Deal reached, but road funding decision to be made by voters  LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Lawmakers have reached an agreement on road funding.

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Tea party's one goal starts to fracture the GOP

Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Tea party
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - 12 days and counting to see if the right-wing opposition to the Affordable Care Act will bring about another government shut down.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's another risky act in the world of high-stakes political theater.

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It seems almost too incredible. The Republican Party here in Michigan and in Washington gauges what it does out of fear of the tea party.

Not because the tea party has so many members, but because it has oodles and oodles of money.

Money it is willing to spend when the least bit offended by a candidate here or there who steps over a line drawn by the tea party.

Remember Senator Tom Casperson? He's the conservative Michigan Republican from the U.P. who finally switched his vote two weeks ago so the State Senate could pass Medicaid expansion.

Well, that extra healthcare is a part of the Affordable Care Act.

That means Obamacare.

As a result, Casperson is already being targeted by the tea party.

Congressman Aaron Schock is a conservative Illinois Republican who two years ago voted to increase the debt ceiling and last year said 'yes' to a last-minute spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

He, too, is being targeted by his friends in the tea party. So are ten of his colleagues.

The tea party is funded by people like Americans For Prosperity,  a Koch Brothers enterprise, and by less transparent groups like the Club For Growth, or the National Liberty Federation, and others, who don't have to tell us where their money comes from.

As noted in the New York Times yesterday, these people—these right-wing conservatives—are now spending more money attacking Republicans than Democrats are. Imagine that!

Forget the fact our economy is still on shaky ground, that our middle class is disappearing, that our educational system stacks up poorly against other wealthy countries, or that we have a host of other problems at our feet.

The tea party has one goal: To repeal or defund Obamacare. Forget the fact there have been more than 40 failed efforts in Congress already to do just that. Each one voted down.

These radical conservatives are therefore prepared, instead,  to shut down the government.

What happens in a shutdown? For starters, Social Security checks would most likely not be mailed.

Non-essential government employees would be furloughed. Parks and embassies would be shut down.

On-going projects would be put on hold. Contractors would not be paid. And it would open the door for concerns about our government defaulting on its bond obligations.

If that happened it would put the United States on a level with the city of Detroit.

The world financial community see us as a sadly out of control joke of a country on the brink of blowing its legs off.

Polls indicate the majority of Americans would blame Republicans in the event of a shutdown.

But the cash-rich tea party is willing to risk that in the name of getting rid of Obamacare, a fools errand if ever there was one.

To begin with, any legislation would have to get the President's signature. And that is simply not going to happen.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal called this wingnut war a kamikaze mission. The conservative National Chamber of Commerce is urging House Republicans to back off. Even Karl Rove said today he thinks the whole defunding effort is self-defeating.

Undaunted, the tea party continues its march toward shutdown.

It appears the only way Americans can shed themselves of this yoke called the tea party is to turn out in huge numbers on election day and quite literally vote against any candidate being supported by them.

And for moderate republicans to stand up for themselves.

The word moderate is not a dirty word.

Its time to tell the tea party and all of its wealthy backers to stop wasting our time.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on December 19, 2014 08:36 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department will report on November's state unemployment rates this morning.

In October, unemployment rates fell in 34 U.S. states, a sign that steady hiring this year has been broadly dispersed throughout most of the country.

FINANCIAL RISK-METLIFE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Major insurer MetLife Inc. says U.S. regulators have labeled it as a potential threat to the financial system, a designation that brings stricter government oversight.

MetLife said Thursday that the Financial Stability Oversight Council has designated the company as "systemically important." As a result, MetLife must increase its cushion of capital against losses, limit its use of borrowed money and submit to inspections by examiners. MetLife will come under the supervision of the Federal Reserve. Its primary regulator now is New York state.

In a statement, New York-based MetLife said it is "disappointed" in the decision and has given the regulators evidence showing it is not systemically important.

MetLife was the third nonbank financial firm to be given the label by the council, a group of top regulators.

ALLY FINANCIAL-GOVERNMENT EXIT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is selling the last of its shares in Ally Financial Inc., the former financing arm of General Motors that was bailed out during the financial crisis.

Detroit-based Ally says the Treasury Department is selling its remaining 54.9 million shares. That amounts to about an 11 percent stake in the company. At the close of trading Thursday, that would be worth about $1.25 billion.

Ally, formerly called GMAC Inc., received a $17.2 billion bailout that began in 2008. It's now a standalone auto financing company and bank.

Ally says that the government has received $18.3 billion from its investment in the company. Ally went public in April and Treasury sold a chunk of its stake then.

UBER-PORTLAND

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Uber says it's suspending operations in Portland, Oregon, for three months to work out its differences with city officials, less than two weeks after the ride-hailing app's launch was greeted with a lawsuit.

Uber general manager Brooke Steger wrote in a blog post Thursday that Portland is working to update its regulations for private for-hire transportation that would allow Uber to operate.

Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement that a task force will make recommendations by mid-April on permits, pricing systems, insurance, and safety inspections, among other issues.

The city sued Uber three days after its Dec. 5 launch, asking a judge to order the San Francisco-based company to cease operations. The city said Thursday that it's no longer seeking a restraining order.

Uber will continue operating in the Portland suburbs.

PORT LABOR

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- West Coast dockworkers and their employers don't appear to be close to agreeing on a new contract, nearly six months after their old deal expired.

Longshoremen at 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle that handle billions of dollars of trade with Asia have continued to work without a contract.

The two sides are meeting in San Francisco.

The Pacific Maritime Association represents oceangoing shipping lines and the operators of cargo terminals at the ports that employ longshoremen. A spokesman for the association says the two sides "remain far apart on several issues."

A spokesman for the dockworkers' union says its negotiators are eagerly awaiting a reply from the association on the union's latest proposal.

UNILEVER-MAYO

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. (AP) -- Hellman's mayonnaise maker Unilever says that it has withdrawn its lawsuit against the maker of "Just Mayo."

Unilever had filed suit against Hampton Creek earlier this year claiming false advertising for Just Mayo, an eggless product.

Unilever argued that "Just Mayo" has no eggs and therefore doesn't meet the definition of mayonnaise. Unilever had said that the word mayo implies that the product is mayonnaise, and that Just Mayo was stealing market share from Hellman's.

Unilever said Thursday that it decided to withdraw the lawsuit so that Hampton Creek can address its label directly with industry groups and regulatory authorities.

Hampton Creek says it marketed its product as "mayo" to meet labeling regulations.

FENWAY FALL

BOSTON (AP) -- A 22-year-old woman who fell two stories down an elevator shaft at Fenway Park and was seriously injured is suing the owner of the Boston Red Sox and an elevator company.

Elisabeth Scotland of Brigantine, New Jersey, sued Wednesday in Superior Court in Boston against Fenway Sports Group and Otis Elevator Co. of Farmington, Connecticut. The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

The suit says Scotland fell when a closed elevator door opened when she brushed up against it, and she suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, facial fractures and dental damage.

A Red Sox spokesperson declined to comment on the accident, but said all Fenway Park elevators are safe and the team wishes Scotland well.

Messages were left Thursday for an Otis Elevator spokeswoman.

US-CHINA-TRADE

CHICAGO (AP) -- China is promising to streamline a regulatory process that has held up imports of pharmaceuticals and medical devices from the United States. The country also pledges to enforce its anti-monopoly laws equally among Chinese and foreign companies.

The agreements were announced Thursday at an annual trade meeting in Chicago.

Assistant Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen told reporters that China would work to speed up the review and approval of U.S. products in the pharmaceutical and medical industries and address the current backlog within two to three years.

Zhang said China would also reduce what he called "needless clinical trials."

The U.S. delegation was led by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Pritzker said China's promises on anti-trust laws were especially "significant."

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