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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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How long will voters let Republicans put the rich before everyone else? | Sadhbh Walshe

Category : Business

Wall Street may be having a banner week, but the poor, thanks to the GOP, are not

We are nearly a week into the dreaded sequester and already there is reason to believe that the spending cuts that were designed to be so
draconian and unpalatable that even the Republican party could not
stomach them are here to stay.

Despite there being widespread consensus that these cuts will be extremely damaging to the economy and that they may ultimately even increase our debt load rather than lower it, the party that pushed us over this particular fiscal cliff is refusing to budge an inch. The only question that now remains is why, and for how long more, ordinary Americans will let them get away with it.

Balancing the budget and reducing the deficit are noble goals, but when a party who claims to be all about balanced budgets, shifts the entire burden of achieving one onto the poorest and neediest in our society, while doing everything in their power to protect the pocket books of the wealthy, I would be inclined to distrust their motives. All the evidence points to the fact that our most vulnerable citizens are the ones who will be hit the hardest by the sequester cuts (more on that in a moment). Yet the GOP are already making moves to reduce the impact of the cuts on the military, while they look for even more ways to cut welfare spending that will hurt the poor.

On Monday, congressional Republicans put forth a bill ostensibly designed to prevent a government shut down at the end of the month. This is welcome news in so far as I don’t think any of us could stomach another round of the kind of school yard bullying that now passes for governance in the house of representatives.

But the Republican bill, which was authored by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, has come under criticism for incorporating several measures that would ease the pain of the sequester cuts on military spending, while doing nothing whatsoever to counteract the damage the cuts will inflict on domestic programs that our poorest citizens rely on. Meanwhile, both senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and house majority leader John Boehner have made it clear that any talk of revenue increases, even closing tax loopholes that only benefit the super rich, are out of the question.

So it seems that the poor are on track to take the hit for the Republican party’s apparent zeal to reign in government spending, at least on programs they don’t care for. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outlined what this will mean for low income families and children. They estimated that up to 775,000 mothers and children will be turned away from the WIC Nutrition program by the end of the fiscal year; over 100,000 low income families will lose their housing assistance; 3.8 million long term unemployed people will see an 11% reduction in their weekly benefits and over 70,000 poor children will no longer benefit from the vital preschool program known as Head Start. War veterans, children with disabilities and elderly people living alone will also be made to feel the pain.

In addition to the various cuts in services, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 750,000 jobs will be lost by the end of the year and the GDP will slow down by 0.6%. But, hey, Wall Street had a bumper day on Tuesday, so who really cares about a few hundred thousand job losses or if the poor get poorer?

Actually, we should all be deeply concerned about the long-term implications of the trickle down poverty policies that the Republican party has grown so fond of. It’s no secret that inequality has been steadily rising in America for the past few decades, but I don’t think most Americans are aware of the full extent of it. Mother Jones has put together a very illuminating video, based on income inequality charts that is worth a look to understand just how big the wealth gap has grown. The top 1% in this country now own 40% of the wealth while the bottom 80% only own 7% between us.

In the past 30 years the wealth of the top 1% has more than tripled, meanwhile 15% of the country are now living in abject poverty, up from 13.8% in 2008 and real median household incomes declined 1.5% in 2011, the second consecutive annual drop.

So the old cliche about the rich getting richer while the poor (and middle class) get poorer is alive and kicking. If anyone fails to see the link between this reality and the policies promoted by the Republican party that protect the rich and punish the poor, then I guess you should just keep voting republican and you will keep getting more of the same.

Certainly the Democrats have made mistakes along the way in the various debt ceiling and budgetary showdowns, and President Obama may have ceded too much ground here and there. But it’s not easy to negotiate effectively when you have a congress that is run by a party who are so irresponsible they are willing to shut down the government and let children go hungry unless they get their way. It’s hard to imagine that they will change their ways before 2014 when many of them are up for reelection. I just hope that between now and then the president and senate democrats manage to keep their worst excesses in check.

Come election time, I hope those who have been forced to shoulder the burden for the Republican party’s fiscal recklessness make their pain felt at the ballot box.

Barack Obama: ‘These cuts are not smart’ – video

Category : Business

The US president makes clear his disappointment that the sequester will go ahead

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Scale of sequestration cuts becomes clear as Obama attacks Republicans

Category : Business

Office of Management and Budget report outlines extent of $85bn cuts triggered by failure to reach deal by Friday deadline

The scale and reach of the sequestration spending cuts that will hit the US has been laid bare by government officials who warn that the order for the cuts, which was signed by president Barack Obama late Friday, would be “deeply destructive” to the economy and national security.

The Office of Management and Budget has compiled an official report on the breakdown of the $85bn cuts package, which was triggered by a failure to reach a broader political consensus on deficit reduction. The document reveals a detailed list of how the cuts will hurt spending at every level of government. It shows that research spending at the Department of Agriculture will be hit by $55m of cuts, while $150m will go from the immigration system at the Department of Homeland Security.

The long list of cuts includes relatively smaller sums – like $1m being lost for a dam project on the Colorado River and $6m cut from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund – to larger budgetary swipes, including $30m being removed from cultural exchange programs at the State Department. The Pentagon faces widespread cuts. It is losing some $2.6bn from its Defense Health Program and $3.4bn dollars from the navy’s operation and maintenance budget. The Army faces losing $4.6bn from its equivalent budget.

The OMB issued a stark analysis of the impact of the cuts in a letter to Congress that was issued with the report and signed by Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management. “The cuts required by sequestration will be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions,” Zients wrote.

On Saturday, Obama warned of a “ripple effect” through the American economy that would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Obama said the sequestration was “not smart”. “The pain will be real,” he said in his weekly address. “Many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in a significant way.”

He added that up to 750,000 jobs could be lost and a half per cent knocked off America’s economic growth this year. “This will cause a ripple effect across the economy. Businesses will suffer because customers will have less money to spend… These cuts are not smart. They will hurt our economy and cost us jobs.”

The sequester originates in a political crisis in 2011, when debates over deficit reduction almost saw the American government default on its debt payments. In order to avert that crisis Democrats and Republicans agreed that unless they struck a deal on shrinking the country’s debt, cuts would be made to federal spending. The idea was that the prospect of cuts to social services would motivate the Democrats and hurting military spending would do the same for Republicans.

Instead, despite Friday’s deadline no grand bargain was struck and the cuts – which neither side had intended to actually happen – are now coming into force. Over the next 10 years they will represent $1.2tn dollars of slashed spending.

The hardest hit part of the government will be the Pentagon, which must dig out some $40bn of cuts between now and September – about 9% of its budget. Defence chiefs have said that the move will delay deployments, such as a recent move of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, and hurt national security.

But almost every government department, from aviation to the parks service, will be hit, with cuts amounting to about 5% of overall budgets. Only Medicaid and welfare benefits such as food stamps are exempted. The Federal Aviation Authority has said that it will have to close scores of air traffic control towers and the National Labor Relations Boards has given staff 30 days of notice that they could be suspended from their jobs. Over the next few weeks more and more such letters will go out, threatening school services and the smooth running of scores of other government functions.

In his speech, Obama slammed Republicans as being to blame for inaction, saying that their hostility to any sort of extra tax revenues being generated from rich Americans was the root cause of the problem. In recent weeks, and since his victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential election, Obama has not shied away from attacking his opponents as defenders only of the wealthy.

“It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit. Just this week, they decided that protecting special-interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected is more important than protecting our military and middle-class families from these cuts,” Obama said.

But Republicans want only cuts, on welfare rather than defence, and have insisted on no new taxes. The Republican House speaker, John Boehner, pictured, was adamant at the end of the White House talks Friday that he would not contemplate any new taxes. “The discussion about revenue is over,” Boehner said. That hard line is popular with his party’s right-wing base but has left the party vulnerable to being attacked as being too entrenched in its ideology – especially after Obama’s resounding election victory.

In seeking to lay the blame for the sequester at the door of the Republicans, the Obama administration has run a carefully orchestrated image campaign aimed at focusing on the impact on middle-class American workers and their families. Obama continued that theme on Saturday, saying Republican leaders were out of touch with ordinary people and their own voters. “We just need Republicans in Congress to catch up with their own party and the rest of the country,” he said.

But on Saturday Republicans were still standing firm. In the party’s own weekly address, the congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers attacked “out-of-control government spending” and said there was no point in new taxes, as the money would just be wasted. “Instead of campaigning for higher taxes, the president should lead an effort to begin addressing our nation’s spending problem,” Rodgers said.

But for many observers the fiasco of the sequestration – which has effectively meant both parties are implementing a policy that neither wants and each thinks is damaging – has left many complaining about a broader American political dysfunction. Yet the sequester is just one of several rolling crises that are threatening the smooth running of the world’s biggest economy that is still stuttering to recover from recession.

If Congress does not reach an agreement on a budget for this year by 27 March, the federal government faces the prospect of shutdown. Soon after that, Congress must approve an increase in the federal debt limit: the same move that two years ago created gridlock in Washington and resulted in the sequester. The House of the Representatives is due to vote next week on a deal to prevent a federal shutdown but there is a risk this could end up in a new stand-off between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

No deal in sight on US budget cuts

Category : World News

The US is braced for steep budget cuts after Republicans and Democrats in Congress adjourn for the weekend despite a Friday deadline for a deal.

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State of the union: the president proposes | Editorial

Category : Business

Barack Obama laid out a plan to restore growth and rescue the middle class, adopting a tougher approach for his second term

The presidency of Barack Obama has been a lesson in American civics for the rest of the world and perhaps for many Americans themselves. We have learned that the most powerful man in the world is not that powerful. We have learned that he can be frustrated on an almost daily basis, and that even his most heartfelt appeals for help can be, and have been, routinely spurned.

We have grasped that even the most effective rhetoric, words that sway the nation, may not sway a stubborn opposition. We have seen the inheritor of Lincoln’s office, at the very moment when a new and commanding film is reminding Americans of the achievements of one of their greatest presidents, struggling to craft compromises with grudging and ungiving opponents, and often failing to do so.

President Obama’s speeches were at first accorded a special deference, not because he is a gifted orator, although he is, but because they were seen as having a predictive quality. They were, it seemed, about what he was going to do for America and for the rest of us. But as time passed their wishful character became more apparent. The president got a number of important things done in his first term, notably in pulling America back from the brink of economic collapse, but much of his agenda languished. Will it be the same story with the two speeches, the inaugural last month and the state of the union this week, in which he sets out his ambitions for his final term?

He laid out a plan to restore growth and rescue the American middle class, by investing in education and in energy and other infrastructural programmes, and backing innovations in modernising technology. But he did not confine himself to the middle-class plight, also proposing measures, like an increase in the minimum wage, to help the underpaid and unemployed. This is the modestly interventionist programme on which he campaigned and one which he said would not increase “our deficit by a single dime”. Yet it was instantly denounced by Republicans as meaning more “big government” and more spending. In the same vein of renewal and long overdue reform, Obama called on lawmakers to overcome their differences to establish fairer and more realistic rules about immigration, to create a better voting system, to adopt a more active approach to climate change, and to bring in real gun controls. Republicans are open to progress on the first and opposed or ambivalent on all the others.

Obama’s overall strategy is clear: he seeks to crush Republican obstructionism between the hammer of his own renewed resolve and the anvil of a public opinion that he believes is on his side and can be further won over to it in the coming months. His programme is not radical. From a European point of view it looks more like common sense than socialism, even in the diminished meaning of that word today. His hope must be that most Americans will continue to see it that way, and that their views will eventually erode the position of the Republican hardliners in Congress.

After all, something happens to even obdurate politicians when they grasp that citizens are not going to vote for them. After the farce of the Republican presidential selection and the missteps that marked Mitt Romney’s campaign, the more intelligent men and women in the party know they are out of touch with key constituencies such as Hispanics, women, gay people, and many of the young.

They can fix on the objective of wrecking Obama’s second term and then hoping to obfuscate the reasons for it, perhaps repeating their midterm success last time. Or they can trim, offering Obama some support and retaining some themselves. But the remaking of America’s conservative party, captured as it has been by delusional and extreme views, is going to be a long business, if indeed it can be done at all. Obama cannot wait for a better American conservative party to emerge. He tried the bipartisan approach the first time round. This time he is taking a tougher approach. Let us hope it works.

Republicans agree three-month debt ceiling increase in surprise boost for Obama

Category : Business

In surprise move, GOP lawmakers show first signs of backing down over debt crisis by giving Congress time to pass a budget

Republicans showed the first sign of backing down over the looming debt ceiling crisis on Friday, in the face of relentless pressure from President Barack Obama.

Congressional Republicans, who only last week had been threatening to close down the federal government, emerged from closed-door negotiations at a party retreat to announce they will present a bill next week to increase the debt limit by a further three months.

The White House gave the move a cautious welcome to the news.

It is an unexpected bonus for Obama just days before the start of his second presidential term, and gives him breathing space so that instead of another showdown between White House and Republicans in Congress at the end of next month or in March, the issue could be pushed back until summer.

Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader in the House, said: “Next week, we will authorise a three-month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget.”

The GOP came close to closing down the federal government in 2011 when they initially refused to raise the debt ceiling.

A messy compromise was eventually worked out. But Obama said earlier this month, after yet another economic showdown, he would not negotiate with the Republicans over the debt limit.

Obama, ramping up pressure on opponents in Congress, held a press conference at the White House on Monday, warning them that if they were not prepared to raise the ceiling, then they would have to take the blame for government closing down.

Obama’s strategy appears to have worked, with the Republicans worried about the electoral consequences of government grinding to a halt, which would mean hundreds of thousands of people – from welfare recipients to veterans – no longer receiving their cheques, federal staff going on forced leave and agency after agency being shut down.

The Republican cave-in was announced from their retreat near Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, where they have been discussing overall strategy in the wake of the November elections.

In what appears to be a political gimmick, the Republicans are to attach to the bill extending the debt limit for three months clauses that would see members of Congress have their pay withheld unless they can reach agreement on a separate issue: a budget that cuts spending.

The Republicans had been using the debt ceiling crisis as leverage to try to force Obama into accepting deep spending cuts, particularly in welfare.

Cantor, in a statement, said of the proviso in next week’s bill about the three-month extension: “If the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay.”

The Republicans are banking on the idea of members’ losing their pay being popular with voters.

But both the White House and the Democratic leadership in the Senate dismissed the idea, saying they wanted a “clean bill”, focused solely on raising the debt ceiling.

The White House, in a statement, said: “The president has made clear that Congress has only two options: pay the bills they have racked up, or fail to do so and put our nation into default.

“We are encouraged that there are signs that congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on. Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay. And as he has said, the president remains committed to further reducing the deficit in a balanced way.”

The Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, said if the House passes a clean bill raising the debt ceiling, even temporarily, the Senate would be happy to consider it.

A spokesman said Reid saw the move as the Republicans beginning to back off from their threat to “hold our economy hostage”.

Separate from the debt ceiling, a deal on spending is within reach. Obama has already agreed to consider changes to the index that determines welfare benefits, something the Republicans have been pushing for but Democrats have resisted, and to raise the age at which Medicare kicks in, another Republican proposal.

He and the Republican House speaker, John Boehner, are not too far apart either over a global figure for spending cuts.

Obama uses Organizing for America database to drive second-term agenda

Category : Business

Network that boosted re-election bid re-tooled to generate support for action on guns, immigration, climate and economy

Barack Obama has launched a new digital campaign that aims to harness the massive database of supporters’ emails he amassed over two presidential elections and use it to propel the ambitious agenda for his second term in office.

Organizing for America, the digitally-savvy re-election campaign that saw Obama returned to the White House in November, has been recast as Organizing for Action and redirected to generate popular backing for the president’s substantial legislative programme. Announcing the re-branding of the network, Obama predicted that it would become “an unparalleled force in American politics – it will work to turn our shared values into legislative action”.

Whether or not such grandiose aspirations can be realised in practice will become clear over the next four years. The network was boosted by a digital tool kit called Dashboard which does seem to have been a significant factor behind Obama’s comfortable victory over Mitt Romney on 6 November.

The tool kit was custom-built for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign. It digitally linked data on millions of American voters, including their email addresses, through Dashboard as well as through social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, to an army of staff and volunteers knocking on doors in the key swing states.

That ability to connect supporters with political organisers online will now be used to underpin the president’s ambitions in the White House. He will use it to try to undercut opposition from Republicans in Congress and from hostile lobby groups as he tries to drive through a packed legislative programme that includes gun control, comprehensive immigration reform, measures to combat climate change and negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

In a video accompanying the launch, Michelle Obama said that Organizing for Action represented “the next phase of our movement for change. We got millions of Americans out to vote in this last election but all that hard work was about more than one election – we want to finish what we started.”

Organizing for Action will be headed by Jon Carson, a former White House environmental adviser who was national field director of Obama’s first presidential election campaign, in 2008. Carson said the new-look OFA would be “volunteer-led” and guided by core principles of “respect, empower, include”.

As Carson’s statement attests, there is no shortage of jargon and rhetoric in the new digital push. But at its heart is a revolutionary concept: that campaigning is not confined to the presidential race every four years, but is a permanent state of being that is sustained throughout the four years of a president’s term.

Obama is clearly hoping that the power of the network might help to overcome some of the gridlock in a deeply divided Washington. The first test of that will be the bruising fight ahead with the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, that has sworn to oppose Obama’s efforts to curb gun violence through a smorgasbord of executive orders and legislative reforms.

In his speech announcing his proposals on Wednesday, Obama was explicit about his intentions to mobilise outside popular support as a means of buffering him for the battle ahead.

“I will put everything I’ve got into this, but I tell you the only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” he said.

Obama’s gun control: executive actions are the easy part | Matt Lewis

Category : Business

Signing orders makes a good photo op, but the president needs a broad coalition and busy campaign to get laws past Congress

President Obama’s press conference on gun violence is being hailed as “sweeping” and “the biggest gun-control push in generations”.

The president announced 23 executive actions, which he admits “are in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress”. He then proposed Congress “must act soon” on universal background checks on gun purchases, limiting high-capacity magazines, and restoring the ban on so-called assault weapons.

Should we expect any of this to actually pass?

Anyone who thinks this is a slam-dunk is kidding themselves. Any gun control legislation would have to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

But you already thought of that. More interesting is the fact that Senate Democrats will likely pose an even bigger hurdle.

Still scarred from overreaching on this issue a decade ago, in 2014 Democrats will have to defend Senate seats in states like Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina and South Dakota. (Until recently, West Virginia would have been on this list; Senator Jay Rockefeller’s decision to retire only serves to reinforce this message.)

Do we really think Harry Reid wants to put his vulnerable Senate members on the line by having them cast a tough vote that might be moot anyway, if the House rejects the legislation?

On the other hand, Newtown does seem to have resonated more than past shootings. Meanwhile, from a ridiculously mishandled press conference, to producing an unwisely conceived video mentioning President Obama’s daughters, to releasing an ill-advised target-shooting video game app, the National Rifle Association seems to be, well, shooting itself in the foot. It’s almost as if they’re trying to help Obama.

What is more, the White House might have powerful allies in this fight. As I’ve noted, they appear to be attempting to co-opt “stakeholders” like Walmart (the largest gun retailer in the nation).

Just as the White House enlisted Big Pharma to pass Obamacare, enlisting a big business with red state bona fides – as opposed to the effete, big city brand of, say, a Michael Bloomberg – would certainly provide cover for red state Democrats. And that would dramatically increase the odds of passing something.

Why might Walmart play along? For one thing, a law requiring universal background checks – closing the so-called “gun show loophole” – would presumably be good for the bottom line.

Pushing for the return of an assault weapons ban is probably a bridge too far, politically. It didn’t have an appreciable impact, in terms of curbing gun violence, after Bill Clinton championed it in the 1990s, but it did lead to more gun sales – and more Democratic loses. As liberal Bill Scher concedes, over at the New Republic:

“Obama doesn’t need an assault weapons ban.”

Assuming congressional leaders craft legislation that pushes for background checks and banning high-capacity magazines, even that would require running an actual campaign. President Obama would have to enlist a disparate coalition of stakeholders and political leaders, and probably also barnstorm the nation to sell it. (And if it passed, groups like the NRA would still to continue to lobby against the law, though perhaps not competently.)

It won’t be easy. The smart money’s still on stasis, but the unknown factor remains how much Newtown has changed the political environment.

The nation would have to be convinced this is not a liberal scheme to slouch down a slippery slope toward universal registration, leading inexorably, in the minds of second amendment advocates, to confiscation. Instead, they will have to be persuaded that this really is a common-sense approach to keeping our kids safe.

Republicans snub Obama’s choice for treasury secretary

Category : Business

The president’s hopes of an easy nomination process have been dashed by senators vowing to block Jack Lew’s appointment

Barack Obama urged the US Senate to quickly confirm Jack Lew as the new US treasury secretary on Thursday, describing him as a man capable of forging bipartisan compromises.

But the overture was immediately rebuffed by Jeff Sessions, the most senior Republican on the Senate budget committee, who accused Lew of being dishonest and promised an “aggressive” campaign against his nomination.

Sessions appeared to dash hopes of an easy nomination process. “Jack Lew must never be secretary of treasury,” he said. Sessions said comments made by Lew two years ago, when he claimed that Obama’s budget plans would steer the US to a position where “we’re not adding to the debt any more”, were “outrageous and false”.

Lew had been widely expected to sail through the nominating process but the Sessions warning reflects the deeply polarised nature of Washington, especially over budget and tax issues. Obama formally announced at a press conference at the White House that Lew, his chief of staff, would be his nominee to replace Tim Geithner. Lew and Geithner flanked the president as he gave a statement praising both men.

Lew, a long-time Democrat, has been involved in budget battles going back to the early 1980s, through the Clinton years and in the Obama administration. In spite of Republicans having frequently emerged bruised from the encounters, describing him as uncompromising, the commonly held view in Washington was that he was well-enough liked to make it through the nomination process unscathed.

Obama, in his statement, anticipated the coming battles with Republicans in Congress, beginning with a showdown over the $16.4tn (£10.2tn) debt ceiling late next month and further battles over deep spending cuts. The president claimed Lew was well qualified for the job of balancing the budget. He said: “Under President Clinton, he presided over three budget surpluses in a row.” In words aimed at Republicans in Congress, he added: “So for all the talk out there about deficit reduction, making sure our books are balanced this is the guy who did it. Three times.”

He described Lew as low-key, more interested in a discussion with other policymakers rather than appearing on television. “Over the years he has built a reputation as a master of policy who can work with members of both parties and forge principled compromises.”

The Republicans want cuts in welfare programmes, but the Obama administration wants to protect key elements, such as healthcare for the elderly, Medicare, and for the poor, Medicaid, and would rather cut defence spending. The Obama administration also wants tax revenue raising measures included in the mix.

With this in mind, Obama said of Lew: “Maybe most importantly, as the son of a Polish immigrant, a man of deep and devout faith, Jack knows that every number on the page, every dollar we budget every decision we make, has to be an expression of who we wish to be as a nation, our values, the values that says everyone gets a fair shot at opportunity and says we expect all of us to fulfil our obligations as citizens in return.”

Obama added: “Jack has my complete trust … So I hope the Senate will confirm him as quickly as possible.”

This completes the top trio of cabinet appointments, Obama having already nominated John Kerry as secretary of state and Chuck Hagel as defence secretary. Obama praised Geithner for helping to restore the economy after its collapse.

The Republicans want Obama to begin cutting federal spending in return for raising the $16.4 trillion borrowing limit, a potential re-run of a standoff that almost saw the federal government close down in 2011. Obama said earlier this month that raising the debt ceiling should be routine for Congress and he will not engage with Congress this time.

As Treasury secretary, Lew’s signature will appear on currency. His series of loops has started speculation over whether he will try for a more readable signature, as did Geithner. Obama joked that if Lew did not make at least one of his loops legible, he wound rescind his nomination.

Democrats can still close the Romney Loophole

Category : Business

Democrats still have some revenue-raising options after their fiscal cliff win.

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