GOP congressional rating is the worst in U.S. history with the latest Gallup poll showing 73 percent of Americans disapprove of the "do-nothing" congressional Republicans, with the Tea Party polling around 8 percent- the lowest approval rating for that political group since Gallup began tracking it during the movement's rise in 2010.
Republicans are blaming the ratings suffered as the result of the October's partial shutdown of the federal government to the Tea Party backed, far-Right wing conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz who led the charge to shut down the government over the funding of the Affordable Care Act. After that standoff, the Tea Party's approval rating fell over 30 percentage points to the single digits and has not recovered and causing Republicans to distance themselves from the Tea Party ever since.
WASHINGTON (AP)- Establishment Republicans and corporate allies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have a new game plan for 2014-- don't elect the tea party "fools".
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Chamber of Commerce plans to launch a $50 million effort to support more centrist, business-friendly GOP candidates. The ultimate aim of the campaign is to win a Republican majority in the Senate.
"Our number one focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates," the Chamber's top political strategist, Scott Reed told the Journal. "That will be our mantra: No tea party "fools" on our ticket."
The GOP's congressional rating is the worst in U.S. history with the latest Gallup poll showing 73 percent of Americans disapprove of the "do-nothing" congressional Republicans, with the tea party polling around 8 percent - the lowest approval rating for the political group since Gallup began tracking it during the movement's rise in 2010.
Republicans are blaming the ratings suffered as the result of the October's partial shutdown of the federal government to Tea Party-backed, far-Right wing conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz who had led the charge to shut down the government over the funding of the Affordable Care Act. After that standoff, the Tea Party's approval rating fell over 30 percentage points to single digits and has never recovered.