Wednesday, October 16, 2013

  • "Totally Self-Inflicted Damage": U.S. on Verge of Default as Pain from 16-Day Shutdown Spreads

    Hop

    The partial shutdown of the federal government has entered its 16th day, and the nation is now on the brink of a default as the government’s borrowing authority ends tomorrow. On Tuesday, Fitch Ratings warned it could cut the the U.S. government’s AAA debt rating if a deal to raise the debt limit is not reached. In a statement, Fitch said, "The prolonged negotiations over raising the debt ceiling ... risks undermining confidence in the role of the U.S. dollar as the preeminent global reserve currency, by casting doubt over the full faith and credit of the U.S." The Senate appears to be moving closer to a deal to reopen the government and raise the debt limit, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed twice Tuesday to produce its own plan. As lawmakers continue to debate a possible deal to reopen the government, the impact of the shutdown is being felt across the country. North Carolina has become the first state to halt its welfare program due to the shutdown. "It’s meant a lot of pain for a lot of Americans — infants that have lost support for nutrition, children that have been thrown out of Head Start, safety measures that are not taken because the weather buoys are no longer manned. The list can go on, and the effects accumulate each day," says Robert Borosage, founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future. He recently wrote an article for Reuters called "Tea Party Zealots Hold the Public Debate Hostage." We are also joined by Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter and politics managing editor at The Huffington Post.

  • U.S. Eases Rules on Exporting Military Technology to Secure Role as World’s Leading Arms Dealer

    Weapons

    In a boon for military contractors, the United States is relaxing controls on military exports, allowing some U.S.-made military parts to flow to nearly any country in the world with little oversight. ProPublica reports that beginning this week, thousands of parts for military aircraft can be sent freely around the world, even to some countries currently under U.N. arms embargoes. Previously, military firms had to register with the State Department and obtain a license for each export deal. That allowed U.S. officials to screen for issues including possible human rights violations. But now, tens of thousands of items are shifting to the Commerce Department, where they fall under looser controls. The changes were heavily lobbied for by military firms including Lockheed Martin, Textron and Honeywell. "The whole globe, basically, is going to get an easier deal in terms of getting access to U.S. military technology without very many questions asked," says William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. The United States already heavily dominates arms exports market: In 2011, the U.S. concluded $66 billion in arms sales agreements — which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the global market.

Recent Shows More