Meat Cleaver Budget Cuts
President Barack Obama, surrounding by emergency first responders, called on
congressional Republicans Tuesday to avoid $85 billion in "automatic, severe" -
"meat cleaver approach" budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1. "These
cuts are not smart, these cuts are not fair," Obama said. "People will lose
their jobs." The move will essential 'gut' public services. The sequester "won't
help the economy," Obama said. "It won't create jobs." The move will lead to a
compromised military, cutbacks in the air traffic control system, furloughs of
FBI agents and layoffs of teachers. "My door is open," Obama said and urged
Republicans to move off their position opposing any tax hikes. Obama repeated
that he called for heading off sequestration with a "balanced" debt reduction
plan of spending cuts and new tax revenue to be derived from closing loopholes
and deductions that benefit the wealthy, laying the groundwork to blame the
Republicans if the automatic cuts come to pass. Republicans have rejected any
tax hikes as part of the plan. The sequester would cut $1.2 trillion over the
next decade and $85 billion out of government budgets over the next seven
European economics commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday, an EU-US trade deal
is of "paramount importance in this regard and has very substantial growth
potential for Europe." At a meeting of the European Economic and Social
Committee in Brussels Rehn said that striking trade deals could help Europe's
economy out of its current troubles. EU health and safety rules that limit U.S.
farm exports into the EU appears to be the most contentious issue. Rehn said if
countries experience a sudden drop in growth that derails their efforts to meet
agreed deficit goals, they can be given extra time under certain circumstances.
The EU commission will "take into account the specific challenges of each and
every member state," Rehn said. If a country is carrying out the "necessary
structural reforms" and making determined efforts to reduce its deficit in line
with the target, "a country may receive extra time to correct its deficit."
Marking the first major regulatory hurdle passed in a mega-exchange deal, U.S.
antitrust authorities cleared the way for plans by IntercontinentalExchange Inc.
(ICE) to move forward with its plan to takeover NYSE Euronext (NYX). According
to a statement from the exchange groups on Monday, the Federal Trade Commission
and Department of Justice raised no objections to the proposed $8.2 billion
purchase. Other authorities in the U.S. and Europe must still give their
approval. While both exchange companies offer U.S. futures linked to stock
indexes, the two markets combined are far smaller in terms of trading activity
than similar equity-focused markets run by competitor CME Group Inc. (CME).
On Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market
Index reported a drop to 46 in February from 47 in January. “Having risen
strongly in 2012, the index hit a slight pause in the beginning of this year as
builders adjusted their expectations to reflect the pace at which consumers are
moving forward on new-home purchases,” said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist,
in a statement. “We expect home building to continue on a modest rising
trajectory this year.”
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Feb 19, 2013