AJC: Pushing a campaign to act without Congress, President Barack Obama will announce on Friday two more executive actions on the economy, both of them small steps intended to give a boost to businesses.
The moves cap a week in which Obama has sought to employ the power of his office as he struggles to make headway on his jobs bill on Capitol Hill.
Obama is directing government agencies to shorten the time it takes for federal research to turn into commercial products in the marketplace. The goal is to help startup companies and small businesses create jobs and expand their operations more quickly.
On the other front, Obama is calling for creation of a centralized online site, to be known as BusinessUSA, for companies to easily find information on federal services. The site is to be up and running within 90 days and will be designed with input from U.S. businesses.
Obama is announcing both steps in presidential memos to be released Friday morning, according to administration officials.
Washington Post: The U.S. economy grew at its fastest clip in a year during late summer as consumers and businesses shrugged off fears of a new recession, according to government data released Thursday that helped drive the stock market to its best day since August.
Investors were also cheered by overnight news that European leaders have reached an agreement on how to address their continent’s debt crisis, and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index ended the day up 3.4 percent. European markets were up even more sharply, with the German Dax index up 5.3 percent.
The agreement in Europe still has many details to be filled in, and the 2.5 percent pace of U.S. economic expansion in the third quarter isn’t enough to bring unemployment down quickly, even if it is sustained. But on both sides of the Atlantic, the news on Thursday offered a sense of relief: Maybe the world isn’t falling apart after all.
National Journal: On the surface, it seems surprising that the U.S. economy nearly doubled its growth in the third quarter.
July brought tense debt-ceiling negotiations and threat of a government default. In August, a top credit ratings agency cut the United States’ top AAA rating. Concerns over European sovereign debt seeped into the U.S. and grew in September as the situation across the Atlantic appeared to be rapidly unraveling. Congress announced no major steps to fix the economy and the weak housing and labor markets treaded water.
But on Thursday, the Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product grew by 2.5 percent during that time, up from just 0.9 percent in the first half of the year.
While 2.5 percent GDP growth hardly signals boom times, it seems to fly in the face of those major headwinds. But economists say it reflects a gradual climb out of recession rather than a rapid shift in the country’s fortune.
…. The good news is that the third quarter shared many of the same uncertainties that are likely to shape the fourth: uncertainty over the budget and deficit, threat of a downgrade, and the European debt crisis. The economy, while hardly in fighting shape, pulled through the third quarter to eke out 2.5 percent GDP growth — which is not too shabby.
AP: He is the man with the mustache who takes a rebellious drag on a cigarette in the Herman Cain Internet ad gone viral …. Meet Mark Block, Cain’s unorthodox campaign manager …. a Republican strategist and tea party leader who’s left a trail of questionable campaign work behind him.
Block has been accused of voter suppression and was banned from running Wisconsin political campaigns for three years to settle accusations he coordinated a judge’s re-election campaign with a special interest group.
Records show Block has faced foreclosure on his home, a tax warrant by the Internal Revenue Service and a lawsuit for an unpaid bill. He also acknowledges he was arrested twice for drunken driving…..
Eugene Robinson: The hard-right conservatives who dominate the Republican Party claim to despise the redistribution of wealth, but secretly they love it – as long as the process involves depriving the poor and middle class to benefit the rich, not the other way around.
That is precisely what has been happening, as a jaw-dropping new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office demonstrates. Three decades of trickle-down economic theory, see-no-evil deregulation and tax-cutting fervor have led to massive redistribution. Another word for what’s been happening might be theft.
ThinkProgress: House Republicans took the government to the brink of shutdown last spring by demanding across-the-board budget cuts to many vital programs. Instead of focusing on job creation, as Americans wanted them to, the GOP turned its attention to slashing funds for programs that funded assistance for women and children, local law enforcement, the social safety net, environmental protections, and many other programs they deemed as either too expensive or unnecessary. Worse, when challenged on why they hadn’t made the effort to tackle high unemployment, Republicans insisted that their slash-and-burn budget cuts were meant to create jobs.
….. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress’ Scott Lilly, those cuts didn’t result in the job creating boon Republicans insisted would follow. Instead, it has done just the opposite, as those cuts will result in the destruction of roughly 370,000 jobs……
First lady Michelle Obama visited three Florida cities on Thursday for campaign fundraisers…. “This has been a great day,” the first lady told supporters in Ft. Lauderdale. “This is my third city in one day. And I go home tonight and Barack and I get up and go to parent-teacher conference tomorrow morning.”
“Just so you know,” she said. “Just handling our business.”
The Hill: The government’s bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might end up costing taxpayers billions less than originally estimated, the mortgage giants’ regulator said Thursday.
In a new report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said the actual performance of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) had been “substantially better” than originally projected, lowering the overall bill for the bailout, a longtime sore spot with GOP lawmakers.
…. So far, Fannie and Freddie are beating bailout expectations. In the first year of projections, the GSEs actually tapped the Treasury Department for $19 billion to $73 billion less than anticipated, depending on what scenario was applied.