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Looking at the government shutdown

Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Looking at the government shutdown story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The government shutdown is wrapping up its third day, and there is still no whisper of a way out of the situation.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's amazing that our Congress, which is failing to get the job done, keeps getting paid.

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Let me see if I can get this straight.

The people we elect to make important decisions on our behalf have allowed the government to shut down because its locked up on health care for the country, while they get their own special brand of healthcare, paid for by you and me.

The people we elect have forced the layoff of nearly a million so-called non-essential people—sorry about that—while their own paychecks are guaranteed.

No change in lifestyle for them. If they were living in the real world their job performance would be grounds for dismissal. All of them.

A Republican senator smugly says on FOX News that the shutdown will make people realize they can live with less government than they thought they needed. Tell that to the actuaries who say the shutdown is costing government at least $300 million a day. Tell that to the 9-million low-income women with infants and children with WIC cards who see signs on grocery store doors that they are no longer welcome during the shutdown. So what if they can't feed their families?

And the shutdown is caused by 80 right-wing Congressmen. They are considered members of the tea party, who have somehow hijacked the moderates of the Republican Party into challenging the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," at any cost.

Obamacare is not just an idea. It's a law—a law that was passed by Congress three years ago. It survived a challenge last year in the Supreme Court of the United States and became effective two days ago.

The concept of a national health care policy has been pursued by every President over the past one hundred years. So its not a new concept. It finally happened.

With Congress so off course, it follows that Speaker John Boehner, the man with the tan from Ohio, has quite simply lost control over his party.

Moderate Republicans who do a lot of grumbling about people like tea party leader Senator Ted Cruz have lost their voice. Or maybe they've given up their voice.

Could it be that they're afraid of the tea party and the NRA and their seemingly endless supplies of money?

Rest assured they all know what happened to those two Republican State Senators from Colorado who had the temerity to vote their consciences and say yes to universal background checks on firearm sales.

They won't even get a chance to face voters again. They're gone. Recalled. Thanks to a $400 thousand campaign financed by the NRA.

Even more troubling, the polls are  pretty clear. The vast majority of Americans didn't want this shutdown in any way.

They wanted their leaders to work things out—to do what we pay them to do.

Congress's approval rating hovers at about ten percent. The shutdown isn't exactly  making them more popular. But they don't seem to care. They come from gerrymandered districts where their reelection is virtually guaranteed.

But unless people start speaking up, and start demanding that:

  • If the country suffers, Congress does too
  • That if the government shuts down, Congress—those 535 elected employees of ours—they don't get paid. Not one penny.
  • That moderates in both parties dig down and show some courage and find a way to talk to one another and do their damn jobs,
  • That contrary to what they grow to believe, they are not royalty. They are hired by the people. They are employees of the people. They are beholden to the people, and a majority of the people have a right to expect far, far better than what they're getting.

If that doesn't happen, our democracy, where for the time being the majority no longer rules, is in peril.

I think I have it right.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 04, 2015 17:10 GMT

FACTORY ORDERS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories increased in June, driven by a big gain in commercial airplanes. A key category that reflects business investment plans posted a modest rise.

The Commerce Department says factory orders advanced 1.8 percent in the month. The jump reflected a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, an often volatile sector.

A key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans edged up 0.7 percent after declines in April and June. In the first half of the year, demand in the investment category is down 3.5 percent from the same period a year ago.

Manufacturing has been held back this year by a rising dollar, which dampens demand for exports, and falling oil prices, which have cut into energy industry investment spending.

EARNS-FREDDIC MAC

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reports net income of $4.2 billion for the second quarter, up sharply from the same period of 2014, as it increased its purchases of home loans and sold off greater volumes of riskier mortgages.

The April-through-June results posted today marks the government-controlled company's 15th straight profitable quarter. Freddie also benefited from rising interest rates.

The McLean, Virginia, company will pay a dividend of $3.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. Freddie will have paid $96.5 billion in dividends, exceeding its government bailout of $71 billion.

The government rescued Freddie and larger sibling Fannie Mae at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008, after they suffered huge losses from risky mortgages in the housing market bust.

DELTA AIR LINES-TRAFFIC

ATLANTA (AP) -- Delta says traffic is up from last year but a key revenue measure is down, indicating that fares are likely declining from last summer.

The airline says revenue is being hurt by the strong dollar, lower fuel surcharges on international routes, and lower prices in some U.S. markets.

Delta Air Lines Inc. says passenger revenue for every seat flown one mile fell 3 percent last month compared with July 2014. Delta filled a higher percentage of seats than last summer, so it's likely that the drop in the closely watched revenue figure means average fares were lower.

The decline is not a surprise. Analysts have worried that after several years of holding down supply, airlines are adding flights and seats too quickly, causing prices to fall.

TOY RECALL

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Manhattan Group is recalling about 2,800 My Snuggly Ellie activity toys because a wooden ring can break into small pieces, posing a choking hazard.

The company has received one report of the wooden ring breaking. No injuries have been reported. But consumers are advised to immediately take the toy away from young children.

Approximately 2,700 of the toys were sold in the U.S. and 100 were sold in Canada.

The plush brown elephant toy has white crinkle ears. There is a green hanging loop on top of the elephant toy's head so that it can be attached to a stroller or crib. There is a mini mirror on the elephant toy's stomach, while a teether and a wooden ring hangs below its body.

The item number is 212520, which can be found on the small white tag sewn into the bottom of the toy.

ATM FEES-LAWSUIT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing MasterCard, Visa and three major banks of illegally fixing ATM prices at the expense of consumers.

The federal appeals court in Washington ruled today that a group of consumers and independent ATM operators could pursue antitrust claims against the companies.

A federal district judge had thrown out the lawsuit in 2013 after finding the plaintiffs failed to show any conspiracy to overcharge consumers.

But the appeals court said challengers could argue that the payment processors coordinated with Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. to adopt anticompetitive fees.

The lawsuit claims the companies impose contract terms preventing independent ATM operators from charging less when consumers use debit cards that can tap cheaper processing networks.

EARNS-KELLOGG

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) -- Kellogg says its U.S. cereal division saw another decline in quarterly sales but that trends in the category were improving.

The maker of Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops and Kashi is trying to revamp the marketing for its cereals as Americans reach for other breakfast options, like Greek yogurt and fast food. One strategy has been trying to reposition Special K to be more in line with changing health trends.

For the quarter, Kellogg Co. said sales in its flagship U.S. Morning Foods segment fell 2.3 percent when stripping out the impact of currency exchange rates and other one-time factors. Its international division was hit by unfavorable exchange rates.

Profit fell to $223 million, or 63 cents per share.

EARNS-AETNA

UNDATED (AP) -- Aetna's second-quarter earnings jumped 33 percent and the health insurer raised its 2015 forecast again after receiving a boost from a government business it plans to feed with a $35 billion acquisition.

Shares of the Hartford, Connecticut-based company started climbing today before markets opened and after it released results.

Aetna said Thursday that higher underwriting margins or improved profitability helped balance a jump in operating costs. The nation's third-largest health insurer easily topped Wall Street expectations.

For the second quarter, Aetna brought in $731.8 million. That compares with $548.8 million last year. Adjusted results in this year's quarter totaled $2.05 per share.

Health insurance is Aetna's main product, but the company also sells dental, group life and disability coverage. The company announced last month that it would buy rival insurer Humana Inc., the nation's second-largest provider of federally funded Medicare Advantage plans.

EARNS-CVS HEALTH

UNDATED (AP) -- Pricey specialty drugs helped CVS Health cope with tobacco withdrawal to top analyst expectations in the second quarter.

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says revenue from its biggest business, the pharmacy benefits management segment, jumped 12 percent to more than $24 billion, spurred in part by specialty drugs.

Specialty drugs are complex medications that treat certain forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C, among other conditions.

Overall, CVS Health earnings climbed 2 percent to $1.27 billion in the second quarter while revenue rose more than 7 percent to $37.17 billion. Adjusted earnings came to $1.22 per share.

SHIRE-ACQUISITION

NEW YORK (AP) -- Irish drugmaker Shire PLC Is offering to buy Baxalta Inc. for about $30 billion in stock in a move to solidify its position in rare disease treatments.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxalta was spun off of Baxter International Inc. in July and focuses on bleeding disorders. Dublin-based Shire makes treatments for a range of conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy and hunter syndrome.

In a statement, Shire urged Baxalta to engage in negotiations. It made the offer to the company on July 10 and said the offer implies a value of $45.23 per share, a 36 percent premium for Baxalta.

Shares of Baxalta rose more than 20 percent to $40.10 in premarketing trading. Shire's stock fell nearly 3 percent to $260.92.

GENERAL MOTORS-PLANT INVESTMENT

FLINT, Michigan (AP) -- General Motors says it's investing $877 million to upgrade an assembly plant in Flint.

The company plans to build a new, 883,000-square-foot body shop for Flint Assembly, which makes full-size pickups for the Chevrolet and GMC brands.

The new body shop will be closer to the Flint Metal Center, which supplies sheet metal to the plant. Construction is expected to begin in early 2016 and finish in 2018.

Flint Assembly, which opened in 1947, is GM's oldest plant in North America. GM says the upgrade will reduce the time and cost to ship parts between the two plants.

PAYPAL-UNITED CONTINENTAL-CFO

NEW YORK (AP) -- PayPal says it has hired United Airlines chief financial officer John Rainey for the same position at the payments company.

Rainey has been United's CFO for the past three years.

Last month, PayPal split from eBay Inc. into a separate publicly traded company. Rainey will join the San Jose, California, company on Aug. 24. He will replace Patrick Dupuis, who will stay at the company as a senior vice president.

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