After weeks of negotiations, there is a bipartisan plan to finance the government. The House is expected to vote on it tomorrow. The bill sets budget levels for two years. It also rolls back some of the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, and it would reduce the deficit by $23 billion over a decade. NPR's Tamara Keith is gauging enthusiasm for the deal.
Since the Newtown shootings, the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has spent upwards of $15 million on ads supporting tougher gun laws and on candidate ads around this issue. Most of that money comes from New York City Mayor Michael Blumberg. One year later, we're going to check in on what the results have been. Mark Glaze is the coalition's executive director and he joins me here in the studio. Welcome.
Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 5:14 pm
"The launch of HealthCare.gov was flawed and simply unacceptable."
Those are the words of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, published Wednesday just before she met with people who share those views: members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
With her agency under fire since the website's failed release last month, Sebelius announced an internal inquiry and other steps that will focus on improving the contracting process, project management and employee training.
Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 9:18 am
Federal workers have reason to be nervous. The budget agreement announced Tuesday — if it passes — would raise revenue by making employees contribute more toward their pensions.
It's part of a trend. Governments at all levels have been cutting back on pension benefits in recent years, in an attempt to fix funding problems caused by the recession and years of fiscal mismanagement.
In many cases, states and localities have made benefits less generous. But that has, for the most part, only affected newly hired workers.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced a bipartisan budget proposal Tuesday. For more details on the plan, Steve Inskeep speaks with Murray, who led her party in the negotiations.
Shortly before eulogizing Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Tuesday, President Obama shook hands with Cuban leader Raul Castro and set off much discussion about a possible shift in U.S.-Cuba relations. David Greene talks to Dan Restrepo, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former adviser to Obama on Latin America.
For years, there's been talk in Washington, D.C., about the "grand bargain" — a big deficit-reducing budget deal that rewrites the tax code and trims from the long-term costs of Medicare and Social Security. Tuesday night, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan announced what can only be described as a small bargain. But if it's approved by the House and Senate, it would avoid another government shutdown in January.
Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on lawmakers not to impose further sanctions in Iran as negotiations on reining in Tehran's nuclear program continue. Iranian officials have said new sanctions would kill off any hope of a final deal between Iran and world powers.
House and Senate negotiators said late Thursday that they reached a budget deal. The agreement would restore some of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, and includes some relatively small deficit reduction over the next two years. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., hammered out the deal, which they characterized as a step in the right direction that would avoid another government shutdown in mid-January if both the House and Senate approve the budget.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:07 pm
Congressional negotiators announced Tuesday that they'd reached a budget proposal to restore about $65 billion worth of sequestration cuts in exchange for cuts elsewhere and additional fees.
If approved by both the House and Senate, the plan — hammered out by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — would avoid another government shutdown on Jan. 15.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, Ryan said the budget plan doesn't raise taxes and that it's a "step in the right direction."
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:09 pm
The fight over taxes, entitlements and income inequality has clearly been reignited in the Democratic Party, sparking questions about whether, and how hard, to push economic populism as the party approaches the 2014 midterm elections and beyond.
The latest flare-up came between centrist Democrats at the Third Way think tank and liberals who view Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as their champion.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 5:36 pm
A former actress who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a deal to limit her sentence to no more than 18 years.
Shannon Guess Richardson, a mother of six from Texas, had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side. She mailed three ricin-laced letters from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, and then contacted police to say that her estranged husband had done it.
For more on just how the Volcker rule will work and how it will be enforced, we're joined by Simon Johnson. He's professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and he's a member of the FDIC's systemic resolution advisory committee. Welcome to the program.
SIMON JOHNSON: Thanks for having me.
CORNISH: So let's talk more about proprietary trading. Give us some specific examples of this.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
Federal regulators today approved a tough new set of restrictions on the kinds of trading that banks can do. The so-called Volcker rule largely prohibits FDIC-protected banks from trading securities for their own financial gain. It's part of the Dodd-Frank overhaul passed three years ago.
A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 2:42 pm
Another day, another GOP primary fight.
This time, it's John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, who's receiving a challenge from the right in 2014. Rep. Steve Stockman, a conservative firebrand, made the surprise move to enter the March 4 race Monday evening just before the state's filing deadline.
Time was when business-suited Santas would spend December roaming the corridors of Congress, bestowing all sorts of goodies upon their elected friends, prospective friends and staffers: baskets of food, bottles of booze, even high-priced tickets to sports events.
That last item is the kind of thing that sent uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison. It also brought the House of Representatives a new set of ethics rules — stern and often complex limits on accepting gifts.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:59 pm
Critics of the federal auto bailout will no longer be able to refer derisively to GM as "Government Motors" — on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the U.S. government has sold its remaining shares in the carmaker.
"With the final sale of GM stock, this important chapter in our nation's history is now closed," Lew said, announcing the sale.
The net? Taxpayers lost $10.7 billion on the deal.
In North Carolina, the ads are starting early - the political ads, that is. Republicans are setting their sights on defeating first-term Democrat Kay Hagan. Senator Hagan's GOP opponent won't be known until the spring but her support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act has already hurt her with voters. She's also being targeted by outside groups, spending millions of dollars hoping to unseat her. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:48 pm
At one time, Area 51 was one of the most famous military installations in the world — a place widely talked about, yet so secret that the U.S. government refused to confirm its existence.
That's why President Obama's reference to the southern Nevada base Sunday raised eyebrows. It marked the first time a U.S. commander in chief has publicly acknowledged the facility that fueled countless conspiracy theories.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:08 pm
The disastrous rollout of the Obama administration's storefront for buying health coverage is now in a new phase — a slow recovery. But the questions about how something like this could happen and how a $600 billion technological failure can be prevented in the future made for dozens — dozens — of stories over the past 2 1/2 months.
For our latest episode of the tech team podcast, aka "Our So-Called Digital Lives," we take you through the failure of HealthCare.gov and explore the possibilities of how to prevent it from happening again.