Just nine Republican senators joined with 53 Democrats to give final approval for $50.5 billion in emergency relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and repair coastal towns destroyed by the storm nearly three months ago.
The partisan split on Monday night is over the costs incurred by natural disasters that aren’t budgeted for—a sign of the financial struggles to come should the ravages of climate change worsen. Republicans don’t want to pile onto government debt.
Northeastern governors from some of the storm-damaged states commended Congress on finally approving the aid, though it comes months late and short of the $82 billion in aid that was originally requested. - Read more at The New York Times
IMMIGRATION REFORM COULD BOOST ECONOMY President Obama will unveil his sweeping immigration proposal today, which could mean good news for millions of undocumented workers as well as the U.S. economy.
Amnesty advocates say that immigration reform could pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy over the next decade. Allowing millions of undocumented workers to join the workforce would improve their wages, allowing them to spend more, thus boosting the economy. The Fiscal Times’ Josh Boak reports “wages for newly legalized workers in low-skilled jobs would grow by $4,400 a year as amnesty is implemented, a pay bump that would spread through the economy to support another 750,000 to 900,000 jobs.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
HOUSING MARKET GOING STRONG After years of reeling, the battered housing market is picking up steam and regaining its footing. Mortgage rates are expected to remain close to an all-time low through the year. And in December, builders broke ground on the most new housing developments in the past four years. Industry officials are optimistic that the recovery is real, however, they caution that the consequences of the downturn are far from over, as there are still 11 million homeowners underwater. - Read more at The Washington Post
REPORT: BAILED OUT EXECS ENJOY HEFTY PAYCHECKS Top executives at the firms bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 didn’t pay too much of a personal price for their mismanagement. According to a report released Monday by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program 68 of 69 executives at Ally Financial, American International Group and General Motors received annual salaries of $1 million of more. Not too shabby for government work.
The report notes that guidelines set by the Treasury recommend that executives receive compensation falling in line with the 50th percentile of similar employees at other companies, however SIGTARP found that Treasury set pay well above that level for 63 percent of the executives. - See the report here