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FY 2018 Budget Outline Released

President Trump released his first federal budget blueprint, revealing plans to dramatically reduce the size of government, The Hill reported. His budget proposes deep cuts to or elimination of entire programs and a reduced federal workforce. He wants to increase defense spending by $54 billion.

Trump seeks a 28 percent reduction in the State Department’s budget and major cuts to the departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would be reduced by 31 percent.

Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities would be ended along with funding for more than a dozen other agencies. The budget directs several agencies to shift resources toward fighting terrorism and cybercrime, enforcing sanctions, cracking down on illegal immigration, and preventing government waste, the Hill reported.

Called the ‘America First’ budget, the White House said it will release a full budget in May.


HOUSE COMMITTEE VOTES OUT OBAMACARE REPLACEMENT

The House Budget Committee on Thursday voted 19-17 to advance the plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, C-SPAN reported.

The vote in the Republican-dominated committee was mostly along party lines. U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and two other Republicans, voted against the bill as did all committee Democrats.

“I voted against the American Health Care Act in the Budget Committee because the promises of changes in the future are insufficient,” Rep. Palmer said. “In my opinion, the current bill does not answer this crisis.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has pressed for the bill’s passage, said committee approval is an important step, but that it will still be “improved and refined.”

Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., called the AHCA “a once-in-a-generation entitlement reform.” Some conservatives have criticized the bill as not doing enough to revoke the ACA’s measures, United Press International reported. Some liberals want to keep Obamacare.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

New Report Examines Costs to U.S. Industrial Sector of Obama’s Paris Pledge
American Council for Capital Formation/U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Dillon 3/16) “Meeting the commitments President Obama made as part of the Paris climate accord could cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion and 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040, according to a comprehensive new study prepared by NERA Economic Consulting. The study was commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation with support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy.

“The report, ‘Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Regulations on the Industrial Sector,’ explores several potential scenarios under which the United States could meet the Obama administration’s international emissions pledge as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The study provides the first detailed analysis of the costs and impacts associated with the additional measures that would be needed to close this ‘gap’.

“‘This study does the analysis that the Obama administration should have done in the first place, and it finds that it is next to impossible to meet the Paris pledge gap without major new restrictions on the manufacturing and industrial sectors – restrictions that could reverse the manufacturing renaissance we are currently experiencing, pushing jobs back overseas’, said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. The report’s central scenario projects that additional regulatory actions necessary to meet the Paris target would by 2025 reduce U.S. GDP by $250 billion, reduce economy-wide employment by 2.7 million jobs, and lower household income by $160.”

What Today’s Interest Rate Increase Means for Your Business
Business Journals (Arnott 3/15) “This afternoon’s increase by the Federal Reserve of its benchmark interest rate won’t have much effect for most people in the short term, analysts say, but it could be the next step to some more dramatic changes in the longer term. With the one-quarter percentage-point increase, the benchmark rate now sits between 0.75 percent and 1.0 percent.

“On the surface, the increase is seen as a sign that the Fed has confidence in the economy’s overall health. With a low unemployment rate and steady, if unspectacular, growth, rising rates signal the Fed believes the economy no longer needs the historically low rates of recent years to stimulate spending. Businesses may look at the rate hike, however, and wonder how the decision fits with a perception that the economy could be growing faster.

“Savers, on the other hand, might see a slight benefit from the raised rates. Even after three hikes, the rates would still be very low in historical terms, so people shouldn’t expect a significant bump in return from savings accounts, USA Today said. However, Bankrate pointed out that older people on fixed incomes and those who rely on money market accounts can use even those slight increases.”

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