Recently in National News Category

Obama Announces New Healthcare Plan

President Obama has unveiled a new health care reform proposal, aimed at achieving bipartisan support to revive stalled legislation, according to the BBC.
Obama's plan largely resembles the Senate's version of the health care bill, and contains no new major concessions to Republicans, reports the New York Times. The White House said the plan would cost $950 billion over a decade.
Republicans have attacked the proposal. The house minority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, called it "the same massive government takeover of health care."
This is the first time the president has put forth his own proposal on health care, according to the Times article.

Texas IRS Building Attacked with Plane

A disgruntled computer engineer crashed a small plane onto an IRS building in Austin, Texas Thursday morning, reports the New York Times.
The BBC reports that the man, identified as Joseph Andrew Stack, left behind writings that criticized the government, big business, and particularly the IRS, saying "violence is the only answer." Web postings by Stack indicate he was having problems with the IRS, says the BBC.
Stack is believed to have died in the crash, while one other person is unaccounted for, reports the Times.
The building was engulfed in flames, but only two men were injured, according to the New York Times.
Austin police and Homeland Security Department officials have emphasized that this was an isolated incident and there is no indication of links to terrorism.

Blizzard Slams Northeast

Blizzards have strained public services and government operations in Washington D.C. since Monday, reports the BBC.
Winds have been recorded gusting up to 60 mph by the National Weather Service.
Plowing operations have been suspended due to hazardous conditions in the nation's capital.
Government offices remain closed for the third day, and the House of Representatives has canceled all votes this week.
Nearby Baltimore is expected to receive more than 20 inches of snow. According to the New York Times, the average yearly snowfall there is 18 inches of snow a year. The city has banned all public traffic on roadways, the BBC reports.

Obama's 2011 Budget Revealed

President Obama unveiled his $3.8 trillion federal budget for 2011 on Monday, reports the New York Times. The plan includes $100 billion in additional tax cuts and public works funding, and will produce a $1.6 trillion budget deficit. Despite this, Obama said the plan will produce a reduction in the deficit over the next decade. "We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences," he said.

According to the BBC, Obama placed the blame for the deficit on President George W Bush, and on spending necessary to prevent economic collapse this past year. The president said that measures needed to help the economy precluded cutting the deficit immediately.

The BBC reports the president will seek to save $250 billion by freezing spending on a series of domestic programs for three years.

The budget provides $100 billion for programs to lower unemployment, which will be partially offset by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans attacked these tax increases and charged that Obama had failed to control government spending, says the BBC.

President Obama's budget must be approved by Congress before it can take effect.

Ben Bernanke Gets Second Term

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a second four-year term, reports BBC News. The Senate voted 70-30 to retain Bernanke as the U.S. official in charge of monetary policy.
Bernanke faced criticism for his handling of the economic crisis, including supporting controversial bank bailouts. However, supporters credit him with preventing an even greater collapse.
The once little-known Fed, which has the power to set interest rates which in turn affect unemployment and inflation, has become the subject of public anger over continued unemployment woes and bank bailouts, according to the New York Times.
According to both news sources, Bernanke's re-appointment was one of the most contentious in recent memory, passing by a far narrower margin than is normal.

Obama to Announce Government Spending Freeze

President Barack Obama will give the details of a three-year partial government spending freeze in his State of the Union address on Wednesday, according to BBC News. The move is aimed at reducing the U.S. $1.4 trillion budget deficit. The New York Times reports the shortfall at $1.3 trillion, equal to 9.2% of gross domestic product.
According to the BBC, the freeze would apply to programs administered by the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, and Education. National security, foreign aid, and Social Security spending would not be affected.
Criticism was forthcoming on both sides of the aisle. "Given Washington Democrats' unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you're going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner quoted in the New York Times. Liberal Democrats were reportedly unhappy that military spending was exempted.

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