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Congressional approval ratings

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
Congressional approval ratings story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new Gallup poll says Congress has sunk to a new low in confidence, respect, and popularity.

In fact, Gallup says it's the lowest level it has found for any institution it has polled since 1973.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's a well-deserved distinction for a group of men and women that has never found a gridlock not to its liking.

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I truly cannot figure out why Congress doesn't get it, but there they are—the numbers from one of the most respected polling outfits in the country say it as starkly plain as it can be said: nine out of ten people just don't like Congress.

And just to be clear—of that ten percent—only six percent of them think Congress is doing an okay job.

In its poll, Gallup also asked people what they thought  of institutions like banks, the Supreme Court,  the Presidency, organized labor, and health maintenance organizations.

But only Congress had a 90 percent disapproval rating.

And guess what? At least one member of Congress agreed. Senator Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, who won't seek reelection three years from now said Congress' rating was deserved.

"Look," he said, "we're incompetent. I think it fully appropriate."

Sometimes when people see light at the end of their tenure, they respond with unusual honesty.

Most people told Gallup they were fed up with partisan bickering, gridlock, and an inability to get anything done. On top of that, with all 435 members of the House up for reelection every two years, the people worry politicians spend too much time, effort, and money trying to stay in office than they do conducting the nation's business.

Not to mention the fear that Congress men and women become clay in the hands of the big money special interest groups.

Curiously, despite their horrible ranking in the public trust, the same people who hold them in such low esteem do, with great regularity, return them over and over again to their offices in Washington—where the disconnect between the beltway and main street festers and mutates.

How else can we explain the never-ending effort by increasingly radical conservative Republicans to find ways to erode Roe vs. Wade—which is the law of the land on abortion—while remaining gridlocked in its effort to come up with a desperately needed,  fair-minded, effective way to deal with immigration?

Remember the political recriminations against President Obama after the bailout of general motors?

Well, just for the record, the J.D. Power quality survey came out yesterday, and guess who's at the top of the list.

Yep. GMC trucks and Chevrolet cars.

They displaced Toyota and Honda. They're making money.

Has anyone from Congress said "Way to go, Mr. President. Way to go, GM!"

Nope. Not a peep.

But the same Gallup survey does point out that the President has an approval rating of 50 percent.

I do believe that most people who run for office are noble people who believe that, somehow, through their best efforts this country will be a better place.

And then things happen.

Pressures from within, pressures from without.

Lobbyists with their bags of cash and  bureaucrats with their promises for the future. Things happen.

I was friends a number of years ago with a radical liberal lawyer who was a passionate defender of lost causes.  He was invited to speak to the University of Kentucky Law School's moot court graduation dinner.

After a long, rambling speech, he came to his final stern warning and admonition.

"You're all sitting here tonight starry-eyed and anxious to get out there to change the system. But," he said, "I submit to you here that the system has great power, and it will change you long before you change it."

Maybe he was right.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.
Congressional approval ratings
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Last Update on April 17, 2014 17:08 GMT

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits last week rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. Jobless claims continue to be near pre-recession levels despite the slight increase.

The Labor Department says that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 312,000. That is the lowest four-week average since October 2007, just two months before the Great Recession started. The average has fallen by 53,500 applications over the past 12 months.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The current level of claims suggests that employers are holding on their workers with the expectation of stronger economic growth ahead.

Employers added 192,000 jobs in March and 197,000 in February, the Labor Department reported. Hiring has picked up after a slowdown caused by severe winter weather.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27 percent from 4.34 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33 percent from 3.38 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.

Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Others have had trouble qualifying for mortgages.

EARNS-GOLDMAN SACHS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investment bank Goldman Sachs says its first-quarter earnings fell as fixed income trading slumped.

The bank earned $1.9 billion in the quarter, down 11 percent from the same period a year earlier when it made $2.2 billion.

The earnings were equivalent to $4.02 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted earnings of $3.49 a share.

Revenue totaled $9.3 billion, down 8 percent from a year earlier, when the bank generated revenue of $10.1 billion. The latest quarterly revenue beat analysts' expectations of $8.7 billion.

Goldman's stock rose $2.78, or 1.8 percent, to $160 in pre-market trading.

EARNS-PEPSICO

NEW YORK (AP) -- PepsiCo reports a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit as the company slashed costs and sold more snacks around the world.

The company, which makes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Tropicana, says global snack volume rose 2 percent while beverages were even from a year ago.

In its closely watched North American beverage unit, PepsiCo Inc. says volume was even. Growth in other drinks offset a 1 percent decline in sodas.

For the quarter, the company earned $1.22 billion, or 79 cents per share. Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share, above the 75 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, it earned $1.08 billion, or 69 cents per share.

Revenue edged up to $12.62 billion, higher than the $12.39 billion analysts expected.

EARNS-MATTEL

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Toy maker Mattel says weak sales of Barbie and markdowns to clear out excess inventory left over from a sluggish holiday season led to an unexpected first-quarter loss.

Toy makers are facing a weak environment globally due to the uncertain economy and popularity of electronic gadgets.

The largest U.S. toy maker says its net loss for the three months ended March 31 totaled $11.2 million, or 3 cents per share. That compares with net income of $38.5 million, or 11 cents per share last year. Analysts expected earnings of 7 cents per share.

The company which makes Disney Princess dolls and Hot Wheels cars says revenue fell 5 percent to $946.2 million. Analysts expected $947.6 million. Barbie revenue dropped 14 percent.

TARGET-SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Target is vastly expanding the goods that are available to order by subscription as it fends off its biggest non-traditional retail rival, Amazon.com.

The nation's second-largest discounter first dabbled with subscriptions last September, trying to win over haggard parents with 150 baby care products.

That program has been expanded more than tenfold this week to nearly 1,600 items across a much wider array of consumer goods. Everything from beauty products and pet supplies, to home office supplies like printer ink, are now available through subscription.

Target, based in Minneapolis, is playing catch up in the subscription arena, which has exploded as companies test consumer appetites for almost every niche, from socks to razors, to clothing and entertainment.

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