Oct 14, 2013, 2:16 pm EDT
Social Security recipients will receive one of the smallest increases to their benefits in January since automatic increases were put into place in 1975.
The cause of the small increase is due to consumer prices not having increased much in the last year. It isn’t known how much the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be because the government shutdown has prevented it from being announced. The increase is expected to be around 1.5%, which comes to about $17 a month on average. The government put automatic COLA’s in to place so that benefits for those on fixed incomes would increase with rising prices. Since its creation in 1975, automatic COLA’s have received an average of 4.1% increases a year. This increase has only been below 2% six times. Social Security increases are based on the prices of products from July, August and September of each year when compared to the previous year, reports USA Today.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned Congress that Nov. 1 checks to government employees, retirees, veterans and those who receive social security could be delayed or reduced if the government doesn’t have enough to cover its debt. Read
Oct 11, 2013, 12:37 pm EDT
The government is receiving backlash over healthcare.gov headaches as only a few people have been able to sign up for health insurance.
At least five people in Iowa have been able to sign up for healthcare, but only after they struggled through long delays and being kicked off the website. The government is blaming the issues with the website on the high amount of people trying to access it, but some computer experts say that at least some of the issues are due to technical flaws in the website, reports The Des Moines Register.
Software issues in Hawaii have made it so that no one has been able to sign up for health insurance through the website. The state plans to relaunch the Obamacare exchange around October 15 after resolving the current issues. Read
Oct 11, 2013, 11:27 am EDT
The Supreme Court began its new session this week, embarking on what many legal analysts believe will be a term of profound importance. Many of the agenda items on the SCOTUS docket have implications for the business community. According the Chamber of Commerce, 28 of the 47 cases the Court definitely plans to address this term concern business interests in some way.
The Supreme Court will continue to accept or decline cases through December. So, right now we only have a partial look at the Court’s agenda. One certainty, however, is that progressive politicians and interests groups will be watching the Court carefully. After the last term, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka both excoriated the Court for being too “business-friendly” in its rulings.
Indeed, organized labor is facing some serious challenges at the Supreme Court this term. The two union cases before the court (Unite Here Local 355 vs. Mulhall and Harris vs. Quinn), if decided unfavorably for the unions, would hamper the ability of unions to raise dues and negotiate with employers. Read
Oct 11, 2013, 10:25 am EDT
The government, announced on Thursday, that it would allow national parks to reopen,but states must use their own money to open and run the parks.
States that do chose to reopen their parks will not be reimbursed for the cost when the government shutdown ends. All money that states put toward the parks will be viewed as a donation. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard had offered to partially reopen Mount Rushmore. He planned to open the park, but not the gift shop, restaurant or museum. He also wanted to use state employees to run the park rather than use park employees. Daugaard was told he could reopen the monument, but he would have to fully reopen it and use the park’s employees if he did. Utah is also looking at reopening some or all of its parks. The closure of the Zion National Park has caused the local economy to lose $3.5 million and has turned away 72,000 visitors. The park cost $50,000 per day to run, reports USA Today.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed due to government shutdown. The closed parks are also hurting local economies that are dependent on tourism. Read
Oct 11, 2013, 9:53 am EDT
The ramifications of a political fight among lawmakers in Washington, D.C., could spill over into the technology industry, affecting consumers in ways many probably never imagined.
New electronics products, including smartphones, gaming consoles, TVs and other mobile devices, must receive certification from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before they can hit store shelves. The FCC evaluates radio signals emitted by about 16,000 devices every year to ensure that they comply with regulations and will not interfere with other radio transmissions, Bloomberg notes.
But the government shutdown — now in its second week — has forced the FCC to furlough 98% of its workforce. While private testing firms complete most of the certification process, the FCC must still provide the final approval on devices. Read
Oct 11, 2013, 9:44 am EDT
Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz is asking Americans to sign a petition that will be delivered to Congress by October 17.
The petition’s goal is to have Congress end the government shutdown, pay its debts on time and pass a long-term budget deal by the end of the year. Starbucks will be running ads in several national newspapers that will have the petition in them. People are asked to sign the petitions and turn them in at any Starbucks location over the weekend. Petitions are also available at Starbucks’ stores starting today. Those who don’t have a Starbucks nearby can choose to sign the petition online at www.ComeTogetherPetition.com. The petition can also be “liked” on Starbucks’ Facebook page. Schultz is also asking his fellow CEO’s to join him in signing the petition. He said that no company is safe from customers cutting back due to the uncertainty of the government shutdown. He also said that this petition isn’t about making profit, but that it is a genuine concern, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Newspapers that will be carrying the Starbucks petitions include: USA TODAY, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Read