Economic News Round-Up

Here's some of what I've been reading this morning [trigger warning for child abuse]...

The HillSenate Passes $662B Defense Bill After Deal on Detainee Language:
The Senate passed a $662 billion Defense bill Thursday evening after a long fight over how the U.S. military detains terror suspects.

The bill passed overwhelmingly 93-7, following an agreement reached late Thursday afternoon to add compromise language on the detention of U.S. citizens and terror suspects on U.S. soil.

Now the Defense bill goes to conference committee with the House, which had its own language on detaining terror suspects that must be reconciled with the Senate version.

It is not clear whether the change will satisfy the White House, which has threatened to veto the Defense bill over the detainee provisions.

The Obama administration expressed its opposition to the use of military detention within the United States, but also had concerns over the legislation tying the hands of federal law enforcement by mandating military custody and prosecution of al Qaeda members. The administration also opposes restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees.
For more on the detainee legislation, see Glenn Greenwald, whose piece underscores why this is an economic issue: War is big business for US corporations, especially as war is increasingly subcontracted to profit-making enterprises. Forever war is forever money, for them.

CNBC—Economy Creates 120,000 Jobs, Rate Tumbles to 8.6%: "Job creation remained weak in the U.S. during November, with just 120,000 new positions created, though the unemployment rate slid to 8.6 percent, a government report showed Friday. The rate fell from the previous month's 9.0 percent, a move which in part reflected a drop in those looking for jobs. The participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October. The actual employment level increased by 278,000. The total amount of those without a job fell to 13.3 million." Emphasis mine. It's not good news when the unemployment rate drops only because people are giving up.

New York TimesFor Jobless, Little Hope of Restoring Better Days: "Even though the Labor Department is expected to report on Friday that employers added more than 100,000 jobs in November, a new be released Friday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, [shows] just 7 percent of those who lost jobs after the financial crisis have returned to or exceeded their previous financial position and maintained their lifestyles. The vast majority say they have diminished lifestyles, and about 15 percent say the reduction in their incomes has been drastic and will probably be permanent."

Texas TribuneAbuse Reports in Texas Increase as Economy Falters:
More children are living in poverty than ever in Texas. About 1.7 million Texas children — 26 percent of the total population — live below the federal poverty level, according to United States census data released this week. Experts speculate that a key factor in the increase in reports of child abuse and neglect is the struggling economy; the number of reported cases of abuse has gone up 6 percent in Texas since 2008, before the recession.

In Travis County, the number of new cases opened with Child Protective Services rose 36 percent from 2008 to 2011.

"In an economic downturn, when you're losing your job, it pushes you over the edge in terms of the resources you have both internally and externally to care for your kid," said Jane Burstain, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal research group.

...Child Protective Services, like most state agencies, was hit with severe cuts during the 2011 legislative session.

Child abuse prevention financing was slashed by 44 percent. And because the Legislative Budget Board did not increase financing for caseload growth or to support family services or relative caregivers, the agency will continue to operate on a budget designed in 2009. Shelters and facilities that care for children and provide services like domestic violence prevention and protective parenting classes are struggling to find ways to serve more families with far fewer dollars.
Texas is, of course, not the only state in which this is happening.

CNN—Fannie Mae, Banks Halt Foreclosures for the Holidays: "Happy holidays struggling homeowners! Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and several large mortgage lenders have pledged not to foreclose on delinquent borrowers during the [holiday] season. For homeowners with loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the moratorium will run from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2. During this time, legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but families will be allowed to stay in their homes, Fannie said in a statement. 'No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season,' said Terry Edwards, an executive vice president for Fannie Mae." Awwwwwwwww. God bless us, every one!

Nick Hanauer at Bloomberg—Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators: "It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can't have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it's equally true that without consumers, you can't have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do. That's why our current policies are so upside down. When the American middle class defends a tax system in which the lion's share of benefits accrues to the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer. And that's what has been happening in the U.S. for the last 30 years." This is just a great piece. A definite must-read.

Paul Krugman at the New York TimesKilling the Euro: "Can the euro be saved? Not long ago we were told that the worst possible outcome was a Greek default. Now a much wider disaster seems all too likely. even optimists now see Europe as headed for recession, while pessimists warn that the euro may become the epicenter of another global financial crisis. How did things go so wrong? The answer you hear all the time is that the euro crisis was caused by fiscal irresponsibility. Turn on your TV and you're very likely to find some pundit declaring that if America doesn't slash spending we'll end up like Greece. Greeeeeece! But the truth is nearly the opposite." Spoiler Alert! Austerity is disastrous. Whooooooooooops!

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to leave links to anything you're reading and/or writing in comments.

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