"Fiscal Cliff" Avoided
Congress and President Obama came to a last second deal on Monday to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff”, but decisions on spending cuts were put off for two months so chances are we’ll hear a lot about that here in the first part of this year. So what did they agree on? Tax hikes mostly, the lion’s share of which will fall on the top 1%. Lawmakers did make permanent many of the Bush-era tax cuts, however the 2% holiday on payroll taxes is done. That means 77% of households will have less disposable income. At least somebody reacted well to the deal, as the markets were up on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrials opened 2013 this morning at 13,104.
Former President Improving
Former President George H.W. Bush is still in the hospital in Houston. He continues to make improvement from a nasty case of bronchitis. That triggered other complications. Doctors remain cautiously optimistic current treatment will work. At the very least he’s kept his sense of humor. His statement late last week said we should all “put the harps back in the closet.”
Men at Work
Consumer confidence was down last month, from 71.5 to just over 65 as Americans grew tired of the political bickering in Washington. On the plus side, fewer people were filing for unemployment for the first time.
Finances & Economy
Gas prices are continuing to tumble, and so are the number of trips we make to the pumps. A new study from AdvisorPerspectives.com suggests gas consumption is down 7.7% from its peak in August of 2005. They say fewer people are driving to work. However, the weekly Lundberg survey of gas prices says you can expect the price to bump up about a dime in the next few weeks.
More people are buying houses. Home prices are up four-point-three percent. That means the biggest annual jump in two years. Low mortgages and declining unemployment are responsible for this good report.
Family & Relationships
Honor thy Father and Mother. It’s in the 10 commandments. It’s also a law in China. China has a new law that requires residents there to visit their aging parents. If you don’t, you could be sued by them. In the wording it says adult children should visit their parents “often”, but it doesn’t say how frequent. The rapidly growing country is having problems caring for the elderly. The changing extended family and the lack of affordable care are a couple of the reasons behind the law.
Vitamin D Boosts Energy
If you’re finding a nap still doesn’t help keep you from wanting to nod off, you may want to boost the vitamin D. Researchers at LSU say their study shows those who had less than "optimal" levels of vitamin D complained more about being excessively sleepy during the day.
Good news for kids as they get ready to head back to class. The American Academy of Pediatrics says recess is just as important for a child’s development as class time. Not just because of the exercise. The doctors say kids need downtime between cognitive challenges to be able to process the information. It’s not enough to switch from math to English, their brains need a break. Right now, there are only three states that require twenty minutes of recess per day.
Coffee is good for you again. A recent study from the American Cancer Society says drinking coffee daily can cut your risk of mouth and throat cancer by half. The people who drank coffee in the study drank about four cups of caffeinated coffee each day. Their results were compared to people who only have a cup of java rarely or don’t drink it at all. The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The Supreme Court has denied Hobby Lobby’s request for an injunction in its case against the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that says they have to provide contraception and abortion coverage in their company insurance policy. Hobby Lobby had sued, saying the mandate violates their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. However, the high court did not comment on the merits of the case, just denied the injunction. That means they will wait and see how it plays out in the lower courts. Hobby Lobby says they will remain true to their faith and will not provide coverage for abortion drugs. They could face a fine of more than one million dollars per day.