Nation Briefs

Stocks slide as impasse over budget looms

NEW YORK – Investors drew little hope Wednesday for a quick compromise in U.S. budget talks after President Barack Obama insisted that higher taxes on wealthy Americans would have to be part of any deal.

Stocks fell sharply, and even a signal from the Federal Reserve that it could launch a program in December to speed job growth failed to encourage investors. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 185 points.

Stocks have fallen steadily since voters returned Obama and a divided Congress to power Nov. 6. The Dow has fallen 675 points, or 5.1 percent, including three daily drops of more than 100 points.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has dropped 5 percent in that time, returning to where it stood in late July.

GOP picks woman for leadership post

WASHINGTON – Stinging from double-digit election losses among female voters, House Republicans elected a woman to their top leadership team Wednesday.

The election of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state to the No. 4 leadership position among House Republicans dispatches conservative favorite Tom Price of Georgia.

The race for such an obscure post carried big symbolism after women voted for Democrats by an 11-point margin in the presidential and generic congressional races, according to an exit poll by The Associated Press and television networks.

Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., surrounded herself with other female lawmakers to announce that she will run again for leader despite her party’s failure to gain the 25 seats it needed to flip control of the House.

Census: New gauge shows 49.7M poor

WASHINGTON – The ranks of America’s poor edged up last year to a high of 49.7 million, based on a new census measure that takes into account medical costs and work-related expenses.

The numbers released Wednesday by the Census Bureau are part of a newly developed supplemental poverty measure. Devised a year ago, this measure provides a fuller picture of poverty that the government believes can be used to assess safety-net programs by factoring in living expenses and taxpayer-provided benefits that the official formula leaves out.

Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people exceeded the 49 million, or 16 percent of the population, who were living below the poverty line in 2010. The revised poverty rate of 16.1 percent also is higher than the record 46.2 million, or 15 percent, that the government’s official estimate reported in September.

Associated Press

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