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BREAKING NEWS

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 September 04, 2015 18:06 GMT

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The unemployment rate tumbled to a seven-year low in August as employers added a modest 173,000 jobs, complicating the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision whether to raise rates in two weeks.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, the lowest since April 2008.

Hiring in August was the weakest in five months, but the government revised up the June and July figures by a combined 44,000 jobs. The economy generated 221,000 jobs a month from June through August, up from an average 189,000 in March through May.

Steady hiring could encourage the Fed to raise rates for the first time in a decade. Still, stock market turbulence, a persistently low inflation rate and a sharp slowdown in China could weigh on officials.

LABOR DAY GASOLINE PRICES

CHICAGO (AP) -- For the first time in a decade, the average price for a gallon of gas is below $2.50 for the final summer getaway of the season.

Patrick DeHaan, who's a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, says the national average is $2.42 a gallon. That's 20 cents lower than a month ago and about a dollar less than a year ago.

DeHaan adds that gas prices could be under $2.00 a gallon by Christmas, with GasBuddy.com predicting a nationwide average of $1.98 a gallon.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN (AP) -- German factory orders dropped a larger than expected 1.4 percent in July compared to the previous month, dragged down by flagging foreign demand.

The Federal Statistical Office reported Friday that it revised June's 2 percent increase downward to a rise of 1.8 percent, adjusted for seasonal and calendar factors.

In July, domestic orders increased by 4.1 percent but foreign orders decreased 5.2 percent. New orders from the euro currency area were up 2.2 percent, but new orders from other countries dropped 9.5 percent.

UniCredit economist Andreas Rees says the July drop, greater than the 0.6 percent drop predicted by analysts, seems more of a "technical breather after a strong rally" than a matter for concern.

Rees says the strong rises in both eurozone and domestic demand are "outright positive details."

USDA PROMOTIONAL PROGRAMS-CONTROVERSY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department says it is looking into documents that show that an egg industry organization under government oversight tried to harm sales of an imitation mayonnaise.

According to email documents provided to The Associated Press, the American Egg Board tried to prevent Whole Foods retailers from selling Hampton Creek's eggless Just Mayo spread.

The egg board is one of many industry promotional boards overseen by USDA but paid for by the industries themselves. By law, the boards cannot disparage other commodities.

A USDA spokesman said the department is looking into the documents but declined to say if it would take action.

The egg industry board is only the latest to draw scrutiny. In 2012, USDA's inspector general issued a report saying department needed to improve oversight of the programs.

FLORIDA TIMBER BOOM

LIVE OAK, Fla. (AP) -- The demand for pine, pulp and other timber products is on the rise and that is good sign for much of north Florida and for other timber-producing regions of the southeastern United States.

Dozens of lumber mills and pine straw, bark and wood pellet processing plants have located in north Florida in recent years. Industry experts say the region's warm, moist climate and soil composition allow pine trees to thrive.

Lumber supply issues in the American northwest and in Canada have prompted companies to look to the Southeast. Issues with wood boring beetles and restrictions on cutting timber in federal land have contributing to the supply issues in the northwest and Canada.

Among those banking on Florida's timber is industry is the Austrian company Klausner, which recently opened a $100 million mill in Live Oak.

TOYOTA-SMARTER CARS

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) -- Toyota is investing $50 million with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in hopes of gaining an edge in an accelerating race to phase out human drivers.

The financial commitment announced Friday will be made over the next five years at joint research centers at the schools located in Silicon Valley and another technology hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Toyota has hired robotics expert Gill Pratt to oversee research aimed at developing artificial intelligence and other innovations that will enable future car models to navigate the roads without people doing all the steering and stopping.

Major tech companies such as Google and Uber are competing against a range of automakers to make robot cars that will be better drivers than people and save lives by causing fewer accidents.

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