June 21, 2018
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Gallup poll: Congressional approval ties lowest numbers on record

By From wire service reports

LOS ANGELES — It is the institution that everyone loves to hate and according to the latest Gallup poll released on Tuesday, there is seemingly no bottom to Americans’ disapproval of Congress.

According to the poll, a bare 13 percent of those surveyed approve of Congress, tying the worst numbers recorded in December 2010. Disapproval of the national lawmakers stood at 84 percent, a percentage point higher (hence, worse) than last December’s.

The findings are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,008 adults conducted Aug. 11-14. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Politically, the poll comes after Washington was paralyzed before reaching an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and agreed to more than $2 billion in spending cuts. The negotiations among a Congress divided along Democratic and Republican lines and a GOP split in its conservative ranks lasted weeks and left a foul aftertaste for voters.

Republicans call out Buffett for views on wealthy taxpayers

WASHINGTON — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett argued in a newspaper opinion piece Monday that the megarich in the U.S. are “coddled” by the tax code, and on Tuesday Republicans shot back.

The country’s wealthiest citizens pay considerably less taxes, as a percentage of income, than the poor and middle class, Buffett said in a New York Times article .

“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” Buffett wrote. “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Republicans responded with a series of tweets questioning Buffett’s sincerity.

“For tax raising advocates like Warren Buffett, I am sure Treasury would take a voluntary payment for deficit reduction,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote in a tweet.

This is not the first time that Buffett, a friend and donor to Obama, has used his personal tax bill — and those of his employees — to make the case that superwealthy Americans are undertaxed. In 2007, Buffett raised the issue at a fundraiser for then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, arguing that secretaries pay higher tax rates than their millionaire bosses and offering to pay $1 million to anyone who could prove him wrong.

Buffett rejected the claim that raising taxes to cut U.S. deficits will kill jobs, arguing that the country had higher taxes between 1980 and 2000 and “nearly 40 million jobs were added.”

Fitch Ratings keeps US at top credit rating

NEW YORK — Fitch Ratings said Tuesday it will keep its rating on U.S. debt at the highest grade, AAA, and issued a “stable” outlook, meaning it expects the rating to stay there.

That’s better than the other two main ratings agencies: Moody’s lists the U.S. debt at AAA but says its outlook is negative. And Standard & Poor’s set off a maelstrom in the stock market earlier this month after it took its rating on the U.S. down to the second-highest grade, AA-plus, for the first time.

The Obama administration welcomed the announcement from Fitch but said it would be important for Congress to take the steps called for in the budget agreement.

Fitch said it decided to keep its rating because the “key pillars” of U.S. creditworthiness remain intact, including its “flexible, diversified and wealthy economy.”

7 pulled from Iraqi mosque, killed execution-style

BAGHDAD — Gunmen wearing military uniforms pulled seven people from a Sunni mosque south of Baghdad and then shot and killed them execution-style, officials said Tuesday, raising the death toll to 70 in Iraq’s deadliest day this year.

The killings late Monday came at the end of a day that saw a wave of crushing violence sweep across Iraq, from the northern city of Mosul to the Shiite heartland — including suicide bombings, roadside bombs and shootings. The violence was reminiscent of the bloodletting that used to plague Iraq daily a few years ago and a stark warning that al-Qaida in Iraq is still a force to be reckoned with.

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