Jan 26, 2012, 12:49 pm EDT
New guidelines implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will reduce sodium, increase the amount of whole grains, and provide a wider selection of fruits and vegetables for school lunches. The school lunch changes — seen as the biggest change in the standards in 15 years — were announced yesterday by First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and celebrity chef Rachael Ray at an elementary school in Alexandria, Va.
The announcement comes as a compromise over plans from last year to go even further in changing school lunches. The draft of the previous plan wanted to cut the number of servings of potatoes to two times a week and not allow tomato paste on pizza to be classified as a vegetable, changes that were strenuously protested by potato growers and producers of frozen pizzas for schools.
Even without those changes, the new rules will radically change school lunches. For the first time, meals will have a calorie cap based on age. Most trans fats would be banned, sodium would be decreased in meals over a 10-year period, plain milk would be required to be low-fat and flavored milk would have to be fat-free. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 12:05 pm EDT
I want to take a moment to go over what our elected officials and central bankers have to say about the U.S. economy.
First, President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday night (read a full transcript here), focusing primarily on how he wants to help the American middle class and bring outsourced jobs back to U.S. soil.
I don’t want to get too much into politics, but I will say I don’t see eye-to-eye with President Obama on very many things. Judging from how some key conservative players reacted to last night’s speech, it remains to be said how much of his regulatory vision will actually gain traction in Congress. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 11:08 am EDT
In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg Television, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that even if President Barack Obama was elected to a second term, that it was unlikely he would be asked to return to his current position.
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident. I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury… Something else for me.”
Geithner made the admission in a one-hour interview with Bloomberg Television that covered topics ranging from Dodd-Frank to the European debt crisis to manufacturing in the U.S. The entire interview can be seen in the embedded video below. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 10:35 am EDT
What started out as a friendly meeting between President Barack Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on an airport tarmac quickly became heated Tuesday. What was the brouhaha over? A book.
More specifically, Brewer’s recently published memoir, Scorpions for Breakfast, drew the president’s ire. Obama disputed the details of a meeting between the Arizona governor and himself in 2010 at the White House to talk about immigration. Brewer said that she felt like Obama was lecturing her on the issue, a charge that Obama denied, apparently in vehement fashion.
Brewer, a Republican, was a staunch supporter of legislation passed in Arizona that was among the broadest anti-illegal-immigration measures every enacted. Obama was among many critics who said the law, which made it a misdemeanor for immigrants to not have registration papers on them and required police officers who pulled over someone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant to check that person’s immigration status, went too far and violated civil liberties. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 9:56 am EDT
President Barack Obama is getting tough on trade. In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the president announced the creation of a new Trade Enforcement Unit that will be tasked with investigating unfair trade practices in countries, such as China. The new unit will reportedly use investigators and other federal resources to combat what the administration considers the lack of fairness between countries.
Here’s the money quote from the president’s speech on this issue: “I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules…our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you — America will always win.”
Of course, talking tough on China has become a favorite pastime of politicians in Washington. Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has also been talking tough on China, vowing to designate the country as a “currency manipulator” and impose duties on China’s imports if the yuan isn’t allowed to float freely against the dollar. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 9:39 am EDT
It’s never too early to start thinking ahead to the potential impact an election can have on the markets, and a look at some important numbers shows that investors may want to consider what impact President Barack Obama’s re-election will have on stock prices. Here’s why: GOP candidate Mitt Romney is generally seen as the only candidate capable of beating Obama in the fall, yet several factors are weighing against him even if he fends off Newt Gingrich’s latest surge.
1. Conservative Disaffection
Although conventional wisdom says that a moderate Republican is more likely to win a general election than a conservative, recent history has shown that GOP candidates can’t win without enthusiastic conservative support. Ronald Reagan won as a conservative candidate twice, and so did George W. Bush — although it’s a matter of debate how much Bush actually followed conservative principals once he was in office. On the other hand, Republicans who ran as moderates — George H.W. Bush (1992) and John McCain (2008) — were both soundly beaten.
Today, we see moderate Republican Mitt Romney running into similar problems as his predecessors. This is evident not just in polls, but also in Rick Santorum’s Iowa victory, the steady improvement in Ron Paul’s polling numbers, and the exit polling data from South Carolina showing conservatives flocking to Gingrich. Read