Lawmakers approved legislation to continue a payroll tax holiday and extend benefits for the long-term unemployed. The goal is to make sure enough people have enough spending money to keep the still-fragile economy growing. But some analysts say the economy doesn't need more help.
Maryland Democrats were in heated negotiations on the payroll tax holiday this week as they worked against GOP proposals to pay for the tax break by freezing federal salaries and changing benefit packages for federal workers.
In a letter addressed to Congress, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe calls for slashing 150,000 jobs - mostly through retirements. The most significant savings Donahoe suggests would come from the Postal Service breaking away from the federal health benefits plan.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to expand its scope to include oversight over the credit bureaus and debt collectors. This would give the federal government an unprecedented view into increasingly powerful industries.
Congress is considering several versions of a comprehensive cybersecurity law, which lawmakers say is needed to ensure critical infrastructure is protected from cyberattack. But civil liberties groups are concerned the bill creates a backdoor for law enforcement to eavesdrop on private communications, and could be used to avoid wiretapping laws.
Rolled into the payroll tax cut bill is an extension of unemployment insurance benefits — but with some reductions in the number of weeks allowed. Under the deal, jobless workers in most states would claim 63 weeks of benefits — unless they live in states with high unemployment.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is leading Michigan-native Mitt Romney in polling ahead of the state's Feb. 28 primary. At stops in Michigan on Thursday, Santorum spoke of economic rival through lower taxes, fewer regulations and commitment to conservative family values.
Symbolically speaking, this month's Michigan's primary may be the most important of the GOP presidential race to date. It's the state where Mitt Romney grew up, and his father was a beloved government and business leader. And now, Romney seems to have a real chance of losing the state to Rick Santorum.
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