Posts Tagged ‘economy



27
Aug
14

Medicare Is Not Destroying The Budget? Thanks, ObamaCare

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David Leonhardt: Medicare: Not Such A Budget-Buster Anymore

You’re looking at the biggest story involving the federal budget and a crucial one for the future of the American economy. Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office on Wednesday morning. The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion dollars. That sum is greater than the government is expected to spend that year on unemployment insurance, welfare and Amtrak — combined. It’s equal to about one-fifth of the expected Pentagon budget in 2019. Widely discussed policy changes, like raising the estate tax, would generate just a tiny fraction of the budget savings relative to the recent changes in Medicare’s spending estimates.

In more concrete terms, the reduced estimates mean that the federal government’s long-term budget deficit is considerably less severe than commonly thought just a few years ago. The reduced estimates are also an indication of what’s happening in the overall health care system. Even as more people are getting access to health insurance, the costs of caring for individual patients is growing at a super-slow rate. That means that health care, which has eaten into salary gains for years and driven up debt and bankruptcies, may be starting to stabilize as a share of national spending. The Affordable Care Act, in particular, made significant reductions to Medicare’s spending on hospitals and private Medicare plans, to help subsidize insurance coverage for low- and middle-income Americans.

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22
Aug
14

Team Obama-Holder: Getting The Job Done

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AP: Bank Of America Agrees To Nearly $17B Settlement

The government has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Thursday. The deal calls for the bank, the second-largest in the U.S., to pay a $5 billion cash penalty, another $4.6 billion in remediation payments and provide about $7 billion in relief to struggling homeowners. The settlement is by far the largest deal the Justice Department has reached with a bank over the 2008 mortgage meltdown.

In the last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to a $13 billion settlement while Citigroup reached a separate $7 billion deal. At a news conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said the bank and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch subsidiaries had “engaged in pervasive schemes to defraud financial institutions and other investors” by misrepresenting the soundness of mortgage-backed securities. The penalties, Holder said, go “far beyond the cost of doing business.”

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Bloomberg: Housing Starts Rebound In U.S. As Inflation Eases

Home construction rebounded in July and the cost of living rose at a slower pace, showing a strengthening U.S. economy has yet to generate a sustained pickup in inflation. A 15.7 percent jump took housing starts to a 1.09 million annualized rate, the strongest since November, and halted a two-month slide, the Commerce Department said in Washington. The consumer price index increased 0.1 percent after rising 0.3 percent in June, the Labor Department also reported. An improving job market and cheaper borrowing costs are helping revive residential real estate, helping boost sales at companies such as Home Depot Inc. (HD) As inflation continues to run below the Federal Reserve’s target, it gives the central bank room to keep interest rates low well after the projected end of its bond-buying program in October.

The pickup in housing starts in the U.S. exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of 75 economists. The median projection called for 965,000, within a range of 898,000 to 1.03 million. The Commerce Department also revised June’s reading up to a 945,000 pace from a previously reported 893,000. The report also indicated the building industry will probably consolidate gains in coming months as permits for future projects advanced 8.1 percent to a 1.05 million pace, about in line with the current level of starts. The gain reflected the most applications for single-family dwellings since November.

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Bloomberg: Job Market Tilts Toward U.S. Workers In Virtuous Cycle

The balance of power in the job market is shifting slowly toward employees from employers. Bob Funk sees it firsthand from his position as chief executive officer of staffing agency Express Employment Professionals. “We’re short of people in a number of cities,” he said. So he’s changing the focus of his $2.5 billion, Oklahoma City-based business. Instead of concentrating on finding jobs for those who want them, Express Employment is putting more effort into finding workers for companies that need them. “We’re back in the recruiting market again,” Funk said. The 74-year-old industry veteran isn’t the only one to notice the change. Americans who have been hunting for employment for more than six months

are finding they’re having better luck landing a job, while people who had given up looking are returning to the labor force to resume their search. Companies, meanwhile, are beefing up their in-house recruiting teams and increasingly using complicated computer algorithms to scour the Web for prospective job candidates. This is all good news for the economy, according to Nariman Behravesh, the Lexington, Massachusetts-based chief economist for IHS Inc. He said the U.S. has entered a “virtuous cycle” where job gains are leading to increased household expenditures, encouraging employers to hire more workers. Consumer spending rose in June by the most in three months, according to Commerce Department data published Aug. 1.

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12
Aug
14

Want A Growing Economy? Elect A Democrat

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Josh Boak: U.S. Job Openings In June Hit 13-Year-Plus High

U.S. employers in June advertised the most monthly job openings in more than 13 years. Employers posted 4.67 million jobs in June, up 2.1 percent from May’s total of 4.58 million, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. The number of advertised openings was the highest since February 2001, a positive sign that points to a strengthening economy. The report “provides further confirmation that the U.S. labor market has indeed shifted to a period of stronger growth,”

said Jeremy Schwartz, an analyst at the bank Credit Suisse. Known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey or JOLTS, the report provides a detailed look at where employment might be heading. the pressure on employers to offer more generous wages could be increasing. On average, there are 2 unemployed workers for every job opening. That’s down from an average of 2.6 unemployed people per opening at the start of the year. As that ratio continues to fall, employers will likely have to boost salaries.

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Lucia Mutikani: Fresh Data Shows U.S. Jobs Market Tightening

The share of unemployed Americans competing for each open job hit a six-year low in June, suggesting a labor market tightening that could give way to faster wage growth. Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased to a seasonally adjusted 4.67 million in June, the highest level since February 2001. At the same time, hiring reached its highest point since February 2008. Job growth has topped 200,000 in each of the past six months, a stretch last seen in 1997.

The unemployment rate has declined to 6.2 percent from 6.7 percent at the end of 2013. Troy Davig, the head of research at the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, told Reuters on Monday that rising job openings suggested earnings growth was poised to move higher. “Faster wage growth certainly seems in the pipeline,” he said. “The labor market appears to be hitting a turning point.”

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06
Aug
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets a young supporter at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Tyson’s Corner Va., on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:0: The President delivers remarks and participates in Session One of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department: Investing in Africa’s Future.

12:30: Participates in Session Two: Peace and Regional Stability

2:30: Participates in Session Three: Governing the Next Generation

5:0: Holds a press conference, State Department

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10:0: First Lady Michelle Obama, in partnership with former First Lady Laura Bush and the Bush Institute, will host a day-long spouses symposium at the Kennedy Center focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare’s Impact On The Uninsured, State By State: Where Officials Wanted It To Work, It Did

Need another reminder of why Obamacare’s impact depends heavily on the state where you live? Gallup has one for you. On Tuesday, the organization published a state-by-state breakdown of how the law has affected the rate of uninsurance, at least according to its polling. Arkansas seemed to make the most progress: In that state, by Gallup’s reckoning, the ranks of the uninsured fell by 10.1 percentage points. Next was Kentucky, at 8.5 percentage points. The states that made the most headway covering the uninsured,

according to Gallup, are states in which officials decided to build their own insurance marketplaces and to make all low-income people eligible for Medicaid, as the Affordable Care Act originally envisioned. The Medicaid expansion is obviously the big factor here, because it meant many more people (into the millions, in the largest states) became eligible for government-subsidized insurance. But it’s safe to assume that the states that undertook both steps were also the ones that put the most thought and effort into promoting the program.

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Michelle Jamrisko: Services In U.S. Expand At Fastest Pace Since 2005

Service industries such as builders and retailers grew in July at the fastest pace since December 2005, signaling the U.S. economy was hitting its stride entering the second half of 2014. The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index increased to 58.7, exceeding the highest estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists, from the prior month’s 56, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s report showed today. Readings greater than 50 indicate expansion. The median estimate in the Bloomberg survey called for 56.5.

Prospects for the world’s largest economy are improving as the group’s orders index reached an almost nine-year high, reflecting broad-based gains. Combined with another report showing factory bookings are also jumping, the pickup in demand raises the odds the job market will extend its recent progress. “We’re seeing numbers that we haven’t seen since well before the financial crisis and recession, and they seem to be more sustained,” said Terry Sheehan, an economist at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates in Princeton, New Jersey, whose ISM index projection of 57 was among the highest in the Bloomberg survey. The strengthening is “pretty much across the board for business activity, new orders and employment.”

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Shobhana Chandra: Trade Gap Shrinks To Five-Month Low As U.S. Imports Drop

The trade deficit in the U.S. unexpectedly narrowed in June, reflecting the biggest drop in imports in a year as the economy moved closer to energy independence. The gap shrank 7 percent to $41.5 billion, the smallest since January, from May’s $44.7 billion, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 66 economists called for a deficit of $44.8 billion. The drop in purchases of foreign goods included declines in autos and cellular phones, while petroleum imports were the lowest in more than three years.

Demand for goods made overseas will probably rebound in coming months, helped by growing household spending and business investment. Exports were little changed at a record, a sign markets overseas will represent less growth for American factories as Europe’s economy struggles to pick up and geopolitical tensions mount. “Imports are going to bounce back because of the strength of the U.S. consumer,” said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The U.S. is doing better than most advanced countries.”

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Roberto A. Ferdman: Why Immigrants Are The Best Thing That Happened To Medicare

America’s growing immigrant population might not be all that bad for the country’s health-care system. In fact, it’s probably playing an important role in helping to keep it afloat. U.S. immigrants’ net contribution to Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, the program’s core funding source, was $183 billion between 1996 and 2011. US-born Americans? Negative $69 billion, according to a new report by the Partnership for the New American Economy, an immigration advocacy group. That means that immigrants have been pumping a lot more money in than they take out, while the rest of the population has been doing just the opposite. On a per person basis, immigrants contributed $62 more per person to the trust fund than the U.S.-born, and claim $172 less in benefits.

By the institute’s estimates, the cash contributed by immigrants over the 16-year span was more than a mere inconsequential boost. “Our analysis indicates that non-citizen immigrants, a group that includes both authorized and unauthorized immigrants, played a particularly large role subsidizing the care of the U.S.-born population,” the report says. The net $183 billion contribution was enough to ensure the prolonged buoyancy of Medicare trust fund, which according to the most recent projection will remain solvent through 2030.

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On This Day

President Obama carries a cake into the Oval Office for a birthday party for Phil Schiliro, assistant to the president for legislative affairs, on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama waits to speak at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Tyson’s Corner Va., on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama waits backstage to speak at a reception in Tyson’s Corner Va., for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama speaks at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Tyson’s Corner Va., on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands at a reception in Tyson’s Corner Va., for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama walks into the Oval Office with newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama signs Elena Kagan’s commission in the Oval Office, before a reception in the East Room celebrating her confirmation to the Supreme Court, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama is briefed on the tragedy in Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and national security staff, at Camp David, Aug. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Members of the press document President Obama during the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Aug. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

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President Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks on housing and home ownership at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama joins Jay Leno for a taping of the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in Burbank, Calif., Aug. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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04
Aug
14

ObamaCare: Helping Medicare Function Efficiently

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Sara Kliff: The Amazing News Buried Inside A 283-Page Medicare Report

This is arguably the most unexpected piece of news in the new Medicare Trustees report: the government’s hospital insurance program might be spending less money to cover more beneficiaries than it did a year ago. Medicare’s hospital insurance program — known to wonks as Medicare Part A — spent $266.8 billion covering 50.3 million people in 2012. In 2013, the the same program spent $266.2 billion to cover 51.9 million people. what’s definitely clear — and what’s driving this trend — is that Medicare is spending significantly less per person than they did two years ago.

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And this report expects that trend to continue for another two years going forward. By 2015, the Medicare Trustees’ Report projects that the program will spend less per person on hospital care than it did in 2008. This doesn’t happen much in health care: not just slower growth, but the actual dollar amount spent on a given type of care dropping. The Affordable Care Act, for example, penalizes preventable readmissions — times when seniors turn up at the hospital a second time after something goes wrong during their first visit. Readmissions have been falling pretty steadily for the last few years, and those reductions could be showing up in the lower per-person spending.

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01
Aug
14

9.9M Jobs In 53 Months. You Mad, GOP?

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Continue reading ‘9.9M Jobs In 53 Months. You Mad, GOP?’




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