Denny Hastert: Uh, About That $500,000 Statue…

Denny Hastert: Uh, About That $500,000 Statue…

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert is surrounded by officers as he leaves federal court after pleading not guilty to federal charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI in Chicago, Illinois, United State
© Jim Young / Reuters
By Brianna Ehley, The Fiscal Times

Illinois state lawmakers are hitting the breaks on a proposal to spend half a million dollars for a statue honoring former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert after the Justice Department indicted the Illinois Republican on multiple charges Thursday.

About a month before the DOJ announced the indictment against Hastert,

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced a bill to allocate $500,000 from the Illinois Development Fund for a statue of Hastert, who represented Illinois’ 14th Congressional for 20 years after serving as a state representative. 

Related: Lying, Cheating, Stealing: How Corrupt is America?

However, Madigan’s spokesperson, Steve Brown, said Hastert contacted lawmakers asked that they defer the proposal because of the state’s financial condition. Illinois currently is running a $9 billion deficit. Still, the bill, which passed through a house committee, was placed on the calendar for a third reading on May 18.

In the indictment released Thursday evening, federal investigators allege that Hastert paid $3.5 million in hush money to “cover up misconduct.” The money allegedly went to someone in Yorkville, Ill., where he previously coached high school wrestling. The seven-page indictment also accused him of lying to the FBI.

Following the announcement, Hastert reportedly resigned from his current position at Washington, D.C., law firm Dickstein Shapiro, as well as a board member at CME Group, according to Reuters.

Are States Ready for the Next Downturn?

A <a href="http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/indexes/rasmussen_consumer_index/rasmussen_consumer_index" target="_blank">recent poll</a> taken by Rasmussen found that 68 percent of Americans believe that we are actually in a recession
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Great Recession hit state budgets hard, but nearly half are now prepared to weather the next modest downturn. Moody’s Analytics says that 23 states have enough reserves to meet budget shortfalls in a moderate economic contraction, up from just 16 last year, Bloomberg reports. Another 10 states are close. The map below shows which states are within 1 percent of their funding needs for their rainy day funds (in green) and which states are falling short.

Chart of the Day: Evolving Price of the F-35

Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed in August included 77 F-35 Lightning II jets for the Defense Department, but Congress decided to bump up that number in the defense spending bill finalized this week, for a total of 93 in the next fiscal year – 16 more than requested by the Pentagon. Here’s a look from Forbes at the evolving per unit cost of the stealth jet, which is expected to eventually fall to roughly $80 million when full-rate production begins in the next few years.

Wages Are Finally Going Up, Sort of

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By Yuval Rosenberg

Average hourly earnings last month rose by 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday — the fastest wage growth since the recession ended in 2009. The economy added 201,000 jobs in August, marking the 95th straight month of gains, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9 percent.

Analysts noted, though, that the welcome wage gains merely kept pace with a leading measure of inflation, meaning that pay increases are largely or entirely being canceled out by higher prices. “The last time unemployment was this low, during the dot-com boom, wage growth was significantly faster — well above 3.5 percent,” The Washington Post’s Heather Long wrote. The White House Council of Economic Advisers this week issued a report arguing that wage gains over the past year have been better than they appear in official statistics.

Quote of the Day: Time to Raise Taxes?

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times
By The Fiscal Times Staff

“Tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product is expected to be 16.5 percent next year. The long-term average in a full-employment economy is 18.5 percent of GDP; if revenue were at that level for the coming decade, debt would be $3.2 trillion lower and the 10-year fiscal gap would be halved. Returning to past revenue levels, however, will be inadequate over time, because an aging population will increase Medicare and Social Security costs. This need not pose a problem: Revenue was roughly 19 percent of GDP in the late 1990s, and economic conditions were excellent.”

– Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Richard E. Rubin, writing in The Washington Post