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Fiscal Policy

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With inflation raging near its highest level in four decades, the House gave final approval to President Joe Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act. Its title raises a tantalizing question: Will the measure actually do what it says? Economic analyses suggest that the answer is likely no — not anytime soon, anyway. The legislation, which now heads to the White House for Biden's signature, won’t directly address some of the main drivers of surging prices — from gas and food to rents and restaurant meals. Still, over time, the bill could save money for some Americans by lessening the cost of certain prescription drugs for the elderly, extending health insurance subsidies and reducing energy prices.

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The European Commission says it's winding up years of surveillance of Greek government spending. The move, on Aug. 20, will mark a formal end to a major crisis that threatened to see Greece ejected from the euro single currency group. It also imposed severe hardship imposed on Greek citizens and created a deep rift between them and the EU's institutions. But the commission said Wednesday that “Greece has delivered on the bulk of the policy commitments” made to its partners in the 19-country euro area. Greece was granted billions of euros in three bailout funds after 2010 when Athens lost access to international bond markets after admitting it had misreported key financial data.

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A bill that enhances health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits has hit a snag in the Senate. Veterans groups are denouncing the delay, saying servicemembers exposed to the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan have waited long enough for care. Republicans largely support the measure but blocked it last week, saying it could lead to an explosion of spending unrelated to veterans. It’s unclear how the delay will be resolved, though a deal could be reached this week. President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill once it clears Congress.

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The House has passed a $280 billion package to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research in a bid to create more high-tech jobs in the United States and help it better compete with international rivals, namely China. The House approved the bill by a solid margin of 243-187. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law, and it provides the White House with a major domestic policy victory. The GOP leadership in the House recommended a vote against the bill, arguing the semiconductor industry didn't need "government handouts." But some GOP lawmakers viewed passing the legislation as important for national security

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The U.S. economy shrank from April through June for a second straight quarter, contracting at a 0.9% annual pace and raising fears that the nation may be approaching a recession. The decline in the gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of the economy — followed a 1.6% annual drop from January through March. Consecutive quarters of falling GDP constitute one informal, though not definitive, indicator of a recession. The report comes at a critical time. Consumers and businesses have been struggling under the weight of punishing inflation and higher borrowing costs. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a sizable three-quarters of a point for a second straight time.

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vowed to considerably ease poverty, boost economic recovery and defend the country’s territory in his first key policy speech. But he stayed away from contentious issues like human rights and corruption in his first state of the nation address before a joint session of Congress on Monday. Amid crises sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and the global fallout from the Ukraine war, Marcos Jr. assured the “state of the nation is sound” and added “we will endure.” Activists rejected his upbeat outlook and criticized his silence over longstanding human rights issues, his plan to deal with decades-old communist and Muslim insurgencies, allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings and his family’s legal issues.

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Political challenges at home are making it tough for President Joe Biden to fulfill his promises to the rest of the world. Biden has made pledges or reached deals on climate change, taxes and pandemic relief, but legislation for all of those issues has stalled on Capitol Hill. The White House defends Biden's record by noting that he's secured nearly $54 billion in military and financial assistance for Ukraine in the war against Russia. But congressional roadblocks are an impediment for a president who declared “America is back” after taking office last year. The result is an administration straining to maintain its credibility abroad while Biden fights a rearguard action on Capitol Hill.

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Poland's central bank chief has drawn criticism after he was caught on hidden camera discussing inflation and fiscal policy with an activist who approached him during a private walk. Some critics said Monday that Adam Glapinski might have broken the law when he told the woman there may be just one more quarter-poing increase in interest rates. Poland's annual inflation in June was 15.5%, the highest in 25 years, and many Poles say they cannot afford to pay rising loan installments. An agricultural activist spoke to Glapinski on the subject at a Baltic Sea resort, and he advised her to suspend some installments and assured her interest rates will be single-digit next year.

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Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear says there’s “enough credit to go around” for Kentucky’s record-setting budget surpluses during his term. On Monday, the state said General Fund receipts in the past fiscal year grew at the highest rate in 31 years. The surge left the state with its second-largest surplus ever — surpassed only by last year’s amount. Beshear said it's another sign of economic momentum under his stewardship. Republican House Speaker David Osborne pushed back. Osborne says the surplus stems from the GOP-led legislature’s “sound fiscal policies and responsible tax reforms.” Beshear said Thursday there’s “enough credit to go around."

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Average annual salary: $129,320Total employed: 1,690Job description: Conduct research, prepare reports or formulate plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy. May collect and process economic and statistical data using sampling techniques and econometric methods.

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