Who do you think is most to blame for the fiscal impasse?

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Declaring other insurance sections of health care reform law void because the individual mandate is unconstitutional would plunge the Supreme Court into a difficult process of determining which provisions are economically critical to its functioning.

By The Fiscal Times Mar 29, 2012 3:12PM
By Merrill Goozner The Fiscal Times

Justices on the Supreme Court who are leaning toward striking down President Obama’s signature health care mandate on its constitutionality stared into the abyss on the third and final day of historic oral arguments. If the mandate goes, what else goes with it?

For conservative jurists like Antonin Scalia, who has preached against judicial activism but did a 180 by openly siding with plaintiffs seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act, the answer is simple. Without the mandate, the entire act crumbles and Congress has to start over. 

The next time someone says the US Treasury can borrow all it wants at current low rates, say that's true -- until it can't.

By MSNMoney partner Mar 29, 2012 2:57PM

http://www.bloomberg.comBy Caroline Baum, Bloomberg


Consider the following numbers: 2.2, 62.8, 454, 5.9. Drawing a blank? Not to worry. They don't mean much on their own.


Now consider them in context:


1) 2.2 percent is the average interest rate on the U.S. Treasury's marketable and non-marketable debt (February data).


2) 62.8 months is the average maturity of the Treasury's marketable debt (fourth quarter 2011).


3) $454 billion is the interest expense on publicly held debt in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30.


4) $5.9 trillion is the amount of debt coming due in the next five years.


Questioning by Supreme Court justices indicate the court is likely to be divided on the issue of whether Congress can require people to buy health insurance, suggesting Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the swing vote in a closely divided court.

By The Fiscal Times Mar 28, 2012 10:50AM
By Merrill Goozner The Fiscal Times

The Supreme Court justices appear headed toward one of the more momentous decisions in the court’s long history based on the questions raised Tuesday during oral arguments on the individual health insurance mandate. For liberal members of the high court, a decision to strike down the mandate will set the nation on a path that could unravel many of the social programs of the 20th century, including Social Security and Medicare.

For conservative justices, compelling people to buy a product – in this case, health insurance – will give Congress an unlimited power to rule over individuals’ purchasing decisions, a usurpation of individual and states’ rights never contemplated by the framers of the constitution. 

At the National Association of Business Economists Conference in Washington, Alan Blinder and Lawrence Lindsey offered some firm opinions on what needs to happen for the U.S. economy to get back on a solid growth trajectory once more.

By The Fiscal Times Mar 27, 2012 3:38PM
By Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times

A hushed, standing-room only crowd of sympathetic fellow economists gathered in a hotel ballroom in Arlington, Va., yesterday to listen to the Bearded One, aka Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, opine on the state of the labor market and reiterate his view that further cuts to the unemployment rate may be harder to come by without a decisive increase in economic growth.

When economists Alan Blinder and Lawrence Lindsey stepped up to the podium after Bernanke, the collective mood at the National Association of Business Economists Conference lightened almost visibly. Unlike prior speeches, their ability to share their views wasn’t constrained by their positions; both are independent. Blinder, who has served on President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and as vice chairman of the Fed, now occupies an economics chair at Princeton. Lindsey, who had been director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush, now runs his own economics advisory firm. Neither man is known to shy away from a controversy or two. And sure enough, both had some firm opinions on what needs to happen for the U.S. economy to get back on a solid growth trajectory once more. 

Opponents of the reform law claim that the requirement to purchase insurance is unconstitutional.

By The Fiscal Times Mar 26, 2012 6:06PM
By Merrill Goozner The Fiscal Times

Opponents of health care reform, whose case will is being heard by the Supreme Court, base their complaint against the Obama administration's signature domestic achievement on the claim that its individual mandate to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

Challengers, including state attorneys general and governors in a majority of states, say it represents an unwarranted extension of the constitution’s commerce clause into the personal realm of individual choice. If people do not want to buy a particular product – in this case health insurance – the government has no right to make them. 

Despite the uproar over the individual mandate, the requirement would affect only a tiny portion of the population.

By MSNMoney partner Mar 23, 2012 2:27PM
 U.S. News & World Report on MSN MoneyBy Rick Newman, U.S. News

Sometimes the weatherman predicts a big storm that never materializes.

Politicians do the same thing, and right now many of them are warning that President Obama's 2010 healthcare reform law is about to come slamming into the nation like a once-a-century hurricane. Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney calls the law "an unfolding disaster for the American economy." His fellow candidate Rick Santorum routinely tells audiences that Obamacare "is the beginning of the end of freedom in America." Board up the windows. Hurry to the basement. 

Over the weekend, the Washington Post published a carefully reconstructed account of the failed debt ceiling negotiations that occurred last summer between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama. Surprise-it was Obama who blew the deal.

By The Fiscal Times Mar 21, 2012 5:39PM
By Liz PeekThe Fiscal Times

Is it acceptable for the President of the United States to lie to the American people? In cases where the truth would undermine national security, absolutely. In cases where the truth undermines the president’s approval ratings, not so much.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post published a carefully reconstructed account of the failed debt ceiling negotiations that occurred last summer between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama. In the aftermath of the breakdown in the talks, Mr. Obama was quick to blame “irresponsible” House Republicans for his inability to conclude a “grand bargain” to rein in future budget deficits. He maintained that his was the middle course, that he was open to a balance of spending cuts and revenue increases but that the GOP refused to allow any tax hikes

2 political futures markets see Democrats winning at least the popular vote. Ireland's Intrade puts the odds of an Obama win at nearly 60%.

By Charley Blaine Mar 20, 2012 3:13PM
Charley BlaineThe Republicans may have started the presidential campaign thinking it would be easy to defeat Barack Obama. Money -- real money -- thinks the GOP has its work cut out for it.

Two political futures markets see Obama winning the election. But Democrats shouldn't get too cheerful. They may not retain the Senate and probably won't win back the House of Representatives.

According to Intrade.com, the Irish company that lets investors speculate on just about everything, including elections, Obama has a 59.7% chance of winning the election. That's down from 59.9% on Monday and 61.4% on March 12.

The Iowa Electronic Markets looks at popular votes and sees the Democrats winning 51% of the popular vote vs. 48.3% for Republicans. In a separate look at the election -- the chances of winning the most votes outright -- Obama has a 62% chance.  


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