Friday, April 27, 2012

News of the Day

1. New numbers out today show that the national GDP grew by just 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012. While there will certainly be a lot said about what caused the slowdown, it is mostly attributed to lower spending by the government, and less investment by businesses. Consumer spending was at a year-long high, and some economists believe that things will continue to get better, but at a slow pace. The pace of recovery has been a major punching bag for the GOP over the last several months, who seem to be waiting around for a magic wand to make everything go back together the way it was before the financial collapse.

2. You may remember MF Global, the investment firm that went belly up. At the time, CEO John Corzine said that he could not account for roughly $1.6 billion in customer funds, and many people assumed the money had simply vanished. Well, now they've been able to track down where it went. It appears that MF Global shifted the money to various banks in Europe such as JP Morgan Chase as a way to avoid collapse. John Giddens, who is overseeing the liquidation of MF Global, recently reported that he was able to account for all of that money. It only took about half a year...

3. Republicans and Democrats continue to clash during this heated election year. For starters, and as I've mentioned before, Romney and Obama do agree on one thing: keeping student loan interest rates low. However, that doesn't mean everyone is going to sit in a circle and hold hands together any time soon. Here is a quote from this linked article on Fox News. See if you can spot the ridiculousness:
"congressional Republicans counter-punch with their own debt-relief plan and accuse the president of exploiting the issue for his reelection campaign."
In case you missed it, here it is: The Republicans come up with their own plan to do the same thing that Obama's plan does, most likely so they can score political points by saying they care about student loan interest rates. They then make the hypocritical move of complaining that Obama is "exploiting the issue" to curry favor with voters, the exact same thing Congressional Republicans are doing. And, as an added bonus, the GOP plan would take money from a fund that supports preventative care and wellness programs, including for women's cancer screeings.

4. Following in a similar vein, A new GOP proposal would siphon large amounts of money from programs like food stamps to help keep the military budget at its current level while cutting overall spending. A normal person, when looking at the expenditures for an institution would look at the biggest piece first and try to cut it back. Instead, the GOP is proposing to stop funding food stamp programs that help poor people buy food and instead wants to put that money towards developing weapons and technology to kill people on the other side of the planet.

5. Paul Krugman has another great editorial in the NYT this week, talking about austerity measures and how they are failing the European economy. I would like to draw your attention to the first linked article in this post. According the the quarterly GDP report, the GDP growth slowed by nearly a full percentage point due to...wait for it....decreased spending by the government! Yes, government spending going down was listed as one of the causes for the slower rate of growth, though it's worth mentioning that things still improved. Krugman seems to be hitting the nail on the head once again.

6. And finally, the NFL draft officially kicked off yesterday evening at 8:30. I know it doesn't have much to do with politics or social issues, but iti's still exciting. Hoping for some new talent for the Oakland Raiders, but they don't get a pick until round three.

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