Debt & Taxes
GOP Billed Taxpayers for Whole Foods, PF Chang's, Dunkin Donuts Amid Fiscal Cliff Panic
Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 11:32am
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While everyone was waiting for Congress to stave off the fiscal cliff and prevent the economy from falling into another recession, lawmakers were spending thousands of tax dollars catering in gourmet meals. According to a congressional audit, the top three Republican House leaders' offices spent almost $30,000 in "supplies and materials"  - of which almost $24,000, or 80.4 percent, was for food and beverages in the last quarter. (Keep in mind, they were only in session about a third of the time.) The report also found that members of both parties spent tens of thousands of dollars on rental cars and another $10,000 to attend an emergency management convention.  -  Read more at the Washington Guardian

OBAMA MEETS WITH GOP: NOTHING TO SEE HERE    Although the president had, what he described as an “enjoyable” time meeting with House Republicans Wednesday, little to no progress was made on a deficit reduction package. Lawmakers seemed to come away from the meeting with the realization that a compromise might not ever happen. After meeting with the president, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told the New York Times how deeply divided the two parties remain. "Well, he doesn't want to balance the budget in 10 years, and he wants tax increases and he wants new spending. But other than that we're close,” Issa quipped.  -  Read more at The New York Times

CIA, NSA GET ACCESS TO YOUR FINANCES   In an effort to strengthen national security and help the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency track down terrorist networks, President Obama will give the spy agencies complete access to massive databases containing American citizens’ financial data. Though the announcement will likely trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates, experts have deemed it legal.   -  Read more at Reuters

RYAN BUDGET MOVES FORWARD    The House Budget Committee approved Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget on Wednesday with a party-line vote, 22 to 17. Ryan’s plan, which ambitiously attempts to balance the budget in 10-years, will be voted on by the full House next week. Some conservatives have criticized Ryan’s plan, saying it relies too heavily on tax revenue from Obamacare. Ryan’s plan also relies on $600 billion in new tax revenues from the "fiscal cliff" deal and $716 billion in cuts to Medicare spending brought on in the Affordable Care Act.   -  Read more at The Hill

THE PENTAGON’S $1.6B  DAILY SHOPPING SPREE    While the Pentagon is publicly fretting over how to absorb $600 billion in cuts, it's not changing its spending habits. To demonstrate this, The Fiscal Times’ David Francis picked a random day – March 4, 2013 – and found that the Pentagon had signed contracts worth more than the total military budgets of most countries. “From weapons systems to prescription drugs, the daily cost of running the Pentagon added up quickly: 10 days ago, the Pentagon spent $1,614,108,656.”
Read more at The Fiscal Times

SMALL BUSINESSES CONTINUE TO FEEL THE PINCH     “Small business owners remain worried about taxes, government red tape and weak sales,” The Fiscal Times’ Yuval Rosenberg writes. According to a new survey released Wednesday by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small business’ sentiment ranked very low by historical standards, on par with the average during the recession.   -  Read more at The Fiscal Times

ON THE MOVE- A GOOD ECONOMIC INDICATOR?   According to a Brookings’ analysis of Census data, more and more people are moving back to areas that were hit hard by the housing crash, signaling that the economy is well on its way to a recovery. “The fact that more Americans are now moving west and south could reflect improved hiring and suggests fewer people are stuck in one place because they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth,” the report said.  -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.